Covent Garden Market

A Quick Guide To Covent Garden

Covent Garden is one of Londons more upmarket areas and is situated in the West End. Covent Garden is both popular with Londoners and tourists as it has lots to offer all visitors from luxury fashion boutiques, arts and craft stalls, markets, a wide choice of places to eat, alfresco dining, elegant bars and the whole area has a buzz especially around the Piazza where you can find street performers and crowds of spectators.

This pretty area of London is saturated in history and heritage and has undergone many transformations over the centuries and should not be missed! You could easily spend a full day exploring the streets of Covent Garden and sampling what it has on offer, however if you are stuck for time why not make a pit stop and grab some food or a drink in the area and have a wander around Covent Garden Market and its Piazza.

In this quick guide I have listed the top sites, places to shop and explore, streets to stroll down and where to eat and drink. So pin all these places on your map or load it up when your there and scroll through the lists of my top recommendations, Enjoy!

Top Sites & Attractions

  • Covent Garden Market, Piazza & St Pauls Church: This is the heart and soul of the area and if you do one thing when visiting it should be this! Wander through the market, watch street performers and people watch in the piazza and visit St Pauls Church. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle go into St Pauls garden courtyard behind the church.
  • Gas Lamps: I know it’s a bit random to mention gas lamps, but around the Covent Garden Market, the Piazza and St Pauls still stand original gas lamps which are some of the last in the city, as most street lamps are now electric, they are still manually lit by lamp attendants every evening.
  • London Transport Museum: This interactive museum has a huge collection of London transport memorabilia and is a great place to come for families or anyone that is interested in the cities transport history.
  • National Portrait Gallery: It is home to a whole range of portrait paintings and houses many pieces of artwork of historical importance and well known famous British people.
  • Royal Opera House: Sometimes just referred to as Covent Garden this world-class opera house and performing arts venue is a stunning building, even if you’re not attending a performance you can’t miss this stunning building which is just by the Piazza. Keep an eye out as sometimes you can pick up tickets for as little as £10 depending on the show, day and time etc. There are also tours available.
  • Somerset House: Is a stunning neoclassical building which hosts a variety of art and film exhibitions, ice skating in the winter, as well as other events. There are several restaurants and cafes onsite too. In the summer you can sit outside in the courtyard with a picnic and watch the choreographed fountains. It’s free to enter inside, however you will need to purchase tickets for some exhibitions.
  • Young Dancer Statue: Just across from the Royal Opera House is a life-sized bronze ballet dancer statue, it’s a really pretty statue and great for a photo opportunity.
Covent Garden MarketRoyal Opera House Covent GardenYoung Dancer Statue Covent Garden

Best Places To Shop

Markets

  • Apple Market: Set in the main Covent Garden Market Building, this small market has a variety of stalls selling handmade crafts and gifts from local traders.
  • East Colonnade Market: These stalls are set around the Covent Garden Market and sell a range of products from handmade soaps, jewellery, sweets, homewares and much more.
  • Jubilee Market: This market is located just across from Covent Garden Market and is a general market selling clothes and souvenirs etc, but also has some antiques and collectables as well as craft stalls, there are different stalls on different days of the week.

Must Visit Shops

  • Benjamin Pollocks Toyshop: This eccentric toy shop dates back to the 1880s and specialises in theatrical, creative and educational toys. This shop is a perfect place for families to visit or if you’re looking for a quirky gift for a child.
  • Floral Steet Fragrance: Is an English fragrance brand, but the pretty shop in Covent Garden is a must-visit for any perfume fanatics out there.
  • Petersham Nurseries: This stunning shop sells an array of plants, homewares, gifts and more, they also have several cafes, delis and restaurants in Covent Garden too as well as in Richmond.
  • Stanfords Travel: Is a travel enthusiasts dream! They are the UK’s leading travel book, maps and travel accessories specialist. It was established back in 1853 by Edward Stanford. This is quite possibly one of my favourite shops in Covent Garden you could easily spend a while searching through the many travel books and guides, there is also a small cafe on-site too.
  • The Vintage Showroom: This gorgeous old fashioned shop sells all things vintage fashion and accessories alongside their own brand of up-cycled fashion, no clothes go to waste there and they have a an awesome sustainable ethos.

Shopping Streets

  • Cecil Court: A whole street dedicated to shops specialising in arts, antiques, books and curiosities.
  • Floral Street, King Street, Long Acre & Monmouth Street: Are all streets bursting full of a variety of shops from independents to brands and concept stores.
  • Neal Street: Neal Street is full of more great shops and just by Neals Yard.
  • Neal’s Yard: This tucked away colourful square has several cafes and small shops and of course a Neals Yard shop, this is a good place to stop for a coffee break.
  • Seven Dials: It gets its name from the seven streets that lead off from this junction. This area has both flagship shops and concept shops as well as boutiques, cafes, pubs and much more. It’s a more chilled out area of the city too, and has a much slower pace feel to it.
  • St Martin’s Lane & Courtyard: St Martin’s Lane is another popular shopping street, and the courtyard is a beautiful open-air shopping destination.
  • The Yards: Are made up of St Martin’s Courtyard, Mercer Walk and Old Brewer’s Yard, The Yards has a unique selection of shops throughout interconnected courtyards with pop up shops and events happening regularly.

Covent Garden MarketCovent Garden MarketJubilee Market Covent GardenCovent Garden MarketNeals Yard Covent GardenPetersham NurseriesStanford’s Travel

Best Places To Eat & Drink

Bars & Pubs

Cafes

Restaurants

Covent GardenCovent Garden PubCovent Garden

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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How To Spend A Long Weekend In Norfolk: Norwich, Norfolk Broads & The North Coast

Norfolk is a county in the East of England and is part of East Anglia. It’s a county which is bordered by Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The county of Norfolk is surrounded by 90 miles of coastline and its famous for the Broads National Park, countryside, forests and the historic city of Norwich.

The county of Norfolk can sometimes be overlooked or associated with posh old people, but I can honestly say the past few times I have visited Norfolk I have been pleasantly surprised and asked myself why I hadn’t visited sooner?! I am the worst person at always jetting off to exotic locations rather than exploring my own home – the UK. Coronavirus this year has made us all slow down and appreciate just what we have on our doorstep.

My husband and I decided we fancied a little break after lockdown and somewhere that wasn’t more than 3 hours drive away from our home. So we opted for 3 days in Norfolk, and left our home Friday morning and spent our first day in Norwich, our second day kayaking and sightseeing around the Norfolk Broads and our last day doing a mini coastal road trip (a typical English weather day on our last day and it poured with rain for most the day). If your looking for a long weekend away then head to Norfolk it really does have something to suit everyone.

Norwich

Norwich is steeped in history from over the years and this still shows vividly through the cities unique and charming architecture and is the most complete medieval city in the UK. It’s been a city since 1094 and is the county town of Norfolk. Norwich used to be the largest city in England after London during the middle ages and right up until the industrial revolution. Norwich has two universities and has a hipster vibe to the place, I was really surprised at how cool and quirky Norwich actually was full of stunning buildings and cute shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see, do and eat in the city, even if you don’t spend a weekend in Norfolk, if your not too far away from Norwich it would also make an excellent day trip, just set off early so you can make a full day of exploring this pretty little city.

Sights & Activities

Cow Tower

Cow Tower is one of the oldest artillery blockhouses in England, and was constructed in approximately 1398 and was to assist with the cities defence. The inside of this brick tower is closed to the public, however you can wander around the outside and there is an information plaque just by it. It’s close to the city centre and within walking distance of Norwich Cathedral, Pulls Ferry and situated next to the river which is lovely to walk along.

Cow Tower Norwich

Elm Hill & Tombland

Elm Hill is a medieval street in the heart of the city located in Tombland, this cobbled street is the most famous street in Norwich and full of historic charm with merchant houses, thatched roofs, arts and crafts shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see and do and you can even do a self-guided walking trail (pick up a map from the tourist information centre or from specific shops in the cathedral quarter). The streets a great place to visit all year round and has a quintessentially traditional English feel to it, and lots of great spots to snap pretty photos.

There was a big fire back in 1507 which destroyed a huge majority of the street, but the street and it’s properties were rebuilt shortly after. The only surviving building from that fire was The Britons Arms which was originally a Tudor inn, but today is a family-run coffee shop and a must visit.

Tombland is in the very centre of Norwich and used to be the hub of activity before 1066 before the Normans arrived. There are lots of historic architectural gems to see in the area such as Erpingham Gate, Ethelbert Gate, Tombland Alley, Augustine Steward House and The Maids Head Hotel to name a few so pin these places on your map and seek them out.

Elm Hill NorwichElm Hill NorwichErpingham Gate Tombland NorwichTombland Norwich

Norwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Royal Arcade is a beautiful shopping arcade which was built towards the end of the Victorian era. The Royal Arcade is in the city centre and full of cafes, specialist shops, vintage boutiques and gift shops. If you enjoy shopping but prefer shopping from independent shops then this is the place to come!

Norwich Royal ArcadeNorwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Castle

Entrance Fee: £9.90 Per Adult

Norwich Castle is one of the cities famous landmarks and is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city. The castle was built over 900 years ago by the Normans as a royal palace. Today it stands as a museum and art gallery, there is a range of displays from various natural history, archaeology, fine art and much more. When we visited the museum was closed due to COVID-19 so we just had a walk around it to admire the building itself.

Norwich Castle

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral is another one of the cities famous landmarks, the cathedral’s construction began in 1096 and was completed in 1145. The cathedral is run by the Church of England and is one of the most complete Norman cathedrals in all of England. The cathedral is a grand and stunning building with lots of intricate details both inside and outside. The cathedral is free to enter and explore and there are lots to learn about the cathedrals 900 years of history. There are some gardens, a cafe and lots to explore around the cathedral and visit the cathedral quarter of the city.

Norwich CathedralNorwich Cathedral

Pulls Ferry

Pulls Ferry is set along the River Wensum and is a 15th century watergate, the channel running up to the gate is much older. A canal used to run under the arch of the building and was built by monks to help with transporting stone and building supplies to build the cathedral which would have been offloaded there. The building is privately owned and you can access the outside of the building and walk around it, there isn’t much else other than a sign with information on about Pulls Ferry. I would recommend stopping by here as the walk along the river is a really enjoyable and relaxing thing to do in the city, and you can see many of Norwich’s famous landmarks which are closeby.

Pulls Ferry Norwich

The Lanes

Norwich Lanes are a must when in the city, these beautiful lanes, alleyways and courtyards are full of quirky appeal and lots of historical architecture. These narrow lanes are mainly pedestrianised and have lots of traders from boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries, museums and even an independent cinema and community theatre. We loved exploring the lanes and seeing what specialist shops were selling, the whole area has a real buzz about it.

The Lanes Norwich

Norwich Market & Jarrold Department Store

Norwich Market is an attraction in itself and is one of the oldest and largest markets in England. The market is bright and colourful and situated in the heart of the city. It doesn’t just sell your typical wares you would find on a market, but a whole range of unique stalls selling vintage fashion, crystals, homewares, homemade goods and lots of food stalls and delicatessens as well as your more obvious market stalls selling fruit, veg and flowers etc. We loved wandering through the market and found lots of cool things to buy.

Just a stone’s throw away from the market is the independent 250 year old department store – Jarrolds. This family-run business is a great little place to have a browse and shop, they have several other shops dotted around Norfolk but the one in Norwich is their flagship store.

Norwich MarketJarrold Department Shop Norwich

Food & Drink

Alchemista Coffee

Alchemista Coffee is a unique independent cafe in the city centre and serves up amazing food and drink, and specialises in quality coffee. Try out one of their speciality coffees or signature cocktails. We visited in the morning before we headed to the Norfolk broads and we got there just in time before there was a queue out the door, this cafe seems really popular with locals. I had the black toade coffee and it was delicious!

Alchemista Coffee Norwich

Erpingham House

Erpingham House is an absolute must visit if your vegetarian or vegan they offer a full plant-based and plastic free menu. Not only do they have a really good sustainability ethos and menu but the restaurant, bar and cafe themselves are stunning, the decor is very insta-worthy and very feminine, I dragged my husband there for dinner. It’s set in a beautiful old building and spread across three floors. I opted for the hoisin jackfruit pancakes which were amazing! Erpingham House is the perfect place to come and has a luxe vibe to the place. The service was also really good, add this restaurant to your Norwich itinerary!

Erpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House Norwich

Little Shop Of Vegans

Little Shop Of Vegans is the cutest shop and full to the brim with vegan products that I didn’t even realise existed. It’s a great place to come to pick up kitchen staples but also a great place to pick up lots of vegan snacks too. They also have a plastic free section too selling lots of sustainable toiletries. We bought a few items to take home with us to try and some snacks for the weekend. My husband and I are both vegetarian but dabble in veganism and love finding places like this as it gives us lots of ideas to make some more simple vegan switches.

Little Shop Of Vegans NorwichLittle Shop Of Vegans Norwich

Thai Kitti

Thai Kitti is a family-run restaurant and is a great place to come in the centre of Norwich serving up Thai comfort food. We went there after our day out on the broads, they have a lot of choice on the menu with a variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes as well as meat dishes.

Thai Kitti NorwichThai Kitti Norwich

The Tipsy Vegan

The Tipsy Vegan was our absolute favourite place we ate at all weekend in Norfolk! It’s set in an old pub in the lanes area of the city and serves up delicious vegan comfort food, tapas and cocktails. It’s an intimate restaurant and the staff were really friendly and helpful. We opted for the tapas for lunch and selected several dishes from the menu all of them were cooked to perfection, my absolute favourites were the bao buns and coconut crusted tofu bites which I still dream about to this day! This small restaurant is a great place to visit any time of day for either brunch, lunch or dinner or just a few cheeky cocktails, make sure this place is on your must visit list.

The Tipsy Vegan Norwich

Accommodation

Suburban Bedouin Tent

If your looking for an affordable and eccentric place to stay then this Surbuban Bedouin Tent is the perfect place to stay for the weekend. As we visited Norfolk in the summer holidays and during the summer of COVID-19 where no one was really travelling anywhere outside of the UK. We found that a lot of places were fully booked or ridiculously overpriced, which for a UK break I just can’t justify. As I was searching for accommodation in and around Norwich I stumbled across this little Airbnb and it was an absolute gem. It was quiet and comfortable and at only £50 a night it was really affordable.

It’s set less than a 10 minutes drive out of the city centre of Norwich and our host Gary was really warm and friendly and couldn’t do enough for us, and even welcomed us with some traditional mint tea to get us settled in. The tents tucked away his back garden and feel really private and aren’t overlooked. Inside the tent is decorated beautifully and has a proper bed inside and is adorned with soft furnishings and lanterns. The bathrooms are in the house but you could access the bathroom from the back door which we had keys to, we also had access to the kitchen and there was parking available.

If you’re looking for an affordable stay in Norfolk and to be within driving distance of Norwich, Norfolk Broads and Norfolk’s coast, then this really is the perfect spot to stay and something a little bit different to your box standard hotel or bed and breakfast.

Suburban Bedouin Tent Airbnb NorwichSuburban Bedouin Tent Airbnb NorwichSuburban Bedouin Tent Airbnb Norwich

Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads is a huge national park full of waterways, lakes, rivers, marshes and countryside and has unique wildlife, flora and fauna. In between all the water are lots of lovely quaint towns and villages. The city of Norwich is in the national park, so it’s easy to reach the Broads from there. Spend a full day exploring the Broads as there is so much to see and do, especially if the weather is nice then there are lots of lovely walks to do around the area. The weather wasn’t great when we visited so we just opted to drive around and stop at various viewpoints and mills after a morning of kayaking on the Broads.

Sights & Activities

Hickling Broad

Hickling Broad is the largest out of all the broads and is a great location as it’s not too far from the Norfolk coast. Hickling is surrounded by pretty villages, pubs and a whole array of local wildlife that call this broad home. The best way to experience the Norfolk Broads is by getting out on the water either by hiring a boat or by doing some water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing. We decided to hire a double kayak from Norfolk Outdoor Adventure which was £35 for two hours and included all our equipment. We spent the morning kayaking around the broad and saw lots of birds and wildlife. It was such a great way to start our day around the broads.

Norfolk Outdoor Adventure Hickling Broad NorfolkHickling Broad NorfolkHickling Broad Norfolk

Horsey Windpump

Entrance Fee: £7 Per Adult

After kayaking we drove to Horsey Windpump as it’s not very far from Hickling Broad, this mill has been there since 1912 and is one of the more well known mills in the area and is owned by the national trust. Due to COVID, it was closed however you could still walk around the outside and the tea room next to it was still open. Normally there is an entrance fee to go inside the mill so you can get views of the surrounding area.

Horsey Windpump Norfolk Broads

Stubbs Mill

Stubbs Mill was another mill we drove to as it wasn’t too far from Horsey Windpump, this brick mill was constructed between the late 1700s and early 1800s. You can’t enter inside but you can walk around the outside. When we visited we were the only ones there it’s quite hidden away and down a country lane. There also looked like there were plenty of nature trails nearby you could walk on a nice day.

Stubbs Mill Norfolk Broads

Thurne Dyke Mill

Thurne Dyke Mill was built beside the River Thurne in 1820, this was my favourite mill we visited as the surrounding area was stunning and there were lots of boats cruising down the river, there’s also a pub across from it so you can stop here for a drink too. The windmill is closed to the public like many of them are but you can still admire the building and the surrounding areas from outside.

Thurne Dyke Mill NorfolkThurne Dyke Mill Norfolk

Wroxham Barns

We stopped at Wroxham Barns for some lunch there’s a restaurant, tearoom, local arts and crafts shops and shops selling local produce. It’s a great place for families too as there are play areas and animal farms for children. I would recommend coming for lunch and a wander around the independent shops, we spent about an hour or so there in between driving around the Broads.

Wroxham Barns NorfolkWroxham Barns Norfolk

North Norfolk Coast

The North Norfolk Coast is a long stretch of coast with millions of years worth of history surrounding it. There are award winning beaches, salt marshes, coastal trails, pretty villages, seaside towns and inland there is plenty of countryside and nature walks. North Norfolk is also home to a big part of the UK’s largest wetland – The Norfolk Broads. The north coast of Norfolk is a great area to explore either for a day trip or you could easily have a UK holiday in the area and spend days at different beaches. The weather wasn’t great the weekend we visited so on the last day of our weekend away in Norfolk we decided to just drive along the coast and stop at different beaches and towns to sightsee.

Sights & Activities

Mundesley & Overstrand

Mundesley is situated on the eastern corner of the North Norfolk Coast and not too far away from the beach town of Cromer. The beach at Mundesley is backed by colourful beach huts, cliffs and a promenade. The beach is a lovely long stretch of sand and is spotlessly clean, you can easily find a nice quiet spot to yourself by just walking along a little bit away from the promenade. Overlooking the beach is the UK smallest museum which is the Mundesley Maritime Museum which is now used as a coastguard watch. Aside from the large beach, there’s plenty of nature walks and coastal villages to see in the area.

Overstrand is joined to Mundesley beach a little further along and is slightly quieter and again has lovely long stretches of sandy beaches and a backdrop of green cliff edges. Even if you just want to spend the day at one spot I would recommend walking along the coast between Mundesley to Overstrand or you can drive between them within minutes.

Mundesley NorfolkMundesley NorfolkMundesley NorfolkOverstrand Norfolk

Cromer

Cromer is the next town along from Mundesley and Overstrand, it’s a traditional seaside town with a Victorian pier full of attractions. We had planned to spend the afternoon in Cromer but it didn’t just rain it poured so we decided to skip past Cromer and carried on to Blakeney where the weather was much drier. I would recommend either spending a full day in Cromer or allow a bit of time to spend a few hours in the area if you’re doing a coastal road trip like we were. Cromer’s streets are filled with little shops and cafes to explore and if you enjoy shellfish then try some Norfolk Crab which the area is known for.

Blakeney & Morston Quay

Blakeney is an area of natural beauty providing stunning panoramic views over its vast coastline, this pretty village has traditional Norfolk cottages and buildings with lots of gift shops, boutiques, cafes and pub restaurants. It’s especially popular with families who come to try their hand at crabbing. Many people base themselves in Blakeney for holidays due to its central location on the North Norfolk Coast. We stopped in Blakeney for the afternoon and spent some time wandering it’s pretty streets and grabbed a bag of chips for lunch.

Blakeney is also the place to come if you’re interested in taking a boat to see the seal colony out on Blakeney point. I would highly recommend pre-booking your tickets, especially during the summer months as there are only several small boat tours that operate this tour. You can also purchase tickets in Blakeney and then head over to Morston Quay where the boats depart.

We booked through Bishops Boat and it was £13 per adult and the tour is about an hour long. This was an absolute highlight of our trip as you don’t really expect to see such a vast amount of wildlife in one place in the UK. The seal colony and seabirds were great to see and we had so many seals swimming around the boat too, this is an absolute must have in Norfolk.

Blakeney NorfolkBlakeney NorfolkMorston Quay NorfolkBlakeney Point NorfolkSeal Colony Blakeney NorfolkSeal Colony Blakeney NorfolkSeal Colony Blakeney Norfolk

Stiffkey Salt Marshes

The Stiffkey Salt Marshes are an important area of natural beauty and one of the country’s richest areas in wildlife. The area is full of plants and wildlife and the reason it’s so biodiverse is due to the muddy creeks which become flooded by the tide every day. Protected by the national trust the vast expanse of pristine saltmarsh form part of the Blakeney National Nature Reserve. The salt marsh is an important conservation area for breeding birds. You could spend a full day walking and spotting wildlife in this area, however if you are limited on time you could just make a flying visit on your coastal road trip. We drove over to Stiffkey while waiting for our seal tour time slot over at Blakeney.

Stiffkey Salt Marshes Norfolk

Transport & Getting Around

The city of Norwich is incredibly easy to get to and also to travel around. The city is accessible by train, coach and buses from other areas of the UK. Norwich also has its own international airport. We drove from our hometown of Milton Keynes which is about a two and half hour drive. We parked at St Andrew’s multi-storey car park which was cheap to park at for the day in comparison to other UK cities. Once parked we didn’t need the car for the rest of the day, Norwich is a small city and most places are easily accessible by foot and everything is within walking distance. If you did want to use public transport then there are plenty of buses and taxis around to get out of the city and around. I would recommend driving around the Norfolk Broads and the North Norfolk Coast as you can stop as and when you want in places and it’s the easiest way to get around.

Itinerary

Norwich

  • Morning: Grab a coffee and some breakfast at Alchemista Cafe, and spend the morning shopping and wandering around Norwich Market, Jarrolds, The Royal Arcade and The Lanes.
  • Afternoon: Have lunch at The Tipsy Vegan and afterwards visit The Little Shop Of Vegans which is across the street. After lunch head to Norwich castle and either wander the outside of it or pay to enter the museum. Explore Elm Hill and the Tombland area before heading to Norwich Cathedral. Spend the late afternoon walking along the river and stop at Pulls Ferry and Cow Tower for a quick spot of sightseeing.
  • Evening: Head for some pre-dinner drinks at one of Norwich’s many bars or pubs, then have dinner at Erpingham House.

Norfolk Broads

  • Kayak / visit Hickling Broad > Stubbs Mill > Horsey Windpump > Wroxham Barns > Thurne Dyke Mill

North Norfolk Coast

  • Mundesley > Overstrand > Cromer > Blakeney > Stiffkey Salt Marshes

Top Tips

My top tips would be to get up early and make the most of each day so you have a full day exploring each area as there’s so much to see and do! There’s still plenty we would have liked to have done but just run out of time. We found the city of a Norwich and Norfolk County to be a very relaxed and slow paced, not like other places in the UK, we had a really relaxing weekend exploring Norfolk and it really was a perfect weekend away minus the weather.

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 Complete Guide To A Day Out In Norwich

Norfolk is a county in the East of England and is part of East Anglia. It’s a county which is bordered by Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The county of Norfolk is surrounded by 90 miles of coastline and its famous for the Broads National Park, countryside, forests and the historic city of Norwich.

My husband and I decided we fancied a little break after lockdown and somewhere that wasn’t more than 3 hours drive away from our home. So we opted for 3 days in Norfolk, and left our home Friday morning and spent our first day in sightseeing around Norwich.

Norwich is steeped in history from over the years and this still shows vividly through the cities unique and charming architecture and is the most complete medieval city in the UK. It’s been a city since 1094 and is the county town of Norfolk. Norwich used to be the largest city in England after London during the middle ages and right up until the industrial revolution.

Norwich has two universities and has a hipster vibe to the place, I was really surprised at how cool and quirky Norwich actually was. It’s full of stunning buildings and cute shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see, do and eat in the city, even if you don’t spend a weekend in Norfolk, if your not too far from Norwich it would also make an excellent day trip, just set off early so you can make a full day of exploring this pretty little city.

Sights & Activities

Cow Tower

Cow Tower is one of the oldest artillery blockhouses in England, and was constructed in approximately 1398 and was to assist with the cities defence. The inside of this brick tower is closed to the public, however you can wander around the outside and there is an information plaque just by it. It’s close to the city centre and within walking distance of Norwich Cathedral, Pulls Ferry and situated next to the river which is lovely to walk along.

Cow Tower Norwich

Elm Hill & Tombland

Elm Hill is a medieval street in the heart of the city located in Tombland, this cobbled street is the most famous street in Norwich and full of historic charm with merchant houses, thatched roofs, arts and crafts shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see and do and you can even do a self-guided walking trail (pick up a map from the tourist information centre or from specific shops in the cathedral quarter). The streets a great place to visit all year round and has a quintessentially traditional English feel to it, and lots of great spots to snap pretty photos.

There was a big fire back in 1507 which destroyed a huge majority of the street, but the street and it’s properties were rebuilt shortly after. The only surviving building from that fire was The Britons Arms which was originally a Tudor inn, but today is a family-run coffee shop and a must visit.

Tombland is in the very centre of Norwich and used to be the hub of activity before 1066 before the Normans arrived. There are lots of historic architectural gems to see in the area such as Erpingham Gate, Ethelbert Gate, Tombland Alley, Augustine Steward House and The Maids Head Hotel to name a few so pin these places on your map and seek them out.

Elm Hill NorwichElm Hill NorwichErpingham Gate Tombland NorwichTombland Norwich

Norwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Royal Arcade is a beautiful shopping arcade which was built towards the end of the Victorian era. The Royal Arcade is in the city centre and full of cafes, specialist shops, vintage boutiques and gift shops. If you enjoy shopping but prefer shopping from independent shops then this is the place to come!

Norwich Royal ArcadeNorwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Castle

Entrance Fee: £9.90 Per Adult

Norwich Castle is one of the cities famous landmarks and is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city. The castle was built over 900 years ago by the Normans as a royal palace. Today it stands as a museum and art gallery, there is a range of displays from various natural history, archaeology, fine art and much more. When we visited the museum was closed due to COVID-19 so we just had a walk around it to admire the building itself.

Norwich Castle

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral is another one of the cities famous landmarks, the cathedral’s construction began in 1096 and was completed in 1145. The cathedral is run by the Church of England and is one of the most complete Norman cathedrals in all of England. The cathedral is a grand and stunning building with lots of intricate details both inside and outside. The cathedral is free to enter and explore and there are lots to learn about the cathedrals 900 years of history. There are some gardens, a cafe and lots to explore around the cathedral and visit the cathedral quarter of the city.

Norwich CathedralNorwich Cathedral

Pulls Ferry

Pulls Ferry is set along the River Wensum and is a 15th century watergate, the channel running up to the gate is much older. A canal used to run under the arch of the building and was built by monks to help with transporting stone and building supplies to build the cathedral which would have been offloaded there. The building is privately owned and you can access the outside of the building and walk around it, there isn’t much else other than a sign with information on about Pulls Ferry. I would recommend stopping by here as the walk along the river is a really enjoyable and relaxing thing to do in the city, and you can see many of Norwich’s famous landmarks which are closeby.

Pulls Ferry Norwich

The Lanes

Norwich Lanes are a must when in the city, these beautiful lanes, alleyways and courtyards are full of quirky appeal and lots of historical architecture. These narrow lanes are mainly pedestrianised and have lots of traders from boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries, museums and even an independent cinema and community theatre. We loved exploring the lanes and seeing what specialist shops were selling, the whole area has a real buzz about it.

The Lanes Norwich

Norwich Market & Jarrold Department Store

Norwich Market is an attraction in itself and is one of the oldest and largest markets in England. The market is bright and colourful and situated in the heart of the city. It doesn’t just sell your typical wares you would find on a market, but a whole range of unique stalls selling vintage fashion, crystals, homewares, homemade goods and lots of food stalls and delicatessens as well as your more obvious market stalls selling fruit, veg and flowers etc. We loved wandering through the market and found lots of cool things to buy.

Just a stone’s throw away from the market is the independent 250 year old department store – Jarrolds. This family-run business is a great little place to have a browse and shop, they have several other shops dotted around Norfolk but the one in Norwich is their flagship store.

Norwich MarketJarrold Department Shop Norwich

Food & Drink

Alchemista Coffee

Alchemista Coffee is a unique independent cafe in the city centre and serves up amazing food and drink, and specialises in quality coffee. Try out one of their speciality coffees or signature cocktails. We visited in the morning before we headed to the Norfolk broads and we got there just in time before there was a queue out the door, this cafe seems really popular with locals. I had the black toade coffee and it was delicious!

Alchemista Coffee Norwich

Erpingham House

Erpingham House is an absolute must visit if your vegetarian or vegan they offer a full plant-based and plastic free menu. Not only do they have a really good sustainability ethos and menu but the restaurant, bar and cafe themselves are stunning, the decor is very insta-worthy and very feminine, I dragged my husband there for dinner. It’s set in a beautiful old building and spread across three floors. I opted for the hoisin jackfruit pancakes which were amazing! Erpingham House is the perfect place to come and has a luxe vibe to the place. The service was also really good, add this restaurant to your Norwich itinerary!

Erpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House Norwich

Little Shop Of Vegans

Little Shop Of Vegans is the cutest shop and full to the brim with vegan products that I didn’t even realise existed. It’s a great place to come to pick up kitchen staples but also a great place to pick up lots of vegan snacks too. They also have a plastic free section too selling lots of sustainable toiletries. We bought a few items to take home with us to try and some snacks for the weekend. My husband and I are both vegetarian but dabble in veganism and love finding places like this as it gives us lots of ideas to make some more simple vegan switches.

Little Shop Of Vegans NorwichLittle Shop Of Vegans Norwich

The Tipsy Vegan

The Tipsy Vegan was our absolute favourite place we ate at all weekend in Norfolk! It’s set in an old pub in the lanes area of the city and serves up delicious vegan comfort food, tapas and cocktails. It’s an intimate restaurant and the staff were really friendly and helpful. We opted for the tapas for lunch and selected several dishes from the menu all of them were cooked to perfection, my absolute favourites were the bao buns and coconut crusted tofu bites which I still dream about to this day! This small restaurant is a great place to visit any time of day for either brunch, lunch or dinner or just a few cheeky cocktails, make sure this place is on your must visit list.

The Tipsy Vegan Norwich

Transport & Getting Around

The city of Norwich is incredibly easy to get to and also to travel around. The city is accessible by train, coach and buses from other areas of the UK. Norwich also has its own international airport. We drove from our hometown of Milton Keynes which is about a two and half hour drive. We parked at St Andrew’s multi-storey car park which was cheap to park at for the day in comparison to other UK cities. Once parked we didn’t need the car for the rest of the day, Norwich is a small city and most places are easily accessible by foot and everything is within walking distance. If you did want to use public transport then there are plenty of buses and taxis around to get out of the city and around.

Itinerary

  • Morning: Grab a coffee and some breakfast at Alchemista Cafe, and spend the morning shopping and wandering around Norwich Market, Jarrolds, The Royal Arcade and The Lanes.
  • Afternoon: Have lunch at The Tipsy Vegan and afterwards visit The Little Shop Of Vegans which is across the street. After lunch head to Norwich castle and either wander the outside of it or pay to enter the museum. Explore Elm Hill and the Tombland area before heading to Norwich Cathedral. Spend the late afternoon walking along the river and stop at Pulls Ferry and Cow Tower for a quick spot of sightseeing.
  • Evening: Head for some pre-dinner drinks at one of Norwich’s many bars or pubs, then have dinner at Erpingham House.

Top Tips

My top tips would be to head there for the morning and make the most of a full day in the city. Even though I’ve added a rough itinerary to this blog, go with the flow and allow plenty of time to just wander aimlessly around the pretty streets of Norwich. We found the city to be a very relaxed and slow paced, not like other UK cities, we had a really relaxing day exploring Norwich and it really was a perfect day away.

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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How To Spend A Weekend In Margate

I had never really ever considered going to Margate and I hadn’t really heard much about it, other than when it was in the Only Fools and Horses episode when they have their disastrous jolly boys outing to Margate.

A little a while a go one of my oldest and closest friends asked me to be her maid of honour at her wedding, so straight away I knew I had to organise her an epic hen weekend with the other bridesmaids. When I asked my friend where she would like to go on her hen do her reply was ‘I really fancy going to Margate’ shocked at her response half expecting her to say somewhere hot and exotic abroad or a big city in the UK, I decided I best get to work researching this small British seaside town.

Margate is a small town in Kent which sits on England’s southeast coast. While googling I was pleasantly surprised at how trendy Margate seemed to be, with lots of cafes, bars and vintage shops on offer, the hen do planning had officially begun!

When we arrived into Margate we were so amazed at how lovely everything was and it was so good to see a Great British seaside town being bought back to life, and small businesses booming in the area. We honestly had such a great weekend in Margate and it really exceeded our expectations, so much so I really would love to go back for another weekend in the future. If your looking for retro seaside kitsch – then don’t delay and head to Margate!

Sights & Activities

Dreamland

Entrance Fee: Unlimited ride wristband from £8

Dreamland is one of Margate’s main draws, like many British seaside towns Margate has its own amusement park. Dreamland is along one of the main streets and directly opposite the beach. It has something for everyone from rides, entertainment , art installations, arcade games, food and drink vendors, music venues and even a roller disco. We didn’t really know what to expect from Dreamland half expecting it to be your usual tacky seaside amusement park, well it did not disappoint one bit!

While from the entrance it doesn’t look particularly appealing, once your in its full of vibrant colours and a really relaxed atmosphere. It was also really good value for money, and I would recommend purchasing the unlimited ride wristband. We spent a few hours on the rides and wandering around. We were lucky when we visited as queues weren’t too bad, however I can imagine in the height of summer the park being a lot busier. Dreamland is an absolute must when in Margate!

Dreamland MargateDreamland MargateDreamland Margate

Haeckels

Haeckels is a shop and spa which promotes coastal natural ingredients as well as conservation and beach clean ups. This small luxury skin care brand showcases many of Margate’s coastline natural ingredients. I stumbled across this little shop overlooking the seafront just before heading home, and wish I had known about it before as they offer a variety of spa treatments onsite too. If your a girly girl like myself then make sure you pop into Haeckels for some skincare retail therapy or even try out one of their spa treatments.

Haeckels Margate

Margate Clock Tower

Margate Clock Tower is in the centre of town and was constructed to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in the late 1800s. When walking along the Margate Main Sands or heading to Dreamland this beautiful Victorian clock can’t be missed! It’s one of Margate’s stand out landmarks.

Margate Harbour Arm

The Harbour Arm is a concrete pier in Margate overlooking Margate Main Sands and the beach front high street. The pier was created in the early 1800s for its lighthouse. Today as it stands it’s a small extension of Margate’s trendy scene with a few small cafes, restaurants, galleries and even a micro pub (The Harbour Arm) and showcases many art exhibitions and music events which run during the summer, check individual businesses for opening times during the winter period.

A symbol of Margate also stands at the end of the Pier, Mrs Booth is a famous statue in Margate. It is also known as the shell lady, and is a large scale replica of the shell lady ornaments sold in all of Margate’s souvenir shops. The Harbour Arm is a lovely pier to walk along (although very windy) and you get amazing views over the seafront.

Margate Harbour ArmMargate Harbour ArmMargate Harbour Arm

Margate Main Sands

Main Sands is Margates main stretch of beach and has its own tidal pool. The beach is really clean and well kept and a sandy beach too. The promenade is great to walk along both during the day and the evening. The beach is really popular with dog walkers and families and during the summer has beach bars and seafood stalls. Just by the Turner Contemporary by the Harbour Arm are some steps to sit on and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and beach views.

Margate Main SandsMargate Main SandsMargate Main Sands

Old Town

Margate is a regenerated seaside town and when stepping into the old town you can see why so many hipsters are attracted to this trendy part of town. All of Margate oozes retro seaside chic. The old town is really quirky and full of buzzing cafes, galleries, vintage shops, junk yards and niche shops and has lots of colourful street art.

The old town really is the hub of Margate and you can easily spend hours wandering the old streets and dipping in and out of its many eccentric shops. Some of the shops that stood out in the old town were Peony Vintage, Madam Popoff Vintage, Pothead, Little Bit, The Light Keeper, Kings Emporium, Handsome Freaks and Fort Road Yard to name but a few. It’s really great to see so many independent shops and businesses open, it’s so refreshing to see and a nice change from your standard high street chain shops. A trip to Margate wouldn’t be complete without a meander through its colourful old town!

Margate Old TownMargate Old TownMargate Old TownMargate Old Town

Shell Grotto

Entrance Fee: £4.50

The Shell Grotto has to be one of Margate’s more kooky attractions, it was discovered in 1835 and is still steeped in mystery to this very day with so many unanswered questions who, what, why and when?! These once hidden passageways are covered in millions of shells, and its definitely one of Margate’s more eccentric attractions. The Shell Grotto is a must go and see, it really is such a cool place to visit, I have never been to anywhere quite like it before!

Shell Grotto MargateShell Grotto MargateShell Grotto Margate

Food & Drink

Beet Bar

Beet Bar is a little hidden vegan oasis tucked behind a street in the old town. This quirky cafe delivers the most delicious healthy vegan food, juice drinks and health shots, the service was really welcoming too. The avocado on toast with sun dried tomatoes was just what we needed for a hangover cure and it came with a small dessert of your choice, I chose the mango sticky rice and it was just delicious! I really liked the decor in Beet Bar and its just really cool cafe to visit, and has great food and drink at affordable prices!

Beet Bar MargateBeet Bar MargateBeet Bar MargateBeet Bar Margate

Fez

Fez is a wacky bar located on Margate’s high street, this micro bar has a friendly atmosphere, and the decor is very off the wall with a floor covered in sand, and bric a brac covering the walls, ceiling and every surface going. We popped into this cool little bar in the afternoon for a quick drink, and we did try to come back in the evening but got there too late as last orders are at 11.30pm.

Fez MargateFez MargateFez Margate

GB Pizza Co

GB Pizza Co is situated looking out on Margate’s seafront and is small little locally owned restaurant which serves up delicious fresh wood fired pizzas. We came here for a late lunch/dinner and the pizzas were just fab and they have prosecco on tap too, what more could a girl ask for?!

GB Pizza Co MargateGB Pizza Co Margate

Harbour Cafe Bar

Harbour Cafe Bar is a cute and cosy cafe overlooking the sea and serves up cooked food as well as a selection of hot drinks and cakes. It’s a great cafe to have a pit stop in for a slice of cake and a drink.

Harbour Cafe Bar Margate

Mar Mar

Mar Mar is the new place to go in Margate and is honing in on the recent trend of plants and succulents. Stepping into this cafe/shop is liking walking into an exotic jungle set just on the streets of Cliftonville. A selection of cakes are made daily onsite. I had a delicious chocolate and coconut flapjack and chai latte, and afterwards did some plant shopping to bring home some cute little succulents, which hopefully I don’t kill! As well as selling lots of plants they also sell lots of cute stationary, accessories and books.

Mar Mar MargateMar Mar Margate

Sundowners

Sundowners is Margate’s only LGBT bar, club and restaurant and overlooks the coastline. Set in an old building we headed there for a few drinks before we were meant to hit another club in Margate, but we all ended up having such a good time in Sundowners we ended up staying. The night we visited they had a Boy George tribute act on which was fantastic. It had such a great vibe and everyone both staff and punters were so friendly, everyone just gets along and starts up conversation in this place.

The Bus Cafe

The Bus Cafe sits on the promenade and overlooks the beach. This old 1980s double decker bus has been converted into the cutest cafe and cooks up delicious fresh and seasonal food and uses as much local produce as possible. The cafe also does lots of good within Margate’s community and supports lots of local charities, and as well as doing all this also ensures it’s not creating to the waste problem and uses only biodegradable and recyclable packaging. This cafe has gorgeous views of the beach, delicious food and great staff. The Bus Cafe is also next to a few little street food stalls and Ziggys Bar which during the summer months I can imagine are really popular.

The Bus Cafe MargateThe Bus Cafe MargateThe Bus Cafe MargateThe Bus Cafe Margate

The Old Kent Market

The Old Kent Market used to be a cinema and bingo hall years ago, and has been lovingly restored, and still holds lots of its original charm. The market has a range of different stalls selling food and drinks, as well as some micro pubs and bars. There are also some units selling crafts and a variety of products and services.

The Old Kent Market MargateThe Old Kent Market Margate

Accommodation

Sea View Terrace Air Bnb

As Margate is a seaside town it has a good selection of hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses to choose from. As we were a group of 11 we opted to search on Air Bnb, and we stumbled across the most beautiful 4 storey beach front townhouse situated in Sea View Terrace. It was perfect for our group with 6 bedrooms all with en-suites, it was great for 11 girls trying to get party ready! The downstairs space was also amazing and meant we could have pre-drinks and hen party games without feeling like we were crammed in. The house was in such a great location we could walk into the town centre within a few minutes, and it was a refreshing stroll along the beach promenade.

Sea View Terrace Margate Air BnbSea View Terrace Margate Air BnbSea View Terrace Margate Air Bnb

Transport & Getting Around

Margate is really easy to get around once you have arrived, I would recommend going around the town on foot, as everything is easily walkable and you get to walk along the seafront and take in Margate’s cool and quirky vibe.

Top Tips

The only tip I would have is for girls with long hair, oh my god Margate is windy (or it was when we were there), so expect to look windswept the whole time or just wear your hair up so you can actually see where your going!

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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24 Hour Layover Guide To Hyderabad

Hyderabad is somewhere I knew very little about, and when I thought about travelling to India it was somewhere that never even crossed my mind. I was lucky enough to get a layover in Hyderabad with work, and was so surprised at how much I fell in love with this vibrant city.

This South Indian city which is the largest city and capital of Telangana state is very much under the tourism radar, which makes it the perfect place to explore as it isn’t spoilt by mass tourism. Locals are extremely friendly and love coming up to talk to you, finding out where you are from and getting a selfie with you.

The city has plenty to see and do with historical palaces, monuments, temples, and many markets and bazaars. It’s also where the Biriyani rice dish originates from so that is an absolute must try while in Hyderabad! It’s also well known across India for its bangles, and many Indian women travel to the city to purchase their bangles for special occasions, events and weddings etc.

Hyderabad is also a business hub in India and well known for its IT sector and pharmaceutical companies based there, so it doesn’t attract many leisure tourists, but more people travelling for business trips.

India is somewhere that has a piece of my heart, and when I’ve been to India before I’ve always had such a great time, and Hyderabad was no exception! We had such an amazing time roaming around the city and meeting the lovely locals. If your strapped for time and there for a layover or a work trip, here is what you could easily squeeze into 24 hours in the city.

Sights & Activities

Birla Mandir

Birla Mandir is a Hindu temple set upon a hilltop which overlooks the city, the temple was built back in the 1970s and took almost 10 years to finish. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is built with white marble. We visited towards the end of the day and got some amazing views over the city and the sunset. We didn’t enter the temple as it was getting quite late so just walked around it and admired the views. The temple is free to enter and you can spend between 1 to 2 hours exploring it.

Birla Mandir HyderabadBirla Mandir Hyderabad

Charminar & Laad Bazaar

Charminar is a monument and mosque in the centre of the city and is an iconic landmark of Hyderabad. The structure was completed back in 1591, the reason as to why it was built is still a bit of a mystery and has many theories as to why it created. One belief is that this structure was created by the sultan at the time to celebrate the end of a plague that gripped the city, another theory is that it was built in honour of the sultans wife as well as many other speculations.

The large four pillared monument can also be entered for a small fee, and you can climb the stairs to the top. We decided to just wander around the outside of it as it was a hot day and all of us were pretty tired from working the flight over and hadn’t had much sleep. I would like to go back and visit Charminar and next time walk up to the top.

Charminar is located in the heart of the old city in a large open square surrounded by the Laad Bazaar which is famous for selling traditional Indian bangles along with many other stalls and vendors selling a whole range of items. Wandering around you can see lots of craftsmen creating the traditional bangles and you can purchase them in a whole range of styles and colours. There is so much hustle and bustle in this area and so much going on, but this area of the city is a must if you really want to see an authentic side to Hyderabad.

Charminar HyderabadCharminar HyderabadCharminar HyderabadLaad Bazaar Hyderabad

Chowmahalla Palace

Entrance Fee: 200 INR

Chowmahalla Palace is one of Hyderabad’s top attractions, the construction of the palace began in 1750 and was completed in the mid 1800s. The grounds are comprised of 4 palaces which are Tahniyat Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Afzal Mahal, and Aftab Mahal. There are also courtyards, gardens and fountains in the grounds, as well as lots of artefacts and antiques which can be viewed. The palace was built by the Nizams which were a monarchy in Hyderabad which ruled the Telangana state for almost 2 centuries from the 1700s to the 1900s. We spent just over an hour exploring the palaces and the grounds. No trip to Hyderabad would be complete without a visit to one of India’s most famous palaces.

Chowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace Hyderabad

Chowmahalla Palace Hyderabad

Mir Alam Mandi

Mir Alam Mandi is a wholesale food market and sells lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a whole range of traditional spices and cookware. This area is a great place to visit to view a traditional way of life, and if you want to purchase some spices to take home this is the place to come. The area is so colourful and vibrant and we really enjoyed exploring the streets around this district seeing the variety of stalls and what they had on offer.

Mir Alam Mandi HyderabadMir Alam Mandi HyderabadMir Alam Mandi HyderabadMir Alam Mandi Hyderabad

Food & Drink

Hotel Shadab

Hotel Shadab is well known across the city for its traditional Hyderabadi biryani, we went upstairs to the air coned restaurant which feels like stepping back in time to the 1970s. With its brown patterned tablecloths and old fashioned grandfather clock by the stairs, but don’t let the decor put you off, honestly I had one of the best Indian meals of my life in there!

The food was incredible and service was warm and friendly, we had to wait 15 minutes for a table as the place is popular with locals. We had to try the biryani so ordered a vegetable one to share as the portions are huge, and ordered a few sides to share. We chose the paneer 65, gobi manchurian and mixed raita and they were all out of this world delicious. I also had the Kashmiri coconut naan which was also incredible. We had so much food and in total it came to about £5 each when we split the bill. You must visit this restaurant as the food is amazing and such good value, and honestly I can’t stop thinking about how tasty the food was there!

Hotel Shadab Hyderabad

Transport & Getting Around

Hyderabad is a really easy and cheap city to get around although there is quite a lot of traffic it is nowhere near as bad as other cities in India. There a public buses and also an air conditioned metro rail, which runs on elevated tracks above the city. There is also plenty of taxis and tuk tuks which are readily available.

I was recommended a man called Sadam by some of my colleagues, he’s a tuk tuk driver and is really reliable and really well priced, and you can just WhatsApp (+91 863 9641629) him what you would like to see and do and he will put an itinerary together for you and make suggestions.

We paid roughly £10 each plus a small tip for the day and he came with 2 tuk tuks for all of us and took us everywhere around the city. We had such a good day with him and he walked us around the markets and sights to make sure we didn’t miss a thing.

Tuk Tuk HyderabadTuk Tuk Hyderabad

Top Tips

When visiting India try and go as prepared as possible, as some of the streets can be a hard to navigate and sometimes there can be a slight language barrier, so go armed with google translate, guide books, maps.me app etc. I always have maps.me downloaded as it’s a great app that works offline and when I’m walking around or in taxi I always check it to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.

Other tips for India would be to always carry a scarf or pashmina for ladies that would like to enter various temples, also dress modestly when exploring India, such as long maxi dresses, or loose fitting trousers and T-shirt etc.

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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A Day Trip To Ayutthaya From Bangkok

Ayutthaya is the former capital of Thailand when it was the kingdom of Siam, from 1350 it was a prosperous city and international trading port, until it was destroyed in the 18th century by the Burmese. It is located approximately 50 miles north of Thailand’s capital – Bangkok.

This once important city of global diplomacy and commerce, is now an archaeological ruin and now forms a large UNESCO world heritage site. The area of Ayutthaya is vast and is a huge archaeological site full of ruins, temples and buildings.

You could easily spend a few days exploring this former capitals ruins and the surrounding area. However anyone who is limited on time then there are plenty of options of day tours or you can get to Ayutthaya easy enough from Bangkok. It is a long day on the tour probably about twelve hours in total but so worth it!

We honestly loved Ayutthaya and seeing such an interesting historical site was just amazing, and would really recommend venturing out of Bangkok for the day to visit the many sites and excavations.

Sights & Activities

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace

Entrance Fee: 100 THB / or included in price of tour

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace is also referred to as the summer palace, and is just 20 minutes from Ayutthaya and located along the Chao Phraya River. It was constructed in 1632, but fell into disuse during the late 18th century, until King Mongkut began to renovate the grounds back in the mid 19th century. Although the palace is full of Thai style acrhitecture there is also some European influence shown in several of the buildings around the palace as well as several statues and sculptures dotted around the area, these were added in during the restoration, which were inspired by palaces from England and France.

The palace is spread out over a huge area and features small canals that run through the grounds to the river. The gardens of the palace are full of grassy lawns, water features and beautiful ornate buildings. Today the palace isn’t really used by the royal family and they only really use the palace for special occassions and royal banquets. The palace is immaculately kept and is a tranquil and peaceful place to visit, even though its a tourist attraction many tourists seem to skip the palace and just visit the archaeological ruins in Ayutthaya, however a lot of tours from Bangkok include the palace as an add on. We paid a little bit more for our tour and we stopped off at the palace before returning back to Bangkok.

You can also reach the palace easy enough by train from Bangkok if you didn’t want to opt for a tour. Honestly though when visiting Ayutthaya I would recommend a visit to the palace preferably at the end of the day as its a great place to wind down after a day of sightseeing.

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace AyutthayaBang Pa-In Royal Palace AyutthayaBang Pa-In Royal Palace Ayutthaya

Chedi Phukhao Thong

Chedi Phukhao Thong is surrounded by rice paddies and just outside of Ayutthaya in a small village, the temple was established back in 1387 and over the centuries with various invasions the temple changed hands several times, and so parts of the buildings were added to and modified. Today as the structure stands it incorparates both Thai and Burmese styles, you can climb half way up the stupa which provides views over the surrounding areas.

This temple is much quieter in comparison to many of the ruins in and around Ayutthaya. Since we visited the Chedi Phukhao Thong it has under gone some restoration work, so looks drastically different to when we visted, as it has been freshly painted white and renovated to perfection to give you a glimpse of what it would have looked like hundreds of years ago. This was our first stop on our tour as it is slightly out the way,  thats what makes the place a good place to visit as its not overrun with tourists.

Chedi Phukhao Thong AyutthayaChedi Phukhao Thong Ayutthaya

Wat Lokaya Sutha

Wat Lokaya Sutha translates to Temple of the Earth, the temple and monastery are one of the main sites of Ayutthaya. One of the highlights of these temples ruins is the 42 meter long reclining Buddha which is still in fairly good condition. There isnt much known about the temple and monastery but as its in close proximity to the Royal Palace ruins it is thought the temple would have held some form of importance.

Its founding date is also unknown but is believed to date back to the very early days of Ayutthaya. As well as the large recling buddha the site has plenty of other archeological ruins to see such as ruins of assembly halls, chedis (Thai stupa) and prangs (Buddhist spires/towers). Wat Lokaya Sutha is a must when in Ayutthaya as its crazy to see how many ruins there are dotted around this one area, the site is free to enter and most tours will stop here too. The site is also close by to other major historical locations such as Wat Phra Sri Sanphet.

Wat Lokaya Sutha Ayutthaya

Wat Mahathat

Entrance Fee: 50 THB / or included in price of tour

Wat Mahathat is one of the most important temples of the Ayutthaya kingdom, the name translates to The Temple of the Great Relic. This large royal monastery and temple was once the centre of buddhism in Ayutthaya, and was located close to the palace. The site was created back in 1374 and the site has many features and intricate details. The temple stood in this site for about 500 years before the invasion of the Burmese which saw much of Ayutthaya destroyed and turned to rubble. Today the ruins are all that stands but some are more preserved than others. It has a similar ruins to that of Angkor in Cambodia, many of the ruins are out in the open and the grounds are absolutley beautiful with so much to see and explore.

The main image associated with this well known site is the Buddha face entwined in the roots of a banyan tree. You cannot visit Ayutthaya without visiting Wat Mahathat its an absolute must, and was by far our favourite area to explore, the temple were incredible. I would imagine most if not all tours stop here as its one of the most recognised sites of the ancient capital.

Wat Mahathat AyutthayaWat Mahathat AyutthayaWat Mahathat Ayutthaya

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet & The Royal Palace (Wang Luang)

Entrance Fee: 50 THB / or included in price of tour

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is another major site in the ancient capital and is most famous for its distinct pagodas which appear on many of the photos of the old city, and are an iconic image for Ayutthaya. The temple was constructed back in 1448 by King Borommatrailokanat who ordered the construction of the temple for his own personal use. The temple was also used for royal ceremonies. The pagodas were constructed after the death of the king to hold his remains and various other kings of Ayutthaya. Over the years smaller chedis were added to the site to hold the ashes of other members of the royal family.

There was a large 16 meter high gold buddha which stood on the site, but when the Burmese invaded in 1767 all the gold and valuables were taken, when Bangkok was identified as the new capital city of Thailand in 1782, the king arranged what was left of the Buddha to be moved to the Wat Pho which is a famous temple and tourist attraction in Bangkok.

Ayutthaya was founded back in 1350 and Wat Phra Sri Sanphet sits on the original site of the wooden palace, a new palace was built a little later just north of the temple, and was adapted and expanded over the years by the various kings. Today nothing much is left from the Royal Palace (Wang Luang) just a grassy area which has some outlines of some of the old walls of the palace. If you go to Ayutthaya’s historical centre there is a display of what it would have looked like. Close by is also Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit which is an active temple that houses one of Thailand’s largest bronze Buddha images, when visiting Wat Phra Sri Sanphet make a stop there too, as both can easily be visited in the same morning or afternoon.

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet & The Royal Palace AyutthayaWat Phra Sri Sanphet & The Royal Palace Ayutthaya

Transport & Getting Around

Most people tend to visit Ayutthaya from Bangkok on a day trip, however some people spend a night or two there and explore, depending on how much time you have I would recommend booking onto a day tour from Bangkok as it’s really straight forward to do! We booked our tour through our hotel it cost us about £35 per person and included pick up and drop off in Bangkok, and all the entrance fees into the various sites and lunch. We had plenty of free time to explore on our own and as we got driven to each place we didn’t have the hassle of having to get from one place to another.

However if you are on a budget there are trains that run from Mo Chit Station in Bangkok and takes about 90 minutes by train to reach Ayutthaya, there are also buses available too, and once there you can explore many of the sites by foot or there are several places to hire a bicycle and bike around. If the hot weather is too much for you, you could also flag down a taxi or tuk tuk to take you between each of the sites once in the city.

You can also get a taxi to Ayutthaya from Bangkok however it isn’t much cheaper than taking a tour and you won’t get the entrance fees and lunch included so by the time you pay out for everything else it works out about the same cost as one of the tours.

Top Tips

Many of the sights in Ayutthaya 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. Take plenty of sun cream, a hat and sunglasses to help with the midday heat and plenty of drinking water.

There are still elephants available for tourist rides in Ayutthaya, 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 time to break the elephants 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 practise 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 under go.

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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What To Do In Baku

Azerbaijan is a country which is wedged in between Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, the Caucasus Mountains and sits on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan was once part of the Soviet Union and this can be clearly seen in some of its architecture that still stands today.

Baku is Azerbaijan’s capital city and situated on the Caspian Sea. Baku is famous for its oil refineries, hosting the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest and its medieval old town. This Eurasian City is a real melting pot as there has been many influences over the years, and you can really see where east meets west, it has modern architecture mixed with its beautiful old town. The culture has lots of Middle Eastern and Arabic influences mixed in with a Russian and Eastern European vibe.

I really fell in love with this quirky city and I can honestly say it’s like nowhere I have ever experienced before! There is so much to explore and if you fancy a city break with a difference it makes a great long weekend escape, or if you booked a twin centre trip to Azerbaijan and Georgia it would make an excellent cultured getaway.

Sights & Activities

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum is a strange sight to behold the building is shaped like a rolled up carpet, and the museum celebrates the art and technique of carpet and rug weaving, which is Azerbaijan’s national art form, and a huge part of the countries heritage. The museum houses the largest collection of Azerbaijan carpets and rugs, as well as showcasing the tools and techniques used to create the carpets. Entrance into the musuem is only 7 manat which is equivalent to about £4 per adult.

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum

Baku Boulevard & Bulvar Park

Baku Boulevard is a promenade which runs along Baku’s seafront which over looks the Caspian Sea. The promenade is a national park and was created back in the early 1900s. The Boulevard has the biggest Azerbaijani flag and it’s the biggest flag in the world.

Along the promenade there is plenty to see, eat and do with restaurants, cafes with outside seating, a puppet theatre, mall, ferris wheel and a Carpet Museum. Try and walk along the seafront in the morning to take advantage of it’s fresh sea air and peacefulness. If you more active it’s also the perfect place to go for a jog, run or hire a bicycle and cycle the length of it. There is also a little man made Venice on the promenade where you can take a boat ride.

Bulvar Park is a mall situated along Baku Boulevard with lots of shops, restaurants supermarket, cinema, bowling and a foot court. I have popped into this small several times on trips to Baku as their is a good choice of cheap places to eat in the foot court and also the supermarket is a great place to pick up some local Azerbaijani food and snacks to take home.

Baku Boulevard and Bulvar ParkBaku Boulevard and Bulvar Park

Flame Towers

Flame Towers are three skyscrapers in the shape of flames to symbolise Baku’s history of worshipping fire. They consist of residential apartments, serviced apartments, offices, shops, observation decks and a hotel. The trio of towers were completed back in 2012 and are some of the tallest buildings in the country, and are now a symbolic icon of the capital. At night they are lit up and perform a light show in a variety of colours and transition between moving images of the Azerbaijan flag, fire and water.

Fountain Square

Fountain Square is located just by Nizami Street and is a public square and is home to several fountains, sculptures and statues. Its a popular area as it’s a great meeting point in the city, and also surrounded by restaurants, cafes and shops. On a warm day it’s the perfect place to sit and people watch.

Maiden Tower

Maiden Tower is the oldest structure in Baku’s Old Town, and many experts believe the tower was finished in the 12th century, along with many other buildings in the walled city. However no one is entirely sure when it was built, or the purpose of it. There is a difference in appearance of the stones that form the foundation, and the first three stories suggests the original structure may date as far back as 600 BC.

There is museum inside the tower which houses lots of information all about Baku and it’s history, and you can also climb to the top of the tower for excellent views over the city and the bay of the Caspian Sea. There is small entrance fee of 10 manat which is about £5 per person. When in the Old Town you can’t miss Maiden Tower.

Maiden Tower

Nizami Street

Nizami Street is the most central part of Baku and and is home to a huge array of shops, entertainment facilities, pubs, restaurants and cafes. Even though the area is a commercial hub of the city it has elegant style and beautiful 19th century buildings which line the street, as well as pretty street lights and chandeliers that hang over the street above. Try and visit the street both during the day and at night to see it all lit up.

Old Town (Icherisheher)

Baku’s Old Town also known as Icherisheher is the cities historical core and is the oldest part of the city. It’s steeped in history and ancient architecture, and an absolute must visit when in Baku. Baku Old Town is a city within a city and surrounded by a curved wall which would have once been protection for the city, originally there were just two main gates to enter, but today there are several openings where pedestrians and cars can pass through.

It has grand palaces and mosques, sunken ruins of old hammams and caravanserais. There are lots of stalls and shops with silver merchants and carpet vendors who have been trading their wares there for centuries. The Old Town is part of UNESCO world heritage and some parts of this old city date back to the 12th century, although there is some evidence which shows some areas may even date back to as early as the 7th century.

The Old Town is my favourite area in the city, you can stroll around the old streets for several hours exploring, browsing traditional trinkets in the small shops, stopping at small authentic tea houses to have a glass of tea and some freshly made baklava. The Old Town is what most people come to Baku go visit, it really is a special place to see.

Baku Old TownBaku Old TownBaku Old Town

Food & Drink

Hilton Baku

The Hilton Baku is a large fancy hotel set overlooking the Caspian Sea and has a revolving bar which provides incredible views over the city especially at night when the city lights up and you can see the Flame Towers light show in the distance. Even if you don’t stay at the Hilton I would highly recommend visiting the revolving bar for a cocktail in the evening and to see the city lit up.

Old Garden Restaurant

Old Garden Restaurant is situated on the edge of the Old Town and is a stunning restaurant set in what looks like some old ruins, you step down some small steps into a garden area that is set out with a pathway of Persian rugs which lead up to the restaurant. You can choose to eat inside or outside in the garden area, or just stop by for a drink.

The menu is reasonably priced and the staff are friendly. I stopped there in the late afternoon and had a tea, it’s such a peaceful place to go and relax, I stumbled across this place before I headed back to get ready for my flight home and wish I would of had the time to stop and have something to eat as the place had a really lovely ambience.

Old Garden Restaurant BakuOld Garden Restaurant Baku

Transport & Getting Around

Baku is a really easy city to explore, I found the best way to get around the city centre was by foot, you can also hire bicycles too. There are plenty of public transport options too though, such as buses and metros which link the city together and connect the suburbs to the city. There’s also an option to purchase a preloaded city transport card similar to that of London’s Oyster card, Baku’s card is called Bakikart. There are also taxis available, the main ones being Baki Taksi which are dark purple London style cabs, and run on a meter and aren’t too expensive and a good option if your just flagging a taxi down and haven’t booked one in advance.

Top Tips

Baku is an amazing place to visit and I never once felt unsafe as female wandering around alone, however something to be aware of if you are a solo female traveller is that you will have men approach you wanting to chat. I was approached several times by various men every time I visited the city. I’m a pretty confident and outspoken person so I was polite back but made sure to end the conversation quite quickly by not giving much back or if they were trying to flirt would tell them I’m married, however if your shy and timid I can imagine this would be quite intimidating. My best bit of advice is just to be polite, and end the conversation or tell them you have a boyfriend or husband even if you don’t!

Azerbaijan is a real melting pot of cultures but as it has quite an Islamic influence and many Muslims I would recommend to cover yourself and not wear anything too revealing, out of a sign of respect but also to avoid any unwanted attention. Every time I visited Baku I was always pretty well covered and unfortunately still got unwanted attention. Don’t let this put you off though, as I have always really enjoyed visiting the city and met some lovely locals too, it’s just something to keep in mind so your prepared.

I have also heard about a lot of scams in Baku, and again something to be wary of, I didn’t experience this myself but have heard that some restaurants might add a bit extra on to the bill for tourists so just make sure to check you bill before paying, and if there is a discrepancy then let the waiter know so they can amend it, like all cities there are always going to be scammers so just go with your wits about you, like you would anywhere in the world.

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xxWhat To Do In Baku - Pinterest Pin

Amazing Places To Visit In Singapore For Free

Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your trip. Singapore has so many free attractions and places to explore. If your on a tight budget or just can’t justify making big splurges, then read this blog for lots of Singapores top free attractions and places to go sightseeing in the city.

Arab Street & Haji Lane

Arab Street (also known as Bussorah Street) and Haji Lane are neighbouring streets and located in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood. Arab Street has the famous Masjid Sultan Mosque one of Singapore’s most popular attractions, which stands proudly overlooking the palm lined Arab Street. There are plenty of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants along Arab street, as well as shops. It’s a lovely street to wander and there are plenty of photo opportunities.

Step across to the parallel bright and colourful street of Haji Lane which is filled with artsy wall murals, hipster cafes and independent boutiques. There are some gorgeous shops to browse, but if retail therapy isnt your thing, there is plenty of street art to admire along Haji Lane.

I would recommend visiting both streets in the morning to avoid the crowds especially if you want to take some good photos. Check out Selfie Coffee on Haji Lane where you can not only get your morning coffee fix, but can get your selfie photo printed on top it! It’s a great spot for people watching outside, and something a little different for your coffee break.

There is lots to see on both of these streets, and it’s easy to spend a morning or afternoon in this area. Just a stones throw away is the Malay Heritage Centre too, which has lots of information on the history and heritage of the Malay community in Singapore. The centre isn’t a free attraction, however it’s only a few Singaporean dollars to enter if you did want to visit.

Masjid Sultan MosqueHaji Lane

Botanical Gardens

Singapore’s Botanical Gardens are world famous and are the first and only tropical gardens to be placed on the UNESCO world heritage site list. The gardens have over 150 years of history and are set across 82 hectares, the gardens are popular with both Singaporeans and visitors. There is a huge array of plant life on display and a variety of gardens to explore such as the Ginger Garden, Rain Forest Garden, Trellis Garden, Healing Garden and many more, but the main draw of the Botanical Gardens is the National Orchid Garden.

All the gardens are free to roam around, the only exception is the National Orchid Garden which does charge a small admission of only $5 SGD, which is definitely worth it! The orchard garden was by far my favourite in the botanical gardens, along with the ginger and rainforest gardens. You could easily spend a full day in the gardens as there is so much to see. If your limited on time I would suggest maybe selecting a few gardens that you think you would enjoy, or at least go to the Orchid Garden you won’t be disappointed at the vivid colours of the orchid flowers, they are simply stunning!

Botanical Gardens SingaporeBotanical Gardens SingaporeBotanical Gardens Singapore

Bugis

The area of Bugis has lots of places to go sightseeing, it’s located not too far away from Arab Street and Haji Lane which are in Kampong Glam. Other attractions to visit are;

Chijmes is a great place to pop your head into especially at night when the area is lit up beautifully with twinkly lights. It was once a convent back in the 1800s but has been converted into a beautiful area for restaurants, bars and cafes. It’s also located just by Raffles Hotel, so if you don’t want to spend money on food and drinks come to the area for just for a wander around these colonial heritage sites. You can also shop until you drop at Bugis Junction and Bugis Street, or if your on a budget why not window shop at Bugis Junction and browse the stalls at Bugis Street?!

Chinatown

Chinatown in Singapore is a great place to explore at any time of day or night, the colonial buildings and shop houses are beautiful to look at. During Chinese New Year there are lots of displays and decorations that line the streets too. There are lots of temples and shrines to go and visit for free in Chinatown such as;

The two most popular temples are the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple which are both grand and with lots of intricate detailing. There is also lots of market stalls, shops, restaurants, hawker centres and Chinatown Street Market.

Chinatown SingaporeChinatown Singapore

Emerald Hill Road

If your doing a bit of sightseeing around Orchard Road take a break from the restaurants and shopping, and wander down Emerald Hill Road the terraced houses are some of the most sought over in the city and are prime real estate. These beautiful ornate terraces take you back to days gone by, its a nice sight to tick off and won’t cost anything. You only need 20 minutes or so to wander this pretty street, just be mindful that people do live in these properties.

Emerald Hill Road

Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park is a a must for any history fanatics, the 18 hectare park sits on a hilltop and is steeped in historical landmarks and artefacts. Some of the main sites are the fort gate, remnants of a fortress, maritime corner and a military complex from WWII. The park grounds are lovely to walk around even if your not a history buff and there’s also a spice garden and some sculptures to look out for too.

Gardens By The Bay & Garden Rhapsody Light Show

Gardens By The Bay is one of Singapores top attractions and most recognised landmarks, the main feature is the Supertree Grove which is in the centre of the gardens. The gigantic trees are really impressive and are great to walk around, they are surrounded by lots of other gardens, sculptures, plants, play areas and ponds which are all completely free to look around! The only attractions that charge admission in the gardens are the Cloud Forest Conservatory, Flower Dome Conservatory and the OCBC Skyway.

Depending on your budget I would recommend paying to go up the OCBC Skyway as it’s only $8 SGD, and you get the most incredible views over the gardens and Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Keep an eye out for the local resident otters that live close by in the Marina by the gardens, they can be spotted frequently swimming and playing in the water.

Make sure not to miss the Garden Rhapsody Light Show which is on twice every night at the Super Tree Grove at 19.45 and 20.45. It’s a stunning music and light show which is free for all to sit and watch. The light show is magical and a must in Singapore!

Gardens By The BayGarden Rhapsody Light Show

Geylang & Joo Chiat (Katong)

Geylang is one of Singapore’s more seedier areas and known as the red light district in the city, however the area is pretty untouched and unmodernised and still has a certain charm to the district. It’s a melting pot of ethnicities and full with traditional eateries, bars, shops, temples, mosques and more. Visit the Sri Sivan Temple which is a stunning Hindu temple. When in the area visit Geylang Serai Market which is one of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements and is one of the biggest and busiest wet markets in Singapore. The market is a social hub for the community and provides a unique Malay culinary experience, try the Piseng Goreng (banana fritters) they are a real sweet treat!

Joo Chiat is also known as Katong, this neighbourhood is the heart of Singapore’s Peranakan community. The community are descendants of Chinese settlers who married locals and have created a blend of cultures between Chinese and Malay traditions. This area of the city has lots of colourful shop houses, hidden temples, workshops and local eateries. Seek out the beautiful multicoloured houses on East Coast Road and Koon Seng Road. There are also some small temples to visit called Kuan Im Tng Temple and Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple which if your in the area are great places to go and see.

While in the area pay a visit to Kim Choo Kueh Chang which is a traditional Peranakan shop serving up rice dumplings and other traditional rainbow sweet treats preserving the communities traditions since 1945.

Koon Seng RoadKim Choo Kueh Chang

Little India

Little India is one of the most colourful neighbourhoods in the city, the small narrow streets are filled with spicy aromas. This area is a complete contrast to other more sanitised areas of the city. There is plenty to see, do and eat in this vibrant district. The good thing about Little India is it is one of the smallest neighbourhoods in Singapore so everything is easy to find and most attractions are within walking distance of each other.

Little India is great for delicious eats, make sure to visit in time for lunch or dinner as there’s some amazing food around. If your wanting street food check out the Tekka Centre. Theres lots of sightseeing to be done in the area, I would recommend walking along the Buffalo Road which is a busy street full of bright buildings, Indian produce shops and stalls selling flower garlands. Stroll into the Little India Arcade to pick up some keepsakes from your trip and to browse the beautifully made Indian wares. One of the most popular sights in Little India is Tan House which is a rainbow coloured building. Little India is bursting with temples, which are so bright and colourful with beautiful designs, such as;

Little India SingaporeLittle India Flower Garlands

Marina Bay, Spectra Light Show & Merlion

Marina Bay is a popular landmark in the city and world famous for its stunning and futuristic architecture surrounding the waterfront. Go down to the waterfront in the evening and splurge on a cocktail in the Marina Bay Sands hotel for spectacular views, or grab a cheap drink from Gluttons Bay Streetfood market and wander around the waterfront to see the skyline lit up at night. Make sure not to miss the Spectra light and water show which is on every night at 8pm and 9pm. There are plenty of places to sit around the water edge and watch the 15 minute light and water display. While your down at the waters edge take a walk along to see Singapore’s mascot the Merlion, this large statue and fountain is a must see when down at the waterfront.

Marina Bay

MacRitchie Reservoir Park & Treetop Walk

Singapore is a green city and there are so many hiking trails and parks to explore. The MacRitchie Reservoir Park is popular with Singaporeans and nature lovers, it’s a great day out and offers lots of recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking and canoeing. It’s a huge nature reserve with pristine forest and has lots of native wildlife, and it sits on Singapore’s first reservoir. There is a choice of hiking routes so plan your route before you go as it’s bigger than what you would expect.

There are lots of long hiking routes in the nature reserve but if your short on time and still want to experience the park then spend a morning hiking the Treetop Walk which is a suspension bridge which sits up above the canopy providing views over the forest, be cautious with the macaques and try and stay away from them as they weren’t very friendly. The hiking loop to the Treetop walk and back takes about 3 to 4 hours and is an easy walk, just go prepared with plenty of water and allow time.

Mac Ritchie Reservoir Park Treetop WalkMac Ritchie Reservoir Park Treetop Walk

Raffles Hotel

The world famous and one of the most iconic places to visit in Singapore is the Raffles Hotel, this is a must on any visit in the city as it’s steeped in colonial history. Most people come from all over to visit the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling which is Singapore’s signature drink and was invented there. However if you want to visit but don’t like the cocktails price tag (approx £15 per drink), then you can still visit the front and walk around the building to take photos and admire the colonial decadence, also visit Chijmes across the road to discover more of Singapore’s colonial heritage.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island is located to the south of Singapore and can be easily reached by cable car, MRT, driving, walking, Sentosa Express and cycling. The island is linked to the mainland and is a resort island full of hotels, theme parks, beaches, trails, museums and more. Once on the island there is a whole range of free activities to do, my personal favourite on Sentosa are the three beaches which are Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach.

Personally I love Palawan Beach as it has a suspension bridge across the water to the southern most point of continental Asia, and feels like a lagoon rather than the sea. Siloso beach is great for grabbing a spot of lunch, Coastes is my favourite as it’s a lovely beach bar and restaurant and not too badly priced for a salad. Tanjong Beach is good for beach bars and clubs, I would recommend walking along all three and seeing which one takes your fancy, you can also get the free beach shuttle bus which runs between all of the Sentosa beaches.

It’s a great place to come just for a bit of beach time as it has lots of facilities and amenities and the beaches are really clean, however if beaches aren’t your thing then check out some of Sentosas other free attractions;

Sentosa Island

Southern Ridges

Southern Ridges is one of Singapore’s top attractions and connects the jungle to the city. The wave like walkway provides gorgeous panoramic views over the jungle, skyline, southern islands and out to the South China Sea. The whole trail can take between 3 to 5 hours depending on your pace and how often you stop there is also a canopy walk and forest walk.

Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru is the oldest housing estate in Singapore and is a mix of new and old buildings. The neighbourhood is steeped in history and over the years has been regenerated, and is now one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the city. It’s a great place to come for a coffee and quick bite in one of its hipster cafes, and do a spot of retail therapy in one of its niche shops. It’s a great place to spend a lazy morning wandering around.

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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Bangkok’s Must Visit Markets

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is a city bursting with markets, street stalls and night bazaars. There are so many iconic markets in the city and always new ones popping up. You can’t visit Bangkok and not sample at least one or two of its markets. They are lively, colourful and vibrant hubs of activity and culture, you won’t be disappointed.

I would always recommend checking online or asking staff at your accommodation the opening times as some markets are open every day and others only open certain days and they can start at different times, so always check before travelling to one. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Bangkok on many occasions both on holiday and with layovers with work. Every time I’m in the city I try and seek out a new market to shop and explore.

Artbox Night Market

Artbox is one of the trendier markets with lots of stalls set out in shipping containers, neon lights, ball pits, live music and street food. It’s definitely a market to visit for the gram pic, as well as having some amazing stalls selling lots of fashion items, vintage wear and handmade creations. It has a slightly more upmarket feel compared to other markets in the city. There’s plenty of seating so if you wanted to grab some food and drinks and make an evening of it, this market is a great place to do just that!

Artbox Thailand

Chang Chui Plane Market

Chang Chui Plane Market is the place to visit if you love wacky art installations, this quirky market has a plane in the centre which has been made into a restaurant and bar. The rest of the area is made up of buildings that have all been created with recycled materials.

The market has an artistic vibe with stalls and boutiques selling handmade creative items and fashion accessories. There are also several small restaurants and stalls serving up food and craft beers, some nights there is live music too. The market is great for families as there are slides, swings and a lot of crazy street art and statues. The market is situated close to the Khao San Road, so it’s definitely a must visit when near the old town. I would recommend exploring Chang Chui Market and then hitting the Khao San Road afterwards.

Chang Chui Plane MarketChang Chui Plane MarketChang Chui Plane Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak is Thailand’s most famous and popular floating market. Located about one hour from the bustling capital, it’s the place most tourists want to visit, don’t let that put you off though, as it’s a great place to come and experience history and culture and get an insight into a local life. Aim to get to the market early to fully experience it at its busiest and to see it in all its glory.

Personally I would recommend booking onto a morning tour, there are lots of tours available from Bangkok and all pretty reasonably priced, the guide will make sure you don’t miss anything and also provide you with information and facts about the market. Some of the market can feel quite commercialised like many markets in Thailand, however due to the popularity of this market there are tons to explore and food sellers selling a variety of food and fruit which really makes the market colourful.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Khao San Road

You have most likely heard about the famous Khao San Road, it’s the backpackers hub for South East Asia. Yes it’s tacky, touristy and full of stalls selling creepy crawlies to snack on (I never have) it can sometimes get a bad rep. However if you go with an open mind and anticipate the mass commercialisation and manage your expectations it’s a great place to visit. There’s something about the Khao San that always draws people back, myself included.

I love the fact there are people from all over the world and from all walks of life and there is something for everyone along the Khao San Road. I can honestly say I’ve had some of the best nights on the Khao San.

I normally start the night off by grabbing some cheap street food, then browsing the hundreds of stalls and shops to treat myself to another pair of comfy elephant trousers (don’t judge!). After I’ve normally shopped and bought tons of new clothes, and trinkets, I grab a bucket of booze and sit and have a foot and leg massage, then after a massage I hit a few bars and before I know it I’m dancing in the street making friends with everyone and anyone. I’ve never had a bad night along the Khao San and normally stay until the early hours partying before jumping in a tuk-tuk back to my accommodation.

If you want to start the night off eating at restaurant I would suggest going to one of the side streets next to the Khao San Road such as Rambutri Road and some of the quieter lanes for a much calmer dining experience. If your on a tight budget then stick to the food on the Khao San as it’s the cheapest in the city!

Khao San RoadKhao San RoadKhao San Road

Maeklong Railway Market

Maeklong is a traditional Thai market selling fruit, vegetables and homewares. You probably wouldn’t buy anything there to take home with you, however it’s a great place to visit for the local experience. It’s famous for its market but more famous for its location set on train tracks and a few times a day the train passes straight the market with locals having to pull back their produce and canopies. Some stalls that are low to the floor the train just glides straight over missing the produce by a few inches.

It’s incredible to watch, but make sure to be careful as it can be dangerous. Try and go in the morning and grab some breakfast or lunch at the market and browse the stalls and watch the train.

The market is about a one hour drive from Bangkok and you can either book a tour, taxi or you can even take the train from Bangkok that will take you straight through the market and you can get off a few minutes walk away and wander back to explore the market itself.

Maeklong Railway MarketMaeklong Railway Market

MBK Centre

MBK Centre is a huge indoor mall and is well known in Bangkok, it’s next to the upmarket Siam Discovery. MBK offers a huge choice for shoppers, although it’s not quite a market I thought I would include it in this blog as the ground floor is mostly market styles stalls selling clothing and handbags. There are also plenty of places to eat, and as you go up the floors there is plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to shop especially if your visiting during rainy season or if you prefer shopping with the comfort of air conditioning – MBK is a good indoor option.

Neon Night Market

Neon Night Market is a lively night bazaar with a large array of stalls selling fashion, quirky homewares and has lots of food and drink stalls. There are neon lights everywhere (hence the name) and this market is probably aimed more at the younger crowd, but don’t let that put you off as there is lots to browse around, and the market is centrally located in Pratunam.

Neon Night MarketNeon Night Market

Patpong Night Market

Patpong is a popular night market amongst tourists and is a vibrant and chaotic market set in the built up area of one of Bangkoks most popular nightlife districts. The market is surrounded by go-go bars and sells everything from fashion items, fake designer goods, souvenirs and much more all for cheap prices, just make sure you bargain with the stall owners and don’t accept the first price offered for a product but also don’t offer to little for an item. If your looking for a lively night or just fancy a few drinks, browse the market before finding a bar for a cocktail or two.

Rod Fai Ratchada Night Market

Rod Fai Night Market is located in Ratchada and is also referred to as the train market as it’s located by a train station. This market is a must, it has everything and something for everyone with an artsy vibe thrown in for good measure. It has lively bars and live music in one corner, and lots of stalls selling street food and snacks, there’s places to pull up a seat and grab food. There are stalls selling literally something for everyone, as this market is popular with Thai people the prices are much cheaper compared to other markets in the city.

This has to be one of my favourite markets in the city I found lots of items I liked and there were plenty of stalls offering customisable fashion items, such as sandals that you could choose how you wanted them customised with pom-poms, tassels and trims etc. Just note that the market isn’t on every night so check opening times prior to going.

Rod Fai Ratchada Night Market

Sukhumvit Street Market

Sukhumvit Street Market isn’t much to write home about, however if your staying in this area especially around the Nana or Asok BTS skytrain stations, then I would suggest having a wander along the stalls in the evening. Stalls lines the whole of this road, it’s a good location as it’s so central. You can pick up souvenirs, and knocks offs every night of the week. However unless your staying local to this area I wouldn’t come out your way for it, as there are much better night markets in the city to venture to.

Victory Monument Night Market

Victory Monument is a great area to explore at night and hunt down some bargains, there’s tons of stalls that spring up in the evening and lots of places to eat and drink. There’s some good outside seating areas with live music too. Have a browse around Victory Point Bazaar which is underneath the Victory Monuments BTS skywalk, where you can see lots of stalls and food vendors and locals going about their evening.

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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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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