Nowadays, there is so much written about the negative environmental impact of traveling that it almost seems impossible to buy a plane ticket without experiencing any form of guilt. Yet -being a traveler by heart- I’ll be the last person on this (still) beautiful planet to discourage you to jump on that plane towards your next new adventure. In fact, I’m telling you exactly what you do want to hear. Go explore the planet, travel the globe and visit the places of your dreams, but we’ll have to make some changes. Cause while we’re all focusing on that perfect world on our Instagram feed, the real world is slowly drowning in our love for her beauty.
Sustainable travel One of those changes is putting sustainability on your holiday checklist. It’s the new IT-word that everybody talks about, but what exactly does it mean? I’ll teach you: Sustainability / Noun / [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee] – the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Well, that’s what the dictionary says. To me, sustainable travel is being mindful to the economic, environmental, and cultural impact of travel. So it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to stop traveling around the globe. By not traveling we will actually create far more severe complications. Many countries depend on tourism as a main source of income. Closing the borders will delay the spread of knowledge, economic opportunities and of course… shutting down the money flow.
It’s about making some smarter decisions that will allow earth to slowly recover to their original ecosystem. So let’s put the money where the mouth is: hereby I provide you with an easy to use guidebook to decrease your own ecological footprint.
Traveling Choose your way of travel consciously. There are thousands of articles on how to travel cheap and comfortable, but (please) put sustainability on your check-list as well. Paradise might be closer than you think. We go on 15 hours flights to discover the world while we haven’t even discovered our own country. Find a balance between traveling far and staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country. In fact, I promise you it will be more fun than you think. Calculate the Carbon Footprint of your Flight. Living in the Netherlands, I can understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable to travel further away. Although I love our small, flat, cow-country, it would be pretty difficult to climb mountains here… not to mention getting a tan. But if you can’t stop the urge to fly, you ca compensate by paying for your CO2. Calculate how much you use via this website or book a flightthat immediately compensates your CO2 emissions. Also make sure you book your flights with an airline that recycles waste from food, beverages and paper.
At your destination Support the community you’re visiting by purchasing products from local suppliers. It’s better for the environment, supports the economy and it’s a great way to meet locals. Combine sightseeing with a workout: rent a bike or walk instead of hiring a car. The advantages are that you can stop whenever you want to take photo’s of the beautiful surroundings (or just a selfie cause the light is great). But moreover, you’ll work on your own health and the health of the globe. Go for an Eco accommodation. You can choose your hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when you make a booking. By choosing an Eco Resort, you also contribute to the local community. Organisations like Better Places make this possible. By the way, did you know trees can be planted with your donated money for example? Mi casa es tu casa. Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house: turn the lights and air conditioning off while leave your room. Eat vegetarian or vegan foods. Yes this is extremely sustainable. The production of meat and dairy causes more pollution than factories, flights and all traffic combined together. Eating vegetarian is also cheaper most of the time so it’s a win win situation!
Just as you explore the world, explore which of these guidelines work for you. They are all small steps, but small steps in de good direction. Combine them with your own ideas on how to decrease your ecological footprint and be mindful of your journey. Cause in the end we all want the same thing: make a contribution to a better world.
*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her onInstagram.
We celebrated international women’s day so a good reason to highlight some amazing women who inspire us to the max. We are so happy to see more and more independent females who pack their bags and travel around the world to show us that it can be done no matter what age, size or background. There are too many amazing women to mention them all but we’ve picked 5 badass travel chicks that we feel set a great example of what a strong female represents.
1. Celine Cousteau, USA & France She’s a filmmaker, diver and most of all an explorer. Born in California and raised in France, she has certainly seen the world. Celine inspires people all over the world with her documentaires about humanitarian and environmental stories. She speaks 3 languages fluently and uses her voice as a public speaker. Besides all this, she is also a mother to a son. This woman has power! www.celinecousteau.com
What a woman!
2. Floortje Dessing, The Netherlands She’s the most famous traveler from the Netherlands. She has seen the whole world from Amsterdam to Greenland, Japan, The North Pole and even North Korea (she and her TV crew are one of the only ones that were allowed to film there). In total she has visited more than 120 countries and for her latest television show she is visiting Dutch people who live in remote places around the world and the TV program scores high! Besides all her travels, she also gives a lot back and she started a fair-trade sustainable clothing store called Nukuhiva. This woman is far from being done with traveling and we love her for it!
Our Dutch pride; Floortje Dessing
“These wanderlust women show us that anything is possible”
3. Morgan Brechler, USA She is the bohemian dream-mother of the world. At least, we think so. Morgan (26) is a (extremely beautiful) young mother from the US who travels and climbs around the most amazing national parks of the USA and other parts of the world with her daughter Haidlie since she was only a small toddler. She recently gave birth to her second child and she is working towards a degree in sustainable agriculture and Morgan is part of a new documentary called Born Wild, celebrating single adventurous mothers who want to instill a love of nature and the outdoors into their children’s lives from the very beginnings. Can we say we are a little bit jealous of this amazing woman? www.instagram.com/morganbrechler
Wanderlust mother Morgan
4. Chelsea Yamase, Hawai She is a Hawaii-based creative, traveling the world as an athlete, model, and writer. She is followed by many that want to be inspired to travel in an adventurous way. She travels the world with her boyfriend and photographer Sam Kolder, and together they take us on their daily adventures. She is pretty but doesn’t even know it. She is just being herself and showing us the beauty of this world. Follow this girl and be inspired! @chelseakauai
We are addicted to her Instagram account
5. Roshni Sharma, India Everybody told her she couldn’t do it and she proved them wrong. She became the first woman in India who drove all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir with on her motorbike. The 5452 km long road was dangerous and the trip was long but that didn’t hold her back. Armed with pepperspray, the 26 year old, took on the challenge and finished the journey. You go girl!
The woman and her bike.Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Perhaps Basque Country has never come to mind when thinking of a Spanish holiday but this green part of Spain will pleasantly surprise you.
Basque Country is situated near the border of France and has a landscape that includes mountains, green valleys and coastlines. You can find different scenery all into one region and that’s what makes this place so amazing. It’s a region that is often overlooked in favor of more conventional destinations in Spain. If you decide to visit Basque Country after reading this article (chances are, you will), we have a few tips lined up so you can enjoy everything in just a couple of days.
There are 5 Guggenheim Museums located in Europe. Guess where you can find one of them?
The 3 Cities and their Culture Basque Country is full of culture. Every year, especially during summer, you can enjoy several exhibitions, activities and events. This year, the capital of Bilbao celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum, where you can find high quality exhibitions that are well worth the visit. The famous landmark is covering a wide variety of artists and themes in both contemporary and modern art. The Guggenheim Museum is housed in Bilbao, Surrounded by mountains and sea, from its origins as an industrial hub, it has evolved into an international reference point for urban design and has set the standard as a model of urban regeneration. Internationally renowned architects showcase the model regeneration of Bilbao. A city that has managed to find a different way to express itself with design firmly at its heart.. Tip » buy the Bilbao Card to get free access to several museums and attractions. With this card you can travel with Bilbao’s public transport.
The Guggenheim Museum
Puppy& Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao
San Sebastián, also locally named Donostia, is a beautiful coastal city close to France. It has even won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture back in 2016. Surrounded by mountains and located next to the sea, it’s a popular place for tourists. Did you know San Sebastián has one of the most beautiful bays in the world with 3 city beaches? Close to San Sebastian, you will find the Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa. This museum is a homage to one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century and you can see selected pieces of his collection. This year, the fashion brand exist a staggering 100 years!
A perfect viewing point over San Sebastians bay
Once voted the “European Green Capital”, Vitoria-Casteiz is surrounded by stunning nature
The third city we need to mention is Vitoria-Gasteiz, once voted the “Green Capital” of Europe. This city is surrounded by nature and is also the most important centre for logistics in Northern Spain. To do’s here are; taking a stroll through the “Green Belt” which is full of flora and fauna and includes wetlands and lakes. There are also some great Jazz festivals and events happening in Victoria, with the best ones in April and August. Another popular attraction is the old quarter they call the “Medieval Almond” where you can find the Cathedral of Santa Maria and a unique project called “open for work” inspired Ken Follet in his novel “World Without End”. To find out more about these 3 amazing cities, check here.
The streets of Vitoria
849.00 KM. 7 stages. 109 landscapes. Another popular thing to do, is to take a roadtrip through the beautiful landscape of Basque Country. On this route you will find beaches, quaint little villages, vineyards and forests. We can imagine that it’s hard to choose between the many options, but you can easily find the route that suits your needs. There are also 3 pilgrim trails that will take you to the more offbeat corners of the Basque Country; The St. James’ Way Coastal Route, which takes you around the countryside and ever changing landscapes. The St. James’ Way Inland Route where you will pass coastal landscapes, greenery, farms and even industrialized localities. You can also opt for the Ignatian Way, a trail that covers 675 km. To find more info about all these routes, check this link. Another highlight is San Juan Gaztelugatxe, a small island connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Wine & Dine If you’re a real foodie like us, you’re at the right place. The food and drinks are very affordable and locally produced, so you can really taste the different regions. Because the gastronomy, from the most traditional to the most innovative, is one of the hallmarks of the Basque Country and is deeply rooted in the daily lives of the people, linked to its history, customs and leisure activities. The secret? The excellence and diversity of the raw materials that the sea and land of the Basque Country provide and the expertise of the great Basque cooks.
There is an unmistakable joie de vivre in Basque Country
Whether you are looking for a lazy beach holiday, a culture trip or an adventurous trail through nature, Basque Country has it all. Maybe it’s time to opt for a different kind of Spain when you book your holiday next time?
Crete is the last island I visited during my Greek island tour. It’s by far the largest but also one of the Greek islands that never really appealed to me, mainly because of it’s party reputation. I needed to prove myself wrong and discover the best that Crete has to offer.
Getting there: I was planning to take the boat from Santorini which takes about 2,5 hours but my boyfriend thought it would be a better plan to fly over there with a small propeller plane. History was repeating itself because last year a swore i would never step into a propellor plane again…Yes, I cried. Again. The good thing is that it only takes about 20 minutes to fly and it cost about the same, if not cheaper, than the boat would. The boat from Santorini only leaves in the evening which means you lose a whole day in Crete. I had no time to lose as I only had 4,5 days left.
Pointing at my destination with Heraklion all the way in the top right.
Once arrived, we rented a car. This is a must in crete if you want to visit the best parts. From the airport (Heraklion) we drove past the coast towards Rethimno and continued our way towards the southwest. One of the main reasons that I wanted to see this part of Crete, is because of it’s amazing scenery, a lack of tourist and lot’s to tell you guys about! When you drive towards the southwest, you will be surprised about how green Crete can be!
Crete is very green indeed!
I always get hungry when I travel so after about 2 hours, we stopped along the coast and found a taverna next to a very nice and quiet beach. When I looked at the menu, I immediately notiched that the food on there was very authentic. Everything was home cooked like; Briam, Moussaka or fresh Calamaris. As a veggie lover, I chose the Briam and it only cost me 5,50! It was one of the best Greek meals i’ve had so far and the lady that served us was so friendly.
The perfect stop when you’re roadtripping.
» Chora Sfakion After this nice stop, we kept on driving until we decended all the way across crete towards the south coast. Passing a lot of small villages and even a huge clove, we arrived in Chora Sfakion. This town was perfect for what I was looking for. I had no accommodation booked, so we looked around and after only 10 minutes I made a deal for a suite (including a shared swimming pool) for 40 euro’s per night for 2 people. Wow, this was a huge difference compared to Mykonos, Santorini and even Folegandros. With this thought, I walked down to the village where you will find 2 small beaches, a harbour and a street full of lovely restaurants. Greece has a thing for bakery’s and Chora Sfakion had the cutest I had seen so far. Definitely buy your bread here. A Must try in Chora Sfakion» Sfakion Cheese & Honey Pie. It’s a speciality that every restaurant in town serves. I had mine for breakfast and the nice thing is, that they use local honey that taste so goooood.
Traditional Sfakion Cheese & Honey Pie at restaurant Lefka Ori. Yummie!
My favourite restaurant in Hora Sfakion: Lefka Ori
The cutest bakery with so many things to choose from! Markos & Niki
Around Chora Sfakion:
» Fragokastello 15 km east of Chora Sfakion lays a 14th-century Venetian fortress, but there’s also a wide, white-sand beach beneath the fortress that gradually into shallow warm water, making it ideal for kids. Development has been kept to a minimum with most accommodation set back from the shore, leaving the natural beauty largely untouched. In summer, occasional concerts and folk dance performances are held. I was lucky to get an invitation from a local (we keep encouraging this kind of contact!) and enjoyed a traditional Cretan dance performance inside the castle.
A traditional Cretan dance at the castle of Fragokastello
The shallow waters with the fortress in the back
» Loutro On the western side of Sfakion lays the cute bay village Loutro. The only way to get here, is by boat or by foot. You have a few options; taxi boat, a small ferry, rent a small boat or hike the 7km trail. I chose the small ferry which departs daily from Sfakion’s small harbour. A return ticket cost about 10 euro’s per person and takes 15 min. The absence of cars and bikes on Loutro makes it quiet and peaceful. You will find taverna’s and a few shops. You can rent boats, waterbikes or opt for a canoe like I did. This way you can explore nearby beaches like sweetwater beach and enjoy the turquoise sea. Tip » Bring some sunscreen and a plastic bag to put your belongings in.
Rent a canoe in Loutro and jump of the cliffs!
» Samaria Gorge Europe’s longest clove (16km) is very near to Chora Sfakion and if you’re a enthusiastic hiker, you must have heard of it. More than 170,000 hikers, walk the Gorge each year and it’s one of the most populair things to do in Crete. At wander-lust we always try to discover the area’s that are a little less crowded so I hiked her little brother, the Imbros Gorge. This one is only 11km long and after about 5km you will reach it’s most narrow part at only 1.60 meters wide. Most people leave their car at the top and walk down, but I did it the other way round. Once you reach the top, you can walk down again or you can take a taxi or bus. It’s an easy walk but it’s always best to wear trainers and bring plenty of water.
Standing in between the narrowest part of the Imbros Gorge, Crete
» Chania (old town) Driving up north west, you will find Chania. Ok, it’s not next door to Sfakion (about 1 hour), but it’s a great place to visit when you make your way back up the mountain and that’s exactly what we did. The old town lays next to the old harbour and looks amazing. Don’t be tricked by the seaside restaurants as they overcharge you but walk inside the walls and you will be able to find cute coffeehouses, restaurants and shops.
Chania is a great place to spent a few hours!
Crete is so big, that it’s impossible to see everything. I wish I could have visited a lot more places such as a very special island called: Gavdos. This island is about a 1,5 hours boat trip from Chora Sfakion and it has been said that it’s a true hippie experience. If you liked the book or the movie The Beach, you will love Gavdos. People walk around naked, have campfires, sing songs and stay there for weeks. But I guess I have to wait a little longer before I can cross that one of my bucketlist. Until then I hope you find these tips useful and experience the best of Crete. Just like I did.
My Island hopping tour has finished and in total, I visited 5 islands and I did it in 14 days and I spent 1200 euro’s. To find out which islands I visited and what I did, read all the articles below.
We’ve selected our top 7 most colorful places in the world so you can travel and bring some color to your life!
1. Chefchaouen, Morocco’s bluest village Blue Monday has never looked so good. We are totally mesmerized by this beautiful Moroccan village called Chefhaouen. Chefchaouen (or Chaouen) is situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and Tetouan. Founded in 1471, the town now has about 200 hotels & apartments because of the increasing number of tourists. Did you know? That the countryside Chefchaouen region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. Hashish is subsequently sold all over town, but is mostly the domain of native Chaouenis.
We can’t get over these beautiful colors
2. The Favelas, Rio De Janeiro Notorious for their crime wars and poverty, this part of Rio is looking rather colourful since a couple of years thanks to 2 Dutch artists. They employ local youth to paint the buildings and houses for a few reasons; Give them something they can be proud of and take them of the streets. We love this and that’s why it’s our number 2. Check their website for more info and other projects.
The Favela have never looked so colorful (Source: Favelapainting.com)
3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico This small Caribbeanislandis one of the most colorful places on earth because of all the shops and houses there. It’s only 7km in length and it’s perfect for lazy beach days. Did you know? That Isla Mejeres literally means “women island”
Wouldn’t you just want to live in a house like this one?! (Source: Fotolia/AP)
4. Havana, Cuba Yes, you knew this one was going to be in the list right? Havana is becoming more popular now that the USA renewed their bond with Cuba. If you want to experience Havana in all it’s original beauty, you must hurry up. We’ve heard that the first MC Donald’s have been spotted..
5. Vernazza, Italy It used to be only accessible by sea or steep walking routes, but now the milk train provides easy access. Vernazza is one of 5 villages along the Cinque Terre coast of Italyand the trainruns into each of the five towns. The blue sea and the green trees certainly help but this village owns its own colourful reputation. Did you know? That there is a trail that connects all 5 towns together? So bring your walking shoes!
All the colors match in Vernazza.
6. Rainbow Mountain Only visit when it’s sunny they say, because you might be disappointed with the pallet of colours as you arrive. But rainbow mountain still remains something special and should not be excluded from this list. Have you been?
7. The Netherlands (during Tulip season) During April, May, something beautiful is happening in the Netherlands: Tulip Season! People from all over the world come to look at a variety of tulips in all sorts of sizes and colors. We can’t wait for this year, and we hope to take some drone shots!
After traveling to Cebu, Bantayan Island and Bohol we flew to Palawan. I was anxious to see it because I had been daydreaming about Palawan for ages.
Getting there I flew from Cebu City to Puerto Princessa, the capital of Palawan. This is a town with a cute name but be warned; it’s not a place to chill in my opinion. The center is full of cars and tricycles and you need to get out of the center to find a place to chill. I stayed in a wonderful boutique hotel called Balay Tuko Garden. They have a swimming pool and a nice garden for about 40 euro’s per night during high season. Most people travel straight up to El Nido but I wanted to see some places in between. You have a few options: Sebang (the underground river), Port Barton and TayTay.
At the time, it was raining and I was told that most tours around the area got canceled as well as the underground river tour I wanted to do. If you do want to go, you should book this in advance at Puerto Princessa instead of booking it at the spot. No idea why, but that’s the way it works. It’s 1500 peso’s and it includes transportation, lunch and entrance fees. The Underground River is one of the longest navigable underground rivers in the world, with a total length of 8.2 Kilometers and you’ll go in a boat with about 5-6 people which will take you into a cave. Yes, it’s a tourist attraction but if you pass it on your way to El Nido, you might as well right?
Busy Puerto Princessa
Port Barton I decided to take a van up to Port Barton. 3 hours from Puerto Princessa. After a very bumpy ride with our friendly driver, we arrived in the cute Port Barton. (yes, this town is cute!) At arrival, you are guided to the tourist office where you pay a small environmental fee of 50 peso’s (1 euro) and you are given a few options on where to stay. A young man (called David) offered us a room and although we were a bit skeptical, he took us to a nice place where we met more travelers (lot’s of hippies!) and we only paid 600 peso’s a night. The place is called Pisces and although the rooms are simple, it’s clean and the owners are extremely helpful and friendly.
Eating coconuts at White Beach, Port Barton
Port Barton is a place for the traveler that wants to chill, save money and enjoys the simple things in life. You can go snorkeling, visit the Pamuayan waterfall (1,5 walk and make sure you ask the way) or check out the amazing white beach. (1 hour walk, no restaurant, bring water) We booked a snorkeling tour for 700 peso’s with David and his crew and I can highly recommend this! You depart at 9am and return around 5pm. You eat a freshly prepared lunch on a beautiful beach and visit some snorkeling spots. Check here for more info.
Fresh fish and veggies at the snorkel tour, Port Barton
Tip » Bring enough cash to El Nido! Do this in Puerto Princessa or even Cebu if you’re there beforehand. There are no ATM’s in Port Barton and El Nido only has one. If it’s empty, you have a problem. If you do get into money troubles, check the western union which is now situated inside the First Consolidated Bank.
Where to eat Port Barton isn’t that large but has quite a nice variety of nice places to eat. » Ausan Beachhouse Restaurant –along the beach Eat in a treehouse! » Evergreen –in the villagegreat breakfast and dinner. (my evening meal took a loooong time, but it was delicious) » Barton Bistro –I haven’t tried it but I’ve heard great stories! » Greenview –beach view and live music on several days in this popular hotel Warning: Jambalaya Cajun Cafe, (recognizable of a big smiley face on the front) the Lonely Planet describes this as one of the best places to drink coffee but I had a glass of warm milk that they called a latte. It’s also extremely expensive and they are too overconfident.
Where to sleep » Ausan beachhouse cottages – sleep in a treehouse for about 1200 peso’s » Pisces – this is where I slept. Good vibes and only 600 peso’s a night. Mind you, it’s very basic, but perfect for the backpacker that wants to save some money. The locals are very nice here.
Eat in a treehouse at Ausan Beachhouse cottages. Source
Nearby Port Barton
It’s a long drive from Port Barton to El Nido, so if you have time break up the long trip with a stop at the gorgeous white sand Lumambong Beach halfway between the two.
»Lumambong Beach – This undiscovered gem is closer down by San Vicente, has a sparkling white sand beach and is completely undeveloped so you’ll have the whole beach to yourself. We’re excited to check out the Binga Beach Resort opening there soon with big glamping cabins right by the beach. It’s currently under construction and they are planning to open in April/May 2019.
El Nido After 3 days it was time to move on and travel to El Nido. Another 4 hours in a van. Make sure to book it at least one day in advance and ask to sit in the front if you get car sick. You can describe El Nido as a vibrant little town with a lot of underdevelopment. Like most of the Philippines, the houses and shops are self build and nothing seems to be finished. But thats the charm of El Nido. It’s a fishers town overrun by tourist that come for one thing only; El Nido’s many islands. Once at sea, your mouth will fall open when you see the beautiful rock formations and lagoons.
Which tour to pick? The most popular thing to do in El Nido is to take a boat tour. You can choose from tours A, B, C and some have tour D (whatever that may be) A & C being the most popular ones and it includes lunch and (most of the time) snorkeling gear. There are so many tour operators to choose from that it will make you dizzy. To make your life easier I’ve made a shortlist of the ones I can recommend: » Kraken Tour not the cheapest but highly recommended. Music, appetizers, lunch, drinks, WiFi, toilet, kayaks, paddle board, snorkel materials are included. Check here for more info » The Artcafe tours. with Kayak 1900 peso’s. (recommended if you take tour A) no snorkling gear included. Accepts credit card. » Northern Hope Tours. Professional and recommended by various sites. Book here All tours are best booked in El Nido. (via the website you may need to pay an extra fee)
El Nido is Palawan’s main attraction
Tour A takes you to the picture perfect Big Lagoon
Another popular activity is diving. There are also plenty dive shops to choose from but I chose Adventurous Scuba. Smaller than some of the flashy expensive diveshops but more personal and professional. 3400 peso’s for 3 dives after a bit of deal making. We had a lovely scuba instructor called Bernie who was really nice to talk with. I can definitely recommend him! They are situated in the same street as the Art Cafe, right at the end on the left side.
Massages are also widely available in El Nido. Expect nothing more than a few curtains to divide the guest but hey, this is Asia and you’ll only pay 400 peso’s for one hour. (8 euro’s) like all other places, you can try your luck and try to get a discount. ( I got mine for 300 peso’s!) They are based in El Nido town. Just follow the “massaaaaaaage” voices and you’re good.
Beautiful diving spots
Where to shop El Nido is not a place to get the best fashion items but there are some nice shops if you walk around. The best shop in town (and maybe even in Palawan)is without doubt Little Corner of Paradise. They sell tops, shirts, bikini’s, summer dresses, jewelry and everything has a beach vibe to it. Run by a French girl, it’s right across from a cute muffin/coffee store that shares the same owner. (Try the banana muffin!) Another good place for shopping is BAZAAR. Just 2 minutes out of the center, you will find this nice place where you will find 3 stores (bags, flip-flops, clothes) food and drinks. You can also have a massage upstairs which I tried and it’s definitely worth the 100 peso’s extra from what you pay in town. On Sunday’s they throw a small electro party with DJ’s and cocktails. Bazaar feels like a little European community in the middle of El Nido.
Beachvibes at Little Corner of Paradise, El Nido
FOOD / DRINK Someone has to say it so I guess it will be me; the food in El Nido isn’t great. It’s OK if you eat meat but as a vegetarian you’ve got a bit of a problem. There are a few places that serve good food and these were exactly the places I would eat day after day. » Art Cafe – great curries, fish and breakfast » BAZAAR asian kitchen – just opened!Amazing Japanese dishes » Deli Nido Café – the best Frappuchino in town hands down » Bagel V & V – the girls who work there are a bit moody but the homemade bagels are nice enough to go there
Small but great coffee
SLEEP There are many accommodations to choose from but don’t expect anything top of the range. Even if you pay a bit more, you will get a basic room. You can always opt for the expensive El Nido Resorts but you just don’t want to to that (unless you want to eat nothing else but plain rice for the rest of your holiday) » Sei Nazioni Cottages – Cute cottages in the middle of town with en-suite options and air-con. book here. » The Resort Bayview Hotel – Nice view. Book here »Anywhere along Marimegmeg Beach – I’ve seen some nice cottages there you should check out.
Sei Nazioni Cottages, El Nido town
NIGHTLIFE Thank god it’s not like Koh PhiPhi in Thailand were the beach turns into a place full of drunk horny teenagers. Well, El Nido does it a bit different. After dinner people go to the beachbars and the Pukka Bar is everyones favorite. They play cool reggae music with a pretty sick live band that gets the crowd dancing until about 3am. Other beachbars are more chilled and close a bit earlier (around midnight) Bazaar throws a party on Sundays and it nice for drinks, ping pong and the occasional darts. La Place is a lively beachbar situated alongside Corong Corong beach and they host a few parties a week. With a small pool in the middle and the DJ booth high up, they come closest to a real club in El Nido. Expect deep/techhouse music.
. The Kala Bar is part of the Bazaar
Around El Nido Rent a scooter for a day or 2 and explore! (500 peso’s) A few places you can visit: » Duli beach – If you get there before 1pm, you might be the only person on the beach. There is one resort called Duli Beach resort (named after the Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here) and it’s run by a Dutch couple. Rooms are around 1000 peso’s a night and you’ll wake up on an amazing long stretched beach. Tip »You might be asked for a fee before entering the bumpy road up to the beach. Just say you have paid already as they totally make this fee up. » Nacpan Beach – You will hear tricycle drivers shouting: “Nacpan Beach?” around town as this is the most touristic beach around El Nido, Palawan. It’s part of Twin beach and you can eat tasty mussels here. Same applies for the fee they will ask you to pay. » Marimegmeg Beach – Just a 10 to 15 min trycile ride from El Nido town you will find this beach with one of the best views you’ll ever see. There are a few beach restaurants and resorts where you can eat. Expect slow service though.
Swing at the Duli Beach Resort (the beach is empty!)
Nice food at Nacpan Beach, Palawan
Walk on Marimegmeg Beach and watch the sunset
Palawan’s beauty is truly breathtaking but be prepared to go back in time a little bit. Less tourist (positive), less tasty food than you’re might used to in Asia, beautiful nature, but not a lot of beautiful architecture. Beaches enough though! Drop me a line in the comments if you need any other tips!
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I have visited a lot of cities in my life but there was always one on top of my city-bucket-list; Istanbul. Why? It’s the perfect mix between Asia and Europe and has so much to offer, even in winter!
Yes, Istanbul is in fact separated by the Bosporus into European and Asian portions. One of my best friends even told me it’s his favorite city in Europe. Time to check it out. Instead of visiting Istanbul during spring or summer, I booked my ticket for the end of February, hoping the weather would be good so far out on the east side of Europe. But one day before I was about to fly, the news reported that Istanbul was coping with the worst snowstorms in 15 years! Bad luck, but ey, that’s traveling and I got to see snow in Istanbul! (That’s me trying to stay positive) Lucky enough it stopped snowing on the day of my departure so I could fly.
Getting Around & Good To Know Arriving in Istanbul it was a little confusing because I wasn’t aware that you need a tourist visa so… that’s my first tip! A tourist visa will cost you 25 euro’s and you can buy this onlinehere.Always check with your local whether is safe enough to travel due to political issues in the country. Traveling to Istanbul is declared save again since of July 2018. You can also buy the visa on arrival like I did, but then you need to wait in line and it can take a long time getting through customs so my advice is to buy it beforehand.
During the winter period, it’s less crowded, cheaper but still beautiful
Getting to my hotel was pretty easy. There are big comfy busses going into town and cost 14 Lira, which is about 5 euro’s. They leave every half hour and take you into the city centre in about 1 hour. For more info, check here. The nearest busstop from my hotel was Taksim Square. This is a famous square which collides with the endless Istiklal street where you can go shopping or visit a nice Starbucks. You can take the Tünel, this is a cute small tram which runs straight through the shopping street.
The Tünel in Istiklal Street
Where to Stay I booked my hotel via Booking.com and because of the low season, I got a very good rate: 120 euro’s for 3 nights! The rate included breakfast and the manager was very friendly and even gave his own Travel Card for me to use. (this is a card you can use for public transport) My only warning, if you are staying near a Mosque (and chances are you will), you will hear the people sing though the loudspeakers, also known as ezan, around 5 times a day. If you are not a morning person, double check your location.
I stayed near the Galata tower and picked this area because it’s authentic and you can really taste the Turkish culture here. The tower itself is worth a visit if you want to check out the nice view and take some good pictures. It will cost you 20 lire to get in and there is a restaurant on the top.
Tip: Go in the morning if you want to skip the queues. From the hotel I could walk right across the street to catch the tram which takes you over the bridge and into the westside of Istanbul. Taking the tram over the Bosporus is only a short ride which takes no longer than 10 min from the Galata area.
Istanbul is full of spices and colors
On this side there are a few big tourist attractions that are just too good to skip:
» The blue Mosque (make sure you bring a scarf to cover your hair. Same thing applies for the Hagia Sofia) » Hagia Sofia » The Grand Bazaar (Great for Turkish shopping like handbags, Scarf, Lamps » The Spice Market (Get ready for some crazy scents and flavors!)
Inside the blue Mosque
I loved the Spice Market the most because of all the colours and different tea’s.
Where to Eat & Drink After a day of walking around, you should definitely take a coffee break or try traditional Salep. My new Turkish addiction. This is a hot milky drink topped off with cinnamon. You can pretty much get it in every Turkish Café. For the best Meze you should try Ciyaand At night Istanbul really comes to live. Restaurants stay open late, and it’s rooftop galore with many restaurants and bars that you wouldn’t expect to be hidden away all the way up there.
Here a few of my rooftop favorites:
» 5Katis a traditional restaurant/bar that has been there forever. You can eat in or outside on the roof terrace. The entrance looks a bit shabby but once you go up, you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the Bosporus. www.5kat.com
» 360 is a great place. For food, drinks and even dancing. Killing view. Reservations are required and leave your sneakers at home. http://www.360istanbul.com/
» Vogue is upscale and also serves sushi for those that are in for a lavish night out. The music isn’t for dancing but for catching up and drinking cocktails. www.voguerestaurant.com
» LTERA is a rooftoop restaurant which opens up in the summer. Looking over the river, it has a beautiful view and the food is tasty! http://www.literarestaurant.com/
» Mikla is posh but well worth it if you love to get dressed up one evening and go for that amazing wine & dine experience. It was once voted in the top 50 best restaurants in the world. This a-claimed restaurant also has a rooftop but during the winter it may be closed. www.miklarestaurant.com
Also check out Limonlu Bahçe Beyoglu, this hipster garden is great for amazing coffee, drinks and western style dishes.
A little further along side the Bosporus river you have amazing chique clubs like the Supperclub and Reina. I didn’t manage to go there because of the chilly nights but I will be back to try those out!
Fishermen trying to get their catch of the day
The Asian District Most tourists only visit the European part of the city but you should definitely take the time for the Asian part! There is the lively Kadikoy where you have markets on different days of the week. Small shops and nice lunch spots make this a super fun day trip. To get there, you take the boat across the bosporus which takes about 30 min. When you are departing Istanbul from Sabiha Cökçen airport, you can also take the bus from there which makes it a shorter ride and you can combine this with a visit to this vibrant part of the city.
Fresh fish at Kadiköy, the Asian part of Istanbul
Be sure to visit Istanbul when it’s a little warmer but even so, it was magical and my friend was right. It’s great!
Traveling is great, but it’s even better when you can save money whilst doing it! So what are the best ways to save some cash? We’ve got 7 tips and tricks lined up for you!
1. Find a job overseas The possibilities are endless! Find yourself a job abroad and work for a few weeks or months. For example; if you work in Australia as a landscaper for 3 months, 6 days a week, you can earn about 25.000 dollars! That’s more then enough to last you a full year of travel in south east Asia! These are some jobs that you could look into:
Au pair (I worked as an Au-Pair in London)
Farm worker (Very popular in Australia and New Zealand)
Dive instructor (Some certification required)
Cruise ship worker
Seasonal worker at ski resorts (if you got a talent, use it!)
Extra tip » You can also start wwoofing. Meaning, you will work on a farm and get a bed and food. This is great if your passing through.
Saving money while you sleep.. (pic by David Stegenga)
2. Couchsurfing It’s free and you meet new people! If you’re a little hesitant about sleeping on someones couch, here’s a success story; I know this couple that did this in Perth, Australia and they ended up in a huge house, had a private room and the owner took them to the most amazing places! The best thing was, that they didn’t need a pay a thing for their stay. (just their food) Check www.couchsurfing.com
Always keep an eye out for those travel deals. This will save you a lot of Money
3. Always look out for those travel deals (because they are there) Flight deals, Boat deals, Hotel deals. It doesn’t really matter what kind of deal it is, just keep an eye out. Check airline websites and sign yourself up for their loyalty program. Flying to Australia once can give you up to 70.000 miles which you can use to buy other flights!
4. Prepare your own meals This is something I learned whilst backpacking through Australia. Food can be expensive and if you’re going to sleep in hostels, the’re always kitchens you can use. When I stayed in Sydney, I met a group of backpackers and we always use to cook together. I was lucky to have a chef in the group that prepared the most amazing dishes which cost us about 4 Australian dollars per person. You can also buy a bag of rice which last you for at least 2 weeks and skip the meat and fish for a few days. Veggies aren’t so expensive and you can buy them cheaper on the markets. In Australia you will see BBQ’s alongside the beaches and parks where you can prepare your meals. Just make sure you clean up after yourself. Extra tip » Cut down on the alcohol. Yes, alcohol can cost you more money than food will and let’s be honest, a headache isn’t so nice either.
Preparing your own meals is healthy and saves you money!
5. Hitchhike Now don’t get me wrong, this is not something I advise you to do in all countries or as a solo female traveler. BUT, I’ve done it in European countries and it has taken me the extra mile to the village or town I needed to go. Besides that, I’ve listened to the most amazing life stories in the car of strangers and always got to my destination safely. Just use your common sense and get in a car with a couple, families or older people.
Always trust your intuition when you go hitchhiking
6. Get a discount card If you’re a student a teacher or under 26 years old? Use it! It’s the best status you can have when you travel. It gives you a lot of discounts on food, activities and more. The same applies for a tourist card. Like you, I don’t really like the “tourist” term but if it opens doors, it’s always a good thing right? Tourist cards especially help if you are visiting a city. It gives you discounts on museums and big attractions and for public transport. Check the nearest tourist office for more information on how to get one.
Cities like New York offer great discounts!
7. Housesit This is probably the best tip if you know you’re going to stay in one place for a while. If you can’t afford a hotel, this is a very good option to look into. It’s simple; just watch someones house while they’re on vacation. You’ll be surprised about how many people do this as it makes their house unattractive for burglars. Check these sites for more info about house sitting:
Kuala Lumpur is not only the capital of Malaysia, it’ a melting pot of culture with a vibrant mix of Malay, Indian, Thai and Chinese people. Planning a visit to Malaysia, a stopover or just curious about what this metropolitan has to offer? This is the guide you need!
If you have a few days in Kuala Lumpur, there are n From Shopping, history, culture, nature, to of course food, its all here. Keep one thing in mind, locals love to eat, so you will see everybody eating all day. From street food to fancy restaurants, in KL you don’t have to worry about food. All is fresh and very tasty!
Where to stay
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral We stayed here when we arrived and can really recommend it. Why? This hotel has rooms starting from 85 Euro, so it’s affordable for everyone. It’s located at a very convenient spot if you arrive at the international airport. The main train station KL Sentral is located only a few minutes walk away and the train takes about 28 minutes from the airport. There is a rooftop pool, a gym, 2 restaurants, and the staff is really lovely. The dinner and breakfast buffet is outstanding. A great place to start from. Wanna do some shopping? Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is connected to the Nu Sentral Shopping Centre via an air-conditioned link bridge. Book your stay here.
Aloft Kuala Lumpur
W-Hotel Oh how we love the W hotels. It’s luxurious, but not in a awkward kind of way. It’s hip and happening and it’s always located at a central place. The W hotel in Kuala Lumpur is located right across the Petronas Towers, and from the rooftop pool, you have the perfect view. There is a lovely outside pool bar, 3 restaurants, a gym and spa. The only downside is, that there is a club downstairs and it can be noisy during the weekends. However, if you are looking for a good time, the W is your hotel!
Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa This hotel is really the best place to escape the concrete buildings and relax before heading back home. Elke stayed here during her last day of her Malaysia trip and we can’t even begin to tell you why it’s so good. First of all, it’s not located in the middle of KL. It’s about a 25 minute taxi drive from the airport, and the resort is surrounded by lush palmtrees and plants, giving it a real tropical feel. There are 3 restaurants, of which the buffet restaurant was Elke’s favourite. And if you want to re-charge yourself before your long flight back home, you should go for a 2,5 hour spa treatment in their luxurious spa. Rooms are available from around €58,- which is great value for money! www.cyberviewresort.com
Relaxing before heading back home
What to see & do
1. Jalan Alor One thing we discovered is that people in Malaysia love to eat! What a coincidence, me too! If you visit KL and you like food you should definitely go to Jalan Alor at night – located in the north of Jalan Bukit Bintang. During the day the Jalan Alor area is relatively dead, but in the afternoon it gets a complete makeover: busy colorful streets with chairs and tables and food everywhere. Jalan Alor is famous for its diverse street stalls with tasty and fresh street food, known as the ‘hawker stalls’. It attracts a lot of tourists but you will also find a lot of locals. From Malay, Indian, Chinese to Thai and Indonesian food, every Asian country is present and all stalls offer the best from its local cuisine. From 5PM-11.30PM
A coconut stall in Kuala Lumpur
2. Jalan Masjid In addition to many diverse stores with Indian goods and food, at nights the streets are busy, noisy, full with tables and chairs where food is the most important for everyone. You will smell the Indian dishes from a distance. So if you love the Indian cuisine, then this is the place to be for you. So for the best Malay and Indian food you will need to go to Little India, Jalan Masjid India. The colorful and vibrant street offer fresh tasty Indian snacks where everyone eats with their hands. Seriously, one of the best Indian food I’ve ever had.
Kuala Lumpur is a city build around food
3. Kampung Baru This little village exists in a small corner of downtown Kuala Lumpur. Kampung Baru, or “new village,” a Malay enclave, located just a short hike away from Kuala Lumpur City Centre next to the Petronas Twin Towers. This is a very nice place to visit! On Saturday there’s a weekly night market where you can try delicious and healthy Malay, Chinese and Thai food.
4. Batu Caves The very popular tourist attraction located in the north of Kuala Lumpur in Selangor are the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves have three main caves featuring temples and Hindu shrines with lots of monkeys surrounded. Watch the monkeys, they can be aggressive. With 272 steps, many tourists and heat its best to arrive early in the morning before 10AM during the weekday to avoid this. That said, also avoid weekends and the Thaipusam festival – two months a year with changing dates – where many tourists will visit this attraction. Watch out for slippery stairs due the rain. Despite the hustle and bustle, its definitely worth visiting. If you get there early, you can take some good shots like the one below.
5. Petronas Twin Towers The Petronas towers are a big tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur. People go in to see the impressive skyline from the top. If you only have a view days in KL and you need to wait, I recommend you to see the Petronas towers at night. Beautiful lightning as you can see in this picture.
6. Shopping Malls Like most Asian capitals, you can find some of the biggest shopping malls in the capital of Malaysia. From high end brands, to cheap stores and foodcourts. These are our favorites:
Suria KLCC (more luxury and high end brands, located next to Petronas Towers)
The Gardens (many shops, food and cinema)
Sungei Wang Plaza (small shops, very affordable, great for souvenirs)
Lot10 (mid/upper class stores, looks great!)
Nu Sentral Shopping Centre (located next to the Sentral Train Station)
7. Pineapple Hill “Bukit Nanas” The entrance is quite difficult to find, but if you want to escape the concrete jungle and trade it for a real one, you should go for a stroll through this tropical forest.There are jungle trails, a visitors centre, and a forestry museum. Some trees are over a 100 years old! Take the metro to Bukit Nanas station and bring mosquito repellent because you will need it.
Tips » Take a walk, there’s too much to miss if you take a train or a bus in KL » You don’t have to tip unless stated otherwise » Eat the street food, it’s amazing! » Talk with locals, they can all speak a bit English and they love to help you out