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Nestled high in the Hoang Lien Son mountains of North Western Vietnam is the hillside town of Sapa. Sapa overlooks the Muong Hoa Valley with its terraced rice fields. No doubt you have seen the images of Sapa and the rice terraces in every promotional photograph or video of Vietnam. In this case, the lens does not lie! This area is one of outstanding beauty.
Sapa is also the capital of the district known as Sa Pa in the Lao Cai province.
We were invited to experience the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa by Victoria Hotels from the TMG Group, the largest privately-owned travel and hospitality group based in Vietnam.
Our unique travel experience commenced when we were collected at our hotel in Hanoi and transported to the Hanoi Railway Station at 120 Le Duan Street in the Hoan Kiem district by their private luxury shuttle bus. Our 8-hour overnight journey to Lao Cai was on the stylish, Indochina-inspired Victoria Express Train. We felt that we were travelling back in time when luxury carriages plied many of the routes throughout Asia and Europe. As we awoke from our slumbers, the sun was starting to rise and the countryside and its people were starting their day and going about their chores.
On arrival at Lao Cai, there is a further 1-hour journey by shuttle bus to Sapa town. We travelled up through the mountains with mist drifting down over the terraced rice fields. Experiencing the early morning in this way was a magical start to a fascinating day ahead.
Map of Sapa Showing the Victoria Sapa Resort
Location of the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa
YouTube of Victoria Sapa Resort & SpaCheck-In Experience
Reception at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa
What a delightful check-in experience provided by Cherry Trang on Reception as we arrived a little blurry eyed from the early start that morning. We were able to check in early before heading into the Ta Van Restaurant for our buffet breakfast.
We loved the local traditional colourful weaving adorning the pastry section at breakfast
The Ta Van Restaurant with its central fireplace for those cold wintery evenings has spectacular mountain views. The Breakfast Buffet was extensive, offering:
fresh fruit including dragon fruit and passionfruit
cereals and yoghurts
Vietnamese hot breakfast options
Western hot breakfast options
Egg station where you can choose from fried, poached or omelettes
pastry section that included croissants, pain au chocolat, bread and sweet pastries including doughnuts
fresh fruit juices, as well as tea and coffee, are available
Ta Van Restaurant with its wooden interior design and local traditional weavings enhancing the overall feeling of a mountain chalet.
The breakfast and dinner staff are extremely helpful. They are a ‘mine-field’ of local information and love to share their knowledge with you.
The Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa offers:
21 Victoria Superior Rooms
52 Victoria Deluxe Rooms
2 Victoria Family Suites
2 Victoria Suites
Our beautifully appointed Deluxe Bedroom with Balcony
Our accommodation was one of the beautifully appointed Victoria Deluxe Rooms with a balcony overlooking the hotel grounds and the mountain range in the distance that was shrouded in mist when we arrived. The corridor leading to our room, at the back of the hotel, overlooked the Sapa Lake with its background of the mountain range that is shaped like a dragon. Sapa sits in a valley and the views are spectacular everywhere you look.
The rooms are decorated with local traditional handicrafts. Each room comes with a:
Safe deposit box
coffee and tea making facilities
The bathroom is well-appointed complete with luxury toiletries.
Our bed was extremely comfortable, with high-quality linen and pillows. Two luxury towelling robes were provided.
There was a nice touch of a fruit bowl on our arrival. Tea and coffee making facilities are also provided.
Western Menu – Sea Bass with Passionfruit Sauce
A three-course dinner was included and we could choose from a Western Menu or a Vietnamese Menu. To give you a taste of what was available that evening:
The Western Menu:
Wild Mushroom Soup with crispy almond and truffle oil
Sea bass fillet with zucchini risotto, smoked eggplant caviar and passionfruit sauce
Apple tart with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream
The Vietnamese Menu:
Sapa sturgeon soup with vegetables
Sauteed chicken with cashew and vegetables served with steamed rice
Yoghurt mousse with fresh mango
Both cuisines were excellent and the service from the staff outstanding. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of local beer over our leisurely dinner.
The restaurant features traditional performances by H’mong and Thai minority dancers on selected evenings.
Hotel Reception Area
Learn how the local tribes produce their colourful handicrafts
The Hotel Reception Area leads into a lounge area with local colourful artwork depicting the local indigenous tribes. During the day you can watch the local ladies weaving garments. There are plenty of areas just to relax and read. A pool table, as well as a children’s playroom, is located near the Ta Fin Bar.
In summer you can enjoy your meals or a drink in the manicured gardens with views over Sapa and the mountains.
Activities on Offer
Our trek through the rice terraces
There are plenty of activities available. The Hotel has published an extensive activities guide which includes:
half day tours of 3-4 hours of walking visiting the ethnic minority hill tribes
full day tours of 4 – 8 hours walking where you can interact with the ethnic hill tribe communities
half day tours visiting waterfalls or the Hoang Lien National Park
a day trek that includes mountains, rice fields and waterfalls
visits to Markets. The markets rotate weekly and the local tribes come down from the mountains to sell their products
overnight treks with accommodation at the Victoria Homestay, a H’mong home nestled in the terraced rice fields of the Muong Valley
Trek to the top of Mount Fansipan – this is recommended for experienced trekkers available in a 1, 2 or 3-day trek
Mountain biking – 1/2 day and full day tours
As part of our visit, we enjoyed a half day trek to the small village of Ta Giang Phin. The area is inhabited by the Red Dao ethnic groups.
Local ethnic groups gather to sell their products at the Sapa Market
Our next article will highlight our half day trek to the village and our visit to the local market.
To reach the town centre there are a flight of stairs at the front of the hotel.
Spa & Gym Facilities
The Spa at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa
The Victoria Spa offers massages, facial and body treatments, baths and reflexology. They have 12 massage rooms available as well as 2 hammams.
We enjoyed an invigorating 30-minute foot massage after our half day of trekking. Just perfect after our trek through the terraced rice fields.
There is an indoor heated swimming pool, a gym area, sauna, steam bath and tennis court.
For reservations click here for their latest special packages and deal.
Hotel DetailsVictoria Sapa Resort & Spa
Address: Xuan Vien Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam
T: +84 214 3871 522 | F: +84 214 3871 539
Our Impressions and our thanks
Our adventure to Sapa with Victoria Hotels and the Victoria Express has been a memorable experience for us both. From the moment we were collected from our hotel in Hanoi and returned 3 nights later we were thoroughly pampered and well looked after by every member of staff. Our thanks go to all at the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa, Victoria Express and the TMG group that made our stay possible. As always our opinions are our own.
Visas for Vietnam
You may require a Visa for Vietnam. Our article explains the process on whether you require a visa and how to obtain an e-visa online. Read more here.
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More Reading on Sapa and Vietnam
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Guest Article by Shandos Cleaver, the founder and blogger-in-chief of Travelnuity.
We have visited San Francisco in the past for work in our corporate days and unfortunately, it was only a brief drive across the Golden Gate Bridge as well as a quick stop at Fisherman’s Wharf. Shandos has put together her top 7 things to do in San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge to sea lions and crooked streets and more. There are some great places to visit in San Francisco.
Have you visited all 7 San Francisco attractions yet?
What To Do in San Francisco:
The Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco is one of the most memorable cities in the United States, with its distinctive culture and bayside location, not to mention its famous bridge. Little wonder then that many songs have been written about it, from I Left My Heart in San Francisco in the 1960s to We Built This City in the 1980s.
To ensure that you have plenty of fond memories of your time in San Francisco, make sure you add these top things to do in San Francisco to your itinerary.
Take in the Golden Gate Bridge
View of Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach
One of the most famous bridges in the world, it’s rare to picture San Francisco without including the Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning the Golden Gate Strait and over 1.5 miles long, it lies immediately north of the city.
The bridge is also one of the most photographed bridges in the world, and there is no shortage of vantage points from which to snap a photo or two. Just look at the number of photo spots marked on Google Maps!
One of the most popular spots for photos is Fort Point, almost directly under the southern end of the bridge. While the Fort itself is only open Friday to Sunday for most of the year (with free entry), the exterior with its great angles for photographs is accessible seven days a week. Occasionally, there’s even a wave break under the bridge, and it’s possible to get shots of the enthusiastic surfers from here!
Another excellent spot from which to view the bridge on the southern side is Baker Beach. This beach is located on the western edge of San Francisco and is a great spot to go for a walk in the late afternoon, staying to watch the sunset over the Pacific. The beach is also one of the best dog-friendly spots in San Francisco, so usually, there’re plenty of dogs also enjoying a walk.
Alternatively, make your way north across the bridge. There’s a couple of great viewpoints to stop at on the north side, including the Golden Gate View Point on the edge of Sausalito. Take the first exit north of the bridge. Note that there is currently a USD$7.75 toll to drive back south over the bridge, payable online or over the phone.
Visit the Island of Alcatraz
San Francisco is equally well known for the prison island of Alcatraz, located in the middle of its bay. The prison on the island operated from 1934 and 1963, home to infamous inmates including Al “Scarface” Capone and the “Birman” Robert Stroud.
During that time, the official record is that no one ever successfully escaped the prison, although a few prisoners disappeared, presumed drowned, and may have actually made it to freedom.
These days, the island is a tourist attraction, housing the historical remains of the prison buildings plus some Civil War-era buildings. It’s also home to thousands of roosting and nesting sea birds.
A single ferry provider, Alcatraz Cruises, offers trips to the island. Make sure you book your visit well in advance, as the trips are very popular and can be sold out weeks in advance.
Day Tours currently cost USD$39.90. Your ticket price includes the ferry trip, plus a comprehensive audio tour, that you pick up in the prison once you arrive on the island. It’s mainly a self-guided experience and you can stay for as long as you like on the island. Most visitors stay for two to three hours.
Alternatively, there are Night Tours on offer between Tuesday and Saturday, for a more atmospheric experience. These tours are partially guided and currently cost $47.30.
Ferries for all tours depart from The Embarcadero, near the intersection with Bay Street, not far from Fisherman’s Wharf.
Watch the Seal Lions
The famous sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf
After you disembark from the Alcatraz ferry, stay a while longer at Fisherman’s Wharf to view some of the other famous residents of San Francisco. On the western side of Pier 39 is a colony of sea lions. They’ve made their home here now for nearly 30 years, since shortly after a significant earthquake hit San Francisco in October 1989.
It’s a great opportunity to see these beautiful creatures up close. There is a small year-round colony, which swells to hundreds and hundreds during the wintertime, barking and making a lot of noise!
The Fisherman’s Wharf precinct is similarly packed with tourists, visiting the many restaurants and shops, although the prices are generally more expensive than elsewhere in the city, so I recommend not staying for long.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to return from Fisherman’s Wharf back to the city centre of San Francisco, take one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars. When you see the rather steep hill you otherwise need to climb up, it’s easy to understand why the trolley cars were built!
Choose between the Powell/Mason cable car, which departs from near the intersection of Bay Street and Taylor Street, and the Powell/Hyde cable car, which departs from the Hyde Street and Beach Street intersection. Both cable cars terminate in the same spot: the intersection of Powell Street and Market Street, not far past Union Square.
A single ride on a cable car costs USD$7.00. You can pay using the MuniMobile app, a Clipper card or with cash (use exact change). There’s also a third cable car line, the California/Van Ness line, although it’s not as handy for tourists.
For your regular transport needs, skip using the expensive cable cars and rely instead on the other public transport options available in San Francisco. Trips on the buses and metro trains cost only USD$2.50 using the MuniMobile app or a Clipper card, or USD$3.00 for cash payments from July 1, 2019.
If you plan to take more than one or two trips, it’s great value to download MuniMobile, the official ticketing app for San Francisco public transport. Only one app is required per group, plus you can purchase a USD$5.00 all-day pass on the app to use across all buses and metro trains.
Zig Zag up the Crookedest Street
The crooked section of Lombard Street
When you see how steep some of the hills are in San Francisco, it’s no wonder that the local authorities turned to some ingenious methods to build streets up them.
Dotted around the city are multiple “crooked streets”. These streets zigzag backwards and forth to get up and down hills, with sharp curves at each bend, so that people aren’t in danger of being killed by vehicles rolling down them.
Allegedly the most crooked, and certainly the most famous, of these streets is Lombard Street. The crooked section of this street is located in between Jones and Hyde Streets. It’s not far away from Fisherman’s Wharf, just a short uphill walk, of course! If you’re driving the street, it’s one-way downhill only.
Embrace Your Inner Hippy
The colourful Haight-Ashbury district
During the 1960s, San Francisco was the epicentre of the hippy subculture. To get a taste of the lingering hippy side of San Francisco, head to Haight-Ashbury.
This district is centred around the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets and was nick-named “Hashbury” during the 1960s by writer Hunter S. Thompson. These days it contains an eclectic mix of boutiques, including a range of vintage clothing, books and records stores. A great selection of alternative food is also on offer.
Murals in Haight-Ashbury
While walking along Haight Street, make sure you turn down some of the side streets, to check out the many murals decorating the exteriors of shops. These are often influenced by the hippie counter-culture. It’s also great to time your visit for the second Sunday of June when part of Haight Street is closed for a street fair each year.
The “Painted Ladies” in Lower Haight
While you’re in the area, also consider heading up to Alamo Square in Lower Haight. Opposite the popular grassy park is the famous row of Victorian houses known as the “Painted Ladies”.
Explore the Mission District
Balmy Alley in the Mission district
Another colourful area of San Francisco to visit is the Mission District. The district is named after the Mission San Francisco de Assis, the oldest standing building in San Francisco, located in the northwestern part of the district.
For many years the district has had a large Latino population, lending the area much of its character, although it has gentrified in recent years.
For some of the best and cheapest tacos on offer in San Francisco, head to the Taqueria El Farolito on Mission Street. This no-frills Mexican eatery is always busy until late at night. Note that it’s cash only.
Make sure you also check out Balmy Alley. The walls of this laneway in between 24th and 25th Streets are covered with murals and other artworks, with new works regularly appearing.
Bio for Shandos Cleaver
Shandos Cleaver is the founder and blogger-in-chief of Travelnuity, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. Shandos recently returned to Australia after spending nearly two years travelling around Europe and the USA with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. On her blog, she shares hands-on information for other people wishing to travel with their dog.
Essential Visitor Information for San FranciscoSan Francisco Map
San Francisco Airport is located 16km from the city centre.
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Tenerife is on our bucket list so when Nicola Hall from Coastguide.info reached out to us about an article that she has written on the most beautiful places to visit in Tenerife we jumped at the chance to showcase this Spanish Island and to learn more on what are the best things to do in Tenerife.
There is nothing better than to get the inside scoop from someone who knows the destination well. As a tourist, we normally visit the popular tourist spots but Nicola explains there is more to Tenerife than the beaches and the nightlife. Read Nicola’s article below and we bet you will be soon booking a holiday to Tenerife.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for more information.
The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Tenerife
Pico de Tiede
Dominated by the often snow-covered Pico del Teide the highest mountain in Spain at 3,718 metres the Canary Island of Tenerife is the largest and most populous island in the archipelago.
Tenerife is also the most popular of Spain’s Atlantic Islands, with more than six million visitors arriving through the doors of Tenerife airport arrivalsper year. Tourists mostly come for the beach and nightlife found in the southern resorts.
If you can manage to pull yourself away from the beach and put your hiking boots on, Tenerife has an extraordinary geographical diversity that includes tropical forests and volcanic mountains.
Add museums, gourmet dining, designer shopping, and all the sporting activities you could ever think of into the mix and you will understand why Tenerife is such a popular holiday destination. See the official tourism website for area facts and statistics.
If this has you thinking that the Canary Islands might be right for your next holiday, we have put together a list of the most beautiful places to visit in Tenerife.
Salt Water Pool near the Beach
The Canary Islands certainly have some of the best beaches in Spain and it’s a myth that they are all made up of black volcanic sand. Yes! Tenerife does have some volcanic beaches, but there are plenty of others covered in golden yellow sand imported from the Sahara Desert.
Families can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje as they are all geared towards tourists and have the infrastructure to back it up.
If, however, you want to experience a natural Tenerife black volcanic beach in all its purity Playa Benijo in the north of the island is a photographers dream. Located inside the Anaga Rural Park, Playa Benijo is the place to escape the crowds, relax and soak in the natural beauty.
Playa de las Teresitas
If you prefer a traditional yellow sand beach you will absolutely love the picture postcard Playa de Las Teresitas. Located near the village of San Andres a 10-minute drive from the capital Santa Cruz, Playa de Las Teteresitas is a 1.5km of golden imported Saharan sand lined with palm trees and backed by lush green mountains.
The beach is protected from waves by breakwaters at both ends and a man-made artificial reef just teaming with fish. If you have had enough of the beach, hike one of the nearby trails into the mountains above the beach for guide book quality photographs.
The two above beaches are just a sample of contrasting styles and together with all the top beaches in Tenerife are easily reached by public bus.
Transport options from the South airport include the regular bus Route 711, which runs from Tenerife Sur airport to the capital Santa Cruz and all of the major beaches on the island. It also offers a Night service. See the Tenerife bus option here.
Founded in the late 15th century, San Cristobal de la Laguna was the first town built in the Canary Islands and is the second largest town in Tenerife.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its many beautiful buildings, San Cristobal de la Laguna was built using a grid system that the Spanish incorporated during their colonial rule of the America’s.
When visiting San Cristobal de la Laguna go to the Information Centre in La Carrera Street and pick up a free map that describes the best places to see and what route to take.
Mount Teide National Park
Mount Teide National Park
Standing at a height of 3,718 m (12,198 ft) above sea level, Mount Teide is the highest mountain in Spain and the third largest volcano in the world.
Declared a national park in 1954 it is the largest protected area in the Canary Islands covering 46,612.9 hectares (115,183 acres). To reach the summit you can take an exciting cable car ride from the base station at 2,356 m (7,729 ft) to a viewing point a 40-minute hike below the summit.
To visit the summit you need to apply for a special licence unless you decide to stay overnight at the Altavista Refuge and have completed your walk to the summit by 9 a.m.
Watching the sunrise from the summit of Mount Teide is spectacular and something you will remember forever.
Plaza de la Libertad, Garachico
Plaza de la Libertad Garachico
Every town and village in Spain has a town square, but not all as pretty as the Plaza de la Libertad in Garachico.
Bordered by churches, public buildings and a Spanish colonial looking hotel, the centrepiece of the square is a wooden bandstand copied from a model brought to Tenerife from Mexico by one of the town’s residents.
There is also a bronze statue of Simón Bolívar gifted to the town by the descendants of Garachico citizens who settled in Venezuela after being given land by the Spanish crown. Also while in Garachico don’t miss the chance to go swimming in the nearby natural pools.
Regarded as being the most scenic village in the Canary Islands, the remote hamlet of Masca has the look of Machu Picchu with steep ravines and rocky pinnacles reaching for the sky.
Most visitors to Masca arrive on excursions; have a walk around, take a few photographs and then they are off to the next attraction. To truly appreciate Masca arrive early in the morning and hike the trail down through the palms to the ocean and catch a boat back to Los Gigantes. The hike is suitable for all ages and takes around 3 hours.
Every Tenerife resort has its own beach, each one offering a different feel for a diversity of clientele. With so many nice beaches to choose from, the island is practically unprecedented throughout Spain due to its variety and scope if it were not for some of the resorts in Andalusia and the many Malaga beaches in the province.
Overall it’s true to say that Tenerife offers an intriguing landscape, attractive bays and stunning beaches. The climate alone is worth experiencing during the winter months, providing a consistent temperature that most of us only dream of.
Nicola Hall can often be found near a calm sea in a gentle breeze, underneath her hat with her pen to paper. She loves writing helpful and inspiring posts based on her own adventures. You can read more of Nicola’s adventures on her blog Coastguide.info.
Essential Visitor Information When You Visit TenerifeMap of Tenerife
For the top 10 Best hotels in Tenerife as rated by travellers in TripAdvisor click here.
Top Ten Best Restaurants in Tenerife
Where to eat in Tenerife? Travellers have rated the top ten best restaurants in TripAdvisor. Click here to find out who and where they are.
When is the best time to visit Tenerife?
Summers are hot and dry in particular the two hottest months are July and August with temperatures on average around 28 degrees C.
Winters are mild with daytime temperatures reaching from 14 degrees to 20 degrees C.
More Things To Do in Tenerife
These are some of our top things to do in Tenerife.
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“There is nothing better than an open view to keep an open mind”
Quote from Pullman Danang Beach Resort about their Infinity Bar view! We totally agree! For your top luxury escape in Vietnam it does not get any better than this!
Calming view from the Infinity Bar and pools to the beach in the distance
An oasis of lush tropical gardens, welcoming sea breezes, and an infinity bar and pool that reaches as far as your eyes can see greets you when you arrive at your top luxury escape in Vietnam – the Pullman Danang Beach Resort. As your gaze takes you closer you can see the shimmering silvery white sands of Da Nang’s famous My An Beach.
View from the 6th floor
The Pullman Danang Beach Resort has the enviable location of all the resorts on My An Beach boasting the widest part of the 25km stretch of beach from the edge of the Son Tra Peninsula all the way to Hoi An. Here you can luxuriate under your own private beach cabana or just relax by the pool. A jug of cold water mysteriously appears by your side as you drift in and out of sleepiness in your private beach cabana. Can it get any better than this?
Whether you are on a family or couples vacation, a luxury getaway on your own, your wedding, honeymoon or a corporate event the Pullman Danang Resort caters for all your wants and desires. Unfortunately, you will have to leave this paradise someday, that will be the hardest decision you will make. The second hardest decision will be which spa treatment you will spoil yourself with and the third – which cocktail you will delight in at sunset from either the Infinity Bar or the Azure Beach Club Bar.
Check Out Our YouTube Video: A Day At the Pullman Danang Beach Resort in Da Nang Vietnam – Your Luxury Escape Vietnam
We were guests of the Pullman Danang Beach Resort for 2 nights, as always our opinions are our own.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for more information.
Accommodation at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort
For your luxury escape in Vietnam indulge yourself in luxurious accommodation at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort, whether you reserve the rooms, suites or cottages your experience will be memorable and you will want to return as quickly as you can.
Wing B Accommodation with views over the Infinity Pool and My An Beach
There are two wings available on the left-hand side of the Resort as you look towards the ocean – Wing A and Wing B boasting either garden views, sea views or bay views:
67 Superior Rooms
71 Deluxe Rooms
20 Deluxe Bay Rooms
9 Junior Suites
4 Family Suites
4 Penthouse Suites located on the 6th floor
The rooms and suites have all been tastefully decorated with soothing colours to enhance that overall relaxation vibe. Wooden floors and balcony doors coupled with the unique wall designs create that feeling of luxury. Just what you need after the hectic lifestyle we all live these days. That is what a vacation is all about. Indulge yourself in a warm bath using the sensuous C.O. Bigelow toiletries that are replenished daily or just read a book and admire the views out to Cham Island.
Both wings were recently refurbished in 2018. They reflect:
the fine lines of Japanese interior design
ceramic features inspired by Vietnamese motifs
After a full day of sightseeing, lying by the pool or spa treatments the Queen Size bed and the luxurious linen sheets will ensure the best nights sleep you have had in a long while.
On the right-hand side of the resort amongst manicured lawns and pools littered with lotus flowers and dragonflies are 10 one bedroom cottages and 1 two bedroom cottage.
Open air living and dining area in the 1 bedroom cottage
Our 2-night stay at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort was in a one bedroom cottage. We gasped with delight as we were guided through the heavy wooden front door which opened into a haven of tranquillity. An open lounge/sitting area greeted us with stunning views over the lush tropical gardens with views out to the pool and beach beyond. Wooden finishes gave the area a warm touch of luxury.
Our YouTube Video on our stay in Pullman Danang’s Beach Resort One Bedroom Cottage our Luxury Escape in Vietnam
Luxurious linens and memory foam pillows on a very comfortable King Size Bed
As we opened the door into the bedroom another ‘gasp’ as we viewed the King Size bed with luxurious white linen and memory foam pillows. As we stepped into the oversized bathroom we spotted a large natural stone bathtub, complete with an array of C.O. Bigelow toiletries. An outside shower amidst the tropical garden created a ‘Balinese effect’ – which we could not wait to try.
Bathroom at the one bedroom cottage
It was going to be difficult to leave such luxury surroundings.
Our Experiences at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort – A Luxury Escape in VietnamArrival at Danang Airport
Pullman Danang Beach Resort offer transfers from Danang International Airport to the hotel. Contact the hotel directly for the latest prices here.
As you arrive at Arrivals look for your transfer as you exit customs. We were greeted with a cold aromatic towel and a bottle of water for our 15-minute drive to the Hotel. On the way, our driver pointed out points of interest in Da Nang.
Relax in the Reception Area
Our check-in was completed whilst sitting at the exquisite Infinity Bar. We were greeted with another cold aromatic towel and a refreshing drink. Our cottage was not quite ready so we relaxed and soaked up the atmosphere and the views.
Food & Beverage Infinity Bar
A calming area to enjoy a coffee in the morning, a light lunch, evening cocktail or dinner.
There is Happy Hour daily from 4.00pm to 6.00pm and you can also order from the menu a range of western and local cuisine.
On our last day, we lingered over a chilled bottle of white wine, fish and chips and burgers not wanting to leave this ‘zen inspired’ Infinity bar.
Opening Hours: 08.00 am to late
Restaurant Epice is the signature restaurant at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort.
Breakfast at the Epice Restaurant – Western and Asian choices available
It is opened daily from 06.30am to 10.00pm offering an extensive Buffet Breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are interested in taking a cooking class from Pullman’s Chef Tan the class will be held here.
Pullman Danang pride themselves on “showcasing revolutionary food concepts that fuse urban style with 5-star finesse”.
Fruit Breakfast Display at the Epice Restaurant
Their Buffet Breakfast highlights the best of the region’s culinary delights and we were pleased to see the Pullman Wellness Theme that we first witnessed at the Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotelin Thailand here as well, a feature of Pullman Hotels in general.
A breakfast station totally developed to health and well-being where they offer combinations of 100% fresh juice created for detox, vitality and wellness.
There is so much choice at breakfast from:
Western-style breakfast including eggs, bacon and hashbrowns
Vietnamese style breakfast
Cereals and pastries
Egg Station where you can have your eggs prepared exactly the way you like them
Fruits and yoghurts
European style breakfasts with cold meats etc
Any style of coffee that you desire including the local Vietnamese coffee
If you are dining in the Epice Restaurant and you have young children with you there is a special play area at the rear of the restaurant for the children to play in so that you can linger longer over your meals.
Breakfast 0630 – 1030
Lunch 1200 – 1400
Dinner 1800 – 2200
Azure Beach Club – our first night’s choice of dinner venue
For our first night at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort, we chose to dine outside at the Azure Beach Club. The evening was balmy and it was enjoyable relaxing under the stars on the edge of the beach. You can dine inside with seating available for 60 people or you can dine alfresco with or without shoes.
Signature Dish – Sea Bass on Hot Stones
A signature dish – Seabass cooked on Hot Stones was thoroughly enjoyed by Duncan. It is prepared with a green sauce, salt, pepper, lime juice all blended presented on a banana leaf and cooked for 10 minutes in Vietnamese rice wine. A simple dish full of flavour.
Every Sunday there is a Beach BBQ Buffet where you can enjoy fresh seafood, a range of meats and they even have themed BBQ’s such as Mexican and Indian. Watch out for the Bubbles, Beats and Brunch on the first Sunday of the month – reservations recommended! Check out their Pullman Life Magazine for upcoming themed BBQ’s.
Have you tried liquid nitrogen ice cream?
We dare you to leave without trying first their Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream.
Check out our YouTube video on the special preparation:
Opening Hours: 10.00 am – 10.00 pm
Activities We EnjoyedThe Nang Spa
Treatment rooms at the Nang Spa
The Nang Spa is located near the beach, pool and gym.
There is an extensive choice of treatments available from:
Hot stone massage
Children’s massage aged between 4 and 12 years
6 types of body scrubs
90-minute Signature treatments – romantic Rendez-vous massages for couples as well as Body and Soul and Relax and Beauty packages.
Duncan enjoyed the Harmony of Energy 90 minute massage that is inspired by ancient massage rituals to relax and revitalise the body. 7 different holistic massage treatments are used in the 90 minutes that open the energy channels in the body, stimulates the muscle and nerve endings to ease tension, release stress and improve flexibility.
Jane enjoyed the Aromatic Bliss Massage which combines the power of 3 massage oil blends with massage practices from the East and West.
We floated out of the Spa, completely relaxed and feeling rejuvenated.
Early Morning Tai Chi Class
Early morning Tai Chi classes available
A great way to start the day is an early morning Tai Chi Class on the beach near the Azure Lounge. Tai Chi is a series of movements that are performed in a slow movement whilst concentrating on your breathing. When the Masters perform it looks easy, but it is definitely not as easy as it looks. Our class was definitely a workout!
Pullman Danang can organise a private tour for you to the local Han Market that has been around since the French Occupation in the 1940s. It is located near the Han River on Tran Phu Street, Bach Dang Street, Hung Vuong Street and Tran Hung Dao Street. The market is open daily at 6.00am and closes at 7.00 pm. It is only a 12-minute drive from the Hotel.
Chef Tan accompanied us on our Market Tour explaining as we wandered around what the vegetables and fruits were and what they were used for in local cooking. In the market, we saw fresh fish and seafood e.g. Mackerel (200gm local price about VND50,000 or USD2.20), Groper, Prawns and more. Da Nang is famous for its seafood. Apart..
Our Guide on How Easy It Is to Get A Vietnamese Visa on Arrival With iVisa
When you google how to get a Vietnam Visa on Arrival there are so many options available it can be quite overwhelming and confusing.
How do you choose the right company? You need a company that is reliable and trustworthy and has a good reputation. After working through the list we had decided to place our Vietnam Visa application in the hands of iVisa who had excellent reviews and who were also featured on the BBC and in the New York Times. They will handle it all for you.
NB: If you are travelling by bus and crossing land borders you need to apply for your visa from a Vietnamese Embassy.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (if applicable). We are an affiliate for iVisa.
What Type of Visa Are You Applying For
There are four types of Visas:
e-visa for 30 days single entry
Visa on arrival for 90 days single entry
Visa on arrival for 30 days multi-entry
Visa on arrival for 90 days multi-entry
We will show you the steps required to apply for your Vietnamese Visa on Arrival. It is so easy and quick. The initial application took 20 minutes from start to finish, it would have been quicker except I was taking screenshots and photos to assist you in your application process.
Ensure your passport has at least 6 months validity on it to enter the country.
You will be taken to this screen. Note the green box at the bottom “A visa is required. We can assist in processing this document.”
This is a straight forward form:
Your email address is required to confirm the application and to send your visa letter
Arrival date – note this is a drop down box
Departure date – note this is a drop down box. If you are applying for a multi-entry this is the last day that you will leave Vietnam
Telephone Number is required
Port of Arrival – must be one of the 3 airports that you can enter Vietnam on – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Danang.
Applicant #1 – fills in details as required
Visa type – drop down box for the visa type and the cost
If there is more than 1 applicant – you will be able to fill in their details as well
Standard Processing Time: 6 days
Rush Processing Time: 4 days
Super Rush Processing Time: 2 days
NB: There are extra processing costs for the Rush and Super Rush Processing days.
Payment is via Paypal or via Credit Card.
Once payment is completed you will be given an order number and a section to create a password so that you can track your lodgement.
You should receive a confirmation email shortly after payment has been made. Our confirmation email went into Spam – so check your Spam Folder if you have not received it within 20 minutes.
Second Confirmation Email
A second confirmation email was received 24 hours later to advise that the visa application process was underway.
Vietnam Visa Approval Letter
4 working days later we received our Vietnam Visa Approval Letter.
Part of the Vietnam Visa Approval Letter shown below. NB: visa approvals are submitted in bulk. You will notice that other applications will appear on your Vietnam Visa Approval Letter. Check that all your details are correct.
On Arrival at either Danang, Saigon or Hanoi International Airport
Your iVisa is only applicable when you arrive at one of the above international airports.
Our Experience at Danang Airport
We flew from Chiang Mai to Danang with Air Asia – just a short morning flight. Check Skyscanner for the latest flight deals into Vietnam.
As we entered the Immigration Area there are signs – No Photographs Allowed – so we cannot show you the actual process.
As you come down the stairs to Immigration there is a booth in front of you that states Visa on Arrival – Payment. At this booth, they will ask you to complete another visa form with all your details of your passport and visa application. Once completed return to the booth, where the form will be checked and taken to a back office. After about a 10 minute wait your passports are returned with the visa stamp in it. Please check this stamp – make sure if you are requesting a multiple entry that it is shown and that the expiry date is 30 or 90 days from today’s date. If all is correct they will then ask you for the USD25 or USD50 per person visa fee depending on whether you have requested 30 or 90 days. All you need to do now is head to one of the Immigration queues. This was an easy process, it took about 20 minutes.
Where to stay in Da Nang – Our Recommended Hotel in Da Nang
In Da Nang we stayed at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort located on the beautiful white sandy My An Beach. The hotel offers double rooms, suites, Presidential Suite and cottages. As well as the beach there is a pool, spa, gym and water sports are available.
You can choose between 2 bars – the Infinity Bar and the Azure Beach Club Bar and 2 restaurants – Epice and Azure Beach Lounge.
Whilst you are there why not take a morning market tour provided by the hotel and top off the afternoon with a cooking class in the Epice Restaurant.
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Things You Should Consider When Choosing The Right Travel Destination
Where are the best places to visit? How long should I spend there? Is it expensive? What should I do? There are so many questions that you ask yourself when you start to plan your next travel destination. These questions are important and they do need to be answered. You want to have a rewarding and relaxing vacation, you have worked hard for it. You deserve it!
There is so much out there on the internet. Where do you start? Every day there are new travel deals. Advance planning is the key.
What happens when suddenly a cheap flight comes up or one of the last minute travel deals and you book it in haste and then realise you know nothing about the destination at all? Or you return to a familiar destination wondering why on earth you have returned because you are seeing nothing new or it does not have the same feeling of excitement as when you first visited.
Let’s break down choosing the right travel destination into bite-sized chunks for you. Let’s get to the bottom of your dream vacation destination, but first, we need you to answer these soul searching questions.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosurefor more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (if applicable).
Questions I Need To Ask Myself?
Have I got enough time to make the most of my dream travel destination?
Am I travelling in the right season?
Do I have the budget for it now or should I delay it for a later date? Or do I put it on credit card and work out how to pay for it later?
Who am I travelling with? Myself, partner, friends, family or in a group. Do they have the same bucket list idea? Are they on the same “page” as me?
What am I travelling for? Adventure, culture, gastronomy, history, wellness, a luxury break or a budget break (or just because you have to have a holiday and you have no budget at all really). Do I crave a winter or summer vacation? What is on my bucket list am I ticking off another destination?
Do I have the required 6 months on my passport to travel? Do I need a visa?
Uluru in the heart of Australia – a popular winter travel destination
1 – 2 Weeks
You may have only 1-2 weeks holiday but how long is the travelling time to get there? If you live in Europe and you are considering travelling to Australia or New Zealand where the average flight time is 24 hours each way, do you really want to spend 2 days out of your 14 days in the air? How about jet lag? Do you suffer from jet lag? That may wipe another day or two out.
If you only have 1-2 weeks why not consider a destination that is within a few hours driving or flying from your home town. Our experience over the years is that when you slow down travel you appreciate the destination more and the bonus is that your costs come down as you are not moving from place to place every day. Less time travelling also means more time to relax and recharge those batteries.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to see everything in those 2 weeks. Not only will you suffer from exhaustion and travel burn-out your costs will increase because you end up spending more on seeing more sights and attractions instead of giving yourself some downtime.
If you have only 1 -2 weeks holiday think about visiting only one state in your home country or one country.
2 – 4 Weeks
If you have 2 – 4 weeks you can venture further. Maybe take in a couple of countries in Europe, or visit Sydney and Brisbane in Australia. You may want to have a stopover in Asia on your way to New Zealand or spend your 4 weeks visiting different parts of a country e.g. Thailand beaches and city breaks.
This, of course, takes more planning or you may just be the type of person why books flights only and the first night’s accommodation and then have the flexibility to travel wherever you want whenever you want.
Is It The Right Season To Travel To Your Dream Travel Destination
Stunning harbour view of Dubrovnik and the walls
Over the last few years, we have been noticing the number of cities and beaches that are struggling with ‘over-tourism’.
Venice and Dubrovnik are the two major ones that come to mind but cities in smaller countries such as Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic are struggling with day visitors. Maya Bay on the Island of Phi Phi Ley in Thailand that was made famous in the movie “The Beach” has been closed till 2021 due to damage to the environment because of the high numbers of tourist.
Other destinations such as Santorini in Greece, Machu Picchu in Peru, Cinque Terra in Italy, Barcelona in Spain and in 2019 Mount Everest in Nepal. Even the Louvre had to close its doors for several afternoons in 2019 due to too many visitors.
Can you plan your visits to the shoulder or low seasons? The weather may be cooler but the crowds will be thinner and the costs also should be lower. Just imagine, 5000 people from cruise ships descending on Dubrovnik’s Old Walled City in the height of summer where you are bumper to bumper trying to walk the walls! Or would you like to enjoy the walls to yourself, wrapped up warmly in a jacket in autumn or winter, stopping for a hot chocolate on the way round in one of the many small cafes with stunning views? We know what we would like.
Your budget will determine where you travel to and how long you will travel for.
The strength of your home currency should also determine your travel destination. If your $$$ is weaker it may be better to travel internally in your home country or another destination close by that your $$$ spend lasts longer.
What we don’t recommend you do is to put your holiday on costs when you can’t afford to travel.
To help keep your expenses under control whilst on holidays we recommend Trail Wallet. We have been using this App since 2013. We set our trip dates, daily budget and add in categories and the currencies we will be using. Every time we spend we add it to the App, it gives us a break down of how much left we have to spend for the day.
If you do not have a destination in mind why not look at Skyscanner’s Everywhere Option. This is a great tool if you are undecided on where to travel to and you want to be able to ‘grab that best cheap flights possible’.
Visit Skyscanner, put in your departure city and in the arrival city type in everywhere.
To save money you may need to consider a self-catering apartment as an option to keep your budget on track.
We recommend using the hotel website such as Hotels Combined. They scour over 100 websites sourcing the best deals from hundreds and thousands of hotels. You can compare the deals and choose accordingly. If you book your hotels in advance you can save further by taking the non-refundable option.
If you enjoy staying at a particular chain of hotels join their frequent stay programmes so that you can take advantage of free night stays or even better sign up for their credit cards and build up extra points when you purchase items with their cards.
In some countries like South America, we stay in private rooms with ensuites in hostels. Not only do we save money but we also enjoy the camaraderie of other travellers who have some great tips and tricks as well. These days hostels are for everyone.
We were given a great tip from an expat who lives in the Middle East and who travels to Dubaifrequently. Dubai has an oversupply of hotels. He recommends that you leave your booking to the day before and you can usually reserve accommodation at a 4 or 5-star hotel for the price of a 2 or 3 star. We left our booking to the morning we were travelling and made great savings.
We now use this same method when we are looking for accommodation in other cities. We look at the prices for the next day and compare that to the prices of the dates we are looking at. Just make sure you check if there are any holiday periods during your visit.
Who Am I Travelling With?
For a successful vacation with family, friends or your partner experience has taught us that you do need to agree up front what each person’s desires and outcomes are. We would recommend sitting down with one another and preparing a list of what you each want to do, even to the extent of discussing what your daily budgets are. You don’t always have to do things together, sometimes it is better to have some time apart to do the things that you would like to do.
If there are children involved you need to set some time aside for activities that they like to do. A vacation can quickly go downhill if the parents spend all day visiting museums when the children want to spend time on the beach or at the playground or activity centre. If you are a group of friends travelling some may like to party in night clubs at night and others may want to have an early night and enjoy early morning activities such as yoga.
What Am I Travelling For?
Family ski holiday
What sort of vacation are you craving?
Winter sports or summer beaches.
A getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life to nature, camping and hiking.
Do you need a passport and a visa to travel? If you have to renew your passport you need to allow a couple of months for the process. Entry requirements for all countries is that you have to have 6 months validity left on your passport.
You need to check whether you require a visa. We recommend that you check with iVisa below.
We advise our community to always take our travel insurance. If you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. You just never know when you need it. In the last few years, we have had to claim through World Nomads for health issues for Duncan, which we least expected!
If you are from Australia or New Zealand check out 1 Coverfor the latest deals.
For the rest of the world check out World Nomads for the latest deals. We use World Nomads as it is a company that we can extend whilst we are travelling, and they were easy to work with when we had to claim.
Do I need vaccinations?
We recommend always checking with the country that you are travelling to on the latest vaccination requirements. Check with your local Dr or Medical Centre what is recommended and do not forget to keep your vaccinations up to date.
Health and Safety
If you require medications make sure you have enough to last your journey. We carry a First Aid Kit when we travel. We always register our travel plans with our Government’s website – smarttraveller.com.auand check their country updates. Your country will have a similar website.
Should I book a vacation package, book through a travel agency, or one of the many travel sites?
If you are thinking of a holiday package that includes flights and accommodation and at times airport transfers and meals it is worth chatting to a travel agent.
If it is only flights I would recommend looking at Skyscanner and compare prices with a travel agency. Some travel agencies have special flights with carriers that they can offer.
For city tours, attractions, airport transfers and ‘skip the queue tickets’ for attractions we recommend the following two companies. Have you considered what places to go to when visiting a city for the first time?
If you need some new luggage, travel gear, technology or cameras or some reading material for the plane check out our To Travel Too Shop in conjunction with Amazon. We also have a range of travel guides to assist you in choosing where to travel to.
If you enjoyed our article why not PIN it for later:
How To Make The Most of Your Visit – Our Turkey Itinerary
Turkey is a fascinating country, and one, by all means, should not be rushed. Our planned one-month Turkey itinerary took us to the top tourist places to visit in Turkey, although we allowed a month we still did not manage to visit all that Turkey has to offer. The old cliche – where East meets West – still applies for Turkey but we would also add where ancient meets modern, a melting pot of cultures and flavours.
Wikipediastates that Turkey is in the Middle East. The country straddles both Asia and Europe.
Bodrum memories of cute cobblestoned streets leading down to the harbour
We started our journey in Bodrum because we were in Kos in the Greek Islands (a 30-minute ferry ride away) but you can use our travel itinerary to start in any one of the locations we travelled to depending on any cheap flights you can find at that time. So let’s go travel and enjoy the delights of this incredible, fun and interesting country.
Our accommodation is based on mid-range properties. We will share with you our articles along the way and our travel tips and tricks.
Warning: When visiting Turkey don’t be surprised if you fall in love with its people, its history and cuisine and you will return as one visit will never be enough.
When Do You Need To Take Out Travel Insurance
As soon as you start paying for air tickets, deposits on tours or cruises, or accommodation you need to take out travel insurance. This means that if for any reason you have to cancel you are covered from that date. Compare prices here for your journey.
Do You Need a Visa?
It is important to check whether you need a visa, use our tool below for further information.
To travel you must have at least 6 months on your passport from the end date of your proposed vacation.
Turkey Tourist Map – Our One Month Turkey Itinerary
Our one month Turkey itinerary took us from:
Bodrum (A) – distance to Fethiye 232 km
Fethiye (B) – distance to Antalya 198 km
Antalya (C) – distance to Konya 304 km
Konya (D) – distance to Cappadocia 242 km
Cappadocia (E) – distance to Selcuk 657 km
Selcuk (F) – distance to Canakkale 385 km
Canakkale (G) – distance to Istanbul 314 km
These are some of the Turkey Trip Itinerary questions we have been asked. We are frequently asked what are the best places to visit in Turkey. The answer depends on what you enjoy doing – shopping, sailing, visiting historical sites, food, markets. We love to mix it up with food, historical sites, markets and sailing.
What is a good itinerary for a 7-day vacation in Turkey?
This depends on whether you want to fly internally or take the bus.
If you want to fly I would recommend starting and ending your vacation in Istanbul. Allow 2 days on arrival, fly to Cappadocia and spend 3 days there, fly to Antalya for 2 days and then leave from Istanbul.
If you are travelling by bus: 2 days Istanbul, travel to Canakkale visit Gallipoli and Troy, spend 2 days there, bus to Selcuk for 2 days and then head back to Istanbul.
What is a good 10-day itinerary for Turkey, I want to fit in Istanbul, Izmir, Cappadocia and Antalya
Depends if you are flying or travelling by bus we would recommend Istanbul for 3 days, bus or fly to Izmir and spend 2 days, Antalya 2 days and 3 days in Cappadocia to Istanbul flight. The flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia is around 1 hour 20 minutes so you could do this journey in reverse.
This should give you a good 10 days in Turkey to give you a good feel of it and then you can plan to return and add more destinations.
Frequently Asked Questions on Travel To Turkey
Is Turkey safe to visit?
Yes, now that we have spent a month there we can honestly say it is. As a traveller, you still have to be on guard at all times whether you are in Turkey or even in your home town these days. Always be safety conscious and be confident that you know where you are going. Do not put yourself at risk.
How did we travel around Turkey?
We travelled through Turkey by bus. They were comfortable, on time and would travel the same way again.
Can you drink the water in Turkey?
You can drink the water but advice states that you may want to use bottled water to guard against upset stomachs. We believe in sustainable travel and always carry our Lifestraw Water Bottle with us so that we can lessen the use of plastic.
What is the currency in Turkey?
Turkish Lire is the official currency. You can change Euros and USD is most large cities.
Do I need a visa for Turkey?
You will need a visa for Turkey check out I-Visa for the latest information.
There are two plug types in Turkey. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and Plug type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side.
Is WiFi freely available in Turkey?
All hotels have WiFi these days, but you do need to ask whether they charge or not for the usage. There are internet cafes in large cities.
What is the best season to travel to Turkey?
Spring and Autumn are the best times to travel to Turkey. Istanbul is a busy city all year round for tourists but it can be very cold in winter and at times it can snow and hot in summer.
Cappadocia is also a year-round travel destination. In winter it can snow and can very cold. Hot Air Balloons will operate throughout the year but it does depend on the weather conditions. Ours was cancelled on the first day but able to fly the 2nd day, so if you are considering this activity allow a few days in case of weather.
The Mediterranean Coast of Turkey is perfect from Spring through to Autumn, Summer is the hottest and also the busiest with tourists.
If you are considering taking a Gulet cruise May to September is recommended.
Is Turkey a suitable country for people with disabilities to visit?
You will need to check with your hotel accommodation whether they have ramps for wheelchairs. Some of the smaller towns may not be geared up for wheelchairs. If you are considering taking a tour check with the tour operator.
What are the best travel guides for Turkey?
We are big fans of the Lonely Planet Guides. Here is their Turkey Guide available here.
What Religious Events Should I Be Aware Of:
Turkey has two major religious events and the dates do change. You will find that banks, schools and offices may close.
to celebrate the end of Ramadan there is a 3-day festival called Seker Bayram
Kurban Bayram is a 4-day feast celebrating the fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his youngest son to Allah
What is the Dress Code for Visiting Mosques?
Men: you must wear long trousers. You can wear short sleeved shirts, singlet tops are now allowed or shorts.
Women: Your hair and arms should be covered and you must wear a head scarf.
Credit cards are accepted widely. American Express and Diners Card may include a surcharge and are less accepted than Mastercard or Visa.
Public Holidays in Turkey?
1st January is New Year’s Day
23rd April is Sovereignty and Children’s Day
1st May May Day – a day we would recommend not visiting Taksim Square in Istanbul due to demonstrations
19th May Youth and Sports Day
30th August Victory Day
29th October Republic Day
You will find that on Public Holidays banks, offices and schools will close.
The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul will be closed on religious holidays and Republic Day. They are closed on Sundays.
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is open all the time.
All the museums close on Mondays.
During Ramadan cafes and restaurants will be open. Avoid walking down the streets eating or drinking.
On election days in Turkey, you will not be allowed to drink alcohol until the voting has finished.
Can I Buy A Sim Card in Turkey
You can buy a Sim Card at the airport on arrival in Turkey. It is easy to get the card on arrival as English is spoken widely at either Turkcell or Vodafone and some of the other smaller providers. If you are in smaller towns it may be more difficult for you.
Latest Flight Deals
When you travel you should always research the latest deals in air tickets a few months before your date of travel. One of our favourite travel sites is Skyscanner.
Our Top Cities To Visit in Turkey
We have included some of the best places to visit in Turkey. There are many others for us to explore. We travel slowly and one month was definitely not long enough.
Ancient Ruins in Bodrum one of the many things to do
Why Visit Bodrum
Bodrum dates back to the 7th century BC. It is located on the coastline not far from the Greek Island of Kos.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and it dates back to 350 BC.
Bodrum Castle was built in 1400 and now houses the important Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
The Amphitheatre, Bodrum’s open-air museum that was constructed between 330 and 30 BC, and seated 13,000 people. It was excavated during 1973 and now is in regular use.
Bodrum is well known for its beaches. There seems to be a different beach for each activity:
Fener Beach for watersports
Gumusluk Beach for its fish restaurants
Karaincir Beach great for small families to enjoy
Gumbet Beach is great for families and bars and cafes
Torba Beach – a little distance away and perfect for that quiet spot to chill
Kadikalesi – if you are new to watersports head to this beach
Why we chose it? Hotel Gulec had good reviews from TripAdvisor. A double room with ensuite was within our budget. There was a lovely garden area where a Turkish breakfast was served daily and Wi-Fi was provided free of charge for all guests. The hotel was centrally located in the middle of Bodrum town where there were many shops, an abundance of good restaurants and bars. Two minutes’ walk took you down to the beach area.
What was it like? We took a local taxi for the short ride to the Hotel, on reflection and with hindsight, we could have walked from the Ferry port to the Hotel. On arrival, we were greeted by the family who owned the hotel. They were really helpful and friendly and welcomed us with open arms, we felt like part of the family too. The hotel is very clean and well maintained and the garden an oasis to relax in. We had a lovely room overlooking the garden on the 2nd floor. The breakfasts were very good consisting of Turkish bread, hummus, eggs, cucumber, tomato, olives, local sauces and coffee or tea.
What was around it? Bodrum is located on a harbour, so there was an abundance of available daily boat rides to surrounding islands. There are many restaurants serving an array of fresh fish and seafood. There are many bars to choose from that front the marina and beach area. All banks and ATMs are located here in Bodrum town.
Bodrum Castle is a 7-minute walk away and there are other archaeological sites within walking distance such as Myndus Gate, the Amphitheatre and the Mausoleum which is one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Name: Hotel Vanilla, Kocek Mustafa Caddesi 1103 Sokako No 11 Calis Plaji Fethiye Turkey
Why we chose it? Fethiye was an interesting place to visit. It was a seaside town, scattered with some interesting archaeological sites and a colourful market area in the Old Town. It is popular with European retirees. TripAdvisorhad good reviews about Hotel Vanilla. Hotel Vanilla was located a block back from Calis beach and had a swimming pool and garden area for breakfast and chilling in. A double room with ensuite, breakfast and Wi-Fi was well within our budget.
What was it like? We arrived via bus and took a taxi ride to the Hotel, it did seem far away from the action. We had arrived at the end of the season and found a sleepy town ready to hibernate for the winter. The manager checked us in and showed us to a room with a balcony overlooking the pool on the second..
Worldwide Travel and AccommodationSouth America Guide
Worldwide travel has been our life since we left the comfort of our home back in Sydney Australia in 2013. We have stayed in hundreds of different types of accommodations, travelled to many cities and countries, undertaken many flights, tours and activities and written many articles to inspire others to do the same. We don’t use a travel agency but book all our travels ourselves. Our guide on South American countries is to help plan your travel itinerary. If you have any travel questions please feel free to reach out to us. We have used ‘moderate priced accommodation’ throughout South America so that it won’t blow your travel budget.
We reveal some of our top international travel tips here for you.
These days there is such an abundance of cheap flights available you need to do your research carefully to avail yourself of the cheap tickets. Always check the fine print, what is included in your airfare, you may have to pay extra for luggage, seat selection and meals especially if it is a budget carrier.
We recommend starting your search using Skyscanner which is our ‘go to’ travel site. They are also good for checking those last minute travel deals.
We have sold up everything and now travel the world with only a carry on and a day pack. Many won’t be able to do what we have done, but we would like to inspire you to see as much of the world that you can possibly see.
In our Worldwide Travel guide on South America we share with you our places to visit in South America:
where we stayed – frank reviews on each accommodation
our travel articles from that destination
travel tips and tricks
where to get cheap flights
frequently asked questions
Please bookmark our articles for future reference as we will be adding more places as we keep travelling this amazing planet of ours.
You will also need to check whether you require visas. We use iVisa for all our visa requirements.
South America Facts
South America is the 4th largest continent in size
There are 12 South American countries
There are 3 dependencies
Brazil is the largest country
Sao Paulo in Brazil is the largest city
The smallest country in South America is Suriname
The Amazon River is the longest river in South America
The highest mountain is in the Andes in Argentina – Aconcagua
The largest lake is Lake Titicaca which is shared between Peru and Bolivia
The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest area in South America
Ushuaia is the southernmost city
We can’t stress enough the importance of taking out travel insurance as soon as you pay your first deposit on a tour, flight or accommodation.
ArgentinaBuenos Aires – Tango anyone?
Buenos Aires Hotels – Our Recommendation for an Apartment
The studio apartment with balcony overlooking Buenos Aires
Name: Leonardo da Vinci Residences – Libertad 1224 Retiro Buenos Aires Argentia
Why we chose it? The Leonardo da Vinci apartments had good reviews from Tripadvisor. The cost was definitely well within our budget for a studio apartment in a good location. We had a balcony, small kitchen, cable TV, air-conditioning and the Wi-Fi was fast and efficient in the building. They have 1 and 2 bedroom apartments as well. We felt as if we were staying in the heart of Paris, this area of Buenos Aires had that European feel.
What was around it?
There was a large supermarket approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the apartment. Coffee shops and restaurants were available locally but on Good Friday most were closed. There are several banks and ATMs available. Avenida Santa Fe is a block away and provided bus transportation to most areas. We walked to all the major tourist sites and areas from here.
We chose the Chimbas Hostel Mendoza due to its ten-minute walk from the bus station. The reviews from Tripadvisor were positive and highly rated.
Facilities included a large kitchen, lounge and dining area, outdoor pool, BBQ facilities and a garden area to relax and dine in. The cost of the private room with a bathroom was within our budget. They provided breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi worked in the kitchen/dining/lounge area. There were also computers available for use.
The staff were very friendly and helpful and assisted in booking tours that they had available for guests.
All areas of the Hostel were clean and tidy. Breakfast was pastries and coffee/tea.
What was around it?
Chimbas Hostel Mendoza is an approximate 30-minute pleasant walk into the City Centre where most of the restaurants are. There is a supermarket located a block away from the bus station which is a 10-minute walk from the Hostel. The ATMs are located at the bus station.
Puerto Iguazu – a visit to the Falls is a ‘must see’
Puerto Iguazu Hotels
Swimming Pool area
Name: Iguassu Flower Garden in Puerto Iguazu Entre Rios 223, Puerto Iguazu
Why we chose it?
We struggled to find accommodation in Puerto Iguazu as it was the week leading up to Easter and most of the highly rated hostels were full.
Pro Tip: If you plan to visit this side of the Falls book early to find the price and comfort that you expect.
We were slightly shocked on arrival as it seemed more like a car park motel, all walk areas concreted and a swimming pool with little ambience. We were greeted by the nicest owners you could ever meet.
Iguassu Flower Garden Hotel accommodation ended up being one of the cleanest places we had stayed. Breakfast was included. The WiFi worked better in the office and lounge area.
It was further out of town than we would have liked, but it was in a quiet and safe neighbourhood. It took about 30 minutes to walk into town there were lots of bars and restaurants.
What was around it?
Iguassu Flower Garden Hotel is located 25- 30 minutes from town where there are supermarkets, Banks, ATMs, restaurants and bars. The bus station provides regular transport to the Falls.
Frequently Asked Questions on Travel To Argentina:
Should I learn Spanish before I travel to Argentina? We have spent over 4 months in South America including Argentina. We did take a 1-week course in Spanish in Quito Ecuador which certainly helped. We have also used the app called Duolingo which gave us the basics.
What side of the road do they drive on in Argentina? In Argentina, they drive on the right-hand side. You will need to have an International Drivers License if you want to hire a car. Low beam headlights should be kept on whilst driving during the day.
Can I take USD with me or should I get some Argentinian Pesos? We take both with us when we travel.
Are buses safe to take in Argentina? We have taken overnight buses as well as daytime buses in Argentina and they have all been very good. You just need to make sure that you keep your important travel documents on you when you travel at all times.
How far in advance should I buy bus tickets? In the peak travel periods, we recommend that you buy your tickets in advance, especially on the Patagonia routes.
Where can I see Tango in Buenos Aires? You can prebook Tango shows with optional dinner. We came across a local Tango performance when walking around San Telmo.
Is Argentina safe for travellers? We have travelled Argentina in 2013 and again in 2018 and have found that Argentina was safe as long as you take precautionary measures, as you would in every country that you visit these days.
When we found out about Bitemojo Food Tours through TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) and that they offered Bangkok food tours we jumped at the chance to join one. Bangkok is a ‘foodies heaven’ whether it is Thai street food or top end Bangkok restaurants, the city offers cuisines to suit every taste and budget. From just a few Baht to hundreds of Baht the Thai capital offers unique taste experiences for all visitors. Who doesn’t love Thai Food?
Bitemojo is different from your usual food tour. Bitemojo states “taste the world with Bitemojo a self-guided food experience with nothing but your smartphone.”
There is no guide nor tour group. You are not being rushed from one restaurant to the next. You can linger over each ‘bite’ for as long or as short as you wish. You can even stop it for the day and return next day if you need to or even at a different destination. Flexibility is the key here. Whilst you are wandering from ‘bite to bite’ you are experiencing and seeing local attractions along the way. This is your taste of Thailand food experience that you will never forget.
But what we love is that you are supporting local businesses.
Use Our Special Code: totraveltoo10 to get your special discount.
What is a Bite
A bite is a ‘dish’ at one of the local establishments along your Bitemojo tour. Each dish is a single serving and it depends on what location around the world how many ‘bites’ are included in your tour.
How Does The Bitemojo App Work
If you are on iOS or Android you download the Bitemojo app.
You choose the tour that you would like to enjoy in whichever city. You can even gift it.
Payment is easy – you can pay by your credit card or through Paypal. – Don’t forget to add our totraveltoo10 code for your discount.
Before the tour commences you will notice that your App will show that your itinerary has been loaded. You can also take their tour on the App to show you how the whole process works.
Make sure you have internet data for the tour – you only need 3G connection as a minimum
The App will guide you throughout the tour, highlighting local attractions along the way – just follow the map.
How do I Claim A Bite
Discover the area or Click to Claim the Bite
When you arrive at your establishment and connect with the staff let them know that you are on a Bitemojo tour and that you would like to claim your ‘bite’. Remember you have only 5 minutes to claim once you enable your bite. There is a code that the establishment requires from the ‘bite claim’.
You have 6 months to redeem all your ‘bites’. If you do not finish your tour in one day you can cash our your bites and use them in the future – they will turn into bite credits.
What is the BiteCredit program
Bitemojo has put together what we call a very creative program. You can earn ‘bitecredits’ by:
rating a bite that will earn you 50 bitecredits
reviewing a tour that will earn you 200 bitecredits
suggesting a bite that gets approved which you can earn 300 bitecredits
When you reach 1000 bitecredits go to ‘bitetours’ and locate where you can redeem them.
Where are Bitemojo Tours Around The World
Bitemojo are continually expanding but currently, they have Bitemojo tours in:
Use Our Special Code: totraveltoo10 to get your special discount
Our Bitemojo Experience – Bangkok Best of Vegan Food Tour
Disclosure: Our Bitemojo Bangkok Best of Vegan Food Tour was sponsored by Bitemojo. As always our opinions in this article are our own.
To Travel Too Tip
Make sure you have not eaten before you commence your tour. The word ‘bite’ could be confusing. The portions are a good size for a single serving.
The Bangkok Best of Vegan Tour includes 6 bites. We only made it to 5 of them. Our recommendation is that you start at around 12 and have the first 3 bites, return back to your hotel, come out later in the evening and conclude your next 3 bites. The last bite is available up to 8.30 pm.
Weekly Availability for the Bangkok Best of Vegan Tour:
Monday to Saturday from 10.30 am to 8.30 pm.
Sunday from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.
Starting Point for Bite #1
Sukhumvit Road in Thong Lor is the starting point for the tour close to Thong Lo BTS. Not only is Thong Lor trendy it is also known as “Nihonumura” or Japan Town. This was our first venture into this area off Sukhumvit and we were pleasantly surprised. We could definitely feel the trendy vibe around this area. We were staying about a 25-minute walk away just off Sukhumvit 22 at the Sukhumvit 22 Sleepbox.
If you have ever wanted to know what it was like to stay in a sea container we recommend that you check it out. The location was perfect for us to get to Bite #1 – Broccoli Revolution.
Bite #1 Broccoli Revolution
Zen like Broccoli Revolution
As we arrived at Broccoli Revolution we were so impressed with the decor, the vibe and the excellent menu on offer. How did we not know about this before? One of the great things about Bitemojo is uncovering local areas and great restaurants and cafes. When next in Bangkok we are definitely returning. Just writing about the ‘bite’ makes me salivate.
Baya Kway Fritters
Our first ‘bite’ was Baya Kyaw Burmese Split Pea Fritters. Baya Kyam is traditional street food from Burma that is served with a slightly spicy tamarind chilli dipping sauce. As a vegetarian, I was in seventh heaven, I did not want this experience to end. The four well-proportioned fritters contained:
sugar and salt.
The yellow split peas are soaked overnight to make the fritters.
Served with the fritters was organic coconut water which is known for its healthy properties. It is known as the ‘elixir of life that contains natural electrolytes and potassium’. If you ever have an upset stomach whilst travelling through Asia we highly recommend natural coconut water to help replace the electrolytes that you lose in the process.
We learned that Naya, the owner, had spent many years in Myanmar. Broccoli Revolution is a plant-based vegan restaurant that also offers a smoothie bar and organic cold pressed juices. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 09.00 am to 10.00 pm.
What we loved also about Broccoli Revolution is that they used natural straws made from morning glory stems. (Now, that is an innovation!)
As we headed towards our next ‘bite’ our App took us to the Sing Sing Theatre located down a tiny side street between Casa Pagoda and Quince Restaurant. The Sing Sing Theatre was closed (it was lunchtime) and we found out that it was more of an evening venue with a sunken bar and it is one of the hippest venues in Bangkok. The owner, Ashley Sutton, is an Australian designer who is now based in Bangkok and he runs other venues around Bangkok such as Iron Fairies.
As we walked along Sukhumvit we were impressed with the amount of Bangkok Street Food stalls, all very busy as it was lunchtime. On offer were everything from fresh fruit and juices to fish, chicken, curries and stir-fries. Thailand food culture is unique, each dish a mix of sweet, sour, salty and spicy and these aromas followed us as we walked.
Bite #2 – Sustaina Restaurant and Organic Shop
Sustaina Restaurant and Organic Shop
So many times we have walked down Soi 37 and have not noticed Sustaina Restaurant. Sustaina uses the very best of organic vegetables from the Harmony Life Organic farm in its innovative Japanese menu as well as wild-caught seafood. On the street level is the shop and the restaurant is on the top floor. You can purchase organic vegetables plus other products from their shop.
We love the fact the dishes are MSG free and that they pride themselves that their food will make you healthy inside and out.
Miso Soup with its excellent health benefits
Our Bite #2 was Miso Soup. Sustaina makes their Miso soup from:
miso (soybean, rice, sea salt)
organic Ume enzyme
broth (organic Ume, brown cane sugar, longan honey)
japanese spring onion
sesame tofu (soymilk, tapioca flour, white sesame paste, sea salt and ginger).
Miso Soup fights against cancer, ageing and fatigue and also is very good for the skin. A traditional Japanese meal will include Miso Soup, the main dish and 2 small side dishes. The Miso Soup is served in a traditional Japanese bowl that is made from lacquered wood. The lid keeps the heat in and you sip from the bowl. It was a tasty soup, we could definitely taste the ingredients.
As we finished our Miso Soup we headed towards our Bite #3 but not before we passed by EM Quartier Mall which is a large shopping Mall on Sukhumvit Road that was opened in March 2015. It contains many of the world’s luxury brands and boasts 8 theatres, an open-air garden on the fifth floor and 6 stories of dining terraces.
The map showed that we were heading behind Benjasiri Park. Once again, in our many visits to Bangkok, we had walked past the entry to the Park from Sukhumvit Road (in between Soi 22 and Soi 24) but there was a whole new life to explore behind the Park. Thanks, Bitemojo we were seeing places we would never have thought to explore.
Benjasiri Park is located close to Phrom Phong BTS Station and was opened in 1992. The park has an ornamental lake and is spread over 11.6 acres (47,000 m2) and is a favourite location for locals to exercise.
Bite #3 Veganerie Restaurant
Insider Veganerie Restaurant
Bangkok was hot (around 41 degrees C) the day we completed our Bitemojo Bangkok Food Tour. A welcome dish was coming up at Veganerie – vegan vanilla ice cream with berries, something light but cooling before Bite #4.
Entering Veganerie was like entering another world. Another trendy hipster restaurant serving Vegan food in the heart of Bangkok. The Bitemojo App pointed out that Veganerie ‘started from a Vegan family who wanted to share great vegan experiences.’
Their dishes are 100% created from plants and are all natural. The dishes are created for both Vegan and non-Vegans to inspire them to enjoy the health benefits of eating a more natural plant-based diet. The family advocates ‘food choices should nourish the earth as it nourishes us”.
Soy Vanilla Icecream, crumble and fresh berries
Our very yummy Bite #3 Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream with Berries was made from:
vanilla soy ice cream
whipped coconut cream
a very special vegan cookie crumble
toppings of seasonal fresh blueberries and strawberries (heaven!)
We could have stayed at Veganerie all afternoon. The atmosphere was very calming and the dishes from their menu looked delicious, but we had more food to try.
First we had to navigate one of Bangkok’s busiest intersections. The tip here is not to cross from street level from Benjasiri Park to Terminal 21 but to use the Skywalk. Originally the intersection was established to handle 35,000 cars a day but when you look down from the Skywalk you can tell that was exceeded very quickly. Apparently 100,000 + cars use this intersection. This is one of the most instagrammable spots showing the state of Bangkok’s traffic.
The Asok Interchange is where the BTS meets the subway on Sukhumvit, the longest road in Thailand.
The Skywalk moves you to the 9 storey Terminal 21 Bangkok Mall which was opened in 2011. It is definitely worth a visit. We don’t think that we have been anywhere else in the world where each floor of the Mall represents a different part of the world.
Level LG Caribbean
Level G Rome
Level M Paris
Level 1 Tokyo
Level 2 London
Level 3 Istanbul
Level 4 San Francisco
Top Floor Pier 21 Bangkok – one of the best food courts in Bangkok as well as movie theatres and a gym. We believe that on the 2nd floor there is a themed toilet that looks like the London Underground, we must visit next time.
Mays Veggie Home Restaurant is just a short walk from the intersection.
Bite #4 Mays Veggie Home Restaurant
By now we felt that we could not take another bite. We had to continue on as we were leaving for Chiang Mai the next day.
Since 2011 Mays Veggie Home Restaurant has been serving up 100% vegan cuisine. The owner and chef, May, works through the night to create her delicious vegan dishes and sauces.
Our bite #4 was not one but two dishes. If we could not finish the two dishes we could always take them away, which is what we did. We also ordered vegetarian fried spring rolls that we could take with us on our journey the next day. They were very light, full of vegetables wrapped in a crispy pastry.
Fresh Spring Rolls
#1 Vegan Appetizer Sampler
Very delicate fresh spring rolls in rice paper with a sweet and sour dipping sauce topped by roasted peanuts were delicious.
Thailand is world famous for its flavoursome cuisine.
One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai is A Chef’s Tour – Chiang Mai Food tour, especially if you are like us, and you are a fan of the freshness and flavours of Thai cooking. I (Jane) am a vegetarian and I adore Thai dishes as I get a balance of protein and vegetables that suits my diet.
Jamie Green, one of the co-founders of A Chef’s Tour, reached out to us to see if we would like to experience their popular lunchtime Chiang Mai Food Tour. Who could resist such an offer?
We were heading to Chiang Mai and we were looking at what to do in Chiang Mai once we arrived. The timing was perfect. Our tour was sponsored by A Chef’s Tour, as always, our opinions are our own.
Check out our YouTube video on our fun day out in Chiang Mai:
All About Our A Chef’s Tour – Chiang Mai Food Tour
Our Chef’s Tour was a 4-hour lunchtime tour, luckily we had no breakfast as we had heard about the amount of food that was included in the tour. Our transport around Chiang Mai was by the famous rod Daeng trucks. Not only did we get to try a lot of Chiang Mai food but we learnt about the history of Northern Thai cooking and how the Burmese influences have created a unique cuisine that is quite different from the other areas of Thailand.
Our very experienced and knowledgeable guide Moui had us hanging on every word as she spent the next 4 hours talking about what she loves to talk about the best – northern Thai food and Thai cooking.
Wat Lok Molee with its famous Chedi in the background
The tour started at 10.00 am from the Wat Lok Molee Temple at 298/1 Manee Nopparat Rd Chiang Mai. The temple’s actual construction date is not available, but it was first mentioned around 1367. We suggest you get there early, there is plenty to explore and there are some excellent photo opportunities to be had. Wat Lok Molee has one of the largest chedis in Chiang Mai. A chedi is also known as a stupa or pagoda and would have originally housed the relics of Buddha. The meeting place is at the 4 headed statue to the left of the gates on entry.
As we travelled to our first stop Moui explained about the arrival of the Chinese Muslims from Yunnan province and how they settled in Northern Thailand during the 19th century. The Burmese influence is evident in the soups, curries, and the rice and noodles that are used in the dishes. Thai cuisine is made up of spicy, sweet, sour and salty that livens up each dish that is lovingly prepared. Fittingly, our first dish is Khao Soi which arrived in Northern Thailand with the arrival of the Chinese Muslims from the Yunnan Province. Khao soi is a mix of curry spices from the Muslim cuisine combined with the noodles from Chinese cuisine. Do not confuse it with laksa! BTW we cannot get enough of Khao Soi.
Address: 6/1 Moo 3 Chiang Mai Lampang Superhighway Road T. Chang, Phueak A. Muang. Chiang Mai.
There was a choice of Khao Soi beef or chicken and for vegetarians – spring rolls.
There was four of us on the tour, and up to this stage everyone was chatting and very talkative. There was a deafening silence after the first mouthful of Khao Soi. I (Jane) being the vegetarian amongst the group, took my first bite of the spring rolls, and went aaahhh! the crispness of the spring rolls and the delicate flavours of the vegetables and the right amount of spice had me quiet as well! There were enough spring rolls to feed all four of us. I asked Duncan and the other couple in our group to describe the dish in one word – “divine, transcendent and delicious”. They all agreed that the restaurant had ‘nailed it’.
Khao means ‘rice’ and soi means ‘cut noodle in small pieces’. There is a right way to eat Khao Soi. The dish must have an added side dish of shallots and sour mustard greens. You should squeeze the lime over the dish, add the pickles and then add the shallots. Try the dish first before you add extra chilli, you may find that you do not need it. The chilli is quite spicy. The curry paste is a special sauce that is made with black cardoman from the Yunnan Province and ginger and turmeric. The crispy noodle must be light.
The restaurant has been in the hands of the same family since 1943 and this is their second location. It is very popular and we would recommend reservations be made in advance.
Stop #2 – A Chef’s Tour – Chiang Mai Food Tour
Inside Thanin Market Chiang Mai
Location of Thanin Market: 169 Ratchapakhinai Road, Tambon Chang Phueak, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai
We spent the next 2 hours in ‘foodies heaven’. The old cliches come to mind:
a never-ending assault on your senses
an explosion of sensory overload
tantalizing dishes that make an indelible impression on my mind
Moui certainly knew all the best stalls and she appeared to be like a celebrity to the owners.
The first stop was to try a Northern Thai delicacy – Saioun Sausage. Sai means ‘intestine’ and the sausage contained not only the intestine but pork meat, chilli, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, kafir lime leave and salt. The stall is open from 4 am to midnight. On a normal day 1500 sausages are sold and on a busy day 3000. Can you imagine making all those?
You will notice on the sign above the sausage seller a blue bowl – this is similiar to a Michelin Star rating. You know you are eating the ‘best of the best’.
As we passed by the ‘deep fried pork skin’ stall we stopped in amazement. The pile of sizzling pork skin was getting taller and taller by the minute, we were expecting it to topple over. Check our video out to see how it is prepared.
The boys were treated to pigs brain wrapped in banana leaves and a special dish of pork curry as we wandered down the row of all types of cooked meat and fish. The pork curry we learnt was a dish that was prepared for special events and it was accompanied by sticky rice. The sticky rice is first soaked for 3 – 4 hours, then it is cleaned and rinsed through before it is steamed for about 30 – 45 minutes. 15kg of sticky rice is made on a normal day and during the holidays 30kg is made. The sticky rice is rolled into a small ball before you dip it into the special sauce which was made with garam marsala, the sweetness of palm sugar, tamarind and sliced ginger.
“Would you like to taste deep-fried bamboo worms?” asked Moui. Once again the boys tried the deep fried worms, they definitely are an expensive delicacy costing THB2600 (USD82) per kg. They are deep fried for approximately 5 minutes. Looks like us girls are a little less adventurous when it comes to trying out new food experiences.
After tasting all these delicacies Moui motioned the group to visit a stall that sold fermented tea leaf made the from assam tea and kaffir lime. To aid digestion you chew this after every meal.
Moui showed us a pack of buffalo skin which you eat with curry or use it to dip into sauces. The buffalo skin is first boiled till it is opaque and then dried in the sunlight till it forms a texture like cake. It is then cooked on a charcoal fire. We were certainly experiencing new local dishes.
Did you know that the Portuguese bought Chilli to Thailand?
Over the next half an hour we tried the different types of basil, learnt that banana flowers aid breastfeeding, and that paksiangda (bitter greens), when used in stir fry curries, is good for diabetes. In this section of the market, it is more like a herbal pharmacy than a green market. If you have issues with blood pressure or hormonal imbalance try finger root instead of ginseng. Our mouths were exploding with flavours, sweet, sour and salty but it wasn’t till we all tried the small pepper that we found something quite powerful – an anaesthetic – it did not take us long to experience its effects. Unfortunately, it did not stop us from talking.
Deep fried silkworms
After trying deep fried bamboo worms, Duncan did not hesitate to taste the deep fried silkworms. They had a creamy texture and high in protein.
Next up was the meat section, if you are a vegetarian or a bit queasy around raw meats you may want to avoid this section. On display were all parts of pigs, chicken, and cows. If you are heading to the markets to buy seafood you will find it quite expensive as it has to travel to Chiang Mai by road.
Moui gave us the opportunity to taste century old eggs, there were salty eggs one-month-old and bright pink eggs that took our attention but when we found out that they were 3 months old we politely refused.
The market is not only a green market but it has an extensive section for cooked local dishes from vegetarian dishes to meat and chicken curries. If that is not what you fancy how about buffalo with chilli? Check our Youtube video out to see Duncan trying this local delicacy.
It is thirsty work trying all these new flavours and what a better way to quench our thirst was to try Butterfly Pea Blossom Tea and Rozelle Juice. Butterfly Pea Blossom tea has a range of health benefits from lowering your cholesterol levels, stress reducing, helps bring your fever down and it tastes wonderful and refreshing.
Rozelle Juice is refreshing and it too has specific health benefits such as it is an immune system booster, contains a range of vitamins and minerals, protects your heart and strengthens your bones.
Time for some sweetness after all the savoury. By this stage, we were struggling to eat or try anything else but we soldiered on. We tried banana cake, coconut cake, mungbean cake and even tako, a Malaysian sweetcorn and coconut milk treat and a crispy cream crepe which had an egg yolk topping over coconut meat. To finish off our dessert range we enjoyed some rambutan and the queen of fruit – the mangosteen (our favourite).
Thinking that was the end of the tour we were surprised to find that there were 2 more stops.
Stop # 3 – A Chef’s Tour – Chiang Mai Food Tour
Famous for its grilled chicken and papaya salad
We were headed to the Nimman neighbourhood, an upmarket area of Chiang Mai to try the grilled chicken and papaya salad from a popular local Chiang Mai restaurant.
Location of Kai Yang Wichernburi: Nimman Soi 11.
The restaurant is always popular and busy we found out from Moui. Along with the grilled chicken Moui order a vegetarian papaya salad which was the lightest, freshest and tastiest we have ever had. We only nibbled on the dishes and had them put in to take away containers for dinner that night.
Stop #4 – A Chef’s Tour – A Chiang Mai Food Tour
Yummy icecream from Ring The Bell!
We were thinking of pulling out of the final stop because we could not eat another thing. Moui assured us that after a short walk we would enjoy the final offering. We entered what seemed to be a private driveway and a personal home. A small verandah had a small seating area. But before entering we had to ‘ring the bell’ positioned at the left hand side of the driveway entrance.
We were in ‘icecream heaven’. Ring The Bell Icecream located at Nimman soi 5 is famous for its icecream. There is a range of yummy icecreams and it is on an honour system. You place your money in the small box provided and try and make your choice from the many flavours available.
So what was our favourite? Passionfruit for Jane and Durian for Duncan.
What a way to end one of the best food tours we have been on.
What did we think?
Chiang Mai Thailand we are in love with you! Northern Thai dishes are flavoursome, wholesome and we love the four ‘s’ that go into each dish – spicy, sweet, salty and sour. If you are hesitant about eating street food, do not be, maybe try a street food tour such as A Chef’s Tour to understand more about local cuisine. The markets have some of the best Thai food that is really tasty and good value. It is Thai cooking at it’s best.
Our thanks go to Moui for such an interesting 4 hours of learning and tasting. Thanks to A Chef’s Tour for reaching out to us. We look forward to trying more of their unique food tours around the world. At the moment they have 13 with more coming:
Chiang Mai Tour – Lunchtime food tasting tour
Singapore Tour – Off the eaten track private food tour
Bangkok Food Tour – Old market hidden street eats
Chiang Mai Tour- Northern food truck tour
Kolkata Food Tour – Private uptown food tour
Delhi Food Tour – Private old Delhi food crawl
Phuket Food Tour – Old town food tour
Bogota Food Tour – Private food feast and coffee tasting tour
Mumbai Food Tour- Private Mumbai secret street eats
Bangkok Food Tour – Backstreet food tasting tour
Yangon Food Tour – a Burmese tale food tour
Kuala Lumpur Food Tour- Old market and beyond food tour