How to get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia

How to get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations on how you can get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia.

Are you looking for a holiday destination that has a wow factor but won’t cost a fortune?

Bali is a small island in Indonesia, full of enormous opportunities for fun, relaxation, and romance. It is a very accessible and affordable destination for families, couples, groups and single backpackers.

Many travelers come here to one specific location or activity in mind, however, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy a range of unforgettable experiences.

Planning a trip to Asia? Check out posts about Thailand and Cambodia.

Live a life of luxury

Most of us love to relax by the beach, cocktail in hand while watching the waves roll slowly up onto the shore. Bali is definitely the place that you can spend an entire week (or more!) doing just that.

The added bonus is that Bali is very economic, which means that you can upgrade yourself to luxury for the same price that you would pay for a standard hotel in a major US city. Inaya Putri Bali is a 5 Star Resort with its own private beach. Located in Nusa Dua, Inaya Putri is an easy transfer from Bali Denpasar International Airport. Find out here.

kuta-bali-indonesia

Party hard but not too hard

One of the reasons that so many Australians go to Bali is that the party scene is ridiculously fun. Start your night early with a Bintang beer (to match your new Bintang tank-top) while enjoying a Nasi Goreng dinner. Then hit the nightclubs that Kuta is notorious for.

Forget dress codes and long lines, partying in Bali is made to be simple and relaxed. Everyone is in a good mood so it’s very easy to make new friends whether you are traveling in a small group or solo.

The low cost of drinks can help make your dollars go further. Just don’t overdo it, so you can still get out of bed at a reasonable hour the next day (or back up for the following night!).

a_beer_assortment_in_bali-indonesia

Immerse yourself in Balinese Culture

Have your big nights out in Kuta while still experiencing more of the island and its culture during the day. Ubud is an easy day trip from Kuta by either tour or rental car. When visiting with friends, I hired a private driver for the entire day and made up our own itinerary. Split between four people, it was very cheap and we saw everything we wanted.

Some memorable places included the Ubud Monkey Forest, Mt Batur and Titra Empul temple. We also stopped to experience Balinese dance performances, local dishes, and exotic fruits.

ubud-temple-bali-indonesia

Make time for island time

It might seem crazy to leave a beautiful island for another island getaway, however, the Gili Islands are not to be missed. Located off the neighboring island of Lombok, the Islands are made up of three small islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air.

The islands are a remote paradise with no motorized transport and complete tranquility. Also a great place for divers to get their certification.

gili-islands-bali-indonesia

All photos in this article are the were sourced from Pixabay and Wikimedia and are free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. This is a sponsored post for which I received a small payment to go towards the costs of running this website.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for how you can get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia.

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Finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand

Finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand.

There are two things that we all crave when arriving at a new destination – great food and good company. This can sometimes be difficult to find, especially if you are not familiar with the area and don’t have local contacts.

Well now there is a solution for travelers (or even locals) who are looking for a delicious meal and an opportunity to connect with others. BonAppetour is a community marketplace that connects diners with home chefs for an authentic dining experience.

Currently there are hosts in over forty countries across the world. When planning a trip you can search for a city and find a home dining experience that suits your tastes. Each listing includes details about the dining experience, menu, location and host to help you make an informed decision.

During my recent trip to Bangkok, I decided to try a Thai cooking class and meal through BonAppetour. This was a great option for me, as I was traveling solo and didn’t know anyone in the city. What followed was a fun filled afternoon of laughter, fun and delicious food.

Read on if you are looking for where to eat in Bangkok or in other destinations around the world.

Use the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” to receive 10% off your next BonAppetour experience.

Finding good food

Fresh and quality produce are essential to a great meal. Luckily the locals usually know where to go to get the best fruit and vegetables. Some BonAppetour dining experiences, like my cooking class with Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, even include a market tour.

After arriving at our meeting point, our host, Air, led the group into a nearby market. He guided us to specific stalls pointing out the produce that would be used in our meals. Our host was very passionate and knowledgeable about Thai cuisine. Sharing his culinary wisdom, Air told us what to look for in certain vegetables and what could be used as alternatives if we couldn’t find them in our home cities.

Fresh produce, Bangkok, Thailand

Meals are better shared

One of my favorite parts of this dining experience was getting to know the other diners and our host. Our group was made up of six lovely ladies (myself included) with four from the Philippines and one from Sweden. The host was Thai born and had lived in Australia during his teenage years. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s backgrounds and stories while cooking and eating together. From the first moment that I arrived, I felt very welcomed and comfortable.

Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, Thailand

Our dinner was green curry chicken, pomelo salad, hot & sour prawn soup (Tom Yum Goong) and chicken satay with peanut sauce. BonAppetour hosts will often have a set menu, which may change from day to day, so be sure to check the menu section before booking your experience.

The food at was incredible and plentiful. In fact, I could barely eat half of the four meals put in front me. Fortunately, our host provided us with bags if we wanted to take our leftovers for later. I am a big curry fan, so the Thai Green Curry was the stand out dish for me. Going around the table, it seemed like everyone had a different favorite depending on their tastes.

At the end of the day, the group departed full of smiles and warm bellies. I was happy to have had such a nice experience during my trip to Bangkok.

Eating my Thai food at Bangkok Cooking Academy


BonAppetour

Do you want to enjoy great food and connect with locals? BonAppetour provides the opportunity to “dine at homes around the world”.

And if there isn’t a host in a city near you, you can also sign up to become a host and home chef.

Use the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” to receive 10% off your next BonAppetour experience.

BonAppetour - Explore Unique Home Restaurants

I was a complimentary guest of BonAppetour, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.  

This page contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from purchases made through these links, however there is no extra cost to the reader. For more information, please read my disclaimer and privacy policy.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand. How to enjoy home dining and local hosts around the world.

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Local guide: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Local guide: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Siem Reap, Cambodia by A4A guest writer, Sam Walker.

Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.

Overview of Siem Reap

Siem Reap, affectionately known as Temple Town, is the third largest city in Cambodia. Located in the country’s north-west, it is home to many ancient temples, including Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world.

It is a town built on tourism and as cities go, it is pretty small – more like a country town. Despite the temples and the tourists Siem Reap province is one of the poorest in the country. English is widely spoken within the tourist areas but not in rural areas. Khmer people are genuinely warm and friendly and their beautiful smiles greet you everywhere you go.

Planning a trip to South East Asia? Read the top 7 things to do in Bangkok.

Top 5 places to visit

5. 60 Road

By day, 60 Road is where you go to get your temple tickets. By night, it comes alive, heaving with locals attending the market, food stalls and sideshow fun that sprout up as the sun goes down. From about 5.30pm you will find the road packed with vendors selling clothes and shoes; pop-up restaurants and a range of local foods. A variety of fun fair attractions including a rickety-looking Ferris wheel, dodgem cars and other games are great for the more adventurous.

This is not a tourist spot. In fact, it is possible you won’t see any westerners if you visit. It’s a very popular local hangout. Try and find a local to take you and the experience will be even better. 60 Road is about three or four kilometres north-east of the city centre and it’s open every night.

60 Road, Siem Reap. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Sam Walker

4. Visit the countryside

One of my favourite things to do in Siem Reap is to get out of town and into the countryside. The best way to do this is to hire a tuk tuk and ask the driver to take you in to the country for a few hours or a day. If you have a good driver he will come up with some lovely places for you to visit. Depending on the season you could see rice being planted or harvested, meet locals weaving baskets or making local treats. You could hire a bike and do this yourself but will probably get more value going with a tuk tuk driver. The price will vary depending how far you go.

Rural Siem Reap. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Sam Walker

3. War Museum/Landmine Museum

Cambodia’s recent history is tragic, brutal and raw. While many tourists don’t want to dwell on the war and its effects, these two locations help understand the tragedy that has passed and those still taking place. Each costs about US$5 to enter. You get a free guide at the war museum, where the guide’s story is often as interesting as the war information. The Landmine Museum is further out of town on the way to Banteay Srey temple but well worth a look and supports a good cause – the removal of landmines.

Landmine Museum. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Sam Walker

2. Phare, the Cambodian Circus

Phare, is by far, one of the best attractions in Cambodia. Contemporary, vibrant and energetic, it is leading the way in Cambodian arts. It’s also one of the nation’s most successful social enterprises. No animals feature in this circus. Just talented young artists telling the stories of their country, their families and their history through drama, acrobatics, music and dance. They perform eight different shows, all with a different theme and story. Tickets start from $18. For more information visit pharecircus.org.

Phare, the Cambodian Circus. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Sam Walker

1. Angkor Wat and the Angkor Archaeological Park

Siem Reap’s number one tourist attraction, Angkor Wat, dates back 900 years. This is not somewhere you come to visit for half an hour and move on. The site is huge and the history fascinating. If you can afford it, it is worth getting a guide.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Sam Walker

Many people don’t realise Angkor Wat is just one of hundreds of ancient temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park, all offering something different. You will need a temple pass to visit them. They are US$20 for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for seven days. The cost of a tuk tuk will vary depending on which temples you see and how far away they are. You must wear appropriate clothes – knees and shoulders covered.

Trees overtaking the temple at Ta Prohm, Siem Reap. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Sam Walker

Eating and drinking

Siem Reap has hundreds of restaurants featuring flavours from around the world. You can eat Khmer, English, German, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, French, vegetarian and more.

If you are on a tight budget, try a local breakfast of rice porridge for about 75 cents or the popular bai sat cherook – rice and pork for about USD $1. You will find these breakfast restaurants on most streets outside of the tourist centre. Similarly, you can get rice dishes for about US$1.50 at local restaurants for lunch and dinner. Western meals average between US$3.50 and US$8.

Fish amok and lok lak are the two most famous local dishes. Lok lak is a beef dish. You won’t find these dishes at most of the cheap, local restaurants. Noir Mart and Coffee, next to Naga Guesthouse has great coffee at good prices.

Transport

Public transport in Siem Reap is predominantly tuk tuk or moto-dop. Tuk tuks typically cost US$1.50 to US$2.00 for up to about two kilometres. Moto-dops are a motorbike taxi. They are cheaper than tuk tuks and you jump on the back of them and they’ll take you wherever you need to go. There are also plenty of places to hire bicycles if you want to do some exploring on your own. Siem Reap is flat and easy to get around.

There is apparently a metred taxi in Siem Reap but I can’t see much point in using it when tuk tuks are so readily available, affordable and easy to get around in. If you are going further afield several bus companies and mini buses operate from Siem Reap to other cities at reasonable prices. Most guesthouses can book these for you.

Accommodation

Siem Reap has an abundance of accommodation aimed at all budget levels. You can find most of them on the popular booking sites.

Many people want to stay close to Pub Street and the Old Market in the town centre. Pub Street is very touristy with pubs, clubs and restaurants along with tourist shops and boutiques. We prefer being east of the river around Wat Bo Road, which is less touristy but still an easy walk to town. The Wat Damnak area is also popular.

Please note, many places will offer you free pick-up from bus stations or the airport. Often, the tuk tuk drivers are not paid for these pick-ups, based on the expectation you will book tours with them. If you are not going to book tours with them, then please consider paying them or giving them a tip. Fuel is not cheap and their wages are very low.


A4A guest writer - Sam WalkerA4A guest writer – Sam Walker

Hi! I’m Sam, the Journo from Journo and the Joker. In April 2015 we packed up our beach life in Australia and moved to land-locked Siem Reap, Cambodia for a year, where we devoted most of our time to various volunteering pursuits, cheap food and drink and exploring this lovely country.

For more information on Siem Reap, including recommendations on where to find the best burgers in town, check out Sam’s blog – Journo and the Joker. Follow Sam at http://journoandthejoker.com/, on Facebook and Instagram.

If you would like to work with Adoration 4 Adventure, contact A4A.

All photos in this article (except the feature image and vertical pin) are the property of A4A guest writer, Sam Walker.


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Adoration 4 adventure's local guide for visitor's to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Including top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around on a budget.

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Local guide: Mysore, India

Local guide: Mysore, India

Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Mysore, India by A4A guest writer, Vyjay Rao.

Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.

Overview of Mysore

Mysore is situated in Karnataka, a southern state of India, and is about 145 kilometers from the state capital of Bangalore. Officially the city has been renamed “Mysuru” however it is still widely referred to as “Mysore”.

Mysore is steeped in rich history and culture, well-known for its palaces and the iconic festivities that take place during the festival of Dasara. The festivities are marked by royal splendour and color with brightly decorated elephants taking part in a grand procession. The main Palace of Mysore is brightly illuminated and shines like a resplendent jewel during the festivities.

Top 5 places to visit

5. Chamundi Hills

This is a hill located about 13 kilometers from the city and has an average elevation of about 3,300 ft. One can take a bus up to the summit which has a temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess called Chamundi, after whom the Hills are named. But it is more exciting and interesting to walk up the hill through an ancient stone stairway that has about 1008 steps.

On the way to the summit, one comes across a giant statue of a bull, which is 7.6 metres long and 4.9 metres tall. The bull is called Nandi and is said to be the vehicle used by the popular Hindu god Shiva. Once you reach the summit you are treated to a panoramic view of the city. In the vicinity of the temple there is a statue of a demon with a sword in one hand and a snake in the other. Legend has it that this demon named Mahishasura, symbolizing evil, was vanquished by the goddess Chamundi, symbolizing good, at this very spot.

There is no entry fee here and can be visited at anytime. However if you want to visit the temple, it is open from 7.30am to 2pm, 3.30pm to 6pm and 7.30pm to 9pm.

Chamundi Hills - Nandi. Photo credit:

4. St. Philomena’s Church

This Catholic church is one of the landmarks of Mysore. The church was built in 1936 and the architecture of the church was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. Once you are inside, you will see that it is built in the shape of a cross, with the long part of the cross being the congregation hall.

The patron saint of the church, Saint Philomena, was a Latin Catholic saint who was martyred. She was a girl, not more than 14 years old, and her remains were discovered in 1802 in Rome.

There is no entrance fee and the church is open from 5am to 6pm everyday.

Mysore St. Philomena’s Church. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.

3. Brindavan Gardens

These gardens are located near a dam built across the river Kaveri. The dam, known as Krishna Raja Sagara, is the primary source of water for both the cities of Mysore and Bangalore and was built in 1924. The gardens were completed in the year 1932 and is spread over 60 acres of land.

The garden has been landscaped in the form of three terraces and is dotted with fountains, trees, flowers and foliage of different species. The main attraction of the park is the Musical Fountains, which come to life every evening as the sun goes down. The fountains sway to the music in a kaleidoscopic display of colors.

The gardens are open from 6am to 8pm on all days. The musical fountains are operational between 6.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays and 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There is an entrance fee of 15 INR for adults and 5 INR for children between 5 to 10 years.

Mysore Brindavan Gardens. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.

2. Mysore Zoo

The official name of the zoo is Sri Chamrajendra Zoological gardens and today extends over 157 acres of land. This is one of the oldest zoos in India. The original zoo was created way back in 1892 on 10 acres of land by a German horticulturist named G.H. Krumbeigal. The zoo houses more than 164 species of animals including elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, white rhinoceros, etc.

The zoo is a fun place for a family picnic, especially for children. There is an entrance ticket of 50 INR per person on weekdays and 60 INR on weekends and public holidays. Entry for children below 5 years is free. There is a separate charge for cameras of 20 INR. The zoo is open between 8.30am to 5.30pm on all days except Wednesday when it is closed to the public.

Mysore Zoo. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.

1. Mysore Palace

With several palaces in its fold, Mysore is also known as the city of palaces. The main palace, which historically has been the seat of power and the residence of the Wodeyars-The Maharajahs of Mysore, lies close to the city centre. The palace still houses the descendants of the royal family in a section which is closed to the public.

The palace is a blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles of architecture and is a magnificent work both from the outside and the inside. It is a three story structure of gray granite with marble domes and embellished with beautifully carved and placed arches and pillars.

Mysore Palace houses two gigantic halls where the King held court and is a fascinating collection of courtyards, gardens and buildings. It takes a couple of hours to tour the palace, which has on display fascinating paintings, thrones, weapons etc., and gives a glimpse into the grand lifestyle of the Royalty of Mysore.

There is an entrance fee of 200 INR for foreigners and is open from 10am to 5.30pm everyday. Photography inside the palace is prohibited, but you can use your camera in the palace grounds. The palace is illuminated on Sundays and Public holidays between 7pm and 7.30pm.

Mysore Palace. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.

Eating and drinking

While in Mysore, you should not miss eating and drinking at ‘The Old House’. This place is a little oasis in Mysore. You will love the food and teas here. It is famous for wood fire, pizzas and coffee.

The ambiance is great. People flock here to chat and have pizzas and pastas, fresh salads, home baked cookies, coffee, fresh juices and smoothies. A bonus is that it is right next to Maya boutique, a lovely shop with herbal soaps and hair products, cotton clothes and yoga gear.

If you wish to experience a royal dining then head to the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel which is in a sprawling beautiful hall in royal, traditional style. The restaurant has a soaring 30 foot ceiling with stained glass domed skylights. Order the Royal Mysore Silver Thali, which serves various vegetables, breads and sweets on an assortment of lavish brassware. A perfect place for a fancy dining experience with the family.

Transport

Auto rickshaws (tuk tuks) can be hired on a regular or prepaid basis. Privately owned taxis and auto rickshaws are the fastest way of commuting inside the city. Though a trip to Mysore is incomplete til you take a ride in a tonga (horse carriage) here.

Renting a car or taking a cab is convenient, easy and also comfortable to roam around, although it may cost a few bucks more than an auto rickshaw.

All these forms of transport are available at the railway station as well at the bus terminus.

Accommodation

Mysore has many budget hotels with the main ones being Hotel Ginger, Hotel Paradise and Quality Inn Southern Star.

The number of luxury hotels is also quite impressive including the magnificent Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. It is one of the best heritage palace hotels in South India.

Day trips

3. Coorg

Coorg is about 120 kilometers from Mysore. One can hire a private taxi and visit Golden Temple, Cauvery Nisarga Dhama, Abbi Falls, Elephant camp and Raja Seat in Coorg.

Coorg. Mysore Brindavan Gardens. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.

2. Talakadu, Somanathpur Temple, Shivanasamudra Falls

Within a radius of 50 to 80 kilometers is Talakadu, Somanathpur Temple, and Shivanasamudra Falls. It is advisable to take this trip either during monsoon or winter seasons. Between March through May, the temperature soars to high heat. Walking in Talakadu might be tiring and even Shivanasamudra Falls will not have water gushing down.

Shivanasamudra Falls. Coorg. Mysore Brindavan Gardens. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.

1. Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebeedu

If you are a lover of art, architecture and sculpture, then do not miss a day trip to Shravanabelagola, Bellur, and Halebeedu. One can hire a private taxi.

Halebidu. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Vyjay Rao.


A4A guest writer - Vyjay RaoA4A guest writer – Vyjay Rao

Vyjay is a Management professional who is passionate about traveling and writing. Together with his partner Sandy, he travels the world. They love exploring world cultures, seas, mountains, nature, food, art, history and urban places. They set up ‘Voyager’ blog as a place to share their stories and experiences of amazing travel journeys and aim to inspire other travel lovers to see what this amazing world has to offer through their stories, videos and photos.

Follow Vyjay at http://imvoyager.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like to work with Adoration 4 Adventure, contact A4A.

All photos in this article are the property of A4A guest writer Vyjay Rao.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 adventure's local guide for visitor's to Mysore, India. Including top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around on a budget.

Have you visited Mysore or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

Local guide: Hong Kong, Asia

Local guide: Hong Kong, Asia

Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Hong Kong by A4A guest writer, Ben Zabulis.

Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.

Overview of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a territory of 1100 square km (420 square miles) and an estimated population of 7.2 million located on the south China coast. The area mixes densely populated city with countryside and numerous outlying islands.

Amidst much fanfare, the territory reverted from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Consequently a rich blend of Anglo-Sino heritage augmented by modern urban landscape, vivacious nightlife, spectacular scenery, waterways and beaches underline Hong Kong’s status as one of the world’s most visited cities.

The climate is tropical, yielding hot, humid summers, pleasant springs and autumns, but with cooler winters. English is widely spoken and the currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$).

Planning a trip to Asia? Read the local guide for visitors to Singapore.

Top 5 places to visit

5. Museums

The city has a fine collection of museums, typically Art, Science, History, Heritage, Tea, Maritime, Coastal Defence, 3D and many others. A great activity should you need to shelter from the rain or heat, most have well-appointed cafes and souvenir shops too. Admission is currently free on Wednesdays.

4. Wetland Park

Located in the northern New Territories and easily accessible by public transport, is this educational facility and world-class ecotourism attraction. Spread over 61 hectares, it showcases the diversity of the local ecosystem and conservation methods.

As well as a superb visitor centre, the park includes numerous designated walks amidst a habitat catering mainly for waterbirds. The facility has received numerous architectural, landscaping and green awards. Admission HK$30 (concessions available).

3. Festivals

You’d have to be quite unlucky to land in Hong Kong and not find at least one festival in progress! Some festivals include Chinese New Year, the summer dragon boat extravaganza, the autumnal lantern and Tai Hang Fire Dragon display. Allow yourself to be immersed by the colour, hubbub and heritage of these timeless events. No admission fees, though public transport may be required.

Tai Hang Fire Dragon Festival, Hong Kong. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Ben Zabulis

2. Outlying island trip

From the ferry piers of Central, take a ride to one of the outlying islands and indulge an entirely different pace of life! Favourites include:

  • Lamma Island: (no cars!) an artisan hangout with countryside walks and atmospheric seafood restaurants by the waterside;
  • Cheung Chau: (also no cars!) with pleasant beaches, walks, temples and quaint shopping streets;
  • Lantau: (some traffic) Hong Kong’s largest island offers golden beaches and hikes, the 34m high Tian Tan Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery (access by cable car, bus or hike. Free admission) and the ageless fishing village of Tai O built on stilts above the mud-flats (access by bus or hike. Free admission).

All such trips will offer spectacular scenery and harbour views amidst the region’s frantic maritime traffic.

Silver Mine beach, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Ben Zabulis

1. Victoria Harbour

Probably Hong Kong’s greatest asset, it’s what attracted 19th century British traders in the first place. The harbour offers the unusual quality in that it can be enjoyed from various locations and at varying times.

At waterside level there’s promenades allowing splendid views across the harbour or venture aboard the Star Ferry and get an even closer view as you journey between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Special junk trips can also be taken. Another favoured method is to ride the world-famous Peak Tram up to the Peak (396m) for a fabulous bird’s-eye panorama, which is magical after dark!

There’s also the nightly Symphony of Lights, the world’s largest permanent light and sound show utilising the skyline of Hong Kong Island as a backdrop – a spectacular way to end the day!

Junk ride, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Ben Zabulis

Eating and drinking

There’s an eclectic range of both restaurants and fare available in Hong Kong, whether it be cheap, pricey, Asian, Western, fast or Michelin starred. As eating is a national pastime here, convenience rules and there are eateries all around! Problems may arise without an English menu so a point-and-shoot approach may sometimes be needed. This can be great fun, particularly at street stalls (dai pai dong) or traditional cha chaan teng restaurants.

Generally, Western-style and Asian a-la-carte establishments are more expensive (go for set meals), though a visit to Kowloon’s Spring Deer for Peking duck or Beggar’s chicken is always a winner. Hong Kong dim sum is a must and Central’s renowned Luk Yu Tea House, an olde-worlde joint, is worthwhile though similar places exist throughout.

For quick meals on the go, spurn the ubiquitous McDonalds or KFC (HK$15-40) and eat more locally at Maxim’s, Café de Coral or Fairwood (HK$25-40 with frequent locations). All three have a great mix of affordable rice and noodle dishes as well as English menus.

Hong Kong dim sum. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Ben Zabulis

Transport

Hong Kong has efficient and cheap transport so travelling needn’t be a headache or cost the earth. The metro (MTR) lines link main areas and an extensive bus network covers every route imaginable. In some instances your transport has duality as a tourist attraction and all at a low-cost: trams (HK$2.30), Star Ferry (HK$2.50) and Peak Tram (HK$40 return). Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive (HK$22 flag fall).

Visitors should purchase an Octopus stored-value card from any transport customer service centre (HK$50 deposit + HK$100 stored value). Usable on all transport systems, taxis, some attractions and many stores it is fast and easy! Top-up at any MTR station or convenience store (7-Eleven, Circle K). When departing, return the card to a similar customer service centre for a complete refund. For over-65s, buy the ‘Elder’ Octopus card to enjoy maximum HK$2 fares on public transport (Tram HK$ 1.10, Star Ferry free).

Star Ferry, Hong Kong. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Ben Zabulis

Accommodation

A huge array exists in price and quality from multi-star luxury to backpacker budget. The Peninsula’s colonial opulence may come at a price, but arriving in a Rolls Royce Phantom does make for quite a stylish entrance. The usual classy hotel brands are also present: Holiday Inn, Hilton, Hyatt, etc. The local Regal hotels also provide a good stay. Room rates fluctuate throughout the year. The general rule of thumb is that winter is generally high-season and the summer is low-season.

If you’re happy to forgo four-star elegance, there’s bargains to be had with a growing number of comfortable budget guest houses and hostels. For those who like more basic accommodation, the Youth Hostels Association is also represented, though membership is required. Those staying at award-winning Mei Ho House will conveniently find themselves within a social-housing museum. The 1950s block was spared demolition and subsequently renovated.


Ben Zabulis. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Ben ZabulisA4A guest writer – Ben Zabulis

A student camping adventure across Europe kick-started Ben’s interest in travel, an activity gleefully applied later in life to a career in structural engineering. Work subsequently took him to Nigeria, India, Japan, Guam, USA, Singapore and Hong Kong, where he now lives as an Englishman abroad, with partner Hilary.

Follow Ben at Chartered Territory – An Engineer Abroad.

All photos in this article (except for the vertical image) are the property of A4A guest writer Ben Zabulis.


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Adoration 4 adventure's local guide for visitor's to Hong Kong. Including top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around on a budget.

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Local guide: Singapore, South East Asia

Local guide: Singapore, South East Asia

Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Singapore by A4A guest writer, Bernard Tan.

Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.

Overview of Singapore

Singapore has a land area of about 700 square km (270 square miles) and an estimated population of 5.3 million. It has been named the most expensive city in the world according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for the past two years.

Singapore, which means Lion City, received its independence on 9 August 1950. We recently celebrated our SG50. Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-religion, multi-culture country.

Planning a trip to Asia? Read the local guide for visitors to Hong Kong.

Top 5 places to visit

5. Singapore Botanic Gardens (Free)

On 4 July 2015, Botanic Garden became Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 156-years old attraction spans over 74-hectares and includes the National Orchid Garden which has over 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids on display. More than 200 orchid hybrids are named after celebrities such as Jackie Chan, and foreign dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher. Singapore’s national flower is Vanda Miss Joaquim, which is a hybrid orchid.

Tip: Visit in the morning, followed by heading to Cheong Chin Nam Road, located near Beauty World MRT, for some local delicacy. Cheong Chin Nam Road has a whole stretch of restaurants at the shop houses that are pretty budget-friendly.

4. Garden by the Bay and OCBC Skyway

Garden by the Bay was awarded TripAdvisor Singapore’s Most Reviewed Attraction in Singapore 2014, with more than 6.8 million visitors. It is Singapore’s vision to create a city in a garden. It incorporates environmental friendly solutions in the super-trees.

The OCBC Skyway (approximately $3-5 SGD) provides views of the garden and Marina Bay, including the Marina Bay Sands hotel.

Tip: Visit it in the late afternoon to evening time, and you will be amazed by the spectacular light show.

Garden by the bay, Singapore. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Bernard Tan

3. Haw Par Villa (Free)

Har Par Villa was built in 1937 by the Aw Family, who are also owners of Tiger Balm.

Haw Par Villa depicts the gruesome nature of the underworld, like the Ten Courts of Hell in Chinese mythology. The Ten Courts of Hell explains in great, gruesome detail the various tortures for each sin that is being committed.

2. Visit Chinatown & Little India (Free)

When Singapore was a British Colony, the British divided the country and placed the migrants based on their race. Chinatown was the main area for Chinese migrants that came to Singapore, and Little India was for Indians.

Tip: Shop at Mustafa at Little India if you are on a budget. It is the largest shopping mall in Singapore and has almost EVERYTHING. You can also stock up for the next leg of your trip after Singapore.

Chinatown, Singapore. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Bernard Tan

1. Sentosa

Sentosa is a man-made island near harbour front, which is at the most western part of Singapore. The island is home to many tourist attractions including Universal Studios, Madame Tussauds and the aquarium. You could purchase passes based on your needs.

Tip: Instead of crowding at the Merlion near Fullerton Hotel, I suggest that you come to Sentosa and visit the Merlion here. It is less crowded and it is bigger than the one in Fullerton area but it does not spray water from its mouth.

Universal Studios, Singapore. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Bernard Tan

Eating and drinking

To get cheap good food, go to the various hawker centres all around Singapore. When you see a stall with a queue, normally the food is pretty good. For Indian food, try the Tekka Hawker Centre in Little India.

Recommended dishes to try:

  • Chinese Food: Chicken Rice, Bak Kut Teh, Pork Satay, Laksa, Wantan Noodles, Dim Sum, Chili Crab.
  • Malay Food: Mee Rebus, Mee Soto, Nasi Lemak.
  • Indian Food: Roti Prata, Nasi Briyani, Teh-Tarik (Drink).

Dim Sum. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Bernard Tan

Transport

Singapore has one of the most cost-effective transport systems in the world.  You can literally get anywhere in Singapore by public transport. This means you can save on money, to spend on delicious local food all around Singapore.

Singaporeans usually use cash-less mode to pay for their transport, using either EZlink or NETS Flashpay cards. Both have the same function and can be bought at any Mass Rapid Transitlink (MRT) station.

Tip: Either purchase a Singapore Tourist Pass for 3-days unlimited for $30 (including $10 refundable) OR you can purchase a top-up card with a non-refundable cost of $5 for the card (top-up can be done at all the MRT Stations).

Accommodation

If you intend to stay in hotels in Singapore, accommodation can be pretty expensive. Staying in Orchard area will cost you $120 SGD or more per night for a hotel room.

In the Chinatown area, a hotel would cost $100 SGD or more per night. For budget friendly hostels in Chinatown, I would recommend 5footway inn, Adler Hostel, Wink Hostel, Istay Inn and Beary good hostel ($30 SGD per bed, per night).

The Geylang area is the red light district in Singapore and is therefore not recommended to stay there.


Bernard Tan, A4A Guest writer. Photo credit: A4A guest writer - Bernard TanA4A guest writer – Bernard Tan

Bernard Tan is a business consultant that was bitten by the travel bug. Once in a while, the itch is so bad that he needs to take a break and plan for an extensive trip. He has also recently fallen in love with traveling alone.

Follow Bernard at http://bernardthetraveller.com/ and on Facebook.

All photos in this article (excluding the vertical graphic) are the property of A4A guest writer Bernard Tan.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure's local guide for visitor's to Singapore. Including top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around on a budget.

Have you visited Singapore or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.