What to do in Kuching, Borneo

Borneo is one of the favorite destinations of many travelers who visit Malaysia. I totally agree! I’ve been to many places in Asia, but Borneo will always have a special place in my heart. From food, friendly local people to music, nightlife, culture, wildlife and jungle – Kuching has a lot more to offer than many other countries in Asia.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear the sounds of the sea and the splashing waves, read a book under palm trees, relax and then jump into a swimming pool, but after a week I’m craving for some adventure. Kuching, and Borneo for that matter, has something for everyone!

When I decided to stay in Kuching for 3 days, the the owner of my hostel convinced me to stay at least 5 days since there’s so much more to discover than jungle/wildlife only. He was totally right! I eventually stayed for almost 1 week. I’ve spent four days outside the city and three days inside the city of Kuching. You probably won’t expect it – neither did I – but Kuching has a lot of trendy restaurants where they serve top notch food and wines and cafes that come alive at night where locals play the guitar and sing oldies like the Beatles. Definitely my cup of tea:)

Let me take you along a journey you will never forget!

The city of Kuching

Kuching is the Capital of the Sararawak province. The city is well know for it’s style, culture and natural habitat. It might be a small city but it it’s big in it’s venues. You will see statues of cats everywhere – the city’s name is derived from the Malay word for cat — Kucing. A bit weird in the beginning but you will get used to it. It’s a vibrant and dynamic city with beautiful new and historic buildings with impressive architecture. The locals are very friendly and warm, you feel at home right away.

FullSizeRender(3)

Cruise along the majestic Sarawak River

Explore the city by boat along the Sarawak River. The Sarawak River, separating the north and the south called, is the best way to view the city. Relax and take a moment to see the city from another angle. Normally you will pay around RM60 (13 euros) per person when you do a tour via an agency where you share a big boat with at least 15 people. Tip » I took a small taxi boat where the locals travel with. A lot cheaper – RM 30 (6 euro) for two people – you will get a lot more inside info and you will have the boat all for yourself! You will have to negotiate, but my trip took 1.5 hours and the local guy I had was so lovely. Take a breath and enjoy the calm river while sipping a cold refreshing beer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Walk along the waterfront

Kuching’s Waterfront Boulevard is great for a walk during the whole day. During the day you see the daily activity on the river where local people using the small ferry boats to travel to and from their homes across the river. There are food with beverages and snacks to eat as you stroll along. In the afternoon/beginning of the evening when the sun sets you will enjoy the beautiful view of the waterfront where locals preform almost every night. There’s not only a harmonious vibe on the streets but also in different bars and restaurants!

FullSizeRender(2)

Visit China Town

Kuching’s Chinatown is Carpenter Street, marked on its western end by the large Chinese gate officially called the “Harmony Arch”. While there are a few guest houses and lots of restaurants along the road, the area is not very ‘touristy’ at all. Somewhat surprisingly, Carpenter Street still has a few carpenter shops, along with bicycle shops, printers and other small businesses.

DRINKS | Drunk Monkey Old street Bar
Drunk Monkey Old Street Bar brings a taste of the urban hipster scene to Kuching. Nice ambiance, great beers and music.
TIP! Check out the other side of the bar/terrace – Beautiful street art!

FOOD | Saigon Fusion
If you’re hungry you should definitely check out the authentic Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Fusion. Try the PORK PHO, amazing! The owner Allan Goh know how to surprise people with his excellent food and service!
You can also ask the staff of Drunk Monkey Old Street Bar for the food menu, they can get the order for you from this amazing Vietnamese restaurant. 

FullSizeRender(5)

FullSizeRender(4)

FullSizeRender

Check out the Street Art in Kuching

Next to the open air market and India street you will see beautiful street art of the talented Lithuanian painter Ernest Zacharovic, famous for his interactive street art in different countries. This was the first time that I’ve ever heard of him and immediately I became a huge fan. He brings his street art to life and interact with local people by letting them participating in his work. His work is widely shared on social media and I understand why!
More of him to come in my next blogpost about George town Penang, Malaysia, where I have seen a lot more of this impressive work.

Ernest Zacharevic

Ernest Zacharevic

5. Hip Hang outs
Kuching is a hip and happening place. I never expected Kuching to be so trendy, but it is!
Kuching has a great bar and restaurant scene, where many

DRINKS & FOOD | The Barber
Before an old barber shop with mirrors and barber chairs, became a trendy and chic venue to dine and have cocktails. They serve American style food, like burgers.

IMG_2765 IMG_2767

FOOD & DRINKS | The Junk
After a jungle trekking and some street food dinner we wanted to have a few drinks before going to bed. We found this place – a few doors away from The Barber – The Junk. It’s quit a unique and impressive place, it’s divided into 4 areas which named as Backstage, Red room, Junk bar and restaurant area. Every room is different and if full with great decor pieces like red lanterns. At night this restaurant turn into one of the hottest clubs in town! Oh what a night…

IMG_2771 IMG_2775

I hope I have inspired you a bit… More of Malaysia and Borneo down here!

Love,

Sarah

Where to stay in Pai, Thailand

Ok, so you’ve arrived into Pai. (If you want to know how, check this article about getting to Pai) After hours on a motorcycle or sitting in a van, it’s time to look for a bed to rest your head. Pai is not very big but there is lot’s of accommodation that you can choose from.

Sure it’s hostel galore here but there are also some pretty amazing luxury resorts around. Most resorts are a little further out of town but the the nice walk is worth it.

pai-city
The map of Pai city

Where I stayed

When I was traveling to Pai, I travelled alone so I was happy that I received a recommendation from a friend as I wouldn’t know where to start searching! I ended up staying at Jan’s GuesthouseIt’s a fairly simple budget hostel but the bungalows are equipped with a bathroom,tv and I had my own porch. It’s tucked away in a quiet side street so its perfect for relaxing but it’s also very close to the main district of Pai. (3 min walk)
You can sit in the nice garden where, if you are lucky, you can find the signal for free wifi. (whoopwhoop!) It will cost you about 250 bath per night which is about 7 euro’s. (I know right?!) Make sure that you are packing something warm, because Pai can get very cold at night. (I was freezing!)

DSC00169
Panoramic view over the Pai river, where you can find many budget hostels

Other options in Pai

Walking around Pai, you come across many hostels and resorts. All top recommended resorts include Montis Resort, Phu Pai Art Resort and Pai Hotspring Resort and Spa. My favourite resort has to be the Oia Resort & Spa. I discovered this place when I was on a stroll towards the white Buddha. I simply walked in and ordered a glass of water and I just sat there for an hour staring at the beauty of this place.. Overlooking the mountains, the resort is fairly new and cost about 100 euro’s per night if you go for the room with the best view. It’s expensive if you’re a backpacker, but ey, you can always walk in and ask for a glass of water like I did 😉

Where to stay in Pai, Thailand
The amazing Oia resort in Pai

For best value for money accommodation, check these out:

» Baan Pai Riverside Sleep in cute bamboo huts on the Pai river bank where you are bound to relax. 600-800 bath.
» Rim Pai Cottage Great for couples! Clean, comfy rooms and breakfast is included from Oct. until Feb. Available from 400 bath.
» Darling view point resort Gorgeous views overlooking the river & mountains with a restaurant, swimming pool, and hot showers. 400-500 bath.
» Spicypai Backpackers This place is well known for the great atmosfeer rather than the comfy beds but nothing beats making new friends! 150 bath for a dorm.

 b8d924e834c96a21224da170b6a09946
The infamous Spicypai Backpackers Hostel in Pai

So wherever you might stay when getting to Pai, it’s bound to be fun, relaxing and special. Let me know if you’re heading up there!

Looking for an island that looks like paradise? Check out our free Koh Lipe Guide 2020!

Love,

Elke

THE BEST OF BORNEO, MALAYSIA

Borneo is third largest island on earth, a tropical paradise with crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, the oldest and most bio-diverse rain forest, impressive wildlife and an abundance of natural wonders. back to.

If you plan to visit Malaysia, then Borneo should be on your travel list!

Tips before you visit Borneo:

» Book your domestic flights ahead as far as possible. Often tickets will be cheaper than traveling by bus and it saves you a lot of time.
» Air Asia & Malindo Air are your best friend. They offer low fares online across Asia. Make sure to bring your credit card, the only other option you have is to book a flight at one of their shops.
» Ask the locals for help! Generally, they speak English very well and they like to help. It saved me a lot of time and money!
» You will find the best food on the street food markets in Sabah Borneo
» I made the mistake by not setting my bankcard to International before I left

Borneo island, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu

I took a 2.25 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (KK) with Malindo Air. KK is the capital of Borneo and a part of the Sabah province. I decided to stay just for a few days because I wanted to have enough time to explore Kuching and it’s nearby jungles. Perhaps you may think Kota Kinabalu isn’t as vibrant or diverse like Kuching, but it is still worth visiting for a couple of days.

Most travellers who come to KK don’t come here for the city itself but to travel further into Saba to the numerous idyllic islands, jungles and other various nature sites in the area, but if you do want to spend some time in KK, you should definitely pass by the Filipino night market. This famous food court in Borneo located at Jalan Kampung Air is open from 5PM until the last paying customer is ready to leave. Over here you will find a diversity of a culinary mix of food dishes from South East Asia.

Man in Borneo

Another thing you should do is snorkeling in KK, simple, easy, affordable (like these destinations) and a fun activity. It’s easy to arrange a snorkeling trip via an agency, but if you want to save money you need to take the local bus to the jetty at Jesselton Point and book your trip over there. You will find various tour operators inside who can bring you to one of the 5 islands for about RM100 and RM200.

Borneo has a typical equatorial climate with sunshine all year round!

Kota Kinabalu
Jesselton Point

Manukan island

If you ever wondered what heaven looks like? This is the closest you will get! Near Kota Kinabalu, just a 15 min boat ride, you will find a place that is a wonderful treat to nature and adventure lovers, talking about Manakan. It’s one of the five tropical islands  – Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sulug and Pulau Mamutikis – of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP) and the second largest of all 5 islands. TARP is full with colorful fish, crystal clear waters, idyllic beaches and a turquoise sea. Plenty of tourists come here for the underwater activities, so it can be a bit crowded but still Manakan is the best island for diving and snorkeling.

Borneo Turtle

Extra Tips:

» Don’t forget to go up hill for a great walk in the jungle. After 1.5km you will see some of the best views.
» You need to buy a ticket for about RM40 when you arrive to enter the island
» T
he last boat will head back to KK at 4PM

PulauManukan
Snorkling at Manukan island

Love,

Sarah

Check out our full Kuala Lumpur Guide!

Aloft Kuala Lumpur

TRAVELLING TO PAI, THAILAND | ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ok, where do I start.. This place is very special for the both of us. Pai is a small hippie town tucked away in the most northern part of Thailand. Once you get there, you don’t want to leave. 

But travelling to Pai is a small adventure on its own. Taking in account, Pai is not a Thai tropical island, but a mountain village so the scenery is completely different than anywhere else in Thailand. In this article I will talk about the means of transportation and the costs.

How to get to Pai

First of all, you need to travel to Chiang Mai, the largest city of Northern Thailand. I advise you to stay in Chiang Mai for a couple of days so you can get used to the climate difference depending on where you’ve started your trip. After all, you are in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Depending on where you’re staying, you can often book your trip to Pai via the hostel or hotel you’re staying in. If not, make sure you book an air-conditioned minibus because it’s a long drive. Another option would be by motorcycle or scooter. A lot of people do this because the scenery along the way is pretty amazing. The downside of this option is that there is only one gas station along the way and the road has quite a few bumps so it’s not the safest option. But traveling is all about risks right? 😉

getting to Pai

Scooter or Minivan?

I recommend you to hire your scooter here. This company is well known and you can leave rent your scooter in Chiang Mai and leave it in Pai if you like. When I traveled through Thailand, I was alone and without a licence so I didn’t want to take the risk. So I took the minibus. The trip takes about 3 hours and you have one stop to use the toilet and to buy a drink. (don’t expect a fancy toilet, and don’t look back is my advice) You will notice that the landscape will change the more you drive away from Chiang Mai and up the mountain.

DSC03771 copy

Tip » is to take a carsickness tablet because the road doesn’t have many straight paths!

Along the way I saw a lot of people selling warm colourful hats, which I love, but didn’t quite understand.. This became clear to me later (it get’s freezing at night!). When you finally arrive, it feels like you’ve entered a new world. The van will drop you off in the main street where you will see cute shops and bars on each side. The air is clean and the valley in the distance is amazing. Welcome hippy town!

DSC00187

IMG_5792
Sipping on herbal tea in Pai

Cost to get to Pai, Thailand?

» By minivan: from 150 bath (one way)
» By Scooter: From 100 bath per day inclusive of insurance (yes, it’s that cheap!)

Love,

Elke

Do you want to know where to stay in Pai? Check it here!
IMG_5774

THE AMMAN GUIDE 2020 | JORDAN

“Welcome to Jordan”, is a phrase you will hear time and time again in this majestic land from the locals who are delighted to have visitors in their country.

From the moment you step off your flight and arrive in Jordan’s capital Amman, you’ll be impressed with the best of the Middle East this 2020.

Where to stay in Amman

There’s only one place to head to as soon as you arrive in frantic Amman and that’s the city’s 4th tallest building, otherwise known as the W Hotel. At a striking 150m high, it is a towering spectacle within Amman’s skyline. When you enter you are immediately blown away at the interior. It features a canyon – designed in homage to the country’s most famous archaeological site, Petra. The W Hotel is somewhere you want to wake up again and again. The 240 rooms are contemporary in look and feel, yet bring local characteristics through colours and textures.

W Hotel Entrance, Amman
Entrance of W Hotel Amman

Hotel bedroom Amman

Take time to explore the hotel in full: you’ll have a luxury spa to visit (we recommend the reflexology and full body massages). Aswell as a gym and not to mention the picturesque roof top poor which delivers quite a luxe experience. The rest of the hotel offers a Living Room area for guests to chill and read many of their impressive coffee table books while enjoying a cocktail. After dark the area becomes one of the best bars in the city with a who’s who of Amman flocking to be seen alongside an international array of guests. Book your stay here.

W Hotel Rooftop Pool

Jordan is one of the most progressive and modern countries in the Middle East and it’s also one of the safest. Woman have equal rights to men and the royal family have a huge influence on their people by championing education.

What to do in Amman

If you can tear yourself away from the W Hotel to marvel at the sights of Amman there’s plenty to do! (Though don’t get us wrong – the best of Jordan lies outside of the capital). Amman was built on seven hills so be sure to wear your most comfortable walking shoes as they’ll be putting in the hard work. The hustle and bustle of the capital city is sure to inspire and delight..

City of Amman, Jordan

Plan a morning exploring the Citadel which sits on the highest mountain in the city so provides the best point for getting your bearings. Built during the Bronze Age, the site was destroyed by an earthquake in 749AD and never rebuilt yet it’ll leave you with a sense of a time gone by. The scale of the columns still standing provide insight into how magnificent the site once was. From here you’ll be able to see the Roman Theatre which provides a 7,000 seater stadium. You can buy tickets to music and theatre performances.

Amman Citadel
The city’s Citadel

Theatre Amman, Jordan

Rainbow Street acts as a central hub of restaurants, bars and coffee shops which cater for tourists and locals alike. If you want to eat like a king you’re best to set off for Hashems which has hosted royalty here since it opened in 1953. This legendary eatery is famed for its falafel and hummus! You can order a classic lunch meal for around 3JD and be sure to sip their mint tea too. 

Amman City, Jordan

Culture

After you’ve refuelled with falafel, the Jordan Museum is not to be missed. Built in 2014, this is a modern building in the centre of the city. Its home to some of the most incredible ancient treasure in the land. The experience here is entertaining, informative and like no other. You’ll first be guided around the Jordan exhibition which tells the rich history of this nation. Illustrating the countries impact and evolution within the surrounding Middle East. The space also holds the oldest-known human statues. But it’s what lies at the very end which is why this stop is firmly on our must-do list: the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed here. These biblical manuscripts are one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century! When in 1946 a Shepard stubbed across them in a cave near to the Dead Sea. They give great historical, religious significance from the era when they were written from around 300BC.

Roman Theatre, Amman

The last cultural stop on your Amman to-see list should be the vast King Abdullah Mosque. This blue-domed landmark is open to worshipers as well as non-Muslin visitors. (But only during certain hours and if you’re a female you’ll be asked to wear a abayas. Standing as a some-what timeless looking building, over 7,000 people come on a daily basis to pay their respects. It’s a peaceful and reflective experience – while the outside is covered in decorative mosaic tiles.

King Abdullah Mosque, Amman

Where to Eat in Amman:

  • Wild Jordan Cafe (good for a a healthy lunch)
  • Shams el Balad (an outdoor hipster hangout with the most delicious beetroot hummus)
  • Levant (great for dinner – order everything on the menu, nothing will disappoint)
  • Primal (for anyone following a Paleo diet)
  • Sufra (a Rainbow Street must-visit)

Good to know ahead of visiting Jordan:

  • Buy the Jordan Pass for £75. This includes your tourist visa as well as entry fees for the likes of the Citadel in Amman as well as Petra and the Dead Sea.
  • There are 9 million people who live in the country, while only 8 years ago there were 6 million. The sudden rise of inhabitants is due to the influx of refugees coming in from their neighbouring countries. 4.5 million people live in the capital city Amman.
  • Weekends in Jordan fall on a Friday and Saturday, so it’s likely that shops, some attractions and restaurants may be shut on a Saturday.
  • Smoking is allowed indoors, so don’t be surprised when people light up in hotels, restaurants and shops.
  • All hotels have their own airport-like security in the entrance meaning that your suitcase and day bag will need to go through the x-ray scanners every time you enter the building.
  • Uber is currently available in Jordan, however they can’t pick up from the airport. If you’ve not arranged airport transfers via your hotel, you’re best to use a licensed cab when you land and be sure to tip the porter.

In short, before you head into the rest of Jordan, Amman is a worthy stop for a few days!

Love,

Stephanie

AN AQUARIUM RESTAURANT JUST OPENED ON BALI!

For years, Bali has been innovative when it comes to trendy restaurants that attracts travellers from all over the world. But no one has ever opened this kind of restaurant.

The Apurva Kempinski Hotel on Bali is one of the most luxurious hotels on the island and has recently opened their restaurant Koral, set next and under an aquarium. 

Girl in aquarium restaurant
Aquarium Restaurant done well. Photo by Heydi Paramitha, via Tripvanvas

As a result, dining has never been the same!

Even more, they serve delicious seafood and grilled specialities with local ingredients and Bali flavours, in an unforgettable setting. 

So, when are you booking a table

Are you curious about this hotel? Check our stay in Kempinski Doha!

Love,

Wander-Lust

3 X TOP PLACES IN LAOS

Located cozily in between Thailand, Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam, Laos is often one of the South East Asian countries that’s left un-visited when traveling this to part of the world. And that’s a shame, because Laos is a true gem and one of the cheapest countries to travel in.

 If you are a first time visitor to Laos, these are definitely my top three places for visiting!

Been there, Don Det

Don Det is a small island located in the south of Laos, close to the Cambodian border. The island is well-known for its beautiful scenery and relaxed hippy vibe. Staying in one of the bungalows on the island means going back 2 basic with cold showers and toilets that can only be flushed with a bucket. Straightaway, you will feel the relaxed vibe on this island which is very contagious. Soon you’ll be unwinding in a hammock with a fruit shake in your hand. For those who find it hard to sit still cheap bikes can be rented all over the island to go for a ride and explore the breathtaking waterfalls.

Don Det Waterfalls

Don Det, Laos
Don Det

Soaring through the jungle in Laos with the Gibbon Experience

If you’re up for a little more action after being completely rejuvenated at Don Det travel all the way north to go on The Gibbon Experience. Sleeping in the worlds highest tree houses, flying through the jungle of Laos on a zipper-line. Furthermore, you can hike through beautiful woods while contributing to preserving everything that surrounds you. That’s the Gibbon Experience. Of all my travels this is by far one of the most amazing things I’ve done. Make sure you make a booking in advance as the Gibbon Experience is often fully booked.

Gibbon, Laos

Oui oui, Luang Prabang

From Luang Prabang you can get on the night bus to the Gibbon Experience. It goes without saying that Luang Prabang is a town where French influences decorate this charming town everywhere. You can walk through Luang Prabangs enchanting streets or visit one of the many temples. About 40 minutes from Luang Prabang you will stumble upon the Kuang Si Waterfalls which are so greenish blue that you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Take a swim in these (cold!!) waterfalls or simply walk around and enjoy the surroundings. When you get back to Luang Prabang pay a visit to the market where delicious baguettes and fresh fruit shakes are sold for just under €1,50.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos

Next to these three highlights Laos has so much more to offer like visiting the Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng or strolling around its capital Vientiane.

Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng, Laos

Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane, Laos

Ultimately, I hope you’ll have a wonderful time in this partly undiscovered little piece of Southeast Asian heaven 🙂

Love,

Evelien

How to avoid the crowds at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is undoubtedly Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. And this is no surprise since the lost city is the biggest religious monument in the world which dates back to the early twelfth century.

These days almost 5 million tourists yearly make their way over to Cambodia to wander around the temples of Angkor Wat themselves, making it a very popular but very busy place to visit. You better think again if you ever dream of having these Asian temples all to yourself, but there are a few tricks to avoid the big crowds and wander around in peace…

1. Watch the sunrise and leave a little early

Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a definite must-do when you’re visiting these temples. Not only is it a truly magical experience when a new day presents itself by rising up against the temples, but it is also a great way to arrive at the temples early. If you want to have a good spot without hundreds of iPad and Selfiestick waving Chinese tourists in front of you, walk right instead of going straight ahead at the famous ‘sunrise temple spot’. You won’t be right in front of the temples, but you will share the view with just a dozen of other tourists. When the sun is up and you captured enough Instagram-worthy shots, head back to your Tuk Tuk driver before everybody else does. Doing this you’ll arrive at the other temples as one of the first, having the temples (almost) all to yourself 🙂

Beat the crowd at Ankor Wat
The most impressive temple of Cambodia, but very busy

2. The further away, the better!

Firstly, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to the popular temples that are further away first. Many Tuk Tuk’s and tour buses follow a certain route, creating the perfect opportunity for you to do the exact opposite thing 🙂 Also, if you see tons of big tour buses standing outside of a temple, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to take you to another temple which appears to be less crowded first. Clever thinking!

no crowds at ankor-wat

3. Go back at the end of the day

Wandering around the temples of Angkor is extremely beautiful, but also extremely tiring and HOT! If you decided to watch the sunrise you will probably feel very tired around 12pm, making you want to go home and take a nap during the hottest hours of the day. If you buy a one-day-pass this pass is valid for a whole day, so you can come back to the temples in the late afternoon, when most of the crowds already have disappeared. Make sure you don’t go too late as Angkor Wat closes at 6pm.

Ankor Wat Cambodia

I hope the three tips above will help you explore the ancient Ankor Wat in peace and quiet. Enjoy 🙂

Love,

Evelien

Did you know Cambodia is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in? Check which countries made it to the top 5!

WX191DV28C

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 2020 | 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