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Known as the “Cruise Capital of the World”, Miami has the busiest port in terms of passenger and cruise line traffic — after all, it is the best gateway for a number of Caribbean itineraries, among many others! (MSC Seaside)

With that said, there is an overwhelming number of cruise providers to choose from and they all offer a varying range of perks and services. However, if you want to make the most of your vacation, I would highly recommend trying out the revolutionary MSC Seaside from MSC Cruises.

I had the pleasure of going on this luxurious cruise ship during my recent trip to Miami and it was an amazing experience that did not compromise on the quality of its amenities, services, and many others.

We all want to make the most of any vacation and I would love it if you could have an incredible cruise trip like I did! As such, the following top 10 reasons will show you why MSC Seaside should be your next top option.
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Top 10 Reasons to Cruise with MSC Seaside

#1 – Excellent value with affordable rates and FREE perks


A lot of people typically believe that cruises are far too expensive, but you’ll be surprised to know that MSC Seaside’s 7-night Caribbean itinerary starts at only $449 per adult — and this Fall, a special 4-night trip to MSC Cruises’ new private island Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, on one of their other next-generation ships, MSC Meraviglia, is as low as $230 per person! This is one of the ship’s first itineraries from Miami after coming to North America for the first time ever.

Families will also be overjoyed with MSC Cruises’ “Kids Sail FREE” fare program wherein children 11 and under can sail for FREE along with two paid adults in the same stateroom. This promo is available for select MSC Cruise itineraries including several routes on the MSC Seaside! As such, this could surely be one of your least expensive and best value vacations yet!

The fun doesn’t stop there because the ship also offers other special packages. Make sure to check their deals that cover all-inclusive plans, drink packages, exclusive discounts (for military and civil service rates), and so much more. [Check here for more details].
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#2 – Elegant staterooms and suites

Combining comfort and style, MSC Seaside’s stateroom options can cater to just about anyone; not to mention that the balconies are quite spacious with an area of up to 269 square feet! You’re sure to have a fun time cruising at sea with the following kinds of staterooms.

To date, they have the following options:

  • MSC Yacht Club Royal Suite: 667 sq. ft. with balcony, separate living area and private whirlpool bath
  • MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Suite: 269 sq. ft. with balcony
  • MSC Yacht Club Interior Suite: 226 sq. ft.
  • Modular Connected Staterooms for families or groups: 2 or 3 connecting staterooms each with own bathroom and balcony (accommodates up to 10 people)
  • Two-Bedroom Grand Suite: 527 sq. ft. with balcony
  • Grand Suite: from 344 sq. ft. with balcony
  • Suite with whirlpool bath: 301 sq. ft. with balcony and private whirlpool bath
  • Suite: from 182 sq. ft. to 301 sq. ft. with balcony
  • Balcony: from 172 sq. ft. to 269 sq. ft. with balcony
  • Ocean View: 182 sq. ft.
  • Interior: from 150 sq. ft. to 301 sq. ft.

*MSC Seaside also offers staterooms for guests with disabilities or reduced mobility and they are often larger.
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#3 – Varied Caribbean itinerary choices

The Caribbean is comprised of a lot of islands and I can understand if you couldn’t decide where to go. Fret not though, because MSC Seaside covers both Eastern & Western Caribbean destinations given how they offer unique experiences that will let you make the most out of those long white sandy beaches and clear turquoise seas!

To start off, if you check this link you can choose a cruise that stops in places like the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Mexico — or you can sail off on a route that goes to the Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. However, if you want to mix all these destinations together, you can absolutely go on a longer cruise that spans for 14 nights!

Want something unique? This November, MSC Seaside will begin sailing to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises’ new and exclusive Bahamian eco-friendly private island.

To top it off, every port of call you visit has its own set of exciting excursions that allow you to discover the destinations like a local to further enrich your stay!
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#4 – Tons of family fun — especially for the kids!

MSC Seaside caters to people of all ages and families in particular will love the amenities that are catered specially for them!

For starters, the ship has a large interactive multi-story waterpark with four (4) water slides, including two racing slides with see-through loops that extend over the side of the ship and a 367-foot water slide with lights and music going down in single and double slide tubes. At the Forest Aquaventure Park (Deck 18) as well, you will find an AquaPlay™ area catered for little kids and an adventure trail too.

If the young ones had enough of the waters and the adults need time by themselves, there are even Kids Clubs for all different ages:

  • Baby Club: For 1 to 3 year olds, designed in partnership with Chicco®.
  • Mini Club: For 3 to 6 year olds, created in partnership with LEGO®.
  • Juniors Club: For 7 to 11 year olds, created in partnership with LEGO®.
  • Teens Clubs: There are two for this. One is for 12 to 14 year olds and the other is for 16 to 17 year olds. They serve not only as a gaming room but also as a cinema among many others.

Smack in the middle of these club rooms is Doremiland where families can play and interact together through the varied program and activities that they offer. Some of the many events that the ship also holds are a ‘Talent Show’ at the main theater, family movie night, family sports competition and a Lego Family Fun Night.

Still want more? Head on over to deck 7’s Arcade Games & Bowling area where anyone can enjoy the 2 full-sized bowling alleys, play games on the arcade machines, try the F1 simulator, or go in the interactive XD cinema!
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#5 – Over 10 dining areas and 20 bars/lounges

I’ve never had so much food in my life until I set foot on the MSC Seaside! With over 10 unique dining areas offering gourmet dishes (including 5 specialty restaurants) and 20 bars / lounges, dining and refreshment is surely as varied as it can be! 

RESTAURANTS

  • Main Restaurants: Offers Mediterranean cuisine and international specialities
    • Seashore Restaurant (Deck 5)
    • Ipanema Restaurant (Deck 6)
    • MSC Yacht Club Restaurant (Deck 18) – Guests who book a suite in the Yacht Club gain access to this private dining room
  • Buffet Restaurants: Offers a variety of popular favorites and other tasty, healthy dishes
    • Marketplace Buffet (Deck 8)
    • Biscayne Bay Restaurant & Buffet (Deck 16)
  • Specialty Restaurants:
    • Asian Fusion by Roy Yamaguchi (Deck 16)
    • Sushi by Roy Yamaguchi (Deck 16)
    • Teppanyaki by Roy Yamaguchi (Deck 16)
    • Ocean Cay (Deck 16)
    • Butcher’s Cut (Deck 16)

BARS & LOUNGES

  1. Seaside Bar (Deck 5)
  2. Shine Bar (Deck 6)
  3. Piazza Grane (Deck 6)
  4. Venchi 1878 Chocolate Bar (Deck 6)
  5. Champagne Bar (Deck 7)
  6. Garage Club Bar (Deck 7)
  7. Haven Lounge (Deck 7)
  1. South Beach Bar (Deck 7)
  2. Venchi 1878 Gelato & Creperie
    (Deck 7)
  3. Bistrot La Bohème (Deck 8)
  4. Marketplace Bar (Deck 8)
  5. Seaview Lounge (Deck 8)
  6. Sports Bar (Deck 8)
  1. Miami Beach Bar (Deck 16)
  2. Top Sail Lounge (Deck 16)
  3. Jungle Bar (Deck 18)
  4. Jungle Pool Lounge (Deck 18)
  5. Aurea Bar (Deck 19)
  6. Miramar Bar (Deck 19)
  7. MSC Yacht Club Grill & Bar (Deck 19)
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#6 – State-of-the-art health and wellness facilities

After you’ve had your fun, head on over to the MSC Aurea Spa to relax your mind and body. There is a massive choice of spa and beauty treatments in store not only for you but even for your children! To start off, go for a pampering oil massage or treat your hands and toes with some good ol’ manicure or pedicure. Wanna add pizzazz to your night out? Head on over to the hair salon or barber shop to style your locks! The choices really are endless here.

Personally, I love their Balinese massage, Thalassotherapy pool and thermal area — I had the chance to try them out while I was on MSC Seaside and by the end of the day, I was surely begging for more of it all!

For the fitness buffs out there, you can also keep up with your workout goals with the ship’s state-of-the-art Sports Center that has spectacular sea views and leading-edge equipment in partnership with Technogym. But if you want some sun, there is an open air Sports Arena on the topmost deck where you can play basketball or soccer!

On the other hand, if you want a different way to blow off steam, MSC Seaside has a range of stores to satiate the shopaholic in you: from jewelry to branded watches, you’ll find it all on board!
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#7 – Spectacular waterfront design and bridges

 
 
 
 
 
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The incredible thing about MSC Seaside is how it can easily be its own seaside town! After all, with its spectacular wide design as well as the number of al fresco lounge areas that it has, sailing through the Caribbean seas will be a joy to do as you go through your daily itinerary.

There are even some incredible glass bridges spread out on the cruise ship that will easily make you feel like you’re walking on air:

  • Infinity Bridges: (Deck 8) Set on both sides of the ship, they are like mini versions of the…
  • Bridge of Sighs: (Deck 16) Towering above the open expanse of deck 7’s South Beach Pool, this has got to be one of my favorite spots on MSC Seaside and it’s obviously not only because of its design but also because of how picturesque the view is! This is obviously not for the faint-hearted (like me), but it’s worth going through it at least once!
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#8 – Wide range of entertainment spaces and programs

Every day, there are a hundred of things that can keep guests of MSC Seaside busy and entertained!

  • Daily programs and parties: The crew sets daily activities that anyone could join such as themed parties (e.g. ‘White Party’, ‘Great Gatsby’, etc.), movie nights, dance classes, trivia quizzes, karaoke shows, and so much more!
  • Theater Shows: There are usually 3 different show times on MSC Seaside’s Metropolitan Theater each evening, and you can easily book your spot for FREE on the MSC for Me application on your phone or on one of the interactive screens throughout the ship. If you ask me, my personal favorite would be ‘Timeless’ which features an amazing tribute to Michael Jackson.
  • Atrium: This grand 4-storied area might just be the most luxurious spot on MSC Seaside. Apart from catching a live band or DJ on stage, you could also come and enjoy a drink at the Seaside Bar and enjoy the view from its expansive design and views.
    • TRIVIA: Don’t forget to go through the sparkling staircases that are actually made of Swarovski crystals.
  • Miami Casino: For some adult fun, there’s always the casino where you can try and win big!
  • Others: Includes billiard room, library, sports bar, arcade, etc.
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#9 – Fun adrenaline and water activities for all ages

Aside from the Caribbean’s blue waters and white beaches, MSC Seaside has its own water park on board to help keep guests ‘soaked’ with fun (especially on days when the ship is cruising at sea).

  • South Beach Pool: (Deck 7)
  • Miami Beach Pool: (Deck 16)
  • Forest Aquaventure Park: (Deck 18) This is a multi-story aqua park and it is one of the largest and most interactive water attractions at sea! There is an AquaPlay™ area for the young ones, a long water slide, as well as an adventure trail above it for some added fun!
    • Just beside the park are two (2) additional water slides that are positioned on each side of the ship. One is a double slide with clear tubes and another which is bigger that could fit  two people in for a wild ride!
  • Jungle Pool: (Deck 18)
  • MSC Yacht Club Pool: (Deck 19) Exclusively for MSC Yacht Club members, this is found on the top of the ship complete with whirlpool baths

If you’re seeking extra adrenaline, don’t forget to try the two (2) 350-feet zip lines which are said to be the longest at sea! Besides, it’s not everyday that you can do something like this, right?
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#10 – 5-star service and luxurious options

MSC Seaside may be a 5,000-passenger ship but their 24-hour concierge staff will and always be attentive to everyone’s needs! Still, if you want added exclusivity and privacy, you better check out the MSC Yacht Club for a more luxurious cruise experience.

With luxurious staterooms and all-inclusive services, these are only just the beginning to this amazing program. Besides, the MSC Yacht Club also offers a range of superb private facilities such as the Top Sail Lounge (a panoramic lounge with spectacular views), a fully dedicated restaurant, and One Pool Deck (with its own private swimming pool, whirlpool baths, sun deck and bar).

Otherwise, there is an array of other inclusive experiences that you can try as you choose your stateroom:

  • Bella: The traditional cruise experience where you can indulge in all the wonderful benefits of cruising, including fine dining, world-class entertainment, recreation and more.
  • Fantastica: All the benefits of the Bella experience plus some extra privileges such as upper deck rooms that are at ideal locations on the ship, early dining options, and 24-hour room service.
  • Aurea: All the benefits of the Fantastica experience and extras like a FREE drink package, spa package (including two massages per stateroom), access to private sun deck, unlimited use of thermal spa areas, priority boarding, and so many others!
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» INFO «

Booking: See the BEST deals and prices for MSC Seaside cruise itineraries on their website

Home port: Cruise Terminal F – Port of Miami

Virtual Tour: Via 360° Tour or YouTube Video

Details: 1,059 feet long, 236 feet high, and top speed of 21.8 knots

Disclaimer: Thanks to MSC Cruises for sponsoring my stay; but as always, all thoughts that are expressed in this article are fully my own. (Some images above are from MSC).
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I am no stranger to visa applications. Plus, I perfectly know the struggle when applying for a visa especially since I am born in a third world country with only a third world passport — naturally, processes and interviews would always be especially rigorous for us.

But in spite of all the horror stories that you may have heard, seen, or read, getting a visa is still and absolutely achievable! Take it from me!

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT guarantee that the pointers in this post will get you approved 100% when you’re applying for a visa. In fact, NO ONE can give you a guarantee; not even a lawyer, a consultant, a travel agent, or an embassy employee. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely going to be a scammer.

Take note as well that even if you have a friend who has the same income as you do and who has acquired a visa that you are also applying for wouldn’t instantly mean that you will get the visa too. This is because every consulate considers a LOT of varying factors and the situation of your friend or any other person will not always be the same as yours.

Without the guarantee, what then can I give you in this article? Helpful tips to increase your chances of getting that approval.

The way I see it, applying for a visa is like dating — you lay out everything and put your ‘best foot forward’, hoping that by the end of it all, the answer will be a resounding YES from the other party. In this situation, I would be your proficient and supportive best friend who will help guide you on this ordeal.

So not only from the experiences that I’ve had but as well as lessons that I’ve learned from friends, here are the top 4 things that consulates or embassies usually put strict attention to! (For each of these sections, I will provide corresponding steps or workarounds that have worked really well.)



  • Accomplish the requirements. This is obviously ‘common knowledge’ but it seems like some people think that skipping out on a few documents is fine — no, it’s not. You can’t expect the embassy officers to say “Oh okay, just come back and submit this and that.” It’s always best to submit ALL the documents at once because most embassies would not even accept your application if it’s incomplete. Avoid wasting your time and effort; do remember that appointments are often hard to get.
    TIP: Make sure your passport is not expiring anytime soon. In addition, submit all the documents in an organized way. It helps to provide a checklist too in order to give the embassy a quick overview that you have prepared everything that’s needed (though at times this is one of the basic requirements).
  • Mind the details. Some embassies wouldn’t need an interview since they will merely rely on the documents you submit; given this process, they usually put very specific instructions and it’s vital that you take note of those. (Examples: they would want you to use only a specific kind of envelope, or that you have to staple your photo to the application form and NOT paste it, or they want you to write in blue ink). These steps might seem ridiculous or tedious but you should do it still; don’t slack off and don’t rebel. Make it a point to read the guidelines very well which should normally be on the embassy’s website.
  • Only submit authentic documents. Don’t even try submitting fake or ‘doctored’ documents. There’s a high chance that you will not only get denied, but you will also be banned.
  • Provide as much evidence as you can. One proof is fine, but if you can give more, then great! It will give them more assurance to the documents that you are trying to prove authenticity or genuineness to. In fact, overdelivering is always a good thing for as long as the things that you’re submitting are relevant. And of course, providing originals are always best!
  • Show that you are ‘well-traveled’. It can be through travel tickets/bookings or your passport stamps. Even if it’s not one of the requirements, it helps to show them this to send them a message that you have traveled before, that you always came back, and that you have never overstayed abroad.

INTERVIEWS: Your interview can affect the documents you are submitting; but surely, if you are submitting genuine papers, then there’s no need for you to be nervous about this because the questions are always basic: what is your purpose for visiting, how long do you intend to stay, etc. (Though depending on your answers, the visa officer can be more thorough).

At best: remember to be honest and precise when applying for a visa. Simply answer what they ask for. DON’T launch into a full-blown storytelling spree. It’s not necessary for you to give out information when it’s not asked for! (Besides, the officers unfortunately wouldn’t care about your story, no matter how sad or tragic it might be.)

Additionally, wear something presentable (no need to be too formal), arrive early, be confident, and speak in English (or if you’re more comfortable in speaking your country’s language, then feel free to do so — unless the embassy doesn’t allow it).

◘◘ Do I need to purchase and submit travel insurance?
I highly advise that you get travel insurance for your trip; after all, most embassies would require you to do so. To avail a travel insurance, I would highly recommend World Nomads since they offer the best price and coverage (they cover all countries worldwide too!).



TRUE PURPOSE: Apply for the appropriate visa. Read about all the information and processes that the embassy has in order to ensure what kind of visa you should be applying for — call the embassy if you ever need clarifications. This is crucial so that, for instance, you can avoid wasting your time on the requirements for a tourist visa if what you actually should be preparing are the prerequisites for ‘visit a friend’ visa, which is often a more specific category.

And surely, if you plan to study or work abroad, don’t try and go for a tourist visa; please DON’T be one of those people who violates visa rules and conditions because that would paint your fellowmen in the same bad light. You’re not helping others, nor are you helping yourself.

STRONG & REASONABLE PURPOSEIf you’re applying for a tourist visa then this shouldn’t be a problem; after all, you really wouldn’t have any other rationale for visiting a country abroad other than for… well, tourism. Supply them the itinerary that you want to do, the places that you want to see, and the experiences that you want to achieve and you should be fine.

The same applies for work, study, fiancé, or marriage visas because those are already self explanatory — to work because you are being sent there by your company, to study because you want to develop your knowledge and the university at that country is known for their outstanding program, etc. etc.

If, however, you’re applying for a visa to visit a friend or family, embassies commonly need a compelling argument to justify your plans of visiting. The first application isn’t typically a problem because seeing a friend or family member for the first time should somehow already be a reasonable purpose; but for the next visits, you or your host must have a stronger cause as to why you want to come back. Such may hold true too if you are planning to apply for 2nd tourist visa to the same country and so on.

Nevertheless, again, this is where dissimilarities can happen: some people can easily get a visa after the first time, but some people cannot. It’salways a case to case basis.

You might be thinking now, “What are examples of strong reasons?” I think it all boils down to having significant or sensible events. For tourism, let’s say you’ve been to Belgium before but currently, you want to come back because you want to see Tomorrowland; provide them the tickets for that and your motivation for wanting to see them (it happens only once a year anyway). Or maybe you have a blog and you want to experience and promote the country even more, blah blah blah. Or you want to take a gap year before you start working on your career. As for friends or family visits, if there’s a birthday, wedding, or reunion, make sure your or your host mentions that too.

» At the same time, don’t forget to prove the relationship you have with your host.

Ultimately, just make sure you have a decent motive or just be true to what your intention is — most of the time, your situation (no matter how simple or complicated it might be) would already be enough of a reason.

TIP: When applying for a visa, don’t ever indirectly imply that you have plans of staying longer because that will go against the 4th section below. If you’re going on a student visa, don’t mention plans of working in their country after finishing your degree; you have to express your desire to come back to your own country.

Or if you’re going on a tourist visa, don’t carelessly mention that their country has a very good education system that you find fascinating, because that might incidentally hint something to the embassy officer that you might want to study there — this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying. …Then again, I’m pretty sure you won’t say such things if you follow the tips I’ve mentioned in the 1st section: which is to be ‘on point’ about your answers. Say nothing more, nothing less!



Every embassy wants you to convince them that you have enough money to support yourself because if you don’t, they would be very skeptical about how you will be funding your stay and they will also doubt your purpose for visiting their country.

As a general rule, here are ways for you to prove your solvency…

  • For employed persons this becomes very easy since your ‘status’ already secures that you are solvent and that you have a job to come back to (thereby verifying the 4th section as well below). Ordinarily they need you to issue all of the following:
    • Proof of employment (or COE – Certificate of Employment) with company stamp, stating your position, years of service, and monthly salary
    • Most recent payslips (often for the past 3 months)
    • Income Tax Return (ITR) for the past year
  • For self-employed persons it becomes tricky, because though you have your own business, they need to know that it’s something stable and that you have enough cash. So other than the 1st three bullets below, it helps to provide:
    • Copy of Official Business Registration/ Business Permit
    • Tax paying certificate and/or tax statements
    • Bank Statement or Book of the company and Financial Reports for the last 3 months
    • Copies of personal credit cards, bank certificates, or bank statements in the last 3 months
  • For retirees if you have also launched your own business after retiring, it helps to give the documents as needed from self-employed persons and then these ones below if available:
    • Proof investments or financial assets
    • Evidence of pension such as receipts
    • Certification issued by competent authority stating period of time and date of retirement
  • For students or minors depending if your sponsors are your parents or your school, or even both:
    • Sponsorship letter from parents or legar guardian, with attached documents showing their solvency (as employed, self-employed, unemployed, or retiree persons)
    • Certification from the institution/school providing you the grant; this document must specify the amount, term, and expenses that the scholarship includes
  • For unemployed persons provide as much proof as you can, submit:
    • Proof investments or financial assets
    • Copies of personal credit cards, bank certificates, or bank statements/book in the last 3 months.
    • Sponsorship letter from your sponsor, with attached documents showing their solvency

NOTE: The requirements for employed and self-employed persons are as applicable to freelancers too; depending on your situation, you might have to provide not only your proof of employment but even the registry of your ‘business’.

Also, Please DON’T rely on this list alone; double check with your embassy as there might be some items that they would specifically want from you and which I have failed to mention here.

TIPFor most of my visa applications, I usually have a sponsor in spite of the fact that I can already support myself — I still like to include them in my applications since it adds more strength. It truly helps a lot, especially when I quit my job and started working freelance. Usually my sponsors are friends or relatives, but it’s usually just on paper; it doesn’t mean that I absolutely require them to fund my travels. Of course, in line with this, you would need to provide enough proof to show your relationship with these sponsors and why they are sponsoring you — and that of course you ACTUALLY have the funds to cover your trip since the immigration officers can check on this before your actual entry into their country (they have the right to ask for proof of cash on hand, credit card, bank statement, etc.)

By the way, this is another area that you can overdeliver on; feel free to provide as many documents as you can!

“But what is the minimum amount of money do I need to show in my bank account?”

This is something I can’t really answer because every country would have its own minimum requirement depending as well on the time period that you are going to stay; therefore, I suggest that you call the embassy or check their website for any corresponding info about this.

But in my experience with Schengen Visas for example, most of the member countries would need you to show that you have EUR 50 (Php 2,500+) per day of your stay. This is the bare minimum, that’s why I suggest that you add way more money to it.

Meanwhile, as an additional way of showing that you can ‘support’ yourself, they would surely need documents that shows  you have a hotel booked. To obtain these documents you can (1) reserve with a hotel online or (2) make a ‘dummy booking’ which can usually be done online [like Booking.com and Agoda], or through a travel agency.



Booking.com

If however, you are going to stay over at a friend, partner or family’s house, the embassy would need details of your ‘host’ like their ID cards, residence documents, proof of your relationship to them — all of which are easy to prepare.



In my opinion, this is where embassies put most emphasis on — they really need you to be bounded to your home country, and that you have strong ties that will compel you to come back at the end of your stay. They definitely don’t want you aiming for ways to stay longer (illegally) nor aiming for ways to become an immigrant without going through the necessary procedures at your home country.

What are examples of ‘strong ties’? They vary from country to country: they will consider your circumstances, travel plans, financial resources, and ties that will ensure your departure after the period of visit. Thus, other than the evidences already mentioned in the above sections, make sure that you’ve issued…

  • For employed persons
    • Leave of absence and/or certificate of employment from your employer
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay
  • For self-employed persons
    • Mention an affair that would necessitate your return (it can be a board meeting, company event, etc.)
    • Business registration
    • Proof of possession of real and personal property (real estate, etc.)
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay
  • For retirees
    • Proof of possession of real and personal property (real estate, etc.)
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay
  • For students or minors
    • School enrollment certificate
    • Approved leave of absence
    • A letter from you and your parents or legal guardian(s), stating reasons why you won’t overstay (explanation of family situation, your long-term plans in your residence country, etc.)
  • For unemployed persons as available:
    • Proof of possession of real and personal property (real estate, etc.)
    • If applicable, letter showing a job offer (wherein you’ll start working sometime at the end of your trip)
    • If applicable, letter showing the start of your studies (school enrollment certificate, wherein you’ll start studying sometime at the end of your trip)
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay (ex: you’re planning to set up a business, etc. but then you’ll also have to back up those statements with evidences)

NOTE: These are NOT absolute, chances are, one proof would already be enough; yet as usual, it helps to overdeliver on evidences. You can always ask the embassy for any other kinds of documents they might want from you to prove your situation.

I understand that some procedures when applying for a visa would require a round trip ticket to be booked and presented — this would already be a proof that you won’t overstay, but I advise that you provide more evidences still since tickets are the most basic affirmation. (Though of course, most embassies nowadays do NOT require you to have round-trip tickets to be booked and presented before/during the application. If you really need to present tickets, it should be enough to show a flight reservation or itinerary).

In case you’re wondering where to look for the best flight deals, my go-to platforms are MomondoKayak, and Skyscanner.

TIP: Your passport stamps help in justifying that you are not someone who overstays abroad.

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I dearly hope that these tips will help you! I wish you all the best of luck!

FINAL NOTE: Even with these pointers, remember to always check with your embassy first. Please also direct any clarifications and follow-ups to your applications to their office, and NOT to me; this is in consideration of the fact that they would always know more about your situation than me. Again: this article is merely a helpful guide for you.

How about you?

  • Do you have any other tips to share? Or things that I forgot to mention and should include when applying for a visa?
  • Have you ever been in a difficult situation while applying for a visa? What happened and how did you get over it?

Did you like this article? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube and be notified about my newest posts and updates!

The..

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Hong Kong is a treasure trove of sorts given its culinary delights, bustling skyline, dynamic culture, rustic charm, and rich landscape among many others. With that in mind, you would need a lifetime in order to experience just about everything — however, with just this post, I can get you started with the top 10 fun things to do in Hong Kong to help make your stay a memorable one!

Naturally, I won’t be discussing most of the typical must-do’s in the city such as visiting Victoria Peak, Victoria Harbour, Lan Kwai Fong, etc. because you can refer to my Hong Kong itinerary guide for that.

Instead, I’ll be listing below some exciting city activities that you, your friends or your family can enjoy for the remainder of your stay!
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Things to Do in Hong Kong

1.
Book a photoshoot
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Say goodbye to dark, skewed or ‘out of focus’ vacation photos that are taken by strangers! With SweetEscape, you can finally capture your travel experiences perfectly with the help of professional photographers — no matter if you’re traveling alone, with your friends or with your family.

To date, if you book via Traveloka, you can choose between an exclusive 2-hour or 1-hour photo shoot session. Once that’s done, you will receive up to 40 high resolution photos that you can download online!

If you ever need some location ideas, other than the typical spots, do consider the following ‘Instagrammable‘ places in Hong Kong:

  • Yik Cheong Building or ‘Monster Building’ and Montane Mansion at Quarry Bay
  • Cho Hung Estate’s rainbow-colored estate buildings
  • Western District Public Cargo Pier, often called as ‘Instagram Pier’
  • Street art at Graham Street, Sheung Wang, or Rich View Terrace at Tank Lane
  • Lok Wah South Estate’s round structures

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2.
Rent a cheongsam or qipao (Chinese dress)
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Renting traditional dresses is an activity that has been gaining popularity in the recent years. In fact, Japan and South Korea are well-known for their respective kimono rental and hanbok rental shops.

Nowadays, Hong Kong has a similar service through a shop called ‘Yan Shang Kee‘. For a fee of about HKD 400, they rent out qipao or cheongsam — a tight-fitting traditional Chinese dress — for a whole day. This price already includes hairstyling, accessories for rent, as well as the freedom to choose your qipao of choice.

It helps to note that the shop offers qipao in different sizes, lengths, patterns and number of buttons. True enough, this will certainly be one of the fun things to do in Hong Kong that you must NOT miss out on!

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3.
Go on an exciting pub crawl to enjoy Hong Kong’s nightlife
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What better way to explore Hong Kong’s nightlife scene than to go on a pub crawl with experienced local guides, right? The best part is that you’ll get to enjoy this all with like-minded people from all over the world who are also looking to have some fun!

Hong Kong Pub Crawl is the top provider for this; after all, their ‘crawl’ is famous for its off-the-beaten track venues and excellent drink deals. Basically, their signature LKF (Lan Kwai Fong) Crawl in Central runs every Thursday and with it, you’ll get to try free shots at different bars, enjoy free VIP entry to the hippest club in the city, as well as be accompanied by a professional photographer who will document the epic night!

So gather up your friends — it doesn’t even matter if you’re going solo — and enjoy the night away!

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4.
Hike to Dragon’s Back Trail
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Photo from nomadsteam/Shutterstock
Not a lot of people know that there’s so much more to the city’s urbanised center because 2/3 of Hong Kong is actually made up of the countryside, countless small mountains and several islands. As such, hiking is a must that you should do on your list of things to do in Hong Kong!

Lion Peak Hill is one of the most popular hikes and this website even sums up all of the trails in the country (labeled accordingly with difficulty, time, etc.). But if you want something that’s out of the bustling area, head on over to the famed Dragon’s Back.

With this hiking tour, you can go through the trail with a professional guide. You will get to witness mountain ridges and forest trails as it leads up to the white sands of Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) — where you can also try surfing!

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5.
Taste the local cuisine with a food tour
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Photo from SAHACHATZ/Shutterstock
The vibrant city is a paradise for foodies, that’s why dining out is a must on your things to do in Hong Kong — better yet, you must go on a guided street food tour!

With the help of a local, you can try out authentic dishes and fare as you wind through culinary places, bustling markets, and dai pai dong (food stalls) in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai among many others.

Some of the many things you’ll get to try are Hong Kong’s well-loved puffy egg waffles, milk tea, clay pot rice, and youtiao (deep-fried breadsticks) — food choices that will surely leave you wanting for more!

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6.
Try doing tai chi with a master
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Tai chi or taiji is a Chinese martial art that’s not only practiced for its defense training but also for its health and meditation benefits. More recently though, it is mostly practiced as an elegant and peaceful form of exercise that can be enjoyed by just about anyone.

So, why not give it a try? After all, it will surely be one of the most fun and unique things to do in Hong Kong that will make for a memorable experience for you!

For this, I highly recommend signing up with Taichi Place. All of their instructors are certified local masters with more than 10 years of teaching experience and they have developed an easy way to help non-Chinese people discover the essence and history of tai chi. In just an hour, you will learn beginner hand forms, proper stances, and Qigong breathing exercises that will leave you feeling better in both body, mind and spirit.

(NOTE: Classes will be done outdoors and the masters can all speak English).

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7.
“Meet” famous personalities at Madame Tussauds
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Step into the spotlight and meet over 100 incredibly lifelike wax figures in the 10 interactive zones that are found at Madame Tussauds™ Hong Kong! Besides, the personalities are not only limited to Western stars but also those who are famous in the East as well such as Jacki Chan, Yaoi Kusama, Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, and more.

Found on top of Victoria Peak, you just can’t miss out on this attraction when you’re already riding up the Peak Tram or visiting the Sky Terrace 428. After all, this might just be the closest we can get to these famous people! (*fingers crossed*)

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8.
Go for some fun at Hong Kong Disneyland
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As the largest theme park in the city, Hong Kong Disneyland is definitely one of the top fun things to do in Hong Kong! To date, it features seven (7) themed areas namely Main Street, USA; Fantasyland; Adventureland; Tomorrowland; Grizzly Gulch; Mystic Point; and Toy Story Land.

Of course this isn’t just a place for children because it caters to people of all ages with the number of attractions, rides, shows and parades that the park offers. Just always stay on your toes though when you’re up and about because a lot of Disney characters are open for meet-ups and pictorials!

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9.
…Or try out OceanPark!
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If you rather want crazier rides, Hong Kong’s OceanPark is your next best bet! It helps to note though that this is an amusement park, animal theme park, marine park and oceanarium all rolled into one — so there is LOTS to do in this place.

Some of the usual favorites are the the Polar Adventure, Old Hong Kong, Thrill Mountain, Rainforest, and Aqua City among many others. If you’re one for views, don’t forget to cross OceanPark via a cable car to get an amazing bird’s eye view of it all.

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10.
See Hong Kong from above!
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Step it up a notch and do a helicopter tour in Hong Kong! It’s quite luxurious, I know, but if you’ve got the budget for it or if you want to celebrate a special occasion, then this is a must on your itinerary.

The Peninsula Hotel currently offers varying packages for helicopter tours in Hong Kong such as the following:

  • 18-minute Group Tour: You will share a 6-seater helicopter with other booked passengers and it will fly over the Victoria Harbour skyline and the beaches or bays at South Hong Kong Island.
  • 18-minute Private Tour: For something more personal, this can be a private flight for two (to a maximum of six persons) and it will already include lunch or dinner. The route will be the same as the former.
  • 30-minute Private Tour: Want to do it longer? This option goes to Kowloon City, Sai Kung, and the Hong Kong Geopark on top of the former stops.
  • 45-minute Private Tour: If you also want to head over to the New Territories, Big Buddha and Lantau Island, then this should be your choice of tour.

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One of the European celebrations that you should NOT miss out on would be the French National Day: ‘Bastille Day‘ in France!

Called in many names: La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration), La Fête de la Bastille (Bastille Celebration) or Le Quatorze Juillet (the fourteenth of July), this amazing affair is celebrated annually on the 14th of July. With French people all over the world celebrating this day, naturally it is a HUGE celebration every year — more so in Paris as they hold festive events for all tastes and ages from the early hours of the morning till the wee hours of the night.

That’s why this year, I was incredibly happy when I was invited to the ‘City of Love‘ to join the fête! (For sure, the French people wouldn’t mind if us, non-locals, would join them!)
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Best Tours in Paris?

Come and check out this list of the top things to do in Paris which features the best activities and tours to do in and out of the city!

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BASTILLE DAY FACTS
  • It commemorates the Storming of the Bastille (a fortress and prison for those who opposed France’s kings) in July 14, 1789, thereby marking the French Revolution.
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  • Bastille Day only became a national holiday in 1880 and the French continue to celebrate it today as a way of recognizing the significance of this event which ushered the end of the royal monarchy and the beginning of its modern republic.
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  • It is only in Paris’ Bastille Day that you get to witness the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe! It happens in the morning of July 14 on the Champs-Élysées.
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So how was it for me? Well, I certainly had a swell time spending Bastille Day in Paris — it was memorable and I highly suggest that you make it a point to attend this too! But before I indulge you with the top things to do and see in the city that you won’t want to miss during this celebration, let me show you a brief video preview first of my experience:

Celebrating Bastille Day in Paris, France! - YouTube

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Things to Do and See During Bastille Day in Paris

» Witness the Military Parade (Défilé Militaire) at Champs-Élysées ~ 9AM

As I’ve already mentioned above, this is Europe’s oldest and largest regular military parade; therefore, it’s quite a sight to see!

All traffic will usually be closed starting at 7AM in Champs-Elysées and its surrounding streets, and it’s actually around 10AM that the program starts — however, I’ve mentioned 9AM because it’s always best to come early. Given the hype that surrounds this military parade, it can get very crowded!

So during this parade, trumpets would often first signal the arrival of the President of the French Republic, the Air Force will start cruising low in the sky either doing stunts or spreading colored smoke (of course in the colors of the French flag), and then the elite units of the Frency army will start to parade down the picturesque avenue down to Place de la Concorde on foot, on motorcycles, on horses, on tanks, on jeeps, etc.

Recently, it has even become a custom for France to invite units from its close allies to participate in the parade. For this year, they’ve invited troops from Australia and New Zealand.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • There will be a HUGE crowd. In fact, despite the recent attacks in Paris, there were still tons of people lined up on both sides of the avenue of Champs-Elysées — which was of course, good to see since it just shows that terrorism won’t ever stop anyone from traveling. Besides, security was quite tight! Anyhow, given that there will be lots of people, it’s advisable that you come early; or if you can’t, bring a stool to stand on (I’ve seen some people doing this).
  • It’s best to avoid standing underneath a big tree since you can miss seeing the aerial show during the parade. One of the best spots to be in would be below George V avenue.
  • Other options: come around 8AM or earlier to reserve a seat in one of the open cafés or restaurants in Champs-Elysées that are on an upper level of a building. Or you can also book your AirBnB or hotel that has the necessary vantage point to look over the avenue (just make sure there are no trees in the way of your view!)
  • Some of the metro stations near Champs-Elysées will be closed from 8AM until 12PM. They’re not always the same every year, but most of the time it’s the stations of Concorde, George V, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs Elysees Clemenceau, and Tuileries that will be closed. That being said, do make sure to check before you go!
    • Before and after the show, I took the Saint-Philippe du Roule metro stop and it was just a 5 minute walk to get to the avenue area.
    • To check which metro stations will be closed, go here.
  • After the Bastille Day parade, you can walk on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées until 6PM since it transforms into a pedestrian-only road for the time being so go mad snapping pictures away in this spot!
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» Stroll Around Paris’ Sights or Watch a FREE Movie Outdoors ~ Rest of the Day

Though it is a national holiday, a lot of Paris’ restaurants, museums, and attractions stay open. For that reason, you should make use of this time to visit the Louvre Museum, the Notre Dame de Paris, etc.!

For ideas, go read my guide here:

If however, you just want to chill with friends, you can attend a FREE Open Air Cinema in the green lawns of Parc de la Villette that’s located in the 19th district in the north eastern part of Paris. It runs from July to August as part of its annual Open Air Film Festival — so it’s a timely thing to do during Bastille Day.

You can always rent chairs and blankets on site if in case you didn’t get the chance to bring one. But like I said, it’s open for all! Most films though are in French but there are also foreign films being played but with French subtitles. (This year they showed the movie Gravity by Sandra Bullock.)

For more info, you can check by here.
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» Catch the Live Concert and Fireworks Show at Champ de Mars ~ Starts at 9PM

Yet another highlight of this day that’s great to do with friends as you bring along a picnic blanket, some food, and bottles of wine!

So first and foremost, the live classical concert will start at 9:15PM at the foot of the Eiffel Tower featuring the Orchestre National de France and the Choir of Radio France — this can change in the coming years, but so far they’ve been consistently doing it. They will perform popular show tunes and soundtracks, and by the end of the night (during the fireworks show) they will play the French national song: Le Marseillaise.

The Fireworks Show will start at exactly 11PM and the dazzling lights will set off from the Eiffel Tower and the gardens of Trocadéro for about 35 minutes.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • As per usual, Parisians and visitors alike will be flocking to this, so if you want to have the best view, reserve your picnic spot on Champ de Mars at around 5PM. (Some people even start marking their territory at the early hours of the morning!) Rest assured, there are other spots in Paris that are good for watching the fireworks. I didn’t manage to get a spot in Champ de Mars so I ended up in the bridge of Pont de l’Alma which still had great views of it all (as you can see in my video and in the photo above)! For the other best places to view the fireworks display, you can read my post here:
  • Be aware that there are very few public toilets and they will naturally be crowded too; so I suggest that you prepare some cash beforehand for buying cheap drinks in nearby cafés or bars in order to use their restroom.
  • Much like the Bastille Day Military Parade, metro stations within the vicinity will be closed before and/or after the show. And even if there are nearby metro stations open after the Fireworks Show, they will be packed with people so I suggest that you wear comfortable shoes for walking since you might need to walk a bit further out from the Champs de Mars area to get to a metro station that is open and less crowded.
    • After the show, I had to walk a bit to reach Iéna metro station (since it was the nearest connection to my hotel located in Bastille neighborhood). Once I was there, I had to wait for 10 minutes still until the crowd thinned a bit more.
    • To check which metro stations will be closed, go here.
  • If you think you can get a taxi or Uber — don’t. The surrounding area will be in a jam so you’re really better off walking.
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» Attend a Fireman’s Ball (Les Bals des Pompiers)  ~ Late Night

One good way to avoid the busy metro stations after the Fireworks Show: make a detour and attend a nearby Fireman’s Ball!

As the name goes, this party takes place in fire stations (casernes) — so yes, you can party with (hot) firemen and French folks! *wink* Now, these are not only for entertainment but for charity too since there’s always a small entrance fee to be paid and of course, snacks and drinks to buy. If you’re up for it, the firemen will also be selling raffle tickets and again, all of the proceeds will be given to charities or for the improvement of their own facilities.

If you stay in these places up until late night, most of them will transform into a dance club filled with younger people, complete with a DJ.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • These parties do not only happen on the 14th of July but also on the 13th; but take note that metro stations are open until 2:15AM only during these days.
  • If you want a complete list of Fireman’s Ball parties going around in Paris, check by this link.
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WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS DURING BASTILLE DAY?

If you want to stay in the heart of all the Bastille Day celebrations, then I highly recommend that you stay in Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet.

After all, it is in this neighborhood that the kick-off for the French Revolution had started; so indeed, it’s a politically symbolic place not only in Paris but in the whole of France. And, it’s a perfect place to start off the day’s festivities! But that’s not all — with its cinema-worthy streets, green spaces, and charming old buildings, there’s something for everyone here with the array of cafes, clubs, historic landmarks, and more!
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Overall

The month of July is truly a time wherein the whole of France comes alive, and even if you’re not a local, you are always welcome to celebrate Bastille Day with the French people!

If you want to be at the center of it all, then for sure a trip to Paris in July 14 is a must. With tons of events and activities to choose from, it’s now my hope that you get the most out of this day with the help of this guide. Bonne Fête nationale!

How about you?

  • What do you think of the Bastille Day celebrations
  • Would you like to attend it? Why or why not?
  • Or have you attended it before? How was it?

Did you like this article? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube and be notified about my newest posts and updates!

The post Travel Guide & Tips: Things to Do as You Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris, France appeared first on I am Aileen.

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One of the things that always surprises my readers whenever they request for a Batanes itinerary or a top list of things to do in Batanes is when they discover the fact that I grew up in these stunning group of Philippine islands. (Though I was born in Manila, I was raised in Batanes — not to mention the fact that I’m a full-blooded Ivatan local — and I stayed there up until I was 15. So YES, I’m a legit island girl!)

Now if you’re reading this and you’re not from the Philippines, let me tell you some fascinating facts about my lovely hometown.
NOTE: Simply click the ‘+’ symbol below to open up the section

ALL ABOUT BATANES: THE HARD FACTS
  • It’s a small northern paradise that’s almost near Taiwan
    Batanes is the northern-most group of islands in the Philippines and dubbed by tourism officials as the country’s ‘Home of the Winds’ due to its generally cool and windy weather. It’s a small province that comprises of 10 islands but with only 3 inhabited ones, namely: Batan, Sabtang, & Itbayat — with Batan being the main island and the most populated one as it has 6 districts (one of which is Basco, the provincial ‘capital’ which I have lived in for 15 years). To prove even more how small we are, there naturally was a time that we were widely unknown — at least up until mid 2000 — that we even had to correct a popular local TV show when they declared another island below us, Aparri, as the farthest northern one (oh no you didn’t, Eat Bulaga!). It’s also just 190km south of Taiwan but, NO, we the locals don’t speak or understand Taiwanese.
  • Plane tickets can be a tad too expensive but it will be worth every cent
    More or less Php 4,000 to 8,000 for a one way trip… that’s expensive right? But I kid you not, it’s going to be worth it and you’ll know why not only with the photos I’ll be posting but also with the top 10 list of things to do in Batanes that I’ll be sharing. You might be thinking: why are the tickets expensive? Well, it used to be cheaper, like half of that price or even lower… but that was a time when there were competing airlines that were traveling to our island. Eventually, as technology progressed and the number of people on flights are recognized as very low, the big airlines did not find our small airport as an ideal landing ground and they did not also find the flights as profitable. So eventually, only one  (or few other) small airlines are now going to Batanes. (Then again, the tickets can be cheaper when you grab some promos!)
  • Almost everyone knows one another
    We have a total population of only 16,000+, making us the smallest province in the country. Given this fact, it’s expected that almost every local would know who’s who. Well as long as you mention your last name, they will likely say: “Ah! You’re the daughter of Adalid! How’s your mom?” Something like that. By the way, we, the ‘natives’ are called “Ivatan” and our dialect/language is called as that too. If you’re a foreigner, don’t worry about any possible language barriers because a LOT of locals know how to speak fluent English unlike some other far-flung provinces in the Philippines.
  • It only started to gain exposure in the mid 2000s
    Our family often went to Manila for vacations when I was young. Whenever I meet new people or if they hear my ‘unusual’ language, I have to tell them where I came from; once I do, they always reply back with an: “Ah, Batangas!” (A big province in southwestern Luzon). I will, of course, try to correct them and when they finally get what I’m saying, there will still be this puzzled expression on their faces since they obviously have never heard of my hometown at all. Eventually, I just felt that it was a lost cause to try and correct them all the time. But after tourism efforts picked up some steam around 2008, Batanes is now one of the most sought-out destinations in the Philippines that instead of the past reactions that I have been receiving, I am now met with phrases like: “OMG you’re from Batanes?!” (Besides, it’s not everyday that you meet someone from my province). Right now, Batanes is best known for its untouched and unspoiled beauty, that it has even earned a nomination in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • We have a very low crime rate
    Or no crime at all. I still vividly remember that we mainly had Taiwanese fishermen as our only prisoners (because they often cross the border of the Philippines, do illegal fishing in our borders, etc.). Other than this, I also remember leaving my bag ANYWHERE and I can still come back to it, confident that I have all my possessions complete and intact. I was so used to this way of living that when I started living permanently in Manila, there was a phase where my friends would have to constantly exclaim, “Why aren’t you holding on to your bag? You crazy woman, don’t leave it all over the place!” What’s more is that we even have this popular Honesty Coffee Shop wherein no one mans the store: we just get the things that we want to buy and then we’ll drop our payment by the drop box.
  • NOT a typhoon-infested land + it’s the only place in the Philippines that experiences tropical 4 seasons
    First I would like to correct this misconception: we are NOT constantly battered by typhoons. People just started having this ‘idea’ because we are typically used as a reference point during weather reports. Second, I’m really not sure if it’s right to say that we have 4 seasons; it’s not an official thing either… but yeah, we do have very cold and chilly days from November to February. Our hottest months are during March to May (with April as the driest) and the rest of the months are often rainy (with August being the month where we mostly experience typhoons).
  • The sale of our lands are carefully moderated
    We aim to have land owners to be Ivatans at most, but some big corporations seem to be trying to circumvent that now (I have read of an article wherein San Miguel is planning to build a hotel/ resort / accommodation place here, in partnership with a local. Let’s see how that goes… though if you ask me, I would love for big names to stay away because I like the charm and state of Batanes as it is. But I guess change is really inevitable.)

I hope that these facts have helped piqued your curiosity and wanderlust for Batanes! Now, going forward, my statements might come off as ‘biased’, coming from me who’s a local, but head on to Google and search for Batanes reviews and you’ll surely see a lot of tourists singing praises as well! *beams with pride*

TIP: Bring cash — credit cards are not widely accepted nor used here. Rest assured, we, the locals can speak fluent English; so if you ever need assistance, don’t ever be afraid to ask around (for directions, recommendations) and everyone will be very glad to help you out (or you know… just continue reading this and you’ll already have a big idea of what Batanes can offer you!)

With that said and done, whenever you have the time and money and are in the Philippines, I suggest that you pack your bags and book a trip to this northern paradise! And once you’re there — from a full-blooded ‘Ivatan’ to you — here is a list of things to do in Batanes that you should ABSOLUTELY follow.
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Best Batanes Tours

Come and check out this list of the best Batanes tours which features the best activities and guided packages to do in places like Basco, Sabtang and more!

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THINGS TO DO IN BATANES

#1 – Visit the beaches

We have an AMAZING coastline! If you ask me, we might just have all the types of beaches there can be! For my picks, try: Chadpidan Beach and Nakabuang Beach. And yes sir, we do have beaches that can equal the beauty of Boracay! The perfect plan? Just lounge by the shore, have a picnic, grill some fish (try Batanes’ favorite fish: the ‘dibang‘ or flying fish), grab some booze and play some music!

Discover the other beaches on your own! Though if I can give you another tip, other than checking out Diura Village’s beautiful coastal terrain, we also have a magical lagoon called as Homoron Blue Lagoon in Mahatao which is also called as the Spaniard’s Lagoon because during the olden times, only the Spaniards were allowed to take a dip in here. (But certainly, now, anyone can… so take that, Spaniards of the Spanish era!)

You shouldn’t even dare leave the island without witnessing at least one sunrise and sunset. I always remember how me and my classmates would enjoy going to the nearest beach after school hours, and then riding our bikes to go to the distant ones for a longer picnic on the weekends!

If you want a photo spree in one unique beach, try Valugan Beach. There are these numerous large boulders that are spread out across the coast, charming a lot of photographers and tourists alike!

Other than beaches, we often have caves near the coast that are also wonders in itself, worthy of exploration. Some of the popular ones are: Chawa Cave in Mahatao and Nakabuang Cave in Nakabuang Beach in Sabtang.
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#2 – Walk around: get to know the Ivatan people, their history, and culture

We, the Ivatans, are probably the warmest folks that you will ever meet in your whole life! We tend to be a bit shy at first, but go and strike up a conversation, send a greeting our way, or flash us a smile and we will seem to be a dear friend that you have known for years. We will even be more than happy to answer your questions and make you feel at home. (Though I’m pretty sure that now, with the steady stream of tourists coming in to the island, my fellow Ivatans are probably more proactive to approaching and greeting foreigners, more so than ever before).

For one of the things to do in Batanes that you should not miss out: visiting the Fundacion Pacita Lodge in Basco, the former house of internationally known artist Pacita Abad who was a full-blooded Ivatan…

…or, go to the ruins of the LORAN (Long Range Navigation) Station, a former US facility during the war in Uyugan, or in the Ruins of Songsong, a group of roofless old stone houses that were abandoned in the 50s when a tidal wave hit Batan. (We actually have a LOT of WWII memorials or landmarks and we often make up ghost stories about them; there’s even the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel in Basco built also during WWII).

If you want to witness the Honesty Coffee Shop that I mentioned at the top of this post, just head to the Ivana municipality (where it is located).

Learn about our famous headgear too! It’s called vakul (for women) and talugong (for men). Not a lot of people wear this (it’s mostly the elder ones since it helps protect them from the rain and sun when they’re out on the fields) but it’s a symbol of our culture and past.

TIP: You should meet lolo Elo Hostallero in Sabtang (the oldest man in Batanes) and lola Ida Estrella of in the house of Dakay (owns the oldest house in Batanes).

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#3 – Visit the other islands

Again, I have already mentioned this above, but I’ll mention it again: Batanes is a group of 10 islands with 3 inhabited ones. They are Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat.

TIP: Book online to reserve your spot on a Sabtang day tour!

Batan is the main part of Batanes and it comprises of districts Basco (the provincial ‘capital’), Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Itbud, and Imnajbu. Itbayat is the largest in the group of islands, but it’s not the most populated (Batan is). Sabtang is the southernmost island and the least populated (around only 1,000+).

Other than these 3 occupied islands, you can try visiting the unspoiled ones in grey text above.

I believe Siayan and Mavudis (Y’Ami) are currently the only two islands that are open for tourists and it mainly constitutes traveling first to Mavudis and then staying a night in Siayan — since Mavudis has no portable water. Be aware that the sea waves can be quite strong over these parts, so the trips would be a bit of a ride!

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#4 – See the traditional stone houses

I remember someone asking me before: “So you guys live in caves?” Probably because they heard of the term ‘stone houses’. I resisted the urge to laugh but, no, we don’t live in caves darling. Our ‘stone houses’ are much like any other house, but built with different materials.

In our language, we call our houses as ‘vahay‘. As per Batanes history, we used to live in the highlands in cogon houses, but the Spaniards forced us to the lowlands and taught us how to build stone houses using limestone and corals. Which was quite helpful because these could actually withstand strong typhoons and even earthquakes — which we occasionally experience.

I have lived in the main municipality of Batanes — Basco, a more urban place than the rest of the municipalities — and it almost has no inhabited stone house left. Most of the houses are modern brick or cement houses now; but, don’t fret! There are still a lot of stone houses in the other districts like Ivana and Mahatao, but it’s in Itbayat and Sabtang where you could see more of the stone house communities with locals living in it.
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#5 – Enjoy the rolling hills and get your ‘The Sound of Music’ game on!

Almost half of Batanes’ landscape is hilly and mountainous; which I think makes the place very iconic in itself, because some do revel in the fact that it can rival the beauty of New Zealand. So heed my advice and head to the hills: enjoy the view, take jump shots if you will, and hike!

But yeah, one does not simply leave without doing one of the best things to do in Batanes: taking jump shots in one of the numerous picturesque spots — which is like… everywhere! One couldn’t even call it a ‘Batanes’ experience if you won’t take the opportunity of going on a hike. There’s just so many areas to explore! If you can, I strongly advise that you find some time to trek Mt. Iraya! (It’s a dormant volcano rising at around 1,517 meters; the top can be reached in 3 hours and mountaineering or trail blazing folks would enjoy this terrain).

As for the hills, my favorite place ever since I was a child has always been the Naidi Hills (where you could also find the Basco lighthouse). I even remember the countless times that my classmates and I would roll down the hills, and then I’d arrive home with bruises and bits of grass in my hair and on my clothes — but with a VERY big smile on my face! Island life FOR THE WIN!

The icing to the cake: drop by the island’s own ‘Marlboro Country’! We actually call it ‘Rakuh a Payaman’ in our language (which literally means: a vast place where you can walk around) and it showcases a breathtaking view of vast pasture lands and dramatic cliffs, with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. It’s clearly a communal pastureland where free-roaming cows and carabaos laze around, but YOU can laze around as well!

TIP: To capture all of these top sights, book online a 3-day tour all over Batanes!


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#6 – Visit the man-made attractions

Other than our stone houses, try visiting some of our churches and lighthouses as part of your things to do in Batanes!

The islands have a lot of churches that have been built in the 70s or 80s. Some have been renovated like the main church in Basco called as the St. Dominic de Guzman Cathedral but it still holds the same charm that it had back then.

Every municipality has churches of its own as well; but one of the most iconic ones it seems is that of Mahatao’s church: San Carlos Borromeo Church. This was built in 1873 and has been declared as a cultural icon by the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) and the National Museum.

Batanes is specked with light houses too; witness the rounded Basco Lighthouse (in Naidi Hill) that faces the West Philippine Sea and the hexagonal Tayid Ligthouse in Mahatao that faces the Pacific Ocean

Otheriwse, if you want a relaxing dip, visit the Spring of Youth — a man-made pool with spring water and a view of the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Iraya.
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#7 – Roam around in two wheels and see more attractions!

This is a must! There are shops that lend you bicycles and motorcycles, so go ahead and rent one! These are our common means for transportation other than the jeepneys; though, I’m pretty sure that there are more cars going around Batanes now. (Years ago, however, I could have only counted the cars with my hands Rest assured, I don’t think there would be much of them anyways because our roads are not that wide and it’s much more fun with a bike).

Now that you have your bike, go and travel along the winding and cliff-hugging roads that connects one of our municipalities to the next. (Remember to blow your horn when on a curved road! ;) If you’re up for it, you can bike from Basco up to the end of Batan island which is Imnajbu; it’s a long bike, alright! But my friends and I have done this countless times and we usually finish in just half a day! It was soooo awesome!

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Discover the charm of Thailand’s “Rose of the North”. Compared to buzzing Bangkok, Chiang Mai is much more laid-back with its surrounding countryside. After all, it is in this place where you can gaze upon stunning mountain landscapes, hidden waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and lush rainforests. (Hotels in Chiang Mai)

Once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, it is also home to a multitude of ancient temples like Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Wat Chedi Luang. But make sure to soak up the city’s sights too, taste some authentic Northern Thai dishes, and shop from the diverse street markets.

Now, there’s a bevy of hotels in Chiang Mai, so I gathered a list of the best accommodations in the area to help you plan your trip — whether it’s a reasonably priced B&B you need, or the finest amenities a luxury hotel can offer.

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Activities to do around Chiang Mai?

Check out these ‘top things to do in Chiang Mai‘ for fun activities and tours!

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Best Hotels in Chiang Mai

» Best Budget Hotels in Chiang Mai «


+ Tato House
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Delight in the modern design of Tato House that provides private or female dorm rooms for tourists, shared lounge, kitchen, and terrace. If you’re lucky, you can even meet the hostel’s friendly owner!

What to love: The chic furnishing
Address: 3/2 – 3/3 Phra Pok Klao Road, Soi 10, Sriphum, Muang
Closest landmark: Wat Pan Tao
Price starts from: $10~


+ Sherloft Home & Hostel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Travel in style at this charming hostel with nature-inspired and wooden decor. Lounge around in the cozy living room, or enjoy a delicious meal in the trendy dining area with a lovely view of the garden. This is also one of the hostels in Chiang Mai where you can get FREE bike rentals.

What to love: The airy dining room
Address: 7 Ratchamanka Road Soi 7,T. Phrasing, A. Muang
Closest landmark: Chedi Luang Temple
Price starts from: $12~


+ Stamps Backpackers
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

There’s always fun to be had in this “social hostel”, where you can join in daily activities with fellow guests. Hang out at the common area, enjoy your personal sleeping loft at the dorms, or enjoy the excellent free Wi-Fi.

What to love: The relaxed atmosphere
Address: 1/11 Chaiyapoom Road Soi 1
Closest landmark: Sompet Market
Price starts from: $13~


+ Hostel Lullaby
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Enjoy easy access to temples and the city center when you stay at this hostel. Here, you can enjoy a free breakfast, meditate in yoga, or join a Thai cooking class! You can also meet fellow backpackers in the breezy common area.

What to love: The free cooking class and bike rental
Address: 24 Soi 7 Prapokklao Road Phrasingh Muang
Closest landmark: Chedi Luang Temple
Price starts from: $15~


+ Tanita House
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Take it easy in a traditional, all-wooden house situated along Ping River. Stay a night or two in this tranquil hostel which features air-conditioned rooms and a terrace area. Breathe in the fresh air as you roam around the surrounding gardens.

What to love: The all-wooden interior
Address: 152 Charoenrat Road, T. Wat Kate, A. Muang
Closest landmark: Warorot Market
Price starts from: $15~
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» Best Mid-Range Hotels in Chiang Mai «


+ Rimping Village Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Relax in this quiet, 4-star boutique hotel. Take a dip in the swimming pool, or cross the bridge and shop at the night market. Guests can also enjoy an airport shuttle, free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour front desk service, and bike rentals.

What to love: The outdoor swimming pool
Address: 13/1 Soi 2, Chiangmai-Lamphun Rd, T.Wat Gate, A. Muang, Wat Ket
Closest landmark: Tourism Authority of Thailand – Northern Office
Price starts from: $60~


+ BED Phrasingh
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

This is one of the best minimalist hotels in Chiang Mai. Featuring an outdoor swimming pool with a sun deck, a garden, and shared lounge, you can easily visit key attractions nearby.

What to love: The stylish interiors
Address: 1/1 Rachamankha Soi 8 (Samlan Road Soi 1), Phra Singh, Muang
Closest landmark: Wat Phra Singh
Price starts from: $60~


+ Shewe Wana Boutique Resort and Spa
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Experience tropical bliss at this eco-friendly boutique hotel. Check out your room’s locally made furnishing and explore the surrounding lush gardens. Go on a refreshing dip in the pool or get a massage.

What to love: The complimentary tuk-tuk shuttle
Address: 298 Charoen Muang Road, T. Watket, A. Muang, Wat Ket
Closest landmark: Tourism Authority of Thailand – Northern Office
Price starts from: $70~


+ U Chiang Mai
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Facilities include an extensive library, a 24-hour fitness center, and a gorgeous infinity pool. With personalized service, you can even choose your preferred pillow type, room music, tea bags, and toiletries before check-in.

What to love: The personalized guest experience
Address: 70 Rachadamnoen Road, Sri-Poom, Muang
Closest landmark: Wat Pan Tao
Price starts from: $90~


+ Tamarind Village
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Discover this quaint hotel located right in the center of Old Town. Admire the tribal patterns and wooden decor inside your room. Enjoy the fresh breeze by your private balcony, or unwind at the spa. You can also sign up for a cooking class or umbrella painting.

What to love: The central location
Address: 50/1 Rajdamnoen Road, Sri Phoom, Muang
Closest landmark: Wat Pan Tao
Price starts from: $100~
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» Best Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai «


+ Le Meridien Chiang Mai
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Catch sight of the Doi Suthep mountain range right from your room. Delight in the design inspired by the hotel’s European heritage and Lanna style. The hotel also boasts of a fitness center, a bar, pool, and a shopping arcade.

What to love: The breathtaking mountain view
Address: 108 Chang Klan Road, Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang
Closest landmark: Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Price starts from: $100~


+ Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

This is one of the best luxury hotels in Chiang Mai. Discover your room’s distinctly northern Thai design, and enjoy facilities like the tennis court, fitness center, and free Wi-Fi. Savor Szechuan, Cantonese, Italian, Indian, Japanese, and Mediterranean dishes from the in-house restaurants.

What to love: The variety of dining options
Address: 89/8 Chang Klan Road, Muang, Chang Khlan
Closest landmark: Art in Paradise Chiang Mai
Price starts from: $120~


+ Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Experience staying at this colonial-style designed hotel. Delight in the pristine, all-white exterior that’s unlike any other. Spot hand-crafted furniture in your room. Spoil yourself with facial and body treatments at Nakara Spa, or hang out by the lobby bar.

What to love: The interiors
Address: 135/9 Charoenprathet Road, Chang Khlan
Closest landmark: Iron Bridge
Price starts from: $140~


+ Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Be pleasantly surprised by this resort hotel situated along Mae Ping River. Spot the elegant teak flooring, wooden furnishing, and private balcony featured in your room and so much more!

What to love: The quaint amenities
Address: 123 Charoen Prathet Road, T.Changklan, A.Muang, Chang Khlan
Closest landmark: Iron Bridge
Price starts from: $220~


+ 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Treat yourself to a spacious suite in this historic boutique hotel that was once a colonial homestead. Check out the traditional design details like tiled verandas, rattan chairs, and Victorian bathtub in your room. Work up a sweat at the fitness center, or have a relaxing time exploring the colorful gardens.

What to love: The sophisticated furnishing
Address: 2 soi 1, Nawatgate Road, Tambon Watgate, Muang, Wat Ket
Closest landmark: Vieng-Joom-On Tea House
Price starts from: $400~
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Your trip to Thailand will not be complete without a taste of its world-renowned cuisine and dishes. Aside from being aromatic and healthy, Thai food is also a unique blend of varying flavors and textures as it mixes around the 5 essential flavors: salty, sour, spicy, bitter, and sweet!

So yes, you’re sure to leave the Land of Smiles with a happy tummy when you try these culinary delights.

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Thai Food

#1 – Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)

Photo from SharkPaeCNX/Shutterstock
This dish is a delicate balance of sour, salty, spicy, and sweet, so it’s no wonder that this ranks high in the World’s 50 Best Foods survey!

Shrimp is mixed in a hot and sour broth flavored with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili peppers for a spicy kick. You can add in your choice of meat for this which can be chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp. You can also order tom yum goong with coconut milk (tom yum goong nam kohn) or without (tom yum goong nam sai).

Where best to eat it? Pe Aor Tom Yum Kung Noodle found in 68/51 Soi Petchaburi 5, Between Soi 5 – 7, Phaya Thai, Ratchathewi. They use fresh prawns and also add fat from the shrimp heads for a creamier broth.

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#2 – Pad Thai (Stir-Fried Noodles)

Photo from Jacek/Shutterstock
If you find tom yum goong too spicy for your liking, why not order the sweet and sour crowd favorite Thai food, the pad thai?

These rice noodles are stir-fried with tofu, bean sprouts, eggs, and either shrimp or chicken followed by some other seasonings like chili, fish sauce, ground peanuts, and sugar. If I may add a tip, add a dash of lime juice before digging in!

Where best to eat it? Pad Thai Thip Samai found in 313 Maha Chai Road, Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon.

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#3 – Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry)

Photo from Cozine/Shutterstock
For the spiciest curry you can get, look no further than the gaeng keow wan gai!

Slices of chicken, Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, coriander, and basil is combined with the flavourful green curry paste that’s a combination of coconut milk, green chili, kaffir lime, galangal, shrimp paste, cilantro, lemongrass, and other spices. (P.S.: Gaeng keow wan gai is best served with fragrant jasmine rice!)

Where best to eat it? Sanguan Sri Restaurant found in 59/1 Witthayu Road, Lumpini Subdistrict, Pathum Wan District.

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#4 – Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)

Photo from AUTHOR/Shutterstock
Select from the usual chicken, beef, pork, or maybe even duck, shrimp, or tofu. Your choice of meat is then cooked in delicious red curry paste and coconut milk.

Afterwards, it is seasoned with garlic, shallots, chili peppers, galangal, fish sauce, and kaffir lime leaves for that complex Thai food flavor! Yum!

Where best to eat it? Gedhawa found in 24 Sukhumvit 35 Rd. Wattana, Bangkok.

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#5 – Khao Phat or Khao Pad (Fried Rice)

Photo from ArtemZ/Shutterstock
In the Thai language, ‘khao‘ means rice and ‘phat‘ relates to being stir-fried. Consisting of Thai jasmine rice, small meat slices, egg, onions, garlic and sometimes even tomatoes along with various seasonings, this Thai food dish may be simple but it packs a great mix of ingredients and flavors!

At times it comes in other variants like coconut fried rice, pineapple fried rice and basil fried rice.

Where best to eat it? Available in a lot of restaurants, shops, and even street food stalls.

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#6 – Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)

Photo from nEwyyy/Shutterstock
This sweet and tangy soup dish is another safe bet for travelers! If you’re curious, this Thai food dish is made of chicken strips, chili, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and lime that are cooked in coconut milk for a tasty meal.

Where best to eat it? Nalin Kitchen found in 1463 Charoenkrung Road Silom Bangrak.

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#7 – Khao Soi (Creamy Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)Photo from Rachel Moon/Shutterstock
Delight in the different textures of this regional specialty from northern Thailand.

This silky noodle dish is cooked in coconut milk-based curry, then garnished with crispy egg noodles. The hearty meal can also be cooked with curdled blood or rice noodles, depending on where you order.

Where best to eat it? Khao Soi Samer Jai found in 391 หมู่ที่ 2 Fa Ham, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai.

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#8 – Yum Pla Duk Foo (Crispy Catfish with Green Mango Salad)
Photo from Xiebiyun/Shutterstock
Here’s another play on contrasting textures and flavors when it comes to Thai Food!

So make sure to snack on this crunchy and fluffy deep-fried catfish together with tangy green mango salad. It would surely make for a great appetizer to have when visiting Thailand.

Where best to eat it? Krok Restaurant found in Soi 2 Siam Square Bangkok.

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#9 – Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)Photo from Tortoon/Shutterstock
Sample this delectable dish that originated in northeastern Thailand!

Som tam’s main component is shredded green papaya, which is cloaked in the flavors of ground chili, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and green beans. Fish sauce, lime, sugar, and peanuts are also thrown in for a spicy, sweet and sour flavor.

Truth be told, it is usually eaten with sticky rice to complement the crunch of the green papaya. Other versions include crab (som tam boo), salted egg (som tam khai khem), and fermented fish (som tam plah lah).

Where best to eat it? Somtum Der found in 5/5 Saladaeng Rd, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon

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#10 – Pad Pak Boong (Morning Glory)
Photo from Torjrtrx/Shutterstock
The leaves and hollow stems of morning glory, also known as water spinach, are stir-fried at a high heat together with fermented black bean, fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, and chili.

This Thai food dish is in fact, not only healthy but also incredibly tasty!

Where best to eat it? Na’s Kitchen found in Wiang Tai, Pai.

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#11 – Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)
Photo from ARENA/Shutterstock
Savor a hearty dish made of stir-fried rice noodles, Thai basil, vegetables and your preferred meat tossed in fish sauce and soy sauce.

Loosely translated to ‘drunken noodles’, rest assured, it has no alcohol! There are several theories why this dish gained such a name but we can rely on the truth that it’s quite a good dish to eat when drinking alcohol!

Where best to eat it? Michelin-starred Raan Jay Fai found in 327 Maha Chai Road, Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

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#12 – Khao Niew Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)Photo from Stock2You/Shutterstock
End your meals on a sweet note with this lovely treat! Indulge in juicy mango slices and a sticky rice drenched in coconut cream or condensed milk — just thinking about this Thai food dessert makes me crave for it instantly. When you get to taste it, you’ll surely understand what I mean!

Where best to eat it? Kor Panich found in 431-433 Thanon Tanao, San Chao Pho Sua, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok.

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OTHER TOP THAILAND ACTIVITIES

Thailand Floating Markets Tour
Visit the famous markets from Bangkok!

Thai Massage Packages
Get an authentic luxury Thai massage at Bangkok!

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Unique NO-riding interaction with these gentle giants!

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Do you embody “sanuk” or a great sense of fun whenever you travel? Then Thailand’s capital city is the perfect destination for you! After all, the ‘City of Angels’ is a visual feast with its colorful temples, bustling markets, and booming nightlife. (Hotels in Bangkok)

But sometimes you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of it all. That’s why I gathered a list of Bangkok’s top accommodations, from the best quaint hostels to luxury hotels — you’ll be sure to find a place to stay that would suit your needs.

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Activities to do around Bangkok?

Check out these ‘top things to do in Bangkok‘ for fun activities and tours!

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Best Hotels in Bangkok

» Best Budget Hotels in Bangkok «


+ Khaosan Green House Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Discover this delightful bed and breakfast just next to Khao San Road. Stay in a simple air-conditioned room with free Wi-Fi, or a comfortable dorm bed with ensuite bathroom or shared facilities.

What to love: The convenient location
Address: 84 Rambutri Street. Talod Yod Banglumpoo, Pranakhorn
Closest landmark: Khao San Road
Price starts from: $10~


+ Home Mali Hostel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

This hostel provides family rooms, mixed and female dorm rooms. It also has a shared lounge, bathroom, and kitchen, and helpful services like daily housekeeping and 24-hour security. Remote workers will appreciate photocopying and printing services available on-site.

What to love: Additional services like housekeeping and printing
Address: 497/14-15 Phetchaburi road, Ratchathevi,Toong Phayathai, Phaya Tha
Closest landmark: BTS-Ratchathewi
Price starts from: $10~


+ Roof View Place
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

This is one of the hostels in Bangkok with quaint decor. See panoramic views of the city right from your private balcony or enjoy facilities like free Wi-Fi, cable TV, a refrigerator, and laundry services. You even have the option to avail of an airport shuttle.

What to love: The peaceful surroundings
Address: 90/1 Soi Samsen 6, Samsen Rd., Phranakorn
Closest landmark: Wat Bowonniwet Vihara
Price starts from: $10~


+ The Companion Hostel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Experience staying at this charming hostel, decked in white, gray, black, and wooden decor. Select either a private or dorm room where each bed will have its own curtain, locker, light, power socket, and towel. The hostel’s location also provides easy access to the Skytrain.

What to love: The minimalist design
Address: 77/8 Krungthonburi 1 soi, Krungthonburi Klongtonsai, Klongsan
Closest landmark: BTS-Wongwian Yai
Price starts from: $10~


+ Slumber Party Bangkok
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Here, guests can enjoy free Wi-fi, laundry services, and a light breakfast. Choose from a dorm bed or a capsule-style bed with its own personal locker. The hostel also holds regular parties and provides pub crawl and canal tours.

What to love: The lively bar & party atmosphere
Address: 220/19 Soi Sukhumvit 1, Khlong Toei Nuea, Wattana
Closest landmark: Bumrungrad International Hospital
Price starts from: $10~
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» Best Mid-Range Hotels in Bangkok «


+ Phranakorn-Nornlen Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

This is one of the best affordable hotels in Bangkok. Be pleasantly surprised by the offbeat interior, which combines dreamy wall murals, nature-inspired decor, wood and fabric furnishing.

What to love: The charming decoration
Address: 46 Thewet Soi 1 Krungkasem Rd, Bangkhunprom Phranakorn, Dusit
Closest landmark: National Library
Price starts from: $40~


+ Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Choose to stay in this elegantly designed hotel with a view of the Chao Phraya river! Lounge by the infinity pool, have drinks at the rooftop bar, chill inside your room — whichever you choose, you’re bound to see great cityscapes.

What to love: The scenic riverside views
Address: 257 Charoennakorn Road, Thonburi
Closest landmark: Rama III Bridge
Price starts from: $70~


+ Marriott Executive Apartments Sukhumvit Park
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Travel in style at this 5-star apartment hotel and catch gorgeous city views right in the comfort of your own room. Amenities include a fully-equipped kitchen, an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, spa, and even a golf simulator.

What to love: The rooftop pool & tuk-tuk shuttle service
Address: 90 Sukhumvit Soi 24, Klongton, Klongtoey, Khlong Toei
Closest landmark: Flow House Bangkok
Price starts from: $80~


+ Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

This is one of the luxury hotels in Bangkok offering world-class service. Spoil yourself with a soothing spa treatment, or lounge by the swimming pool. You can also indulge in international and Spanish cuisine within the hotel.

What to love: The variety of dining options
Address: 30 Sukhumvit 21, Asoke Road, Wattana
Closest landmark: MRT-Sukhumvit
Price starts from: $100~


+ The Salil Hotel Sukhumvit 57 – Thonglor
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Discover this gorgeous, boutique-style hotel that’s elegantly decorated in dainty decor. Find plush chairs, comfortable beds, a kitchenette, and a flat screen smart TV right in your room.

What to love: Rooftop pool
Address: Sukhumvit Soi 57, Klongtan Nua, Wattana
Closest landmark: BTS-Thong Lo
Price starts from: $100~
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» Best Luxury Hotels in Bangkok «


+ Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Delight in their sophisticated furnishing and soft hues — you can even enjoy direct access to the Surasak BTS Station. Moreover, guests can also enjoy free Wi-Fi, business center, infinity pool, gym facilities and more.

What to love: The stunning infinity pool
Address: 33/1 South Sathorn Road, Yanawa, Sathorn
Closest landmark: BTS-Surasak
Price starts from: $120~


+ Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Experience a summer oasis in this luxury hotel with easy access to the city via a walkway connected to the BTS Skytrain. Other facilities include a premium spa, gym (with your own personal trainer!), a jazz bar, a hair salon and more.

What to love: The tropical outdoor pool and villa
Address: 250 Sukhumvit Road
Closest landmark: Terminal 21
Price starts from: $150~


+ SO Sofitel Bangkok
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Immerse yourself in this contemporary hotel with a design inspired by the natural elements. You can also see the lush Lumpini Park right from your room. To relax, enjoy a dip in the outdoor swimming pool or lounge by the rooftop bar.

What to love: The Apple Mac Mini or iPad in your room
Address: 2 North Sathorn, Bangrak, Sathorn
Closest landmark: Embassy of Germany
Price starts from: $200~


+ The Athenee Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Take in spectacular views of the Bangkok skyline right from your hotel room. There are also a multitude of dining options to choose from, with restaurants serving French, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese cuisines. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, relaxing spa treatments, and a fitness center.

What to love: The elegant design
Address: 61 Wireless Road (Witthayu), Lumpini, Pathumwan
Closest landmark: Deutsche Bank Bangkok
Price starts from: $200~


+ Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Live like royalty in this classic hotel that’s been around since 1876. Admire the teak wood and Thai silk furnishing, and soak in views of Chao Phraya river with floor-to-ceiling windows. Amenities include a free shuttle boat service, gym, outdoor swimming pool, Thai cooking classes, spa, and yoga sessions.

What to love: The splendid interiors
Address: 48 Soi Charoenkrung40, Charoenkrung Rd. Bangrak
Closest landmark: Embassy of France
Price starts from: $500~
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There is so much to look forward to on your trip to Nara — Japan’s first capital. For starters, there’s the quaint Nara Park where hundreds of adorable deer roam free as they bow to you when you feed them some crackers! You can even find the towering Daibutsu or Great Buddha sculpture in Todai-ji Temple as well as discover early Japanese history and culture at Nara National Museum. (Hotels in Nara).

For these things and more, you’re sure to enjoy yourself in this vibrant city; and when you do, you’re also sure to find respectful service and impeccably clean surroundings in these top-quality accommodations in Nara.

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Activities to do around Nara?

Check out these ‘top things to do in Nara‘ for fun activities and tours!

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Best Hotels in Nara

» Best Budget Hotels in Nara «


+ Oak Hostel Nara
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at HostelWorldAgoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Relax in an ultra comfy bedroom with wooden furnishing at Oak Hostel Nara. You can even avail of free airport transfer for a more seamless travel experience.

What to love: The central location
Address: 630-8214 Nara, Nara, Higashimuki Kitamachi 15
Closest landmark: Kintetsu Nara Station
Price starts from: $20~


+ Guesthouse Tamura
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Stay a night or two in a Japanese-style room at Guesthouse Tamura. Choose to stay in a private room or dorm room. Enjoy easy access to famous attractions like Nara Park and Todaiji Temple.

What to love: The delicious homemade breakfast
Address: 630-8301 Nara, Nara, Takabatakecho 1107-2
Closest landmark: Gangoji Temple
Price starts from: $20~
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+ Guesthouse Naramachi
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Check out this converted merchant’s house from the early 20th century! As one of the best hotels in Nara, guests will love the comfy bed and Japanese-style rooms, complete with futon beds and tatami flooring.

What to love: The nostalgic vibe
Address: 630-8322 Nara, Nara, Kitakyobate-cho 30
Closest landmark: JR Kyobate Train Station and Gangoji Temple
Price starts from: $20~


+ The Deer Park Inn
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Located within Nara Park at the foot of Mt. Wakakusa, it boasts of wonderful outdoor views and rustic ambience right in your room. What’s more, you also get the chance to pet and feed free-roaming deer.

What to love: The peaceful atmosphere
Address: 630-8212 Nara, Nara, Kasuganocho 158-5
Closest landmark: Kasuga Taisha
Price starts from: $20~


+ Guesthouse Nara Komachi
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda, Booking.com or HostelWorld
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Be pleasantly surprised by the chic interior design of this hotel. Take your pick between Japanese-style and Western-style rooms with their own private bathroom. You also get an LCD TV with digital channels, complimentary Wi-Fi, a shared kitchen, and a video game console.

What to love: The elegant design
Address: Nara, Nara, Suruga-machi 41-2
Closest landmark: JR Nara Station
Price starts from: $35~
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» Best Mid-Range Hotels in Nara «


+ Ryokan Matsumae
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at TripAdvisor
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Stay at this quaint ryokan with a central location. The hotel also offers traditional lifestyle classes to elevate your travel experience. Try your hand at the art of ink and brush calligraphy here!

What to love: The traditional classes
Address: 28-1 Higashi Terabayashicho, Nara 630-8362
Closest landmark: Kofuku-ji Temple
Price starts from: $55~
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+ Hotel Nikko Nara
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Experience world-class service at Hotel Nikko Nara. Feel right at home with its minimal and cozy design. Enjoy various facilities such as the swimming pool, fitness center, spa, and free access to the bath house. Another plus on my book is the spacious room, that’s not only air-conditioned bu also has a heater.

What to love: The variety of amenities
Address: 630-8122 Nara, Nara, Sanjohonmachi 8-1
Closest landmark: JR Nara Station
Price starts from: $65~


+ Onyado Nono Nara
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Unwind in this charming ryokan or traditional Japanese inn. Enjoy the topnotch service of friendly staff and 24-hour reception desk. You can also experience relaxation in the onsen or Japanese hot springs available to guests.

What to love: The natural hot spring baths
Address: 630-8115 Nara, Nara, Omiyacho 1-1-6
Closest landmark: Nara Station
Price starts from: $65~


+ Hotel Fujita Nara
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Discover the understated but classic furnishing of Hotel Fujita Nara. Guests can enjoy soothing massage treatments, or savor local cuisine at the in-house restaurants.

What to love: The convenient location
Address: 630-8236 Nara, Nara, Shimosanjo-cho 7-1
Closest landmark: Kintetsu Nara Station and JR Nara Station
Price starts from: $70~
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+ Hotel New Wakasa
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Enjoy your stay in this Japanese boutique-style hotel, complete with tatami flooring and futon bedding. Lounge by the terrace, where you’re rewarded with captivating views of Mt. Wakakusa and Todaiji Temple. Cool off in the private spa pool.

What to love: The stunning mountain view
Address: 630-8274 Nara, Nara, Kitahanda Higashimachi 1
Closest landmark: Nara Prefectural Art Museum
Price starts from: $100~
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» Best Luxury Hotels in Nara «


+ Nara Hotel
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Get treated like royalty at the Nara Hotel. Marvel at the traditional architecture and stylish rooms. Guests love the rooms’ inviting, warm tones and large, floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel is also home to several restaurants that service flavorful French and Japanese cuisine.

What to love: The VIP treatment
Address: 630-8301 Nara, Nara, Takabatake-cho 1096
Closest landmark: Gangoji Temple
Price starts from: $130~
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+ Nipponia Hotel Nara Naramachi
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Get the authentic Japanese experience at this ryokan. Feel right at home in its welcoming interior and slow down by the lush gardens just right outside your room.

What to love: The amenities
Address: 630-8345 Nara, Nara, Nishijyodo-cho 4
Closest landmark: Gangoji Temple
Price starts from: $200~


+ Mikasa
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Rest on a traditional futon bed at Hotel Mikasa. Situated right next to Kasugayama Primeval Forest, it provides scenic views of the outdoors. Choose to take a refreshing dip in the open-air onsen or hot spring bath, or relish in a hot meal made with local ingredients.

What to love: The panoramic vistas right outside your room
Address: 630-8202 Nara, Nara, Kawakami-cho 728
Closest landmark: Shosoin
Price starts from: $250~
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+ Kotonoyado Musashino
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Check out Nara’s first Edo period ryokan, the Kotonoyado Musashino. Immerse yourself in nature and local architecture by strolling around the park or availing of the free bicycle rental. Don’t forget to savor an appetizing kaiseki or traditional multi-course dinner during your stay here.

What to love: The intricate architecture
Address: 630-8212 Nara, Nara, Kasugano-cho 90
Closest landmark: Kasuga Taisha
Price starts from: $260~
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+ Noborioji Hotel Nara
» See the BEST price deal & read reviews at Agoda or Booking.com
» You can also check HotelsCombined to compare rates

Discover comfortable living at this renowned hotel that’s been given the 4 Red Pavilions accolade by Michelin Guide Kansai. Indulge in multi-course French, Japanese or American meals, a healing aromatherapy massage, and more!

What to love: The award-winning service
Address: 630-8213 Nara, Nara, Noborioji-cho 40-1
Closest landmark: Kintetsu Nara Station
Price starts from: $340~
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A travel experience can take up only the smallest snippet of your life, so it’s understandable to want to pack your camera full of memories from this tiny, enjoyable break from reality. Then, when you get back home, real life can take over, and you can forget about your stock of travel photos — until you decide to go through your camera months later, and realize that you’ve forgotten all the details surrounding your little photographic memories.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a concrete plan for organizing your photos, maybe before your trip even begins. We’ll help you out with some general tips in this post, as well as giving you an overview of when exactly you should organize your photos.
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How to Organize Your Travel Photos

» Don’t Be Afraid To Delete

I know, it’s hard, but unless you have iron self-control, you almost certainly have multiple shots of the same subject from different angles. While the compulsion to save these travel photos is understandable — you may never go back, after all — for the purposes of preserving your memory of that place, only one is truly necessary. Don’t overthink it, just choose one and delete the rest rapidfire. It’ll make your life so much easier.
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» Rename With Specifics

An example of a good name for this picture would be “Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence”

Yes, it may be boring, yes, it may be time-consuming, but if you truly want your travel photos to be organized, you have to rename descriptively. The name should include the main subject of the picture and where it was taken. If you have multiple photos of the same location, you can number them and the computer will automatically sort them by ascending number once they tucked snugly into their proper folder.
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» Consider Editing

How much you edit is really up to you — just have fun with it!

If you’re planning to share your travel photos, or you just want to jazz them up for your own viewing pleasure, editing is an additional step that you can take to make your pictures super polished. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about editing photos, so I’ll just leave this one to the advice of the experts. And remember, if you’re like me and you don’t have any experience in editing, this step is totally optional — if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it, just don’t bother!
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» Have a Comprehensible Folder System

While you want to be organized, you also don’t want to create a complicated folder maze through which even you have trouble finding your way. The easiest way to strike a balance is to name each folder very generally, most often with just the country name. Although it may be tempting to make sub-folders for each location within that country, if you rename your photos properly, you can simply search up the location and easily view all your photos from that particular place.
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» Use A Cloud Service

Unlimited space for your files, access from any device with internet, and file storage and recovery — what more could you ask for? Cloud systems like Dropbox make all of the steps above way less time-consuming and frustrating, as well as automatically backing up all of your files so that you’ll never lose your precious memories. If you want to truly preserve every bit of the moment, you can even write a little note to yourself describing what was happening when the photo was taken with the annotation tool. These can act like little journal entries that you can go back and enjoy along with the visual anytime you want.
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When Should I Organize My Travel Photos?

The reality is that you likely don’t have all the time in the world to organize your travel pictures. For many, travel is a short escape from the responsibilities of normal adult life, but once you get back it’s straight back into the frying pan. No matter what, though, you should carve out a little time in your busy schedule to make sure that your memories are easily accessible. It’s just a matter of deciding when.
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» On The Trip Itself

Record all your experiences while they’re still in progress.

There are several advantages to this method, the first being that it allows you to record all the minute details of your trip that you may not remember later on. In this way, it offers the most pure preservation of memories, both good and bad. If organize later on, you will likely be inclined to give everything the rosy glow that comes along with memory when in reality, traveling, like all other aspects of life, has its ups and downs.

If you commit to organizing each day’s photos at the end of the day, this can have the effect of breaking up the process into smaller chunks that are easier to accomplish. Often enough, this means that you’ll have more energy to record the details surrounding each photo, whereas if you do all your organizing at one time, you may burn out by the end and do the bare minimum for some of your pictures.

There are, of course, downsides to this timing as well, one of the foremost being that you’re trying to enjoy yourself — you don’t want to worry about such an arduous task! By the time you’ve finished your plans for each day, you’ll likely be too tired to think straight, much less devote the brainpower and patience needed to organize your pictures. Plus, you may not have stable connection to the internet, which can make it quite difficult to do anything on a computer. However, if none of these potential hangups faze you, this can truly be one of the best times to organize your photos.
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» Right After You Get Home

The policy with this process is the sooner, the better. Human memory is very unreliable, so the sooner you can record everything, the more accurate it will be. That’s the strongest advantage of organizing the pictures while you’re still on the trip, but doing so right when you get home should still do the trick. The great thing here is that you know for sure that you’ll have a stable connection to the internet, and if anything goes wrong on the tech side, you’ll have the resources to fix it relatively easily. Just make sure you have some time to devote to this process before you dive back into reality.
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» A Month Later

Mark it down on your calendar if you feel like you might forget!

This timing is not ideal, but life happens. Perhaps you were too wrapped up in jetlag to think about your pictures when you first got home, or reality started to hit you way too fast. Whatever the reason, you should still make time to organize your photos, even if it seems like it may be too late. Mark it down on your calendar, write it on your to-do list, whatever you need to do to get those poor photos off your camera and into a place where they can be accessed easily.

Hey — you might even have a little fun with this process! These pictures are really all for you, so while some of these tips may have resonated with you, feel free to ignore the ones that struck the wrong chord. Travel is all about enjoying the moment, so don’t stress too much about remembering it perfectly. Just have fun!

This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.

AUTHOR: Sarah is a cat lover, tea drinker, and turtleneck enthusiast currently studying at the University of Pittsburgh.

How about you?

  • What do you think of these tips?
  • Any other tips to add for making the most of your travel photos?
  • What was your most recent adventure?

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The post How To Organize Your Travel Photos Like a Professional appeared first on I am Aileen.

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