Visiting Bali for the first time? Here is all you need to know

Oh hello sunshine, nature, palmtrees and fresh coconuts! Are you planning (like most people we know) to visit the island of the gods, Bali? Here are some tips if you’re heading there for the first time. 

Before you leave home

Visa and passport: in addition to a valid passport (which must be valid for at least 6 months) you also need a visa. You will receive this visa free of charge on arrival at the following international airports; Jakarta, Bali, Medan and Surabaya. You can stay in Bali for up to 30 days. Please note: arrival and departure days are counted and this free visa can not be extended. So if you want to stay longer than 30 days (and believe us, this happens), then you must arrange the visa before departure and make sure you have a return ticket, because that is mandatory.

Money: the currency on Bali is the Rupiah. Since banks are not everywhere and the exchange rate can fluctuate heavily, it is useful to exchange your money at the airport. Make sure you have enough money with you when traveling to a remote area.

Vaccinations: against Hepatitis A and DTP are recommended when you go to Indonesia on vacation. Fortunately, you do not have to take malaria pills in many areas; Bali and East and West Java are mostly malaria free. Check the map of malaria areas. And then you still have those annoying mosquitos. You do not hear them, but you do feel them! So it is handy to bring an anti-mosquito that contains DEET.

Kids
Bali is a great place for those traveling with kids. Find out what you can do and what kids activities there are with young children.

Bali with Kids

Suitcase or Backpack?
Do you travel around for a long time and do you travel from place to place? Then we advise you to bring a backpack. There is often heavy-handed handling of your stuff and we have already experienced a few cases that go wrong. The disadvantage is of course that you can take less, but on the other hand you often take too much clothing, which is not necessary on Bali. Will it be a beach holiday and will you stay in a resort? Then a backpack is not necessary and a suitcase is very nice.

Packing tips
In Bali you enjoy a tropical climate and the humidity can be high in some places. Some handy packing tips:
1. Pack as many light and cotton clothing as possible.
2. Bring along a long skirt and Sarong for when you visit one of the many temples.
3. Bring that hat! The sun is lovely, but nobody wants a sunstroke.
4. A one-suit is useful if you want to surf, it keeps your belly from getting scraped on the board.
5. If you are planning to go to Bali from December, then a thin rain jacket is useful.

Bali surfbabe
Ready to surf? 

Go check out
» Dreamland Beach – the name says it all
» Ubud – Rice Terraces, Healthy hotspots like Sari Organic and the Ubud Hanging Gardens resort (must see)
» Canggu – Crate Café, Canggu-Desa Seni Yoga, The Chillhouse
» Uluwatu – Rock Bar & Single Fin
» Tanah Lot (just to take that one beautiful picture)
» Nusa Lembongan, 30 min by boat – top for surfing

Dreamland beach bali
Dreamland Beach Source

Bali best hangouts 2019

Better to avoid
» Water from the tap. Buy your water in bottles and check if the cap is unopened. Drinking water safely? Then this thing is a godsend. Be careful with salads and peel the fruit well. Otherwise you might be more in the toilet than on the beach.
» Petting dogs, especially when Although they look cute, their have been reports of rabies and Sarah got bitten last year and needed several injections.
» Kuta. If you do not like mass tourism, avoid busy Kuta. Prices are higher, the food is not very tasty and the beach is a bit disappointing, mostly covered in plastic. However, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we know that there are better places on Bali than Kuta.

shopping in Bali
Make a good deal whilst shopping for goodies

In Bali it’s normal to..
» Have your own ‘driver‘. This is a tip that you can certainly save money if you want to see the whole island. Learn a few words Balinese and make a clear arrangement with your taxi driver. If you do it right, he will drive you around for a fixed price. Use your good old intuition, but pay attention that he does not take you to all kinds of shops or tourist places where they might receive commission from.
» Make some deals. It is a game between tourist and salesman, especially in the market you can play with the price.
» Give tips. The friendly people in Bali are not very broad. Do they wear your suitcase or are you well helped? Give a nice tip.
» Rent a scooter and explore the island. Make sure you always wear a helmet!

Bali on a scooter

Ready? So pack your bags and fly to paradise!

Wander-Lust

Sri Lanka Guide 2019 | The 2,5 week Travel Itinerary

If you are you looking for diversity, Sri Lanka is the place to be: stunning nature, wildlife, culture, pristine beaches, incredible photography spots and let’s not forget the amazing food. Sri Lanka has been voted the number 1 destination for 2019 and it’s more popular than ever. We’ve created a 2.5-week Sri Lanka Guide to show you the hidden gems and unique insider tips.

Sri Lanka map
Our 2,5 travel map

Sri Lanka has something for everyone; for the adventurous and those that want to relax

Good to know before you visit Sri Lanka

  • Climate
    The northeast monsoon is from December to March and the southwest monsoon is from June to October.
  • Costs for accommodation
    Compared to other Asian countries the accommodations in Sri Lanka are more expensive. The price for a normal guesthouse is around 20 euro per night. For a more modern stay you pay around 80 euro per night.
  • Getting around
    Transport is super cheap in Sri Lanka! One of the most famous and best option is the three-wheeled moped vehicle that is called Tuk Tuk.
  • Food
    You will find tasty and very affordable Sri Lankan dishes. Rice and curry is the Sri Lankan staple. My favorite is for sure the dhal curry. Also try their delicious roti, flatbreads, egg hoppers with fresh fish!
  • The War
    The 23 year civil war started in 1983 and ended in 2009, so it’s still fresh
  • Tea is a thing
    Sri Lanka is famous for its tea production, the tea production is one of the main sources. Sri Lanka yearly produces 300,000 tonnes of tea!

Start in Kandy (day 1)
We decided to skip the capital city Colombo, and spent the first day in Kandy instead. Kandy is more pleasant, less busy and the famous gateway to Ella. To be very honest, Kandy is not the most lively city. There’s not much to do, except for visiting the famous tooth Temple, a walk along the Kandy river, take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens and visit the commercial and shopping complex in the centre of town. Tip: Check out the Slightly Chill Rooftop Bar which is great for sunset watching with a great view.

View Kandy Sri Lanka
The view from Slightly Chill Rooftop Bar

Where to stay
SWP Eco Lodge with exotic animals such as monkeys jumping around your balcony. Book it here for about €65 per night.


Experience the most beautiful train ride in the world (day 2)
We took the most famous train trip from Kandy to Ella. It is supposed to be one of the most scenic and beautiful journeys in the world and we can tell you it is! This train ride takes about seven hours long, and is an affordable way to see the country with stunning green landscapes of lush tea plantations and breathtaking mountain views. No reservation is needed. A second-class ticket will only cost you 1,50 euro per person! Tip: This is a very busy route so make sure to arrive early as tickets can sell out quickly. Departure from Kandy is at 08:47AM and arrives in Ella around 3:30PM. If you are lucky you will get a seat, but don’t count on it! After a few stops you might get a seat when people go out. The most fun part is that you will easily connect with the locals. They are keen to start a conversation!

Train from Kandy to Ella

One of the best train rides in the world!

Our (train) tips:
» Try to sit at the entrance doors to experience the train ride at its best! You can sit on the floor and leave your legs out.
» Make sure you buy drinks like bottled water before you enter the train.
» Don’t worry about food, at each stop sellers come in with food like fresh fruit and Sri Lankan’s delicacy.


Spent a few days in Ella (day 2, 3, 4)
After an incredible and memorable train ride we arrived in Ella. Ella in Sri Lanka is a peaceful small village surrounded by the beautiful greens tea plantations, about 1000 meters above sea level. So the nights are cool and at daytime around 26 degrees. Ella is perfect for hiking! One of the best scenery is around Ella in the Hill Country. One of the must hikes is the trail walk from Ella train station (Ella town) to the Nine Arch Bridge and Little Adam’s Peak. It takes around 2 hours in total, but you will probably end up staying longer due to all the beauty.

Train ride Sri Lanka

Nine Arch Bridge Sri Lanka

Nine Arch Bridge
Before you will reach this beautiful architectural bridge surrounded by an amazing green jungle you pass by small villages and green tea fields. The bridge was built during WWI and they used bricks, cement and stones only. On one side you can walk all the way down where you not can make the best pictures of the bridge and look up so you can see the sky through the nine arches. 

TIP: Get a drink at one of the cafes and wait for the trains to pass.


Little Adam’s Peak
Little Adam’s Peak is the brother of Adam’s Peak and got its name due to the similar shape. You don’t need a guide and the hike is free of charge. We couldn’t find any sign at the Nine arch bridge, but there’s a shortcut off the road near a small cafe and the friendly locals there will point it out for you. After a 25-minute walk which takes you through the jungle and a small city you reach 98 Acres hotel. This hotel is super close to Little Adam’s Peak and has some breathtaking views! Just order some drinks and enjoy this view and continue your hike. (the food isn’t that great here) It’s 1141 m high, easy to climb, with a fairly good path all the way up. The view on top of this mountain is fantastic! Especially with sunset. Judge it for yourself.

Adams Peak
What a view!

Where to sleep
» Ella Flower Garden Resort
Next tot he trail of Little Adam’s Peak you will find this hotel with a flower garden and amazing view. A Ella Treehouse & Cabanas great way to finish your hike. www.ellaresort.com 
» Ella
Treehouse & Cabanas
Run by a lovey family who are very helpful with directions and suggestions of places to visit. Ella Treehouse & Cabanas is located 2km down the city center of Ella. The rooms are super clean, our room a balcony with  the perfect mountain view, where monkeys playing in the surrounding trees.
Where to eat

» Cafe Ella curry for just 2,70 euro
In this very little cafe on the Main Street of Ella they serve the best curries, biryanis and other local threats. Usually there is a little wait for a table but it is well worth it. Must order: Chicken curry with naan bread.
» Matey hat
At the end of the Main Street on the roadside you will find this tiny treehouse restaurant with around 40 seats, so normally you need to wait for a table. Delicious pumpkin mango curry for 3,70 euro. Matey-Hut/
» Ella coffee avenue: Here you can get some really nice cappuccino’s and café lattes or join one of their cooking classes! ellacoffeeavenue/


Safari in Yala (day 4, 5, 6)
Tissamaharama is the perfect base for nearby Yala and Bundala National Parks. Yala is the most visited and second largest park in Sri Lanka. We decided to stay around here for 2 nights. We ended up booking a full day tour with Yala Wild Safaris for 60 dollars per person. For all the details, and why Yala might not be the best pick for a national park, check our full article about Safari in Sri Lanka.

Safari in Sri Lanka

Where to eat
» Chef Lady Restaurant: A super friendly couple is running this restaurant. The wife cooks and does it well! You can get super fresh fish from the BBQ with fresh French fries or rice and vegetables for very reasonable prices. chef-lady-restaurant-restaurant
» Hot Spot: In the centre of Tissa you will find this restaurant on the main street. The manager is super friendly and helpful. He even hops on his scooter to get you some beers, he takes care of the mosquitos and gives you all the best tips. hotspot.restaurant
Good to know! it’s not an easy task to buy or order alcohol in Tissa and there are not many bars, if you want an (alcoholic) drink, your best bet is in your hotel or just connect with the locals:)


Marco Polo called Sri Lanka the most beautiful island in the world

Mirissa (day 6, 7, 8)
Mirrissa is the right chill out for a few days. Mirissa Beach is crowded, but the southern end of Mirissa is more quiet. Here you find beautiful beaches, surf waves, turtle spot, nice guest houses, good food, cocktail bars and one of the best Instagram spots of Sri Lanka. From Mirissa you can easily visit places like Unuwatuno, Galle and Tangalle for just 1 day.

Mirissa palmtrees

Turtle Bay | Mirissa
A bit more southern you will find one of the most popular Instagram spots foto hierboven of Sri Lanka, Coconut Tree Hill. A lot of palm trees are lined up with a view of white sand and turquoise water. Most people visit this place for one thing only; line up, take the picture and head back to Mirissa beach. TIP: please don’t! From Mirissa beach it takes around a 25-minute walk to this spot. Along the way you pass by Turtle Bay. You will find this spot at the southern end of Mirissa and is the best spot to swim with sea turtles. You can rent snorkeling gear at the restaurant for only a few euros and jump into the water where you spot turtles immediately! Nearby you will also find restaurant Papa mango here: The best lobster we’ve ever had for only 13 euro incl. french fries and salad. You want to eat here all day long!

Where to sleep
» Sea Goggle Resort You can book this stay at Airbnb for €33 per night.
» Mother’s House for just €21,- per night. You can book via Booking.com.

Where to eat
» The Shady lane: This spot is definitely everyone’s favourite. Order avo on toast with various toppings and the açaí bowls! shadylanemirissa
» Allowa Coffee Gallery: It’s in the same price range as The Shady Line, a bit more modern with also nice food. But I definitely prefer the menu of The Shady Lane. Try out sourdough toast with smashed avo or the cream bowl. aloha_coffee_gallery
» Papa Mango for the best seafood such as chilly crab and lobster, very affordable! PAPAMANGOMIRISSASL

Yoga
Across Mother’s House you can practice Vinyasa flow at 9AM for 75 minutes. What a great class! Felicia, the teacher, gave everyone a massage during relaxation. She told me that she will open a hostel in Mirissa soon, Satori Beach Hostel, where you can also practice yoga, keep an eye out!


Weligama (Day 8, 9, 10, 11)
We took a tuk tuk to Weligama and booked our stay via booking.com a few hours before and we arrived at night at Aknara Rest Hotel. Kind owner Sunny welcomed us and arranged some beers. When we opened the doors of our guesthouse in the morning we stepped outside to a beautiful large green lush garden with monkeys everywhere! A beautiful quiet place only 7 min away (walking) from the beach. Weligama has a 2km-long beach break lined in palm trees and surfboard stands. You can rent a surfboard everywhere and in return you get a free sun bed. Hop in for a surf, the best spot for beginners is located at the beginning of Weligama beach.

Surfing Sri Lanka
Weligama is perfect for first time surfers

Where to stay
There are many places to stay but we recommend these two. Both relatively quiet and close to the beach.

» Hotel Aknara Rest www.aknara-rest-weligama
» Elephant Stables Weligama Bay www.elephantstablesweligamabay.com

Sri Lanka
The green lush garden of Sunny, Aknara Rest

Where to eat
Weligama is a bustling little town with lots of local eateries. On a personal I’m not a big fan of kottu – roti mixed with vegetables, egg and/or meat, and spices – but I’m a big fan of their curry and samosa’s!

» Nomads café: for healthy food and good vibes. Take the raw bawls with dates and nuts. Instagram.com/nomadsrilanka

Nomads Café Sri Lanka

» Ceylon sliders: This is beyond good! Iced coffee’s, avo on toast. www.instagram.com/ceylonsliders
» The kip: An all-day brunch spot, offering a simple and ethical menu supporting health and sustainability. Morning feats up here! Homemade peanut butter (vegan friendly) and raw lime cheesecake! Instagram.com/thekipsrilanka
» Soul café: An intimate space on the second floor close at the beach which serves smoothies, juices and a variety of wraps and bowls. Order the tuna tartare. Instagram.com/soulcafeweligama
» For drinks you should visit Hungry birds: For the most fun evenings with the owners! They love electronic music and drinks.

» Take a break and look for the big blue vegan ice-cream truck right on Weligama beach where you can buy delicious ice-creams. They encourage all customers to place any unwanted coconut shells in their “reduce, reuse, recycle” box, so we can contribute to keep our environment clean!

Sri lanka breakfast
Breakfast at Nomads Café


Koggola Lake (day 12 & 13)
We stayed at the amazing Hotel Tri Lanka – heaven on earth! Tri Hotel is situated right next to and overlooking the stunning Koggala lake. This area is well known for its diverse and rich wildlife, especially the variety of birds living here. Because the hotel surroundings are so stunning, we stayed here for 2 days before heading on to our final destination in Sri Lanka. Read more about Tri Lanka Design Hotel.

Tri Lanka lake

Tri Lanka room view


Unawatuna (day 14, 15, 16)
The town itself is small, most people like to spend their time at the beach, but a big part of the beach is occupied. Tip! Visit the city, that offers great shopping spots, nice guesthouses and many local and trendy restaurants. Check out the Palm Swing on Delawella Beach is another great Instagram spot! The palm swing is owned by the locals and they charge 500 rupees for a swing. You will have fun swinging over the ocean waves.

Mirissa Sri Lanka
And even more beautiful with sunset ♥

Where to stay
We spent our last days at this jewel “Hotel Owl & the Pussycat“, opened in 2015 and located in Thalpe, near Anawatuna and Galle and just a two hour drive south of Colombo. It’s the ideal place for who wants to relax and be looked after by the amazing team of OTP. The hotel has various colourful buildings with spacious rooms. Don’t be surprised if you spot some cute furry toys in the hotel. OTP sells them and donates the proceeds to a local children’s charity. LIKE! 

owl and the pussycat hotel
Owl & Pussycat Hotel

With complementary bites in the afternoon and delicious cocktails in the evening it’s just perfect when the sun goes down and the outside area changes into a romantic magical space.There’s a small gate to the beach, but you can’t swim because is too dangerous. But, just around the corner, when you turn right, you will find this beautiful quite beach. www.otphotel.com

Wander-Lust at Unawatuna

What to eat
» Jamu Surf Lodge (Yoga, local food, great coffee, surf) jamusurflodge/
» The HideOut (Mexican Fusio: Homemade Corn Taco, Burrito, Bowls, Smoothie Bowls) thehideoutunawatuna/
» Bedspace (the menu changes everyday. Breakfast & Dinner. Mixing international & local classics) bedspaceuna/
» SkinnyTom’s Deli (best breakfast) skinnytoms/
» King Fisher (Fresh Fish right at the beach) Kingfisher-Unawatuna


Colombo (day 16)
Our final stop before heading back to Amsterdam and we only had some time to eat. Both Tri Lanka and OTP recommended us to end our trip at restaurant Ministry of Crab. And we are happy they did. Through Ministry of Crab they bring the iconic Sri Lankan Crab and the exceptional King Prawns to a global audience, ranging from 500g ‘Small’ crabs to 2KG ‘Crabzillas’ plated! Reservation is needed! Find menu and prices here

Ministry of Crab
Source

And there you have it, a full 2,5 week travel itinerary for Sri Lanka with its spectacular palm tree heaven coastline and sun-kissed sandy stretches. With amazing waves, charming boutique hotels and trendy cafés with healthy options.

Total cost: 1000 Euro per person (excluding the flight). Mind you, we had a collaboration with Tri Lanka and the Owl & Pussycat Hotel. We didn’t hold back however. We ate what we wanted to eat, booked what we felt was comfortable. You can make it as expensive as you want, but remember that accommodations in Sri Lanka are a bit more expensive than Thailand for example.

Enjoy your trip through Sri Lanka and be sure to tell us about it if you followed our itinerary!

Love,

Sarah

Safari in Sri Lanka | All you need to know

Yala National Park, the most visited and second largest park in Sri Lanka which is filled with wildlife. Is it a must visit if you come to Sri Lanka or should you pick a different park? Here’s all you need to know.

Safari in Sri Lanka

Which park to pick?
Locals told us that 10% of Sri Lanka is national park. Yala is the most popular and largest park, but not always the best choice. In the North West you will find a higher number of leopards for example. Udawalawe is smaller than Yala but most people say it’s the better one. For one, you can get very close to animals, particularly the elephants. Smaller national parks like Gal Oya and Kumana
 are great because you won’t run into other jeeps and it feels much more private. We booked our tour with Wild Yala Safaris for 60 dollar per person. If we knew everything prior our booking, we may have picked another park.

Get up early
Wild Yala Safaris, and most other safari’s for that matter, will pick you up at 4AM at your hotel so get an early night in! Our hotel was located in Tissa and it takes about 1 hour by jeep to get to the entrance of Yala National Park. Keep your eyes open because we spotted our first massive Elephant when it was still dark outside! When you enter the park you need to wait for about 20 min with the other jeeps before you can enter (a good opportunity to take a quick nap?)

The park itself is beautiful: You won’t find any plastic or other trash

Safari Sri Lanka

Safari in Sri Lanka is an experience we will never forget

The Big Five Sri Lanka Style
In one day we managed to spot 2 leopards, countless elephants, wild boars, several birds, crocodiles, water, monkeys, buffalos etc. We saw most wildlife after lunch which is arranged by the driver and it’s delicious and super fresh. Expect some rice, vegetables, chicken in curry sauce, dahl and fruit. Good to know: the price is almost the same at every other agency, so the experience is what counts. Drivers even help each other when they see unique animals in the park. They call each other and drive as maniacs to the spot.

Safari in Sri Lanka

Wander-Lust Safari in Sri Lanka
Snap Snap

Monkey in Sri Lanka
Monkeys everywhere!

Our tips before going on safari in Sri Lanka:
» Bring some breakfast, toilet paper, sweater or wind jacket, sunscreen and sunglasses
» If you have some, bring some binoculars
» Check out other national parks in Sri Lanka! Yala National Park was on the way and with only 2,5 weeks to go, this seemed like the best option.
» Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t spot a leopard, it’s rare and most of the time they are hidden or far away. 
» 
You can book group or private tours so pick wisely

Check out our full Sri Lanka Guide | a 2,5 week travel itinerary

Love,

Sarah

Why visiting Istanbul during wintertime is a good idea

I have visited a lot of cities in my life but there was always one on top of my city-bucket-list; Istanbul. Why? It’s the perfect mix between Asia and Europe and has so much to offer, even in winter!

Yes, Istanbul is in fact separated by the Bosporus into European and Asian portions. One of my best friends even told me it’s his favorite city in Europe. Time to check it out. Instead of visiting Istanbul during spring or summer, I booked my ticket for the end of February, hoping the weather would be good so far out on the east side of Europe. But one day before I was about to fly, the news reported that Istanbul was coping with the worst snowstorms in 15 years! Bad luck, but ey, that’s traveling and I got to see snow in Istanbul! (That’s me trying to stay positive) Lucky enough it stopped snowing on the day of my departure so I could fly.

Istanbul birds

Getting Around & Good To Know
Arriving in Istanbul it was a little confusing because I wasn’t aware that you need a tourist visa so… that’s my first tip! A tourist visa will cost you 25 euro’s and you can buy this online
here. Always check with your local whether is safe enough to travel due to political issues in the country. Traveling to Istanbul is declared save again since of July 2018. You can also buy the visa on arrival like I did, but then you need to wait in line and it can take a long time getting through customs so my advice is to buy it beforehand. 

During the winter period, it’s less crowded, cheaper but still beautiful

Getting to my hotel was pretty easy. There are big comfy busses going into town and cost 14 Lira, which is about 5 euro’s. They leave every half hour and take you into the city centre in about 1 hour. For more info, check hereThe nearest busstop from my hotel was Taksim Square. This is a famous square which collides with the endless Istiklal street where you can go shopping or visit a nice Starbucks. You can take the Tünel, this is a cute small tram which runs straight through the shopping street.

Tram Istanbul
The Tünel in Istiklal Street

Where to Stay
I booked my hotel via Booking.com and because of the low season, I got a very good rate: 120 euro’s for 3 nights! 
The rate included breakfast and the manager was very friendly and even gave his own Travel Card for me to use. (this is a card you can use for public transport) My only warning, if you are staying near a Mosque (and chances are you will), you will hear the people sing though the loudspeakers, also known as ezan, around 5 times a day. If you are not a morning person, double check your location.

Luxury: Raffles Istanbul (nice view, spa, swimming pool, great service)
Mid Range: Bankerhan Hotel or Sub Karakoy (trendy area!)
Budget: Empress Zoe Hotel (Lush garden, great breakfast. Rooms go from €40,-)

I stayed near the Galata tower and picked this area because it’s authentic and you can really taste the Turkish culture here. The tower itself is worth a visit if you want to check out the nice view and take some good pictures. It will cost you 20 lire to get in and there is a restaurant on the top.

Tip: Go in the morning if you want to skip the queues. From the hotel I could walk right across the street to catch the tram which takes you over the bridge and into the westside of Istanbul. Taking the tram over the Bosporus is only a short ride which takes no longer than 10 min from the Galata area.

istanbul

paint Istanbul
Istanbul is full of spices and colors

On this side there are a few big tourist attractions that are just too good to skip:

» The blue Mosque (make sure you bring a scarf to cover your hair. Same thing applies for the Hagia Sofia)
» Hagia Sofia
» The Grand Bazaar (Great for Turkish shopping like handbags, Scarf, Lamps
» The Spice Market (Get ready for some crazy scents and flavors!)

Istanbul
Inside the blue Mosque

20150221_132400_resized
I loved the Spice Market the most because of all the colours and different tea’s.

Walking through the grand Bazaar Istanbul

Where to Eat & Drink
After a day of walking around, you should definitely take a coffee break or try traditional Salep. My new Turkish addiction. This is a hot milky drink topped off with cinnamon. You can pretty much get it in every Turkish Café. For the best Meze you should try Ciya and At night Istanbul really comes to live. Restaurants stay open late, and it’s rooftop galore with many restaurants and bars that you wouldn’t expect to be hidden away all the way up there.

Here a few of my rooftop favorites:

» 5Kat is a traditional restaurant/bar that has been there forever. You can eat in or outside on the roof terrace. The entrance looks a bit shabby but once you go up, you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the Bosporus. www.5kat.com

» 360 is a great place. For food, drinks and even dancing. Killing view. Reservations are required and leave your sneakers at home. http://www.360istanbul.com/

» Vogue is upscale and also serves sushi for those that are in for a lavish night out. The music isn’t for dancing but for catching up and drinking cocktails. www.voguerestaurant.com

Vogue Istanbul
Vogue Istanbul

» LTERA is a rooftoop restaurant which opens up in the summer. Looking over the river, it has a beautiful view and the food is tasty! http://www.literarestaurant.com/

» Mikla is posh but well worth it if you love to get dressed up one evening and go for that amazing wine & dine experience. It was once voted in the top 50 best restaurants in the world. This a-claimed restaurant also has a rooftop but during the winter it may be closed. www.miklarestaurant.com

Also check out Limonlu Bahçe Beyoglu, this hipster garden is great for amazing coffee, drinks and western style dishes.

drinks Istanbul
Source  Drinks at Limonlu

A little further along side the Bosporus river you have amazing chique clubs like the Supperclub and Reina. I didn’t manage to go there because of the chilly nights but I will be back to try those out!

107635_IMG-20150220-WA0024
Fishermen trying to get their catch of the day

The Asian District
Most tourists only visit the European part of the city but you should definitely take the time for the Asian part! 
There is the lively Kadikoy where you have markets on different days of the week. Small shops and nice lunch spots make this a super fun day trip. To get there, you take the boat across the bosporus which takes about 30 min. When you are departing Istanbul from Sabiha Cökçen airport, you can also take the bus from there which makes it a shorter ride and you can combine this with a visit to this vibrant part of the city.

20150222_153325_resized[1]
Fresh fish at Kadiköy, the Asian part of Istanbul

Be sure to visit Istanbul when it’s a little warmer but even so, it was magical and my friend was right. It’s great!

Love,

Elke

The Koh Lipe Island Guide

Walk on white sandy beaches with a fresh coconut in your hand. You will arrive at a picture-perfect tropical island where you want to stay forever! An unbelievable exotic destination that has everything you need to have the perfect holiday. This is Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Koh Lipe is a paradise island in the southern of Thailand’s Satun Province near the Thailand/Malaysia border. The three main beaches of Koh Lipe are Sunset Beach (west), Sunrise Beach (east), and Pattaya Beach (south), all beautiful. Koh Lipe is famous for it’s white sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, coconut trees, snorkeling and scuba diving and it’s relaxed atmosphere!

koh-lipe-map
Map of Koh Lipe: Source: http://www.thailand-guide.com/koh-lipe

How to get there
There are several options, but we arrived from Langkawi by boat which takes around 1.5 hours. Tip: bring something warm to wear, because sometimes the air-condition is turn up high which makes it freezing. Also, bring some travel sickness tablets, you may need it when the sea is rough. Book your boat ticket in advance, there is no need to print the ticket, as long as you have your QR code on your phone. You need to register before entering the boat and you should do this at the departure gate at least 1,5 hours before departure from Langkawi. Upon arrival, you need to pay 200 bath per person as an island fee, this is normal and you need to pay in cash. It’s a bit of a hassle to get there, but once you have arrived, it will be worth your time.


Where to Stay
Koh Lipe has become very popular over the years, so therefore we advise you to book your accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during the high season (nov – feb). Unfortunately, prices are quite expensive compared to other destinations in Thailand. A hut on the beach for €20,- a night? Forget it. During Christmas we paid at least 100 euro per night. But we don’t want to discourage you, Koh Lipe offers a variety in accommodations, with  not many big resorts, yet. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Cast Away Beach Resort (sunrise beach, mid range)
  • Andaman Resort (sunrise beach, midrange)
  • Serendipity Resort (sunrise beach, high end)
  • Bundahya Beach Resort (pattaya beach, mid range)
  • The Box Resort (walking street, mid range)

Tip: Also check on Airbnb, a lot of guesthouses and hotels also sell their rooms on there.

Koh Lipe resort
Bundahya Beach Resort

Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Sea la Vie beach bar at Sunrise Beach

Things to do
Koh lipe is famous for snorkeling and diving! The incredibly clear water and excellent visibility makes snorkeling very famous on this island. There are many shops on the island that offer snorkeling trips and a full range of PADI and SSI courses.Koh Lipe is surrounded by over 30 islands and hundreds of reefs. You will find a lot of small colorful fish at Koh Lipe, but keep in mind that the coral isn’t what it used to be. Most of the coral is dead because of global warming and the suncreams people use. Ingredients like oxybenzone can harm the oceans. Tip: We use Dermalogica or Badger Sunscreens.

Koh Lipe island guide 2019


Where to eat & drink
From Thai green curry, Phad Thai, Tom kha kai (spicy soup) to Som Tam (Papaya salad), it’s all so delicious, healthy and fresh! They always use fresh herbs and lots of greens. There’s something for everyone, it’s doesn’t matter if you are vegetarian or vegan, enough options. There’s s a great variety in food on the island: From tasty Thai street food to fresh fish you will find right at the beach.
Tip! Learn these words to save you from a chilli pepper disaster! Spicy = mai pet, A little bit spicy = pet noi, Very spicy = pet mak

Best Breakfast & Coffee

  • Elephant Koh Lipe
  • Bloom cafe (amazing coffee!)
  • Tropicana (healthy/vegan options)

Elephant cafe Koh Lipe
Great coffee at Elephant Café

Best cocktails

  • Maya Bar (walking street, great music and cocktails!)
  • Sea la Vie beach bar (Sunrise beach, the food is not so good, but at night the music and vibe is amazing)
  • Reggae bar (Pattaya beach)

Street food Koh Lipe
Street food at the Koh Lipe Walking Street

Best Western food

  • The Box (walking street)
  • La Luna Italian Restaurant

Best Thai Food

  • On The Rocks Restaurant at Serendipity Resort (perfect for a romantic dinner!)
  • Cast Away Restaurant (great for lunch!)
  • Elephant Beach Bar (Sunrise beach, great Pad Thai!)

Koh Lipe Beaches
Koh Lipe has three beaches and because the weather doesn’t change much throughout the year, it’s p
erfect to lay on the beach..but which one is the best?

  • Sunrise Beach
    This is the best beach, hands down. The water is crystal clear, the sand is white and you can find a lot of quiet spots. All parts of this beach are good, but we relaxed in the middle a lot, next to the Elephant Beach Bar. There is some shade from the trees so great if you have small children. If you walk to the left side of Sunrise beach, you will find yourself a zandbank in the water, great for taking those tropical photo’s! And if you walk towards the right end of the beach (towards Ten Moons Resort), you have a small beach cove, that not everybody knows about. Here you can chill in hammocks and drink fresh coconuts.


beach swing Koh Lipe
In front of 10 Moons Resort, Sunrise Beach

  • Sunset Beach
    This beach has the sunset (hence the name) but it’s smaller doesn’t have many beach bars to chill. Because of this, the beach is more quiet and popular with the older crowd. Worth taking a look at!
  • Pattaya Beach
    This is the beach where all the boats arrive and depart to/from, which makes it the busiest and less attractive beach. At night you can find some bars here with loud(er) music, but there are some restaurants at the end that are nice enough to eat.

Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe
At the sand bank Sunrise Beach

Our advise is to stay on Koh Lipe for at least 4 to 6 days in order to enjoy the island to the fullest. Take in account that tt rains and storms more from April through September, but that doesn’t mean you should skip this magical island. Apparently the average temperature is always around 26 degrees, so no matter what time you visit Koh Lipe, the weather will typically be the same. Yes, it takes some time to get there, but once you step on the white sand, you will feel right at home.

Love,

Wander-Lust

Koh Adang Island » The Peaceful Getaway

Koh Adang is the bigger island located right across from the more popular Koh Lipe. We stayed there for 2 nights and here’s everything you need to know.

Koh Adang is located on the southern side of the Andaman sea, near Malaysia. The only way to get there is by longtail boat, which is an adventure to start with. Islands that are a little harder to reach, must be good right! It often means that tourism hasn’t taken over, and you can find some peace and quiet. This is the main reason why we decided to come to Koh Adang for a few days.

Koh Adang Island
Private beach on Koh Adang

The beach is so amazing with palmtrees and rocks that really makes you feel you are on a private tropical island

getting to Koh Adang Island
Getting to Koh Adang

Adang Island Resort
The only resort on the island is the Adang Island Resort and it’s so nice! It offers guest garden or beach villa’s with nice bathrooms made out of bricks and stone, which gives it a natural feel. All rooms have air-conditioning (trust me, you’ll need it) and patio where you can sit outside. There is one main pool that is overlooking the beach, which you only need to share with your guests. We arrived there on Christmas Eve and the resort was fully booked, but funny enough, it doesn’t feel busy or crowded at all. The beach is so amazing with palmtrees and rocks that really makes you feel you are on a private tropical island.

palmtrees on Koh Adang


Our Deluxe Garden Villa

At the resort you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner and varies from traditional Thai to western style dishes. (try the Spring Rolls, Pad Thai and Papaya Salad omg). Prices are very reasonable and what you would expect of Thailand. On Koh Lipe, prices tend to be more expensive. If you have a coconut addiction like I have, you’ll be pleased to hear that they serve fresh ones at the Adang Island Resort.

food at Adang Island Resort

Pool Adang Island Resort
Chilling by the pool

Things to do
Even though you are on a secluded island, there are a few things you can do besides hanging by the poolside. You can book some of the activities at the resort.

  • Kayaking
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkling (free gear available at the Adang Resort)
  • Walk to the viewing point (1 hour walk)
  • Walk to the waterfall (30 min walk)
  • Day trip to other small islands or Koh Lipe

Waterfall Koh Adang Island

Kayaking Adang Island Resort
Free kayaking is available at the resort


CocoNuts!

Verdict: Koh Adang is well worth a visit if you are planning to visit Koh Lipe. 2 nights is perfect to get you started. For bookings at the Adang Island Resort, visit www.adangresorts.com. Once you’ve made your reservation, you will get a full explanation on how to get there. (there is a pick-up spot and free shuttle from Koh Lipe that runs until 8pm)

Curious about Koh Lipe? Check our Thailand section below!

 

 

The Kuala Lumpur City Guide

Kuala Lumpur is not only the capital of Malaysia, it’ a melting pot of culture with a vibrant mix of Malay, Indian, Thai and Chinese people. Planning a visit to Malaysia, a stopover or just curious about what this metropolitan has to offer? This is the guide you need!

If you have a few days in Kuala Lumpur, there are n From Shopping, history, culture, nature, to of course food, its all here. Keep one thing in mind, locals love to eat, so you will see everybody eating all day. From street food to fancy restaurants, in KL you don’t have to worry about food. All is fresh and very tasty!

Where to stay

Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
We stayed here when we arrived and can really recommend it. Why? This hotel has rooms starting from 85 Euro, so it’s affordable for everyone. It’s located at a very convenient spot if you arrive at the international airport. The main train station KL Sentral is located only a few minutes walk away and the train takes about 28 minutes from the airport. There is a rooftop pool, a gym, 2 restaurants, and the staff is really lovely. The dinner and breakfast buffet is outstanding. A great place to start from. Wanna do some shopping? Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is connected to the Nu Sentral Shopping Centre via an air-conditioned link bridge. Book your stay here.

Aloft Kuala Lumpur
Aloft Kuala Lumpur

W-Hotel
Oh how we love the W hotels. It’s luxurious, but not in a awkward kind of way. It’s hip and happening and it’s always located at a central place. The W hotel in Kuala Lumpur is located right across the Petronas Towers, and from the rooftop pool, you have the perfect view. There is a lovely outside pool bar, 3 restaurants, a gym and spa. The only downside is, that there is a club downstairs and it can be noisy during the weekends. However, if you are looking for a good time, the W is your hotel! 

W Hotel Kuala Lumpur
W Hotel

Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa
This hotel is really the best place to escape the concrete buildings and relax before heading back home. Elke stayed here during her last day of her Malaysia trip and we can’t even begin to tell you why it’s so good. First of all, it’s not located in the middle of KL. It’s about a 25 minute taxi drive from the airport, and the resort is surrounded by lush palmtrees and plants, giving it a real tropical feel. There are 3 restaurants, of which the buffet restaurant was Elke’s favourite. And if you want to re-charge yourself before your long flight back home, you should go for a 2,5 hour spa treatment in their luxurious spa. Rooms are available from around €58,- which is great value for money! www.cyberviewresort.com

Cyberview Hotel
Relaxing before heading back home



What to see & do

1. Jalan Alor
One thing we discovered is that people in Malaysia love to eat! What a coincidence, me too! If you visit KL and you like food you should definitely go to Jalan Alor at night – located in the north of Jalan Bukit Bintang. During the day the Jalan Alor area is relatively dead, but in the afternoon it gets a complete makeover: busy colorful streets with chairs and tables and food everywhere. Jalan Alor is famous for its diverse street stalls with tasty and fresh street food, known as the ‘hawker stalls’. It attracts a lot of tourists but you will also find a lot of locals. From Malay, Indian, Chinese to Thai and Indonesian food, every Asian country is present and all stalls offer the best from its local cuisine. From 5PM-11.30PM

Kuala Lumpur
A coconut stall in Kuala Lumpur

2. Jalan Masjid
In addition to many diverse stores with Indian goods and food, at nights the streets are busy, noisy, full with tables and chairs where food is the most important for everyone. You will smell the Indian dishes from a distance. So if you love the Indian cuisine, then this is the place to be for you. So for the best Malay and Indian food you will need to go to Little India, Jalan Masjid India. The colorful and vibrant street offer fresh tasty Indian snacks where everyone eats with their hands. Seriously, one of the best Indian food I’ve ever had.

Jalan Masjid

Kuala Lumpur is a city build around food

3. Kampung Baru
This little village exists in a small corner of downtown Kuala Lumpur. Kampung Baru, or “new village,” a Malay enclave, located just a short hike away from Kuala Lumpur City Centre next to the Petronas Twin Towers. This is a very nice place to visit! On Saturday there’s a weekly night market where you can try delicious and healthy Malay, Chinese and Thai food.

Kampung Baru

4. Batu Caves
The very popular tourist attraction located in the north of Kuala Lumpur in Selangor are the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves have three main caves featuring temples and Hindu shrines with lots of monkeys surrounded. Watch the monkeys, they can be aggressive. With 272 steps, many tourists and heat its best to arrive early in the morning before 10AM during the weekday to avoid this. That said, also avoid weekends and the Thaipusam festival – two months a year with changing dates – where many tourists will visit this attraction. Watch out for slippery stairs due the rain. Despite the hustle and bustle, its definitely worth visiting. If you get there early, you can take some good shots like the one below.

Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur

5. Petronas Twin Towers
The Petronas towers are a big tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur. People go in to see the impressive skyline from the top. If you only have a view days in KL and you need to wait, I recommend you to see the Petronas towers at night. Beautiful lightning as you can see in this picture.

Kuala Lumpur, Twin Tower

6. Shopping Malls
Like most Asian capitals, you can find some of the biggest shopping malls in the capital of Malaysia. From high end brands, to cheap stores and foodcourts. These are our favorites:

  • Suria KLCC (more luxury and high end brands, located next to Petronas Towers)
  • The Gardens (many shops, food and cinema)
  • Sungei Wang Plaza (small shops, very affordable, great for souvenirs)
  • Lot10 (mid/upper class stores, looks great!)
  • Nu Sentral Shopping Centre (located next to the Sentral Train Station)

7. Pineapple Hill “Bukit Nanas”
The entrance is quite difficult to find, but if you want to escape the concrete jungle and trade it for a real one, you should go for a stroll through this tropical forest.There are jungle trails, a visitors centre, and a forestry museum. Some trees are over a 100 years old! Take the metro to Bukit Nanas station and bring mosquito repellent because you will need it. 

Tips
» Take a walk, there’s too much to miss if you take a train or a bus in KL
» You don’t have to tip unless stated otherwise
» Eat the street food, it’s amazing!
» Talk with locals, they can all speak a bit English and they love to help you out

Love,

Wander-Lust

More Malaysia? 

 

All You Need to Know About Applying for a Travel Visa

When you travel to some countries, you may need to apply for a Visa in order to enter. This is not always clear, so we thought we’ll write an article about which countries you need a visa for, and some special cases. But more importantly, how can you arrange a Visa as efficient as possible!

Why & What is a Visa?
It’s an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. And it’s that simple. Each country has different rules, and it also depends on where you are traveling from. In the next chapters, we are going to explain what visa’s there are, for which countries you need one, cost, and how you can arrange a visa without too much hassle.

Every country has different rules

Which Countries?
Depending on where you travel or come from, we are going to to highlight the countries you need a Visa for, as if you’re traveling from the European Union. (looking at our biggest target group, this would be the best way forward in regards to the information)

  • Turkey
    Apply for a tourist or Business Visa. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months upon arrival. Cost: €24,95,-. Valid for max 90 days. You can buy the Visa directly at the airport when you arrive, but you will need to stand in line for a long time, so we advise you to do this online.
  • United States
    We call this Visa an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). The ESTA is valid for 2 years for a stay for a maximum of 90 days. Cost: €29,95. You always apply for an ESTA online.

travel

  • Canada
    Instead of applying for a normal Visa, the easiest and cheapest way to enter Canada, is to apply for eTA (electronic Travel Authorization). You need to fill in an online form, in which you are asked several questions, in order to grand you the eTA. No need to print the eTA, it will be linked to your passport and flight, so you have no problem entering. An eTA is valid for 5 years, for a stay of 90 days. Cost: €19,95.
  • India
    The electronic Visa for India can be done online and costs €109,95 per person. You do not have to go to a counter with your passport. Your Visa will be sent by e-mail within a few days. There are 3 different Visa’s to choose from; ‘eTourist visa India’, ‘eMedical visa India’ en ‘eBusiness visa India’. More info about these options here.
  • Egypt
    You can apply online for the tourist Visa. If you have other traveling reasons, you need to go to the Embassy of Egypt. Important: your passport needs to be valid for at least 8 months when entering the country. You can stay in Egypt for a maximum of 30 days with this Visa. Costs: €34,95.
  • Australia
    You can only check in online for flights to Australia, if you own a tourist Visa for Down Under. It’s not expensive, (€14,95) and valid for 3 months. Do check the rules and regulations, because some countries have other rules. Check here for all the info.

  • Vietnam
    From 2018 you can apply for the electronic Visa for Vietnam online, for a total price of €39,95. This saves you the costs of the stamping fee ($25 to $50) and the queue at the arrival airport. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 30 days. (different than in most Asian countries) This only applies to people with a Dutch passport though. Please check the rules and regulations for Vietnam here.
  • Sri Lanka
    Most people won’t stay in Sri Lanka for more than 30 days. In this case you can apply online for an ETA Sri Lanka. If you do want to extend your stay (up to 90 days) you need to visit the Immigration Services Centre in Sri Lanka to do so. Or you can go to your nearest Embassy. Cost: €49,95.
  • Cambodja
    Travelers need to apply for a tourist visa that is valid for 30 days. You can do this online and applies to all European citizens. Cost: €49,95 per person. (kids also need this visa)
  • China
    For China it’s a bit more complicated. European citizens must all apply for a visa and this Visa will need to be entered into your passport. Most people go to the Chinese Embassy, but you can also send it via courier in order to save you a trip. There are 4 different travel visa’s available, so check here which one you should get. 
  • Cuba
    This visa isn’t so expensive. It costs €39,95, and you can do it online if you stay up to 30 days. It will then arrive by post and you need to keep it in your passport, that needs to be valid for another 7 months. There are a few rules though, such as you can’t arrive via or from the USA. For more info and all the regulations check this website.
  • Thailand
    If you come as a traveler or tourist for less than 30 days, you don’t need a Visa for Thailand. If you are there for other purposes (such as voluntary work, or a business trip), you always need to apply for a visa, even if it’s for less than 30 days. For every traveler, it’s necessary to have a valid passport for at least 6 months during your stay. More info here.

passport

It’s Never Been So Easy
Looking back a few years, it wasn’t always so easy to apply for a Visa. Trips to the Embassy were almost inevitable, but times have changed my friends! For Dutch and Belgium citizens, you can visit www.visumbuitenland.nl. They offer 24/7 support, and payments can be done with ideal. Do you live in another country? Then we advise you to always check online to see what rules apply. But now you know which visa you may need, how much it costs and that you can always arrange this online! Easy peasy 🙂

Enjoy hassle free traveling!

Wander-Lust

All you need to know about the TAO Expedition in The Philippines.

Are you a Adventurous Traveller? Do you need a break from modern society? If so, this 5-day Boat tour in the Philippines is the escape for you! Sail into paradise and explore the most remote islands between Coron and El Nido in the North of Palawan! This is everything you need to know before booking the Tao Expedition.

You live like the local people during this expedition! Wi-Fi? Not on the TAO sailing boats! Sometimes there is a possibility to use power, but that’s it! This is a good way to take time for yourself and get away from all those Social Media Notifications popping-up all the time!
While you are on the boat with 15 to 20 other explorers, you are completely free in the things you want to do! Try to catch some tuna while fishing from the back of the boat, help the chef preparing a meal, get behind the wheel like a real sailor or share your travel stories with the crew while you enjoy your jungle-Juice! It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you have the time of your life!

Philippines

The days on the tour are packed with adventure! The great thing about this trip is that you are never sure where you end up! Because of the climate in the Philippines the weather isn’t always your best friend! That’s why they change routes all the time and you are never sure what you see/do and where you will be sleeping. However there are some highlights you are definitely NOT going to miss while exploring the islands and waters between Coron and El Nido!

Tao tour Philippines

Jump in the turquoise blue waters and Snorkel in the most amazing spots of this tropical archipelago! Enjoy the Beautiful sunsets and after a long day on the boat, chill on the beach and watch the milky way sparkle in the sky! The Tao expedition brings you back to basics, it disconnects you from the modern world and re-connects you with nature! The crew exists of local people who know everything about the area you are sailing in, they have respect for nature and everything you can find there! This is what they try to learn to the people who came and joined them on the tour!

Beach Philippines

The best time for the TAO Expedition
The best time to take this tour in the Philippines is between October and May, this is the dry season. There is also the possibility to ​book an expedition​ during the rainy season from June till September, but expect some rainy days! It is not possible book during the month September.

Prices
The 5-day Tao Expedition will cost you $545,- (Php26.900,-) in low season and $655,- (Php32.400,-) in peak season! Of course this is a lot of money, but if you look to it in a different way it is not that bad.
This price includes:
● 5 days of travel
● 4 nights of TAO style camping
● the wild open nature and island living
● Freshly prepared meals, snacks and drinks (drinking water, tea, coffee, sunset
cocktails)
● mask and snorkels (no fins)

TIP: Bring extra cash upon checking in for Alcoholic drinks and Merchandise. Recommended amount: $60,- (Php3.000,-) – $100,- (Php5.000,-) per person

Filipino fresh fish
Fresh food at the TAO Expedition

Everyday you have an activity, from snorkeling to fishing! You have the transport covered from A to B, Coron to El Nido or the other way around! All meals are included and you get the most amazing beaches to sleep on every night! If you see it this way, $109,- (Php5.380,-) / $131,- (Php6.480,-) for a day is a good price for a unforgettable trip in the Philippines!

Other Experiences
TAO offers way more then just this tour. The following tours are available at the moment:
● Boat Expeditions (5 day, 3 day, sailing or private)
● Island Stay
● Combo Experience
● Mountain Treks & Retreat
Have a look ​here​ for more information about the different tours.

Sleeping on the beach, Philippines
Not a 5-star hotel, but a priceless view (photo by @wanderlust.nl)

How to get there?
You can book this tour from either Coron to El Nido or the other way around. To get to Coron you can take a Domestic Flight with a 40 minute transfer to the town. When you are in Manilla there is also the possibility to take a Ferry to Coron which leaves once a week and will take you 12 to 14 hours. For price details and time schedules visit the 2GO​ website. When you start your Boat tour from El Nido there are two options. Fly direct to El Nido, or fly to Puerto Princesa and take a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido.

Good To Know
This is not everyone’s idea of a holiday! It might be bad weather, it might be rough waves, limited privacy, barking dogs, crowing roosters, mosquito bites, jellyfish stings, sunburns. But that is all part of the experience: the unexpected, the unknown, stepping outside of your comfort zone. Still interested? Book early to avoid disappointment. (and early is months in advance, especially during the high season)

Keep on exploring!

John

*John is one of our guest bloggers from Nijverdal. He’s a guy from the Country with a desire to travel, a passion for sports and a love for food. “Never try, Never know!” Follow him on Instagram!

For more Tips & Recommendations for the Philippines check out the ​previous posts:

 

Why you should visit Ko Lanta

It’s been almost 4 years but I’m still dreaming of this place. Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta is an island Southwest of Krabi, Thailand. 
Young backpacker tribes mainly choose islands like Phuket, Ko Phi Phi or the busy east-side islands like Ko Phangan or Ko Tao.

Koh-Lanta-map
Koh Lanta is the kind of island you will deliberately choose instead of just ending up there by mistake. From Ko Phi Phi it’s about a 2 hour boat trip and will cost about 400 bath. It’s also a gateway to tropical island Koh Lipe. You can book your ferry tickets hereWhen you arrive, there will be enough taxi’s and jeeps waiting in line to take you to your nearest accommodation.

Ko Lanta, Thailand

If you choose Koh Lanta, you know you chose a getaway 

When I arrived, I didn’t come prepared at all. No need to panic on Ko Lanta though. I met a man in Pai and he told me to get in touch with his Thai friend who apparently looked like a Thai version of Jack Sparrow. He didn’t lie. I arrived at long beach and a short Thai Jack Sparrow type man with dreads, walked over and offered to carry my backpack. He arranged some cheap, yet comfortable accommodation for me and I ordered the most delicious prawns at his bar/restaurant called The Pirate Bar. (no, I didn’t make this up)

Schermopname (23)
THE Thai Jack Sparrow look-alike

IMG_5977
Fresh out of the sea, yummie!

The vibe on Ko Lanta is super chill, layed back and it’s the island in Thailand I felt my happiest. I only had 3 days which was a shame. I could have stayed here for much longer. Lucky enough I made some new friends on the day that I arrived. A Dutch couple, an American guy (who traveled around Asia on a dirt bike) and 2 German backpackers. We ended up drinking beers and cocktails until the sun set and watched a fire show (by this time I had seen too many though) after that we made our way to a beach party which I loved!

Now, bare in mind, Ko Lanta is no party island. But if you’re there during the weekend, you will find a few organized parties on the beach and nearby bars. If you don’t rent a scooter like I did, you need to share your tuk-tuk with fellow travelers.

Schermopname (24)
Chillin’ at Long Beach

The island is only 30km long and about 18km wide but without a scooter or quad-bike, you will make it difficult for yourself to travel around.
Ko Lanta consists of several islands, the two largest of which are Ko Lanta Noi (“Small Lanta Island”) and Ko Lanta Yai  (“Big Lanta Island”). Ko Lanta Yai is where it all happens so you will find most tourist here. Saying that, it never feels overcrowded and even though it was almost Christmas, I felt like it was an island I could completely relax on.

DSC00218
Panoramic view whilst road trippin in Ko Lanta. On the left are gumtrees.

When you start to explore Ko Lanta you have a few highlights you shouldn’t miss:
» Long Beach
I loved this beach. You have so many nice small restaurants and bars where you can chill and drink coconuts all day. Best for sunsets! 
This is also great for accommodation if you’re looking for peace and quiet.
» Ko Lanta Old town
Go back in time and visit old town where the old harbor use to be. Situated right next to the sea, this spooky town has charming features, shops and restaurants.

» Four Islands
If you have the time, visit the small four islands on a day tour. Go snorkeling, have a picnick and check out emerald cave.

» The south beaches
Drive all the way down to the southern part of the island and explore some of the hidden and beautiful beaches. 

» Visit the National Park
Look out for monkeys trying to steal your food. Entrance fee is about 200 THB or free if you arrive late (closes at 6pm)

DSC00229
Finding a secret beach was no problem (Cape Tanod)

relax on Ko Lanta, Thailand
My own private island! (just ignore the man in the background)

Where should you stay?
Depending on what your needs are, you could stay anywhere really. For the more lively area’s you should stay along side Klong Dao Beach. Here you will find plenty of bars/restaurants and facilities nearby. Long Beach is where I stayed and I highly recommend it although spending more than a week there might be a bit boring at night. Another chilled area is alongside Klong Nin Beach where you will find reggae bars, coffee houses, simple accommodation and luxury resorts.

If you go to Thailand and you haven’t made up your mind yet where you want to go..? Make sure you don’t skip Ko Lanta!

More on Thailand? Check below!

Love,

Elke