Getting around: The different transport options in Thailand

Like everything else in Thailand, the transportation and getting around the country is cheap. However, whilst it may be cheap, it’s not always easy – so hopefully in this blog post I’ll try and explain the different options available to you when you’re exploring the mainland, the islands and the cities.

Getting around in the cities 

As you’d expect, there are plenty of transportation options in the cities. Bangkok has a good train system (like the London underground) – but there is also a huge amount of taxis, buses and tuk-tuks too. Bear in mind, traffic is a bit mental in Bangkok – so a taxi may not always be the quickest way.

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When we were in Bangkok last year, we were stuck in a taxi for like 2 hours – and only moved about 20 feet. Worst decision ever!

Top tip 1: Look out for hotels with their own tuk-tuk. Ours had a hotel tuk-tuk that would run us too and from the city centre for free…. it saved us a lot of money and effort, and meant we didn’t get ripped off.

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Top tip 2: ALWAYS ask for the metre to be turned on in a taxi. Without it – the driver can charge you whatever he wants (and trust me, it’ll be double or triple what the metre fare would be).

Getting around with coaches and bus-lines

A popular transportation method for backpackers, most seem to think taking the bus or the coach is the cheapest way of getting down to the islands, etc. And they’re probably right.

However, I’d always recommend checking out the airlines first though (it’s much safer, much quicker and much less hassle) – and you could end up saving yourself a whole day of travelling – and only forking out an extra £10-£30 or so for the luxury of flying, compared to being squished on a bus for 18 hours.

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Getting the bus is a budget option for budget travellers – if you can afford to get there using a different method, I’d recommend you choose the other method!

If you book via a tour company or bus company, most will include the ferry ticket in the price (these journeys usually include 10-12 hours on a bus, and then a 1-3 hour ferry ride), so make sure you ensure your boat ticket is included in the price too.

Not a ferry boat - but Thailand's most famous kind of boat...

Not a ferry boat – but Thailand’s most famous kind of boat…

 

Because we flew most places in Thailand, I can’t personally recommend any tour companies myself. However other travel bloggers I know have used the following company and it seems to get good reviews when I chat to people:

Lomprayah Tours (about £30 for the bus and ferry combo I mentioned above)

Top tip 1: Be careful of ‘random’ tour companies based in Bangkok who are offering super cheap tickets – there may be a catch and it’s common for these to be scams. It’s better to be safe than sorry – so book with a reputable vendor, like the company I mentioned above.

Top tip 2: It’s also common for people to have their belongs stolen on these bus trips (especially with dodgy tour operators) so keep your stuff close to hand if possible (using it as a pillow works).

More in-depth info on buses here. 

Getting around via train

There is a rail network in Thailand which is pretty easy to navigate if you’re looking to avoid flying. It’s called the State Railway of Thailand and you can find their website here…  www.railway.co.th. We never used it on our trip, but Lonely PLanet say it’s well run, and I tend to trust their voice on such things. The rail network covers four main lines – the northern, southern, northeastern and eastern lines.

The train is most convenient as an alternative to buses for the long journey north to Chiang Mai or south to Surat Thani. The train would also be useful for anyone visiting places like Ayuthaya and Lopburi from Bangkok.

You can also choose which class you’d like to travel on Thai trains, so if you had to budget you could opt for a first class ticket, and have yourself a pretty comfortable journey. Each private cabin in a 1st-class train carriage has individually controlled air-con (older trains also have an electric fan), a washbasin and mirror, a small table and long bench seats that convert into beds. Drinking water and soap are provided free of charge. But bear in mind… First-class carriages are available only on rapid, express and special-express trains.

Getting around with budget airlines

There are plenty of budget airlines in Thailand. My favourite was Bangkok Airways – which was a little boutique airline servicing some of the islands. If I was to recommend an airline to you, that’s who I’d pick first and foremost.

Here are a few others though, where you might find some great deals:

Nok Air

Air Asia (These guys are especially good if you’re moving onto other countries after. We flew to Hong Kong from Bangkok with Air Asia, for a very reasonable price).

Jet Star

Orient Thai Airlines

As always, if you feel uneasy booking with an airline, make sure you check reviews and safety ratings online first.

Top tip: Bear in mind, for a lot of these little internal flights from islands to islands you’ll be flying on a very small plane. For some people this is irrelevant information and wouldn’t affect their decision – but for me smaller planes make me very uneasy and I’d rather get a train or taxi if it’s an option. I freaked out when I saw how tiny one of the planes we flew was – so I figured I’d flag it now, incase anyone has the same fear.

Getting around in a car and or on a motorcycle

Cars, jeeps and vans can be rented in most major cities and airports, so as long as you’re flying into a hub, you should be able to find a car to rent. The international chains (you know, the big name brands) have offices in most of the major cities and you can book the cars online just like you would back home. This might make the experience a little less stressful – so always a good idea.

Of course, there are little local companies are located in major tourist destinations who tend to have (much) cheaper rates than the international chains, but their fleets of cars tend to be older and perhaps not as safe or well maintained. Check the tyre treads and general upkeep of the vehicle before committing to it – if this is the route you’re going to take.

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Renting a motorcycle in Thailand is relatively easy, and you’ll be able to do it in most cities and towns around the country. It’s a good way to independently tour the countryside, especially in northern Thailand and on the southern beaches – that’s if you’re brave enough to bear the mental traffic.

Top tip: ALWAYS wear a helmet.

Lastly, for more info, I found the following websites pretty useful: 

www.tourismthailand.org

The Best and Most Beautiful Rooftop Bars in Bangkok

Bangkok might not offer the most memorable skyline (like it’s neighbours Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong) but once you get up high enough – the view is pretty spectacular, as we learnt on our last night in the city a couple of months ago.

We headed up to Above Eleven Rooftop Bar to soak in some views – and it was just magical. I’m a big sucker for a rooftop (especially if there’s a bar on it) so I knew it’d blow me away – but I didn’t quite realise just how much. The thing you don’t realise about Bangkok, until you’re looking down on it, is just how FLIPPING HUGE the city is. It’s massive – and the views span for miles out in every direction.

The nice thing about Bangkok too, is you can head to even the most expensive rooftop bar, and still enjoy pretty reasonably priced drinks and food (because, let’s face it – Bangkok is quite purse friendly). Above Eleven isn’t one of the most high profile bars in the city (mainly because the Hangover wasn’t filmed there…) but for me it was just perfect. Within a 10 minute walk of our hotel, intimate, friendly, not snobby, and plenty of room.

And just look at those views. 

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The bar staff even made up my own cocktail for me when there wasn’t anything I quite fancied on the menu. Which definitely gets them extra bonus points! And it was delicious!

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Here are a few other beautiful rooftop bars to keep you busy during your time in Bangkok: 

Sky Bar

Found on the 63rd floor under the huge dome (made famous by The Hangover) this is the stow stopping favourite rooftop bar. Expect it to be absolutely packed though – so head there off-peak. If you want to witness the sunset from here you’ll have to head there an hour or so earlier than planned – or book a table and eat in the restaurant.

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Vertigo and Moon Bar

Another swish show-stopper, this place is one of the higher priced bars in the city. But it’s worth it for the level of service and the luxury on offer. If you’re after something special and a bit of a treat – this is where you want to be heading.

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The Nest Bar

This bar is actually located right around the corner from Above Eleven (s0 you could easily visit both in the same night!) and is a little quirkier and cute than the others. Instead of luxury – this bar is all about comfort and cosiness, it’s make a great location for a first date or for a memorable occasion. It’s not as high up as the other bars either – probably about half the height – which means you get a slightly different view.

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Let me know which rooftop bars you’ve been to and if there are any others you’d recommend that aren’t here!

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

Enjoying the view in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is every photographers dream. If you love cityscapes, if you love lights and buildings and expansive lanscapes stretching as far as the eye can see, then your camera is going to be permanently glued to your hand the entire time you’re here. I know mine was.

I have to admit, one of the main reasons I was so excited for Hong Kong (aside from Sweet and Sour Pork. Nom Nom) was the chances for photos and the sheer amount of photo opportunities I knew there would be. It certainly didn’t disappoint (I mean how could it!? Have you seen this place?) and I was so happy with all the images from our time there. There are a few…

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These images were taken atop Victoria Peak, a pretty cool mountain peak (name kind of gives it away right?) that is surprisingly high and actually overlooks all the skyscrapers. To get up there you have to go on this little tram, cable car thingy – which Im not even joking – was one of the most worried I’ve ever been on public transport EVER.

It’s basically like a roller coaster (that’s about how steep it is) and you’re pinned back against your seat as you slowly climb the mountain face. But you know how in a roller coaster you’re all strapped in and safe, in this, you’re kind of not. It’s a little tram that’s 50+ years old, made of wood, on a wooden track, with no seat belts or anything. Which is kind of awesome. But at the same time, I had these terrifying mental images of us rolling back down the huge hill… which I assure you would not have been awesome!

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You don’t just get great views from the top of The Peak though, you can get some awesome views from The Avenue of Stars too (blogged about here). We were lucky to have the most amazing view from our hotel room too – The Langham Place in Mongkok. Mongkok is a pretty far out suburb, but still classed as central, and you can get to the business district in less than 8 minutes on the MRT train – so for us it was perfect. We got a beautiful room in a beautiful hotel – which we wouldn’t have been able to afford if we’d been more central.

And there’s no way we’d have got a view this good if we’d been in the middle of the central district….

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Hong Kong Foodie Tour = FOOD!!

Pad and I have always been firm believers in food.

We love food and when we travel somewhere new, we love trying all the local food just as much as exploring the sights and attractions too. We’re lucky to have lots of friends who have the same love of food too – so we’re always searching out random places that were recommended to us. Most of the time is pays off!

This was one of those times.

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

The Hong Kong Foodie Tour was recommended to us by Rob Kerry  one of Pad’s friends. We’d never really done a “food” tour of a city before so it seemed like something cool and new to do one morning whilst in Hong Kong, we love trying out new things so this seemed like an awesome idea. And of course – the food in Hong Kong is so great – so what better way to try even more of the yumminess than have a professional guide walk us round local neighbourhoods?

Our tour lasted about 4 hours and took us from 9am (ish) to 1pm taking us right through from breakfast to lunch. OH MY GOD DON’T EAT BEFOREHAND OR YOU WILL POP. This is a food tour – so you’ll be eating lots. So go with an empty stomach. Our very first stop was in a traditional Chinese cafe and the waitress handed us a traditional Pineapple bun. They were literally the size of my head. This was the first stop and I was already filling up!

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

I won’t go over it in too much detail because a lot of the fun is finding out what comes next and what you’re going to try next, but the tour is so great. It’s awesome to go to such a local part of the city (we were the ONLY tourists we saw the entire 4 hours we were out and about) so you’re right in the middle of local life and real Hong Kong. That in itself is kind of special. It’s so easy in these big cities to get caught up in the tourist hype – so it was awesome to go and explore somewhere completely removed from it all.

Our tour guide had loads of information to tell us too about the area, and even the histories of each individual shop and eatery we dined in and stopped at. One had been owned by the same man for 60+ years, and he was sat in the corner of the cafe with a wise little smile on his face, must have been at least 80 years old!

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

Hong Kong Foodie TourSo was it worth it? Hell yes!

We loved every second. If you want to get and about, experience some traditional, cultural Hong Kong and try some incredible food along the way – you’ll have a blast. You even get a map at the end to take away with you, in case you want to come back later in your trip!

 

Hong Kong Highlight… Avenue of Stars

There is absolutely loads to see and do in Hong Kong (more on all those things later) and one of the top on any travellers list is The Avenue of Stars. It’s where you find all those incredible views and beautiful vistas of the city and it’s an awesome place to people watch, stroll around and just soak it all in. Sure, this isn’t the most authentic side of the city – but as far as views go – this is one of the most phenomenal we’ve seen yet. It’s hard not to be bowled over as you watch the sunset over the skyscrapers, as the lights start glistening across the water.

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

For the best time to visit, I’d probably go just before sunset (a quick google search will tell you when that is) on a clear day. We got pretty lucky with the day we went – we’d had some serious (bad ass) storms the days before so this was a surprisingly dry day for Hong Kong! If you get there at sunset, you can see the skyline in all it’s glory in daytime and nighttime.

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

The one thing that really got me about Hong Kong was the sheer size of the place. I always had the impression Hong Kong was a very tall city – but not a vast one. But it’s actually quite massive, especially when you’re looking at it from such a panoramic perspective, as you do from The Avenue of Stars. The city scape literally surrounds you a full 180 degrees across the shoreline. So much so I couldn’t actually fit it all in to one shot.

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

 

The below photos probably shows about 1/3 of the entire view. Which gives you an idea of the kind of scale you work with here!

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Of course, as with anything – I was waiting for the darkness to settle in. I just love cities like this in darkness – it just makes everything look so much more magical and atmospheric. They haven’t made it completely easy for those of us wanting to get long shutter photos (there is a serious lack of flat surfaces you can rest your camera on) so if you have a tripod make sure you take it, if not you might have to do a bit of sneaky camera balancing. I had mine balanced on Pad’s feet at one point – making him stand completely still until it had finished capturing. Ah, the things you do for love! He’s a very good boyfriend!

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong Avenue of Stars I think you’ll agree – It’s just stunning!

 

Boats and Bargains – Bangkok Floating Markets

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Although many people will warn you off the floating markets in Bangkok – it was one of our highlights from the whole of Asia – so I’d definitely recommend going and seeing it for yourself before crossing it off your list.

Yes, it is touristy. But behind the tourist glaze, there are real Thai people living their everyday lives, and the culture and essence of the original floating markets from way back when is still there. In short, we enjoyed every second. Sure it was a bit busy and a bit chaotic but that all added to the experience, and trust me, you won’t experience anything like this anywhere else.

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However before I start raving on about how good it was, I should cover a few points which you’ll probably want to know before visiting. We booked a day tour with our hotel, The Golden Tulip (who we really trusted) and who equally warned us about the various scams that happen around the area – and how to avoid them, etc, once we arrived.

I’ll run through some of them below:

– If you’re getting a taxi to the markets (there are a few to choose from, we went with Damnoen Saduak as it’s one of the biggest, and closer to the city than others) then make sure you agree on a certain market and on a certain all-day / return fare. Make sure this is for the entire trip and not per person. Be clear and firm, and drivers may disagree with you once you arrive if you haven’t sorted this beforehand.

– Be firm with the driver, and make sure he drives you straight there. Many taxi drivers will often take you via shops and tailors where they earn commission is you buy anything, so be clear to him that you want to go direct.

– Many drivers will refuse to take you straight to the market, instead taking you to various piers nearby the market instead. Here, people will try to sell you boat rides to the market, claiming it’s the “only way” to get there. THIS IS NOT TRUE. So never opt for these boats. They are often 5x (if not more) the price of the paddle boats you get when you finally do arrive. This is a tourist trap you want to avoid.

– Paddle boats are available really cheap once you finally arrive, so this is really the best option and the nicest one too as it’s much more fun and feels a bit more authentic than an engined speed boat!

– Once you’re finally at the market (all of the major ones are accessible by road, as mentioned above) you’ll notice there are shops on the water (boat sellers) and there are shops in market stalls around the water. Market stalls are always cheaper than boat stalls, so if you really want something for a good price, wait until you’re off the boat to buy it.

– Try not to point at things as you go around the floating market (unless you really want to buy it), as the store owners will take that as an almost-sale and pull you into their shop. Also – never take anything from the shop owners unless you seriously want to buy it. Once it’s in your hands you essentially signed a contract of sale and they’re unlikely to take it back.

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But as long as you’re careful and a bit wary of these scams – you’ll have the best time. The four of us piled into a little row boat and got a mini tour of the market that lasted about 30 minutes. It was great. Sure, it’s a little crowded, and a bit jam packed but seriously – if you take this place for what it is then you’re bound to enjoy it. It’s such a unique experience.

Personally, I just loved seeing all the characters. These women who paddle their boats all day in the heat, are incredible. Some were like 90 years old…. and I just couldn’t help but have absolute admiration for them. The women sell all kinds of thing, from souvenirs and craft items, to clothing and food. Lots of the food is actually cooked right there on the boat.

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You don’t have to be on the boat to buy stuff!

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Another tip? Take light clothing, as being outside for this long can get pretty hot. Obviously, the floating markets are air-conditioned so you’ll want to stay as cool as possible. We took to bringing a little flannel out with us to dab our foreheads when the heat got a bit too hot! Oh, and water! Bring water. Lots of it!

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Have you been to the floating markets in Bangkok? Would you recommend any other tips for people visiting?

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

I Have Something To Confess.

One thing I was hoping to get out of travelling – or rather, get rid of – was my fear of flying.

I know. Why travel the world when you are absolutely petrified of flying?

Why put yourself through multiple flights on average, every 5 days, if you hate it?

Well, honestly – because I think my passion for travel out-weighs my fear for flying. But that doesn’t make it any less real. 

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I honestly thought that eventually, by travelling, my fear would gradually fade into the background. That it would simmer down and that perhaps I’d be able to finally relax into a flight and the idea of flying instead of dreading it the entire day prior.

But that hasn’t really happened.

I had a bit of a breakdown on our last night in Bangkok, because I’m so sick of feeling paralysed by this fear. And I think it’s important to talk about it – because unlike what many people may believe, travelling isn’t fun 100% of the time. For me, it’s incredible the entire time we’re on solid ground. But the day when we’re due to fly? And the flight itself? You’ll find me clutching my boyfriends hand, a bag of nerves, wishing I was anywhere else but there.

So maybe it’s important to be honest about these things. 

And maybe, if you’re someone who also has a fear of flying, and you’re reading this. Maybe you’ll feel encouraged by the fact that even though I hate flying and it fills me with pure dread, I still board that flight and I cope with it the best I can. Because I know travel is worth it all.

But I’m trying so hard to overcome it, despite a few hiccups along the way.

Over new year, we had a terrible flight into Queenstown, NZ where our plane had a missed approach on landing and we had to surge up the engines again metres from the runway and take-off again. I was an absolute wreck during those few minutes, and I think it erased any progress I’d made previously. Before that, I’d never really hated the landing part (because, hey – it means you’re nearly there) but now my nerves are so on edge during landing I find myself glancing around the cabin frantically every 30 seconds. Pad compared me to a Meerkat – if that helps you imagine it. A super panicked Meerkat. Having a bad day.

Ever since then I’ve felt myself getting worse and it’s become a bit of a downward spiral. In Thailand on a couple of internal flights we had to fly on smaller planes with propellers instead of engines. This was almost a breaking point for me. I literally felt overwhelmed by the fear. I even contemplated having us drive across Thailand and hiring a taxi to take us to our next destination (making a 45 minute plane journey a 7 hour drive). But Pad being the ever supportive boyfriend he is, assured me that I’d be OK – and we were. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend the entire flight gripping his hand and cutting off his circulation.

Why am I writing this?

Well, after I had my Bangkok-Breakdown, Pad asked me what I was actually scared of. And I put it down to a mixture of things.

I hate not having control.

I don’t understand how it works.

I hate the sensation of flying.

I dread the turbulence. And I hate the dreading.

It goes on.

So Pad told me to start researching how a plane works. To help me understand. So I could understand exactly what all the sounds were that scared me so much. So I could change my outlook of flying, to a positive one instead of a negative one.

I don’t know why I’d never thought of it before honestly. I feel a bit foolish for never typing into Google “How does a plane stay in the air” or “tips for fearful flyers” but I never had before that night. Which is stupid. Because there are so many people out there with the same fear (1 in 6 apparently) and they are all there, online offering advice.

So now, I know how a plane stays up. It’s something to do with lift, and the way the air glides over the wings of the plane – which creates different pressure levels. And that makes me feel a bit better.

I also know that whilst turbulence is a discomfort – it isn’t dangerous, and the planes are designed to with-stand it and they are designed to be strong and safe in turbulence.

I found this website…. www.askcaptainlim.com and I read through the FAQs and the forums and I can’t thank the guy who wrote it enough.

I read tips like, watching children’s television helps – because they distract you easily and are designed for short attention spans. I read that it helps to imagine turbulence as bumps in the road or like waves on a boat. I read that it helps to imagine the captain doing day-to-day things like brushing his teeth and driving to work. And then imaging him going home after the flight to his family and having tea. Because, although it isn’t to you – this flight is completely routine to him.

It’s helping now, just typing all this stuff out. 

So, last night when we boarded our plane to Hong Kong I was feeling OK. Not confident, not happy or excited – but OK. Which was enough for me at that moment in time. I told Pad, that during this flight I was going to be brave, and that I was going to cope. Which I did.

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Turns out, it was a blessing I found all that advice, and especially the website which I mentioned earlier – because this flight to Hong Kong was a particularly bad one. We actually descended into Hong Kong at night time through a Thunder Storm, probably the biggest thunder storm I’ve ever seen. My heart is beating harder in my chest just describing it. We could see lightening out of the window, bright and white. The turbulence was bad – very bad. At one point we dropped a considerable distance, and many people on board screamed.

But the entire time, I kept my head down, I kept my hands in Pad’s and I closed my eyes. I kept telling myself all the information I’d read the night before. I kept recounting it in my head over and over. I even said a few of the things out loud, as if that might make it more true and convincing.

But I didn’t cry. And I didn’t panic.

In fact, when we touched down, I had dry eyes and I even managed to smile. And then minutes later, I managed to laugh. I had trusted the captain, I had trusted the plane and I was OK. Yes it had been horrible and frightening – and even now I’m trying not to think about it – but I had been so brave.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but I was really proud of myself. I’d actually surprised myself with how brave I’d been.

So, I probably can do this. 

And because the World has a sense of humour (and maybe as a reminder to me to have one too in situations like this), after the flight had taxied to the airport I started to pack up my stuff from the little pocket in front of me where I keep my tablet and headphones, etc during the flight. I reached in, and I saw something small, red and yellow, stuffed in the bottom of the pocket and pulled it out. It had clearly been forgotten by the last person who sat there.

It was a super hero mask.

Maybe that’s all I needed all along. 

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Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

Photos and Observations, The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Whilst our day out to The Grand Palace was undoubtedly the most hot and bothered I’ve ever been (seriously…. just look at the clothing regulations, and then consider wearing that in 38 degree heat and humidity) it’s also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

I love temples, and as a photographer it’s a dream walking around places like this, because there is just so much to see. For me it’s the colour and the patterns, and I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that offers so many colours, shapes and beautiful buildings all within such a small space.

So here are a few of my photos….

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It’s funny – because in the photos it doesn’t look all too hot at all. In fact, from this distance we all look pretty comfortable in our jeans, cardigans and long dresses and proper shoes. The truth? We had to stop every 10 minutes or so just to take a breather. When we finally discovered a free water station top-up, we sat there for 20 minutes in the shade just refilling our bottles again and again and downing all the water we could manage.

We joked that you could ever come here with close friends or family. Because trying to make a good first impression here, would be near impossible. What with the whole “drenched in sweat – desperate for water and shade” thing going on. Not really what you’re after on, say, a first date!

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The shot above is one of my favourites of the day – as is the one at the very top of this post too.

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A few more things to note about this place, is how busy it gets and to be careful when entering. We were warned by our hotel (luckily) about the various scams and cons people try to pull around the Grand Palace, so thought we were pretty prepared. A few things they highlighted were; people trying to sell you overly expensive tours inside the palace grounds (a ticket should only cost 500BHT – no more), people sending you off to different entrances, so they can sell you higher priced tickets, taxi drivers telling you the palace is closed (which it never is) – so they can drive you to another one further away…. the list goes on.

It’s something to look out for and just be wary of, because you don’t want your day ruined because you had your gullible hat on. 

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

Restrictions, Rules and Dress Codes at The Grand Palace, Bangkok

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When we visited the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the number one thing we were looking for was detailed information on the official rules, regulations and dress-codes…. The kind of things you need to know before getting there! If you’re reading this, you’re probably sat in your hotel or hostel researching just what exactly you should be wearing tomorrow – and hopefully I can help out!

The Palace is quite far across town from our hotel, so we didn’t want to turn up wearing the wrong thing, and then be turned away on the door, and frustratingly, I couldn’t find anything official online, but read enough on forums and blog posts to have a general understanding of what is and what isn’t OK before turning up.

Hopefully this blog post can help out anyone in the same shoes as us. I’ve included the official sign posting from the Palace, which can hopefully be of help too!

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The general gist of things are:

NO VEST TOPS or TANK TOPS (FOR MALE or FEMALES)

NO SHORT SLEEVES THAT SHOW SHOULDERS

NO MIDRIFF ON SHOW

NO BACKLESS CLOTHING

NO LOW-CUT CLOTHING ON FEMALES

NO PANTS OR SKIRTS THAT SHOW ANKLES (basically no mini skirts, shorts, 3/4 length pants, etc)

NO FLIP-FLOPS

NO BARE CHESTS (obviously this mainly applies to men)

Your ideal outfit would be some nice light cotton trousers or a maxi dress/ skirt (if you’re a girl) and a light t-shirt. As a girl you’ll need a proper cardigan to cover your shoulders – a wrap around shawl won’t cut it.

There is a changing room too – so you can always pack your palace-outfit in your bag and get changed there – which is a decent idea if you plan on doing something before or after during the day. Because trust me – long sleeves and trousers can feel pretty heated in the Bangkok temperature and once you leave the palace grounds you’ll probably want to get changed into something a bit lighter!

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In certain parts of the temples and palace there will be further rules enforced too, such as no shoes, etc. For this reason, don’t wear your most expensive, designer pair of shoes…. because believe it or not, sometimes shoes get stolen outside temples. Also, in a lot of the rooms, you won’t be able to take water in – so it’s best to have a bag you can store yours in whilst you enter. Water is something you’ll need by the way (whilst we’re on that subject!) as there is no air-conditioning in the palace grounds, and it can get really hot.

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Hope this helps!

If you found this blog post helpful – I’d love for you to vote for me in the Trespass Blog Awards. You can vote by clicking here 🙂 Thanks so much! 

Here are a few more posts about Bangkok you might want to take a read of:

How to Survive the Floating Markets (and not get scammed!)

Photos and observations of the Grand Palace, Bangkok

Let’s talk about Patong, Phuket.

I’ll admit, when I booked our time in Thailand for this RTW trip – I did it a little blindly. I don’t know a whole lot about Thailand – having never really travelled here properly before (I did do a few family holidays here when I was little though) and Pad has never been either so we just kind of booked and chose the places which seemed to crop up.

One of these places was Patong in Phuket.

Now, I’m well aware that to experience a country you have to see the good and the bad – but Patong has really been a shock to the system for us, and our friends who we’re here with. Especially after arriving here from Koh Samui – and the quietist little boutique beach resort ever. I’ll do my best to describe it here – but even then – I doubt you’ll have a proper picture of what this place is really like.

First of all – I’m not saying don’t visit. It just depends on what you’re after in a holiday. Maybe if this is your cup of tea, you’d come here and have an incredible time – but honestly, it’s not my cup of tea and I doubt many friends of mine would enjoy it here either. The one saving grace for us though has been our beautiful hotel – which seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of the nightlife and shops.

Let's start with the good. This is our beautiful hotel.

Starting with the good. This is our beautiful hotel.

So. Let’s try and get this place onto paper.

The Shops. 

The shopping in Patong is everywhere. Every single street is lined with little shops selling (more or less) the same kind of thing. You’ll find fake-designer purses and bags, beach clothes, souvenirs, shoes and those other touristy kind of shops. Now, I’m all up for shopping, and we did have a wonder round the many retail outlets here on our first day and spot some awesome finds and bargains. But – it’s very hard to enjoy the shopping when you have shop owners peering over your shoulders, pressuring you to buy, shouting at you from the street, offering you products and just generally getting all up in your face. Add onto that the blazing heat and un-airconditioned shops – and suddenly the shopping becomes a bit of a chore – rather than an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

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A relatively quiet street of shopping.

The Nightlife

The nightlife is probably what Patong is most famous for – and the four us did try our best to give it a go last night. But we all admitted this morning – it just wasn’t our kind of thing. There are a few main streets where the bars are all situated – and one of them is probably the most notorious. It’s very busy – very bustling and you can’t move two metres without some guy thrusting a poster of naked women infront of your nose, asking “You want to see Ping Pong show?”. If you’ve seen The Hangover 2 you know what that is, and why that’s kind of gross. If you’ve not seen The Hangover and are wondering why I’m so offended at Ping Pong, just do a quick Google (Not safe for work, by the way)… you’ll soon understand. Sure, at first it’s kind of funny and you laugh it off. But when these guys start following you down the street and you’ve already been asked upwards of twenty times – it kind of starts to grate on your nerves.

In fact, that kind of sums up Patong. It’s kind of OK at first, it’s a bit of a novelty. Then you loose your patience with it.

Those famous "lady-boys" you hear so much about.

Those famous “lady-boys” you hear so much about.

Random crazy bar with giant tigers.

Random crazy bar with giant tigers.

But that’s not the worst bit. Once you’ve hurdled your way through the Ping Pong guys, you have to get past the children selling flowers. They kind of come up to you (no more than 12 years old) and poke you, or pretend to punch you playfully, and then throw a ring of flowers over your neck hoping you’l buy them. Now, I love kids – but these children made me really uncomfortable. One of the little girls clutched onto my wrist really hard and wouldn’t let go – meaning I couldn’t walk down the street and couldn’t get past her. I’ll be honest here – she was hurting me and if it had been an adult man doing that I would’ve kicked him or shoved him as it would’ve been classed as physical abuse.

Another time, a little boy came up to me and threw some over my neck again. I kindly said no, but he wouldn’t take the flowers back – which meant he was trying to force me to give him the cash. By this point we were all pretty fed up, and just wanted to get into a bar (two other friends at this point were also being harassed by another child right behind us). So I took the flowers off my neck and placed them infront of his feet, smiled and said I was OK, and sorry I didn’t want to buy them. I didn’t really have any other choice, seen as he was refusing to take them back from me. The boy then kind of charged at me aggressively – as if he was about to punch me or shove me. He didn’t (thank goodness) but it was a bit un-nerving all the same. Just not nice. I know that they were children, so you can of course be much more forgiving and try and be more understanding – but when they are physically hurting you, or intimidating you it doesn’t make the situation any better. It just makes it a whole lot worse, because you feel a bit helpless.

Aside from the people on the street trying to sell us stuff, the bar staff in the bars were actually quite friendly and accommodating  Which you really appreciate after being shoved and bombarded with all sorts out in the main road. And, once you’re safe inside a bar away from the sellers, we had a great time and the atmosphere was fun and lively. Still, prices in Patong are expensive compared to all other places we’ve been in Asia, so you don’t get that perk. Buckets will cost minimum of 300 BHT, and a cocktail is probably going to cost you 250 BHT on the main street (maybe more).

Making the most of the lively nightlife. And looking very tanned I might add!

Making the most of the lively nightlife. And looking very tanned I might add!

Our 300 BHT buckets.

Our 300 BHT buckets.

The Beach

We haven’t spent much time on the beach, but we ventured onto there briefly this afternoon to see what it was like. As far as beaches go – it’s nice, clean and big – with a lovely coloured ocean. But it’s kind of rammed full with sun loungers and sellers trying to get you to have a massage or a taxi ride, or use their jet-ski, etc. That’s fine I guess – and people need to make a living – but on the beach you just want to relax, and I guess you can’t really do that if people keep trying to sell you stuff, and you keep having to turn them down. But on the bright side  there are lots of sun beds to choose from, lots of space, and lots of activities to do if you did fancy it.

Actually, in the evening though – the beach is a bit nicer. The sun-loungers get packed up leaving much more space to walk around, and you get less people trying to sell you stuff. One guy did come up and sell us the Thai lanterns… but I didn’t mind that so much as it was on my bucket list anyway. So that was kind of nice, definitely a must-do if you do decide to visit Patong.

The empty beach at sunset.

The empty beach at sunset.

Our lovely lantern.

Our lovely lantern.

Overall? 

I don’t know. It’s probably my least favourite place we’ve been, and that’s hard to admit – because I like to try and be positive about places in general. I don’t like feeling harassed, and I know Pad and my friends we’ve with don’t like that either. It’s hard to enjoy somewhere when you’re always being shouted at on the street, or being sold something, or being called over.

But I also know that this place is so popular for a reason. Clearly there is a target audience and clearly there are people who love it here and keep coming back. For me – I’ve loved our hotel and relaxing in the beautiful weather, but I could’ve done that in another Thai town too. I feel like, if you’re looking for a beautiful Thailand experience – you’re not going to find it here. You’ll find it in one of the many other destinations Thailand has to offer. As other bloggers have also said on various sites I’ve come across.

My enjoyment (and I have enjoyed it) has only been because I’ve been with great friends and because of the lovely hotel – not because of Patong itself. The place itself has kind of worn me out. It’s too much hard work.

Would I come again? No.

Definitely not.

Day Trip: Angthong National Park, Koh Samui

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park was one of the things I wanted to do in Thailand from the moment we decided we were going to stop off there on our RTW trip. I’d heard all sorts of great reviews about the place, both online and from friends too – who’d been in the past – speaking of these incredible turquoise waters, sandy beaches and gorgeous desert islands. Well, the place delivered on all three, and it was absolutely beautiful.

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The Marine Park is made up of 42 islands (I think….. around that amount anyway) spotted across the ocean. Some are big, some are small, some have beaches – some have this huge sheer cliff faces. It’s quite a beautiful experience as you zoom through them in whatever boat you’ve hired to take you around them.

We went with a small tour group on a speedboat, which made the whole experience a lot more exciting too, it’s awesome zooming through the islands at super speed, I actually spent half the time stood up at the back of the boat pretending I was Kate Winslet in titanic. Or 007 from James Bond. It tended to vary depending on my mood throughout the day. Fun none the less though!

I think there are lots of tours you can get around the area – and there seems to be a big variation in price too. But I’m guess – as with most things in Thailand – you pay for what you get. The cheaper tours had much slower boats and much bigger groups, which wouldn’t have been so great in the heat. The speedboat was a blessing in disguise in more ways than one – the main plus point being the constant breeze you have whooshing through the boat whenever you’re on the move. Definitely a welcome breeze when it’s sunny and 34 degrees.

Our tour cost us 2200 THB each – which I think was actually way too expensive and we might have fallen into a bit of tourist trap there. Saying that, I booked it in advance online a few months ago – so I didn’t really begrudge paying extra because it wasn’t coming out of our current travel budget on the day. I think, if we did it again though, we’d have waited until we arrived and just booked it through a local tour company. It probably would’ve been half the price.

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park Thailand

The day consisted of lots of zooming around in the speedboat (fun fun fun) and a few stop offs along the way. We did an hour of snorkelling in a little cove which was lovely and so much calmer than when we snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef – and we both came away from that first activity with big smiles on our faces too – as the water they dropped us off in was absolutely teaming with fish.

Next stop was a little desert island, for kayaking and lunch. Kayaking was a disaster. Not anyone’s fault but my own. I couldn’t get comfy, my back hurt (a whole lot) because the kayaks were funny shaped, and I made Pad do all the hard work whilst I sobbed silently in the front seat trying to shake off the big red biting ants that were also sharing the boat with us. So not the most fun time we’ve ever had I guess. But Pad came through for me as kayaking super-hero of the decade (big cheer) and paddled us all the way back to shore in one piece. Where he didn’t even hold a grudge. It is at times like these (granted – we don’t often have kayaking disasters day to day, but still) that I feel very lucky and loved.

I felt a bit betrayed by the kayaks to be honest. As I’d enjoyed it so so much in New Zealand. Where did it all go wrong!?

Smiles returned after lunch though (hurray) and we set off around the corner to the green lagoon.

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park Thailand

The Green Lagoon (above) is a lagoon nestled at the top of a huge mountain. It has the most incredible views (below) but it takes some dedication and physical strength to get up there. It’s basically a trail of about 15 vertical ladders (very steep too, I might add – especially when you’re only 5ft2!) and by the time you reach the top you’re so hot and sweaty you need a minute on your in the shade before you even realise there is a view to be had.

But there is, and it was definitely worth the climb up. And you can see – the lagoon and the outlook onto the national park is just breathtaking. It actually reminded me a little of Bay of Islands in New Zealand the way all the islands were sotted about the ocean, and the clarity and colour of it all too. They are really very similar.

Don’t look at the photo below for too long – otherwise you’ll notice how we are literally glistening with sweat. It was such hard work getting to the top!

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park Thailand

Angthong National Park Thailand

Oh, one last thing, on the way back to the mainland we saw some dolphins! So if you ever go, keep an eye out for them in the water. Always lovely to see wild animals out like that.

A Little Bit of Luxury: Review of Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

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For our two nights in Kuala Lumpur, we wanted to book something with an incredible view of the Petronas Towers, and something that was a bit of a treat. We were only going to be there a couple of nights, so wanted to make the most of it by stopping somewhere close to the towers (KL’s main attraction) and pretty nice to spend some down-time in. I’d seen reviews for the Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Asia Rooms as a friend of ours recommended it to us, and they all seemed glowing – so that’s what we went for.

I can honestly say, right now (if you can’t be bothered to read the rest of this review) that this is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. Full stop. 

We opted for a Club Room, meaning that for the 3 days we were there, we got Breakfast, Afternoon Tea, Evening Cocktails, and all-day drinks included in the price. A price (which, in case you were wondering) wasn’t at all ridiculously high. In fact, after coming from expensive Australia and Singapore – the price seemed cheap in comparison. But I guess everything in context. Still, if you’re looking for bang for your buck – this place doesn’t disappoint. It absolutely delivers.

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The room was spacious, modern and had everything you could possibly need. Including a lollypop on the bathroom towels. For when you get hungry in the shower (it happens apparently, Joey from Friends kept a meatball sub in his).

The biggest wow-factor though was the view. The photo at the top of the page was taken from our room, as was the one below. It’s funny – we did go up to their roof-top bar to enjoy drinks one night (coincidentally, the bar was really nice, no surprise there) but the view was better from our room, as we had such big windows in the room, and didn’t have to look over people’s heads to see it. Which is saying something. Basically the views are good everywhere in this hotel.

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All the food we had was great, both as part of our club-deal and the hotel restaurants in general. And the service was incredible too. Such friendly staff and such high standards of service – we couldn’t have asked for much more.

And that’s about all I have to say. Really – when a hotel goes above and beyond this much, it’s actually hard to write about it. We had no negatives. None. At all. Which I hope speaks for itself and means I don’t have to waffle on needlessly, because there really isn’t anything else I need to say other than that! Perfect in everyway. Kuala Lumpur’s hotel version of Mary Poppins. 🙂

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My “Tourist” Photos From Singapore

I like being a tourist – and when you’re in a huge city like Singapore (with so much to do and see) you end up taking a few touristy snaps just like everyone else. I like these kinds of photos though, they are the kind I’ll frame when I get home. Here are a few of our favourites from Singapore….

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The two photos above were taken from the bar at the top of The Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Very beautiful view – if you can manage to get to it. Expect loads of crowds (especially at the weekend) and you’ll need to get there early if you want a table near the edge of the terrace. Otherwise, you’ll have to enjoy the view over the tops of people’s heads… not ideal, but still absolutely stunning.

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These two shots (above) are taken in Singapore’s newest attraction – Gardens by The Bay. It was just gorgeous and looked like some kind of fairytale. I’d go just before sunset, so you can watch the sun go down around the giant trees and then enjoy the night-time view later on. Either way – it’s worth making the effort to go here. You can grab a taxi there, or the MRT (Singapore’s subway system) and get off at the stop called Bayfront.

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Another must-see for anyone is obviously the Marina Bay Sands (above). We actually spent a night exploring the area opposite the hotel (called The Esplanade) which is where you can get great shots like this from – kind of iconic now in relation to Singapore. But also – if you have time, make time to go inside the hotel too as it’s pretty spectacular. We headed up to their rooftop bar, and also had a go in the casino too…. which won us $200. Not bad!

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Lastly – Raffles Hotel is another place to check off your list whilst in Singapore. It’s their most luxury hotel (some would argue) and you can go walk around it’s ground for free. There are even a few bars and restaurants you can try (if you have the cash for it) but a strict dress-code applies – so don’t go wandering in there in your flip-flops because you’ll get turned away at the door.

What would you recommend to do in Singapore?

The Wanderlust Hotel Singapore – Review

We were asked by the Wanderlust Hotel to come and stay a night with them whilst we were in Singapore – to review the hotel and let people know what we thought of the place. Well, let’s start by saying – this isn’t exactly your average hotel. This is like a hotel out of someone wildest dreams. The bedrooms are like the kind of rooms your 10 year old self would have wanted – and trust me – that still kind of appeals even in your twenties. My inner child was gloriously happy the entire time we were there. Everything is just so fun and fairy-tale like. It made such a difference to the normal hotel rooms, where each one is the same. In Wanderlust – not one room resembles another and each floor has it’s own “theme”. Ours was Creature Comforts.

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We were put in a Whimsical King Room – one on the top floor that has been made treehouse-style. It literally was like sleeping in our own little treehouse for the night. Like I said – my inner child was screaming with delight. I always wanted a treehouse – and my youth was spent in the local woods with my little sister trying (and usually failing) to make one of our very own. Of course, being a proper, luxury little boutique hotel though – this wasn’t just any old treehouse. Ours was “pimped” out with 2 TVs, a bathroom, coffe makers, dressing gowns, a step-ladder up to our bed and even a canopy of leaves hanging above the bed. I kid you not. There was even a Narnia-style street lamp.

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It was the little leaves above the entire room that really sold it for me. They looked so real – and even rustled in the breeze the AC made. Also – the wallpaper is designed like a forrest too. These guys have literally thought of everything.

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The room was cozy – one of the hotel’s smallest in fact – but it had so much character and it was so much fun to be in – that the size (or lack of it) rarely even crossed our mind. To be honest – we think they used the space incredibly – and would happily have stopped there longer if we had been staying on in Singapore for more time. We did take a peep at some other rooms too – and the wow factor was just as high. I don’t think you could be disappointed coming here. I mean when else do you get to sleep in a treehouse with a 50 inch TV hanging above your bed?!

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The reception area and staff were lovely too – which I expected. You can’t have such an incredible concept hotel and not have the staff to back it up. Everyone we encountered on staff was top notch. There is a little French restaurant in the lobby (which we wanted to try but couldn’t, as they were fully booked!) and a seating area, bar and eclectic little entertainment area too. With a football table….!

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Overall verdict? Loved it. Everything about it. Whilst I love big hotels with sweeping space – I also love finding amazing little places like this. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat and I’m secretly hoping they’re going to open one in London so I can move there and live in a treehouse all the time. Forever.

Singapore Zoo – Worth the Hype?

In a word – Yes. It definitely is.

I’ve been to the zoo on previous visits to Singapore – when I was little and loved it. But on this trip with Pad I hadn’t really ear-marked time for it – because we’d already been to plenty of zoos in Oz and NZ, and really, one zoo is the same as the next. Except that’s where I’m wrong – Singapore Zoo isn’t the same as others – far from. It is miles better – so I’m glad we did actually make time for it and head down there for the morning to look around.

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What’s the main difference between Singapore Zoo and other ones? Probably the fact that Singapore doesn’t feel like a “zoo”. The animals aren’t kept in cages or behind a big glass wall – you’re pretty much as close to them as you’ll ever be able to be – and there’s usually nothing but a cleverly placed moat or lake between you. Whilst sometimes visiting a zoo can make me feel a bit sad for the animals – in Singapore I don’t feel that way. They look to have nice environments, big enclosures and plenty of space (and it’s really nicely done-up space) to roam around in.

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The biggest example of that is actually the monkeys who literally are free to just swing up around you. There is a part of zoo when you’re just walking around, and suddenly you realise there are about 9/10 big monkeys swinging about 6ft above your head. It’s lovely. It feels natural. It’s nice to see the animals moving around instead of just being cooped up inside some glass cage.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 09.27.00So is it worth the hype? Yes.

Worth the money? Yes (the zoo is actually pretty cheap compared to other zoos in the UK and US).

The only negative is the temperature. Singapore is a very hot place (at the best of times) and walking around outside all day in that kind of heat and humidity can be very tiring and hard work. Take a portable fan if you have one – and don’t be ashamed to pay for the little shuttle service they have in the zoo. It means you can hop on and off and save yourself the job of walking. The zoo is an awfully big place – so we found it a blessing in the heat.

 

 

Hawker Food in Singapore – Reason Enough to Visit.

I’m not implying by the title of this blog post that it’s the only reason – but it sure could justify a trip to Singapore – if you were looking for one (you’re welcome). The food here is awesome – and after arriving from the terribly (mind-blowingly) expensive Australia, food here is delicious and cheaper than what you’d pay for a can of Coke down under.

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That’s right. An ENTIRE MEAL (food, drinks, maybe even a side of Satay Chicken if you’re feeling it) costs the same at a Singapore Hawker Food Court, as one can of Coke in Australia. Singapore isn’t exactly known for being a cheap city either – so these food courts (you’ll find them scattered all across the city) are great for keeping the budget down even more than planned. But don’t just go for the cheapness – go for the awesome food and local cuisine. You’ll be dining with locals, eating the local food and paying the local prices. Winning all round then? Yep.

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The photo above shows the famous Singapore Chicken Rice – a decent (and safe) food choice if you’re a bit unsure of what to get. The chicken was pretty good – but the rice was actually the star of the show. It was all garlicky and sweet – and probably the nicest rice I’ve ever had. In my whole life. Which is a pretty big deal.

Other yummy options?

DimSum

Anything with duck (we are huge duck converts after Singapore)

Anything on a hot sizzle plate

Sweet and Sour Pork

Satay Chicken or Beef

Singapore Noodles

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Don’t expect 5* dining in the food courts though – it’s usually a bit hot and sticky (temperature-wise) and you’ll probably have to have hawk eyes to grab your own table. Sharing is fine though – most locals don’t mind sitting with us tourists – they might even take a photo for you 😉

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Our favourite food court was Maxwell in Chinatown, but we also found a lovely outdoor-style one in the Gardens by The Bay too, which had a lovely little seating area near the lake and lots of choices. And the best Satay Chicken ever. Good for a stop-off if you’re in the gardens, and probably worth a taxi down even if you’re not.

If you like the whole AirCon situation (and who doesn’t when it’s 35 degrees outside?) then a lot of the shopping malls have little food courts in them too which serve up similar (if not the same) options as the more traditional hawker street markets. You’ll pay a bit more to eat in these indoor ones with AC, but not by much. You’d be looking at around $8-10 singapore dollars instead of $3.50 for a main meal. We found this website pretty useful when tracking down other options, so take a look for more suggestions.

Oh – also. Try the fresh fruit juices too that they serve up in the food courts. They squeeze them right infront of you into these big plastic take-away cups and cost the equivalent of about 50p. Biggest bargain of the trip!

Living the High-Life on The Singapore Flyer

As far as experiences go… our “flight” on the Singapore Flyer was just incredible. Not only were we greeted by delicious Singapore Sling Cocktails upon arrival (we opted for the Singapore Sling ride option – now my new favourite cocktail) we had an entire cabin to ourselves. Which – needless to say – was mindblowingly awesome and such a memorable experience. Already one of our favourite moments from Asia – and we’re not even halfway through our time here.

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Singapore Sling Recipe… (for my own future reference!)

1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce cherry heering
1/4 ounce Cointreau liqueur
1/4 ounce benedictine
4 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/3 ounce grenadine
1 dash bitters
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The private cabins for the VIP packages are a little bit more special than the average cabin which you can see above – and if you have the budget for it (saying that, the packages are actually really affordable for such an expensive city) it’s worth the extra money to have an extra special experience. I think the special packages start at $69 (Singpore Dollars) per person – which is about £35. Not bad for a go on the wheel, and a free cocktail alongside it.

There is plenty to see from the Flyer too, so you’ll have plenty of views to get lost in during the 30 minute ride. Personally I loved seeing the new Gardens By The Bay (below) which is a pretty new attraction. We had a walk around it on foot the night before – so it was awesome to see it from the air too. There are also (as you’d expect) some pretty phenomenal views over the marina too. Our flight was timed for sunset (beautiful) but I can imagine the views being just stunning in the evening too…. shame we couldn’t go round twice!

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Even Pad got on board with the cocktails…

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Another advantage of having the private cabin was having free space to take photos too. A few times in Singapore I’ve had to give up on getting nice shots because of the crowds of tourists – or the unbearable heat – so it was nice to have the chance to get a few good ones under the blessing of AC and with no pushy tourists to fight through.

The night after the flyer, we actually went to the top of the Marina Bay Sands to enjoy a drink at their rooftop bar, after hearing awesome things about the views of offer. Sure, the views were stunning from there too – but impossible to enjoy because of the crowds. You’ve struck gold if you manage to get a seat (or even ground space) by the edge of the deck. Otherwise you find yourself just peering over people’s heads hopefully getting a glance of the city. So – if it’s drinks with a view you’re after…. do this instead. It’s more peaceful – more fun, and you’ll actually get to see the view.

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We left very happy! It’s even inspired us to take a trip on The London Eye when we get back home – which Pad hasn’t done yet. So only good things about this Singapore attraction!