Gluttons Bay

Cheap Eats In Singapore

Singapore is a melting pot of vibrant cultures all living in harmony together. Singapore has had many cultural influences over the years and that shows through in its cuisine throughout this city state. Singapore is also one of the most expensive cities in the world, and many people may feel that it is out of their reach and they couldn’t possibly afford to travel there. I would be lying if I said Singapore wasn’t expensive, and in comparison to other countries around south east Asia it isn’t cheap! That being said Singapore can be done on a budget.

I have travelled to Singapore on holiday and also being cabin crew have had many layovers there, and I’ve always managed to eat really cheaply. I would recommend when planning a trip to Singapore if you are on a budget then do your research before you go. If you eat cheap and visit the many free attractions in Singapore it’s a really easy place to stay on budget.

There are so many places to grab cheap eats in the city, stick to the hawker food centres, food courts in the malls, Chinatown and Little India which are great places to visit for delicious local food. If you want to taste lots of authentic Singapore cuisine these are easily found throughout the city such as Chilli Crab, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Beef Rendang, Laksa, Nasi Lemak, Kaya Toast, Satay and if your vegetarian there is a huge choice of vegetarian Indian food available. You really will be spoilt for choice for food in Singapore. In this blog I will cover some of the best places to eat in Singapore and even better all of its super affordable and delicious.

Bugis Market

Bugis Market is a great place to visit for shopping, but if you want to find some amazing street food head to Bugis Food Street. There is a huge choice of stalls serving up fresh fruit juices, sweet treats, novelty bites and quick and easy snacks that are all so cheap!

China Town

Chinatown is the place to come for a huge choice of budget eateries. This area of the city is full of restaurants and cafes which are all pretty reasonably priced. Many people flock to Chinatown for the street food and hawker centres, some of the best ones to visit are;

  • Amoy Street Food Centre: This two storey complex is bursting with stalls and has several stalls that have been featured in the Michelin Singapore Guide.
  • Chinatown Complex Food Centre: This is the largest hawker centre in Singapore and is a hit with locals and has lots of lunchtime regulars.
  • Chinatown Food Street: This beautiful undercover street is set in between old traditional shophouses, and has a real buzz about the place at night, also its a great place to stop for a drink or two.
  • Maxwell Hawker Centre: One of the most famous hawker centres in Singapore, and always popular with both locals and tourists. It has a huge array of stalls selling a variety of food.

Maxwell Hawker Centre

Geylang Serai Market

Geylang Serai Market is a historical market and has been around since the 19th century when it was a trade emporium, it is also one of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements. The market sells a whole range of produce, and there is so much to see and explore in this bustling market. It’s popular with the Malay community and other Singaporean locals. I didn’t see many other tourists there so it has a really authentic feel to the place, and is a great place to watch locals go about their lives. While there try the Piseng Goreng (banana fritters) they are a real sweet treat!

When visiting this market it’s also only a stones throw away from Koon Seng Road Terraces which are famous for their 1930s pastel coloured Peranakan terraced houses, you have probably seen them on instagram before. After exploring the market I would recommend wandering around the neibourhood and visit the beautiful architecture of Koon Seng Road.

Gluttons Bay

Gluttons Bay is one of my favourite areas to eat at in Singapore, it has a a row of stalls serving up street food, there’s enough choice without it being overwhelming. It’s al fresco dining and sometimes you do have to spend a few minutes trying to find a table. The reason I love this market is it’s location! It’s set next to Esplanade so after dinner it’s the perfect spot to wander around the bay with views of the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands. You can also watch the Marina Bay Spectra Light Show after dinner which is at 8pm and 9pm every night.

Gluttons Bay

Kaya Toast

Kaya Toast is my favourite go to breakfast in Singapore it’s quick, easy, filling and cheap! Kaya toast is simple but delicious it’s slices of toasted bread with cold butter and Kaya jam which is made from coconut and egg. It’s sweet and perfect for breakfast it’s normally served with a side of two soft boiled eggs, and a tea or local kopi (Singapore coffee). The set Kaya Toast menus are normally only a few dollars, so it’s perfect if your on a budget. There are lots of places to grab kaya toast all over the city, and many branded kaya toast cafes, however my two favourite ones that I go to are;

  • Toastbox: Is a contemporary cafe chain and they are dotted all over the city, you are bound to stumble across one while on your trip, they offer great kaya toast set menus.
  • Ya Kun Kaya Toast: Is a household name in Singapore from humble beginnings back in the 1940s, it started up as a small coffee stall and is now a huge chain with cafes all over the city, and are now popping up in other places around the world.

Kaya Toast

Little India

Little India is one of the best places to visit in Singapore not only are there lots of free sights and attractions, but the food is incredible and great for vegetarians. Little India is a bright and colourful neighbourhood full to the brim with character. There’s lots of stalls, cafes and restaurants to eat at, and all at pretty affordable prices. Some must try places are;

  • The Banana Leaf Apolo: The Banana Leaf Apolo has been around since 1974, and is extremely popular with Singaporeans. All food is served up on a banana leaf, the food isn’t the cheapest in Little India but is still reasonably priced and always consistently delicious, and has a more restaurant style setting.
  • Sakunthala’s Restaurant: There are several Sakunthalas that have sprung up around Little India, my favourite one is the one located on Syed Alwi Road, it’s a small non fussy restaurant. The portions are generous so go easy on ordering, there is a huge choice of food on the menu too. I would recommend one of their thalis as they are amazing! One of the best thalis I’ve ever had!
  • Tekka Centre: Tekka Centre is a hawker centre located just by Little India’s MRT station, there is a huge array of stalls and is great for cheap eats and finding authentic local cuisines.

Little India

Satay By The Bay

Satay By The Bay is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner especially when visiting Gardens By The Bay. It’s located in a quiet corner of the gardens over looking the waterfront and other than satay there is a good variety of stalls and street food to choose. There is lots of outside and undercover seating available, so it’s easy to get a table. Keep an eye out for the local resident otters that live close by in the Marina too, they can be spotted frequently swimming and playing in the water.

Satay By The Bay

Singapore Malls

Singapore is bursting with malls that are all over the city, and most of the malls have food courts with lots of vendors and stalls, some have a selection of restaurants and cafes too. If your on a budget then head to one of the malls and search out the food court, avoid the high end malls as these tend to have more expensive and up market restaurants in them. The food courts vary but personally I’ve always found lots of tasty food in the malls, best of all it’s mostly quick and easy food, so you can eat then get back out exploring this incredible city some more.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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An Overnight Stay On Borneo’s Survivor Island – Pulau Tiga

Pulau Tiga is part of a small group of uninhabited islands located in Kimanis Bay off the western coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. The island is also referred to as Survivor Island, as it was the location for a reality tv series filmed there. The island has plenty to offer adventurous travellers from snorkelling, scuba diving, trekking, mud bathing and best of all true escape from modern life, with limited WIFI its the perfect place for a digital detox and enjoy a much slower pace.

Pulau Tiga translates to island three in Malay and is referring to the three humps seen on the island from a distance. Formed after a volcanic eruption towards the end of the 19th century, it is the youngest island in Malaysia’s stretch of the South China Sea along Sabah’s west coast.

The island is one of three islands which make up Tiga Island National Park, the other two islands are called Kalampunian Besar and Kalampunian Damit (Snake Island), known as snake island as it’s a breeding ground for a variety of snakes.

Borneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau TigaBorneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau TigaBorneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau TigaBorneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau TigaBorneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau Tiga

Pulau Tiga has several forest trails but the most popular one being the trail to the islands mud volcanoes, with its mineral rich mud bubbling away. Pulau Tiga has some great snorkelling and scuba diving spots with vibrant coral and diverse array of marine life. The island has lots of wildlife species with a variety of eagles and hornbills, macaque monkeys, monitor lizards as well as other snakes, reptiles and insects that all call the island home.

Borneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau TigaBorneo’s Survivor Island - Pulau Tiga

Accommodation

Pulau Tiga Resort

The island has limited accommodation, there is a Pulau Tiga Resort which has 23 wooden chalets and rooms or there is the luxurious boutique Borneo Eagle Resort which has 13 villas available. There is also a small campsite available for people to pitch a tent, however with so many macaques and monitor lizards roaming around, I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel sleeping in a tent?!

You can visit Pulau Tiga on a day trip from Sabah, however, I would recommend that staying overnight on the island. We stayed at the Pulau Tiga Resort for one night and loved the place, the island was so quiet and relaxing. We had the beach to ourselves which was absolute bliss, and even when we went through the jungle on a trek we hardly saw anyone. If you want a break from modern day life then this is the place to come!

Pulau Tiga Resort is an amazing place to stay, we absolutely loved staying there. The price of this accommodation may seem expensive for a basic chalet however the price does include breakfast, lunch, dinner and bottled water as well as your boat transfer to get to and from the island. We also got picked up from our accommodation in Kota Kinabalu and driven to the jetty.

The chalets are simple but have everything you need for a comfortable stay with a bed and hot shower and a veranda to sit out on, just be aware of the macaques roaming around, one even tried to get into our room!

Even though it’s a little on the pricey side for one night we honestly would do it again as we had the best stay! I just don’t think visiting the island on a day excursion is enough time to enjoy it fully.

Pulau Tiga Resort BorneoPulau Tiga Resort BorneoPulau Tiga Resort BorneoPulau Tiga Resort Borneo

Transport & Getting Around

To get to Pulau Tiga is quite straight forward it’s about a 2 hour drive from Kotu Kinabalu to the Pulau Tiga jetty in Kuala Penyu. The boat to the Pulau Tiga Island takes another 40 minutes. I would suggest booking through Amazing Borneo as they offer 1 day trips and the overnight trip. Once on the island, there aren’t any roads and everything is accessible by foot and hiking trails.

Must Do Itinerary

  • Snorkel & water sports
  • Volcanic mud baths
  • Pagong-Pagong Beach
  • Larai-Larai Beach
  • Walk around the whole island (6 hours if you have time)
  • Batu Barung also known as Bird Rock
  • Take the boat to Kalampunian Damit (Snake Island)

Top Tips

I would recommend taking plenty of reef-safe SPF lotion and bug spray as the island doesn’t have any shops, and it’s covered in jungle. Be very careful when walking around the island and try to avoid the wild macaques, and don’t carry food on you as they will try and take it.

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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How To Spend 4 Days In Borneo’s Sabah Region

Borneo is the third largest island in the world and Asia’s largest, it is a rugged jungle filled island located in south east Asia’s Malay Archipelago. The island is split into three, one part of the island is Malaysian and has two states which are Sabah and Sarawak, the other part is Indonesian which is known as Kalimantan, then there is the tiny nation of Brunei. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Sabah state and Kuching is the capital of Sarawak in the Malaysian states of Borneo.

Borneo is known for its ancient biodiverse rainforests which is home to a huge array of wildlife from orangutans, proboscis monkeys, irrawaddy dolphins, clouded leopards, pygmy elephants and saltwater crocodiles to name a few.

The island is a naturally stunning, but as well as having amazing wildlife and topography, its also a melting pot of culture and home to many ancient indigenous tribes. Borneo used to have headhunting tribes, today the tribes no longer headhunt but still continue with ancient customs and traditions to keep their culture alive. Borneo is home to a variety of cultural groups with lots of Chinese communities, Malays, indigenous groups and many more.

Whatever you’re into Borneo has something for everyone from nature enthusiasts to beach lovers to adventure seekers you name it Borneo has it all!

Sights & Activities

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park is part of the UNESCO world heritage sites and is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. It’s ecosystem plays a vital role in the area and is home to a huge variety of plants, trees, birds, animals and insects. Kinabalu Park is situated approximately 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu.

This unique natural park has so much to offer it’s visitors with stunning views of Mount Kinabalu, botanical gardens, hot springs and lots of treks and trails to explore. This is the perfect day trip out for nature lovers. If your lucky you might be able to see the world’s biggest flower the Rafflesia. It is a rare and exotic parasitic flowering plant and can take up to 15 months to bud and only bloom for up to 7 days.

We had a Kinabalu Park tour booked through Amazing Borneo, but I went down with a 24 hour sickness bug and started feeling unwell on the bus on the route there. The tour company was kind enough to stop and organise our transport back to our accommodation. They also went the extra mile and called our accommodation to make sure we got back ok and if they could assist with anything further e.g. hospital etc. They also sent someone to give us a full cash refund of the tour! You can’t get much better service than that. I was absolutely gutted to miss this tour and lose a full day of our Borneo trip but it is somewhere I definitely will return to in the future.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary

Entrance Fee: 60 MYR

Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary is a great observation spot to go and see these weird looking indigenous monkeys, the sanctuary is privately owned and located in the middle of a mangrove forest. The owner who originally planned on developing the site for palm oil plantations nearby realised the monkey’s predicament and decided not to develop their habitat into plantations, and instead opted to make it a sanctuary where they can live freely. The sanctuary has created two viewing platforms on the land where they put food out daily for the monkeys so that visitors can view them and how they interact with each other.

This sanctuary is a great place to get up close to the monkeys especially if your short on time and don’t have the time to venture into the deepest rainforest to view them. We visited the sanctuary after going to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre which we booked the full day as a tour and took an internal flight to reach Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary SabahLabuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary SabahLabuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary Sabah

Kg Pukat Fisherman Village

Kg Pukat Fisherman Village is a village built on stilts over the sea in Sandakan, and the village is full of local fisherman living there with their families. If you like seafood this is a great place to come as there are small restaurants and stalls where the locals selling the fresh catch of the day. There is also dried seafood which you can purchase to take away with you too. We didn’t eat at the village but had a look around as its interesting to see these quirky huts built over the water and seeing the local villagers going about their day to day lives. If you’re in Sandakan this place is a great place to stop off at to get an insight into local life. We went there towards the end of the day before heading back to the airport for our domestic flight back to Kota Kinabalu. Our tour guide recommended the place and even though we didn’t spend long there, we were really glad we got to see this peaceful sea village.

Kg Pukat Fisherman Village Sabah

Pulau Tiga (Survivor Island)

Pulau Tiga is part of a small group of uninhabited islands located in Kimanis Bay off the western coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. The island is also referred to as Survivor Island, as it was the location for a reality tv series filmed there. The island has plenty to offer adventurous travellers from snorkelling, scuba diving, trekking, mud bathing and best of all true escape from modern life, with limited WIFI its the perfect place for a digital detox and enjoy a much slower pace.

Pulau Tiga has several forest trails but the most popular one being the trail to the islands mud volcanoes, with its mineral rich mud bubbling away. Pulau Tiga has some great snorkelling and scuba diving spots with vibrant coral and diverse array of marine life. The island has lots of wildlife species with a variety of eagles and hornbills, macaque monkeys, monitor lizards as well as other snakes, reptiles and insects that all call the island home.

You can visit Pulau Tiga on a day trip from Sabah, however, I would recommend that staying overnight on the island. We stayed at the Pulau Tiga Resort for one night and loved the place, the island was so quiet and relaxing. We had the beach to ourselves which was absolute bliss, and even when we went through the jungle on a trek we hardly saw anyone. If you want a break from modern day life then this is the place to come!

Read more about Pulau Tiga: An Overnight Stay On Borneo’s Survivor Island – Pulau Tiga

Pulau Tiga (Survivor Island) BorneoPulau Tiga (Survivor Island) BorneoPulau Tiga (Survivor Island) Borneo

Puu Jih Shih Temple

Puu Jih Shih Temple is a Buddhist temple and the largest Chinese temple in Sandakan and located just outside of town overlooking Sandakan Bay on top of the hilltop of Tanah Merah. The temple was built back in 1987 and provides amazing views of the town and its coast. The temple is bright and colourful with plenty of gold detailing and incense filling the air of the temple. This temple is a must when in Sandakan town!

Puu Jih Shih Temple SandakanPuu Jih Shih Temple Sandakan

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Entrance Fee: 30 MYR

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is an amazing place conducting incredible work into rehabilitating orphaned orangutans. Orangutans are native to Malaysia and Indonesia however they are currently only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. They used to inhabit many places all over south east Asia and south China, but due to the destruction of their natural habitats, they are now critically endangered. Orangutans are icons which are most associated with Borneo. What these intelligent and beautiful primates are going through is utterly heartbreaking, but thankfully places like Sepilok are at hand to give these apes a helping hand and to try and get their numbers back up in the wild.

The rehabilitation centre was founded back in 1964, and the site is situated in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo and on a large protected plot of land on the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Today approximately 70 orangutans are living free in the reserve. There are also about 25 young orphaned orangutans that are housed in the nurseries being taught and shown how to live and survive as an orangutan in the forests.

Recently rehabilitated individuals have their diet supplemented by daily feedings. The food supplied by the centre is purposefully designed to be repetitive and boring, so it encourages the orangutans to start to forage for themselves. Visitors can see them on viewing platforms from a distance and measures are put in place to ensure people stay quiet as not to disturb them. Visitors are restricted to walkways and are not allowed to approach or handle the apes either.

The facility provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans as well as other wildlife species. Some of the other animals which have been treated at the centre include sun bears, gibbons and elephants.

When visiting Sabah this should be top of your must do list as not only is it an amazing once in a lifetime experience. Sepilok is considered a useful educational centre and you will learn so much there about these apes. This was the highlight of our trip and a real pinch me moment when we saw the apes climbing through trees above, it was quite emotional and overwhelming too, the whole thing was just incredible and just a once in a lifetime experience.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre BorneoSepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre BorneoSepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre Borneo

Food & Drink

English Tea House & Restaurant

English Tea House & Restaurant is probably the most random place to stop at for lunch and isn’t typically Bornean. However North Borneo used to be part of the British colony until 1962, and this quaint English tea house is located next to the Agnes Keith House in Sandakan. It is a museum dedicated to an American author known for her three autobiographies about life in British North Borneo.

The tea house is a great spot to come for lunch as the gardens are so peaceful, and sat on top of a hill with great views over Sandakan Bay and the surrounding town. The restaurant has both traditional English dishes such as fish and chips and afternoon tea, but also serves up Malay dishes too. We normally opt to eat at more authentic places but came here for lunch while in Sandakan as it’s a bit of a novelty.

English Tea House & Restaurant Sandakan

Accommodation

Masada Bed & Breakfast

Masada Bed & Breakfast is a small hostel and bed and breakfast situated in Kota Kinabalu and is in a central location within walking distance of all nearby attractions, malls and restaurants etc. We based ourselves at Masada and booked into a private room with a shared bathroom, they offer all guests a complimentary breakfast which is basic but enough to fill you up for the morning. There are dorm rooms available as well which is a great option if your travelling solo.

It’s a spotlessly clean and the staff were really helpful and friendly, and it’s great value for money it only cost us about £15 per night for both of us. We didn’t really want to spend much on accommodation in Borneo as we were planning on being out most of the day exploring, apart from the one day I got sick and had to spend a whole day in our room running backwards and forwards past the reception desk to the shared bathrooms (not one of my finest moments in life)! The staff were great though and kept checking on me to see how I was doing.

Honestly can’t recommend this bed and breakfast enough it’s a great place to base yourself and meet other travellers from all around the world. We met some really lovely other travellers, the whole place just has a really friendly vibe, and you will get chatting to everyone staying there over breakfast or sat chilling in the lounge area.

Transport & Getting Around

We based ourselves in Kota Kinabalu as it’s a small city and everywhere can be reached by walking, so walk everywhere as much as possible around the city as you get to see so much more! However there are minibuses which circulate the city and go to the airport looking for passengers and are really cheap too. There are also taxis available but can cost quite a bit even to go a short distance. There are also opportunities to hire cars and scooters, just be careful as some of the roads outside of the city can be quite rough.

We walked everywhere around the city and then booked all our tours through Amazing Borneo. I cannot recommend them enough, they are the BEST tour company I have ever used! We booked our Pulau Tiga island experience with them as well as the Sepilok Orangutan tour, and we just booked our flights from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan through Malaysian airlines and they had a guide meet us at the other end.

I would suggest when visiting Borneo to book yourself a base and then book day tours and overnight excursions through Amazing Borneo as all the entrance fees and transport costs are all covered under one price. Tours in Borneo aren’t the cheapest, but you get what you pay for and the knowledge of a local guide and everything included. If you’re going into the rainforests then you will need someone who knows and understands the areas and the risks so that you are kept safe, and also not damaging any of the local wildlife and plants.

4 Day Itinerary

  • Head To Pulau Tiga island in the morning on your first day for an overnight stay and spend both days exploring the island and enjoy some serenity. (suggested – Amazing Borneo Tour)
  • On your third day start the day early and take an internal flight to Sandakan and visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, English Tea House & Restaurant, Puu Jih Shih Temple and Kg Pukat Fisherman Village before catching a flight back to Kota Kinabalu. (suggested – Amazing Borneo Tour)
  • Visit Kinabalu Park where you can see stunning views of Mount Kinabalu, hot sprints and botanical gardens. (suggested – Amazing Borneo Tour)

Top Tips

Borneo is extremely hot and humid so wear light and comfortable clothing but also be mindful Borneo is a predominately Muslim country so try to cover shoulders and knees and dress modestly when out and about. Make sure to pack some light walking boots or trainers for good grip when venturing out into the wilderness.

If it’s your first time going to Borneo I would suggest starting in the state of Sabah it’s got everything from wildlife and pristine beaches and the terrain is much easier to navigate compared to Sarawak which is normally recommended to more seasoned travellers as its slightly more off the beaten track.

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

How To Spend 4 Days In Borneo’s Sabah Region - Pinterest Pin

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What To Do In Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city after the capital Bangkok, although Chiang Mai is often referred to as the capital of the north. Chiang Mai is an ancient city set in Thailand’s mountainous northern region. It was founded back in 1296 when it was capital of the independent Lann Kingdom until 1558. Chiang Mai doesn’t have a typical urban city feel to it, as it is surrounded by misty mountains, rainforests and hill tribes.

Chiang Mai is a cultural hub in Thailand and offers travellers a whole range of things to see and do with ancient temples, cooking classes, yoga retreats, trekking trails as well as having plenty of nightlife and shopping, it really does have something to meet everyone’s tastes. Chiang Mai is a relatively small city and has a very calm and relaxed atmosphere, there is a modern city which has grown around many parts of the ancient city and today both new and old merge seamlessly together.

We took an internal flight from Bangkok up to Chiang Mai and couldn’t believe the difference between the two cities. We absolutely fell in love with Bangkok, but we also loved how peaceful Chiang Mai was, they are a complete contrast from one another. We spent 3 nights in Chiang Mai and had the best time, Chiang Mai is definitely somewhere we would love to go back and visit.

Sights & Activities

Bai Orchard Garden & Butterfly Farm

Bai Orchard Garden and Butterfly Farm are on the outskirts of the city, there are a variety of Thai orchids that are grown there. There is also a butterfly enclosure which you can walk through too, this is a good place to visit if you’re heading out to the mountains or outskirts of Chiang Mai to the Mae Rim district. The garden also has a small restaurant and gift shop so is quite a nice spot to grab a bite to eat.

We really enjoyed stopping here however I wouldn’t come massively out of your way unless you’re a keen orchid enthusiast, I would recommend that if your backpacking south east Asia and Singapore is on your to do list then visit Singapore’s National Orchard Garden which is out of this world and has the best orchids you will ever see!

Bai Orchard Garden & Butterfly Farm Chiang Mai Bai Orchard Garden & Butterfly Farm Chiang Mai

Bamboo Rafting

Entrance Fee: 500 THB

If you fancy being out in nature then what better way than to go Bamboo Rafting?! There are several areas to try bamboo rafting but Mae Wang district is a popular choice as it is just outside of Chiang Mai. The area has mountains and forests you can admire while gliding down the river, and there is a variety of tours and packages available. If you do go rafting make sure to wear light clothing and expect to get wet as the water gets through the gaps in the bamboo raft, also take a waterproof bag and cover for your phone and camera too.

Bamboo Rafting Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Night Markets

Chiang Mai is famous for its night markets and bazaars and there are several large ones all over the city and on weekends even more pop up! The markets are a great and unique shopping experience with a diverse range of handicrafts available to purchase as well as your usual tourist souvenirs, and lots of other items. You can also grab street food and drinks while you shop and sample some northern Thai delicacies. The most popular and well known market in the city is the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar which runs every single night and is huge and a bit like a maze. Other markets to also check out are;

Chiang Mai Temples

Chiang Mai is an ancient city and is steeped in history and culture, it is known as the city of temples and has over 300 Buddhist temples dotted all over the city. The temples are a huge part of Thai life and culture and no trip to Thailand would be complete without a trip to a temple or two. I would recommend pinning some on your map to go in search of, head to Chiang Mais Old Town, or there are plenty of temple and city tours you can book onto if you wanted a guide to explain all the information to you. I love temples in south east Asia and always love just stumbling across them and wandering into them, I love all the decor and the shrines and always find them really calming places to spend some time in.

Chiang Mai TemplesChiang Mai Temples

Doi Pui Tribal Village

Doi Pui is a Hmong tribal village and is situated in the Doi Suthep national park and close by to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. The traditional village offers a glimpse into their way of life. In the village, you can view the houses that they live in and witness their simple way of living and learn about their culture. The village is beautiful and has lots of beautiful plants and flowers, and of course fresh mountain air.

The village like most of Thailand’s hill tribes of the north used to cultivate opium poppies for a living until the royal sustainable projects arrived and transformed the entire village to agricultural farms.

The village today makes a living from farming and selling souvenirs to tourists, and there is a small museum in the village too, which showcases their way of life. If you have any questions the locals are friendly and happy to answer best they can. I really would suggest visiting this village after visiting Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple as it’s only a few minutes out of the way. We really loved meeting the locals and wandering through their beautiful village and landscape.

Doi Pui Tribal Village Chiang Mai

Muay Thai

Muay Thai also is known as Thai Boxing is a combat sport and is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand. Muay Thai has been around for hundreds of years and was developed for close combat. It uses the entire body as a weapon. When visiting Thailand attending a Muay Thai fight is an absolute must, the atmosphere is incredible! We went to a Muay Thai fight in Chiang Mai as Bangkok seemed to have much larger stadiums and tickets were more expensive, and many of the competitors appeared to be from other parts of the world.

We wanted to attend somewhere with a more intimate and traditional feel and Chiang Mai offered that, we asked the hotel for Muay Thai suggestions and they recommended Thaphae Boxing Stadium. We went and tickets were approximately £12 per person however they can vary depending on the day of the week and the match. The stadium is small enough to feel intimate but also big enough with a selection of bars and restaurants and easy enough to get a front row seat. We also had the opportunity to meet with some of the fighters. It’s a great night out and there are plenty like this stadium around Chiang Mai, ask your accommodation where they would suggest, and if you want to have a go yourself then there also plenty of training academies to book into as well.

Three Kings Monument

The Three Kings Monument is an important statue in Chiang Mai and shows the three founders of Chiang Mai – King Mengrai, King Ramkamhaeng and King Ngam Muang. It was created back in 1984 and is situated outside the Chiang Mai Cultural Center and marks the centre point of the old administrative quarter of Chiang Mai in the ancient part of the city.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of Thailands most sacred temples and in an incredible location set up in the mountains overlooking Chiang Mai, and is part of the national park there. The temple is absolutely stunning and covered in lots of intricate details and gold. The architecture is typically northern Thai and can be reached by climbing the 306 steps. The temple dates back to the 14th century and is a major landmark in Chiang Mai and is popular with tourists, you can choose to visit the temple or for anyone wanting to learn more about Buddhist practices or meditation you can enrol on one of the meditation and mindfulness programs.

When visiting Chiang Mai this should be top of your agenda of places to visit, try and go as early as you can to avoid the crowds, and take something a little warmer to wear with you as the mountain air means its much cooler up at the temple, make sure to wear temple clothing attire too. There are several places to eat and drink nearby the temple so you can grab breakfast or lunch easy enough. We really loved visiting this temple and always recommend it to anyone I know visiting Chiang Mai.

Make sure to visit Doi Pui tribal village too as it is situated in the Doi Suthep national park and close by to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Chiang MaiWat Phra That Doi Suthep Chiang Mai

Transport & Getting Around

Chiang Mai is a small city so most places can be reached by foot or bicycle. There isn’t a huge choice of public transport there are a few buses but most people tend to hop in tuk tuks, taxis or shared taxis which are in red trucks called rót daang. I would recommend exploring the city by foot as this is the best way to get around and you stumble across the cities hidden gems.

3 Day Itinerary

  1. Get up early and head to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, Doi Pui Tribal Village and bamboo rafting. If you have time when you get back to Chiang Mai wander the old town and explore some of the cities many temples. After a day sightseeing hit the Chiang Mai night market for dinner and shopping.
  2. Head to Chiang Rai for the day, it’s a few hours away and something I really would like to do on my next visit to Chiang Rai. If you don’t fancy it then explore more of Chiang Mais temples and jungles and waterfalls surrounding the city. In the evening check out Muay Thai and have some dinner and drinks.
  3. Research and find a reputable elephant sanctuary for rescued elephants, ensure to not ride on any elephants and check out the website and reviews beforehand to make sure you’re not supporting anywhere that is abusing these animals. I made this mistake in the past and still feel awful about it, and now always research before I visit any so-called animal sanctuaries.

Top Tips

Many of the sights in Chiang Mai are outside and exposed so make sure to wear light and comfortable clothing, but also clothing that covers your shoulders and knees as many of the sights are temples so dress modestly.

There are still elephants available for tourist rides in Chiang Mai, please avoid this at all costs! The elephants have to endure a process called Phajaan also known as the crush, where they take baby elephants and brutally torture them for days and weeks at a time to break the elephant’s spirit so that they can be controlled by humans.

It’s a really traumatic practice and unfortunately until tourists realise what actually happens to make these elephants allow people to ride on them the practice will continue. I personally have ridden on elephants in the past before I knew what they went through, and now personally I would never ride on one again as it’s truly heartbreaking what they must undergo.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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A Day Trip To Phang Nga Bay From Phuket

Phang Nga Bay is a national park and sits in between mainland Thailand and Phuket island. These droplets of limestone islands sit in the emerald green Andaman Sea. These jagged rock formations, cliffs, and small uninhabited islands with mangrove forests and caves are a great place to explore. This bay is full of hidden lagoons which you can reach by kayak and going through the small caves. The bay also has plenty of coral reefs dotted around in its waters.

This gorgeous national park is a must especially if you’re staying in Phuket or nearby to the area as the bay is easily accessible. The bay can easily be done on a day tour and there is plenty to see and do.

Phang Nga Bay Phuket Thailand Phang Nga Bay Phuket Thailand

One of the most famous landmarks in the bay is Koh Ta-pu also referred to as James Bond Island as the famous James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed there back in 1974. This rocky pinnacle juts out of the ocean and looks top heavy, and like it shouldn’t still be standing! The surrounding areas are spectacularly beautiful although can be crowded with many other tourists doing similar day trips.

Another area of interest in the bay is Koh Panyee which is a quirky village that’s built over the water on stilts, with a giant rock column at one end of it. At lunchtime many tourists on the tours stop by to eat and shop for souvenirs. Originally fishing was the main industry for this Muslim community but today about half of the locals work in the tourism industry, while the rest still continue to fish. The village has its own school, a mosque, a health centre, lots of small handicraft shops, and a few restaurants overlooking the sea where you can enjoy fresh seafood. Khao Khien is another place worth visiting as it’s close to Koh Panyee, and has ancient paintings of boats and animals on the rock walls.

Phang Nga Bay is an amazing place for cruising around on a boat. The limestone cliffs create a picturesque backdrop and scenic appeal and have an abundance of wildlife. The area is protected from both the northeast and the southwest monsoon seasons which means the waters remain calm all year round.

The hidden away lagoons in the islands which are referred to as hong (hong meaning rooms in Thai) are collapsed cave systems being overlooked by the sky and surrounded by towering limestone walls. The mangroves in the lagoons are rich in unspoiled flora and fauna. Many of these hongs were only revealed when they were picked up on aerial surveys.

Phang Nga Bay Phuket ThailandPhang Nga Bay Phuket Thailand

Many of the tours that run around Phang Nga Bay offer sea kayaking, where you can paddle through the caves into the mysterious centres of the islands such as Koh Panak and Koh Hong. Just make sure when kayaking through you might need to lay back, so you don’t hit your head and also make sure your mouth and eyes are closed, as many of the caves have bats in, and the last thing you want is any bat droppings going into your mouth or eyes.

Thailand was somewhere I had dreamt of going for many years all throughout my teenage years after I watched the Beach my infatuation for Thailand began, and after I graduated from university my then fiancée (now husband) decided to book a trip to Thailand – our first trip to Asia which sparked our obsession for the continent. For our first trip to Thailand, we booked a two week itinerary and went to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

To be honest, we were really young and not very well travelled at this point and didn’t do much research before we went, so hadn’t even heard of Phang Nga Bay, the only reason we really ended up in Phuket was that we wanted to easily be able to reach the Phi Phi islands. While we were in Phuket we saw plenty of tours being offered to Phang Nga Bay and decided to book on one, and I’m so glad we did, the scenery was like nowhere else we had ever been before.

If your staying in Phuket this is an absolute must visit, this beautiful marine park is touristy and many tours operate there, but the area is large with so many limestone rocks and islands that I didn’t ever feel like it was overcrowded. The only place where it was busy was by James Bond Island which is understandable as it’s the main site. We really enjoyed our day trip here and loved kayaking into the mysterious lagoons and seeing lots of sea birds and eagles flying around, the whole place is a nature lovers dream!

Phang Nga Bay Phuket ThailandPhang Nga Bay Phuket ThailandPhang Nga Bay Phuket Thailand

Transport & Getting Around

Phang Nga Bay is easily doable in a single day and personally, I would recommend booking onto one of the many tours available by long-tail boat, speedboat, cruise or chartering a yacht. Leaving from any point along the east coast of Phuket will take you straight into the bay. There are also several launching sites on the Phang Nga province mainland too.

Top Tips

When going to Phang Nga Bay go prepared with a waterproof bag and waterproof cover for your phone or camera so that they have extra protection if you’re out sea kayaking. When booking onto a tour try and opt for one of the smaller boat tours and try and get on one that maybe starts a bit earlier to try and beat the crowds to James Bond Island.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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A Day Trip To The Phi Phi Islands From Phuket

The Phi Phi Islands also known as Koh Phi Phi (Koh meaning island in Thai) is a cluster of six paradise islands set in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand, and are part of the Krabi province. With crystal clear turquoise ocean surrounding each of them and stunning white sand beaches curving around the islands and their jungle interior. They make the perfect tropical getaway, and they can easily be reached from both Phuket and Krabi.

Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest and most developed of all the islands, it’s where the main town is and all the hotels and resorts are located on this island, along with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars, Phi Phi Don is known as the party island! Loh Dalum Bay is the main party hub on the island, every night from 9pm the party kicks off on the beach with fire shows, Thai boxing and live bands all fighting for tourists attention. This is the place to come to drink buckets of booze and dance all night long.

Tonsai Bay is the bustling heart of Phi Phi Don it’s the main village on the island and the main arrival port. There are no cars or roads and everywhere can be reached by foot or bicycle, including Loh Dalum Bay which is a minutes walk away as this part of the island is so narrow.

All around Phi Phi Don are a variety of other beaches which are quieter such as Laem Tong Beach and Loh Bagao Beach. All of Phi Phi Don provides stunning scenery with its jagged cliffs and beautiful bays and beaches, however mass tourism has spoilt the island somewhat with over development and overcrowding of tourists.

Phi Phi Islands Phuket ThailandPhi Phi Islands Phuket ThailandPhi Phi Islands Phuket Thailand

Koh Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island that lies one mile from the southern tip of Koh Phi Phi Don. This island is most known for Maya Bay which was made famous by The Beach film back in 2000 that starred Leonardo DiCaprio. Phi Phi Leh offers stunning vertical cliffs capped with greenery, rocky caves, small sandy beaches and colourful coral reefs. Most visitors find their way around Phi Phi Leh on a tour boat.

The other four islands are Koh Pai also known as Bamboo Island, Koh Young also called Mosquito Island, and two islets marking the southern end of the archipelago named Koh Bida Noi and Koh Bida Nai.

With such a heavy footfall of people and boats coming to the islands, unfortunately, much of the coral reefs and marine life that once surrounded the islands have disappeared and much of the islands natural beauty is being threatened by more tourism expansion. Thai authorities are now seeing the effects of mass tourism on the islands and have recently been closing parts of the islands, and trying to reduce the number of visitors. So while planning your trip make sure to check what is open to the public, Maya Bay has been closed to let it recover.

Phi Phi Islands Phuket ThailandPhi Phi Islands Phuket Thailand

The Phi Phi islands were somewhere I had dreamt of going for many years all throughout my teenage years after I watched the Beach my infatuation for Thailand began, and after I graduated from university my then fiancée (now husband) decided to book a trip to Thailand – our first trip to Asia which sparked our obsession for the continent. For our first trip to Thailand, we booked a two week itinerary and went to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

When we visited the Phi Phi Islands many years ago we opted for a full day tour from Phuket, which included pick up from our hotel in Phuket and ferry to the islands where we cruised around some of them. We got off at Phi Phi Don for lunch and to relax on the beach, before heading off on a long tail boat to some snorkelling spots.

The Phi Phi islands have mixed reviews and they have become like marmite you will either love them or hate them! I think when visiting you have to go with an open mind and manage your expectations, yes they are touristy and overdeveloped, and they may not offer an authentic Thai experience, however the natural landscape is undeniably stunning, and I would suggest not letting anyone put you off going, if it’s somewhere you fancy going I will always suggest doing what feels right for you, and go and make your own mind up about a place.

Personally, I liked the Phi Phi islands as much as they were touristy etc, were they the best beaches I’ve ever been to? No, I have been to better beaches and snorkelled in better locations, however we had a really lovely day out to the islands and I would definitely like to go back in the future to see how the government has implemented changes and to perhaps make the islands tourism industry more sustainable, so the islands can be preserved and enjoyed by people in years to come.

Phi Phi Islands Phuket ThailandPhi Phi Islands Phuket Thailand

Transport & Getting Around

Getting to the Phi Phi Islands is pretty straight forward, the islands are located about 30 miles from Phuket and roughly the same distance from Krabi. There are basically two options to reach the islands and that is either by ferry or speedboat.

The ferry is the most popular choice for reaching the islands. Ferries take about two hours from Phuket and about an hour and a half from Krabi or Koh Lanta. The main departure/arrival port in Phuket is Rassada Pier which is located in Phuket Town. In Krabi, the main ferry pier is Klong Jirad Pier, situated just south of Krabi Town.

Top Tips

I would recommend when planning any trip to the Phi Phi islands to check to see what is open as recently the authorities have been trying to help the islands marine life recover so have closed parts of the islands such as Maya Bay. So be prepared and know what you’re able to visit when planning. A day tour is a great way to visit the islands if you don’t have much time and there is a huge selection of tours to choose from, however personally looking back I wish we had stayed a night or two on Phi Phi.

If you suffer from travel sickness then make sure to take travel sickness tablets before getting on a ferry or speedboat to the islands as the sea can be quite rough! When we visited a lot of the passengers on board the ferry were suffering from seasickness, myself included!

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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48 Hour Layover Guide To Yokohama

Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city by population after Tokyo, and Yokohama is located just half an hour south from Tokyo situated on Tokyo Bay. Yokohama may not be as exciting and have the same electric vibe as its neighbour Tokyo, it definitely has more of a business and corporate feel to it. That being said there are things to go see, do and explore and some excellent places to eat and drink and of course you can sing your heart out after a few sakes in one of the many karaoke bars.

Yokohama is one of Japans prominent port cities and over the years has developed rapidly, and business is booming in the area. The city also contains one of the worlds largest Chinatowns with hundreds of restaurants and shops.

I wouldn’t really suggest going out of your way to visit Yokohama as there are much more interesting places to explore around Japan, however if your in Yokohama on business or a layover then here’s a mini guide on some cool stuff to see and do.

Sights & Activities

Cup Noodles Museum

Entrance Fee: 500 JPY

Cup Noodles Museum is a bit of a fun novelty museum, with lots of information, facts, displays, factories and exhibitions all about Cup Noodles. Cup Noodles are huge in Japan, and this museum just proves the popularity of this snack. There are plenty of noodles to try and fun interactive areas in the museum. If your looking for something a little on the quirky side then thus museum is a must!

Karaoke

No trip to Japan is complete without a trip to one of the many karaoke bars and booths, karaoke was invented in Japan and attracts people from all walks of life. I’m not normally a karaoke fan, however in Japan, it is so much fun, you definitely need a few drinks in you first though! When in Yokohama like many other Japanese cities there are karaoke bars dotted all around the city and you can easily stumble across one.

I would recommend heading to the downtown area called Sakuragi-Cho also called Noge where there are plenty of small bars to go bar hopping and then finish your night in a karaoke bar. Many of the bars have set packages such as all you can drink for two hours etc prices and packages vary depending on the bar. Many of the karaoke booths have a box of fancy dress items too, which you should definitely make full use of, dress up as silly as you possibly can and sing the night away dressed like an idiot!

Minato Mirai

Minato Mirai is a futuristic area set along Yokohamas waterfront and the name translates to Harbor of the Future, the area has many features such as a Ferris wheel which is lit up at night, a 1930s sailing ship docked up and also an amusement park called Cosmo World. The Landmark Tower is a real highlight and is a huge skyscraper filled with shops, restaurants, hotels, offices and an observation deck, and it was Japans tallest building until 2014. Have breakfast in the hotel in the Landmark Tower before heading into Tokyo as it provides excellent views over the waterfront. If you can try and visit Minato Mirai both during the day and also at night to see the waterfront lit up.

Minato Mirai Yokohama

Pokemon Centre

There is a Pokemon Centre in Yokohama and if like me you’re a bit of a geek at heart and were also a huge pokemon loon as a kid you need to go! It’s more of a shop with plenty of merchandise available and also a gaming room. The Pokemon Centre is a smaller version to the one in Tokyo, but a must visit and its located just by Yokohama Station.

Pokemon Centre Yokohama

Sankeien Garden & Tea House

Entrance Fee: 700 JPY / Teahouse 500 JPY

Sankeien Garden is a great outdoor space to visit if you want to escape the modern skyrises of Yokohama. Its a large spacious and traditional Japanese Garden which features a pond, small rivers, historic buildings, tea house, pagodas and nature trails. The garden was created back in 1904. You can spend hours exploring all the different buildings and areas of the garden.

After we spent a few hours wandering around we went to the tea house which is a must! Sankeien Garden Tea House is located in the lobby of the memorial hall of Sankeien Gardens where you can enjoy a cup of matcha tea and some traditional Japanese sweets. The lovely ladies that work there also can show you the technique for making matcha tea. This was a real highlight of visiting the gardens as the ladies were so friendly, only one of them spoke a bit of broken English but we had such a laugh with them and got to experience a taste of Japanese culture.

Sankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House Yokohama

Food & Drink

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! the bar is one of my favourite bars in Yokohama and I have so many great memories of this bar or at least from what I can remember. Its one of the dinkiest bars ever, but has a friendly atmosphere and plenty of retro board games to play while your boozing, best of all – all drinks are 500 Yen! This 80s style bar is located in the Noge area which is the best area for nightlife and a decent bar crawl in the city, the bar is also open until the very early hours of the morning and has a great selection of cocktails.

Gyoza No Ohsho

Gyoza No Ohsho is a large chain and has restaurants all over the country, there are several dotted all over Yokohama. They make the most delicious gyozas which are their signature dish. They also have several Chinese dishes available too. The restaurants have a bit of a diner kind of feel to them, but if you want delicious, cheap and quick eats then head to any of the Gyoza Ohsho chains around Yokohama.

Gyoza No Ohsho Yokohama

Seryumon

Seryumon is like no other restaurant I have been to before, the restaurant is set out like an underground sewer with industrial pipes and brickwork. Every half an hour or so water runs through the middle of the restaurant, it’s definitely unique! As well as having a quirky interior it also serves delicious food, try their chilli chicken and gyozas! I visited the restaurant before I was vegetarian, so I can’t remember if there were many options for veggies, however it does have a slightly more western take on Japanese food so they might be able to adapt the menu to remove meat from a dish.

Seryumon Yokohama

Transport & Getting Around

Being Japans second largest city and being in close proximity to Tokyo means that Yokohamas transport links are very efficient, and there are plenty of options available to get about. The city has two major railway stations with lots of links to Tokyo and the surrounding areas. There are also subways and buses available, but if your planning on sticking to central Yokohama most places are easily accessible by foot. If you want to get between Tokyo and Yokohama take the Tokyu Toyoko Line and opt for the express or limited express trains as they cost the same as other trains but are much faster.

48 Hour Itinerary

  1. After arriving grab some lunch at Gyoza No Ohsho, then head to the Cup Noodle Factory. In the evening grab some dinner at Seryumon restaurant and have drinks in Noge and check out one of the many karaoke bars.
  2. Have a big breakfast at the Yokohama Royal Park hotel in the Landmark tower for incredible views over Minato Mirai. Then head to the Pokemon Centre, after that then onto Sankeien Garden to explore and check out the Tea House.

Top Tips

If your vegetarian or just prefer a plant based diet, then the biggest bit of advice would be to do some research before leaving your accommodation and decide where to eat beforehand.

Try downloading the Happy Cow app or googling vegetarian friendly restaurants as trying to seek out places that serve veggie food isn’t always obvious in Japan, so research before you go. If you can also take a small translation card or find it in a guide book and take the translation for vegetarian food, as there is a language barrier. So if you have this you can show waiters and waitresses so they can assist you.

I would really recommend when exploring the city to download the maps.me app this is a great app to have in any country but especially countries where there can be quite a big language barrier. I swear by having this map in an unfamiliar city. It’s like google maps but works offline, so is great if you don’t have WiFi.

I would recommend planning your day before heading out, and seeing what sights and attractions are near to one another. I normally search places on my maps.me app and save and pin it so I can see what is close by, and what is the best route to take so I’m not wasting time going out of the way and then having to go back on myself.

Important Information

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A Day Trip To Kamakura From Tokyo

Kamakura is a seaside town an hour south of Tokyo and is a popular coastal resort it is sometimes referred to as the Kyoto of eastern Japan, as it is very picturesque with numerous temples, historical monuments, Shinto shrines, hiking trails and several beaches. During the summer months, the beaches attract large crowds of domestic tourists. Kamakura makes a great day trip from Tokyo or Yokohama and is the perfect escape from the cities.

Sights & Activities

Daibutsu Hiking Trail

Daibutsu Hiking Trail is a wooded trail which is just short of 2 miles long, the trail begins just by Jōchi-Ji Temple and finishes just by The Great Buddha. We actually stumbled on this trail by accident when we got on the train we got off at Kita-Kamakura by accident rather than Kamakura, so we decided to go and visit the Engakuji Temple and Jōchi-Ji Temple.

Once we visited these temples we decided to walk to The Great Buddha, we didn’t plan on doing this trail and I didn’t have the best footwear on so make sure to wear some comfortable trainers or walking shoes if you plan on doing this trail, not some silly glittery peep toe dolly shoes like I had on! However the trail is quite an easy route and walking through the woods and bamboo forests were great and so nice to be out in nature, the trail was nice and quiet too.

The Daibutsu Hiking Trail took us just short of an hour half but we did stop a few times, make sure to also take plenty of water on this trail as there’s nowhere really to get a drink on route. There are several shrines along the way that are hidden away so if you are doing this route maybe pin them on your map so you know where to stop. I really recommend if your visiting Kamakura for the day to get off at the Kita-Kamakura stop as there are plenty of temples and shrines to see near to the station and then can take the Daibutsu Hiking Trail to the Great Buddha.

Daibutsu Hiking Trail KamakuraDaibutsu Hiking Trail Kamakura

Engakuji Temple

Entrance Fee: 300 JPY

Engakuji Temple is built into the slopes of Kita-Kamakuras forested hills and is one of Kamakura’s leading zen temples. The temple was founded back in 1282 and was built after a second invasion attempt by the Mongols to pay respect to both the Japanese and Mongolian soldiers that had died. Like many Japanese temples the entrance has a large wooden Sanmon gate at the entrance, and once inside the grounds of the temple there are several buildings to explore and there is also a traditional tea house on site too.

As we visited during the summer the trees were bright and green, however if you visit in the autumn be sure to visit this temple as there are plenty of maple trees surrounding the temple which turn to stunning autumn colours, Engakuji Temple is a must when visiting Kamakura.

Engakuji Temple KamakuraEngakuji Temple KamakuraEngakuji Temple Kamakura

Jōchi-Ji Temple

Entrance Fee: 200 JPY

Jōchi-Ji Temple is another one of Kamakura’s main zen temples, its close to Engakuji Temple which is its head temple. Jōchi-Ji Temple was once a huge temple complex, today it is a much smaller temple surrounded by forest. The temple was originally founded in 1283 by the ruling Hojo family in honour of their young son who died. Most of the buildings that stand there today have been there since the 1920s.

I would suggest visiting this temple after Engakuji Temple as they are only a few minutes walk apart from one another. The Daibutsu Hiking Trail also starts just by this temple too, the gardens in the temple grounds are calm and tranquil and the grounds have lush flowerbeds and bamboo groves which are great to stroll around before starting a hike.

Jōchi-ji Temple Kamakura

The Great Buddha (Kotoku-in Temple)

Entrance Fee: 300 JPY

The Great Buddha is a symbol of Kamakura and one of the pictures most associated with this coastal city. The Buddha draws plenty of visitors and is Japans second tallest bronze Buddha statues. The statue was cast back in 1252 and originally sat inside the temple, however the temple halls and buildings were destroyed on numerous occasions by typhoons and tsunamis back in the 14th and 15th centuries. Since the late 15th century the Buddha has been outside overlooking the city and coast. There is another small fee of 20 yen if you would like to enter the Buddha statues interior. As the Great Buddha is Kamakuras top attraction it would be a crime to miss it, so make sure this is top of your must see list in Kamakura.

The Great Buddha (Kotoku-in Temple) KamakuraThe Great Buddha (Kotoku-in Temple) Kamakura

Zaimokuza Beach

Zaimokuza Beach is one of five beaches set along Kamakuras 5 miles of coastline, the other beaches are Yuigahama Beach and Koshigoe Beach which are the other two main beaches along with Zaimokuza Beach, and Inamuragasaki and Shichirigahama are two smaller beaches and coves which are less touristy. Zaimokuza Beach is one of the main tourist beaches but is less crowded than Yuigahama and is set in a calm cove. The official beach season in Kamakura is short lived and only runs from July – August, when many beachfront bars, cafes, restaurants and beach huts open for business, and watersport equipment is available for rent.

Zaimokuza Beach is only a few minutes walk from the Great Buddha and on clear days you can also get a glimpse of Mt Fuji, however if you want the best view then head to Inamuragasaki which is also a popular spot for surfers.

We visited Zaimokuza Beach and had a stroll along with it after visiting the Great Buddha, and we enjoyed getting to see one of Japans beaches and viewing the coastline, which considering Japan is a cluster of islands I never think to associate beaches with Japan, so if you’re visiting Tokyo or one of the surrounding areas make sure to head down to one of Kamakura’s beaches for something a little different.

Zaimokuza Beach KamakuraZaimokuza Beach Kamakura

Transport & Getting Around

Kamakura is pretty straight forward to reach from both Tokyo and Yokohama, if you take the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo it goes directly to Kita-Kamakura and Kamakura and stops via Yokohama where you can also get the train directly from on the same line. The trains are regular and also very cost efficient costing between £3-£7 per person depending on where you take the train from.

There are also buses from Tokyo to Kamakura however these take a long time and are more expensive. Taxis are also available but cost far more, personally I would always recommend taking the trains as much as possible in Japan as they are so clean and efficient  and cost effective when not taking very long journeys.

Due to Kamakuras small size the area can be explored by foot, scenic hiking or by bicycle, there are several rental places to rent bikes if you wanted to cycle around. There is also a good network of city buses, trains and taxis availble for slightly longer distances.

Top Tips

If your vegetarian or just prefer a plant based diet, then the biggest bit of advice would be to do some research before leaving your accommodation and decide where to eat beforehand.

Try downloading the Happy Cow app or googling vegetarian friendly restaurants as trying to seek out places that serve veggie food isn’t always obvious in Japan, so research before you go. If you can also take a small translation card or find it in a guide book and take the translation for vegetarian food, as there is a language barrier. So if you have this you can show waiters and waitresses so they can assist you.

I would really recommend when exploring the city to download the maps.me app this is a great app to have in any country but especially countries where there can be quite a big language barrier. I swear by having this map in an unfamiliar city. It’s like google maps but works offline, so is great if you don’t have WiFi.

I would recommend planning your day before heading out, and seeing what sights and attractions are near to one another. I normally search places on my maps.me app and save and pin it so I can see what is close by, and what is the best route to take so I’m not wasting time going out of the way and then having to go back on myself.

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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Cultural Things To See & Do In Bali

Bali is a paradise island situated in Indonesia, Bali is known all around the world as a tourist hotspot, and there are so many reasons why people are drawn to this beautiful tropical island. Bali is known as the island of the gods, as its a really holy place full of temples and shrines. Many locals put out daily offerings to the gods with beautiful flower petals arrangements and burn candles and incense.

The island has a rich and diverse culture and most days of the week you will witness a procession of locals heading towards one of the many temple ceremonies. Bali is covered in forested volcanic mountains, green rice paddies, beaches and has coral reefs surrounding the island. The island itself is very spiritual and draws visitors from all around the world who are seeking peace, yoga and meditation practises.

We only spent 5 nights in Bali which definitely wasn’t enough! We stayed in Ubud and did a day trip around some major sites around the island, but would definitely love to go back and spend longer exploring some different regions of Bali. Many people that visit Bali split their stay between different areas and divide their time between the beaches and the green forested areas in the centre of the island. Bali has so much to see and do, you could spend weeks exploring its sites. In this quick guide are some of the main cultural sites and attractions to see if you’re limited on time.

Sights & Activities

Balinese Dance

Entrance Fee: 100,000 IDR

There are many places all around Bali that host ancient Balinese traditional dances and theatre shows. Many of these shows are artistic and express stories through the art form of dance and specific body movements with gestures being demonstrated using fingers, hands and eye expressions. These dances are truly unique to Balinese culture and are widely connected to the Hindu religion and Bali folklore. The dances all have different meanings and Balinese names such as Barong, Legong and Baris to name a few.

There are shows held all around the island but Ubud is a very popular place to view one of these performances due to it being the cultural and historical hub of Bali. There are shows every night in Ubud at several locations. I would suggest when travelling around Bali that you aim to see one of the shows in Ubud as they are frequent.

We went to one of the shows held every night at 19:30 at Ubud Palace, there is a different show every night which all perform various Balinese dance styles. The shows at Ubud Palace are only about £6 per person so really affordable. I really recommend spending one evening going to watch one of these shows as it’s great that these traditions are being kept going, they are truly unique and like nothing you have will have ever seen before.

Balinese Dance Ubud

Goa Gajah

Entrance Fee: 50,000 IDR

Goa Gajah is a Hindu temple and archaeological site located just outside of Ubud and is also known as the Elephant Cave due to its close proximity to the Elephant River. The site is said to date back to the 11th century, but with some fragment, relics found close by dating back even earlier! Entering through the face in the rock you step into a small cave which has some small statues and offerings, once you pass through the small narrow cave you come out to two bathing pools with statues. You only need approximately one hour or so to explore this historical site, it’s gardens and surrounding area. Go with knees covered or you can hire sarongs at the entrance. I really enjoyed visiting this site and if you can try and get there early to beat the crowds. We hired a scooter and drove to the temple as it isn’t too far from Ubud centre, however a lot of set day tours stop here too if you prefer booking onto tours.

Goa Gajah BaliGoa Gajah Bali

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are located in the centre of Bali and span over 600 hectares of rice fields following the hillside of the Batukaru Mountain Range, they are part of UNESCO world heritage sites. You could easily spend a few days exploring this area of Bali as there are beautiful mountains, small villages and lots of great local restaurants.

We stopped here on a day tour we booked and stopped to admire the views and for some lunch. It started to rain heavily while we were there, so took the views in undercover. The terraces are stunning, and I honestly have never seen a more vivid shade of green in my life! This area is the very definition of rural Bali if you’re looking to escape the crowds then look into staying in the area at one of the many mountain retreats on offer.

If your staying in Ubud and don’t fancy venturing very far for rice fields, then not to worry as all around Ubud there are plenty of rice terraces with the most famous ones being Tegalalang Terraces. Many tourists don’t leave the resorts or beaches which makes the rice fields a great place to escape and explore in peace and quiet.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Monkey Forest

Entrance Fee: 80,000 IDR

The famous Monkey Forest is located in Ubud and is seen as an important spiritual and economic centre for the village of Padangtegal which also own the forest. Hidden in the forest are several ancient temples to visit as well. The forest is stunning and like many areas in Bali provides the most beautiful shades of green. The forest has a mysterious feel to it when wandering around and it’s great to watch the monkeys play. There is a large variety of species of trees as well as hundreds of monkeys that call this forest home. You can also feed the monkeys with fruits that you can purchase at the entrance too, do not take any food or drink from outside into the forest to ensure the monkeys don’t become aggressive to steal the food and also to ensure they are getting the correct diet of food. This was one of my favourite areas in Bali it had a really magical feel to the area and I loved watching all the monkeys and being amongst nature. If you’re in Ubud I personally think the Monkey Forest is a must!

Monkey Forest Ubud BaliMonkey Forest Ubud BaliMonkey Forest Ubud Bali

Taman Ayun Temple

Entrance Fee: 10,000 IDR

Pura Taman Ayun is in the heartlands of Bali and situated approximately 30 minutes drive from Ubud. It is a huge royal water temple surrounded by a moat, it was the main temple of the Mengwi Kingdom which survived until 1891. The temple was built in 1634 and was renovated back in 1937. The temple is full of traditional Balinese architectural features which spread throughout the many shrines, buildings, courtyards and gardens. The name of the temple translates into a beautiful garden. The temple forms part of Bali’s UNESCO world heritage site. It’s well worth a visit, especially as it’s not too far away from Ubud if that’s where you are basing yourself for your trip.

Taman Ayun Temple BaliTaman Ayun Temple Bali

Tanah Lot & Batu Bolong Temple

Entrance Fee: 60,000 IDR

Tanah Lot is a rock formation with a Hindu shrine dedicated to the Balinese sea gods, the temple forms an important aspect of Balinese mythology and spirituality. Tanah Lot is situated just offshore on the south east coast of Bali. It was created back in the 16th century by a Hindu priest. Some of the temple and rock has been restored, as they suffered badly from erosion from the large waves and high tides over the years. When it is high tide the shrine cannot be reached when it is low tide people can walk across to the rock formation and the low sea level exposes small caves and crevices.

The complex also has nearby shrines such as Batu Bolong Temple which is on the beach of Canggu, the name translates into perforated rock, as the name suggests it sits out into the ocean and the rock has a hole in the middle. This temple is popular with many Hindus who go there to pray daily.

These shrines are a must visit on any trip to Bali, I would suggest going early to avoid the crowds or try to be there for sunset, however it is much busier around that time. Unfortunately when we visited the heavens opened up and we got soaked, I would love to go back and revisit.

Tanah Lot and Batu Bolong Temple BaliTanah Lot and Batu Bolong Temple Bali

Ubud

Ubud is the cultural hub of the island, full with beautiful Balinese buildings, temples and green spaces. The area surrounding Ubud is full of jungles and rice terraces. Ubud is a very on trend place with plenty of spas, yoga retreats, fashion and homeware boutiques not to mention there are lots of traditional arts and crafts available all around Ubud from local workshops and markets.

The village of Ubud is also a foodies dream with so many cute hipster cafes and restaurants to pick from. Ubud really has it all apart from the ocean, but it is the greenest place I have ever been to and has so much nature surrounding it. I would suggest staying in Ubud for a couple of nights on your trip to Bali at least, and if your not a beach lover you could easily spend your whole trip in Ubud and get out exploring all the temples and historic sites. You can base yourself in Ubud and do plenty of day tours around the rest of the island too.

Most days we would take our scooter out and go driving around the area stopping at temples and then in the afternoon grab some lunch and hit the local markets such as the Art Market (Pasar Seni), Street Market and the Traditional Market which are a few we visited! There are so many markets and also night markets to explore if your a shopaholic then leave plenty of room in your suitcase.

Ubud BaliUbud BaliUbud Bali

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

Entrance Fee: 50,000 IDR

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is one of Bali’s most famous temples and is placed on Lake Beratan which is Bali’s second largest lake. It is in the highlands of the mountainous region of Bedugul, and the temple is dedicated to several Hindu gods. There are signs that the temple dates back as early as 1556, but was rebuilt in 1633. The gardens of the temple are stunning with gorgeous views over the lake, temples and mountains in the distance. It’s a really calm place to visit and much cooler with its mountain air. This was our first stop on our day tour around the island if your planning on visiting Ulun Danu Beratan Temple I would suggest booking a private driver or book onto a tour that stops there, as it’s high in the mountains it might not be the easiest drive for someone not familiar with the roads.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali

Transport & Getting Around

Getting around Bali is pretty easy and most locals and tourists tend to opt for scooters, as they’re quick and easy to get from a to b and cheap to run and hiring them doesn’t cost much at all. When hiring a scooter make sure to wear a helmet as there have been so many horrendous stories of tourists having accidents not just in Bali but all around South East Asia.

You can also hire bicycles around the villages but Bali roads aren’t for the faint hearted especially on a bike! Some are in quite a poor condition too, so speak to you accommodation provider who will be able to recommend good places to hire bicycles and some hotels even have them to hire out as well as scooters. There is public transport in the form of a van crammed with seats like a bus called bemos, these aren’t a popular choice with either locals or tourists as they run on a set route, and are few and far between as most people tend to opt for scooters or private drivers.

Bali is easily accessible by many flights that land into Ngurah Rai International Airport with flights from all over the world and Asia. You can also get boats to Bali from both Lombok and the Gili Islands with plenty of different options available.

As we were limited on time we booked a full day island tour through Perama Tours who are reliable and great value and are an Indonesian based tour operator. The tour we booked took us to Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Munduk Waterfall Valley, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Taman Ayun Temple, Tanah Lot and Batu Bolong Temple. They have a variety of tours available if you’re tight on time then booking day tours are a great way to get out and see everything you want to see and with the knowledge of a local.

Top Tips

Bali is an incredible place to visit and it is an extremely popular tourist destination so do go with an open mind and expect crowds. Don’t always go expecting you’re going to be the only one at a popular tourist spot, don’t let Instagram fool you! Many of these travel influencers that get these amazing photos will get up at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds and a do a lot of photoshopping, so don’t be shocked if you go somewhere and it is heaving with people.

Bali is full of many religious sites and temples so dress modestly with shoulders and knees covered. A lot of the religious sites will allow you to hire sarongs to cover yourself too. Also note that many high end bars and restaurants have a dress code too, and beachwear in some places may not be allowed, check prior to going to certain places to avoid any disappointment.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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A Day Trip To The Gili Islands From Lombok

The Gili Islands are a group of three tiny islands clustered close to one another. The islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are situated near the coast of northwest Lombok. The islands are a popular spot for tourists for their white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees and coral reefs just offshore.

Gili Islands IndonesiaGili Islands IndonesiaGili Islands Indonesia

Each island although similar in appearance all have quite a different vibe from one another. All of the Gilis do not have roads and do not permit any motorised vehicles on them, so the main way to get around each island is by foot, bicycle or by cidomo (horsedrawn carts). Just be careful with hiring a horse and cart as I have heard many stories of the horses not being cared for properly.

Gili Trawangan (Gili T) is the largest of the islands and attracts the majority of visitors, it takes approximately 30 minutes by boat from the northwest of Lombok and regular daily fast boats depart Bali directly to Gili T. Gili T is popular with tourists as it has the most going on in comparison to the other Gili Islands – restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. Gili T was once known as a hippie party island, but today is popular with both backpackers and families.

Gili Islands IndonesiaGili Islands Indonesia

Gili Meno is the smallest Gili Island and by far the most peaceful and underdeveloped, and is popular with honeymooners and the more mature traveller. The island is ringed by pristine beaches and coral reefs. Most accommodation is on the east side of the island with the most beautiful beach on offer, although there is some development going on in the west of the island. Inland on Gili Meno are homesteads, coconut plantations and there is a salty lake.

Gili Air is the island closest to Lombok and is a good island to visit if you want the best of both worlds – less busy than Gili T, but with still a little bit of nightlife, and chilled out enough so you can do plenty of relaxing. The snorkelling is really good right off from the main beach too. The beaches on Gili Air are said to be the best out of the three islands.

We visited the Gilis on a day trip from Lombok and booked a boat trip through Perama Tours which picked us up from the hotel in the morning and took us to the harbour where we then had a private boat that took us snorkelling around all three of the islands, and we stopped at Gili T where we had a wander around and had lunch and got to spend some time on the beach.

Gili Islands IndonesiaGili Islands IndonesiaGili Islands Indonesia

After lunch, we got back on the boat for some more snorkelling around the islands. The Gili islands also have lots of scuba diving trips and courses available too, and the scuba diving is meant to be amazing! Snorkelling is really great around all of the islands and we were lucky enough to swim alongside a beautiful turtle.

Gili Islands Indonesia

The Gili Islands are an absolute must when planning a trip to Indonesia, and you could easily spend your whole holiday there or add it on to a Bali or Lombok itinerary. Personally, I would love to go back and revisit the Gilis and next time I would like to spend a few nights there. I would recommend that if you have time to spend a couple of nights on the islands. However if you are limited on time like we were, a day trip is a good idea so that you can get a taste of the islands.

Gili Islands IndonesiaGili Islands Indonesia

Transport & Getting Around

The quickest and easiest way to get to the Gili Islands is from Lombok, as they are much closer in proximity than Bali. From Lombok, there are several transfers that can be booked as well as cheap public boats. Each of the Gilis has public boats in their harbour areas that leave when at full capacity.

Depending on which Gili Island you are visiting there are several departures from Lombok to the Gilis throughout the day, there is Teluk Nare Harbour which is where the ferries and speedboats come in, and Bangsal Harbour which offers public boats across to the Gilis. From both these ports, Gili Air is only a 10 minute boat ride, to Gili Meno it is 15 minutes and to Gili Trawangan its around 20 – 30 minutes.

Once on the Gilis you can easily get between each island by hopping on one of the boats which runs between them all regularly, and they are all between 5 – 10 minute boat ride apart from one another.

There are also plenty of options to reach the Gilis from Bali, which are longer boat journeys but easily doable and can take anything between 1 to 5 hours depending on which option you choose and where you depart from. There are fast boats and also ferries which run between Bali, the Gili Islands and Lombok. The ferry option is a cheap option, but I would only recommend to people on a tight budget and travelling for an extended amount of time. I would suggest anyone who is on holiday for a few weeks to go with the quicker options. You can also charter private boats to take you across from both Bali and Lombok.

We booked through Perama Tours to go from Lombok to the Gili Islands as they have daily tours but you can also book boat transfers through them as well.

Top Tips

The Gili Islands although set up for tourists, they are a little more behind with facilities to that of its popular island neighbour Bali. Make sure to carry cash as well as cards as ATMs are only in a few hotels in Gili T, and cards are accepted but monly in modern establishments.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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