Experience the glitz and glamour of Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia — just spend a night out in the city that’s dominated by bright casino lights and you’ll learn why it’s called the gambling capital of the world. (Best Hotels in Macau).
But apart from the luxurious casino lifestyle, it is home to historical sites like A-Ma Temple. You can also find remnants of its Portuguese heritage in the UNESCO-listed Senado Square and Ruins of St. Paul’s.
So are you ready to explore Old Macau and get lucky in Cotai Strip? Great! Now all that’s left to do is booking your hotel. Luckily, I’ve got you covered with this list of affordable and luxury Macau hotels.
Spend a night in a Portuguese-style building at Hou Kong Hotel. You’re sure to enjoy your stay as it is nearby various restaurants and souvenir stores. The hotel is also a stone’s throw away from the must-visit Senado Square.
What to love: The complimentary airport transfer Address: No.1 Travessa das Virtudes Closest landmark: Sir Robert Ho Tung Library Price starts from: $50~
Check out this chic boutique hotel conveniently situated in the Historic Centre. Guests can enjoy comfy beds, marble-walled bathrooms, and a delightfully cheery lounge area. The hotel also offers a delectable breakfast buffet and optional tour services.
What to love: The minimalist design Address: No. 4-6, Praca de ponte e horta Closest landmark: Sir Robert Ho Tung Library Price starts from: $50~
Travel in style at the 3-star Fu Hua Guangdong Hotel. Admire the room’s Chinese, Japanese, and European-influenced design. Go for a refreshing dip in the swimming pool, or indulge in Macanese and Southeast Asian cuisine at nearby restaurants.
What to love: The spacious rooms Address: Rua Francisco Xavier Pereira 98-102 Closest landmark: Lou Lim Ieoc Garden Price starts from: $70~
Live like royalty with lavish furnishings, marble bathrooms, and dark wooden fixtures. Find this business hotel situated beneath Guia Lighthouse. The hotel offers sweeping views of Old Macau with its large windows. Take it easy and have afternoon tea at the lobby lounge.
What to love: The sophisticated interiors Address: Estrada da Vitoria 2-4 Closest landmark: Guia Fortress Price starts from: $80~
+ Hotel Lisboa Macau
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» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates
Stay in this luxury hotel that’s been around since 1970. Enjoy easy access to a casino and a shopping center near Senado Square. The hotel has opulently decorated rooms and suites fit for royalty, with its blend of Portuguese and Chinese design.
What to love: The regal interiors Address: 2-4 Avenida de Lisboa Closest landmark: Casino Lisboa Price starts from: $90~
East meets West in this contemporary business hotel. Take a dip in the heated swimming pool, which is surrounded by lush greenery for that laid-back feel.
What to love: The heated outdoor swimming pool Address: 956-1110 Avenida Da Amizade Closest landmark: Handover Gifts Museum of Macao Price starts from: $100~
+ Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central
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This is one of the best hotels in Macau that features a fully-equipped gym. Unwind by the Pool Cafe’s terrace, which gives you a view of the stunning Cotai Strip. Take advantage of the complimentary airport shuttle too.
What to love: The central location Address: At Sands Cotai Central Cotai Strip Closest landmark: The House of Dancing Water Price starts from: $100~
. + Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel
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» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates
Experience the VIP treatment at Sheraton Grand Macao, the region’s largest hotel at over 4,000 rooms. Delight in topnotch service and the central location. The hotel has 3 signature restaurants, a spa with private treatment rooms, and 24/7 fitness center (with your very own personal trainer!)
What to love: The outstanding facilities Address: Estrada do Istmo. sn/n, Cotai Closest landmark: The House of Dancing Water Price starts from: $110~
Immerse yourself in this unique, cinema-themed resort. Feel as if you’re entering Tinseltown just by its glamorous exterior, especially when illuminated at night. There’s never a dull moment with countless entertainment facilities such as a water park, a private beach and more!
What to love: The Hollywood treatment Address: Studio City Macau, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai Closest landmark: Macau East Asian Games Dome Price starts from: $120~
Catch spectacular views of the bay from your room in MGM Macau. The first thing you’ll notice with the hotel is its innovative glass exterior, which beautifully reflects the colors of the sea. Enjoy your stay in a spacious guest room adorned with artworks by renowned artists like Chihuly and Dali.
What to love: The magnificent bay view Address: Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen NAPE Closest landmark: Macau Museum of Art Price starts from: $170~
. + Galaxy Hotel
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Experience the world’s largest wave pool right here in one of the best hotels in Macau. You’ll love entering the gilded, mansion-like hotel and stay in its splendidly adorned rooms.
What to love: The cool wave pool Address: Estrada da Baía de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, CotaiClosest landmark: Museum of Taipa and Coloane History Price starts from: $170~
. + The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates
This has the largest casino in the world! Be captivated by opulent halls, elegant decor, and the changing artificial sky. Shop ‘til you drop, eat from over 30 dining establishments and complete your experience with a gondola ride!
What to love: The Venetian architecture Address: Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança Closest landmark: The House of Dancing Water Price starts from: $180~
Whenever someone thinks of a vacation trip in the Philippines, the first destination that most likely comes to mind is Boracay, and this is especially because of its dreamy and world-renowned white sand beaches! – Things to Do in Boracay –
Of course it helps to note that there are a LOT of other islands in my home country that are not only beautiful but have also been recently gaining more recognition (e.g. Siargao, Batanes, and more!) Nevertheless, the fame of Boracay as one of the top islands in Asia remains. This is no wonder, of course, because it truly holds an unmistakable magnificence — a magnificence that various international travel agencies and publications have come to acknowledge by showering Boracay with various awards and accolades over the years.
Today though, it’s true that given the continued rise of Boracay’s popularity, there have been several travelers who have been put off by it since they said that it was too ‘touristy’. I have actually first landed in this island at a time when it had already been in such a ‘commercialized’ state (as some would say); but I had a really, really, great time there! It then made me realize that for as long as you know what to expect, what to do, when to go, and where to go, you’ll end up enjoying the utmost beauty of Boracay! So give it a try!
» What You Should Expect and Remember
It can get crowded so try to travel at off-peak season (somewhere in June to October) Not only is it cheaper (accommodation, airfare, etc.) but you will also be able to avoid the throng of people. You can’t avoid this kind of ‘touristy’ state because it really comes with very popular places (like come on, what can you expect?).
However, I have to say that the high peak season also has a distinct charm to it because it’s the period wherein a lot of events and parties are abound! I actually remember how fun (and funny) it was to book a getaway trip to Boracay some time ago in March, only to see that almost all of the people I know in university were also taking a breather in the island — from that point on, it turned into a big ‘get-together’ for all of us!
If you’re a foreigner though, don’t worry! Boracay is a great place to meet people. Besides, we Filipinos are known for being friendly and warm so don’t be shy in striking up a conversation with someone!
Don’t confine yourself in the ‘White Beach’ The center of it all is ‘White Beach’ — a 4-kilometer-long postcard-perfect stretch that is divided into three stations (Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3). Apart from the glorious view, this is also the place where all the action happens! From bars, hotels, restaurants, to shops and more! So it naturally happens that this is the most crowded part of the island; fortunately however, there are other white sand beaches in Boracay that you can explore which are above all, less packed. (I will discuss below what these beaches are!)
Contrary to popular belief, it’s NOT expensive to stay in Boracay There are a lot of hotels and inns that won’t break your travel budget. There are even various restaurants scattered around the island that can offer you hearty yet ridiculously affordable meals; so it can surely be a backpacker’s haven! (I will also be tackling this topic below).
Once you keep these expectations and tips on check, it’s time to plan the exciting things that you must do in this glorious island. As based from my previous experiences, below are my recommended top 5 things to do in Boracay that you should absolutely consider!
Go beach-hopping to enjoy the island’s white beaches and turquoise waters!
As I have mentioned above, DON’Tenclose yourself completely in White Beach especially if you want to escape the horde of people. Of course it holds that iconic splendor that you’ve seen in photos but if you’re looking for more tranquility, you can still achieve it in the rest of the island. You see, the great thing about Boracay is that there are a lot of other areas that you can go to, and they are equally picturesque as that of the prominent White Beach.
And the best thing about it? There are 13 of them and they are not too far away from one another because Boracay is a small island that is only approximately 7 kilometers long.
★ Puka Shell Beach Named after ‘Puka‘ shells (shells of cone snails that are bead-like objects that is normally used in making beach anklets, bracelets, and necklaces) this beach is the next crowd favorite in Boracay. Truth be told, it’s simple surroundings is similar as that of White Beach back when it wasn’t so cramped yet. (Simply catch a ride with a tricycle and you’re bound to reach this place in just 20 minutes from White Beach).
★ Ilig-iligan Beach
With the same white sand feature, this is a great spot for snorkeling and it has some scenic limestone islets that you can explore. I believe that there are two of these islets: one is deep and the other, shallow. To reach this beach, there are two ways: either join an island-hopping trip that has a stopover here or just simply walk inland from the White Beach.
Lapus-Lapus Beach To the best of my knowledge, this beautiful stretch is privately-owned by the Fairways & Bluewater Newcoast Resort and that it is only open to their guests. It really has that feel of seclusion to it, so if you want to visit this part, you have to book into the resort.
★ Bulabog Beach
If you’re into beach sports like kiteboarding, parasailing, and windsurfing then this is the beach for you! You will instantly feel the vibrant vibe due to these adrenaline-pumped water activities done by local and tourists alike, so if you’re for this kind of thing, make sure to book a hotel in this part of the island.
Lagutan Beach This is actually one of the places where boats dock in Boracay. Though it may not be as scenic as the others, photographers may find the charm of this place frame-worthy.
Tulubhan Beach There are some local villages that live by this beach and they typically go to the sea to look for seafood like fish, urchins, and more. With decent resorts here and there, Tulubhan can be a nice place to stay in if you’re looking for a quiet getaway.
★ Tambisaan Beach
Tambisaan is popular for its coral gardens and reefs that are just near the shore. For this, you can simply bring your gear with you and then take your own sweet time snorkeling in these waters.
★ Crocodile Beach
This is a small nearby island at the southeast part of Boracay. Often a trip that comes along in prearranged tours, it’s a favorite destination for underwater activities given the abundant and unspoiled marine life in this area. What’s more is that there are also small canyons where you can see some sea snakes.
A lot of locals play here so it can be a bit crowded, but despite the low-key attractiveness of the landscape, it can be a quaint change of scene.
Much like Lagutan, this is one of the boat docks in the island (it’s actually the main port), but somewhere near this area, you can find private spots to relax in under the sun.
★ Diniwid Beach
This is close to White Beach’s Station 1 and it is full of backpacker-friendly resorts. What I like about this place (that is only 200m long) are the stunning cliff side views! To add, there is also a crowd favorite here called Spider House and it is a great place to hangout. Otherwise, you can lounge in the water or lie down on a floating wooden piece that they have set up.
Yet another small private beach but this time, owned by Balinghai Resort and it has a lovely view. Unlike Lapus-Lapus, they permit non-resort guests as long as you pay the entrance fee (wherein the value is consumable in food from the restaurant). With this in mind, take advantage of the scenery by eating your meals by the beach! Just take note that during high tide, the beach is almost entirely submerged so time it on the low tide.
★ Punta Bunga & Banyugan Beach
An additional private beach of the island, this piece of land is owned by the big chain: Shangri-La Resorts. I have to say that this part of the beach is very idyllic (hence the reason why Shangri-La bought it) and since it’s only open to in-house guests of the resort, if you have the budget, this is a great place to book yourself into.
Ask anyone who has been to this island and they will surely tell you about Boracay’s breathtaking and extraordinary sunsets! It’s a view that will really mark its spot in your heart and mind, that up to this day, I myself can still picture out the scenes in my mind and it makes me swell with happiness… with a tinge of melancholy (because I miss it a lot!)
Feel free to pick your spot in any of the Boracay beaches to watch the sunsets (typically between 5 to 6PM), but I do highly recommend the view by the White Beach for this since the silhouette of the passing boats (or paraws) by the horizon perfectly adds to this spectacular display.
…But of course, don’t forget about the sunrise too! It is equally beautiful and it’s always a wonderful thing to welcome the new day by the beach in this way. So enjoy and savor this experience!
Join the island’s lively nightlife and events!
I personally think that if you were to ever ask Filipinos as to why they visit Boracay, their answer would be because of two things: (1) the beach and (2) the nightlife. Actually, a huge chunk of the younger population LOVE to go to Boracay for the nightlife scene!
Indeed, when I was still in university, every vacation time (around March to April), a lot of my friends would suggest going to Boracay as it also in those times that the bars and clubs in the island would typically start to do themed parties (think foam party, neon party, etc. etc.) in anticipation for the youngsters who are oh-so-ready to dance and drink their worries away!
NOTE: The country in general has cheap alcohol so if you’re a foreigner (who holds a stronger currency) take advantage of this! In fact, there are ‘happy hours’ in each and every bar in Boracay wherein during off-peak times, most drinks will be at a half price.
If you want to know the places for partying with the right vibrant crowd, consider the most popular bars and clubs below:
Exit Bar One of the well-known bars in Boracay. Back when I was in the island, me and my friends spent a good amount of our time here especially since we enjoyed the kind of music that they were playing.
Coco Bar Famous for its neon-lit bar, it’s a vibrant place to be in! Come and enjoy your night here with their signature drinks while playing a game of Jenga.
Guilly’s Island This is where most of the people go to for partying, and it has that gung-ho kind of vibe going on. Open from 5PM to 4AM, you can enjoy ‘happy hour’ from 5PM to 9PM.
Epic With a prime location in Station 2 near D’Mall, Epic is one of the classier places for partying with your friends. Come morning though, it’s your typical restaurant spot. (Happy hour happens from 12PM to 10PM).
★ Cocomangas Shooters Bar Famous for its ’15 Shots’ challenge, one can say that they have profoundly ‘conquered’ Boracay if they managed to win this ordeal. As the name goes, you have to chug down 15 shots consecutively and if you can still manage to stand after drinking it all, you will become a part of the ‘legends’: you’ll get a shirt stating your achievement, your name will be engraved on the ‘golden’ wall, and then you will be counted to the scoring table that is grouped per country. (Apparently, Filipinos are winning so far!) Given this kind of challenge, Cocomangas can be such a fun and lively place to be!
Club Paraw A favorite of both locals and tourists, you will enjoy a bigger dance floor in this venue. Make sure that you take advantage of happy hour from 4PM to 9PM.
*★ = Favorite
Of course, there are TONS of other bars and restaurants in Boracay, and as much as I want to list them all, I chose to merely pick the most known ones above. Otherwise, if you’re more into a low-key kind of night, just pick a restaurant by the beach and enjoy a show of firedancers!
Anyhow, if you ever find yourself traveling to Boracay alone, don’t fret! As I’ve said, it’s a great place to meet locals and fellow travelers (even expats!), and the best way to start a networking spree? By joining the famous Boracay Pub Crawl!
You’re bound to meet new friends and you’re also bound to have a crazy night! For a cheap price of only Php 990 ($20~) you will get to ‘hop’ around 5 bars + clubs, have free drinks, get discounted drinks, gain a free iconic shirt + shooter glass, and experience fun get-to-know games with the other group participants all night long! (To book your trip, go online here).
Now, if you rather want to know the best time for visiting Boracay in order to fully enjoy the peak of the island’s nightlife, that would be during:
“LaBoracay”– (Month of May) From the words ‘Labor Day’ and ‘Boracay‘, Laboracay is the biggest summer party celebration of the island! It’s not an official event though, but it’s a term that is typically used by Filipinos to commemorate the series of big events that commonly happens during this period. If you must know, it’s not only the locals who come here for LaBoracay but even foreign and local celebrities who are ready to party hard! (From DJs, to actors, etc.). If you want to know the complete list of parties every year, you can check this site.
Christmas & New Year
If you want some novel or quirky fun, check out this theatrical variety show. Otherwise, if you’re a fan of sports, the ‘Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival’ and ‘International Beach Volleyball Tournament’ are held during the month of May (1st half) and something along this same month, the annual ‘Dragon Boat Racing’ affair of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation is also held.
Come January (2nd half), water sports take place under the event name ‘Boracay International Funboard Cup’. And since it’s the beach, there is a Frisbee tournament that is done on the White Beach during July (called as ‘Boracay Open Asian Beach Ultimate’).
Indulge yourself with the local food.
One of the things that you have to understand about Boracay is that if you are not well-informed, you could end up finding all these typical western restaurants that hold no personality of the island’s cuisine. This is not to say that these western restaurants are no good — because they are — but if you really want to enjoy true Filipino fare and dishes, follow my advice and tips:
Go to D’Talipapa– because a beach trip is NOT complete without seafood! For sure there are a lot of seafood restaurants in White Beach as an example, but if you want the true-blue way of eating like a local, drop by Station 2 to find D’Talipapa — a wet market that sells fresh seafood ingredients! Once you are done shopping for the food that you would like to eat, simply go to one of the nearby restaurants and have them cook it for you. (They have a wide range of cooking styles that you can choose from.)
Go to Filipino Restaurants– and try local dishes! Other than gaining the chance to experience our hearty food, these are typically priced cheap too so it’s quite a steal. (Starting at Php 50 or $1+). For my favorites, try Smoke Resto at D’Mall, Plato D Boracay (also) at D’Mall, Mesa at Station 2, or Boracay Kitchen at Station 1.
Try street food– To start, taste the local BBQ sticks, pork fat crackers (chicharon), balut (famous fertilized egg), and of course the Chorizo Burger! This is a favorite snack in this island. What is it? Well, it’s simply a sweeter version of grilled chorizo with sweet sauce in a bun… BUT the taste is something that everyone and you would go gaga for! (If you’re not a fan of sweet meat then this might not work for you, but it’s still worth a try).
Take advantage of the fresh local fruits– what else but mangoes?! I promise you, we might just have the best mangoes that you will ever taste in your whole life! Other than this, indulge yourself with coconut juice that is freshly picked. And while we’re in the topic of drinks, take your time in enjoying all the kinds of fresh juice mixes that every establishment serves. If you want to try another favorite, go to Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar at Station 1 because the drinks here are absolutely addictive! They are even served in such big quantities apart from being cheap; therefore, it’s going to be worth your money.
If you truly want some western fare, go to Aria at D’Mall for Italian cuisine, Bite Club at Station 2 for burgers, Tres Amigos at D’Mall for Mexican fare, and Zuzuni at Station 1 for desserts.
Try out the various water sports and activities!
Boracay can hold your attention for a looooong while given the array of activities that you can do. It may be a small island but it sure packs a LOT of fun! Aside from the island-hopping tour activity that I have already suggested at #1, try these water activities below to get the most out of your summer vacation:
★ Fly Fish Ride I absolutely recommend this if you want to have a wild ride with your friends! Basically, you will be riding this HUGE inflatable that’s like a ‘flying fish’. It will be pulled by a speedboat that will abuse its power and speed, and you have to hang on to it (for dear life) as it tries to spin you around at the sea! You can even try to put a challenge among your friends, like who will fall off the most for example! If I can impart another advice, let your competitiveness slide for a bit and then let yourself get thrown off the ‘fly fish’. Why? Because it’s part of the fun! (There’s the milder alternative for this like a..
Thai food is famous for its spiciness, but in northern Thailand, especially in the district of Chiang Mai, influences from Burma and China are distinct. This results to milder curries and a more pronounced use of other ingredients such as ginger and turmeric. This may not sound appealing to some, but I tell you: it’s sinfully goooooood. (Chiang Mai Street food).
Travelling to this ‘Rose of the North’ last October, surely I wouldn’t pass on the chance of going on a food trip — especially since Chiang Mai (and Thailand in general) is praised for its rich and flavorful dishes, more so for those that you find on the streets and public markets.
Now, there are a lot of night bazaars and market avenues in the city and it could get really dizzying; but you can go tothis post to see a list of popular places for food and shopping in this city.
After you sort that out, continue down to this list to see the top 10 Chiang Mai street food dishes that you should absolutely try and not miss out!
Chiang Mai Street Food
#1 – Khao Soi (Egg Noodle Curry)
Photo from Rachel Moon/Shutterstock
You can choose from beef, chicken, or pork khao soi; obviously, I took chicken for this one.
A Burmese-influenced dish, though its name translates to ‘cut rice’, it is actually made up of deep-fried crispy egg noodles dipped in a coconut milk curry soup. It is always accompanied with a dish of shallots, cilantro, lime, pickled mustard, ginger, and chili paste.
This was rich and flavorful wherein the taste of the soup was akin to that of yellow curry; but of a thinner consistency and not so spicy. Apparently, khao soi comes in different types: some serve it in curdled blood, rice noodles, etc. but this one that we ate was a Traditional Lanna Style type of khao soi.
For this type of Chiang Mai street food, it is available in every food place, but we recommend you to try out a local favorite of Thais: Khao Soi Samerjai located at 91 Charernras, Fahharm, Mueang Chiangmai (beside restaurant Wat Fa Ham). In here, they also offer other various Thai dishes that if you fancy, you could absolutely try!
#2 – Khanom Jeen or Khanom Chin
Photo from SAHACHATZ/Shutterstock
While we were strolling around Warorot Market, we saw a LOT of these small dimly-lit sections in which a lot of Thai people are eating dinner. One thing we noticed distinctly is that they were mixing a lot of stuff from the veggies that were laid out in their tables. We wondered what it was, and here we discovered khanom jeen or khanom cheen, a very common and CHEAP but filling Chiang Mai street food made of thin rice noodles.
It first starts with you, choosing the kind of soup that you’d like. It could be (1) chicken in coconut curry soup, (2) fish balls in curry soup, or (3) pork blood soup. This will then be mixed with white noodles which are thin fermented rice vermicelli (it’s like spaghetti, but thinner — which makes a lot of people say that this is like Thailand’s version of spaghetti).
They will put this in a bowl, and then when you sit down, there are free vegetable ‘toppings‘ for you to use: raw string beans (I was surprised to see them eating this raw! I’m not used eating it raw…), basil, beansprouts, pickled mustard greens, shredded cabbage, and chili. Sometimes they include fried pork grind and eggs, but these eggs are not part of the free ‘toppings’ as this will cost you ฿10 baht for one.
Now I could not believe that I only paid ฿20 baht for this. I was already very full and yet it was only less than a dollar! Plus: it tasted VERY good too! It was insane, that you should just try it for yourself.
#3 – Sai Oua (Grilled Spicy Herb Sausage)
Photo from LaysRock/Shutterstock
A lot of street vendors sell different meat balls or pieces on a stick. Usually, beside those sticks are these ‘Northern Style’ sausages that are coiled around in a shape that reminds me of what else but… poo. But don’t let that stop you.
This can be piping hot and spicy since after taking a bite from it, it first gave me a tinge of herbs but then it was quickly followed by a sudden rush of chili — it was fiery! But still delicious and rich in its own way.
Made from ground pork, this sai oua is filled with spices such as lemongrass, cilantro, shallots, pepper, galangal, and dried chilies. As if that wasn’t enough, they mix in chili paste too! Sounds scary, right? But it’s worth a try!
Apparently, to mellow down the burst of spice, this is best paired with… .
This Chiang Mai street food was a JOY to eat. We have sticky rice back at home in the Philippines, but not in a way that’s prepared like this: mixed with sweet stuff!
There are different kinds of sticky or glutinous rice in Thailand and they’re usually wrapped around in banana leaves. Some are mixed with fruits (hence the famed Thai mango sticky rice as pictured above), with coconut, with violet rice, with beans, or with egg custard. Sometimes they even put artificial colors on the rice!
For me, I loved the egg custard the most! You can usually buy these sticky rice packs on the streets and night markets.
#5 – Pad Thai
Photo from Victor FlowerFly/Shutterstock
I bet you’ve seen this coming!
Aside from sampling curries across Thailand, pad thai is another dish that you shouldn’t skip on — its huge popularity speaks for itself in the first place! And as what you may already know, it’s a stir-fried rice noodle often with different toppings and sauces.
You might have already tasted it from the Thai restaurants near your hometown, but you should definitely try pad thai that’s from Thailand itself. It’s very tasty and savory! This was the first Thai dish that I actually fell in love with when I first had my taste of ‘Thai’ in a restaurant in Manila; and tasting it here in Chiang Mai was even better!
#6 – Quail Eggs
Photo from Evgeny Ermakov/Shutterstock
This is another one of those Chiang Mai street food stalls filled with people — so I had to try it out! For this, they are simply fried quail eggs that are mixed with coconut milk; but, there are other types that are mixed rather with fish and soy sauce.
They weren’t too sweet and they were very scrumptious in every bite. It was the perfect ‘dessert’ to cap one of the nights where we went ‘street food’ shopping in Chiang Mai.
#7 – Som Tam or Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)
Photo from Tortoon/Shutterstock
This is basically made up of shredded green papaya. They would first pound the chili, tomatoes, garlic, and long beans into a mortar; and then they’ll add the papaya, bruising it well so as to incorporate the flavors of the former set of ingredients. What comes after will be fish sauce, lime, sugar, and some nuts.
I think if you ordered for the special that costs ฿5-10 baht more, they will add seafood to it!
At first I was scared that it would be really spicy — as with any normal initial reaction to a new Thai dish — but gladly enough, it wasn’t! There was a hint of spiciness of course, but everything was so well balanced that I wouldn’t mind having som tam for appetizers from now on.
So try it too, especially since it’s also one of the very popular Chiang Mai street food dishes.
#8 – Kaeb Moo (Crispy Pork Rinds)
Photo from Regreto/Shutterstock
This is much like chicharon from the Philippines so I was pleasantly surprised that it also exists in Chiang Mai! As such, kaeb moo are simply crispy friend pork rinds often mixed with salt and garlic. (Sometimes even with chili).
To date, it has different variations: (1) curls of just the crunchy skin or rind with a part of fat for added goodness and cholesterol, haha! Obviously, for those into healthy-eating, it’s fine to taste one or a few just to remember how delicious a pig’s fat can be.
#9 – Grilled Pork, Fish, or Chicken
Photo from Evgeny Ermakov/Shutterstock
Aside from the variations of small meat stuck on a stick, it’s also great if you could try the bigger portions: grilled fish, grilled pork parts, and grilled chicken.
They can be veeeery tasty! And sometimes, when you order chopped parts of these, it comes along with chili or some other seasoning. I personally think that this is a good Chiang Mai street food when you’re about to launch into a night of drinks with your friends. Prices for this vary, but often times, chopped parts of pork or chicken costs around ฿40 to 60 baht.
#10 – Exotic Food!
Photo from Chaikom/Shutterstock
Surely, Thailand has its own set of crazy street food too. I ate a cricket before in the Philippines and they had grasshoppers too — however, they were very small and the insects in Chiang Mai were biiiiiig.
I am not putting this on this list for its taste (though some will find it good; but all I taste is fear and crunchiness). I’m rather putting this on this list for the experience, as well as for you to have the ‘bragging rights’ of saying that you’ve ate one! Haha, and besides, Bear Grylls did say that these pack a LOT of protein and with no fat! So, why not?
Aside from crickets, there are ant eggs, silkworms, bats, dried lizard, etc. etc. etc.
Other ‘normal’ exotic food that are NOT insects would have to be the usual Asian fruits: mangosteen, durian, lanzones, jackfruit, dragonfruit, rambutan, sugar apple, and basically every weird fruit that you see that you normally don’t see in your country. (Make it a challenge among your travelling buddies to make it more fun!).
Have you ever had the chance to watch the movie: ‘Memoirs of a Geisha‘? Or at least read the book? Well… I’ve done both at a young age and I instantly fell in love with Japan’s geisha as I witnessed their unique beauty, grace, and discipline. In fact, ever since then, I have been deeply enamoured by their mystifying world — which, thankfully, have still survived up to this day!
I say ‘survived’ because I was also interested in the samurai (Japan’s olden warriors who typically serve a feudal lord or daimyo). I badly wanted to witness their noble way of life; however, it made me terribly sad when I learned that they no longer exist, and this is because their social class has died down long ago around the late 1800s after the emperor favored a more modern western-style army. Sure, there may be descendants and even people who still try to practice samurai behavior and/or swordsmanship today, BUT it’s not the same given how the whole samurai lifestyle and system is absolutely non-existent anymore.
The geisha tradition is not as old as the samurai but it IS old and I’ve surely developed some sort of mild fear that they might eventually disappear too — which I hope to goodness, they won’t — and this worry of mine makes a bit of sense because there aren’t many geisha anymore. To put it into numbers, back in the 1920s they numbered around 80,000. Their current number? It is now estimated to be only 1,000 to 2,000!! Because of this and more, it couldn’t be helped that I’ve made ‘meeting or seeing a legit geisha‘ as an item on the very top of my bucket list.
Well… guess what?
I already made this dream come true when I went to Japan this year!
What have I done, precisely? I talked to a geisha in Tokyo over a dinner banquet, I played games with 2 young senior maiko in Niigata, I caught sight of a legitimate maiko (who was on her way to work) in one of Kyoto‘s narrow alleys, and I watched two young Japanese maiko perform in Gion Corner — breathtaking experiences that I will surely remember and treasure forever.
Of course, now that I have met and seen them, my wish for their practices to continue for eternity has been strengthened even more!
But before I go on, actually, let’s talk about the movie again because I find it imperative to note that since ‘Memoirs of a Geisha‘ was made in Hollywood, it had several aspects that were false (if not overly romanticized) thereby contributing to the already growing misconceptions of this culture. Thanks to my discussions with a geisha, Kimicho of Tokyo, as well as to my long research sprees, I have come to learn MORE of the truth.
Today, I will be imparting that knowledge with you so that you too can be cleared of any misconceptions that you may have about them.
A geisha, which translates to English as “performing artist” or “artisan”, is a high-class professional and traditional female entertainer in Japan trained in various forms of art.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In west of Japan such as of that in Kyoto, they use another name for geisha: geiko. Whereas in Kanto area (around Tokyo), they call them geigi. For Tokyo and other places, they commonly use the word ‘geisha’. For the sake of consistency in this article, I will use the word geisha. Besides, it is a more widely recognized term that can be used to encompass both that of western Japan’s geikos and Tokyo’s geisha.
Meanwhile, a maiko, which translates to English as “dancing child”, is an apprentice geisha.
Historically, a maiko starts her training at a very young age: around 3 or 5 years old. But now, their training starts at a much later date: in Kyoto they start at 15 or 16 and in Tokyo they start at 18.
Nevertheless, any girl who wants to enter the community does not have to begin as a maiko because it’s said that they can already proceed being a geisha. (Still and the same, they are required to do at least a year’s worth of training before debuting as a geisha.) For women who are aged 21 to 23 and above, they are deemed to be too old to become maiko so they already become a geisha when they join the community — again, still with training beforehand.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In Tokyo, maiko are rather called as hangyoku (“half jewel”) and they can remain to be so until they are 23. For the sake of consistency in this article, I will use the word maiko.
• What a geisha does •
A geisha is usually hired to attend to guests (who are predominantly and traditionally male) during banquets, meals, parties, and other occasions as she demonstrates her skills through various ways such as dancing to a tune played with the shamisen (a stringed instrument), initiating games, doing the art of conversation, and more.
Photo by: Japanexperterna / Color edit applied / CC
For these affairs, they meet up with their guests at an ochaya* (tea house) or at a ryōtei (traditional Japanese restaurant) and charge their customers by the hour with flat fees.
*Ochaya are highly exclusive places that customarily only grant entry to regular or trusted customers. This is mainly because of how they operate: they don’t bill their guests at the end of the evening, but rather once a month for all the expenses accrued — hence, there is a special level of trust involved. For instance, not just about anyone can go up to an ochaya without being introduced to it first by an already existing customer (and that existing customer would essentially risk their reputation by trusting the behavior of the person that they are introducing to the ochaya). Going by this train of thought, hiring a geisha to have a dinner banquet with is not easy especially if you’re not Japanese and not well-connected, as it is exclusive AND expensive.
Fortunately, most ochaya have lessened their restrictions lately and tourists can now have a geisha dinner if they go through partnered travel agencies and hotels. However, you will still need to prepare a considerable budget for this because a full geisha dinner can be worth around 50,000 yen and up ($470~ or Php 22,500~) per geisha or maiko. This does NOT include dinner yet which starts at 10,000 yen ($95~ or Php 4,500~), as well as an interpreter if you don’t know how to speak Japanese (since geisha and maiko don’t train in English conversation).
Want to meet with a geisha?
Come and check out these geisha encounters and/or dinner activities that you can do either in Nagoya or Tokyo that already include English translators!
TRIVIA: Some people will say that it can be a ‘waste’ of your money to have a geisha dinner if you don’t speak Japanese — the magic of it all may cease to exist! They say that this is because you’ll be missing out on one of their best talents: conversation or witty banter.
No matter the case, this is all up to you of course! The way I see it, it might indeed be a waste of money, BUT I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do it anyway and get an interpreter (better yet, drag along your Japanese friend). And if you’re up for it, there are also already a few trained and recognized foreigner geisha in Japan who can speak English. I went through this experience myself and I enjoyed it so much! (To learn more about these modern foreigner geisha, go here).
By the way, you might be wondering: “Why are geisha expensive?!“
First of all, not only is their training long, meticulous, and costly (which they have to slowly pay back to their okiya or geisha house), but their whole attire (handmade kimono which are designed just for them) are costly too — it can start at $10,000!
• History of geisha •
Geisha started to appear in the pleasure quarters of Japan before the turn of the 18th century. The first geisha were actually men, whereas the first female ones who appeared years later were teenage odoriko who were expensively-trained “dancing girls” or dancers-for-hire. (As time passed on, being a geisha was mainly regarded as a female occupation.)
Slowly, geisha became more widespread and a lot of them started to work primarily as entertainers — anyone who was selling sex (which was against their intended kind of work) were imprisoned after all in order to protect the oiran who were licensed high-class courtesans or prostitutes at that time. However, when 1800 came in, the oiran slowly fell out of demand when wealthy Japanese men chose geisha more as their companion of choice due to their ‘chic’ and modern demeanour.
Simply put: the rise of the geisha was the fall of the oiran.
Left & middle photo by: Japanexperterna / CC | Right photo by: Keisuke Makino / CC
Meanwhile, when World War II began, geisha started to decline; they had to close their okiya (geisha houses), and the teahouses and bars had to close shop as well. As a result, they went to other places in Japan for safety or for work (such as in factories, etc.). It didn’t help either that some prostitutes started to refer to themselves as “geisha girls” to American military men.
Nonetheless, when the war ended, the returning geisha made it a point to reinstate their traditional standards as highly-skilled entertainers, and at the same time, they proposed increased rights for their profession.
• Myths to bust about the geisha and maiko of today •
1 MYTH: Geishas are prostitutes. TRUTH: Geisha are NOT prostitutes. They are and always will be highly-skilled entertainers. (It helps to note anyway that prostitution is illegal in Japan ever since 1956.) Plus, even though there were some of them in the olden times who offered sex to their clients, it helps to note that it wasn’t a part of their true traditional function or training — call them rebels if you will, and they might just be so since as I’ve discussed previously, a geisha is imprisoned in the past should they ever offer sex to others casually.
Of course a geisha is free to pursue personal relationships with any man that she meets through work; but such would most likely never be casual nor will it ever be her goal for such an interaction. They live in a geisha district (hanamachi) which is very closely-knit community, and given how greatly they value their reputation, they would always pick their relationships carefully. Should they ever fall in love and want to marry, then sometimes they must retire because geisha (most especially in Kyoto) are expected to be single. Nevertheless, there are now a lot of places in Japan (like Tokyo) that allow married, divorced and/or women with children to become geisha.
2 MYTH: Geisha have personal relationships with a patron or danna. TRUTH: This is NOT true today. It may have been tradition in the past for geisha to take a danna or a patron who was wealthy enough to support the expenses related to her training and other costs in order to have a personal relationship in return (which was not inherently sexual) with a geisha. But today, it is very unusual for a geisha to have a personal relationship with a danna and should they ever have one (which is rare because most of them love to be autonomous now), it’s mainly because of the patron’s desire to help prolong the geisha arts and traditions — nothing more. Again, a geisha and her danna can fall in love but intimacy is never viewed as an exchange for the danna’s financial support.
3 MYTH: Young girls are sold to okiya (geisha houses) by their parents because of poverty. TRUTH: It may have happened way in the past, but nowadays, NO young girl is sold to an okiya due to poverty as it is more of a personal career choice in order to become a maiko/geisha. In fact, a lot of girls have to persuade their parents today in order to let them become one. Once a girl’s parents do consent to it, she will have to be interviewed first by the association as well as the female owners of the ochaya (tea houses) before being accepted.
4 MYTH: Geisha are lead by men and money (as portrayed in the movie: Memoirs of a Geisha). TRUTH: This is NOT true. It helps to always remember that the movie was mainly fictional and set to be ‘sellable’ to audiences. (Well, hello Hollywood!). Being a geisha is like being an artist or a performer — it’s a respectable profession and much like any career you pursue in life that you are passionate about, you do it because you love it while also earning your living from it. They don’t go around chasing after men either; it just so happens that the people that they present their art and performances to are predominantly men.
5 MYTH: Maiko go through mizuage wherein a patron would pay to take their virginity. (As also seen in ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’). TRUTH: Nope. This kind of mizuage was actually a ceremony done by young courtesans and prostitutes in the past — NOT by maiko. Though there are speculations that this mizuage (taking of the virginity) was done by some maiko in the past, what’s important to remember is that this is NOT done today nor was it ever traditionally accepted to be done by geisha for their maiko. The only kind of mizuage that maiko have done was a ceremony wherein older geisha would symbolically cut the topknot of the maiko’s hair to signify her coming of age (of becoming an adult).
• How to identify geisha and maiko •
As you visit Japan, take note of the below points to help you quickly differentiate a geisha from their apprentice (maiko):
AGE. As I’ve already discussed, maiko usually start their training at a young age (15 to 16 for Kyoto and 18 for Tokyo) so they are much younger than a full-fledged geisha who often start at around 21 to 23.
HAIRSTYLE. Geisha usually wear wigs whereas maiko have their hair styled naturally. A geisha’s wig and a maiko’s natural hair are regularly styled by highly-skilled artisans (lately though, traditional hairstyling is slowly phasing out because it can sometimes lead to balding on the top of their head).
TRIVIA: Maiko have their hair styled elaborately every week. To keep their hairstyle intact, maiko sleep with their necks on small supports called as takamakura (they are tall uncomfortable-looking pillows; if you’ve watched the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, you’ll know what I’m talking about).
HAIR ORNAMENTS. Maiko wear more elaborate decorative hair ornaments called as kanzashi and the designs can vary depending on the stage of training that they are currently in. During their minarai stage, their hair accessory is a hana-kanzashi or an ornament with flowing flowers that will dangle from the maiko’s hair to her chin (usually worn during the 1st year of her training). In contrast, geisha wear simpler kanzashi which is usually just a comb.
MAKEUP. On a typical day, a maiko will be seen wearing the most recognizable feature of geisha: the full white face makeup. Geisha, on the other hand, do NOT have this makeup on unless they are going to do a special performance.
Maiko will always have a noticeable white band of unpainted skin on their hairline (since they don’t wear wigs) and their eyebrows will be shaded in red or pink, their cheeks slightly blushed, and their eyes outlined with black eyeliner and red eyeshadow. During the early stages of their training, ‘junior’ maiko (or minarai) will only have their lower lip painted in red and as they advance (as ‘senior’ maiko), both their lips will be painted but only in a thin line. For geisha who need to have their face painted when they work, apart from having no visible part of exposed skin near their hairline (since they wear wigs), their eyebrows will also only have a faint shade of red, their eyes outlined in black (if a ‘senior’ geisha) or with a slight red (if they’re a ‘junior’ geisha) and their lips painted fully in red. Left photo by: Joe Baz / CC | Circle & right photo by: Annie Guilloret / CC
TRIVIA: This white makeup fully covers the geisha or maiko’s face, neck, and chest — except for the nape (called komata or the back of a person’s neck) which they will make sure is visible when they would later on wear their kimono. This part is considered to be a traditionally erotic area in Japan so they accentuate this sensuality by customarily leaving an inverted “V” shape on a geisha, and an inverted “W” shape on those who just debuted as maiko. (This style is called as eri-ashi)
KIMONO. A maiko usually wears a colorfully-designed long-sleeved kimono (Japanese traditional garment) with a wider obi (sash) that is set to look like a bow as it drapes down to their back. A maiko’s collar is also a distinct feature because it is thick and embroidered, hangs very loosely and are mainly in the color red (other colors can only be gold or white). It will slowly have white embroidered patterns as they advance in their training but it will always remain to be dominantly red. Geisha, who are more mature, wear more subdued but refined kimonos with shorter sleeves that are usually in one color with a simple pattern at the bottom. Their obi is shorter too and it looks like a square bow knot at the back. Lastly, their collars are completely white and are not as loose. (Both maiko and geisha though wear kimonos according to the season).
Singapore is not only known for its world-class airport facilities, heart-pumping theme parks and awe-inspiring city skyline but also for its finger-licking dishes — after all, much like what the famous show of ‘Crazy Rich Asians‘ had shown us, Singapore food is a wonder of its own!
As time has it, Singapore’s seaport history surely gave way to a diverse culture with various Asian and Western influences, and this has been perfected for years. No matter where you go, you can enjoy a myriad of options: from cheap hawker centre fare to heritage restaurants serving fresh seafood and hearty rice and noodle meals.
Traveling in Singapore is definitely a delight and in order to help foodies like you, I’ve put together a list of some of the most flavorful Singaporean dishes that you must try as you eat your way through this mega city!
Photo from bonchan/Shutterstock
Ask any local about Singapore’s national dish and chili crab is bound to be a clear favorite! Truth be told, it was even voted as one of the world’s 50 most delicious foods in a survey by CNN.
So while in Singapore, make sure to enjoy these juicy crabs soaked in a sweet & spicy tomato and chili sauce and then pair it off with steamed or fried mantous (buns).
Where best to eat it? Try out the spicy chili crabs at Long Beach Seafood Restaurant found in #01-04 East Coast Seafood Centre, 1202 East Coast Parkway. This place actually serves a variation of the chili crab: the black pepper crab. Instead of the chili sauce, this signature dish is created with black pepper seasoning.
#2 – Chicken Rice
Photo from showcake/Shutterstock
Another contender for the nation’s most popular dish is chicken rice — also called as Hainanese Chicken. In this Singapore dish, the chicken is cooked in a blend of pork and chicken bone stock for a flavorful bite. After cooking, it is sometimes immersed in ice water to create a glazed look. The rice is then cooked in chicken stock, ginger, and garlic. Now of course, don’t forget the garlic and chili sauce before digging in!
Where best to eat it? Brave the long queues at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice found in 1 Kadayanallur St, #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre.
Delight in the different textures and flavors of the Malay dish: nasi lemak. The term translates to “rich rice”, perfectly describing the rice steamed in creamy coconut milk.
This national dish of Malaysia comes with fried chicken, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), roasted peanuts, egg, otah (grilled fish cake), and of course, sambal (chili paste). Switch up your meal with add-ons like ikan kuning (fried yellowstripe scad) and paru (beef lung).
Where best to eat it? Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak found in #01-106, Boon Lay Place Market and Food Centre, 221 Boon Lay Place.
Start your day at a kopitiam (traditional coffee shop) and order a delicious kaya toast. This dish might seem simple at first but it’s a well-loved Singapore food. It basically consists of sweet kaya (pandan-flavored coconut jam) and a slice of butter that are sandwiched between toasted slices of bread. Typically, this is dipped in a mixture of soft-boiled eggs, pepper, and dark or light soy sauce.
To complete the authentic experience, sip on full-bodied kopi (coffee) with condensed milk!
There are also variations on this breakfast staple such as round buns, a baguette, or even crackers instead of the usual sliced bread. Other coffee shops, like Good Morning Nanyang Cafe, puts their own unique spin with the addition of caramelized orange peel.
Where best to eat it? Ah Seng (Hai Nam) Coffee found in 7 Maxwell Road #02-95 Amoy Street Food Centre for traditional, char-grilled bread. Otherwise, Good Morning Nanyang Cafe found in 14 Scotts Road, #02-23 Far East Plaza and 32 Maxwell Rd.
Any trip to a hawker centre will not be complete without your fix of satay. Relish in this delectable skewered, grilled meat, that’s typically served with ketupat (steamed rice cake), peanut dip, and sometimes cucumbers and onions too.
The meat can vary: pork, chicken, lamb, beef and so on. Personally? I like pork satay best!
Where best to eat it? Haron Satay found in 1220 East Coast Parkway, East Coast Lagoon Food Village.
Bak kut teh, which translates to “meat bone tea”, gets its name from the Chinese tea that’s typically paired with this pork rib soup dish. Basically, pork bones and meat are boiled together with a delicate amount of herbs and spices.
Afterwards, it is served with tofu puffs, mushroom, rice, and you tiao (dough fritters).
Where best to eat it? Song Fa Bak Kut Teh found in 11 New Bridge Rd. (Upp Circular Rd, #01-01).
Another well-loved hawker centre or Singapore street food fare is sambal stingray, also known as ikan bakar (barbecued fish) in Malay.
This Singapore invention is quite a treat as it is originally grilled in banana leaf in order to retain its natural flavor. To complete it, top it with some spicy sambal paste made from chili peppers, belacan (shrimp paste), shallots and spices. Balance your meal with the salty chinchalok or cincalok, a dipping sauce made of fermented krill/shrimp, lime, and chili.
Where best to eat it? Chomp Chomp Food Centre found in 20 Kensington Park Road.
Chow down on the hearty bak chor mee, which translates to “minced meat and noodles”. This is a delicious bowl of noodles topped with sliced pork, dumplings, pork liver, and salted fish or fish cake slices coated in a spicy vinegar sauce.
You can also choose from different noodle types such as the mee pok (flat noodle), mee kia (thin noodle), bee hoon (rice vermicelli), mee sua (wheat vermicelli), and mee tai mak (rice pin noodle).
Where best to eat it? Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle found in Blk 466 Crawford Lane.
Hey Aileen! I am planning on becoming a digital nomad as I go on a RTW (round-the-world) trip next year. For my journey, I will have a check-in luggage where I will put all my clothes and shoes in, and when it comes to my laptop, camera, and electronics, I would like to put these valuables in a carry-on. But I’m having difficulty in finding the right way to pack them! I also don’t want to miss on any essentials during a flight (may it be a short one or a long haul). I follow your updates and live feed on Snapchat, and it seems like you always manage to pack well and light for your travels. As an experienced traveling digital nomad, I would love to know how you pack valuables in your carry-on!
– Nana from France
I know how nerve-wracking it can be to pack for a trip — you gotta bring the essentials with you, but without making things bulky nor heavy.
Besides, none of us would want to face the dire situation of forgetting a vital item, only to end up going through various hassles to replace it while in a foreign country. For sure, we wouldn’t want to travel around like a mule either!
And so, as with any travel journey, there are two things that you typically pack for: your check-in baggage and your carry-on bag. The items that you should pack for check-in is a discussion that I’ll tackle on later; but for today, in order to answer Nana’s question, we’ll focus first on the essentials for your carry-on luggage and/or backpack.
The way I see it, a carry-on should be able to:
Contain things that can assist you no matter if it’s a short or long flight
Contain things that can serve as a ‘safety net’ in case your check-in baggage gets lost during transit (which happened to me several times already)
With these in mind, it follows that your carry-on is basically a “bag of goodies” that is non-changing. Now, after traveling around the world for several years, I can say with confidence that I’ve already perfected my carry-on packing routine — which I would now be sharing with you!
Hence: no matter how long your trip may be and no matter where you’re going, below is a list of my typical carry-on essentials and gear that can keep you “properly equipped” during all of your travels!
(*My lifestyle is basically that of a digital nomad — enterepreneur-slash-blogger — but with today’s time, I believe that the items below applies to EVERYONE anyway since, we’ve all become such tech junkies!)
What’s in My Carry-On?
– The “Carrier” –
Most airlines allow one (1) carry-on cabin luggage that is under their respective weight limit (typically around 5 to 10kgs only).
Fortunately, there are also some airlines that allow two (2) items: one (1) carry-on and one (1) personal item (a handbag, a backpack, a laptop bag, an umbrella, a briefcase, etc. that can be stowed under the seat before you.) Given this fact, there have actually been times that I do NOT have any check-in baggage at all: I only bring along one carry-on backpack, and one small rolling luggage that contains my clothes — a set-up that is VERY helpful for avoiding long check-in lines.
Often times though, I am faced with preparing just 1 carry-on bag, while the rest is stored in my main luggage. Nevertheless, as dependent upon your trip and the airline that you’ll be riding in, it just really helps to have bags ready that are generally within the standard limits for cabin luggage.
My recommendations would be:
For years, I have been on the hunt for the PERFECT backpack that can properly organize and protect my carry-on items. This is because most small backpacks are thin and “top-loading” (where you simply shove items into the depths of it and wish that you’ll find them easily later on). I rather wanted a versatile one that can keep my tech gadgets secure and can segregate my other carry-on items better for ease and swift access.
Thankfully, my search ended last year when I was introduced to Venque’s innovative CamPro Bag! Now why has this become my ultimate carry-on backpack?
The bottom section is ‘front-loading’ (like a suitcase) and can be sectioned into compartments with the help of its adjustable velcro dividers which is as you see in the image above. You can even take off all these velcros and convert it into one big space — so yes, its layout can be changed in order to fit your needs.
The upper compartment is sectioned off too, with its own velcro dividers. (Rest assured, you can also take these velcro dividers off and open it up towards the bottom section if in case you want to convert the CamPro into the typical full top-loading backpack.)
The insides are very well-padded and there’s even a zippered section at the back that can fit 15″-sized laptops. The quality of the material is also superb as it is made of leather and innovative quanta fabric that is ever-lasting, stain-repellant, and anti-scratch. It even comes along with a water-resistant cover in case it rains!
Slim (15.7″ x 7″ x 12.1″), comfortable, with lots of pockets and extra features. For instance, it comes with buckles on the sides where you can strap on a tripod for instance, and it even has removable buckles to balance and transfer the weight that you carry.
*You can buy this awesome bag at Urban Traveller & Co. They ship worldwide and if you use the coupon code: DigitalNomad you’ll get 10% off!
Or a Handbag / Small Rolling Luggage
For fast and easy access, AND a great way to exude your femininity, I highly suggest a travel handbag. If you want something that can store your camera gear still, I highly suggest checking out Aide de Camp’s camera bags.
As for luggage, as I’ve already mentioned, the dimension limit for a carry-on varies across all airlines. I’ve done my research, and so far, in order for you to be in the ‘safe’ side of such limits, you need a luggage that is within or around this standard size: 22″ high, 14″ wide, and 9″ deep.
I personally use a Samsonite Luggage Winfield 20 because I love how lightweight and strong it is. I’ve been using it for a while now and it has truly withstood the wear and tear from all of my travels.
IMPORTANT NOTE: All the items that are listed below can fit inside my CamPro bag alone. In fact, after everything is packed in, I always have ample space left for extras (around 20%).
Yep. It’s that amazing!
– Gadgets & Tech –
Its benefits are a no-brainer, one of which is the fact that a smartphone can hold tons of helpful travel apps that can help assist me in the duration of my trip. If you’re curious, I own an iPhone 5s which has superb camera specs (I actually have a handful of my travels where I only packed my 5s, making it as my sole photo-taking gadget).
eReader or Tablet
I’m a bookworm and I LOVE the feel of a good ol’ book as I flip through its pages with my fingertips. However, the truth of the matter is: books can be very bulky. This is why I own an eReader and my Kindle Paperwhite has been my travel companion ever since! (For entertainment during long flights, long bus/train rides, chill afternoons, etc.)
I can store TONS of books in it and its battery life is also mind-blowing. I’ve been on a week-long vacation before and I used my Kindle every single day — when it was time to go home, its battery life still had more than half! Later on, I’ve learned that there’s no need for me to pack my Kindle’s charger because it can last a long time.
*You can pack a tablet instead like an iPad Mini, but I fell in love with a Kindle when it comes to reading (it’s more easy on the eyes). Besides, an iPad Mini is basically like a bigger version of my smartphone. Overall: as dependent on your personal preferences, you can pack an eReader OR a tablet. It’s up to you!
Yet another no-brainer item to bring in my carry-on. As a digital nomad, my laptop is my lifeline. I never travel without it, and I’m glad that my CamPro bag protects it well and good during my travels.
I work with a Macbook Pro 13″ for years now, and I know it’s not as light nor thin as a Macbook Air, but since I wanted a machine that has the capacity to handle my graphic and video processes while I’m on the road, I rather opted for the Macbook Pro. (The difference between the two in weight is not so huge after all. My Macbook Pro is still very slim and it’s also more compact than most laptops out there.)
Perfect for cancelling out the noise and for slipping into my own music-filled world. I also question the cleanliness of the headphones offered during long flights, so I always make sure to pack my own earphones.
Some people find headphones, like the noise-cancelling ones, as a better item to pack in their carry-on. However, they can be quite huge and it often puts stress on my head and my ears. I find that as long as you purchase earphones that are powerful and well-fitted to your ears, they can offer almost the same benefits as headphones. (I recommend Panasonic’s ErgoFit In-Ear Earphones).
As a travel writer, I travel with different cameras in stow. My typical photography arsenal are below:
If you’re not particular with photography and you just want a great point-and-shoot camera for your travels, I recommend Canon’s Powershot G7 X. There’s no need to bring along a massive DSLR.
Plugs, Adapter, Chargers, etc.
For organizing my chargers and to avoid them from tangling altogether, I place them in one velcro section of my CamPro bag and twist the wires around with a Nite Ize Gear Tie. When it comes to a travel adapter, I use Ceptics.
This is very helpful for emergencies or for simply just prolonging your gadgets’ lives. I once got lost with my phone dead; thanks to my Anker power bank, I got myself out of that mess in a jiffy.
You also have to remember that though there are electric outlets in the airport or in cafes, most of the time those are being hogged by other people. Therefore: it’s better to be safe and prepared, than sorry!
This is an optional item. If I know that I’ll be staying somewhere fixed with a decent internet connection, I wouldn’t bother getting myself one. But in times that I have to hop from one place to another (most especially when it’s a trip that spans for more than a week), a pocket WiFi is a must to have and I have stood by Tep Wireless for years now. I simply trust their product and service for they have never failed me. Tep Wireless is also a lot cheaper than other providers like HipPocketWiFi, My-WebSpot and xCom Global.
With them, you can choose to either rent a unit, or just buy one and be charged whenever you use it. (I just purchased my own Tep Wireless unit given how I frequently travel — which saves me the shipping cost everytime I rent one).
Data Storage Items
Some people bring along bulky hard drives, but I rarely have the need to do so — I just leave that at home. Instead, when it comes to backup data storage, I would just bring along a memory card (in case one of my camera’s memory cards gives up on me) and a USB stick (with lots of storage space).
– The Small Stuff –
I initially ignored the benefits that earplugs could bring. But once, I was given some during a flight and I thought: why not try it out? Oh goodness gracious, it was heaven sent! It really cancelled out unnecessary noises — crying babies, snoring seat mates and more. If you’re planning on buying these, I would recommend Hearos Xtreme.
Often times, people buy neck pillows and eye masks along with earplugs to make it a complete set and you’re absolutely free to get these too. (However, I actually find these as uncomfortable so I’m not listing it out above.)
Snacks & Mints
Surely there are airlines that offer free snacks and meals during flights, but at times they don’t — you either have to pay for it or procure them yourself. So why not just bring some small snacks along like nuts, trail mix, biscuits, bars, fruits, etc.? (Take note: plane food is usually unhealthy and bland anyway). While you’re at it, pack along some mints as well for that tinge of refreshment and ~fresh breath~ during your journey. You can also pack chewing gum instead to help make your ears ‘pop’ (but sucking on mints or candy as well as drinking can help you accomplish this).
I would have suggested a water bottle too along with this section, but after packing one in several flights, I discovered that I never had the need for this bulky item (unless it’s a trip that involves lots of hiking later on). Buying a bottle of water after the security checkpoint in an airport proved to be enough for me. After all, there isn’t an abundance of water stations to refill a water bottle with; plus, flight attendants can also just serve you water in case you need it during your flight. But definitely, if you’re easily dehydrated (unlike me), best to pack this in your bag.
Pen & Pencil
Very vital items since most places abroad warrant travel and customs forms to be filled. You certainly wouldn’t want to wait until the person before you finishes using the free pen at the immigration (and then watch in horror as she decides to claim it as her own — yep, happened to me). So save yourself the trouble and pack these babies because you’ll never know when you’ll need them.
You can even bring along a notebook to complete this ‘set’, but I personally don’t bring this anymore; thereby saving myself some weight. You see, I’ve long lost the art of writing things down (yes, I blame technology). “There’s always spare paper lying around”, is what I regularly think too and that’s true.
For the Eyes
Apart from a good pair of sunglasses, I also pack along my graded glasses and its case (since I am short-sighted). I also wear contacts but I stow these away along with the cleaning solution in my check-in luggage since I customarily don’t wear contacts during flights given how it can dry up my eyes quickly — more so during long flights.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Simply put: I store smaller versions of these items to save space.
I still remember the hassle that I went through when I found out that I forgot my pills during a road trip in Europe; and unlike Asia, they just don’t give away pills without a prescription. Thankfully, I had a friend who gave me some spare pills of hers.
So apart from the medication that you personally need, I find it imperative to pack the basics too: medication for headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and fever. (This is of course separate from my first aid kit which I put away in my main luggage).
Those marked with an * below means that it’s something that boys can pack and use too:
Perfume* (do you know those small vials that you get as samples for perfumes in department stores? I keep those and pack them when I travel. It’s better than packing a whole bottle of my perfume)
Discover the fascinating sights of Belgium’s so-called “capital of cool” — Antwerp. As one of Europe’s largest port cities, you’ll be captivated by its architectural gems and its vibrant fashion and art scene. For instance, you can shop designer and vintage pieces to your heart’s content, or spot beautifully preserved guild houses in the Historic City Centre. (Hotels in Antwerp).
Indeed, there is so much to do in this city! Luckily, there are also plenty of options for travelers looking to visit this lively, cultural hub.
So whether you’re looking for a fun, youth hostel, or an upscale suite, you are sure to find something in this handy list of Antwerp’s finest hotels for places to stay.
Meet fellow travelers in this buzzing youth hostel. Enjoy a fully equipped kitchen, which includes an array of herbs and oils. Jam out with a guitar, play board games, or have a barbecue during happy hour at the on-site bar.
What to love: The fun, youthful vibe Address: Kattenberg 110, Borgerhout, 2140 Closest landmark: EcoHuis Antwerp Price starts from: $22~
Experience cozy and stylish rooms at this boutique-style hotel surrounded by parks. Take it easy and swim in the indoor infinity pool, or relax in the sauna and steam bath. Indulge in Flemish cuisine and regional specialties at the hotel restaurant.
What to love: The sleek infinity pool Address: 10, Gerard Le Grellelaan, Antwerp Center, 2020 Closest landmark: deSingel Antwerp Price starts from: $89~
Find this 4-star hotel tucked away in the low-key Borgerhout district, just off Antwerp Ring Road. Visit the in-house restaurant and savour a delicious meal while sitting on the terrace, or take a dip in the swimming pool.
What to love: The quiet surroundings Address: Luitenant Lippenslaan 66, Borgerhout, 2140 Closest landmark: EcoHuis Antwerp Price starts from: $95~
+ Hotel Indigo Antwerp City Centre
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates
Guests will love this boutique hotel’s Scandinavian design aesthetic, with its soft hues and trendy oak decor. Lounge in style with luxury cosmetics, soundproofed rooms, free Wi-Fi, and your very own Nespresso machine.
What to love: The sophisticated decor Address: Koningin Astridplein 43, Antwerp Center, 2018 Closest landmark: Metro Astrid Price starts from: $113~
+ Hampton by Hilton Antwerp Centraal Station
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates
Experience luxury living at Hotel Hampton by Hilton, located right next to the Central Station. Check out the sleek and clean design, with bright accent furniture and walls.
What to love: The convenient location Address: Pelikaanstraat 10-16 , Antwerp Center, 2018 Closest landmark: Antwerp Central Station Price starts from: $114~
Explore the Diamond Area when you’re staying at this 4-star business hotel. De-stress at the Health Club, which features a fully equipped fitness center, a cool indoor pool, and a massage and spa treatment area. The hotel is also right across Antwerp Central Station.
What to love: The numerous spa options Address: Koningin Astrid Plein 7, Antwerp Center, 2018 Closest landmark: Metro Astrid Price starts from: $127~
Unwind at the luxurious Hilton Antwerp Old Town, which is situated right on the Groenplaaats Square. Guests will love the modern design of the room, which includes a marble-fitted bathroom and even a private rooftop terrace for executive suites.
What to love: The central location Address: Groenplaats 32, Antwerp Center, 2000 Antwerp Closest landmark: Grand Bazar Shopping Center Price starts from: $142~
Choose among 3 luxury rooms at this cheekily-named 4-star hotel. The hotel is a combined effort of an award-winning chef and TV personality. Don’t miss hanging out by the terrace, which features tranquil views of the water.
What to love: The riverside view Address: Nassaustraat 42, Antwerp Center, 2000 Closest landmark: MAS Museum Antwerp Price starts from: $176~
Have you ever tried to explain a travel experience or feeling and you have been at a loss for words? (Unusual travel words)
However, there are moments when I feel like I cannot fully express myself which is why I’ve turned to other languages and unusual travel words to help expand my vocabulary…and yeah, to satisfy that gnawing feeling.
The more I started researching and looking up these words, the more I fell in love with them as somehow, they could perfectly convey certain feelings and emotions where the English language just doesn’t cut it. Inspired by the success of our popular best travel quotes article, here is my top list of the most unusual words with beautiful meanings.
Unusual Travel Words
The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / exu·lan·sis)
“…whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness, which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.”
FYI: In case you don’t know, the ‘Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ is written by John Koenig and it has become so famous that he even went on to do a TED show. Basically, the dictionary presents neologisms (up and coming words) for powerful feelings that you likely don’t have a proper term for, and indeed ‘exulansis’ is one of the beautiful unusual travel words that you must know!
The desire to capture a fleeting moment
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / mo·rii)
“With every click of the shutter, you are trying to press pause on your life. With every click of the shutter, you’re trying to press pause on your life. If only so you can feel a little more comfortable moving on living in a world stuck on play.”
ETYMOLOGY: Based on ‘memento mori,’ it’s a small reminder of your mortality + ‘torii,’ the traditional Japanese gates that mark the threshold between the profane and the sacred.
I’m sure that we all have felt this, not only when we’re traveling but in all the meaningful moments of our lives! We all have this kind of desire given the fact that cameras together with social media will — and always — be on the rise. After all, we simply don’t want to miss a thing. We just want to capture moments before they slip through our fingers so that we can hopefully relive and relish on it later on. But then again.. it is a constant struggle of balance between ‘capturing’ and being there and savoring those moments.
The awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / o·ni·sm)
“The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange city names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die — and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.”
ETYMOLOGY: Portmanteau of monism (philosophical view that a variety of things can be explained in terms of a single reality) + onanism (alternative word for self-pleasure).
Raise your hand if you’ve ever encountered this thought — yep, I knew it, you’ve felt this too! This sentiment is often the reason why I like the idea of immortality… because yes, I am selfish: I would really like to see and experience everything. But as it is, I’ll make most of time — and you should too!
A person who loves photography
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / pho·to·phile)
This is an obscure word but supposedly, this came about after deriving it off from the word “photophilic” which is an organism that loves or seeks light — which is related in a way to how cameras function.
The realization that each random passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / son·der)
“The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness — an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”
ETYMOLOGY: Related to the German word ‘sonder’ (special) and French ‘sonder’ (to probe). If you ask me, this is one of my favorites on all of these unusual travel words!
The feeling of returning home after a trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / rück·keh·run·ru·he)
“The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness — to the extent that you have to keep reminding yourself that it happened at all, even though it felt so vivid just days ago — which makes you wish you could smoothly cross-dissolve back into everyday life, or just hold the shutter open indefinitely and let one scene become superimposed on the next, so all your days would run together and you’d never have to call ~cut!~.”
The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist
(Noun / Origin: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows / ve·mö·da·len)
“The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist — the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye — which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.”
ETYMOLOGY: From the Swedish word vemod which means “tender sadness, pensive melancholy” and then combined with Vemdalen, the name of a Swedish town. Swedish place names are the source of IKEA’s product names — the original metaphor for this idea was that these clichéd photos are a kind of prefabricated furniture that you happen to have built yourself.
So, I never actually felt this… because though there are tons of ‘duplicates’, I still like to make my own and say that “Ah, I shot this!”. BUT of course, I have a lot of friends — most especially the avid photographers — who go through vemodalen! Let me know if you also have the same sentiments.
To flee or leave abruptly without saying goodbye
(Verb / Origin: English / ab·squat·u·late)
I once reached a point where I just want to leave everything and go. I can still vividly recall that memory because it’s how my travel lifestyle started! If you want to learn more about my journey to checking off all the world’s 7 continents, read this.
An imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease
(Noun / Origin: English / cock·aigne)
This term is dervied from the Middle French phrase pais de cocaigne, which literally means “the land of plenty.”
To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination
(Verb / Origin: English / cod·di·wom·ple)
I gotta admit, the first time I saw this word (which was when I was around 15), I honestly thought that it meant cuddling or something of that sort. It’s just such a unique word! When I did see the correct definition, I was floored at how deep it was so I just had to put it up in this list of unusual travel words.
As such, where have you coddiwompled to so far?
A fear or dislike of one’s home
(Noun / Origin: English / e·co·pho·bia)
This word is based from Ancient Greek in whick ‘eco’ is derived from oîkos or “house”, and then of course ‘phobia’ from phóbos or “fear”.
A person who travels often or to many different places, especially for pleasure
(Noun / Origin: English / gad·about)
Tracing back to the Middle English verb ‘gadden’ which means ‘to wander without a specific aim or purpose’.
A person who is fond of forests or forest scenery
(Noun / Origin: English / ne·mo·phi·list)
As far as unusual travel words go, I have added yet another term on my arsenal to describe not only my friends but myself as well!
Feeling both fearful and awed by what is before you
(Adjective / Origin: English / nu·mi·nous)
This word can mean a lot of things and it especially leans more towards depicting something supernatural or mysterious that is almost as if it’s by some divine power. You can take this word the way you want it, but the way I see it, this perfectly describes several travel experiences that I have had.
I’m not exactly a spiritual person but I recognize some strong connection to nature and you bet that I felt a numinous presence in amazing places like Antarctica and Iceland. You just gotta be there to experience the emotion yourself!
Something unfamiliar, unusual or wondrous
(Adjective / Origin: Old English / sel·couth)
This is the perfect adjective to use when defining a place you have traveled to that just feels foreign or novel — which is in itself a good thing and an inevitability.
The natural ability of making desirable discoveries by accident
(Noun / Origin: English / ser·en·dip·i·ty)
A term in the 1750s to describe those who ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.
A person who travels on foot
(Noun / Origin: English / way·far·er)
This is from the Middle English word weyfarere which is equivalent to way + farer (‘to journey).
Spontaneous journey, led only by the spirit of the landscape
(Noun / Origin: French / de·ʁiv)
This is a French word that originally refers to a strategy whereing participants “drop their everyday relations and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there”.
In this list of unusual travel words, don’t you think that this perfectly describes a lot of traveling and digital nomads today?
A person of leisure who strolls aimlessly, observing life and society
(Noun / Origin: French / flâ·neur)
The flâneur was, in some way, essential to any picture of the streets of Paris. The word carried a set of rich associations: the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street.
The good or bad feeling that comes from being in a foreign country
(Noun / Origin: French / de·pɛ·iz·mɑ̃)
This word could literally mean something like: ‘to be uncountried’ and it could either be due to disorientation or gladness — depends on you, and you bet that I’ll be using this word from now on!
A lucky find
(Noun / Origin: French / trü·ˈvī’)
There’s something about the French language that is romantic and melodic, and this has got to be one of my favorite unusual travel words!
The impossibility to truly comprehend anything
(Noun / Origin: Latin / acat·a·lep·sy)
This is clearly an overwhelming feeling, but don’t you think that it humbles us in some way? The more I travel, the more I feel a sense of acatalepsy and though it might seem daunting at first, I think that’s just what makes our world and life itself an incredibly beautiful thing.
A desire for powerful change in one’s life or situation
(Adjective / Origin: Latin / nO·va·’tUr·E·ent)
ETYMOLOGY: The word “nova” originates from the Latin novus meaning ‘new’.
To travel or wander around from place to place
(Verb / Origin: Latin / per·e·gri·nate)
From the Latin word peregrinat meaning ‘‘traveled abroad’ and from the verb peregrinari and peregrinus meaning foreign or traveling.
A solitary wanderer
(Noun / Origin: Latin / so·liv·a·gant)
ETYMOLOGY: Latin word of solivagus meaning wandering alone + English –ant
An irresistible yearning for freedom
(Noun / Greek / el·u·ther·o·man·ea)
ETYMOLOGY: From Ancient Greek ἐλευθερία (eleuthería, ‘freedom’) + -mania.
One who loves to travel
(Noun / Origin: Greek / hodo·phile)
ETYMOLOGY: From Ancient Greek ὁδός (hodós) which means travel.
Putting a part of yourself into what you’re doing
(Noun / Origin: Greek / me·ra·ki)
This is a modern Greek word that’s often used to describe the instance wherein you leave a part of yourself (your soul, creativity, or love) in your work — so it’s like when you intensely love to do something or just about anything that you put something of yourself into it.
A person who travels from place to place
(Noun / Origin: Greek / peri·pa·tet·ic)
We can trace back the origin of this word to Aristotle and his followers. They often walked around peripatos (covered walk in the Lyceum) while Aristotle does his lectures, given that the former loves walking. As such, the Greek word peripatētikos (from peripatein, meaning “to walk up and down”) came about because of them.
a contented state of being happy, healthy and prosperous
(Adjective / Origin: Greek / U·de·‘mOn·E·a)
Leave a comment below if you’ve felt eudaimonia while traveling!
Wanderlust; an ache for distant places or a strong desire to travel
(Noun / Origin: German / feirn·veyh)
ETYMOLOGY: From the word fern (“far”) and weh (“pain”). It can be literally translated as farsickness or longing for far-off places.
A longing for home
(Adjective / Origin: German / heim·veyh)
As contrasted with Fernweh, this is a German word for homesickness.
The act of playing out an entire scenario in your mind
(Noun / Origin: German / kopf·ki·no)
Hard translation is “head cinema” and as the definition goes, these are for those times where you start daydreaming or imagining scenarios about how a situation will unravel.
Fear of crossing a threshold to embark on something new
(Noun / Origin: German / shwel·en·ahngst)
ETYMOLOGY: From the German words Schwelle (threshold) + Angst (anxiety).
An intense yearning for something far-off and indefinable
(Noun / German / zEn·‘zUkt)
ETYMOLOGY: From German words sehnen (to long) and Sucht (anxiety; sickness; addiction).
The origin of the word doesn’t sound too good but as a whole it simply means that it’s an indescribable yearning for far off places and indescribable goals.
A person who has the feel for a language
(Noun / Origin: German / shpräḵ-gə-ˌfᵫl)
This literally translates as ‘language feeling’ from compound nouns combining Sprache (language) and Gefühl (feeling). Basically, this does not only refer to a person who has a good understanding of foreign languages but also to a person who has intuitiveness for what is linguistically appropriate.
The freedom of being alone
(Noun / Origin: German / shtUrm·frI)
A German word that translates literally to “storm free” — but the real meaning has nothing to do with the weather. As a slang, it means having the house or place to one’s self; but if we put a romantic..
There’s no denying that Bali is one of the perfect summer getaways that you can do especially with its expansive rice terraces, unspoiled beaches, and prime surfing spots. However, you’ll be surprised to know that it is also home to a flourishing coffee scene! In fact, travelers all over the world have become so smitten with the island that they have set up several cafes in Bali!
Nowadays, you can choose from a variety of cafés that not only serve quality brew and eats, but also deserve a spot in your IG feed — whatever your aesthetic!
So after you have some fun touring around Bali, come and savour a delicious cup of joe and grab a bite at any of the following cool coffee and restaurant spots.
Instagrammable Cafes in Bali
#1 – Motel Mexicola
ADDRESS: Jl Kayu Jati No 9, Petingenget Beach, Seminyak | HOURS: 11AM to 1AM, Daily | WEB: Motelmexicola.info
This is arguably one of the classic Instagram-worthy cafes in Bali! Don’t forget to put this on your itinerary in order to check out this vibrant, candy-colored walls and tables of Motel Mexicola.
You’ll surely be awed by its offbeat decor which includes portraits of Mexican wrestlers and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) artworks. The shop comes even more alive at night as it is illuminated in neon lights.
TIP: Drop by Tropicola Beach Club too if you’ve got the time! Produced by Motel Mexicola, this is one of their newest venue and you’ll love the colorful pool setting that they have set up! (See image here.)
#2 – The Bistrot
ADDRESS:Jl. Kayu Aya No.117, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung | HOURS: 11AM to 5PM, Daily | WEB: Bistrot-Bali.com
You probably will have low expectations when you see this Parisian eatery’s humble wooden signboard at the entrance — but I assure you, once you step in, your jaw will drop to the floor given its vast expanse filled with vintage decor.
In fact, a lot of pre-nuptial and commercial pictorials are often held here!
#3 – Cabina Bali
ADDRESS: Jl. Batu Belig No. 80, Kerobokan | HOURS: 8AM to 7PM, Daily | WEB: CabinaBali.com
Enter a retro tropical paradise reminiscent of Southern California’s Palm Springs with Cabina Bali. You can chill by the pool’s comfy lounge chairs, or order a floating breakfast* and have your meal right on the pool. Otherwise, delight in scrumptious donuts, burgers, or a refreshing cocktail by the pool!
NOTE: Ordering their floating breakfast costs about IDR 350,000 per pair — yep, it’s expensive but if you think it’s worth it then why not?
Tickle yourself pink at this adorable boutique coffee house which actually originated from Australia.
Sip on a luxe latte or a customized drink with intricate latte art from any image or text of your choosing! While you’re at it, munch on breakfast wraps, salads, and “nice cream”. Don’t forget to snap photos of the café’s pink cups, flowers, and murals!
It’s all sunshine and daisies in this Bali coffee shop that serves flavorful Italian food like pizza and pasta. So when you’re here, you’ll definitely feel as if you’re hanging out at a piazza!
Make the most of your time here and take lots of photos by the light blue and white walls and vivid, yellow furniture.
#6 – Folk Pool & Gardens
ADDRESS: Monkey Forest St, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571 | HOURS: 9AM to 10PM, Daily | WEB: FolkUbud.com
Escape from the daily grind in this Bali hidden gem and savor vegan meals as well as traditional desserts in your own private cabana right by a swimming pool.
You can also lounge the day away on a hammock or lie down right on the grass — either way, you’re bound to have a relaxing time at Folk Pool & Gardens as one of the best cafes in Bali!
#7 – KYND Community
ADDRESS: 12X Jalan Raya Petitenget Seminyak | HOURS: 6AM to 5PM and 6PM to 10PM, Daily | WEB: KYNDCommunity.com
Say hello to another rose-colored world in Bali’s KYND Community! Snap pictures in front of millennial pink and sunflower walls and try out their “mylk”, which is made fresh every morning with coconut, soy, or almonds and dates.
TIP: You can even order their famous customizable Alphabet smoothie bowls that are personalized with letters made of fresh fruits!
If you’re looking to project some 60s retro vibes, you must head on over to one of the 3 locations of Cosmic Diner Bali! Of course you’re in Bali, but it doesn’t hurt to experience some all American dining. Apart from indulging in its vinyl booth seats and checked floors, you’ll also be delighted with its menu choices.
TIP: It is said that the branch in Sanur is not as crowded with customers as the rest.
#9 – La Brisa
ADDRESS: Jl. Pantai Batu Mejan, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung | HOURS: 7AM to 11PM, Daily | WEB: LaBrisaBali.com
Home to breathtaking vintage decor, this is an amazing place to eat that is managed by the same team who oversees La Favela — another well-known hotspot that’s famous for its rainforest setting and vintage decor.
Nevertheless, here in La Brisa, there are a lot of great photo spots and props here and if you’re up for it, don’t forget to wear your swimsuit!
#10 – Milu by NOOK
ADDRESS: Jl. Pantai Berawa No. 90 XO, Canggu, Kuta | HOURS: 8AM to 11PM, Daily | WEB: @milubynook
No Bali experience is complete without chilling and dining beside lush rice fields and with Milu by NOOK, you’ll get to enjoy just that — and with flair! For one thing, its wooden interiors and open space is sure to shape up a perfect afternoon for you as you enjoy their Asian and Western selections.
#11 – Neon Palms
ADDRESS: Jl. Kayu Aya No.22 2nd floor, Seminyak | HOURS: 7:30AM to 11PM, Daily | WEB: NeonPalms.com
Come and live out your island dream life here at this tropical-themed café. I mean, the bright neon pink and hut-style entrance already screams quirky and fun right from the get-go!
So snap away some photos against the cafe’s bright neon signs and delightful wallpapers as you indulge in tapas, cocktails, and all-day brunch.
#12 – Bali Bola
ADDRESS: Jl. Petitenget No.8, Seminyak, Kuta Utara | HOURS: 8AM to 10PM, Daily | WEB: @balibo.la
A favorite among vegetarians, this spot is an eye-candy given its soft pastel colors and well-placed decor elements that will surely make for an Insta-worthy shot!
More than its interiors and ambiance though, you will be surprised with the well thought out food plating on every menu selection. So if you’re vegan or if you simply want to eat something healthy, you’ll surely enjoy your meal through and through!
#13 – Pablo’s Canggu
ADDRESS: Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.58, Canggu | HOURS: 5PM to 12AM, Daily | WEB: PalbosCanggu.com
Inspired by the streets of Medelin, this restaurant exudes a vibrant Colombian vibe that will make your photos pop!
Don’t shy out from trying its Colombia street food as well as its pizzas. Also, going by its operating hours, you can stay late and enjoy some cheap booze and cocktails with your friends.
#14 – Folie Kitchen & Pâtisserie
ADDRESS: Jl. Subak Sari No.30a, Canggu | HOURS: 7AM to 10PM, Daily | WEB: FolieBali.com
Craving for some French food, drinks and pastries? Folie is one of the chill cafes in Bali that will surround you with soft hues while offering a range of delectable delights!
#15 – Parachute Bali
ADDRESS: Jl. Subak Sari 13 No.8-4, Canggu | HOURS: 8AM to 12AM, Daily | WEB: ParachuteBali.com
This is one of the best cafes in Bali that is smacked right in the middle of a rice field — so you’re sure to experience some tranquility while you dine in.
Also, as the name implies, the establishment has a unique parachute-like roof that hangs over the main area. If you hang around as the sun sets, it even becomes a warm and romantic setting for you, your friends and loved ones.
I hope that this list will not only help you improve your Instagram game but also help you make the most out of your Bali vacation as you capture fun moments in these stylish cafés!
If you have any other cafes in Bali that you would like to recommend, please do let me know in the comment section below.
How about you?
What do you think of these Instagrammable cafes in Bali?
Which of them would you like to visit the most?
Or have you been to any of these Bali cafes before? How was it?
Are you a fan of KPop? …I’m not (or at least not yet *wink, wink*) BUT it doesn’t mean that I’m not interested about it — because I am! I may not be a hardcore fan; however, I am deeply enthralled by the community that loves it. Not to mention that Kpop stars as well as their songs and dances are immensely catchy and vibrant! I mean, for instance, who hasn’t heard of PSY’s Gangnam Style? (Kpop dance class)
What is KPop or K-Pop (케이팝)? This is a genre of pop or popular music in South Korea and most of the artists are typically referred to as ‘idols’. With the advent of social media and the rising popularity of Korean entertainment (also known as the ‘Korean Wave’), K-Pop has been steadily gaining worldwide fame not only for the idols’ music and videos but also for their fashion style.
When I visited Seoul in South Korea for the first time, I was curious enough that I wanted to ‘dip’ myself into the Kpop culture scene even for just a little bit — as well as to also see if I can still dance (lol, because I used to). So when I was looking for unique activities in the city, I saw this Kpop dance class on KKday’s website that’s held by a popular dance studio called as ‘Real Kpop Dance Studio’.
To cut the story short: I attended one of their classes and though it wasn’t what I expected at first, it turned out to be a LOT of fun! Here’s how my experience went.
Real Kpop Dance Studio is one of Seoul’s largest dance studios and it has been recommended by BBC, ESPN, KBS, Arirang TV, KTV and many more global broadcast networks as a one-of-a-kind tourist activity for Kpop fans.
All of their Kpop dance classes are lead and taught by real K-pop back-up dancers who are experts in their field and have been with groups like Big Bang, Super Junior, TVXQ and Block B.
TRIVIA: K-pop dance classes in Korean are often called as 방송댄스 or bangsong dance.
Real Kpop Dance Studio’s location can be easily found via this address: 서울시 마포구 서교동 479-8 지하1층 (ENGLISH: B1, 479-8 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul).
To get to this location, other than a taxi or an Uber, you just need to take the Seoul Subway with the help of a T-Money card and head to Mangwon Station (Exit 1).
Afterwards, with the help of Naver Maps (since Google Maps doesn’t work fully in Seoul), the studio will just be a 6-min walk away.
Basically, you need to walk straight for 200 meters. Turn left at the first crossroad and go straight for 150 meters. You will then see the restaurant ‘잔치 국수집’ at the 1st floor. Just head down to the basement of the building and you’ll see the studio.
» Cost, Duration, Inclusions and Booking
To book your spot into one of Real Kpop Dance Studio’s classes, you just need to book via KKday for a discounted rate.
Cost: ₩50,000 South Korean won
Duration: 1.5 hours
Start Time: 1:00PM
Operation Days: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only
Kpop dance class lesson
Teaching instruction by a professional K-Pop backup dancer
Free WiFi 1.5hr
Certificate of Completion
Photo and video clips
CURRENCY CONVERSION: $1 = ₩1,170~ = Php 52~
(As of May 2019).
It helps to note that the instructors are all experienced back-up dancers of famous K-pop stars and groups and you will learn choreography step-by-step from them.
Instructions will be given in English; and even if you don’t happen to speak any English words, you can just simply watch the instructor’s dance moves and follow them.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
◘◘ Do I need previous dance experience? No, not at all. So no matter if you’re a beginner or expert dancer, this Kpop dance class is for you!
◘◘ Can children join the classes? Yes! As you will see in my video below, I had 2 kids who joined the class that we did that day.
◘◘ What Kpop song will be used for the dance instruction? It will highly depend on the instructor for the day. But what I do know is that they will usually teach a dance based on one of the recent popular Kpop songs in Seoul. Also, going by my experience, you will be typically taught a dance as base on the first half and up to the chorus only, given the time duration of the class. If you book a private class though, it’s possible to request the song that you like.
◘◘ Does Real Kpop Dance Studio have other dance programs? Yes. Apart from this 1.5 hour experience, they also offer a Kpop full day tour (about $200) and a Kpop Camp. The K-Pop Full Day Tour is basically an extension of the 1.5 hour dance class as it lets you visit entertainment companies afterwards such as YG Entertainment, SM Town, MBC World Visit, etc. As for the K-pop Camp, it is a full package 3 to 7 day tour that includes airport pick-up, dance training, vocal training, styling, accommodation, transportation, meals, and a Kpop tour. Anyhow, if you like to do a private 1.5 hour Kpop dance private class, you can do so for $200. To book for these optional activities, go here.
» My Kpop Dance Class Experience
I Tried Going to a KPop Dance Class in Korea! (Seoul) - YouTube
*FYI: I did this dance class in their older venue, so as of this date, when you book for your spot, you’ll get to dance in their newer studio which is the photo I have previously shared above.