If you’re reading this, chances are you know some of the great adventures you can find in Costa Rica. From high adrenaline zip lines soaring over the jungle canopy to white water rafting through the rainforest runoff to crawling through a secret world of limestone caverns. Costa Rica has it all! What’s more, Arenal has become a hub of eco-adventure because of its strategic location in the center of everything, its majestic volcano, and proximity to the San Jose Airport. The next question is, how expensive is it to travel to Arenal, Costa Rica?Flights Prices to Arenal, Costa Rica
The cheapest US gateway to Costa Rica has to be Spirit Airlines direct flight from Ft Lauderdale with service starting at $172 round trip. Spirit puts together many discount two-hop trips through this Ft Lauderdale gateway that are easy on the wallet. Most major US hubs have direct flights to Costa Rica with prices ranging from $400-$600 dollars during the slow season. If you’re in So-Cal, you can find two hop flights from Tijuana that come in around $174. Flying through TJ isn’t as hard as it seems because you actually park in America and walk across a sky bridge directly into the Tijuana Airport.
The flights from Canada and Europe aren’t bad either. Canada checks in at 328 bucks with a direct flight from Montreal. Flights from Europe start at just over 500. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, expect to pay over $1500. You would need to really want to travel to Costa Rica from Sri Lanka, there’s a one-stop flight, but it costs over $11,000.
Cost of Transportation from San Jose Airport to Arenal
Once you arrive in Costa Rica, you need to get to Arenal. The airport is in a town outside of San Jose called Alajuela. The main gateway to Arenal Volcano is the town of La Fortuna. Google Maps shows it’s 114 km between these two towns, but there is often traffic, and lots of mountain turns so it could easily take 3 hours or more to make this drive and a lot of focus on the road if you rent a car.
Car rental in Costa Rica has notorious up charges. The internet is filled with stores of how a $50/week rental turned into a $700 rental with all of the mandatory add-ons. There is a mandatory insurance policy, with many agencies not accepting insurance provided through charge cards. Additional charges include automatic transmission costs, plate fees, booking fees, and the Airport Concourse fee. The list goes on from here, so make sure you double check rates plus all of the extras from any deal you see offered. We found renting cars in Costa Rica cost about $100/day.
There are some hacks and tips for renting your own car. If you stay overnight in Alajuela, you can get a car the next day without paying an airport fee. You can get to some attractions without booking tours and switch up cities. For the brave of heart and light of wallets, buses to La Fortuna cost about $30. A good mid-cost option is a shared ride van that runs about $100 for the trip.
If you are planning to start your trip in Arenal and then drive around the country, don’t forget to read our post about Driving and Camping in Costa Rica. There you will find tips and advice about travel planning, driving, costs, and itinerary.
Accommodation Costs in La Fortuna, Arenal
La Fortuna has rooms ranging from $5/night at the Chill Out Backpackers to the $400/night Nayara Resort and Spa. Some accommodation options in La Fortuna really stick out. For about $50 a night, you can get a room in the town of La Fortuna that ranks highly. This will give you excellent access to dining, adventures, shopping. If you’re staying in town, you will definitely not need a car for the trip. For not much more, you can stay in an eco-lodge in the jungle. You will experience what it’s really like in the rainforest, and many places have night hikes and waterfalls on property. For a $100-200, more or less, you stay in a hotel with hot springs. This might be a great option if you know that you want to soak during your stay.
If you’re staying outside of town, you will need to run some extra numbers to see how much it will really cost. One year, we stayed in an upscale hotel as part of a package tour. Without a car, we ate at the hotel’s restaurant more often than not, which added a little to the cost. This year, we stayed at an eco-lodge that taxis couldn’t reach when it rained, so it would have required an SUV to reach. Taxis are fairly cheap, around $5-10 each way, and a lot of tour companies will pick you up at your accommodations but having a rental car in these situations would be nice.
Tourism is well established in Costa Rica. Some people use this security to seek out free/low-cost activities like natural hot springs, hiking to the La Fortuna Waterfall ($15), or enjoying the ambiance of the central plaza. There are also a series of world-class adventures around Arenal that justify the cost of your plane ticket. Prices range from a $65 SUP or kayak tour of Lake Arenal on the low end to $129 extreme canyoneering and waterfall trip on the high end.
There many things to do in Arenal, Costa Rica. Midrange adventures include mountain biking, canyoneering, whitewater rafting and more. For the less adventurous, there is volcano hiking ($59), soaking in hot springs ($50-$100), night hikes in the rainforest ($26), and much more.
Now that you know how much it cost to travel to Arenal, Costa Rica, let’s look at ways to save money:
Book discount airlines. That Spirit flight out of Ft Lauderdale can’t be beaten for the price. There are some low prices flights from Mexico too, often with a connector in Tijuana or LA.
Package Adventures with Transportation. For a small premium on top of the tour, adventure companies will pick you up or drop you off at the airport.
Package tours together. Many tour companies can put 2-3 adventures together into a single day. This lets them save on logistics, and they pass that savings on to you and then some.
Book tours in town. When you have boots on the ground, you can find great deals in person. This is especially true if you are willing to jump into the extra seats of a trip that is already booked.
Take a group trip. We took a group trip to Costa Rica that saved over 50% by clever shopping and looking for group discounts.
Go during the rainy season. From May to mid-November, it’s considered the rainy season in Costa Rica. Fewer people go, which means extra rooms and extra seats on the tours. You can save a lot of money if you are willing to get wet.
Don’t forget to book your travel insurance in advance. Is always good to be protected, especially when you traveling to Arenal for an incredible adventure.
Final thoughts on the cost of traveling in Costa Rica
Costa Rica isn’t the budget backpacking destination it was 30 years ago, but it isn’t like staying a night in New York or Paris. Reputable companies with exceptional safety records and current insurance afford fair prices on adventure tours. Airfare prices from North America and hotels are really reasonable, especially if you like nature. You will eat a lot of rice and beans, but they are darn good beans. Transportation can be a little tricky, but there are good solutions for that as well. If you want a fair priced adventure destination, La Fortuna Costa Rica might be just the thing for you.
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Authors: Jenn and Ed Coleman
“We are Jenn and Ed, aka Coleman Concierge. Let us serve as your guide to help you and inspire you to get out, expand your world and seek adventure, even in your own backyard.”
You can check their blog Coleman Concierge and follow their adventure on Facebook and Instagram.
On the surface, travelers often view Phnom Penh as hectic and dirty city (which it can be!), but once you dive in, meet locals and learn more about the history, you will discover what may become your new favorite city. This one day in Phnom Penh itinerary will give you a chance to view the capital’s rapid growth, while uncovering the history and beauty of the city that still remains.
Stevo and I have been living and loving life in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for three years. We like the city’s chaotic charm, friendly people, and relatively calm pace compared to other nearby capitals like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh. In fact, we believe that Phnom Penh is one of the most underrated cities in Southeast Asia! To help you discover this great destination we put together a list of top things to do in Phnom Penh in one day, enjoy!
24 hours in Phnom Penh: what to do in the morning
Start your day with a local breakfast of pork and rice served with a fried egg, side of pickled vegetables and a sweet and spicy sauce. Up the ante and get a Cambodian coffee with sweetened condensed milk to go with it. This is a truly local breakfast, and delicious too! Most of the hotels in Phnom Penh serve this dish, or you can find a local restaurant in just about any neighborhood. Just look out for smoke coming off a grill where the pork is being cooked. Eat like the locals do with a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other!
Photo by Jen Joslin
After breakfast, it’s time to head to a local market in Phnom Penh. The Central Market is one of the most iconic buildings in the city, it was built in the 1920s in the art déco style. Light streams through the rooftop cutouts, illuminating the hundreds of sellers inside selling anything from jewelry to clothing, souvenirs, to wigs and makeup. There is also a large section of the market where locals do their grocery shopping. You can find lots of ready-made dishes as well as fresh produce and meats there. Take your time wandering through the four corridors jutting out from the center of the building and see what you discover.
If you do decide to shop, have fun bargaining with the sellers. Haggling is a part of Cambodian culture, and foreigners are often given a higher first price than locals. The main rule of thumb is that both you and the seller are happy with whatever price you land on.
After a morning of market shopping and exploring, it’s time to dig into Cambodia’s tragic past with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Though this is undoubtedly sad, we believe it is essential to learn more about Cambodia’s recent genocide which took place from 1975-1979, killing an estimated 1/3 of the population. During this period, the entire city of Phnom Penh was evacuated and people were forced into the countryside to work as farmers. Educated and elite people were killed first. I know you only have 1 day in Phnom Penh, but visiting the museum is one of the must do in the city and you can rent an audio guide to take you through the museum at your own pace, or hire a local guide.
After your visit to the museum, it’s time for lunch. Head to Friends the Restaurant, run by Friends International, a social enterprise working to build the futures of marginalized youth through training in the service industry. You can sample a range of international and local Cambodian dishes there in a beautiful setting. Next door to Friends the Restaurant is the Friends ’N’ Stuff store which sells interesting jewelry, art and clothing. They also have a small nail salon attached, another skills training facility. It doesn’t if you are only one day in Phnom Penh, you can enjoy the city and leave a positive impact.
Photo by Jen Joslin
One day in Phnom Penh: afternoon itinerary
It’s time to relax and beat the heat. Next, walk to nearby U & Me Spa & Massage, or any other spa along the riverside. We recommend trying a traditional Cambodian massage, which is like a lighter, less painful version of Thai massage that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
After your massage, take a walk along the riverside towards the Royal Palace, the home of the Royal family in Cambodia dating back to 1866. The street in front of the palace is blocked off, and is a popular spot in the late afternoons for locals to gather. Children play in the street, riding bicycles and feeding the pigeons, and people of all walks of life gather there.
There are two sacred temples across the street from the palace along the riverside where locals go to pray when they are going through a difficult time. There is always a flurry of activity in this area with people buying flowers and lighting incense at the temples, and buying small birds to release. The riverside is a fantastic area for people watching or to interact with locals. You may even see group exercise classes taking place along the riverside, which you are welcome to join for just a few thousand Riel (less than $1USD).
Within walking distance of the Royal Palace is the National Museum and an outdoor cultural center, which is another popular place for locals to gather. There you can learn about and purchase a krama, Cambodia’s traditional checked scarf worn by farmers and people around the country, and potentially see a free local movie or watch a live theater performance.
Photo by Jen Joslin
What to do in Phnom Penh at night
After your riverside wander, head to the Foreign Correspondents Club for a sunset drink, with views overlooking the banks of the Tonle Sap river. The FCC was once the cornerstone of the area, where journalists, aid workers and travelers would meet to swap stories.
Depending on your preference, we have a couple of dinner recommendations. For high-quality Cambodian fare, Malis restaurant is the place to go. Their focus is on reviving traditional Cambodian dishes that have been lost over time and the setting is beautiful. After dinner, walk around the corner to Bassac Lane, an alleyway with tiny, quirky themed bars that is popular with expats.
A nice mid-range dinner option is Romdeng Restaurant, which serves adventurous dishes like beef with red ants and deep fried tarantula, which is honestly pretty tasty! They also serve delicious traditional Cambodian dishes that don’t include bugs. Romdeng is also a Friends International training restaurant.
If you are looking for somewhere more affordable and local, Sovanna II BBQ is the place to go. Hundreds of locals gather here every evening to enjoy BBQ’d meat and cooked dishes with refreshing local beer. After dinner, walk one street over to Botanico Wine and Beer Garden to enjoy the tranquil setting and an excellent locally made craft beer selection. If you are lucky you might even catch a live music performance there.
If you’re looking for some nightlife excitement, head to Blue Chili, the country’s first gay bar where all are welcome. They hold an incredible drag show several nights a week starting at 11 pm where the country’s most talented and enthusiastic performers put on one hell of a show.
For a truly Phnom Penh expat experience, order a late night pizza from Katy Perry’s Peri Peri Pizza tuk-tuk, which only delivers from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am. As I’m sure you can imagine, they do great business in this city. Our favorite is the Peri Peri chicken pizza, extra cheese, extra chicken plus garlic. But you do you.
Photo by Jen Joslin
Where to stay in Phnom Penh
If you only need a night of sleep or if you decided to stay in Phnom Penh longer, you must book a comfy accommodation. There are many hotels in Phnom Penh, from luxury to cheap rooms, and I’m sure you can find one that will fit your travel style and budget. To end your one day in Phnom Penh itinerary here are our suggestion of the best places to stay in Cambodia’s capital:
We would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention the reality of safety in Phnom Penh and speak from our experience. Unfortunately, petty theft is common. When you are in a tuk-tuk or walking around, be sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Bag and phone snatching is fairly common, so keep your bag over your chest, and keep your camera or phone close to you at all times. We prefer to use Grab taxis at night as an additional safety precaution. Download the GrabTaxi app to your phone. It works similarly to Uber, and you can pay in cash at the end of your ride.
Phnom Penh is an often overlooked jewel in Southeast Asia that has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler, and this is a just a small 24-hour taste. With the recent influx of foreign investments in the city, especially from China, changes are happening quickly. Visit soon to experience the rugged charms of Phnom Penh, Cambodia!
This is a guest post by Jen Joslin, who also shot the photos. She blogs atwww.TwoCanTravel.com about travel and expat life in Cambodia and around Asia. Follow her and her comedian husband, Stevo Joslin onFacebook andYoutube.
A day in London is nowhere near enough. There are arguably more things to do in London than some small countries: I lived there three days a week for 18 months, and have visited it hundreds of times, and I’m still discovering new things to see in London.
However, many only have that one day in London. If so, it’s going to be a long and busy day, one that will give you a taste of several flavours of this wonderful, diverse city. But If you plan a day in London right, you can see a lot, from history, culture, architecture and nightlife.
Royal and historic London in a day
Many of Royal London’s sights are concentrated in a small area and you can see many of these London icons in a walk that takes less than an hour.
Starts your 24 hours in London at the Parliament Square, which is dominated by the Houses of Parliament on one side and Westminster Abbey on the other. On the north side of the Square, you’ll pass several traditional red telephone boxes, probably the most photographed telephone kiosks on the planet. You can usually make a photo with one of them and the famous clock tower, Big Ben, in the background, but Big Ben is having a much-needed restoration and is going to be cloaked in scaffolding.
Turn left onto Whitehall, home to many of the UK’s government ministries, After a few minutes you pass the security gate of Downing Street, where the British Prime Minister officially resides. Continue for a few more minutes until you reach the crowd of tourists taking photos and selfies with the impassive mounted guards. Pass through the gateway into Horse Guards Parade, one of two places in London where you can see the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony, which is usually held daily at 11 am (10 am on Sundays).
From here, cross the parade ground and head across the road to St James’s Park, one of the most popular Royal Parks in London. You’ll find The Mall, the historic processional route, on your right, with a view to the left down the avenue to Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London residence. If you turn right, continue to Admiralty Arch, and after passing underneath, you reach Trafalgar Square.
Catch a red London bus
Trafalgar Square is one of the most popular meeting places in London, and is home to the extraordinary National Gallery, one of the finest art museums in the world. But that can wait – the second thing you must do on your one day in London is to catch the red bus. Walk across Trafalgar Square, passing the famous Nelson’s Column, and head for the bus stops on the left side of the Strand, opposite Charing Cross station.
Buses run along the Strand towards the City of London, the financial hub of the UK, every few minutes, but it’s worth the extra wait for one of the old number 15 Routemasters, which ply the route to St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s one the last of the old heritage routes, the buses are much older than the new models, and you’re even greeted on board by a bus conductor. I know you only have a day in London, so waiting for a bus is not the best scenario, but don’t worry, you’ll be reward with a unique journey. Stay on board until your next suggested stop, right outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
St Paul’s Cathedral: a one day in London must see
St Paul’s is one of the great icons of London. It was built in the late 17th century after the City of London was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire, and for centuries its great dome dominated the London landscape. It’s now overshadowed by the myriad skyscrapers of the City of London, but this is one of the absolute London must-sees you cannot miss.
The interior is all glittering gold, the finest example of Baroque architecture in the UK. The dome is awe-inspiring from the inside, and you can climb to the Whispering Gallery, high above the church, and outside to the top of the dome for an amazing view over the metropolis. There is also a pretty fantastic view of the dome from the sixth-floor rooftop bar at One New Change, a shopping centre across the street from St Paul’s.
The City of London in a day
St Paul’s is one of the best-known landmarks of the City of London, the financial and business district on the north of the river Thames. And it’s well worth a walk through the area to see some of the best sights in London, both old and new. The Tower of London is a fortress built almost a thousand years ago overlooking the river, and it’s still as formidable as ever. From the grounds you get a great view of Tower Bridge, one of the most recognisable and beautiful bridges in the world.
London’s skyline is unrecognisable from when I first saw it over thirty years ago, and a great way to see it is to walk across Tower Bridge. The Shard dominates the skyline, looking down on the City from across the river. In the City itself, various towers have sprouted up over the last twenty years or so, each with their own nickname, with the Gherkin, Cheese Grater and Walkie-Talkie all recent additions.
The City is also close to two very popular areas with tourists – the nightlife of Shoreditch and the curry restaurants and street life of Brick Lane, a short walk away in Spitalfields.
National Gallery or Tate Modern: pick your favorite for a day in London
Whatever your taste, London has some of the world’s finest art galleries. And realistically, with so much else to see in London in one day, you’re only going to be able to do some kind of justice to one gallery. So you have a choice.
If modern and contemporary art is your thing, the place to go is the Tate Modern, on the south side of the river – you can walk across the river on the Millennium Bridge from just outside St Paul’s. The museum is housed in a vast former power station, which works wonderfully as a venue, especially for large installations.
Otherwise, return from the City on the 9, 11 or 15 bus to Trafalgar Square for an hour or two at the National Gallery. It has so many outstanding, world-famous works of art, and I used to visit one section at a time to give myself a chance to absorb everything I saw. As you’re time limited it may be a good idea to do the same. The Gallery is currently hosting an excellent exhibition called Monet and Architecture.
Night out on the West End to end the perfect day in London
After seeing everything I’ve suggested you almost certainly need a quiet evening to rest and recuperate from your busy day in London. No chance. London’s West End – a mixture of theatres, cinemas, music venues, restaurants, pubs and clubs – is one of the best places in the world for entertainment, and you simply can’t skip it. There are always at least twenty musicals on at any one time, and it’s usually possible to pick up last-minute tickets if you haven’t done so already.
Some of the best places to eat in London are close to Shaftesbury Avenue, the main street running through Theatreland. Chinatown is one side of the street, while you can try out a whole multitude of cuisines the other side of the avenue in the side streets of Soho.
If your 24 hours in London is almost ending grab a delicious food, drink your last pint and start planning your next visit. A day in London will only sparkle your wanderlust and I’m sure you’ll need to come back for more.
Where to stay in London for a day
Before heading to your next destination you might need a few hours of sleep. London has so many options of hotels and accommodation that we could stay ours talking about it. Among all the best areas to stay in London, here are our suggestions for the best places to stay in London for a day, or night:
“I’m David Angel, a professional writer and photographer who has travelled the world – and Wales, my home country – for the last 30 years. I have worked as a professional photographer for almost twenty years, including 14 years as art director for Visit Wales. I have had thousands of images and many travel features published worldwide, for the likes of The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, The Times, BBC and Visit Britain to name a few.” You can check his blog delveintoeuroepe.com and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
Hat Yai got into our travel itinerary as a stopover between Koh Tao and Koh Lipe. But after a quick research, our one night in the city became two days in Hat Yai, and that was the best decision we’ve made during the trip. When searching for what to do in Hat Yai we discovered that the biggest city in Southern Thailand is famous among Malaysians and Singaporeans, but not many westerns travel there. So we decided to stay longer to visit Hat Yai tourist attractions, try the delicious food and feel the local vibe you can only find there.
Hat Yai is close to the Malaysian border and many people we met there mentioned it’s like Bangkok used to be many years ago. The city is packed with markets and temples, it’s not super pretty but has its own charm. One thing is true if you want to experience local life, traditional costumes, and Thai food, Hat Yai is the place to go. It’s not as famous as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi Province or the beautiful islands like Koh Samui, Phuket, Phi Phi, and Lipe. But it’s definitely a place worth visiting, especially if you are heading to South Thailand to visit other destinations.
Where to stay in Hat Yai: best hotels and places
There are many hotels in Hat Yai, from luxury to local guesthouses and hostels. The city is big, but most of the attractions in Hat Yai are close to each other. My suggestion is, choose the best place to stay in Hat Yai based on your travel plans. If you want to try local food and things to do in Hat Yai, I would recommend staying in the city center or close to the street markets. If you need to catch an early morning flight, than a hotel near Hat Yai airport is probably the best option.
We arrived in Hat Yai by bus and we left the city by van, so we chose a hotel near the bus station and night markets. If you are traveling to Hat Yai by train [more about transportation later on], you can choose a hotel close to the Hat Yai railway station, that is also very central.
We stayed at PM Residence Hotel, a lovely property close to the Asean Night Market and Central Festival Shopping Mall. It’s a super cute and clean property with spacious and bright rooms, comfy bed and lovely people at the front desk. We totally recommend this hotel as it was one of the best value for money during the trip, we paid 20 USD per night for a beautiful double room with aircon and hot shower. The hotel is brand new, and although it doesn’t have breakfast service, all the drinks and snack in the fridge are for free.
If you prefer a fancier hotel in Hat Yai, you can book your stay at Centara Hotel Hat Yai, The Habita Hat Yai, S Hadyai Hotel or The Three HatYai, they are the most famous ones and they are located right in the heart of Hat Yai. All of them have good reviews and prices that range from 40 USD to 80 USD per night for a double room, what is super cheap for a 4-star hotel.
What to do in Hat Yai, where to eat and places to visit
Although it’s not a super touristic city, the list of what to do in Hat Yai is long and it doesn’t matter if you are going for one day or a week, there are a few things you must do there. The top things to do in Hat Yai can be grouped up into 3 categories: food, markets, and culture.
If you have 24 hours in Hat Yai or 2 days like we did, I highly recommend you booking a local tour. Hat Yai is a big city, so a local guide can take you around, show the best spots for food, drinks, massages and tell you the history of the places. We are big fans of local experiences, that’s why we booked our Hat Yai day tour via TakeMeTour [as we did in Bangkok twice and in Phuket]. They are a Thai startup that connects travelers with local guides, offering unique experiences and tours that will take you beyond Hat Yai’s tourist spots.
On our first day we went on the Hat Yai local tour, and on the second we discovered other cool things to do in Hat Yai by ourselves. Here goes our list of what to do in Hat Yai summing up our two days experience:
From breakfast to dinner, where to eat in Hat Yai
Hat Yai is a paradise for food lovers, from authentic Thai cuisine to Chinese and Malay dishes. During our tour, we tasted a few local snacks while exploring the city and dinner was in a super cute restaurant in Hat Yai city center. The food was spicy and full of flavors, and I was so hungry that I forgot to write down the name. Shame on me!
What I love about Hat Yai´s food scene is that you can find traditional restaurants, street food stall, and modern cafes. It has an interesting mix of local and hipster options, and the food tastes gorgeous no matter how it’s served. So if you are planning your Hat Yai travel itinerary, these are some of the restaurants and cafes you must try:
Chen Long Boat Noodle: try the delicious beef braised soup noodles in one of the most famous noodle restaurants in Hat Yai.
Chokdee Dim Sum: cheap and delicious dim sum served from 6 am to 10 pm, be prepared to queue as this street shop is always full.
Mon(s)day Cafe: great place for salads, Thai food, coffee and to play with a lovely cat that lives there.
Foresto Cafe: my favorite spot for good coffee, cakes and pies to die for. If you really want to try nice patisserie in Thailand, this is the place. The ice coffee with ginger was an explosion of flavors.
The Containers: a trendy place for an everyday meal, smoothies and coffee.
Craving for more street food? So find your way to the Lee Garden Plaza and I’m sure you’re gonna find satisfaction there. Also, some of the best places to eat in Hat Yai are the street and night markets.
Eat and shop until you drop
There are many street markets and night markets in Hat Yai, there is probably one market for each day of the week if not more. Bottom line, one of the top things to do in Hat Yai is going shopping for food, souvenirs, clothes, bags, shoes, cosmetics, you name it, you can find everything you want there.
Some of the street markets are open during the day, others only after sunset. And it doesn’t matter if you’ll visit one or 10, go to the markets with an empty stomach and some cash. The street markets in Hat Yai are cheaper than in Bangkok or on the islands, that’s why it is a shopping paradise for Malaysian and Singaporeans. They come to Hat Yai to buy brand named clothing, cosmetics and even electronics for a better price than at home. Take advantage of that and add a retail therapy as one of the top things to do in Hat Yai.
Depending on which day of the week you travel to Hat Yai you will be able to visit different street markets, so here goes a short travel guide to Hat Yai markets to help you plan your visit:
Kim Yong Market: it’s open every day from 6 am to 6 pm, it’s a traditional Thai street market where you can find fresh and dried fruits, sweets, flowers and souvenirs. It’s located in the center of Hat Yai. As a tourist expect to pay a bit more or put your haggling skills into practice.
Greenway Night Market: it’s open everyday from 4 pm to 10 pm, great for food, local designers and clothes. They have a second hand section with some interesting stuff.
Asean Night Bazaar: open from Tuesday to Sunday from 4 pm to 10 pm. It’s a paradise for clothes, shoes and accessories. I just thought many stalls sold the same things, in my opinion, Greenway Night Market has a better variety. Asean and Greenway are very close to each other, and they’re about a half hour walk from Hat Yai city center.
Nakhon Hat Yai Municipality Market: it’s a traditional Thai market selling fruits, veggies, meat and ingredients to prepared all the yummy Thai dishes. It’s not a touristic market, but if you want to have a local experience head there in the early morning. It’s also a bit far from the city center, so you might need to ask your local guide to take you there or take a taxi.
Hat Yai Floating Market: it’s open from Friday to Sunday, from 3 pm to 9 pm, so we couldn’t fit it in our Hat Yai itinerary. But to be honest, all the reviews we read about it were quite disappointing. So If you have already visited a floating market in Bangkok, I believe you can skip this one. But if you have plenty of time in South Thailand, add the floating market to your list of what to do in Hat Yai and have fun!
Central Festival Shopping Mall: if you are traveling to Hat Yai for shopping than you must visit the huge Central Festival mall. You can find all the international brands, Thai local products, cosmetics, movies, tea houses, furniture and more there… It’s huge and there is a big food court on the top floor. From Mondays to Thursdays it opens at 11 am and closes at 9 pm, from Fridays to Sundays it opens at 10 am and closes at 9:30 pm.
Discover Hat Yai´s rich culture
During your tour, you’re gonna learn more about the city and how Hat Yai became an important hub in South of Thailand. But apart from that, plan with your guide a visit to some of the top attractions in Hat Yai and enjoy the city from a different perspective. Among all the great places to visit, there are a few things you must do in Hat Yai.
Visit Hat Yai Municipal Park:
Hat Yai Municipal Park is a bit outside of town and you’ll need a car to go all the way up to have the best view of the city. Most of the tours in Hat Yai include a visit to the park and the Standing Buddha on the top of the hill. But if you plan a day trip in Hat Yai with a local expert, as we did, you can actually talk to the guide and organize the activities and places you want to visit. So ask the guide to take you to the park at the end of the day, during sunset, it looks gorgeous. Just make sure to arrive in time to catch the last cable car. You can ride the Cable car for an even better view, and after that go to other different shrines and temples scattered in the park. Walk in the mouth of the Laughing Buddha and be surprised by statues and local people paying respect to the Gods and their ancestral.
Visit Wat Hat Yai Nai Temple
The city has many temples, from traditional Thai Buddhist to Chinese and Hindu influenced ones. Some of them are located in the city center close to Kim Yong Market. If you only have time for one more visit, than go to the Wat Hat Yai Nai to see the beautiful Reclining Buddha.
Fun Things to do in Hat Yai
If you still have time, or if you decided to stay longer, there are a couple of..
Krabi Province is a very popular destination in Thailand. Many travel to Krabi in search of scuba diving or rock climbing, others come to see the natural beauty but most come for the best beaches of Thailand. There are so many things to do in Krabi that you would not want to leave this paradise. At least I haven’t felt like leaving yet.
I will try my best to share with you all the information I have about what to do in Krabi, where to stay, places to visit, how to get to and move around. The province has some of the most beautiful islands in Thailand and it’s also the getaway to famous destinations like Phi Phi Island and Koh Lanta.
Where to stay in Krabi and around
Quite often people don’t have a lot of time to spend in the province (unfortunately) and will choose where to stay in Krabi based on what they are willing to do in Ao Nang, Krabi Town or Railay Beach.
Accommodation in Krabi Town
Tiger Temple, Emerald Pool and the Hot Springs are all near Krabi Town, so I recommend staying there when you are visiting those places or if you have to catch a flight early in the morning. Krabi Town isn’t really near the beach so I, personally, prefer staying in other places. As you can easily access Krabi Town from anywhere in case you need.
In my opinion, Ao Nang is the best area to stay in Krabi when you are willing to stay a bit longer and have that feeling of settling down somewhere for a bit. At least that’s what happened to me. I liked it so much I’ve been here for 6 months already. Ao Nang Beach is quite charming and although it doesn’t seem like there is much to do right there, it’s actually a very strategic place to be as it offers easy access to everything on the list of top things to do in Krabi and around. The opposite also works here. If you have very few days and you only have time for a couple of day trips from Krabi, stay in Ao Nang and go on your day tours from there!
Railay Bay offers you the feeling of being on an island because it’s only accessed by boat. Most of the accommodation offered in Railay are resorts, so it could get a bit pricier compared to the other places to stay in Krabi. But it’s worth doing it for a couple of nights so you get to do everything you want there without having to rushing yourself to catch the last boat back to Ao Nang, Ao Nam Mao pier or Krabi Town every night [or end up having to charter a boat]. Plus you will get to watch the amazing sunsets at Phra Nang Beach if you stay there.
Also located in Railay Bay, Tonsai Beach it’s a bit harder to access. It’s the favorite destination to those on rock climbing holidays as Tonsai is well known worldwide for being a rock climbing paradise. Accommodation in Tonsai Beach is quite cheap compared to the rest of Railay, but, except for a big resort there, everything is more laid back and most places cut the electricity down during the day, which means no internet, no fan, no air conditioning, etc. It’s rock climbing time baby!
Still not sure about where to stay in Krabi? Doesn’t matter if you are looking for accommodation in Ao Nang, a luxury resort in Railay Beach or a cozy and cheap hostel in Krabi Town, the best properties and prices you can find on Booking.com or Agoda.
Best Things to do in Krabi, Ao Nang and Railay Beach
There are so many things to do in Krabi it’s hard to choose only a few. I would recommend you to stay around Krabi for at least 5 days, so you have enough time to enjoy the top attractions in Krabi. But if you can’t stay that long, choose your favorite attractions and places to see in Krabi and make the most of your time.
Adventure yourself and relax at Railay Bay
Railay Bay is a tiny little area surrounded by amazing looking cliffs. You will see resorts and massage shops everywhere, so if your plan is just relaxing, then enjoy the white sand and clear waters at Phra Nang Beach or Railay West Beach. Enjoy your resort’s pool, walk around the area, go for a couple of massages and don’t forget to watch the amazing sunsets there.
Now if you are seeking some adventure in Krabi, you will find some hidden gems in Railay Beach. You can go kayaking around the small islands and tiny beaches around the bay, just rent a kayak at the beach and enjoy it.
Go hiking through some caves and reach a beautiful view point at the North end of Phra Nang beach [opposite to the Princess cave]. This one is a bit hard to find as there are no signs to guide you and nothing about it on Google Maps. When you get to the end of the beach, look to your right and you will see an opening in the trees, follow that path towards the cliff. Start walking over the rocks and into the big opening on the cliff where the cave starts.
There are several levels, perhaps different chambers inside of it and they built some bamboo ladders to climb up to the next levels. It will get pitch black inside so take a torch or use your phone to help you. Keep going up the ladders until you start seeing the light again, which leads you to a big opening in the middle of the cliff and a breathtaking view of Railay West Beach and Tonsai Beach. Take loads of photos, turn around and make your way back from where you came from. There is no cost to access the caves.
Looking for more adrenaline? There is another viewpoint, which is Railay’s main one. It’s on the way to Princess Lagoon. Follow the pathway between Railay East and Phra Nang Beach and you will find the start point to the hike, this one is a bit tricky, quite dangerous at some points and requires a lot of skills as you will be climbing rocks without safety equipment at some stages. I strongly recommend wearing running or hiking shoes and really old clothes, as they will get all muddy and stained. Take your time and do not even attempt starting it if it looks like it’s going to rain or if it has rained heavily the day before.
Keep in mind that the lagoon is influenced by the tides, so plan on arriving there during the highest picks of the tides, otherwise, you will only see a big puddle of mud! Go see it for yourself, it’s completely worth it! There is no cost to access the viewpoint or Princess Lagoon.
Last, but not least, go try some outdoor rock climbing. With the incredible landscape, your fear of heights will disappear. It’s so much fun and there are so many guides to help you, even if you’ve never done it before. Look for one of the schools around Railay beach and have fun!
Get your legs shaking and visit the Tiger Temple
This Buddhist temple is one of the most sacred sites in Krabi. You will get to see tiger paw prints in the cave, lush green trees, a big golden Buddha statue on top of the hill and a staircase with strenuous 1,237 steps leading to the summit. Your legs will be shaking when you get to the top! You need to dress properly at this temple, women are requested to cover their knees and shoulders. There is no cost to access this temple and donations are welcome.
What to do in Krabi Town? Go shopping!
Krabi Town is the capital of the Province, this is where the international airport is located, where you will find bigger stores, shops and supermarkets. On top of that, they have the biggest weekend night market around, filled with stalls selling all kinds of yummy foods and drinks, lots of really cheap clothes, some souvenirs and other things worth having a look at.
There are vans available to drive you from Ao Nang to Krabi night market and back, book it at any travel agency. You can also take a Songthaew (the red ‘buses’), just remember that the last one to return to Ao Nang departs from the Krabi night market at 10pm.
Things to do in Ao Nang from diving to party
Ao Nang is very lively, full of shops, restaurants, hotels, hostels, resorts, spas, dive shops, bars and the beach is a great place to sit down, have a drink and watch the sunset. The beach is quite beautiful, although a bit crowded sometimes. It’s worth saying that the water isn’t really clear like it is out on the islands but the sunset is gorgeous. Ao Nang is a place that fits all budgets,
For those who love the ocean, I strongly recommend spending a day scuba diving. Ao Nang is full of diving centers that will take you to the dive sites around the best islands in Krabi. It’s so beautiful, so warm, great visibility and so much fun, that you shouldn’t miss on it.
I had an amazing experience with Sawasdee Divers Krabi in Ao Nang. They are very professional and have a great team of divers that speak both English and French. Don’t worry if you are new to the underwater world, they will help you with everything.
At night, many small bars and restaurants around town have live music and great cocktails. A bit later the fun happens in Central Point, which is beach front. You’ve got to find a small alley in between some shops near Burger King. Walk that way and you will a find a square filled with bars, music and many people dancing and having fun. Upstairs there is more, you will find some strip clubs with beautiful Thai ladies, a Ladyboy Cabaret Show and a rooftop where everyone plays beer pong and enjoy the DJ at the dance floor of a party hostel. The party in Ao Nang ends around 4 am!
Join the 4 Island Tour [Koh Poda, Chicken Island, Tub Island + Phra Nang], Hong Islands Tour or even better, go island hopping in Krabi
There are so many boat tours departing from Ao Nang or Krabi Town to the amazing Islands around Krabi that it gets hard to recommend just one. Visit the travel agencies and choose one according to your budget, the time you have available and your taste. Some of the day trips include a visit to the islands, snorkeling, other have kayaking, white water rafting or just island hopping. Krabi is a truly water paradise!
Go hiking on Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature Trail
Rent a scooter or share a taxi with your friends and go on a hiking adventure in Krabi. From Ao Nang Beach it takes about 30 minutes to drive to the Nature Trail. It will take you 3.7 km to reach the summit, which wouldn’t be bad at all if it wasn’t for the 830 meters of elevation. But when you get up there, see the mountains, the sea, all the islands around Krabi and breathe the super fresh air, everything makes sense. It’s so pleasant, so beautiful and so worth it!
Relax at the Hot Springs or cool down at the Emerald Pools:
These spots are near each other and relatively near Tiger Temple, and some day tours from Krabi Town or Ao Nang include the three of them. They are beautiful and completely natural spots, and although lots of tourists visit these places daily, they are hardly ever over crowded. A great option to relax in Krabi and spend some time in contact with nature.
By now you already know all the must do in Krabi, attractions and things to do in Ao Nang and Railay Beach, now to end our Krabi travel guide let’s talk about transportation and weather.
How to getto Krabi and around
Krabi Province is located on the southwest coast of Thailand and has an international airport. So how to get to Krabi? A flight from Bangkok to Krabi Town takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, from Chiang Mai to Krabi it takes just over 2 hours and from Kuala Lumpur it also takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
If you happen to be on Phuket, you may come to Krabi by speedboat, by bus or by van. Also there are buses to Krabi available all over the country. But doesn’t matter where you are coming from, if you are not flying, the best way to buy your ticket to Krabi is using the 12GoAsia website. It’s a platform with all the timetables and prices for buses, trains, vans and ferry operating across Thailand. On the website you can buy the “joint ticket”, only one ticket that combines multiple means of transport. You choose the place of departure and the final destination, with one ticket you can get bus, trains, vans and ferries if necessary. It’s easy, fast and reliable, plus it’s all in English...
White sand going through your toes, sweet coconut water that costs less than a dollar, and a dazzling orange sunset that looks like it’s been photoshopped. This is real and it’s just one of the top things to do in Koh Samui, Thailand. And if you are lucky with the weather, this spectacle might repeat for as long as you stay on Samui island.
It took us a few trips to the Gulf of Thailand to finally travel to Koh Samui, we visited Koh Phangan and Koh Tao a couple of times before. And yes, the third biggest island in Thailand is still worth a visit. Among coconut trees, crowded streets, and crystal clear water, there is a handful of great things to do in Koh Samui, places to visit and unique experiences. Not to mention the big offer of places to stay in Koh Samui, from luxury resorts to friendly guesthouses and beachfront bungalows. So get ready to travel with us, discover what to in Koh Samui and why it’s one of the most visited islands in Thailand.
Where to stay in Koh Samui: best beaches and hotels
One of the top things to do in Koh Samui is to stay in a resort in front of the beach or in a hillside hotel with stunning ocean views. To cross off this first item from your Koh Samui must do list, we’re gonna help you find the best place to stay in Koh Samui, from resorts to villas and local guesthouses.
The best areas to stay in Koh Samui are: Chaweng Beach [good and busy beach, touristic town, lots of places to eat and party scene], Lamai [it’s like Chaweng, but less crowded], Chaoeng Mon [close to Chaweng, but more laid back, quiet beach, no traffic and no parties], Bophut [a fisherman village that became a trendy and sophisticated spot, the beach is not so good but the dining scene is 5 stars], and Maenam Beach [luxury resorts and budget accommodation, great sunset but far from the action].
Of course, there are other areas to stay in Koh Samui, those mentioned are the most known ones, where the hotels are easily connected to the beaches and you don’t need to drive too far for food or fun. We chose two different places to stay in Koh Samui, the idea was to “test” the neighborhoods and also have an option of a mid-range hotel and a resort in Koh Samui to recommend to you.
Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi was the place we chose to explore the busy Chaweng Beach. It’s a beautiful beachfront resort with gardens that look like a natural park with flowers and fountains. Although it’s located in Chaweng Beach, it’s not in the middle of the action, 5 minutes by car or scooter and you are in the nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping area. The beach in front of Novotel Koh Samui is calm, perfect for families or people who want to try water sports.
We stayed in the Superior Room and it was huge, with Thai style décor, super clean, comfy and with an even bigger bathroom. But it was the restaurant facing the beach that I loved the most. Marvelous sunrise followed by a breakfast with sea view. The sunsets were beautiful too, a perfect match for a seafood dinner. If you are looking for a good resort in Koh Samui, Novotel is a great option. The service is great and the location is superb.
If you want a more local experience, a good option is the Samui Makkala Resort & Pool Villa, the name sounds fancier than it actually is. The hotel is a small property at Chaoeng Mon Beach, it’s a Thai style hotel with big rooms, comfy bed and the basics you need for a good stay, including pool and breakfast. If you don’t want to spent too much it’ll probably fit on your travel budget. Just keep in mind that it’s a bit off from Chaweng Beach center and other attractions in Koh Samui, so to go out and about you will need a scooter, a bike or a taxi.
Not sure if these are the best hotels to stay in Koh Samui? No problem, keep searching on Booking.com and Agoda for the best rates.
What to do in Koh Samui and places to visit
Now that you already know where the best places to stay in Koh Samui are, hotels and resorts, it’s time for the fun. Our list of what to do in Koh Samui is long, but you can squeeze all the activities in 3 or 4 days.
Rent a Scooter and go beach hopping, waterfall chasing and coconut crazy
The island is big and if you want to get around to visit all the cool places in Koh Samui you’ll need to rent a scooter or a motorbike. No cars, unless you want to get stuck in the traffic. There is also the possibility to get taxis, they are everywhere, but again you won’t have the freedom to explore the island at your own pace.
Bike and helmets on, it’s time to discover the best beaches in Koh Samui, and on the way, you’ll find great places to visit, to stop for a fresh coconut or for an awesome Instagram shot. From Chaweng Beach, if you go North and Northwest you must visit Chaoen Mon Beach, the Bophut village, and the crystal clear waters of Maenam Beach.
Feeling adventurous? Go chasing some waterfalls! Search on Google Maps for Tan Rua Waterfall or Hin Lat Waterfall, they are on the way to Maenam Beach.
On the following day go explore the South side of Koh Samui and its famous attractions. Talking about beaches, stop at Chaweng Noi [a small version of Chaweng Beach], then drive to the Coral Cove Beach, a small bay hidden behind a hotel entrance. Stay there for a couple of hours as it’s a great spot for swimming and snorkeling.
Following the main road, you’re gonna find Silver Beach and, a bit further, Lamai Beach. By the end of Lamai Beach, you will find road signs pointing the direction to Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks. Once you arrive there it will be easy to spot a big phallic rock and another one with a hole in the middle. Those naughty rock formations have a story behind, something with sailing to Koh Samui, marriage and death. The place is beautiful and definitely one funny place to visit in Koh Samui. While most people stay there looking at Grandfather Rock, just a few pay 20 Baht to visit the Lamai viewpoint, which is just beside it. In my opinion, the view from the top is way more stunning.
If the sun is still up, keep on driving because there are more cool things to do in Koh Samui. Near Lamai Beach, there are two waterfalls you can visit, Wang Sao Thong [the smaller one] and Na Mueng, a waterfall that is divided in two levels. You can go there for a cold swim, some relaxing trekking, but please, DO NOT RIDE ELEPHANTS! There is an elephant park close to the waterfall where you can go on a safari, pet and ride the elephants. If you are not aware of the cruelty behind the elephant tourism industry, please watch this video.
Back to the coast, find your way to Laem Sor Pagoda, it’s a big golden pagoda sitting just by the ocean. When we were there it was under renovation, so we didn’t have a chance to see it, but the motorbike ride to the Pagoda was a great experience. The roads are empty, and you will be surrounded by endless fields of coconut trees, charming Thai houses, buffalos, and kids playing. It was the perfect way to end our afternoon ride.
If you don’t want to drive that far to see Koh Samui’s famous coconuts trees, when driving to Maenam Beach pay attention to the surroundings and you might spot them there.
Renting a scooter and driving around the island is one of the first things to do in Koh Samui, it will give you a sense of the place, the distances of things and then you can choose where you want to go back and stay longer. By the way, the price to rent a scooter is about 200 – 300 Bahts per day.
Visit Koh Samui’s Big Buddha
Built in 1972, the 12 meter seated Buddha statue is a part of Wat Phra Yai Ko Fan Temple and a visit there is one of the top things to do in Koh Samui. The place is beautiful, the statue is immense, and the views you get from there are awe-inspiring. The Buddha sits majestically on top of the temple and it’s surrounded by turquoise water. If you visit the Big Buddha early in the morning you might have a chance to witness the offering ritual and the morning chanting. It’s a religious place so act and dress respectfully. Shoulders and knees must be covered [for both women and men], but if you forgot about it, don’t panic. On the right side of the stairs that lead to the Big Buddha, there are sarongs and scarves for tourists, you can borrow one and give it back later. They don’t charge for it, but a small donation to the temple is appreciated.
Koh Samui Big Buddha will give you a glimpse of the Thai Buddhism culture, if you want to learn more and visit other temples, there are a few very unique ones, worth seeing. You can search their location on Google and follow the map to Wat Plai Laem, Wat Khao Hua Juk [it’s on the top of a hill with an amazing view] and Wat Khunaram [where you can see a mummified Monk that died in 1973].
Water Sports are a Koh Samui must do
The pristine beaches are an invitation to spend the whole day soaking up the sun and discovering the colorful underwater life. Think about kayaks, jet skis, stand up paddle boards, snorkeling, diving, sailing… the possibilities are endless. On the island, you’re gonna find many dive schools offering fun dive sessions, or go on a day trip to visit beaches and smalls islands around Koh Samui that are perfect for snorkeling.
Many hotels have kayaks and paddle boards, just rent one and have fun. For sailing or jet skiing tours I suggest you to stop at one of the many tourism agencies on the island and ask for the price and the details, then book the activity that suits you best.
Day trip from Koh Samui to Angthong Park
There are many day trips from Koh Samui to nearby islands, but if you have to choose only one it must be a day trip to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. It’s a whole day sailing through the beautiful sea, passing by stunning rock formations and islets, visiting viewpoints and blue lagoons. It’s a freaking tiring and unforgettable day. Angthong National Park is one of the most beautiful marine parks I’ve visited in Thailand.
We booked our day trip to Ang Thong National Park at the Loving in Samui travel agency close to Central Festival Shopping Mall, just beside a 7Eleven shop. The price was 1600 Baht per person and it included transportation from the hotel to the pier, the boat trip, a visit to Ko Wua Ta Lap island for some trekking to an impressive viewpoint, a delicious lunch on board, a kayaking adventure between islands, a visit to the Blue Lagoon and snorkeling at Ko Mae Ko beach. Water, fruits, and coffee during the trip and lovely staff that made our day with their jokes and smiles.
Sunset Session in Koh Samui
Our Koh Samui travel guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the stunning sunsets. The West side of the island is the best place to watch the sunset in Koh Samui, opposite to Chaweng Beach. Anywhere around Lipa Noi Beach, Nathon Town or Taling Ngam Beach will offer stunning views. You can get fancy and have sunset drinks at the famous Nikki Beach Resort, get funky at Think & Retro Cafe or just grab a beer at one of the many 7 Eleven shops and sit at the beach for an unforgettable sunset.
The Mediterranean is full of romantic places! Instagram made us fall head over heels for the whitewashed villages of the Cyclades, for the stunning beaches of Sardinia and the charm of Malta – but if you’re looking for a romantic cruise, there’s nowhere quite as magical as Croatia.
The reason is simple – there are just so many islands to explore, and doing so by yacht charter will give you the chance to swap crowded ferries and congested streets for private catamarans and deserted coves, the perfect backdrop to enjoy a sunset drink with your significant other.
We’ve spent months searching for the best beaches in Thailand and Bali, and we’re hoping that next summer will finally be the time for us to visit Croatia, and we’d love to do so by boat. Recently we found out about Nowboat, the first all in one seafaring platform, listing hundreds of trusted operators from all over the world, and allowing travelers and operators to be connected with a matter of clicks.
Up until recently, planning a private sailing or cruising experience was likely to be a daunting task – most yacht charter sites are aimed at sailors or those wanting to plan long expeditions. On the other hand, on Nowboat you can plan experiences that range from a few hours to several weeks. If you’re looking for a romantic Croatia cruise, there are tons of options to choose from – here are just a few ideas.
1) 8 Day Luxury Cruise From Split
Split is the ideal starting point for a romantic cruise around Dalmatia, as it’s located within a short sailing distance from several amazing islands like Brac and Vis, and it has an airport and good infrastructure. One week or 8 days are enough to enjoy the magic of Croatian islands, visiting places like the timeless city of Dubrovnik, the Elaphiti Islands and Mljet, one of Croatia’s national parks. Some of these locations are popular with day trippers – sailing allows you to skip the crowds, arriving early and staying late at the best snorkeling and swimming spots, and enjoying sunsets in total peace and quiet.
2) A Week Sailing The Amazing Kornati Archipelago
The Kornati Archipelago is UNESCO-listed, and it is often mentioned as one of the best sailing destinations in the Mediterranean. It’s a protected National Park, with the highest concentration of islands anywhere on the planet – in just 320 square km you’ll find over 140 islands and islets, offering opportunities for countless sailing adventures.
Sailing the Kornati means spending your days swimming in turquoise coves, sunbathing in deserted beaches and having lunch at secluded island konoba (family-run restaurants) only accessible by boat. You could opt to spend a full week sailing the Kornati or combine them with other islands like Krk or Vodice, close to Skradin National Park.
3) Sail to Stunning Zlatni Rad
If the name Zlatni Rad or Golden Cape doesn’t mean anything to you, try Googling it – I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of this spectacular golden sand beach on the cover of several Croatia travel brochures! Zlatni Rad is regularly mentioned as one of Croatia’s best beaches, and it’s located on the island of Brac, a quick sail from Split.
Visiting independently can be harrowing, as the crowds and heat in summer can be fierce – but what about spending a day cruising there with your loved one, with your private charter on hand if you want to relax or enjoy some time away from the beach? If you throw a sunset into the mix, this could very well be Croatia’s ultimate romantic sailing experience!
4) Cruise to The Blue Lagoon And Taste Dalmatian Wine
There are countless sailing adventures to be enjoyed from Split, even if you have just one day. Adventure lovers will love sailing to the Blue Lagoon, famous for its natural beauty and for the great snorkeling opportunities, with colorful fish life often spotted in summer. The Dalmatian Coast is full of secluded coves – part of the fun in sailing places like Croatia is trusting the local crew and letting them show you their favorite secret spots. Day trips to the Blue Lagoon and other destinations in the surroundings often end with a beachside aperitivo in Maslinica – just because wine makes everything better!
5) Sunset Sail From Rijeka
No one can deny that Dalmatia is beautiful – trouble is, it’s hardly a secret nowadays. Heading to places like Split or Dubrovnik in the middle of summer almost guarantees you’ll run into crowds, and even if you have your boat to escape to, this can seriously dampen a romantic experience. The town of Rijeka is located further north, in Istria, and sees far fewer tourists compared to Dalmatia – yet, it has nothing to envy when it comes to seascapes and scenic beauty. A sunset sailing expedition from Rijeka is the ideal way to treat yourself and your significant other for a few hours – trips also include a stop on a nearby beach, before sailing back surrounded by twinkling lights.
Siargao is one of the Philippines’ last pristine island and beach getaways, but don’t call Siargao “the next Boracay” within earshot of locals. Siargao’s locals and long-timers like it the way it is, thank you very much: a laid-back island stop where life revolves around General Luna Town on the east coast and its surfing spots facing the Pacific Ocean. A place where expats, locals, and assorted Siargao lifers have come together to build a caring community.
As locals like to say, the less Siargao turns out like overpopulated, overpartied, overpolluted Boracay, the better! So to come along this unique way of life our Siargao travel guide has more than practical information, we gathered some local travel tips. And when the locals’ share their favorite spots, things to do in Siargao, where to stay and where to eat, you know it gonna be good.
Siargao Travel Guide: Then and Now
“When I first visited in 2005, there was nothing, no resorts in Siargao,” recalls Elaine Abonal, a Manila-born transplant who now runs Surfista Travels from General Luna Town. “It was cool because you got to know all the locals, everybody hung out in the same place, so you get to know everyone – even if you come back the year after, people still remember you.”
A popular movie and several surf competitions later, the scene has definitely changed. “There’re so much more tourists, there are more resorts, more surf schools in Siargao,” Elaine tells us. The hardcore surfing crowd has been replaced, she says, by “a whole mix: there’re families, there’re yoga people; other people come here for Christmas because it’s a tropical island. There’s a whole mix of different ages already and some families, more parties, and a lot more tourists that come even if they don’t surf.”
How to get to Siargao Island
Elaine’s old Siargao isn’t completely vanished, though you’ll need to stay a little longer to find the island’s native spirit under the added weight of tourists. Travelers visiting Siargao for the first time mostly arrive now by air. Sayak Airport receives domestic flights from Manila to Siargao and Cebu to Siargao. If you are traveling from outside the Philippines, now it is quite easy to connect flights as there are over 10 flights from Manila to Siargao daily, the same for Cebu to Siargao.
Before the airport opened, Siargao surfers would fly to Surigao Airport on Mindanao Island, then catch the ferry from Surigao to Siargao Dapa Port. This is still available, and the locals’ preferred method to get to Siargao.
Transportation on the island boils down to rented vans for large groups, or the motorcycle taxis called habal-habal. It’s is fair easy to get around Siargao, the former costs PHP 800 for a shared ride to or from the airport, or upwards of PHP 2000 for a chartered ride; the latter costs about PHP 20-100 per ride, depending on the distance.
Most Siargao tourist spots and establishments stand within walking/boating distance of Siargao surf spots on the east coast, in General Luna town, some 30-40 minutes’ van ride from the airport. If there’s one place that exemplifies Siargao’s scene, it’s the place that started it all, the ferocious surf break known as Cloud 9.
Discovered by a surfer fleeing from Balinese authorities – and subsequently named after a local chocolate bar beloved by visiting surfers – Cloud 9 quickly earned a following thanks to perfect barrels experienced by anyone brave enough to take on its forceful waves and sharp reef bottom. A gangway leads from the beach to a surfing tower where spectators assemble to watch surfers enjoy Cloud 9’s right-hand waves.
Where to Stay in Siargao Island? Resorts, hotels or hostels?
The first Siargao beach resorts sprouted up next to the Cloud 9 surf break – in the early days, Elaine recalls, “there were only two places to go: either somewhere super expensive, which was Sagana, or super cheap, which was Ocean 101.” [click on the hotel names to check out the rates]
With expanded options now available to the growing number of Siargao tourists, travelers seeking a room can just search for ‘the best places to stay in Siargao Island’ on Booking.com, Agoda or Tripadvisor and take their pick. And there’s plenty on offer, from luxury resorts to cheap accommodation in Siargao – as explained by Jof Sering, owner of local art and crafts store Felice. “It depends on what your budget is, what kind of person you are, and then what kind of activities you like to do.”
Jof recommends Greenhouse Siargao for budget travelers – “It’s nice, small, quaint, there’s no signage, they don’t have aircon,” she says. Travelers who want more creature comforts might prefer staying at Isla Cabana, as “they have a swimming pool,” she says. “If they have kids, Isla Cabana is their type of place.” Finally, travelers looking for a social hostel in Siargao might want to try Paglaom Hostel: ideal “if you’re on a budget and you want instant friends,” Jof says. [click on the hotel names to check out the rates]
Speaking for myself, on my last trip to Siargao, I stayed at Turtle Surf Camp, just off the Tuazon Point surf break. It’s a cozy one-story building with air-conditioned rooms, a small pool and a laid-back vibe that captured the best of the Siargao surf-dude spirit.
Things to do in Siargao and around
Surfing is still one of the main things to in Siargao but more and more, “a lot of people are doing other things that’s not related to surfing,” Elaine Abonal tells us. “Some people come for the parties here, [or come to do] standup paddleboarding.”
Let’s start with what Siargao is best at the surfing scene. Beyond Cloud 9, surfers can visit other, less crowded surf spots like Tuason Point, Cemetery and Matanjac. Hire a local surf instructor, or join a Siargao surf camp like Surfista, to find the best surf breaks given the day’s weather conditions.
When is the best time to visit Siargao? “There are waves all year round, but they’re not great all the time,” says a local resort owner (who prefers to stay anonymous). “Siargao’s surf season is September, October, and then Holy Week. Sometimes from December to February you get some onshore waves, and in June and July, it’s relatively small – good for beginners.”
The reef-floored beaches on Siargao Island are no good for casual swimming – if that’s what you’re after, you’ll need to join a Siargao island hopping tour that visits offshore islets with cleaner white sand and friendlier waves. The island hopping tour covers the “Naked Island” sandbar; Guyam Island; and Daku Island; the last one has cabanas to relax in. It’s definitely a must thing to do in Siargao for surfer, non-surfers and anyone dreaming to visit the island.
There are plenty of things to do in Siargao for non-surfers, so the whole family or group of friends can come down and enjoy. Some 30 minutes drive from General Luna and you’ll find the tidal pools, known as Magpupungko Pools, carved into the reef bed, perfect for swimming and relaxing in. About an hour-and-a-half from town, you’ll come upon the hidden Sugba Lagoon tucked away between mangroves. From Dapa Port, you can take a twice-daily ferry to Bucas Grande Island, a nature reserve with innumerable caves, sea inlets, mangrove thickets, and a lagoon full of stingless jellyfish.
The list of what to do in Siargao is not finished yet. Believe it or not, tiny Siargao Island has a golf course you can tee off of: “It’s just a five-hole golf course; we play a combination of the holes to play nine holes,” one resort owner tells me. “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a pretty difficult course, to be quite honest.” The course is located off Maya SiargaoVilla in General Luna.
Travelers with kids can visit Jof Sering’s shop Felice for hands-on activities like painting lessons, or to shop for artisanal finds like hand-crafted bags and locally-made swimwear. “Our mission vision is, to spark joy and happiness in your everyday life,” Jof says.
Siargao Travel Guide to Drinking, Dining & Socializing
The casual, come-as-you-are surfing community defines local society. The locals have an unusually egalitarian relationship (for the Philippines) with outsiders; you’ll find Siargao-born women riding the waves and flaunting string bikinis (unthinkable elsewhere in the country), and local surf legends tossing back beers with expats and moneyed local settlers. The burgeoning Siargao restaurants and bar scene provides a great excuse to meet and greet with locals.
Try visiting places like Harana Surf Resort, whose open-air bar is a popular meet-up spot for Siargao society. Little conversational groups sit on mats or beanbags on the floor around low-slung tables, sharing San Miguel Beers and a menu of Filipino fusion food like adobo bibimbap and halo-halo in a half-coconut-shell.
Diners looking for a louder, cheaper alternative go to Mama’s Grill, a rustic open-air affair serving up freshly-grilled pork, marlin, and chicken. We eat here on our last night at Siargao, sitting side by side with our surf instructors and somehow understanding each other despite the local din and the language gap.
Grilled food, good company: this is Filipino surf culture at its best, easily accessible on any night chilling in Siargao. It won’t be Boracay for a good while yet – and you should come on down while the going is good.
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Author: Mike Aquino
Travel writer, dad, putterer, not necessarily in that order. Worked in advertising from 1995 to 2008, served as About.com’s Southeast Asia Travel writer from 2008 to 2017, survived About.com’s transition to Tripsavvy, now serving as the latter’s Southeast Asia correspondent. You can check his blog Southeast Asia Time Traveler and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
Bangalore is one of the most urbanized cities in India. Earlier known as the “Garden city of India” and “Pensioner’s paradise”, Bangalore no longer falls in these categories due to its fast growth and development into a prominent IT hub of India. Most travelers visit the city for work or as a pitstop before visiting the tourist places near Bangalore. But the city itself has many interesting things to do, and we gonna try to squeeze all the best places to visit in Bangalore in one day, so you can make the most of the city in 24 hours.
While most of the best places to visit in Bangalore are not too far from each other, the city can get unpredictable with its traffic. So, we recommend that you do have some buffer time added to your itinerary of things to do in Bangalore. There are enough tourist spots in Bangalore to keep any traveler busy for days, but if you wake up early I’m sure you can manage to visit the top attractions in 24 hours and still have fun.
Places to visit in Bangalore in one day trip
Walk amongst the clouds at Nandi Hill
To begin your ‘One day in Bangalore’ trip let’s visit Nandi hills to enjoy the sunrise and walk amongst the clouds. About 40 km from the airport, in Chikkaballapur district, lies the hillock shaped like Nandi bull. The Nandi bull is mythological bull which is Lord Shiva’s vehicle as per Hindu religion. On top of the hill is the remains of the hill fortress built by Tippu Sultan which is considered to be impregnable. Due to its’ height of about 4800 ft above sea level, the weather in Nandi Hills is generally pleasant and clouds engulf the hill early morning.
Currently, the fort is being renovated and will be open to public view soon. Tippu’s drop is the famous cliffside where Tippu Sultan had his prisoners thrown to death. The Bangalore horticulture department runs a restaurant and a cup of chai feels just right in the cool weather.
Enjoy a safari in Bannerghatta National Park
Bannerghatta National Park is one of the nice places to visit near Bangalore. Go for a safari and spend some time close to nature. The park has a zoo, an aquarium, crocodile farm, snake park and a museum. The safari takes you through the biological park and you can see tigers, lions, elephants, zebras and deer in their natural habitat. The children’s park located centrally in the park is one of the favorite places to visit in Bangalore with family. While they have fun you can rest and refresh yourself in the nearby restaurant. Also, there are some adventure activities like trekking, camping, and rafting not too far from the National Park, however, these activities take at least half a day, they are a good option if you plan a one day trip from Bangalore.
Explore the history of Bangalore in Bangalore Palace
The royal Bangalore Palace was built during the rule of King Chamarajendra Wadiyar and is said to be inspired by the architecture of Windsor Castle in London. Some of the highlights of this palace are the ballroom and durbar hall. The walls of the palace are adorned with paintings and photographs of the royal family. These also include the work of India’s famous painter Raja Ravi Varma. Some very unique artwork and arms are on display through this grand palace. The beautifully maintained lawns are a sight and sometimes hold private parties. There are audio guides available and while listening to the stories, you will definitely feel like being taken back in time. It’s a good introduction to the city’s history and one of the most beautiful places to visit in Bangalore in one day.
Lunch at MTR for authentic South Indian food
If you are looking for authentic and tasty South Indian food to spice up your day outing in Bangalore, then MTR at St Marks Road or Lalbagh Road is where you should go. This chain of restaurants is Bangalore’s oldest and a hot favorite amongst the locals. The first restaurant was opened near Lalbagh in 1924, by the Maiya brothers and was renamed to Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR). The rava idli, masala dosa, and bisibele bhath are some of the specialties here and they sell like hot cake. When it comes to food, for sure these are a must visit place in Bangalore city.
Take a green heritage walk through Lalbagh Botanical Garden
This 270-acre park in the heart of the city is one of Bangalore’s oldest and loved landmarks. With a wide range of flora and fauna, this epic garden along with smaller surrounding parks justifies the name of “Garden City”. Inspired by the Mughal gardens, the main glasshouse hosts annual flower shows. The best time to visit Lalbagh is either at sunrise or sunset, during one of these flower shows. If you do get tired of walking the expansive gardens, golf carts are available to help you as well. A lift will also help you to explore the garden faster and then you can add other attractions to your Bangalore in one day itinerary.
Enjoy Indian music at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain
The musical fountain in this park is one of the biggest musical fountains in India. It is very interesting places to visit in Bangalore with friends and family as everybody enjoys the synchronized light, music and fountains show. Every evening there are two shows in two languages and it is better to inquire before booking your spot. Gandhi Musical Fountain is one of the top things to do in Bangalore and you must add it to your travel itinerary.
Shopping at Commercial Street
Next, we recommend some quality shopping time to explore souvenirs and special clothing. Commercial Street is the most loved shopping area in the city and it’s the perfect places to visit in Bangalore in one day trip. This street has numerous shops of clothes, shoes, jewelry, antiques etc and is not easy to navigate unless you are prepared for it. This area gets crowded in the evening and finding a parking spot is difficult. Some tips for shopping here are to remember what you need, bargain and carry cash as many shops don’t accept cards. We recommend, get in and get out fast with what you need, else you run a chance of over shopping.
Pub hopping and some night fun
After you shop till you drop, it’s time to just chill and relax. Bangalore is quite famous for its pubs and restaurants. If you are planning to check out a couple of bars then you should head down to Indiranagar or MG road. The nightlife is pretty amazing there with some fantastic breweries serving great drinks, food, and music. In case you are planning for a silent dinner; both these areas have enough fine dining restaurants to match up to your mood. This restaurant area is one of the good places to visit in Bangalore for couples.
Definitely, it will be a long day, it’s not easy to put all the best places to visit in Bangalore in one day itinerary. But if you manage to beat the traffic and start your activities early I’m sure you gonna enjoy all the fun things to do in Bangalore.
Where to stay in Bangalore, India
After a long day outing in Bangalore, you definitely need a good rest. There are a plethora of accommodation in Bangalore: luxury hotels, romantic resorts, and budget rooms. We listed some of the best places to stay in Bangalore but before you book your hotel check out the location. As you only have one day in Bangalore, a well-located hotel can help you make the most of your time. Here are our recommendations for good hotels in Bangalore:
Remember that Bangalore is connected by air, rail and by road with all major cities in India. It makes the city a great spot to visit places in and around Bangalore. The Kempegowda International airport is also connected with all major countries, to find the best flights to Bangalore use Skyscanner and Kiwi.com.
And if you are planning a trip to around India check our post about Palace On Wheels train trip, a 7-day luxury journey through Rajasthan and Agra.
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Author: Pujarini Mitra
Pujarini Mitra is an entrepreneur with a serious travel addiction. She loves traveling and blogging about it. She is exploring the world, one country at a time with her family. MySoulTravels is her venture to share her travel stories and experiences on the road with her baby. Follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
Stunning beaches, green mountains and the interesting mix of African and Portuguese culture. Cabo Verde is not a trendy travel destination and that’s why it’s so special. Santiago is the biggest islands in Cape Verde, it’s also where the old and the new capital is located. If you want to get a taste of the country, this is the place you should start your trip, even if you only have one day there. To help you plan your 24 hours itinerary we listed the top attractions and things to do in Santiago, Cape Verde.
Cape Verde is an archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean, on the northwest coast of Africa. Together with Madeira and Savage Islands [belonging to Portugal], they constitute the Macaronesia, which means “fortunate islands”. This name quickly gives an idea of what we can expect and it really does not disappoint.
The archipelago is located about 450 km from Senegal, the westernmost point of continental Africa. Santiago was the first island reached by the Portuguese and it’s the largest of the ten that comprise the archipelago. This island was the last of the three that I had the opportunity to visit and it was the one I enjoyed the most. I already had visited Sal and Boavista, which are by far the most tourist ones and, therefore, in my view, a little less interesting.
Things to do in Santiago, Cape Verde
If you can stay only one day on the island of Santiago, my recommendation is to explore the city of Praia and the Old Town, where the Portuguese touched the soil of Cape Verde for the first time.
Places to visit in Santiago during the morning
Start by going to the Sucupira Market, which is a strategic point in Praia city. In one of the sides of the market, you will spot huge white vans, the extremely popular Hiaces (Toyotas Hiace). These are the collective taxis that move around the island and that everyone uses.
Look for a Hiace that goes to the Old City and hop in, the price is around 200 escudos (2€). If the wagon is full, it will head [more or less] directly to its destination, otherwise, it will complete the laps necessary around the city of Praia until it is full. You can also catch a cab, the route is not that long, but catching a Hiace with locals is a unique experience and one of the local things to do in Cape Verde. During the Hiace journey, the driver stops as necessary to meet the requests of the occupants, so sit back and relax, the pressure to meet timetables is inexistent and this makes everything worthy.
The Old Town appears down there, next to the water, after a tight corner. This site is the birthplace of Cape Verde, where the Portuguese arrived with their ships, centuries ago. The Hiace will leave you in Largo do Pelourinho, where today we can still find the homonymous structure. It’s the central point of the Old Town, quite close is the 1st street urbanized by the Portuguese in sub-Saharan Africa, called Rua Banana. This street is not that long and deserves to be visited, due to its history, houses and also because it is the access to Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário. This religious temple is the oldest in the country.
Then visit the ruins of Sé Cathedral and slightly above you have Forte Real de São Filipe, catch a cab or ask for pedestrian access. You will love the view that you get during the ascent, and also the challenge to climb stairs of different sizes and shapes along this uneven path.
By this time, you will probably want to have a lunch break, so go back to the place where you started the visit, Largo do Pelourinho. Get closer to the sea and pick a restaurant. Sit back and enjoy the view. The peacefulness is outstanding.
What to do in Santiago during the afternoon
Catch that Hiace again, toward the center of Praia city. Ask to stop at Sucupira Market, your place of departure in the morning. Visit the market and walk by the stalls of fruit, clothing, textiles, toys, bread, and cakes. Even animals are sold there. What I liked the most was the colors of the local clothing, all of them are sold there, as well as the fruit and vegetables available.
From the market, head to Plateau, the oldest neighborhood in Praia. This area is different from the rest of the island’s capital. The main point of the neighborhood is Praça Alexandre Albuquerque, located in the heart of several businesses, institutional and religious buildings. The streets are extremely busy [especially on weekends], many locals come down to buy and sell something or address any issue they have.
The colonial buildings are beautiful, lots of them have been restored. This neighborhood is also known as Chinatown, given the number of Chinese traders that have settled there. And among all the cool things to do in Santiago a visit to the local market in Plateau area is a must.
Look for the Presidential Palace, and near it, there is a viewpoint with beautiful views. Since the Plateau is located, as the name foretells, on a plateau, from there you can admire the black sand beach and the port. Walk down to the sea and go for a relaxed stroll by the seashore. Pass by the Maria Pia lighthouse and discover the islander of Santa Maria, which is very close. Keep walking until you reach the beach Quebra Canela and climb up to the place where Cruz do Papa is, a huge cross that is on the top, and from where we have an outstanding view.
As a farewell, walk down again to the beach level and visit the wood café next to the beach. It has live music at the end of the day, on Sundays you’re lucky [if you like it as much as I do] because it’s reggae. Say goodbye to Santiago with a glass in your hand, good music, and a beautiful sunset ahead of you.
If you can stay for dinner, you should go back to the Plateau and look for Quintal da Música, the famous open-air restaurant where you can find daily music outdoors. The Cape Verdean music has an immense soul, I like it a lot, particularly the mornas.
Where to stay in Santiago, Cabo Verde
After dinner and might one stay the night, as it’s easy to fall in love with Santiago and Cabo Verbe relaxing vibe. So if you need to spend the night there here are our recommendations of where to stay in Santiago, Cabo Verde – best hotels for any type of travelers and budget.
She travels independently and already went to more than 40 countries. She loves to meet the culture, the habits and the ways of living of the locals. Morocco, India, and Cambodia are among her favorite places. You can check her blog Wandering Life and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.