THE BEST OF DOHA, QATAR

Doha is considered the pearl of the middle east that set itself on the map after being elected for the 2022 World Cup. Time to find out why it’s good to travel to Doha now, before it’s becoming the next Dubai.

The city of Doha has many amazing sky scrapers, entertainment, shopping, glitch and glamour, yet it still offers an authentic culture and history. We were invited by Qatar Airways to see the best of Doha.

HOW TO GET THERE

Given that Qatar Airways is officially the best airline in the world, I was happy to fly with them for the first time. Luckily, I was upgraded into their QSuite (O Em Gee), which has been voted as the best business class by the Yearly World Airlines Awards, the oscars of aviation. For someone with a fear of flying, this was the most relaxing flight I had ever experienced. A direct flight to Doha takes about 6 hours, so that’s pretty reasonable. Qatar Airways for that matter, is offering Doha as a stopover, which you can add to your booking. As a matter of fact, if you fly with QR, you can get a discount on hotel prices. 4-star hotels are available for as little as 23USD! Nice to know: Qatar Airways offers all passengers 1 hour free wifi!


Business Class Qatar Airways
Enjoying the QSuite

THE STORY ABOUT QATAR & DOHA

First thing to remember is that Qatar is a reasonably small country which makes it fairly easy to travel around if you want to. You can actually drive from North to South Qatar in approximately 3 hours. As you may have heard, Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world due to their gas & oil, but it wasn’t always like this. For centuries, pearl harvesting used to be the main source of income for Qatari people. But due to the great depression and competition, pearls lost their value and the country needed to find other ways to earn a living. The pearl however, remains an important symbol of Qatar until this day.

Baskets at Souq Waqif

Doha on the other hand, is only 40 years old, which explains the modern vibe and ongoing construction. People often compare it to Dubai, but the people who live here, find Doha to be very different. For one, Dubai is all about entertainment, luxury and shopping. While Doha is certainly up there when it comes to luxury hotels, restaurants and bars, but also offers culture, sports and traditions.

GOOD TO KNOW

The best time to visit Doha is from October until the end of April. It must be remembered that the weather is undoubtedly less hot during those months with temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees. While this still seems quite warm, during summer period it can get up to 50ºC! It also has to be considered that Qatar is a muslim country, so dress accordingly. This means long dresses or trousers and try to cover your upper arms. On the contrary, you can wear pretty much whatever you want in most hotels. Alcohol is not served in public spaces, but only inside some restaurants and bars. That being said, I never heard a police siren while I was there, something I haven’t experienced in a city before.

Skyline

WHERE TO STAY

In general, there is enough choice when it comes to accommodation in Doha. For the most part, there are many big hotels, but the city also offers boutique style hotels and homestays. The best place to stay in Doha is in the West Bay area. Here you are near the airport, museums, and Souq Waqif. During my three-day trip I stayed in the following hotels.

  • Mandarin Oriental

    Brand new in Doha so modern and stylish. The rooms are truly exquisite and spacious. The hotel has an outdoor pool, 3 restaurants and a spa. Their latest gastronomic addition is Mosaic, an international kitchen with an Arabic twist. The location of the hotel is recently build, so taxi drivers may not find it that easily. On the positive side, Mandarin Oriental is located at walking distance of Souq Waqif!

Hotel pool

  • Marsa Malaz Kempinski

    In contrast to the Mandarin Oriental, Kempinski is more classical and larger. The entrance is quite impressive and the hotel offers a large pool area and a beach. They have a very cool must visit rooftop bar named Secret Garden and club that is only accessible via the parking lot. Bare in mind that the dresscode is smart/casual and visitors must bring their passports. Ask the reception for all the details.

Hotel bed

Kempinski Hotel Doha

The above mentioned hotels are both amazing but understandably not for every budget, so you are best to compare the best rated hotels online.

WHERE TO EAT

Luckily, Doha offers a wide range of cuisines and flavours. Even vegetarians have plenty of options! Here is a list of some must try restaurants.

  • Al Mourjan Restaurant offers some of the best Lebanese food in Doha. From the outside terrace you have an amazing view. Try the lemon/mint juice, amazing!
  • Nobu Doha is famous for sushi, but the same goes for their good service. The Japanese chefs welcome every new customer with a traditional greeting while working their magic behind the counter. Upstairs you can enjoy a drink at the bar, which overlooks part of Doha’s skyline. Nobu is part of the Four Seasons Hotel, due to open in early 2020.

Mezza in Doha

  • Apparently, Spicemarket is the best rated Asian restaurant in Doha. The restaurant which is located in the W-hotel, takes you on a journey across South East Asia and brings the authentic flavours to the table.
  • If you are a brunch person, go to Arc Brunch Eatery! Apparently they serve a killer coconut latte.
  • As previously mentioned, Mosaic is the newest restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel. They offer a variety of Arabic food with a twist!
  • Spots like Soul Bowl and Evergreen Organics are made for those that crave something healthy and vegan. Plus both locations look cute!

Mosiac

Nice to know: Little did I know, but coffee is a thing in Doha! You’ll find many trendy coffee bars around the city and our favourites café’s are Flat White, Cue Café, Fleurs at Café, 20 Grams Coffee Bar, MIA Café and Tea Garden.

Coffee bar Doha
Cue café, in the Pearl (source)

CULTURE & TRADITIONS

You may not expect it, but Doha is full of culture and traditions. For example, the falcon, Qatars symbol and bird, is still as important as centuries ago. Some falcons even travel first class with their owners! At Souq Waqif you can find a falcon market where the birds are sold and traded. There is even a falcon hospital to keep them in good shape. The traditional Souq itself is also worth a visit. During the evening it gets more crowded but if you come between 7:30 – 12:00, you can take photo’s without hardly any people. They sell everything from handmade baskets, colourful carpets, spices, sweets and tools. The souq is also the best place for traditionally Arabic food, but you can also find Indian, Lebanese and Iranian food here.

Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif during the day

Doha Falcon

Museums

I never expected to find the best museum I have ever visited in Doha, but I did. The National Museum of Qatar is truly impressive. The design – inspired by a desert rose, is incredible. But once inside, NMOQ is curated beautifully. It takes you through the ancient times, including the amazing displays of  different species that live in Qatar. How pearls came and went, war and traditions. Not to mention that kids will love the interactive and playful set ups, while adults enjoy the beautiful indoor architecture and information.

NMOQ in Doha
The stunning National Museum of Qatar

But this is not the only museum Doha has on offer. MIA (Museum of Islamic Art) is also one of the city’s pride and joy. The building portraits a Qatari woman wearing a bourqa. From here you have a stunning view of Doha’s skyline. If you like modern art, check out Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art. With new exhibitions each month, Doha also has many galleries. Find out more here.

MIA Museum in Doha
MIA Museum

THINGS TO DO IN DOHA

Equally important are the activities Doha has on offer. A unique selling point has to be the desert with one of the world’s natural wonders; the inland sea. Next to Namibia, Qatar is the only place on earth where the sea reaches the desert. You can book several tours that will take you dune bashing. If you come in the beginning or end of the month, the sea will reach the sand dunes completely, otherwise the sight of it may be a bit disappointing.

Desert Qatar
Me, in the desert. Photo by Roel van der Krabben

Desert and sea
Camels standing at the inland sea

Visit Banana Island

Besides the thrilling desert of Qatar, you can also spend an afternoon at the luxurious Banana Island Resort. From Doha City you can take a ferry in just 35 minutes that will take you to the man-build island. There are a few restaurants, pools and beach area for visitors to enjoy the day. If you want to stay the night, you need to bring your credit card, because it ain’t cheap! Even so, it’s perfect for honeymooners or to escape the city.

Banana Island entrace
The entrance of Banana Island Resort

Katara Cultural Village

What’s more, a whole village was build to bring different cultures together through art and creativity. There are shops, restaurants, theatre, exhibition area’s and festive events. Doha is full of expats and they love to come here to listen to familiar sounds and meet friends. There is also a stunning mosque which was designed by a woman, which is quite special.

Mosque
The Mosque at Cultural Village

MY VERDICT

Having experienced Doha for a few days, and can say that it’s the perfect city for a stopover before heading home or continuing your trip. With this intention you can truly enjoy the best of Doha. In short, the capital of Qatar can be quite expensive indeed, but if you if you want, you can go all out here and treat yourself to great food, sunshine, glitch and glamour. Hop from hotel bar to beautiful restaurants or experience rich culture the sand dunes and meet some of the nicest people as a bonus, both expats and locals.

And remember that Dubai once started out as Doha. Quietly and full ambition. I think it’s time to visit this relatively unknown destination and enjoy it before it becomes a place where you’ll become just another tourist.

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

 

The adventurous South Island of New Zealand

As the ultimate New Zealand ambassador (seriously, if the immigration laws weren’t so impossible, I would already live there) I would highly recommend to visit every part of this beautiful country. But I also know that you need at least two months to fully explore every corner. 

Reality is that a lot of (short-term) travellers have to be selective on where to go and pick the South-Island of New Zealand as their go-to destination. With reason, it’s a dream to drive the long roads, stare at the ridiculously gorgeous and ever-changing scenery, wander through the cozy towns and have fun with the hilarious, straightforward locals. Next to all this beauty, there are also a ton of opportunities to have some adventure. I’ll let you in on some of the ones I experienced.

Oh and by the way, if you are going to travel the whole country (you lucky bastard), make sure to check out our insights on the Stunning North Island as well!

The North Island of New Zealand
The North Island of New Zealand

Pick Picton

Easily overlooked by many, little port town Picton (where the ferry from the North Island arrives) is worth to stay for a few days. Where the town is small, the nature is grand! the maze of the Marlborough Sounds with its valley’s, peaks, beaches, birds and crystal clear waters just scream for some exploring. Be prepared to feel really small when walking (pieces of) the Queen Charlotte trail. If you are not a hiker, there are also plenty of kayak and bike tours, as long or short as you like. Also, if you’re into sailing, make sure to ask around in town if the local sailing club still has training nights and if you are allowed to join. It’s what we did and it resulted in an epic afternoon of high speed sailing on an amazing sailboat, sarcastic jokes and home-brewed rum by the crew included. 

The seals of Abel Tasman

Of course you are going to visit Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches, lush nature, secret waterfalls, they have it all here. Whatever you have planned for this park, make sure to add some kayaking even if it is just for a few hours. It’s paddling on open sea and therefore pretty damn exhausting, but you’ll forget about that when you look around you. The occasional seal will lazily float by your canoe, enjoying the sun as much as you’ll do. I did a two day tour, with one day of kayaking to a campsite (the tour agencies will provide you with a fully stocked kayak, tent included) and walking back to following day. This really was a magical two days, bonfires included!

south-island of new-zealand abel-tasman-park_kayaking
Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

new-zealand_south-island_abel-tasman-park_anchorage_kayaking

Roadtrip

If you have been doubting whether to hire a car to get around or just take the easy way and buy a buss pass: hire a car!! This coming from me (the most scared car driver alive) says something. The South Island offers not so many roads, and they are also not that busy. As a matter of fact, they are breathtaking. And at some parts also quite adventurous, with mountain passes, hairpin bends, cliffs, no gas stations for miles and of course driving on the left side. Having your own car gives you the opportunity to really wander off the main roads, stop to gaze at your surroundings wherever and whenever you want, travel at your own pace. Trust me, take the car. Car rental Picton (you can rent the car her, and drop it off in several other cities, Christchurch for instance.

new-zealand_south-island_roadtrip_crystal-clear

Adventure capital of the world

The true thrill seekers will know this: Queenstown is the place to be if you are looking for adventure (and for a scandalous pub-crawl). This town does, In my honest opinion, no real justice to the rest of the country since it pulls in a lot of tourists who just want to get hammered. Also, it’s the best place to book a trip to Milford Sound, a mystical fjord which seems to come straight out of a movie (remember that movie with elves, a ring and some bad orcs 😉 ). From jet boating to luging to bungee jumping, make sure to save some of your money to engage in at least one of the adventures on offer. You have multiple bungee sites to choose from.

The Nevis bungee let’s you fall ‘ only’ 180 meters, The Ledge offers cool views on Queenstown (but not sure if you’ll be aware of that if you are about to make a free fall with nothing but a rope around your ankles). Eventually, I decided to do the the Kawarau Bridge jump, since this is the first commercial bungee site in the world and my inner nostalgia bubbled up because of this. Imagine jumping off an old bridge, in the middle of a gorge, dipping into turquoise water. Yes, I was scared, I screamed, I was terrified. And I would do it again any day.

new-zealand_south-island_queenstown
Queenstown

south-island of new-zealand queenstown_kawarau_bungee
It’s the perfect place for thrillseekers

Stewart Island

Most people know about the North and the South Island, but forget the third island of New Zealand: Stewart Island. I’ll admit, it will steal some days of your travels to get there, but if you have the time and you’re looking for nature in it’s purest form, go! While on the island, we had the privilege to actually spot a real life Kiwi bird. They only live in the wild on Stewart Island and are hardly seen. The same goes for the little penguins that show up at dawn in the harbour. Getting to Stewart Island is possible by ferry boat. But if it has always been your dream do go cage diving with great white sharks, you can also book a (really expensive) tour which offers you the cage as well as the transfer to the island. 

Meet a sea lion

Another place that a lot of people skip is student town Dunedin. Which is a shame, since they have a chocolate factory! Jokes aside, it’s a very laid-back city, home to the worlds steepest residential street of the world. More importantly, it’ s also home to the Otago peninsula, where you can drive around and spot marine wildlife. Think penguins, albatrosses, seals and sea lions. We encountered two sea lions of which one was surrounding a bird watching hut to ensure that the people in there, would stay in there. The other sea lion (which we named Claude) was actually chasing us. Quite the adventure, but I guess that’s what the South Island of New Zealand is all about.

new-zealand_south-island_dunedin_otago-peninsula_sea-lion
Claude chasing us!

Given these points, this is only a small list of everything you can do on this amazing island. There is whale-watching in Kaikoura, climbing Franz Josef glacier, Mount Cook. You can spot dolphins in Greymouth, hike around Lake Wanaka, and so so so much more. Go there, and make me jealous.

Love,

Jill

The Best in Travel List 2020 by Lonely Planet

Yearly, the Lonely Planet publish their highly anticipated Best In Travel List. Destinations across the globe hope to be included, as it usually results in a gain of tourism.

With so many people traveling nowadays, it’s almost impossible to choose between the many destinations on offer. How do you decide where to go next? The Lonely Planet has just published the Best in Travel List 2020, that may just help you decide on where to travel to this year. 

Top 10 Countries:

  1. Bhutan
  2. England
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Aruba
  5. eSwatini
  6. Costa Rica
  7. Netherlands
  8. Liberia
  9. Morocco
  10. Uruguay

Tulip field Netherlands
The Netherlands made the top 10! Maybe it has to do with our beautiful Tulips?

This Best in Travel List 2020 can take you all over the world

Bhutan is topping the best in travel list this year because they operate on a strict high value, low impact tourism policy. ‘It is already the world’s only carbon-negative country, and the kingdom is set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020, so it’s only going to get more beautiful.’ Says the Lonely Planet. It may come as a surprise, but England got the 2nd position despite the Brexit. Consequently, it has to do with England’s beautiful coastline with more sections opening up to the public. And let’s not forget about the Netherlands, as Dutch citizens we are proud to be included!

Bhutan best in travel 2020

Top 10 Cities:

  1. Salzburg, Austria
  2. Washington DC, USA
  3. Cairo, Egypt
  4. Galway, Ireland
  5. Bonn, Germany
  6. La Paz, Bolivia
  7. Kochi, India
  8. Vancouver, Canada
  9. Dubai
  10. Denver, USA

Plenty of cities to choose from in 2020, but which one is your favourite?

Salzburgerland
Beautiful Salzburg

Best Value Destinations:

  1. East Nusa, Indonesia
  2. Budapest, Hungary
  3. Madhya Pradesh, India
  4. Buffalo NY, USA
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. Serbia
  7. Tunisia
  8. Cape Winelands, South Africa
  9. Athens, Greece
  10. Zanzibar, Tanzania

If you’re looking for a first class destination, without the first class ticket price, these 10 destinations are tipped to be the best in value. Even the Cape Winelands in South Africa, that are portrayed as fancy, has more accommodations to suit every budget. We are not talking Asian prices, but the change is there, and that’s a great thing!

Nusa, best in travel

For the whole list check Lonely Planet. So where will you go in 2020?

Love,

Elke

 

 

The Stunning North Island of New Zealand

They call it the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa or simply: New Zealand! There is so much to see but for now, we’ll take you around The North Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand is known for their sheep, kiwi fruit, Hobbits and friendly people (called Kiwi’s). But those sweet people are also batshit crazy thrill seekers. It is with a reason that they opened up the first commercial bungee jumping location in the world (Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge near Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand ).

Start at the North Island

Since almost all European flights connect to Auckland, on the North Island of New Zealand, I’ll cover that part first. You’ll have to come back here later to find out about the South Island shenanigans. If you are heading for New Zealand, make sure to check out Grab One on a regular basis, its the NZ Groupon and they offer pretty sweet deals, also on a lot of adventures!

Getting around

First things first, the distances in New Zealand are quite far, so make sure to get yourself some solid transportation around the islands. Of course it’s most adventurous to rent a camper van. But a normal car is also pretty cool. On a budget or on your own? Take a look at Stray Travel, they offer up some nice itineraries to get around by bus (and find travel buddies). Armed with a Lonely Planet or booking.com you’ll be able to book some sweet hostels. Be aware though, it’s a pricey country.

Bay of islands

Okay, ready for your first adventure? Drive or bus up to Northland, about 3 hours from Auckland. It’s where you enter the Bay of Islands, which is full of breathtaking views and cute small villages. And it’s also the place where you can get yourself thrown out of an airplane with a sassy Kiwi on your back. Of course accompanied by a parachute, it’s perfectly safe (although you won’t feel that way when you are hanging out of the plane on a 5 KM height). Skydiving above the Bay of Islands is gorge!

The grassy hills and azure waters dotted with islands will cause some serious neck pain from wanting to look all around you. You almost forget that you just tumbled down the sky and you are floating with just a thin piece of fabric behind you (oh right, and of course that sassy Kiwi). If you ever had just one fiber in your body thinking about doing this, the Bay of Island is the place to go! While you are in the area, there are tons of other nice things to do and to explore. Visit the most northern part, Cape Reinga, where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman sea collide. Or book a day trip to 90 mile beach. This usually includes sand boarding on some steep dunes, another must for adventure seekers! 

Bay of Islands New Zealand

Coromandel

Just like most of the country, the Coromandel is beautiful and very different from other areas. From Auckland you can get there in 2,5 hours, enjoying the scenic road or take the ferry (but that leaves you out of transport once you arrive). This is where super famous cathedral cove is located and a ​ great spot to do some hiking or canoeing. Make sure to touch down at hot water beach.

Yep, this is the place to start digging some holes to create your own hot tub (or boil some eggs) as the underground hot springs warm up the water that comes up when you start removing the sand. After chilling in the warm water, it’s time to actually get some thrills (and chills). Leave the beach behind you and make way for the extremely freezing water. Yeah, the contrast is quite big, but the massive waves will make up for it. This is the time to jump and scream around in the water, as if you are ten years old again. It’s a pretty mean surf spot as well.

catherdral-cove-new-zealand
Cathedral Cove

Coromandel New Zealand
Endless walks on the beach

Tongariro Crossing

Lord of the Rings fans, pay attention! Here’s your chance to pretend to be Frodo or some other kind of Ork and walk around Mordor. Near Lake Taupo, in the middle of the North Islands lies the Tongariro National Park. Mt Ngauruhoe appears in the movies as Mt Doom and is a part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This (approximately) 7 hour hike will lead you through a volcanic wasteland and you will definitely recognise Middle Earth at it’s finest. Although the hike very is do-­able, make sure you have good walking shoes (leave your beloved Converse in your backpack) and watch the weather forecast as it can get a bit spooky (and dangerous) if the conditions are bad. But men oh men, this is one cool day trip. A beer at the end of the day is much deserved (and needed).


The Emerald lakes

tongariro-new-zealand

Wanganui River

Where most travellers continue their trip south after completing the Tongariro or Lake Taupo, I advise you to stick around for a couple of days. Why? Because canoeing the Wanganui river is almost a life changing experience. Imagine a river, surrounded by lush green forest and high stone walls. Next to that, imagine paddling for 3 days through it with just you and your canoe buddy. That’s what happened to me and it was astonishing. Stress does not exist and complete peace of mind is guaranteed. Find a nice little bar and reminisce about all the adventures you’ve experienced on the North Island of New Zealand, memories for ever. I still think about it all, every day. And then I haven’t even told you about all the geothermal parks, surf spots and that place where the hobbits live…although this may be true, I guess you’ll just have to go find out for yourself!

wanganui-river-new-zealand
Crossing the Wanganui River

Love,

Jill

Find out more about the South Island of New Zealand!

New Zealand travel movies

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!

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8 x Healthy Cafés on Bali

Like London and Australia, Bali is is one of those places where a healthy lifestyle started a while back. And yet more and more healthy cafés are popping up.

It’s that tropical & magical little island, the island that everybody escapes to recharge their batteries. We’re talking about Bali of course.  With more healthy choices than ever, it was time to share our top 10 of Bali’s most healthy cafés.

Sisterfields

Jl. Kayu Cendana No.7, Seminyak, Bali 80361
www.sisterfields.com

With Australia around the corner, it’s not a big surprise that this kind of cafe opened up in Bali not too long ago. They call themselves “The Iconic Australian Cafe”. You can certainly have breakfast like a king or eat lunch like an emperor with one of their famous tropical juices.

IMG_6322 copy
Source: Sisterfields

Sari Organik, Ubud

Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Ubud, Bali

We first discovered this healthy café back in 2010. In the beginning we weren’t sure where we would end up because you’ll need to walk through the rice fields for about 20 minutes which makes this place even more special! Once arrived, you can enjoy the best fresh coconuts, and homemade organic lunches.


Bali's healthy hotspots
Back in 2010

sari-organik2
Source: letsmakan.com

The Mocca

Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong Gg Nyepi Canggu, Bali
www.facebook.com/themocca

This little gem located in Canggu is a Coffeshop with garden front open concept store and an upstairs with a gypsy interior. They serve good and healthy food, plus the service is good! 

The Mocca | Healthy Cafés Bali

Shelter café

Jl. Drupadi, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali
http://www.sheltercafebali.com/

From 7am you can indulge yourself with healthy food and this open tropical café. Amazing salads, homemade gingerbeer, lemon squash or their super smoothies will make you want to come back here. Many holiday seekers are fan of this place, and so are we! 

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Source: Facebook Shelter Cafe

Mule Malu

Jl. Pantai Bingin 80364 Uluwatu, Bali
www.mulemalu.com

Unlike the rest, this is actually an accommodation instead of just being a café. Hidden on bingin cliff top and within walking distance to Bingin beach.  Mule Malu strives to be environmentally friendly through the efficient use of energy, water and materials while providing quality services. Their in house café is amazing and located by the pool. They serve healthy bowls, dairy free and sugar free juices and smoothies throughout the day.

Mule Malu | healthy Cafés Bali

Avocado Factory

Jl. Tanah Barak No.52 Canggu, Bali
www.theavocadofactory.com

We all know that avocado’s are healthy for you. The green goodness is more popular than ever and we even have several Avocado Restaurant in Amsterdam! 

Avocado factory

Ubud Hanging Gardens

Desa Buahan, Payangan, Bali 80571
www.hanginggardensofbali.com

You can imagine my jaw dropping when I entered the hanging gardens for the first time. I had a wonderful dinner here with no time for a jump in the infinity pool but let’s just say we have a rain check on that one! They mainly use vegetables, fruits and spices  from the Bedugul or are grown at their own property, their seafood comes directly from Jimbaran Bay making lunch and dinner very tasty!

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Source: both pictures courtesy to the Ubud Hanging Gardens

Warung Kecil

Jalan Duyung no 1, Sanur, Bali

My parents told me about this secret place. Sanur residents love it here. The prices are extremely low but the food quality is sky high! From the outside it doesn’t look like anything special but it’s cosy and cute on the inside. They offer vegetarian and vegan options plus healthy wheatgrass shots, fresh almond or macha milk, pressed juices, young coconuts and you can also go for a buffet. Check their Facebook for more info.

PicMonkey Collage
Source: Facebook Warung Kecil

 

Love,

Elke

 

7 X MUST VISIT PLACES FOR THIS FALL

Summer is almost over but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your next trip. October is a great period to pack that suitcase and enjoy those last rays of sunlight or visit a beautiful city. These are our  must visit places for this fall.

1. Marrakesh, Morocco

With a reasonable short flight of 3,5 hours (from Amsterdam) it’s the perfect getaway to soak up the sunshine in October. Check our Marrakech Guide ffor the best tips and try to book your accommodation beforehand to get the best deals. Besides Marrakesh, Morocco has a lot more to offer. You can surf in Taghazout, ride camels in the Sahara or take a dip into the shallow waters of Paradise Valley.

Marrakech Guide 2019

2. Dubai, Emirates

If you want heat, you’re gonna get it here. (31-36 degrees!) It might be a little more expensive than a European break but this will be an experience you won’t forget. Shopping, fine dining and skydiving are some of the things Dubai brings to the table. KLM is offering flights from €397 in their world deal weeks at the moment so be quick!

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Camels with the skyline of Dubai

3. Dubrovnik, Croatia

This affordable getaway is still warm in the fall and prices are particularly low during this period. You have all the space to enjoy the magnificent beaches. Dubrovnik is also great for mountain hiking and enjoy the beautiful colors. Take the train and go interrailing!

4. Miami, Florida

It’s the best time to visit Miami the locals say. Why? Because most tourist will be gone (a lot better than spring break!) and temperatures are still very nice. If you’re visiting with kids, you can always visit Disney World (yes, it’s a must see with kids) or if you’re the adventurer you can watch crocodiles in the everglades. 

5. Folegandros, Greece

If you want total zen, no fuss, good food and stunning views, you must visit FolegandrosIt’s great the whole year round but summer is still happening in Folegandros in the fall. You can fly to Athens (about 180 euro’s) and take the speedy boat service to the island in just 4 hours. You can also fly to Santorini and take the boat in just 45 minutes. Flights to Santorini are more expensive though. One thing is for sure; you will feel completely recharged when you return.

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Stunning views in Folegandros

8. Jordan, Middle East

One of the worlds most spectacular sights are found right here but remain unseen by so many. In October there are still bright sunny days that light the rock of Petra up rose-red; but it is cool enough to journey into the Valley of the Moon on camel or horseback by day, and warm enough to sleep out under the starry sky by night. Flights from 300 euro’s with Turkish Airlines.

7. Munich, Germany

Why Munich? Because it’s the Oktoberfest of course! Starting from the 19th of Sept until the 4th of October. The festive fall event is not just about beer drinking anymore but also offers music, dance, food, markets and a fair. Grab your car and make a roadtrip!

Love,

Elke

Best Airlines in the world 2019

They call it the Oscars for the aviation industry, the yearly world airlines awards. Each year the numbers shift and it’s always good to know who you’re flying with in 2019. 

Needless to say, that not all Airlines are the same. Some are obviously far better than othersThis is a small selection of the top hundred 2019, chosen by travellers around the world.

Nr. 1 Qatar Airways

Still on top of the bill. Qatar airlines is still one of the best airlines in the world. They also won in 2012 next to a numerous other awards, and this year they climb back up from number 2 to the first spot. So why are they so great? Well; Quatar flies to 140 different destinations, they are Best in business class, Best on time performance, Best in vanity kit, Best economy long haul experience and the list goes on.. 


Fly fly away!

Nr. 5 Emirates

I will never forget my first backpacking adventure to Australia. I was 24 years old and traveling solo. Next to that I already had a fear of flying so the thought of being in a large plane for at least 16 hours wasn’t something I looked forward to. But Emirates made my experience sooo good. First of all, the staff is amazing. I really believe they are this nice! No fake smile, just an excellent service. Emirates stops at Dubai airport and I must say that’s a great stopover as the airport looks amazing and if you have a long stopover, it’s always nice to do some shopping while you’re there right? 😉 Emirates have been in the worlds top 5 best airlines for years now and if it were up to me, they can stay there for many years to come.

Nr. 6 EVA Air

This Taiwanese airline flies over 40 international destinations and comes it at number 6 in the top 100 best airlines. It’s not just the female name that does wonders because this airline does it really well. Some say that they have the best business class service there is and they are the only airline that I know that serves Dom Perignon champagne. Their premium economy has great leg space and that’s something many airlines still lack. Evaair.com

airplane window

Nr. 9 Lufthansa

The low cost airline is doing extremely well in the top 100 list. They fly in at number 12. Sarah flies to Germany a lot and she always flies with Lufthansa. Reliability is the key word for Lufthansa. Sarah always feels save and that’s why she always chooses Lufthansa. Word goes around that Lufthansa doesn’t have the warmest crew but Sarah’s flights were always pleasant. You get free drinks and snacks, and during lunch or dinner you will get a sandwich. Not very posh, but Sarah loves it – like many other with her – it’s the fact that you don’t have to pay for it. Lufthansa.com

Nr. 18 KLM

It’s because we flew with KLM many many times. This means we should have a pretty good idea about their service and capabilities. They have been praised about their extremely good user engagement. If you have a question or complaint and you post this on social media, they are extremely fast in responding. I flew to Hong Kong recently and had an extremely good organized flight. On my way back, the steward came up to me and asked me if I had a good flight and if I wanted to join their Airmiles system. No annoying advertising emails but now I can enjoy all the perks of being a frequent flyer! KLM


Still one of the best airlines in our opinion!

Our advice? Book your next flight with one of these above mentioned airlines so that your holiday starts from the moment you step inside the aircraft!

Check here for the full 2019 list. What’s your favorite airline?

Love,

Elke

11 amazing treehouses around the world

Like most kids, we grew up building treehouses and huts, but building a tree house is not childsplay anymore.

Check out these amazing treehouses and find your inner nomad!

Tranquil Resort, India

Wow, what a treehouse! This is not something you can build overnight. No, this is a luxury threehouse in the middle of a coffee plantation in India.
www.tranquilresort.com

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(Source: tranquil resort)

Tree House Point, USA

Three house point offers several treehouses on the property. Our favorite treehouse is the “Temple of the Blue Moon”. With a hanging bridge leading to the beautiful treehouse, it truly feels magical.  Check their Instagram and be inspired.
www.treehousepoint.com

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(Source: Treehousepoint)

Free Spirit Sphere Treehouses
Previously featured in my blogpost about the top 5 wanderlust hotels in the world, this is a fairy-tale treehouse you want to sleep in. Lucky for you, it’s possible! Just head down to Canada 🙂 www.freespiritspheres.com
(Source: Free Spririt Sphere)

Yellow Treehouse Restaurant, New Zealand

Not a Treehouse for sleeping or playing but a Treehouse for eating! This restaurant looks like a hot air balloon where you can dream of flying off into a new world. This New Zealand based restaurant has had a lot of media attention so if you want to eat here, make sure you book well in advance! They host private dinners and weddings too.www.redwoodstreehouse.co.nz

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(Source: Yellow Treehouse Restaurant)

Beach Rock Treehouse, Japan

Part of the Beach Rock Village (amazing) in Okinawa, this is a treehouse that was build for a purpose; communicating with the space outside. Feel one with nature. Build and designed by Kobayashi Takashi, It’s also referred to as the ‘plexiglass portal on the world’.

One of the best treehouses ever
(Source: http://www.hometreehome.it/489/)

La Casa Del Arbol, Ecuador

This cute treehouse is not the best looking treehouse in the world but the location is somewhat amazing. You can literally swing over the edge of the world (2660 feet above sealevel!) Thrill seekers from all over the world try to get the rush and sail over the city of Banos. Bucketlist? More info here.

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(Source www.hostalerupcion.com)

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Overlooking an erupting Mt. Tungurahua at the “edge of the world”  (Photo by Sean Hacker Teper)

The “Treehouse Masters” Spirit Treehouse, USA

This is one of the best treehouses build by pete who heads the hit series Treehouse Masters on Discovery Channel. This treehouse solar powered and build in the backyard retreat of a New York based writer. I bet she will get inspired to write some amazing stories in this treehouse! Check here to see part of the episode.

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Source: Discovery Channel

Sleeping in treehouses makes you feel at peace and one with nature

Three Story Treehouse, British Columbia in Canada

It’s a shame that it’s a children attraction, but it doesn’t stop adults climbing inside this enchanted treehouse up in British Columbia. Why only 1 treehouse, if you can build three into one right? More info on www.enchantedforestbc.com

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Part of the enchanted forrest (Source:
Three Story Treehouse)

Mirror Cube, Sweden

It’s a very modern treehouse but because of the mirrors, this structure almost disappears into the trees almost as if it’s a tree itself. Inside it looks incredible cosy and includes a 1 persons bed. Designed by Tham & Videgard architects, this Swedish hotel is definitely worth visiting! They also have other treehouses such as the Cabin and the UFO treehouse. Be aware that it will cost you about 400 euro’s to stay the night.
www.treehotel.se

TreeHotell Photographer Ulf B. Jonsson.
(Source: Treehotel.se)

Monbazillac, France

This treehouse is listed on Airbnb and looks like a castle. It sleeps 2 people and has a lovely bath & bedroom. Book it here!

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Aromantica Treehouse, Italy

Now this is a treehouse we can afford. For about 140 euro’s per night you can sleep in this peaceful treehouse. Surrounded by nature, this is the perfect romantic gateway in Italy. It includes a private shower, balcony (with stunning views!) and a beautiful bed. Not convinced yet? Check here and book!

Treehouse-in-Italy-The-Monferrato-Aromanrica-Treehouse

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(Source: Airbnb)

Love,

Elke

Check here for the top 5 Wanderlust Hotels in the world.