THE COOK ISLANDS TRAVEL GUIDE – INCLUDES BEST PLACES TO STAY, WHERE TO EAT AND THINGS TO DO IN RAROTONGA & AITUTAKI

THE COOK ISLANDS TRAVEL GUIDE –    INCLUDES BEST PLACES TO STAY, WHERE TO EAT AND THINGS TO DO IN RAROTONGA & AITUTAKI

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Kia Orana, it means more than a simple hello. Kia Orana literally means ‘may you have a long and fulfilling life’. And that’s how you are greeted in the Cook Islands, even by strangers. It is the essence of the Maori people and their culture.

The Cook Islands are made up of 15 tiny islands in paradise that a small nation calls home. Accessible by a 4 hour flight from Auckland, NZ. All 15 islands combined cover just 240sq km. We spent nine days in the Cook Islands, staying in Rarotonga for four days and Aitutaki for five days. Survivor and Shipwrecked, two reality TV shows were filmed in the Cook Islands.

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RAROTONGA

Upon arrival at Rarotonga airport, we were greeted by the sounds of a ukulele being strum along to a traditional song sang by the same local pensioner who plays every night for the new arrivals. Before we knew it, we had a beautifully scented ‘ei being draped over our heads and welcomed with a cheerful Kia Orana. Island life had begun. We took a pre-booked taxi to our accommodation Muri Lagoon View Bungalows which cost $20/£10pp with luggage. If you land during the bus operating hours, you can take the local bus from the airport to your accommodation for $5 and if you have luggage it’s $2 per bag per person. Unfortunately, it rained heavily for 2 out of the 3 days we had in Raratonga but we did get one beach day in.

Where to stay: 

Muri Lagoon villa Bungalows Villa’s from £55 per night and just a 5 minute walk to the famous Muri Lagoon.

Muri Beach Resort An intimate island style resort in an absolute beachfront location in Muri.

Where to eat:

Vili’s Burger Joint Burgers from $7/£4. We loved the Vili’s Burger, the handmade beef patties are delicious!

The Moorings Fish Cafe Grab a huge fresh fish sandwich or salad from $13/£7 enjoy the music and soak up the views.

Beluga Cafe Our place to go for breakfast, lunch or just a coffee.

What to do:

Paddle board or kayak Muri Lagoon

Koka Lagoon Cruise Daily tours, Adults $79/£40 Children $40/£20

Hire a scooter* (licence required) or car from Rarotonga Rentals to tour the island and find hidden gems. Alternatively jump on the bus for $5 one way or $16 for unlimited day travel. Flag down the bus, one goes clockwise and the other bus goes anti-clockwise, and tell the driver when you want to get off.

Hike The Needle. The Needle is a 3.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Avarua, Rarotonga that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Just make sure you carry water and insect repellent.

Aitutaki Day Tour – if time is short, this is a great option to experience the paradise of Aitutaki. A 40 minute flight, tour of the island and a 6 hour Vaka Cruise with lunch is included with Air Rarotonga. Tours Monday – Saturday.

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AITUTAKI

Flying from Rarotonga to Aitutaki with Air Rarotonga took just 40 minutes. Flights start from £105 one way including luggage with several departures per day, 7 days a week. Oh and the views from the tiny aeroplane are incredible. Yes you can do a day tour to Aitutaki but in my opinion, Aitutaki is the jewell in the crown so we encourage you stay a little longer on the island of Aituakti. It maybe smaller than Rarotonga but there is so much beauty to discover and roads off the beaten path to wander.

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Strickland, our host of the Airbnb we booked picked us in arrivals (a cute little shelter at the end of the runway) with a customary ‘ei and a warm Kia Orana, of course. We jumped into his van and he gave us a commentary along the way about the island, where to eat, where the best beaches are and where to book tours from. After days of solid rain in Rarotonga, I was ecstatic to see bright blue skies and an even brighter coloured ocean. It really is something to be seen to be believed. He picked us two ripe dragon fruits from what looked like a cactus in his garden.

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We met his wife Naomi, a retired teacher, who promised to teach me how to make my own ‘ei. We hired a scooter from our hosts and obtained our Cook Island’s driver’s license from the police station for $2.50/£1.25 much easier and far cheaper than what we read we would have to do to obtain one in Rarotonga. All we had to do was show the police officer our UK driver’s licence and then we were free to explore the island, taking any and every road we came across with anticipation of what delights we may discover.

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The locals always smiled or waved at us as we scooted past. It felt very welcoming, especially as our Airbnb property was set within a local village. We spent hours zipping along the roads dodging the fallen coconuts and scrambling mud crabs. Sometimes we wondered if we were the only tourists on the island. We saw pigs tied up to trees, cockerels roaming freely (if you can catch it, it’s yours), unusual fruits growing on the trees, school kids playing football or diving off the jetty. The gardens were all well kept and it seemed like the owners proudly mowed their lawn daily and tended to their tropical flora and fauna with real pride. It really gave us a great insight into local life, even Tom, our neighbour, welcomed us with freshly picked banana’s and papaya from his garden.

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We had an island date night and put on our nicest clothes, ‘ei included and made our way to The Pacific Hotel for a 3 course meal. We wanted to taste the local cuisine and so we ate Ika Mata – raw tuna marinated in coconut milk and lime. Delicious. Andy learnt to husk a coconut using traditional tools – we even heard the loud thud as a coconut dropped from the towering palm tree onto the grass.

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Whilst Naomi taught me how to make my very own ‘ei, I noticed her small round sewing tin was that of a union jack design. As we made our ‘ei together, we discussed Prince Harry stepping away from Royal duties and Brexit finally happening as well as the local culture and lifestyle in the Cook Islands. I asked Strickland and Naomi what they thought of tourists wearing ‘ei and they said, with big smiles, that they like it because it shows they see the beauty in their culture. In the Cook Islands, the ‘ei is a symbol of friendship, love and respect and are worn to mark special occasions, special people and special objects. Naomi said she loves wearing flowers in her hair, and so do I. I wore an ‘ei every day whilst on the islands out of respect and appreciation for this beautiful country.

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While you may nearly always see the vivid turquoise ocean popping between the endless array of palm trees, you will always feel the warmth of the people and their tropical paradise. You’ve got to love a little paradise.

Where to stay:

Live like a local Airbnb a pretty 3 bedroom house within the village. $100/£50 per night.

Where to eat: 

Koru Cafe Open 0700 – 1500 daily serving coffee, breakfast and lunch. Don’t forget to check the specials board.

Pacific Resort two dining options, Black Rock and Rapae Bay within the 5* hotel. Ika Mata is a must try!

Roadside restaurants are scattered along the main roads and are perfect for a quick, low cost bite.

What to do:

The Vaka Cruise $125/£62pp. Six hours on board a Polynesian Vaka with a fun local crew, string band and delicious lunch. Three idyllic islands are visited with the main draw being One Foot Island, just make sure you ask a crew member to share the story behind the island’s name. We loved the tour so much we went on it twice and we got a discounted price of just $80/£40pp for the second tour.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my travel blog, I truly hope it has inspired some wanderlust. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts or if you have been to the Cook Islands.

Please check out my Instagram and other travel blogs

24 hours in Sydney: The city doesn’t sleep so why should you?

West is best: The ultimate Western Australia itinerary

Sri Lanka: A 2 week itinerary

Singapore: a 5 day itinerary

and more…

 

 

 

24 HOURS IN SYDNEY – THE CITY DOESN’T SLEEP SO WHY SHOULD YOU?

24 HOURS IN SYDNEY – THE CITY DOESN’T SLEEP SO WHY SHOULD YOU?

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You have arrived in Sydney with have just 24 hours to see what the city has to offer, so let’s jump right in!

8AM

Shake off jetlag and head straight to the infamous Bondi Icebergs Swimming Pool. For $9 you can swim in the 50m seawater pool, use the sauna and take a hot shower. Of course, no visit to Bondi would be complete if you didn’t feel the sand between your toes and jump through the waves – just try not to end up on Bondi Rescue.

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930AM

Admire the street art and murals that adorn the walls along the beachfront and grab a coffee (in your reusable cup) and some breakfast at one of the many cafes. Speedo’s Cafe a locals favorite, is situated in trendy North Bondi and serves up raw meals, organic herbal teas, as well as offering some of the tastiest vegan, gluten and dairy-free options.

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Breakfast at Speedo’s Cafe

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10AM

Once you have refueled, its time to do what the locals do and walk the clifftop coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee. The 6km walk is arguably one of the highlights of things to do. As you meander along the path you will see golden beaches, surfers catching a wave, rock pools as well as a cemetary over looking the ocean and million dollar homes scattered in the cliffs. The walk is free and will take 2 hours without stopping, so my advice is to plan for 3 hours. There are toilets and water fountains along the way.

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1PM

Rest your feet and grab a mediterranean-inspired lunch with a glass of wine at Coogee Pavillion, an eccentric yet relaxed beachside location.

3PM

Now its time to see one of the worlds most iconic and breathtaking buildings and Australia’s number one tourist attraction, the Sydney Opera house. Did you know the Sydney Opera House was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2007 due to its “breathtaking masterpiece of human creativity”? Witness the granduer and elegance of the Sydney Opera House as you take a 1 hour tour and venture beneth the sails. Tours cost $42 – perfect for both architecture and art lovers.

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430PM

From the Sydney Opera House, take a short walk along the waterfront and explore Australia’s oldest botanic garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens,which is free entry. The Palm Grove, the Succulent Garden and the Australian Native Garden are, in my opinion, unmissable. Dont forget to walk onto Mrs Macquaries Chair where you can see the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House align for a perfect gram-worthy photo.

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630PM

Pull up a chair and order a glass of your favorite at the Opera Bar. Situated right by the waters edge, Opera Bar is hands down the best beer garden in the world. Sit, relax and let yourself be swept away by the panoramic views of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, CBD and beautiful Harbour. Prices are very reasonable for such a spectacular location.

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830PM

You can literally get your mouth around every cusine imaginable in Sydney – from French, Brazilian, Asian, Australian, Indian, Thai, Italian… the list goes on! Walk for just 5 – 10 minutes from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour for dinner before moving onto the bars. Check out The Fork for a list of Darling Harbour’s best restaurants, including average price and customer ratings to help you decide.

1030PM

After spending your day walking around the city and seeing everything that there is to see in Australia‘s largest city, you should take the time to relax in one of it’s great bars, or maybe go out partying in one of the city’s nightclubs. Marble Bar, Pacha Nightclub, Blu Bar on 36 (a rooftop bar), Door Knock (a speakeasy bar) are all highly rated.

Bars and Restaurants
Blu Bar on 36

3AM

If you really need to sleep then check into Meriton Suites Waterloo 10-20 minutes from the airport and 30 minutes away from Sydney harbour. We stayed here and the 1 bedroom modern apartment was perfect – stylishly decorated, spacious and excellent bang for your buck. It cost us approximately £85 per night over the weekend.

And there you have it, an action packed 24 hours in Sydney! If time is limited, it is possible to see the highlights that this incredible city has to offer.

 

MELBOURNE – A 5 DAY ITINERARY INCLUDING BUDGET AND FREE THINGS TO SEE AND DO

MELBOURNE – A 5 DAY ITINERARY INCLUDING BUDGET AND FREE THINGS TO SEE AND DO

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The city is known for its many laneways, its cultural diversity and amazing street art. It’s also known for being the coffee capital of the world, and for being regularly voted as the world’s most liveable city.

Below you will find my actual tried and tested itinerary for Melbourne. It features many free or low cost things to see and do within the city, along with an overnight trip to the Great Ocean Road, which is considered to be one of the worlds most scenic coastal drives. No trip to Melbourne is complete without vieiwng the tiny penguins as they march along the beach after sunset on Phillip Island.

Day 1

  • Brighton Bathing boxes
  • St Kilda
  • Windsor & Phrahan

Brighton Bathing boxes –  Iconic & much-photographed group of 82 brightly coloured wooden beach huts from the early 1900s. If you’re travelling by train, take the Sandringham line. The journey takes around 20 minutes, and you alight at the Brighton Beach Railway Station. From there, it is just a 500m signposted walk through pretty scenery to the bathing boxes (FREE). Allow 1-2 hours.

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St Kilda – Walk along the St Kilda seafront and admire the boom-time mansions as you head to Luna Park. Re-live the neighbourhood’s genteel resort days and get dizzy on the rides at the iconic Luna Park, $5 entry not including rides Luna Park. Take a dip in the heated seawater spas and pools at the historic St Kilda Sea Baths. Keep an eye out for little penguins at the St Kilda Breakwater (FREE). Wander down Acland and Carlisle Street and check out the independent shops and old European cake shops. If you are in St Kilda on a Sunday, visit the St Kilda Arts and Craft Market (1000-1700). Allow 2-3 hours.

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Windsor & Prahran – Prahran and Windsor are the cool kids suburbs in Melbourne. It has more grunge appeal thanks to some fantastic restaurants, interesting bars and street art. Style seekers cant go past the stretch of alternative shops in Chapel St in windsor and Prahran. If coffee is your thing, there are plenty of independent cafes to grab a flat white and watch the world go by as you people watch. Allow 2-3 hours.

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Day 2

  • Laneways Street Art
  • The National Gallery of Victoria
  • State Library Victoria
  • Royal Botanical Gardens

Laneways Street Art – Meander through the cobbled alleyways at Hoiser Lane, AC/DC Lane, Duckboard Place, Flinders Court St.  Keep your eyes peeled throughout the city as street art really is everywhere (FREE). Alternatively take a street art tour with a local insider. Allow 1-2 hours.

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The National Gallery of Victoria – Popularly known as the NGV and founded in 1861, it is Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum (FREE). Allow 1-2 hours.

State Library Victoria State Library Victoria is the central library of the state of Victoria, Australia and is beautiful inside. Anyone can sit in the library and read books, the latest copy of your favorite magazine or even write your next blog.  The library was established in 1854 as the Melbourne Public Library, making it Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free libraries in the world (FREE). Allow 1 hour.

Royal Botanical Gardens – Drawing nearly two million visitors annually, they’re considered one of the finest examples of Victorian-era landscaping in the world. This inner city oasis, sprawling across 89 acre has stunning vistas, tranquil lakes and diverse plant collections. During summer, the lawns come alive with outdoor cinema, theatre performances and exhibitions (FREE). Allow 2-3 hours. Royal Botanical Gardens

Day 3

  • Plenty Gorge Park
  • Yarra Valley Vineyards, Wineries & Cellar Doors

Plenty Gorge Park – See kangaroos in bushland at Plenty Gorge Park. Our friend lives just around the corner from this park so we went for a morning walk here as we had yet to see any “wild” kangaroos (other than the roadkill ones we had seen on our road trip along the east coast of Australia). A good place to stop enroute to the wineries.

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Yarra Valley Wineries & Cellar Doors – The Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s most charming wine regions, and for those based in or visiting Melbourne, it’s less than an hour’s drive away. Find yourself in award winning vineyards, wineries and cellar doors of the delicious Yarra Valley. You can do this via a tour, or hire a car and have a designated driver or use an Uber. Our friends live in Melbourne and took us on our own little tour, determined to help me discover a wine I could drink and enjoy.

  • Chandon – Chandon flies the flag as the only Australian sparkling specialists with genuine French heritage. Splash tasting available for $12 per person, with $6 refundable on bottle purchase, for group sizes of up to 10 people without a booking. The grounds are beautiful with far reaching views of the vineyards. The only downside is that the splash tasting area was so busy as it is a popular tour pit stop and so it was difficult to hear what the wine expert was saying. Chandon
  • Yering Station – Housed in the original winery building, circa 1859 the Cellar Door and Wine Store allows visitors the opportunity to be taken on a journey of wine, tasting the Yering Station collection best suited to the individuals palate. $5.00 per person to taste the Yarrabank, Village and Estate wines at the bar. Tasting fees are negated on purchase. The service was very relaxed, informative but with personality and finally I found a wine I liked, Riesling! Yering Station

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Day 4

  • Great Ocean Road
  • Great Ocean Road Chocolate Factory

Great Ocean Road – We hired a car for 48 hours from Sixt for £64 and started the 210km road trip from Melbourne City Centre to the Great Ocean Road, leaving at 0900. There are plenty of lookout points along the scenic coastal route to stop and admire. Alot of blogs said to stop half way for the day at Lorne, but we didn’t as we enjoy driving. We managed to see the Twelve Apostles and went as far as London Bridge, Grotto and the Bay of Islands, which were our favorites.

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Great Ocean Road Chocolate Factory – Enroute to the GOR, stop at the award winning Chocolate Factory where you can see chocolate being made, taste free samples, join a guided chocalate tasting for just $3pp, wander the enormous gift shop or even grab a cooked breakfast and coffee in its cafe.

Day 5

  • Great Ocean Road
  • Phillip Island

Great Ocean Road – If you didn’t get to see all the places along the GOR, get up early and have them to yourself, or revisit your favourite without the crowds. Our personal favorites were Drive back along the GOR and head towards Philip island. We spent £50 on fuel which enabled us to cover 1,000km for the duration of our 48 hour car hire.

Phillip Island – The oh so adorable penguin parade occurs shortly after sunset so it is advised to arrive at least 1 hour prior to this to get the best seat (far left corner at the front on the beach section). We purchased the self guided  penguine parade tickets online to skip the queue for $26.50/£15pp. Tickets available here Penguin Parade

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Eat/Drink/Sleep

  • Eat: Tokyo Tina – A Japenese street food inspired restaurant with a modern twist, set within some fun decor. Tokyo Tina
  • Eat: Two Birds One Stone – A stylish cafe for coffee lovers offering a range of brewing methods from espresso, aeropress, syphon, pour over and cold drip. The menu is impressive, with stand-out dishes like the impressive house-made crumpets with rhubarb jam, marscapone and candied macadamias.  Two Birds One Stone
  • Eat: Tropicana Juice Food Bar – The best juice I have ever tasted! The acai bowl is a feast for the soul and the salads were hearty, nutritious and delicious. Tropicana Juice Bar
  • Eat: Massaros – Enjoy estate grown wines with rustic Italian dishes from wood fired pizzas, al dente pasta to traditional bruschetta and classic Tiramisu. Massaros
  • Drink: It pays to be curious – many of the citys best bars are concealed in laneways, rooftops and underground passages. Our favorite speakeasy bar was JungleBoy which is hidden behind a sandwich shop.
  • Sleep: Airbnb – We stayed in a cool converted warehouse in Prahran, which was stylish in a fantastic location and reasonably priced. Airbnb cool converted warehouse
  • Sleep: If you have a camper van or are willing to sleep in your car, you can stay at Port Campbell National Reserve for $10/£6pp. Toilets, showers and a camp kitchen included.
  • Sleep: North Pier Hotel – Fantastic budget-mid range accomodation on Philip Island. North Pier Hotel
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Tokyo Tina, Windsor
Two Birds One Stone

 

I hope you find this blog useful and are inspired to wander the city’s laneways and drink fantastic coffee.

WEST IS BEST: THE ULTIMATE WESTERN AUSTRALIA ITINERARY

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I was left speechless by the ever changing landscapes and abundance of wildlife during our 4 week and 8,000km camper van road trip around Western Australia. From the pristine white sandy beaches with the most turquoise of oceans to the contrasting rugged orange desert tracks, WA’s landscape will blow your mind. And if that is not enough, the wildlife will leave you in awe too. Visualise 3m wide female manta rays gliding majestically through the ocean, green and hawksbill turtles nesting under the light of the full moon as well as the native Aussie kangaroo hoping over to you whilst sat on the beach.

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Cape Peron, Francois Peron National Park
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Karijini National Park
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Hutt Lagoon
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Little Lagoon, Denham

Our route

Perth – Hyden – Esperance – Porongurup – Stirling Range NP – Denmark – Hamelin Bay – Margaret River – Yallingup –  Mandurah – Jurien Bay (via Pinnacles Rock) – Kalbarri NP (via Hutt Lagoon) – Monkey Mia – Francois Peron NP – Quobba (via Carnarvon) – Coral Bay – Cape Range NP – Karijini NP (via Tom Price) – Perth

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8 absolute must do’s in WA

  • Swim with manta rays, sharks, turtles and dolphins on the Manta Ray Tour with Ningaloo Marine Interactions ($170/£90pp for 6 hours).
  • Osprey Bay in Cape Range National Park was our favourite beach in the whole of WA where we swam in the Indian Ocean and saw turtles nest near by at night.
  • Take 2 days to explore all that Karijini has to offer. From hiking Mount Bruce, WA’s 2nd tallest peak at 1,235m, delving deep into the incredible gorges and swimming in the cool natural green pools, the perfect refreshment on a swelteringly hot day.
  • Hang out with Kangaroos on one of our favourite beaches in Lucky Bay, Esperance.
  • Going off road and testing out our driving skills along 45km of orange sandy tracks in Francois Peron National Park.
  • There are an abundance of moderate/challenging 1-6 hour return hikes within the national parks to enjoy, such as Natures Loop (Kalbarri), Mount Bruce (Karijini), Bluff Knoll (Stirling Range National Park) Castle Rock (Porongurup), Lucky Bay to Hellfire Beach (Esperance), Frenchman’s Peak (Esperance) and Yardie Creek Trail (Cape Range National Park).
  • Hutt Lagoon – Where else have you seen a psychedelic bubblegum-pink lagoon which changes colour according to the salinity of the water?
  • Escape to Rottnest Island, a stunning natural A-class reserve just 30 minutes by ferry from Perth where you can bicycle, swim and snorkel your way around the island. Don’t forget your Quokka selfie!
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Coral Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park
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Coral Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park

 

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Karijini National Park
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Lucky Bay, Esperance
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Francois Peron National Park
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Hutt Lagoon
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Pinnacles, Nambung National Park

Camper Van Hire

We hired an adventure 4WD camper van from Apollo, in Perth, booked through Motorhome Republic. The hire cost was £1,650 for 28 days hire. Some hire companies allow you, for an additional fee, to drop the camper van off at a different location than where you picked it up. Ours didn’t.

To get the best out of your time exploring WA, we really do suggest having a 4WD as the roads can get pretty rough in places and of course, you definitely want to drive on the beach.

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Lucky Bay, Esparence

Top tip: Download the following free apps to save time and money

  • Navmii – GPS which does not require internet connection.
  • FuelMapAustralia – calculates distance to the next fuel station and fuel cost per litre.
  • Aircamp – locating camp sites, free and paid for.
  • WikiCamps – locating campsites, free and paid for.

Park Pass

Park passes cover park entry fees for private vehicles with up to 12 legally seated occupants, including the driver, and allow unlimited entry to all parks in Western Australia for the duration of the pass. By buying a pass you will also be making a valuable contribution to the management of these special areas. Choose the pass that is right for you and purchase online at Explore Parks WA.

  • Holiday Passes are available for 4 weeks ($60) 14 days ($40) or 5 days ($25) and are designed for holidays and short breaks.
  • The Annual All Parks Pass is extremely good value for money on extended tours or if you visit parks throughout the year ($120).
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Hyden

Camp grounds

A mixture of tourist parks and camp grounds were used, some powered or unpowered sites. Check their website for updated fees as prices can fluctuate depending on season. We didn’t use any free camps. Park Stays require you to have a Park Pass and only accept online bookings.

  • Wave Rock Campsite, Hyden
  • Lucky Bay Park Stay* Esperance
  • Cape Le Grand Park Stay* Esperance
  • Porongurup Tourist Park, Porongurup
  • Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park, Denmark
  • Hamelin Bay Tourist Park, Hamelin Bay
  • Caves Holiday Park, Yallingup
  • Dunnsborough Holiday Park, Dunnsborough
  • Busselton holiday park, Busselton
  • Sandy Cape Recreational Park, Jurien Bay
  • Murchison River Caravan Park, Kalbarri
  • RAC Monkey Mia, Monkey Mia (Additional park entry fee required per person)
  • Quobba Station Stay, Quobba
  • Coral Bay Bayview, Coral Bay
  • Osprey Bay Park Stay*, Cape Range National Park
  • Tom Price Tourist Park, Tom Price
  • Dales Campground Park Stay*
  • Bellair Holiday Park, Geraldton

Total cost: £3,450 based on 2 adults

  • Fuel for 8,000km £700
  • Camper van hire £1,650
  • Park Pass (4 weeks) £35
  • Camping fees £450
  • Activities £180 (Manta Ray Tour)
  • Food & drink (supermarket bought) £435

I hope you find this useful in planning your trip, please reach out if you have any questions or thoughts.

It is true what the locals say, West is best.

SRI LANKA – A 2 WEEK ITINERARY. DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL BEACHES, ANCIENT TEMPLES, INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE AND DELICIOUS FOOD

Mirissa Beach

Oh Sri Lanka…you stole our hearts and blew our minds

I will never forget the colour of the ocean; aqua blues and tropical greens, how clean and clear the ocean was, the hours we spent diving into the waves with the sun bronzing our skin and how lucky we felt to be in this incredibly beautiful, tear-drop shaped country.

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How incredible it felt to spot giant wild turtles swimming in the ocean and feeding them seaweed right by our feet. Being fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to watch baby turtles hatch on the beach and make their journey to the ocean. I hope they all make it. It was a precious experience. Seeing monks get just as excited as us seeing wild turtles was special too, because we could only communicate by smiles.

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How magical it felt waking up early to watch the sunrise over Coconut Tree Hill in Mirissa, whilst appreciating its raw beauty and wondering how on earth this place is real.

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How we felt like we had stepped back in time as we strolled around the oh so chic Galle Fort, admiring the colonial architecture and dutch influences.

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Jump in a tuk tuk and watch local life zip bye as you speed along. Winding through the back streets and arriving at Dondra Lighthouse, which was eerily quiet except for the crows hawking overhead.

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Waiting in anticipation to catch a glimpse of these majestic elephants in the wild. Spotting month old baby elephants and seeing them cosy up at the feet of the parents was adorable. As was watching them swing their tails with happiness as they eat away at the lush green grass using their trunks and feet. It was peaceful and our hearts felt full.

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The food, oh the food…the curries were spicy – just as they should be! We got excited ordering unknown food and smiled as we tasted all of the delicious new foods to us. Go on, order as much Sri Lankan cuisine as you can, like roti, kottu, devilled prawns, buffalo curd and honey, milk and rice, egg hoppers, damn, even the bananas are the best we ever tasted! Sip on fresh king coconuts for less than 50p and eat delicious local cuisine for less than £3.

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I love my temples and Sri Lanka had them in abundance! Discover both modern and ancient temples, not just inside the “cultural triangle”.

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Escape the crowds and take a hike to enjoy stunning views of Sigiriya Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage site from Pidurangala Rock.

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Take an early morning hike up to Little Adam’s Peak before the temperatures soar. Soak up the views of the lush green rolling hills of Ella whilst you catch your breath. Then cool down at Ravana waterfall.

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Whilst in Ella, walk along the train tracks across 9 Arch Bridge and wait for the iconic blue train to roll by. If thats not enough, purchase a train ticket and jump on board one of the worlds most picturesque train journeys from Ella to Kandy for a few rupees. If you dare, hang outside the carriage or pop your head outside of the window.

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So I hope this glimpse into our travels in Sri Lanka has made you book that flight. There is still so much more to discover and enjoy in Sri Lanka and we will certainly be going back next year! Below is our 2 week itinerary from March 2019, along with accommodation details we stayed in, contact details for our friendly driver Sam and some information on what not to miss along with fee’s.

Hikkaduwa (2n) Mirissa  (4n) Udawalawe (1n) Ella (2n) Kandy (1n) Sigiria (2n) Negombo (2n)

We arrived into Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport and jumped into our pre-booked taxi to take us straight to Hikkaduwa beach. I booked Hikkaduwa Taxi Service via Instagram which cost a very competitive £45. The journey took approximately 90 minutes.

Location: Hikkaduwa, 2nights. Accommodation: We stayed at Mountain Wave Guesthouse, right on Hikkaduwa Beach front, £31 per night booked via booking.com. Great places to eat: Neela’s (make sure you try the prawn curry <£3 and keep it spicy), Sorry Mom for delicious calamari and prawns, any roadside roti stand and Salty Swamis for delicious colourful food! Don’t miss: Stroll along the beach and feed giant wild turtles in the ocean near Hikka Tranz hotel beachfront (free). Jump in a tuk tuk and head to the beautiful Kamarakanda temple (free). Relax on the beach or jump through the huge waves! Plenty of spots to hire a board and catch a wave if surfing is your thing.

untitled-05118 copyLocation: Mirissa, 4 nights. We took a taxi from Hikkaduwa to Mirissa, which took about 1 hour or so and cost £18/4,500 rupees. Accommodation: We checked into “On The Rock” guesthouse which was just off of the main strip but in a lush green tranquil surrounding. This cost us £19 per night. Great places to eat: Salt Beach Bar & Restaurant. I loved the seared tuna and beetroot salad. They have happy hour on cocktails too. Rumba for a fresh fish BBQ on the beach. We loved the ,local dishes as R&R Hotspot which was on the roadside. We went back several times for the vegetable Kottu, banana and chocolate roti and the vegetable curry. Every dish was delicious and cost less than £3. Shady Lane cafe for breakfast is a must! Great food, cool vibes and good service! Don’t miss: Coconut Tree Hill (free). Be sure to wander around this area as its beautiful and unspoilt with killer ocean views – you may even be lucky to spot more wild turtles! We went here for sunrise and during the daytime – its so beautiful that anytime of the day is a great time to visit. Right next to the coast guard hut (and Salt restaurant) you maybe lucky to be in the right place at the right time to see baby turtles hatching and making their way to the ocean. Hire a tuk tuk driver to take you to Galle Fort and wander the streets and admire the dutch influence and colonial architecture, eventually arriving at Galle lighthouse. On the way back to Mirissa we stopped at the Japanese Peace Pagoda (free), Welligama beach and saw the colourful fishing boats, the fisherman stilts at Koggala. Dondra Lighthouse (free) is worth a visit which will only require 1 hour of your time, its just as nice as Galle Lighthouse but not as touristy. Enjoy a few hours at the beach each day in Mirissa, the water is gorgeous and so clear with huge waves!

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Location: Udawalawe, 1 night. Accommodation: We stayed at Udawalawe Elephant Park homestay £4 per night, booked through booking.com. This homestay can cook you breakfast and an evening meal at an additional charge. Don’t miss: As we left Mirissa for Udawalawe, we stopped at Talalla beach on the way. Oh My God. It was to die for! Enormous beach, raw rugged beauty, gorgeous aqua ocean and no-one around! I would recommend 2 hours here if time is tight, if I had longer, definitely a night or 2! We booked a morning safari for Udawalawe National Park, through our guesthouse and ended up sharing a jeep with 4 other guests despite us paying full price for entire jeep and park entrance fee. Therefore, I would recommend booking the tour through your driver so that you get the entire jeep to yourself. This cost us £25pp. We saw only 10 elephants in the wild along with lots of other wildlife but it was a lovely experience.

Location: Ella, 2 nights. Accommodation: Pearl View Guesthouse, £21 per night including breakfast, booked through Booking.com. Do not look anywhere else – this guesthouse was special and stole our hearts. Not only was the view from the highest guesthouse incredible at any time of the day (waking up to sunrise and tweeting birds was heavenly), but the family were so, so sweet. They always greeted us with smiles and the breakfast was superb. Great places to eat: Chill Restaurant for burgers and coffee shop for banana fritters and ice cream. Many guesthouses offer to cook you dinner for a small additional fee. Don’t miss: Little Adam’s Peak (free), a relatively easy hike up into the rolling green hills, overlooking Adam’s peak. Suggested time 1 – 2 hours. On your return from the hike, stop at 98 Acres Hotel for coffee or breakfast and soak in the killer views. Ravana waterfall to cool down in the afternoon heat. Walk 25-30 minutes along the train tracks from Ella train station to 9 Arch Bridge and wait for the famous blue train to roll by. If that’s not enough, take one of the worlds most scenic train journey’s from Ella to Nanuoya 2.5 hours (80p – £2/150-500 rupees depending on class and if you purchase in advance or not). Or stay on the train until Kandy. Hang out the door way if you dare! Tickets sell out super quickly, so book in advance if you can, ideally 2nd class reserved or 3rd class as the windows and doors in 1st class don’t open.

Location: Kandy, 1 night. Accommodation: Nook rest, £19 per night including breakfast. Don’t miss: Escape the craziness of the city for a few hours inside the Royal Botanical Gardens (£2.50/600 rupees), wander the stunning grounds at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (£6/1500 rupees) and make sure you check out the elephant museum dedicated to Raja Tusker – you will be gobsmacked at the preserved elephant.  Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue (£2/500 rupees) over looks the city. As with all temples, cover your shoulders and knees and remove hats and shoes (some tourists wear socks as the floor can be super hot) and ensure you don’t have your back towards the buddha if you pose for a photo.

untitled-2252Location: Sigiriya, 2 nights. Accommodation: Liyara Home Stay, £10 per night including breakfast. Great places to eat: Pradeep Restaurant. Make sure you try buffalo curd and honey. I loved the chicken and avocado salad from Pradeep Restaurant. We ate there a few times as the food was delicious, fairly cheap and the service was great. Our homestay prepared us a lovely Sri Lankan breakfast and if we had more time, we would’ve had dinner with them. Don’t Miss: As we took a driver from Kandy to Sigirya, we had the opportunity to stop and visit places of interest along the way. Here, you are inside the cultural triangle and you can get your fill of temples and buddhas until your heart is content. the first temple we stopped at was Aluvihare Rock Cave Temple (£1/50 rupees) which had really pretty gardens and some cool temples carved into the sides of rocks housing Buddha statues. 30-45 minutes here is all you need. of course, you cannot drive through Dambulla  without paying a visit to Dambulla Cave Temple, a world heritage site! This place is unreal but there is a steep walk with lots of steps leading up to the temple and it costs (£6/1500 rupees). If time or budget is an issue, I would visit the lesser known cave temple instead. Polounaruwa (£20pp) ancient temples. we hired a bike for £2/500 rupees and cycled around the grounds. 3-4 hours here is suffice. We booked our second safari, this time an afternoon safari at Minneryia National park, organised through our driver and we had our own jeep. The safari lasted 2-3 hours and cost £50/12,200 rupees which included the park entrance and the jeep. Here we saw approximately 80 elephants including lots of young baby elephants mostly gathered around a huge watering hole and surrounded by lush green grass. It was so incredibly beautiful watching the elephants graze and play in the wild. We took an early morning hike up Pidurangla Rock £2/500 rupees which took about 30 minutes to reach the most incredible view point which over looks Sigiriya Rock. Hiking early morning helped avoid the heat and there was less tourists. We decided not to hike Sigirya Rock as it was very expensive at £25pp/ rupees and was packed full of tourists. Also the view wouldn’t have been as good as we had from Pidurangla Rock. We saved money and had a better experience in our opinion!

Location: Negombo, 2 nights. Accommodation: Amagi Aria £50 per night including breakfast. Here we just chilled out for the last 2 nights before our flight home.

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In hindsight, we wished we did the following 2 week itinerary which includes a mixture of beaches, cultural highlights and wildlife:

Hikkaduwa (2n) Unawatuna (1n) Galle (1n) Mirissa (3n) Talalla (1n) Ella (2n) Kandy (1n) Sigiriya (2n) Negombo/Colombo (1n)

 

Our driver we hired, Sam who we cant recommend enough. contact him with your itinerary and he will quote you. He can also provide accommodation for you to consider, regardless of your price range and if you book via him, he will get you a cheaper price than on hotel booking websites. Reach him via Whatsapp +94 (77) 633 1953 or via email darshanasampath183@gmail.com.

Happy travels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 DAY ITINERARY & TRAVEL TIPS FOR AN AWESOME VACAY IN SINGAPORE

DSC04001Singapore is a thriving cosmopolitan city, packed with so many incredible things to experience. From billionaire to backpacker, Singapore really does cater for all, no matter what your budget.

Of course, Singapore is considerably more expensive in comparison to other asian countries, which is why I think I didn’t visit Singapore sooner, but surprisingly we didn’t have to watch our dollars. A lot of attractions, food and transport was very reasonable priced and in many cases, free! 4-5 days will definitely enable you to see all the major sights but 7 days will enable you to see them at your leisure and go exploring a little further outside of the city. I Spent 5 days there in October 2018 and totally fell in love with the city –  its a real melting pot of cultures, colours, delicious food to taste and beautiful architecture to see!

Here is my actual itinerary from my 5 day trip to Singapore in October 2018 as a guide to help you plan:

Day 1: Marina Bay – Gardens By the Bay – Rooftop Cocktails

How can you visit Singapore and not stay at least 1 night at Singapore’s most iconic hotel which towers above everything else? Exactly, you can’t. I mean, have you even been to Singapore if you haven’t stayed at Marina Bay Sands hotel? This was a splurge for us at £365 a night but hey, you only live once and we figured we would cut costs elsewhere. We checked into our garden view room which had gorgeous views overlooking Gardens By The Bay, and headed straight to the star attraction, the rooftop infinity pool. Here we sipped our first Singapore Sling cocktails ($SGD23/£11), even if it was only 11am. Vacay mode was ON.

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After relaxing at the pool and soaking up the views for a few hours (or do I mean taking photos for the ‘gram?) we made a late afternoon visit to the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands hotel. Tickets cost SGD$18 for the permanent exhibition, Future world: Where Art Meets Science, where you get to explore an immersive digital universe. Admission times are as follows: 1000, 1130, 1300, 1430, 1600 and 1730. 45-60 minutes is plenty of time to wander through the exhibition and fall into Instagram heaven.

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After we strolled along the promenade at Marina Bay we then headed to Gardens By the Bay (Open daily 0500-0200, free admission) to check out the Supertree Grove.  When night falls, the vertical gardens come alive with a free mesmerising garden rhapsody sound and light show, twice a night at 1945 & 2045. You can take a scenic walk along the yellow OCBC Skyway which is 22 metres above the ground to gain a different perspective of the park for $8. After the light show we went for drinks at the open air rooftop bar, IndoChine, which was situated at the top of a Supertree. $20 would gain you access, an alcoholic drink and awesome views towards Marina Bay Sands hotel. After, we headed back to our hotel, swapped our clothes for swimwear and white bathrobes and took and evening dip at the rooftop infinity pool, which had stunning views of the city lights twinkling at night. Only hotel guests can access the rooftop infinity pool, but non guests can head up to the 57th floor for the Skypark Observation Deck and drink in the panoramic vistas for $23. However, instead of going to the observation deck, I suggest KuDeTa Marina Bay’s rooftop bar which is more elevated than the observation deck and is free entry – spend that entrance fee on cocktails instead!

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Day 2:  Gardens By The Bay – Sentosa Island – Orchard Rd

After an early morning gym session at out hotel (one of the best hotel gyms I have ever used), whilst everyone else was asleep, I decided to grab my camera and head to Gardens By the Bay again as the park looked so empty from our balcony- perfect time for capturing some photos! Over 163,000 plants are planted on the super trees and 11 of the super trees are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy! Beautiful and functional. It was so peaceful and beautiful there and you can easily spend  2 hours here. I recommend experiencing the Gardens By The Bay both during the daytime and evening .

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Weather wise, this day was set for clear skies and sunshine with temperatures of over 30 degrees – a perfect beach day! We went on the monorail (free) to Sentosa Island and relaxed on Palawan Beach, later strolling across to Siloso beach where we stopped at Ola Beach Club for food and cold beers.

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In the early evening we checked into our next hotel, Yotel in Orchard, which would be home for 3 nights. There are loads of Hawker stalls and even some Michelin stared Hawker stalls where you can get some delicious Singaporean food for $3-$9 SGD. We took an evening stroll down Orchard Road which is the Mecca for designer shopping, with more than 20 malls. This street is Singapore’s equivalent to New York City’s 5th Avenue. Although shopping is not really my thing,  I could appreciate the futuristic architecture and the incredible designer window displays.

Day 3: Emerald Hill – Little India – China Town – Joo Chiat

I was starting to feel suffocated in the city, I needed less people and more colour. It was definitely time to see the Singapore I was expecting – colonial pastel colured Paranaken style terraced shophouses. In any destination I travel to, I love wandering around the neighbourhoods, looking at houses, finding cool cafes, cute indie shops and watching local life. So this was my favourite day exploring the eastern side of Singapore. Day 3 was all about obsessing over colourful two storey heritage shophouses  with ornate facades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles. I put on my OOTD and grabbed my Insta husband. We strolled from Orchard Road to Emerald Hill, which is a jewel of a little street with an air of splendour, and picked my favourite shophouse – this colbolt beauty!

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Little India is a vibrant district in Singapore, buzzing with life and all easily explorable by foot. Be sure to wander down Serangoon Road and the neighbouring streets to catch a glimpse of daily life, from marigold stalls to traditional henna painting and beautiful Indian dresses – Little India is a feast for the eyes! Feed your appetite at the Tekka Centre, an authentic Indian food court where a dish can set you back just $2-4. We sampled lots of delicious vegetarian dishes, from roti, naan, Indian sweets and a potato and cauliflower curry.

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Be sure to marvel at Singapores most colourful building, House of Tan Teng Niah, the last remaining Chinese villa and a colourful display of heritage architecture. It is smack bang in the middle of Little India and is a prime location for that colourful Insta worthy photo.

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is Little India’s most picturesque Hindu temple and is open 0800-1230, 1400-2030 daily and it was a treat to see how beautiful the temple is.

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Busy, noisy, filled with people, that’s the general consensus of the Chinatowns of the world. Singapore’s is no different, but here Chinatown has a charming air about it that appeals to both tourists and locals. A good mix of hawker fare and swish eateries, history and architecture, there are a few good reasons to head down to Chinatown.

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Chinatown is home to the 5 story buddhist temple, Buddha Tooth Temple Relic (free, open 0700-1900), built in 2007. The temple’s richly designed interiors and comprehensive exhibits on Buddhist art and history tell stories of culture over hundreds of years old. The temple gets its name from what the Buddhists regard as the left canine tooth of Buddha, which has been recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India and displayed in its grounds.

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Although it is impossible to go hungry in Chinatown, durian can totally put you off wanting to eat – the smell is like you have never smelt before. No way was I tasting the yellow fleshy fruit, despite it being a delicacy.

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The Joo Chiat area is the traditional home of Peranakan culture in Singapore, an ethnic group descending from the blending of Chinese and Malay families in the 15th century. In the mid-19th century, this is where the Indonesians and Malays came to work in the local coconut husk processing factories and eventually, the lemongrass farms. In Joo Chiat Road—the centre of the neighbourhood—one can see Peranakan-style architecture.
Joo Chiat does not have its own MRT station. The nearest line is Eunos, where we took exit B and then we then walked through the neighbourhoods, but you can take bus 154 or 76 from Eunos station. I wonder if the residents get pissed off with tourists taking photos of their houses? Surprisingly I was the only photographer there.

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Day 4: Haji Lane – Waterfront – Clarke Quay

Haji lane, dubbed the narrowest street in Singapore but it certainly packs a punch with colourful shophouses, murals that span the entire sides of buildings, quirky boutiques, cool cafes, tattoo parlours and yoga studios. Although the street isn’t long, it was nice to stroll around for a few hours, peeking into shops, people watching and snapping photos.Around the corner is Arab Street which is home to Singapore’s Muslim quarter and a gorgeous mosque. We ventured into Lickety, a cute ice cream shop (totally recommend the blueberry ice cream) and went a little crazy with the toppings! I loved this area, it really reminded me of Shoreditch, London but without the rain.

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After seeing photos of the old Hill Police Station on Instagram, I had to come and see it for myself – where else have you seen hundreds of brightly coloured louvered window shutters on a serious looking building before? It looked so playful, even when it rained. Nearby is Clarke Quay, where we stopped for a bite to eat and of course, happy hour cocktails! Although I didn’t like Clarke Quay as it felt like a theme park food court, we all enjoyed our meal at Miss Saigon, where we also had a table seated on the riverside.DSC04138DSC02480

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Day 5: Redhill MRT station – Singapore Botanical Gardens – One Altitude Rooftop Bar

On our way to Singapore Botanical Gardens (free) we went via Redhill station on the MRT sole because it is a pink metro station (green line) and where have you seen a pink metro station before?

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Singapore Botanical Gardens, Singapore’s only UNESCO World heritage Site, is a tropical oasis and a welcomed escape from the bustle of city life. I read in travel guides that they recommend 2 hours here, however its such a beautiful, relaxing place you could easily spend all day here. Check out their website as some days there are free opera concerts held at the Botanic Garden’s Symphony Lake. If you are obsessed with orchids like I am, you can visit the Orchid Garden for $5, which is home to the largest showcase of tropical orchids on earth!

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If you are in Singapore even for just a day, you just have to climb up one of its futuristic looking skyscrapers and enjoy the city’s skyline. On our last night in Singapore, we got dressed up and headed to One Altitude, one of Singapore’s tallest buildings and enjoyed the rooftop bar with views towards Marina Bay Sand. If you arrive before 9pm entrance is 30 SGD$ or 35 SGD$ if you arrive later. 1 drink is already included. As the place is quite fancy, the dress code is smart casual. No flip-flops and no sleeveless tops for men.
Travel Tips

Flights 

Budget long haul flights were found through the Skyscanner app,  with Norwegian Air, direct from London, Gatwick to Changi, Singapore for £345. I bought as 2 separate flights in April for October half term departure. Outbound was just £170 and inbound was £175, using the low rate option which does not include in flight meals, checked luggage,  earphones etc, just free hand luggage. By opting for this, I saved approximately £200 per person in comparison to other airlines. However, you can purchase in advance inflight meals and checked luggage. We purchased 1 checked luggage for £35 and shared to keep costs down and it also ensured we didn’t over pack.

Getting Around Singapore

From the airport: Taxi’s are available from the airport and run on the meter so no need to haggle, which is great because who wants to haggle after a long haul flight? From Changi Airport to Marina Bay Sands hotel a taxi took 15-20 minutes at 7am and cost us $25 on the meter. Alternatively, Singapore has a fantastic MRT which links you up with Changi airport for just a few $. We took the MRT on our way back to Changi Airport.

Getting around the city by MRT: The MRT opening hours is 05:31 – 23:18 on Mondays to Saturdays and 05:59 – 12:06 during Sundays & Public Holidays. You can buy single or return MRT tickets from the station ticket machine. The machine is really simple to use and has English language options and takes coins, notes and cards. If you will be exploring the city, a great cost effective and time saving option is to buy the Singapore Tourist Pass, which gives you unlimited travel available for 1 (10SG$), 2 (16SG$) or 3 (20SG$) days travel via MRT and the LRT. You need to pay $10 deposit for the card which you can get refunded once you hand the card back to the Transport Link Ticket Office – there is a Transit Link Ticket Office at the airport. I downloaded SG MRT, a free app to my smartphone which shows the MRT system map and it also enabled us to plan our journeys.

sg mapTransportation cards, SingaporeGetting around the city by bus: Another cheap way to get to Singapore City is by bus, but this can be time consuming. Travel time is about 1.5 hours. At the basement of Changi Airport Terminal 1, 2 and 3, ride Bus 36/ 36 A to Singapore City.   Bus fare is about SG$ 2.60.  Exact change is required, no change will be given. So prepare small bills.The bus is available daily; during weekdays from 06:08 – 22:52 and 06:07 – 22:52 on Sundays and public holidays.The bus heads to Orchard Road via Suntec City, the Capitol Building (for Beach Road and North Bridge Road) and the YMCA on Stamford Road (for the Bras Basah Road/Bencoolen Street area)

Our Accommodation

As a group of 6 adults and 1 child, our accommodation requests needed to suit all of us. We needed hotels that had a family room, swimming pool, gym and something comfortable for all ages but at a reasonable price. Singapore is a very affluent country and so accommodation can be pricey, but the good news is, there is a price range to suit all budgets. Yes Marina Bay Sands hotel was a splurge and it was worth it. Usually I stay in budget to mid range hotels, depending on where in the world I am and of course there is the option of Air BNB too.

$$$ High End: Marina Bay Sands, Garden view Room includes free access to the rooftop infinity pool which is only available for guests. Nearest MRT: Bayfront.

$$ Mid Range: One Farrer £115 per night. Nearest MRT: Farrer

$$ Mid Range: Yotel £92 per night Nearest MRT: Orchard

 

Eating & Drinking

Alcohol is expensive for an Asian country, no matter where you drank. Most bars in Singapore have happy hour discounts on cocktails, beer and house pours which helped keep our costs down. Food however, was so cheap! Hawker stalls with even a few Michelin starred Hawker stalls! Tap water is drinkable, so bring a water bottle and fill up for free and help reduce plastic waste.

Thanks for reading, I hope I have inspired you to book that trip to Singapore!

Check out my other blog on Singapore and my Instagram account Life.a_daring_adventure

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EXPLORE THE COLOURS OF SINGAPORE – A TOURIST GUIDE

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Its not all grey skies and grey skyscrapers in Singapore – from vibrant Hindu temples, to colourful Peranankan houses and shopfronts, Singapore offers plenty of colourful photo opportunities to blow up your Insta!

 

Little India – A vibrant district in Singapore, buzzing with life. Wander down Serangoon Road and the neighbouring streets to catch a glimpse of daily life, all easily explorable by foot.  Be sure to marvel at Singapores most colourful building, House of Tan Teng Niah and a take that Insta worthy photo (or 10) for the ‘gram. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is Little India’s most picturesque Hindu temple and is open 0800-1230, 1400-2030 daily and it was a treat to see how beautiful the temple is. Nearest MRT: Little India  DSC03873DSC03856

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Haji Lane – A riot of colour in the narrowest of streets in Singapore, Haji Lane has it all!  Independent boutiques nestled in traditional but vibrantly painted Peranakan architecture, murals that span the entire wall space of buildings, cool bars and charming coffee shops where you can even get your favourite selfie printed onto the micro foam of your latte at Selfie Coffee! A short stroll leads you to Masjid Sultan Mosque, Singapores  most iconic mosque in the Muslim Quarter. If ice cream is your thing, pop into Lickety for total ice-cream goals, in Muscat Road. Nearest MRT: Bugis Station.IMG_5615DSC02365DSC02366

 

Old Hill Street Police Station – The rainbow hued louvred windows which were previously grey until its restoration in 1997.  The 83 year old building which was once a police station, is now home to the Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. Nearest MRT: Clarke QuayDSC02480DSC04138

Bugis – Down the back of a narrow alleyway (things I do for photos), I spotted these fun and colourful staircases on the back of some cute buildings. Quick snap for the ‘gram, much to my family’s dismay, then quickly walking on to Haji Lane. Nearest MRT: Bugis.IMG_5565

Peranakan Houses – We spent a few hours going on our own Peranakan house hunt. These adorable houses were built in the 1920s and served as homes for the Peranakan’s until the 1970s. Many have been renovated and brought back to their former glory, some are used as shop houses too. You can see these pastel and neon coloured houses throughout Singapore, but the best can be admired at Koon Seng Road, Joo Chiat and Emerald Hill. Totally adorable  with bags of personality – whats not to love?  DSC04124DSC04001IMG_7271DSC02090

Redhill – Yes its an all pastel pink above-ground train station! Nearest MRT: RedhillIMG_5775

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