Top 5 Things To Do in Bangkok

1. Shop up a storm at Chatuchak Weekend Market
http://www.chatuchak.org/
Where? Chatuchak Market is adjacent to the Kamphaengpecth Station (MRT) about 5 minute walk from Mochit Skytrain (BTS) Station and Suan Chatuchak (Chatuchak Park) Station (MRT)
Why go? Spanning 27 acres, it’s one of the biggest markets in the world. The atmosphere is electric, the food is great, and if you can’t find something you want to buy, it doesn’t exist.
How long will you need? At least half a day
Cost? Depends how much you plan to buy – make sure you barter, though!

 

2. Eat up a storm on Soi 38

Where? right near BTS stop: Thonglor
Why go? Because it’s street food heaven. They all congregate there and the smell of it all is magic.
How long will you need? An hour or two
Cost? You’ll be able to get a great meal for only a few dollars – the pork and noodle dish above cost under AUD$4.00!

 

3. Then, learn to cook for yourself at BaiPai Cooking 
http://www.baipai.com/
Where? 8/91 Ngam Wongwan Road, Soi 54, Ladyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Why go? To learn to cook! The classes are fantastic, very hands on, and come with full recipes for you to take home. And once you’re done cooking in the class, you get to sit down with your classmates and eat it all!
How long will you need? A few hours, depending on your class time:
Morning Class – 09:30 – 13:30
Afternoon Class – 13:30 – 17:30
Cost? THB 2,2200 per person (around AUD$80.00

 

4. Take a boat down the river to the Wat Pho Temple complex

Where? Maharat Road, near the river. Take the Chao Phraya River Express to the Tha Thien Pier – it’ll cost under a dollar.
Why go? Because Bangkok is a crazy city, and this is the most beautiful little piece of paradise you could possibly hope to escape to 🙂
How long will you need? Half a day
Cost? Entry is THB 100 per person (around AUD$3.80)

 

5. Take a stop off at Chinatown on the boat ride back to the city

Where? Take the Chao Phraya River Express back towards the city and stop at the Ratchawong Pier. From there, walk up Ratchawong Road to Sampaeng Lane, and Yaowarat Road (Chinatown’s main street).
Why go? This is the ultimate antidote to the peace and tranquility in the temples. Chaos is an understatement, the shopping is heavy on tacky souvenirs, but the food is great and the atmosphere is insane in the best possible way!
How long will you need? Add another few hours to your half day at the Wat Pho Temple Complex
Cost? Depends on your shopping habits!

Photo Journal: Walking through Hanoi

Parts of Hanoi are tourist-friendly “big city,” while other parts, like the produce markets, are still so simple and local. There’s such a huge mix of people – tourists and locals, students and manual labourers, restaurant workers and street food vendors, and they all somehow fit together in perfect harmony…

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Photo Journal: The Yellow City of Hoi An

I read an article on Singapore Airline’s inflight magazine, SilverKris on our way to Vietnam; it featured some stunning photos by a photographer whose name I can’t now recall of Hoi An. He decided to base his photo series on the beautiful yellow shades of the city, which you can’t believe the brilliance of if you’ve never seen them.

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I may not be a professional photographer, but I know beauty when I see it, and did my best to capture the golden city through my own eyes…

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5 Ways To Make The Most Of That Layover in Kuala Lumpur

2.1** Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Traveloka, however all opinions contained herein are based on my own experience.

 

If you live in Australia and love to travel, chances are you’ve had at least one long layover in Kuala Lumpur. It’s one of the bigger gateway cities for us Aussies on our way out to the rest of the world, and when you’re travelling on a tight budget, you can often find yourself with a few hours to kill before your connecting flight on to the rest of Asia or Europe.

When we travelled to Europe several years ago, we had the option of saving a few hundred dollars on our flights, with the compromise being a 14 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur. We were already going to be ticking 5 countries over 2 continents off our list, so we figured it would be a great opportunity to see a bit of the city and add another continent to our itinerary. When we told people we planned to do this, they all told us we were crazy; the standard response is to complain about the long mandatory waits, and here we were ready to take advantage of it instead. With a bit of pre-trip organisation, it’s actually not that hard to do – here are a few tips that helped us enjoy the layover…

 

1. Book a hotel for the day
If you’ve saved significant money on your flights, the small amount of money you’ll spend by booking a hotel for the day will be more than worth it. If, like us, you’re arriving into the city around 7am and leaving after dark, having a hotel room is a godsend; you’ll have somewhere secure to store your luggage, and be able to have a shower and get changed into fresh clothes after a day out before your next flight. You can book a room in Kuala Lumpur online with Traveloka with hotels a stone’s throw from the airport from as little as AUD$20.00 for a day – that’ll save the stress of finding something when you land.

 

2. Check the booking options
Some hotels cater specifically for layover guests, like the Plaza Premium Lounge KLIA 2; they have options for stays as short as 4 hours from AUD$65.00, as well as 6 hours, 10 hour and overnight bookings. If you’re only stopping over for a few hours, you may find that you can get a better rate on a 6 hour booking rather than an overnight booking.

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3. Check out the hotel facilities
Because the more that’s included, the easier the layover will be. A lot of hotels will offer things like airport transfers, wifi, luggage storage and 24 hour reception, and they make the world of difference when you only have a short amount of time to work with. Most hotels also have multi-lingual staff who are happy to help out, so it’s worth speaking to team on the check in desk to see if there’s anything going on in the city that may cause extra delays in getting back in time for your next flight.

 

4. Public transport is your friend
It’s quick, clean, efficient, and definitely the easiest way to get around. The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) website offers some good information on how to get around using the Express Rail Link, which connects the airport to the main city centre in under half an hour. Much easier than car hire or taxis.

 

5. Be realistic
You’re only there few a few hours, so be realistic about what you’ll be able to see and do. The best bet is to pick out a couple of things close to each other, so you can enjoy a bit of time in the one area without having to rush too much. We decided to head to the Petronas Twin Towers and spent a bit of time wondering around the air conditioned shops below the towers at the Suria KLCC complex. We also took a walk around the streets nearby and relaxed with an ice cream by Symphony Lake before heading back to our hotel for a cold shower.

Tea time: Ippodo Tea, Tokyo

Ippodo Tea
Kokusai Building, 1F, 3-1-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/en/

 

It was around 9am on my last day in Tokyo, and it was raining. My plan to head back to Kagurazaka for the morning went down the drain along with the rain water; I decided to take my umbrella out and explore closer to the hotel. I ended up in the basement level of Isetan Department Store, which also, apparently, food heaven. $400 bento boxes, French baguettes, Italian cured meats, 500 different types of noodles, animal shaped cookies, the most stunningly intricate cakes… Oh, and tea, coffee, wine, sake, beer… oh my God! I settled on a gorgeous little rice lunch box and a matcha cookie sandwich, and trotted happily back out into the rain. Eating my delicious lunch on my hotel bed, I was pretty happy with the week I’d had in Tokyo. There was just one more thing I really wanted to do, and that was to visit a tea house.

Tucked away behind the main retail area of IPPODO’s store was their Tea Room; there were quite a few different green teas on offer, which all came accompanied by a traditional Kyoto sweet to compliment that specific tea (the store was originally opened in Kyoto, but another was opened in Tokyo a few years later, as well as another in New York). I’d tried matcha and gyokuro and many types of sencha before, and would have happily had any of them again, but noticed one of my favourite teas on the menu – genmaicha. It’s a unique blend of green tea and roasted brown rice. Genmaicha originated with poorer families who used to add the rice to their tea in order to make it last longer and therefore save a bit of money, as well as using it to cover up the taste of often stale tea. Properly done genmaicha is amazing; it’s got the lovely green tea taste, with the nuttiness of the roasted rice.

I enjoyed my pot, which I learnt could be re-filled up to three times if the following points were observed:
– use all of the tea provided (12g, I believe).
– use boiling water.
– pour into the pot, cover, count to 10 and then pour.
– do not let it brew longer than 10 seconds the first time, or it’ll have a bitter taste.
– empty the pot COMPLETELY into your cup – you don’t want to leave any water in there, or it’ll make the next brew bitter.
– leave the lid askew while drinking that first cup so the leaves can breathe.
– you’ll only need to count to 5 on the following refills.

And my sweet? A delicate little wafer flower filled with sweet red bean paste. Perfect match with the tea.

The teahouse itself was beautiful – simple, unassuming and very peaceful. And my tea set only cost around AUD$13.00 – it was the perfect way to end not only the night, but the entire trip.