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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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 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!


Location: Udawalawe, 1 night. Accommodation: We stayed at Udawalawe Elephant Park homestay £4 per night, booked through 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 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.


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

Happy travels!









Koh Lipe is a true island paradise in the Andaman Sea near Malaysia’s border – often dubbed the Maldives of Thailand. Although this island is harder to reach, it is oh so worth it! Imagine white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, sensational diving (Koh Lipe is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park) with protected coral reefs complete with a chilled out vibe. Koh Lipe is a small tropical island that can easily be explored by foot. However, it is more expensive than over islands in Thailand for accommodation, food and drink and this may attract a different kind of traveller. If you are after a party island then this island may not be for you.

What is the best time to visit Koh lipe

Planning a holiday to Koh Lipe raises one important question – what is the best time to visit Koh Lipe? Everybody prefers good weather when they’re on holiday.

  • Peak Season is December – April when the weather is perfect. This means higher prices, more travellers and busier beaches.
  • Low season is May – November. It’s quiet, cheaper but has more rain.

Where is Koh Lipe

Wide How to get to Koh Lipe Map - Ultimate Koh Lipe Guide
Map: Where is Koh Lipe?

How to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok

It’s not straight forward to get to Koh Lipe, and that can be a good thing as it may put some people off. Put aside 1 day for travelling to Koh Lipe…all the travelling will be worth it. OK, so first of all you need to take a 1.5 hour flight (book via Skyscanner) from Bangkok – Hat Yai international Airport. One way tickets start as low as 688 baht/£17 + checked luggage costs. After arriving in Hat Yai International Airport, you will need to take a mini bus to Pak Bara Pier which takes 2 hours and costs approximately 324 baht/£8. This can be booked via Jolly Travel. Once you arrive at Pak Bara Pier, you need to pay 200 baht/£2.50 for the Tarutao National Marine Park ticket plus 20 baht/£0.50 for the pier ticket. Then you can make your way along the jetty to take your pre-booked speedboat ferry to Koh Lipe Island which takes 1.5 hours and costs 465 baht/£11.50. Check out the mini bus and speed boat ferry timetables and book with Jolley Travel.

If you need a place to stay in Hat Yai before taking the speedboat ferry, Red Planet is a cheap (607 baht/£15) and basic accommodation which we stayed in. We took an afternoon flight from Bangkok to Hat Yai, stayed in Red Planet and then took the mini bus to Pak Bara Pier the following morning at 0900. Red Planet was a short walk to the bus station.

How long on Koh Lipe Island

We stayed here for 4 nights in March 2020 and relaxed on the beautiful beaches. I can easily say this was the most beautiful island that I have been to in Thailand. The beaches, especially Sunset Beach, are breathtaking. I could happily spend a minimum of 7 days relaxing on this little island paradise, and quite easily bump that up to 10 days if I were to do boat trips or a diving course.

Where to stay

Budget – Rooms at Castaway Resort will set you back as little as £20 per night for a double room. The resort has wooden beach bungalows on Sunrise Beach for the ultimate laidback vibe. Although there are hostels on the island with dormitories, some hostels charge more than this resort.

Mid RangeThe Reef Hotel £40 per night with an awesome breakfast next door at Mojo. Large rooms set in an ideal location to explore the entire island and access all the beaches. We stayed here for four nights and really recommend it.

Luxury Mountain Resort (Deluxe sea view room) £84 per night. Set overlooking the best beach on the island, Sunset Beach.

Top Tip Book your accommodation using and collect 1 free night for every 10 nights booked!

Where to eat & drink

Mojo – Awesome for breakfast and the mushroom and eggs were our favourite. We ate breakfast here everyday. Open 0730-2200 daily. Price range £2-£11.

Cafe Tropical – Outstanding vegetarian, vegan and GF options, coffee and cold pressed juices. Open 0700-2300 daily. Price range £2-16.

Bombay Indian – Vegetarian, vegan and meat dishes. We ate here twice and can vouch for the aloo gobi, chicken jalfrezi and cheese garlic naan, all generous portion sizes too! Open 1100-2300. price range £1-£6 per dish.

Phi Phi Bakery – For donuts (and other pastries) that melt in your mouth! They also have a restaurant next door, set within the walking street area, which we ate at. We loved the pad thai and chicken burger which was filled with fresh salad. Open 0700-2000 daily. Price range £1-£6.

Elephant – Pizza’s, burgers, coffee and juice smoothies. Vegetarian, vegan & GF options. Open 0700-0100 daily. Price range £2-£12.

Zodiac Beach Bar – Quite possibly the best beach bar ever! Bean bags spread across the beach over looking the ocean with the bar area completely made out of bamboo. As the sun goes down this bar is the place to be. Open 1100 til late. Price range £2-6 per drink.

What to do

Beaches – If that is what you have travelled here for, you wont be disappointed! There are 3 beaches on Koh Lipe Island, all within easy walking distance around the island. Sunrise beach (popular with snorkelers) , Sunset beach (my favourite anytime of the day) and Pattaya Beach (where the speedboats arrive). Sanom Beach, at the end of Pattaya Beach is also very pretty.

Diving – Don’t miss the chance to get certified to dive in the warm tropical waters of Koh Lipe. An Open Water Diver course will take 3-4 days and cost 14,500 baht/£360. Andang Sea Divers can help you out with your diving requests and are highly rated on Tripadvisor. June – October is cheaper for diving courses and the diving conditions are at their best with higher visibility, minimal wind and more regular sightings of rare creatures too. This coincides with the low season and all cost’s will be cheaper.

Massage – You cannot walk far without seeing a massage parlour or being asked for a massage anywhere in Thailand, let alone in Koh Lipe. Hourly traditional Thai massage from 300 baht/£7.50 per hour.

YogaKerita’s ashtanga and vinyasa Yoga. Daily beach and studio classes at 0630, 0800 and 1700. Ranked number 1 on Tripadvisor (next door to The Reef Hotel). 420 baht/£10 per class 3 pack of classes 1,050 baht/£26.

Beach Clean Up – Join Trash Hero every Monday at 1000 on Pattaya Beach at the start of the Walking Street to clean the beaches. Just show up.

Shopping – The Walking Street is open during the day but after sunset it turns into a pedestrian only street catering to every tourists needs. there are some beautiful boho boutique stores for women and shops selling carved items. Here you will also be able to find plenty of desks to book your diving trips or boat tours and even get a traditional Thai tattoo.

Snorkel trips – Full day (8.5hrs) snorkel trips from 600 baht/£15. Half day (4hrs) snorkel trips from 450 baht/£11. Book through Thai beach travellers

So there you have it, my complete guide to Koh Lipe. Please let me know your thoughts or feel free to ask me any questions!

Thanks for reading,

Carla @Life-adaringadventure



The city of Chiang Rai is situated in Northern Thailand some 800km from Bangkok. The cities are very different from one another and offers travellers a different perspective on the country. The food, climate and even the people are very different. Aside from being a province blessed with wondrous natural beauty, Chiang Rai also has many splendid temples.

How to get to Chiang Rai

  • Bangkok to Chiang Rai by Air – There are several domestic flights from various airlines each day. We flew with Air Asia and booked our ticket with Skyscanner for a competitive price. Flights start at approximately 1000 baht/£25 + luggage fee. Some airlines such as Thai Airways include luggage in the ticket. flight duration approximately 1 hr 20 minutes.

  • Bangkok to Chiang Rai by Overnight Bus – Departing 1730 and arriving 0500 the following morning. For a VIP bus ticket it will cost approximately 734 baht/£18. You can book this ticket with 12go.

Temples in Chiang Rai

The White Temple/Wat Rong Khun

Although this looks like a temple, it’s actually a privately owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple, created by Chalermchai Kositpipat which opened in 1997. When you take your first glimpse of this temple it will leave you in awe! It is obviously very white and unlike the gold, glitzy temples you will see across Bangkok. It is decorated with millions of little silver reflective mirrors that glisten in the sun and is incredibly detailed and very delicate. The temple represents Heaven and Hell. If you make it across the bridge of Hell, escaping the desperate clutching hands which signifies desires and human cravings according to Buddhism, you will be greeted by the statues of the Heaven guardians. This signifies the buddhist path to enlightenment.

Opening Hours

Monday – Friday 0800-1700 Saturday & Sunday 0800-1730

Entrance Fee

100 baht/£2.50 with a super strict dress code (see more on this below)

Free on site parking

Suggested Duration

1.5 – 2 hours


1 Phahonyothin Rd, Pa O Don Chai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Situated approximately 20 minutes/15km drive from Chiang Rai’s Clock Tower

The Blue Temple/Wat Rong Suea

Chiang Rai’s newest Buddhist temple which was completely rebuilt in 2016 is distinguished by its vivid saphire blue colouring & elaborate carvings. The Blue Temple was designed by Putha Kabkaew, a student of Chalermchai Kositpipat, who created the famous White Temple nearby. The building’s interior is at least as beautiful as its exterior. Two rows of pillars are adorned with intricate motifs. Paintings on the walls depict scenes from the life of the Buddha. On the ceilings are ornaments in sapphire blue and violet with inlays of gold. To the back wall seated on a pedestal is a large white Buddha image sititng in Calling the Earth to witness mudra.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday 0700-2000

Entrance Fee

Free, but donations are welcome

Free onsite parking

Suggested Duration

1 hour


306 Maekok Rd, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Situated just a 5 minute drive/3km away from Chang Rai Clock Tower

Big Buddha/Wat Huay Pla Kung

Wat Huay Pla Kung is a large white statue that is actually a representation of the goddess of Mercy and is situated on top of a hill. It is Thailand’s biggest image of the goddess of mercy, standing at 79 meters tall, equivalent to a 25- to 26-storey building. The image looks graceful and mesmerisingly draws worshipers. Lot’s of people love to have their photo taken on the steps which lead up to the statue and are guarded by large white Chinese style dragons. Although we didn’t go inside the Buddha, the most interesting view I have read about is the one you have from the left eye of the statue.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday 0700-2130

Entrance Fee

No admission fee but its 50 baht/£1.25 if you want to go inside the Big Buddha statue

Suggested Duration

1 hour


553 Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Situated approximately 15 minutes/8km drive from Chiang Rai Clock Tower

The Black Temple/BaanDam Museum

Again, this is not a temple but its name get’s given as it is architecturally built like a temple. It may also be referred to as Black House. Built by national artist Thawan Duchanee, the museum houses weird and dark collections of animal bones, animal skins, carvings (lots of large wooden penis’s everywhere) enormous shells, spread over 40 buildings, most of which are carved out of wood. Strangely, this museum was very serene, set amongst lush green plants and was actually quite beautiful. Oh and the black charcoal ice cream was a welcomed treat!

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday 0900-1700

Entrance Fee

80 baht/£2

Suggested Duration

2 hours


333 Moo 13, Nang Lae, Chiang Rai 57100

Situated approximately 21 minutes/13km drive from Chiang Rai Clock Tower

Wat Phrathat Chom Sak

We found this temple totally by chance on our way back from the Black Temple. Instead of scooting along the motorway, we took the back roads and randomly came by this temple which I had never seen on Instagram or a travel blog before! The white steps leading up to the temple are decorated by a large gold dragon either side and as two large golden buddha statues greet you at the top, which has fantastic views across the village. I really enjoyed wandering around the temple whilst a Monk in his beautiful orange robe with tattoo’s on his back showed me around – pretty cool! There was only one other local person, who was praying.

Opening Hours

Daily 0900-1700

Entrance Fee

Free, but donations are welcome

Suggested Duration

30-45 Minutes


Ban Du, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Situated approximately 15 minutes/10km drive to Chiang Rai Clock Tower

Temple Dress Code

The basic rule is to cover your shoulders and knees (box sexes) and choose respectful clothing. It is also handy to carry a sarong or shawl to cover your shoulders.

In the White Temple, we were surprised that the dress code was much more stricter especially for women, and was enforced, then the other temples above. If a woman was wearing a long dress which had a split in it, you would be asked to tie it up with an elastic band to prevent it blowing open and revealing your knees, so bear this in mind when choosing your temple clothing. Most temples do have stalls outside where you can buy suitable clothing and some temples will rent you clothing. The Black Temple/Ban Daam Museum does not have a dress code as it is not a temple.

Temple Etiquette – Do’s & Don’ts

Nobody wants to be the rude tourist so knowing a little Thailand temple etiquette will help you feel more at ease so you can enjoy the unique experience to its fullest.

  • Do dress respectfully, as described above.
  • Do remove shoes before setting foot inside a temple.
  • Don’t point your feet at Buddha or touch the statues.
  • Don’t get in the way of local people who are actually there to worship.
  • Don’t turn your back while near the Buddha statues to snap a selfie!
  • When greeting or thanking a monk for his time, give them a higher wai (Thailand’s famous prayer like gesture), with a slight bow and don’t maintain eye contact. The higher the wai, the more respect shown.

How To Travel To The Temples

There are probably 3 ways you can get around these temples, either by taking a Grab (like Uber), going on a tour for the day or renting a scooter. Taking a Grab to each temple would be the more expensive option but if there are 3-4 of you travelling you can split the cost.

I noticed day tours to the 3 most famous temples along with a few other points of interest were advertised at 1000 baht/£25 per person and upwards but it didn’t include some entrance fee’s like the White Temple or Black Temple. I don’t tend to like tours as you are rushed for time and have to go to some places that you may not be interested in. However, if you are pushed for time and travelling on your own, it could be a good option.

We decided to hire a scooter for 2 days at a cost of £6/250 baht per day with helmets included. We filled the tank up which cost 100 baht/£2.50 and it lasted us 2 days no problem. We hired our scooter from Chiang Rai Big Bike after reading good reviews on Trip advisor.

So that is my list of Chiang Rai’s most famous and beautiful temples, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below or if you think we’re missing any information in this travel guide.




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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…







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


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.



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.


Breakfast at Speedo’s Cafe



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.



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


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.



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.



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.



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.


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


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.





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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



  • 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.



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.

Cape Peron, Francois Peron National Park

Karijini National Park

Hutt Lagoon

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!

Coral Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park

Coral Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park


Karijini National Park

Lucky Bay, Esperance

Francois Peron National Park

Hutt Lagoon

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.

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).


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.