Post by : Palav Desai (Follow on Spotted Places @Palav.Desai)

Cancun: A Tropical Narnia

A Caribbean vacation promises a bunch of exciting adventures to look forward to! Pristine beaches with waters that play out an interesting intermix of a million hues of blue, sun kissed sands, crystal clear skies, beyond perfect weather, a thousand and a half adventure sports to gorge upon, enticing bars with some of the choicest of bar wizards, groovier-than-thou nightclubs, limitless shopping options, a whole lot of tradition and history interlaced with the resort-town-vibe and so much more than meets the eye at first! But, most of all, and, rather, most noteworthy of all, is the peace of mind that emerges out of nowhere and seems to overpower all other emotional and cerebral chaos that ensues once you step foot on this surreal land!! As oxymoronic as it gets, it is just not enough to soak in all of this awesomeness into mere words!! The dreamy, uptown-funky Cancun metropolitan stands tall across the South eastern tip of Mexico, crowning the Mexican Riviera Maya with its strategic placement, and rightly so!

Never thought once how weather could affect moods really!! Methinks, it does! Majorly! And, when the sun shines bright on a cloudless day, with near-virgin white sands and sublime blue waters to add to that already perfect combination, life becomes a whole lot incandescent, what with all the sprightly spirits and the perennially positive tropical vibe! I, for one, hardly came across a frown face in Cancun! It is such a happy place with even happier people! Even the sun seems to shine a little brighter here! Although most tourists optimize their stay here across the Zona Hotelera (the essential core of the resort town dotted with everything from laid back to adventurous!), there are plenty parts in and around it that scream for attention from a traveler's curious eye, hungry soul and open heart! History agog with tales from the yore, monumentally fascinating buildings that date as far back as the 8th century, a myriad of traditional shopping nooks, adventure sports to quench every adrenaline junkie's thirst, and a culture that refuses to be bogged down by the perils of poverty and natural disasters! We fell for this delightful city real hard, and our sincerest thanks to the people out there may never be enough for the life-size-bucket of happiness that we brought back with us to cherish for a lifetime and some more! 


Indulgence is synonymous with routine in Cancun! Everything is enormously blown out of proportion! Of course, in a good way! Bottomless drink bars, never-ending food courses, impeccable service and an unbeatably soothing vibe!! No grumpy service reps, not a single 'Can't do, Sir' and no waiter/ress sans a smile! No wonder, everyone's always smiling here!! For kicks, we played this silly game where spotting a frown face would get you a point! We failed, miserably! Not that we hoped we'd find one, but in our heads I think we were just giving ourselves another reason to love this haven of happiness even more! If that were possible, that is!!

Another striking and appreciable high point of Cancun is the people at your service, and just people in general! I mean, God these people are happy to help! I've experienced luxury at handsome prices before, but these guys, really, deserve a standing ovation! Working such long, taxing and boring hours would get anyone down, but not these wonderful humans! They are just out there, on the field, like magicians fulfilling your bizarre-est of wishes! Need a pick-me-up-pinacolada right on the beach, bam! There! Towel emergency at the pool, got it covered! Need a float to laze hands on in the pool, yes ma'am! Hungry while doing absolutely nothing at the spa, well hello chips and salsa! Bored and parched out of your mind after downing 15 cocktails at the dive bar, be introduced to random cocktail concoction no. 16! Siesta plans on the beach, well, there, bed on beach!! I mean, I wouldn't have been surprised at all if they brought me a unicorn from beyond the rainbow, I swear! I exaggerate, but, well I got to get my point across and that is really the level of sincerity in their service! And, it's not always about the money! Tips and rewards aside, I think they get some sort of 'karmic' kick out of accommodating your whims and flairs! Best customer service, hands down, goes to the congenial to the core Cancun locals!


Nightlife in Cancun is nothing short of power packed action! It's eye popping, heart stirring, spine tingling and beyond! Boundless bars, hip clubs, an inexhaustible list of buffets and restaurants to choose from, countless entertainment options and never ending beach attractions! And if you're traveling with a significant other, you're in honeymoon heaven! It's an absolute paradise for romantics! After a tough day of pool-dipping, sun-bathing, beach dilly dallying, and spa-idling, warm Caribbean winds caressing tropical palms that overlook thatched cabanas, the bright blue ocean taking to the deepest shade of indigo by nightfall, and the clear, cloudless sky blessing this idyllic land of enchantment all feel like regenerative therapy to your soul! Honeymooning couples are literally spoilt rotten here, and needless to say, the quality of services offered surpasses all bars of expectations!! 


Buffets, all-you-can-eat-restaurants, bottomless bars, drinks on tap! Oh, doesn't that sound like music to your ears? That's what an all-inclusive vacation brings to the table in Cancun!! The best part, you get to walk around sans a wallet! Obviously, dollar bills come in handy for hefty tips, for who wouldn't want to reward such large-hearted people at your service! Palace resorts have a multitude of properties sprawled across all of Cancun! And, your only job is to hop onto wherever you may please and avail of the larger-than-life indulgences that they offer!! Disclaimer: Spending a week here may inadvertently cause you to subconsciously ignore actual food bills when you get back to the real world!! Also, the weighing scale may ghost you for as long as you barely recover from the rapid and massive influx of mass in your body!!


History and tropical indulgence are at a unique and spectacular confluence on one of the last preserved walled cities believed to have been built and inhabited by the Mayan civilization called Tulum!! Tulum is the literal Yucatan Mayan translation for fence, wall or trench! Located about a 130 kms away from the glam and glitter of the Cancun-ian resort town, a 2 hour ride into Tulum transports you into a glimpse of the real Mexico, the Mexico that is replete with embellished history and opulent heritage. Some of the locals here probably still live a life that may be considered primitive per recent living standards, but I think that is a good thing. Holding onto your culture is a good thing. Especially, in this fast-paced era of forgotten times and immaculate traditions of the yore! How else would one be able to pass on this rich cultural history to future generations? One, maybe two generations later, these slowly dying traditions may become obsolete, ending up never seeing the light of day, and that maybe a sad, sad day in the history of time. Holding on to history isn't bad, being insensitive to its significance in current times is. Moving forward by taking these customs into stride and evolving with them is desirable! Being trapped in the past, however, with too much pressure on dated beliefs that harm more than heal may be disagreeable!! 

When you experience something monumental during your travel, it gifts you a sense of wow, a sense of how mind blindingly pulchritudinous this universe is. And every single moment in life that you took for granted comes rushing to you, and you hope and pray that you may never end up doing that ever again! Top of the list on the modern wonders of the world, this anciently preserved (we're talking ever since the early 600 AD) site attracts millions of tourists each year, and it is almost as if witnessing vignettes of intriguing mythological history right in front of your naked eyes! Also, that explains all the 506 attempts in vain at trying to get a people-less shot, but what can you do?? It is what it is, and sometimes the understanding that people are as much entitled to every corner of the earth as you are, is much further consolidated during such times, and this feeling simply renders one more consciously accepting of the hazards of picking popular travel destinations! Nevertheless, Architectural prowess that transcends beyond conventional forms, and an eclectic blend of various styles is a sheer blessing to experience! Albeit, in the midst of a million races of people! It gives you a sense of communal harmony that breaks all barriers of racial, cultural, religious, linguistic and temperamental differences! And, if that's not what travel can accomplish for you, then what's the point of getting away to experience a different culture altogether anyway??!!

The Temple of Kukulcan greets millions of tourists at the forefront of the world-renowned Mayan ruin spread that has been preserved for centuries! El Castillo, as it is popularly referred to, stands proud at a whopping 98 feet, in obeisance of the feathered serpent God Kukulcan of the Aztecs and several other Mexican settlements! It is one of many MesoAmerican pyramids that bear stark resemblance to the Mesopotamian ziggurats, and a relatively weak similitude to the likes of the Egyptian pyramids! The stairs lead up to the actual temple structure atop, and the step formations are symbolic of the serpentine deities that predominate Aztec history, namely Kukulcan and Quetzalcoatl!! On a completely side note, if you happen to travel to Mexico during the summer months, you'd be praying you were a camel, or owned an oasis for that matter! The heat can be scorching and excruciating, and your imaginary oasis could come in handy every once in a while!! But it's all a matter of momentarily temporary endurance, for most of the agony is in your head and the beautifully beckoning beaches are always a welcoming treat after a long day of touristy shenanigans!

In my opinion, beaches are God's way of showing us all a glimpse of how paradise may look like! And when they are as spotless and pristine as the ones in the Caribbean, it feels like you owe them a charming sonnet glorifying them of their stark gorgeousness!! Frolicsome, alabastrine sands flirting with your tootsies, cerulean waters romancing your lazy and idle bodies, tropical winds breezing through and caressing your hair; clarion, cloudless skies invoking hope and optimism, golden rays of the golden sun illuminating your entire being, and an endless train of beaming faces passively but convivially socializing with you! Volumes could go down and words adorning the highest degrees of figures of speech could reach exhaustion in writing for and eulogizing the beautifully resplendent Cancunian wonderland! The legerdemain of the conspicuously clear horizon leads you into spinning yourself a fairy tale of your own!! My husband and I fell for this wonderland, hook, line and sinker! After all, our retirement plans have since been in rightful order, and yes they begin with a C and end with an N! Cancun, you have a piece of our hearts! And, we are definitely coming back for it someday!



You can reach Palav Desai here : 

Spotted Places : @Palav.Desai

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Two Days in El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina


Two Days in El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

Post by : Victoria Laroche Creux (Follow on Spotted Places @Victorias.Travels)

For the third year of my bachelor’s degree, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the year I spent there, I did some of the best trips of my life so far. One of them was a 10 days road trip to Patagonia covering both Argentina and Chile. I have so much to share about it that in this article I will only write about my two days in El Calafate with my Swedish boyfriend, Jacob.

We landed at El Calafate's tiny airport around midday, left our bags at the quite nice Hotel Kalken and went for a stroll in the city center. Despite the fact that the town was almost completely empty (by midday all the travelers are out and about discovering the beauty of the surrounding national parks). El Calafate is a very cute little town, mainly consisting of wooden houses, with a friendly atmosphere where you could feel the holidays spirit, only 10 days away from Christmas.

After a quick hamburger on the terrace of a little wooden cafe we left for our first excursion : a 2 hours horse-ride in the hills.

A small bus came to pick us up at the hotel and drove us, roughly 20 km from El Calafate, towards Cerro Frias, which is an ecological adventure park that offers a vast array of different activities within the stunning landscape.

As I am prone to vertigo and slightly frightened by horse-back riding I asked if I could have the smallest horse of the estancia. I spotted a tiny white and brown horse and asked if he could be my ride. Unfortunately, that horse belonged to our guide and instead I was offered a tall black one (suitably named Tornado). I was scared and I struggled the first minutes of the ride as Tornado, only wanted to stop to eat (maybe not such a bad partner match after all) but then the beauty of the surroundings took over. The Mountains, the turquoise lakes, the yellowness of the vast grasslands… It could not have been more perfect. I started to feel like a true gaucho in the middle of the pampas and it seemed like time and place had remained in the 19th century.

After this wonderful day we booked a table at Kau Kaleshen, a very picturesque little family restaurant and we were so glad we did. The dishes were beautifully decorated with flowers, everything homemade and delicious. My lamb was perfectly cooked and Jacob’s salmon so tasteful. The atmosphere was very welcoming and charming, and the staff very friendly. We loved everything about that place and it is now one of our favourite restaurant in both Argentina and in the world!

After a good night rest, we had a quite eventful breakfast, with about 50 retirees, which was not that peaceful and quiet as one would think. So apparently Hotel Kalken is the place to stay when you go on an elderly group tour in El Calafate. (Note to myself to remember that when I am 80.)

As soon as we finished our buffet breakfast a bus full of excited tourists picked us up. We were full of emotions during the hour bus ride to get to Los Glaciares National Park. Very excited, a bit stressed about what we had planned and so full of wonder from looking out the windows.

The first glance we got of the glacier was a couple of seconds only while our bus took a right turn on a narrow mountain road, which was enough to render us both completely amazed. We made one last stop to see the glacier from a distance with a stunning view of the Lago Argentino and then headed further into the park.

Immediately when the bus stopped we ran towards the wooden stairs and started going down to be met by the most magnificent view of Perito Moreno. It was absolutely breathtaking. Once in a while, maybe every 15 minutes or so, a piece of the glacier falls into the lake, creating dozens of icebergs floating around. The show is magnificent, the noise of the ice breaking resonates in between the mountains which is always delayed by a couple of seconds compared to the actual breakage you see.

Words do not suffice to describe that magnificent show. We felt so small taking in the view and once more felt so amazed by the profound beauty and wonder of our planet.

We then boarded on a ferry to cross the Lago Argentino and arrive on the glacier side. The boat ride took 20 minutes and the view from there was equally breathtaking, we could see the glacier from its front wall and got close enough to almost touch some of the smaller icebergs. They seemed quite small from the shore but up close they were the size of a truck floating around in the freezing water.

Once on the glacier side Jacob and I realised that we did not bring food, a mistake not committed by our more organised co-visitors, and of course once on the glacier, the lack of 7/11’s was apparent. So we would not eat for the entire day. Thankfully, one of the guides gave us an apple each so we would not hike on almost empty stomachs. But on a rare occasion such as this one, the landscape and the day was so amazing that stomach growling was easily forgotten.

We started the trekking by walking through a small forest and a rocky beach for about 20 minutes before reaching a tiny wooden shed where all the gear and crampons (those weird spiky shoes) were stored.

When we all finally got our climbing-irons on we started the hike : an hour and half trek on the glacier.

The trekking was amazing and so much fun, as we could not walk regularly with the crampons but rather in a more penguins-esque manner and it is really one of the “musts” things to do for those going to Patagonia. Looking in front of us, ice and only ice for kilometre after kilometre, since the Perito Moreno is 250 km2 and 30 kilometres long and one of the world few glaciers that is still growing!

Walking on the ice, avoiding the crevasses and the small blue lagoons was fantastic. We were aware that tourists go up on the glacier almost every day in summer but you still feel like you are the first human to step foot on it and it is wonderful. We felt like explorers discovering Antarctica (although it is a few thousands kilometres away…but the closest we ever got to the South Pole) and stepping foot on an unknown land. It was magical. Once again, I lack the words to explain how amazing that moment was, truly one of the best experience of my life so far.

I also feel proud of myself for accomplishing this challenge. Being strongly affected by vertigo, I never thought, a couple of years before that trip, that I would climb a glacier. Lets be honest, it was closer to walking than climbing and the trek is even advertised to the ageing clientele of Hotel Kalken so it is not as difficult as I make it sound. But for me it was a personal challenge and it made me feel stronger, braver and ready to take on more adventures and to continue fighting my fears.

Finally, as a reward for our efforts on the glacier, when we reached the highest point of our small trekking, after walking for about an hour on the ice, we got a little surprise : a glass of whisky, on the rocks of course.

For more information :

(prices are from December 2015 so it might have changed since)

-Hotel Kalken :

We paid approximately 80€ for a standard double room for two people with breakfast included, it was already really expensive for what it is and now the prices have gone up even more.

-Cerro Frias :, they offer horse back riding, 4x4 drives, trekkings and zip line. We paid approximately 50€ for the horse back riding including the transfer back and forth from the hotel and an 1h30 of riding. You can also pay a bit more and have lunch or dinner at their very charming little cottage.

-Restaurant Kau Kaleshen :

Reservation is preferably as it is getting more popular. It is also a hotel, fact that we wish we had known before as it is probably very nice.

-Trekking on the glacier with Hielo y Aventura :

We did the Mini Trekking, which includes the 20 minutes boat ride and 1h30 trekking on the glacier. We paid approximately 130€ for that excursion but it is so worth it.  They also have a longer trekking for the entire day, that I wish to do next time we go to Patagonia. Also, do not forget to bring food!

PS: For the entrance at Los Glaciares National Park, do not forget your student ID if you have one, it is way cheaper.  

Connect with Victoria here :

Spotted Places : @Victorias.Travels

Instagram : @victorialcrx

Blog site : Travel Tori


How to Travel Like A Boss on a Backpackers Salary

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How to Travel Like A Boss on a Backpackers Salary

Post by: Mikey J. Gleeson (Follow ob Spotted Places @Theyoyotraveller)


Spend less, travel more.

 If you're the type of traveller who doesn't mind roughing it a bit then we are going to get along just fine during the time it takes you to read this. Over the course of my travels I have found that the biggest misconception is that people think people who travel are rich. HAHA so not the case. There is this theory from people who do not travel that plane tickets and hotels are expensive and yes this may be the case if you only look at one way of doing this. If you want to fly to Paris on Emirates on Christmas Day then yes you'll be paying a hefty stash. How about try being flexible with your dates and flying on the Tuesday beforehand or try flying into a nearby city. See already I have saved you some serious spending money.


1. Be flexible

This is key. If you can afford to be flexible with your dates this will change your world (or your wallet!). If you are set on flying on Friday at 6pm then chances are so is everybody else and the price will be hefty. A great feature to check out is’s‘view month’ option and here you will see which days of that month are the cheapest to fly on. If you can be flexible with dates and locations then you can save yourself plenty of cash.


2. Land in a neighbours yard

Not literally – but try flying into a close by city to the one you desire. Generally the smaller cities can be expensive to fly into - so try the bigger ones close by. I myself refused to pay $250 to fly from Barcelona to Santorini so instead I flew into Athens for $60! (I did book ahead however). Do though keep in mind of the cost which occurs from then getting to your desired location. Also if you book two cheap flights and by the time you add up baggage and taxis, buses etc. it can sometimes be beneficial to book direct. Smaller cities and nearby cities (to major cities) do often have crazy cheap prices in a bid to get people to visit.


Also if you can avoid hotspot areas around certain times of the year – an example being Munich around Oktoberfest. Plenty people will pay anything to get there at this time of year, this I have experienced when I myself was planning to fly into Munich for Oktoberfest. Instead try flying into Berlin at less than half the cost! The best thing about this is you get to experience another city. Try taking a couple more days off and explore two cities instead of one!


3. Land vs. Man

If you can, avoid airports. As fun as they can be, flying is often the most expensive way to travel. Not only that but you need to give yourself much more time to allow for a smooth journey. Try taking a train or even better a bus. Sure it might take longer but you can save some serious coin. You also don't have to worry so much about your luggage limit. *My best tip - save a night on accommodation by getting a night bus. This is only for people like myself who can sleep through anything. I mean why waste a whole day just to be sitting staring at a highway for 8 hours. Another option is to use car sharing sites such as BlaBla Car or if you’re feeling brave hitchhike! (with care).


4. Shoelace express

My new favourite expression. I have lived by this express for some time now. It’s not always the most accessible option but if you try to stay in places where most attractions and establishments are in walking distance then you have a free ticket to the shoelace express. Not only do you get fit, save money but you also get to see sights you would never get to see if you took the metro. While walking around a city you get the best feel for it - you also get your bearings so if you happen to get lost (and if you do just go with it) then you have some idea of where you are. My trick is I load up Google maps before I leave (when I still have Wi-Fi) and keep my phone handy so I can pull up the tracker when needed. *Tip: If you load up the map prior with Wi-Fi then Google maps will still track you whilst offline. You cant search for new locations but you can follow yourself on the map.

I love getting lost in a city where I can stumble across some hidden gems - but there does come a time when pulling out that map does come in handy. So get those shoelaces tied and geared up to ride the shoelace express.


5. Eat like a local king

You may think this can't be done on a budget as usually the best dishes you walk past are costly and a tourist trap. As yummy as these dishes are that’s exactly what most of them are - tourist traps. Avoid the main squares and food places via landmarks or waterfronts as you pay for the view / location. If you walk 20 minutes down the less tourist path then you’re on your way to find a not so overpriced place to eat. Often these are smaller owned establishments where you don’t pay a hefty price but still get a delicious meal. These small eateries make you feel like your grandmas made your meal what’s even better about the low price is the fact are you eating like a true local.

Another great way to save some money on food is to go to the local store and have a DIY dinner. Treat yourself to some local fresh food without the cost of the labour.


6. Make friends

Now we all need a friend sometimes. But sometimes these friends can really help you save some coin. Meeting people can not only give you great company but there are many benefits that come with having friends. There are plenty of offers that include 2 for 1 or bring a friend for half price. This entitles you to split the bill of whatever it is you are doing and make it a little bit cheaper for both. Also learn to share, if you haven't already (see my next point). A great example of this is when booking your accommodation, say you want to stay in a hotel where you pay for the room regardless one or two people - If you share with a friend you automatically cut the cost in half. If you ever find yourself in the need of a taxi then the more people you have the cheaper the ride becomes - you’re going in the same direction anyway!



Travellers also find themselves ditching many non-needed items along their journey. You never know who you might cross paths with at the perfect time when someone can’t fit that item you need inside their bag. I myself have been on the receiving end of a few nifty items. I’ve also myself tried to give away a bottle of alcohol away in the Ibiza Airport after a long weekend out….. Fair to say everyone leaving that island probably never wanted to see alcohol again for the next 24 hours!



7. Learn to share

If you’re the type of person who needs their own space then ignore this part. If you don't mind sharing a space then this is key to saving money. Once you go from your own room to a shared dorm room you will see the cost go down. Sure you may have to put with snoring, lights on at 2am and other bedtime activities but majority of the time you won’t be in the room. If you are, you're doing this travel thing wrong. It’s a great way to meet people and sharing such a personal space with people makes you bond that bit quicker.

A lot of other things can also be shared to save on cost such as taxis, meals, admission tickets and even clothes. After all sharing is caring.


8. Find the freebies

A lot of great sights and exhibits are free if you know how to find them. Some are obvious such as natural creations and even cities like London have many free museums. But even the priced ones can sometimes be free. Some offer free entry on a specific day of the week at a certain time. Just ask the local reception or join various groups online. There are also many websites that offer discounts on entry prices and if not then most certainly book online ahead of time as you are sure to save some coin.

9. H2O is a go

Water is essential - no arguments there. We all need it. But what we don't need is to pay €3 for every bottle. The best way to avoid this is to buy one and keep hold of it. Fill it up every time you need water (make sure the check that the water is safe to drink) and stop spending all that money on water - spend it on beer! If you happen to be flying then take the empty water bottle in your bag. Once you get through security fill it up in the bathroom and avoid the daylight robbery airport prices for water.

Another trick regarding water is washing. Chances are if you take a long trip you will need to wash your clothes at some stage. Try washing certain items of clothing such as your jocks in the shower the night before and let them dry overnight, ready for you to start the day afresh.


10. Cash exchange

The best tip I can give is to not exchange your money at the first place you see, which is generally the currency exchange at the airport. Sometimes these exchanges at the airport have a good rate but it’s best to shop around. If you need to do so exchange a little amount of money and then when you get into the centre of the city try shopping around for a better deal.

Try withdrawing cash from the ATM’s (firstly get a travel card) as they tend to have lower rates. If you need cash straight away use a taxi and ask the driver to take you to an ATM on your way from the airport. Alternatively you may be lucky and meet some other travellers who are trying to get rid of the currency you need.

If you are wanting to avoid getting ripped off with exchange rates and know how much your money is worth – download the XE Currency app and load up the currency while you have Wi-Fi.

So what are you waiting for? Use all that money you have now saved and spend it on something more valuable; travelling for longer.

Save travels,



Connect with Mikey here:

Spotted Places : @theyoyotraveller

Instagram         : @theyoyotraveller

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Hiking at Bukit Keluang


Hiking at Bukit Keluang

Post by : Aditi Shukla (Follow on Spotted Places @Lyf&Spice). This post first appeared on Lyf&Spice.

Of hops, jumps and scenic views

 Hik-hik- hike

Hik-hik- hike

Hiking in my beautiful city

What is the best park of a hike? To me, it’s the unpredictability. I love the uncertainty associated with every hiking trail. You never know what’s in store for you. The kind of scenery, beautiful scapes, changing valour of the breeze and rhythmically drifting aromas of nature, the splash of the ocean… all work in perfect harmony with each other.

I have been gathering stories and experiences at the city I am currently living in – Kota Bharu, Malaysia. Not many of you have heard about it, and some find it very reserved and laid back. However, if you live here, you know it is a food haven and offers lots of outdoorsy activities. With the promise of writing more on this wonderful city and surrounding areas, I begin my first travel piece of the city with a hiking adventure I had over the weekend with my friend.

 Can you spot the hill?

Can you spot the hill?

About Bukit Keluang

This one’s from the weekend. My friend had been asking me to accompany her for a while, and we finally made it. The hill, Bukit Keluang is also called Bat Hill as it was earlier inhabited by bats. Though you don’t really find them anymore, the climb is worth every aching muscle.

  • The hill is in Terengganu, but closer to Kota Bharu, further up the Kuala Besut jetty and fishing village.
  • You can watch the sun rise or set from the top of the hill. They offer equally gorgeous views.
  • It takes approximately 60-80 minutes to complete the hike, if you stop at intervals or take a break for rest or water.
  • There are a lot of street food hawkers. Enjoy some road-side snacks or picnic by the beach.
  • There is nothing to eat or drink up there. Carry your own bottles of water and snacks.
  • A number of resorts and chalets can be found nearby.

Locals love chilling here on their days off. The beach keeps them engaged as does the food scene. Indulge in street-side takoyaki, sea food delights and fritters, as you sip on some chilled tender coconut water or iced cold syrupy beverages.

 Lots of hawkers across the road as well

Lots of hawkers across the road as well

 Park.. and get started

Park.. and get started

The hiking trails

Before I begin, I would like to add a disclaimer – I am not into very difficult hiking. With moderate fitness levels, I hike as much as I can in every trail possible. What I term as tough might be moderate/ moderate to tough for regular hikers and trekkers.

There are two trails leading to the hill top, one of which is moderate and the other moderate to tough.

  • A flight of steep steps leads to the hiking trail. This is bang opposite the public toilet at the main beach area, right next to the street hawkers. The hike starts on a rather steep note, with immense roots and stones to hop and jump over. There are strong ropes tied to the trees. You can hold on to them for support. Watch out for the rumbling stones. The best way is to put your body weight on the ropes to pull yourself/step up.
 A flight of steps leads you to the main trail

A flight of steps leads you to the main trail

 The 1st encounter – with roots and ropes…

The 1st encounter – with roots and ropes…

  • After about 10 minutes, the path loosens out to a relatively moderate climb. You don’t need ropes anymore (and there aren’t any either ;)). You will experience a whiff of cool breeze from the sea side. Stop by for a quick peep at the ocean below and check out the motor boats and ferries heading to Perhentian Islands.
  • The path now becomes easy to hike and is set along a loosely-paved trail.
 Peak-a-boo moment uphill

Peak-a-boo moment uphill

  • Reach the tip to unleash the best view ever! It’s like a trip to paradise in the blink of an eye. You will forget your aches and pains at that very instance. To me, the surrounding islands of Terengganu (Perhentian islands and the other smaller ones along South China Sea) are the best islands in the world. The changing hues of the ocean are quite a sight, and the crystal clear waters allow you to see the rocks submerged in them. The rippling effect of the emerald green and turquoise tints serves as a tonic to the eyes.
 Such a gorgeous view

Such a gorgeous view

This view made me fall in LOVE all over again – an experience that is etched in my memory…

 The nearly transparent water teasing us with its changing hues

The nearly transparent water teasing us with its changing hues

 I could live right here, in the moment, forever and always

I could live right here, in the moment, forever and always

  • You can relax at the hut uphill, made for hikers taking a break. Follow the route on the right hand side, with a signage and pointer to different locations, to continue your downward journey. The downward hike is not difficult. It heads down to the other side, away from the beach and the hustle bustle of food hawkers.
 Hike – hike- hike – BREAK – hike – hike – Hike

Hike – hike- hike – BREAK – hike – hike – Hike

  • Walk towards the right for about half a kilometre, till you join the beach area again.
  • This downward route, could be used as an alternate trail to climb uphill. If you want a fairly easy hike, use this route to go up and down Bukit Keluang.

What was your best hiking experience like? Where did you hike? Tell us all about it. We’d love to hear!

 Always waiting to hear your stories… 

Always waiting to hear your stories… 

You can connect with Aditi here :

Spotted Places: @Lyf&Spice

Blog site:  Lyf&Spice

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Germany: A Week Long Itinerary to Munich


Germany: A Week Long Itinerary to Munich

Post by: Mayuri Kashyap (Follow on Spotted Places @Tosomeplacenew)

München, the Bavarian capital of Germany was our first European destination. The spring of 2017 was a great time to set foot into Europe and capture the unforgettable memories throughout Central Europe.

This post is all about our Munich Itinerary and all the fun we had in exploring in and around this historic city.

The Run-down:

  • Germany is part of the European Union, hence you will need a Schengen Visa to enter the country, if you do not belong to visa exempt countries
  • Euro currency is accepted throughout the country
  • There are tons of options for day trips from Munich ~ Salzburg, Nuremburg, Berlin, Neuschwanstein (Fussen) and Linderhof, Rothenburg, Harburg, Dacau to name a few
  • Very efficient transit system – S Bahn and U Bahn (surface and underground subway systems). Tickets available from stations. Options for single trips and day passes (Day passes are for groups 2-5 and can be used until 6:00 am the next day for all zones and lines.)
  • Hotel Options: Staying closer to Munich Central Station/Hauptbahnhof or Marienplatz/Mary’s Square will be a good option to commute to major sight seeing areas.
  • The city has pay-toilets (washrooms). Charges are 50 cent to 1 Euro.

Day 1

My husband and I had a big grin on our faces when we started for the airport to board our flight to Munich.  We boarded a Lufthansa/Air Canada flight from Montreal to Munich (with a flying time of 7.5 hours) and arrived in the morning.

Day 2:

Munich Arrival: We touch-downed Munich at 9:40 am. Customs and immigration was a breeze. Show your visa, record the finger scans and you are good to go!

Arriving early gave us the entire day to explore the new city! We had a quick breakfast stop and then took the S-Bahn (subway) to arrive to the heart of the city – Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central Station) and then Marienplatz (Mary’s Square). It took us 50 minutes to arrive from the airport to Marienplatz.

We had arranged for a free walking tour from Sandeman New Europe tours in the afternoon. Marienplatz is the city’s oldest square. Many historical events (since the Thirty Year Wars) began or were started at this square.

 Heart of Munich, Marienplatz

Heart of Munich, Marienplatz

The subway takes you to the square and when you exit the transit area you are welcomed by Gothic- historical buildings all around you. There are government buildings and city halls in the vicinity. You will have tons of options for food and souvenirs in this area.

 Marienplatz- Old City Hall

Marienplatz- Old City Hall

So we spent the afternoon, listening to Munich’s history and walking through the lanes of Bavarian kings and their residences. Within walking distance, is Odeonplatz (also one of the transit/subway stations). Odeonplatz has traditionally been an important site for parades and public events, including the annual parade to the OktoberfestBavarian Residenz and Bavarian State Opera building is located on Max-Joseph-Platz, near to Marienplatz.

We also visited the St Peter’s Church, which is the oldest recorded parish church in Munich and presumably the originating point for the whole cityThe parish church is 91 meters high and is known as “Alter Peter” or Old Pete. You can get stunning views of Marienplatz and the Munich city from its observation towers. Entry to the tower is 3 Euros.

We spent our entire afternoon in the old square and its neighboring lanes and marketplace before checking in to our hotel, late in the evening.

We stayed at the NH Messe Munchen Hotel. Although not a central location, this hotel was good and easily accessible to subway stations. 20 minutes from the hotel, was the famous “English Garden“, an large urban park with waterfalls, beautiful gardens, Chinese tower, open air theater, etc. This park is open all year round and is one of the largest in Europe.

Day 3

Our 3rd day in Munich started with an early breakfast at 7:00 am as we planned to do a day trip to Nuremberg. Most hotel breakfast had buffet options with sausage and cheese platters. And varieties of bread and loaf and pastries. Yum! We never had so much cheese in our entire lives like we did in our maiden trip to Europe 

Munich to Nuremberg, by road is about 2 hours. You can reach Nuremberg by train in about an hour. There are many options for day tours available to Nuremberg with different itinerary options from various local tour operators.

Nuremberg is the second largest city of Bavaria, after Munich.

Nuremberg, pictured above, with the river Pegnitz and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal. You can view this as soon as you enter the centrum.

Nuremberg is often referred to as having been the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Holy Roman Empire. Its in these imperial castles that the administration affairs of the Diet/Reichstag was discussed.  Nuremberg soon became a hustling trade route and many guilds were established.

Nuremberg Castle, a group of medieval fortified buildings, is worth exploring. This castle, together with the city walls, is considered to be one of Europe’s most formidable medieval fortifications.It represented the power and importance of the Holy Roman Empire and the outstanding role of the Imperial City of Nuremberg.

 ‘Church of our Lady”,Nuremberg

‘Church of our Lady”,Nuremberg

Pictured above is the “Church of Our Lady” (Frauenkirche), with the main market place. The church is an example of brick work in Gothic style architecture.

We spent our day in the city browsing through the marketplace and the beautiful lanes of Nuremberg.

Day 4

On day 4, we decided to move to a central place for our accommodation. We stayed at the TRYP Munchen Hotel for the next few nights to explore the city further. This hotel was closer to the Central Munich Station.

Today we decided to do something different. We wanted to visit a concentration camp. We arranged for a guided tour to the Dacau (Concentration Camp) Memorial Site.

 Dacau – Memorial Site

Dacau – Memorial Site

Central Munich Station to Dacau is about 25 minutes by train. There are bus services available that takes you to the memorial site. Our tour guide was from Radius Tours (35 CAD per person). You can spend anywhere from 4 to 6 hours in the memorial site. There are different sections, museums, documentary show viewing in the site. I will be writing a blog post on our visit to the memorial site very soon.

Its one of the things we have heard and read about, but to see it in person is a whole different experience. The future generation inherits the stories of this horrific place. But NEVER AGAIN

Day 5

Our 5th day in Munich began a little differently from the day before. Today we had planned to drive through the Romantic Road, visit tiny Bavarian villages and arrive to the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle (in Fussen)

We drove through the villages in a van, accompanied by our local guide Mario. Mario himself had visited 50 countries, which is so incredible! This drive through was arranged through Pure Bavarian Tours (Mario S is the tour owner and operator) for 65 Euros per person.

 One of the many beautiful villages we drove by

One of the many beautiful villages we drove by

There are many options for day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle. We chose this itinerary as we were able to utilize the entire day in exploring the romantic road that also included a UNESCO hertiage site of Pilgrimage Church of Wies. We visited a cheese farm, had cheese for lunch and enjoyed the Bavarian Alps. What an incredible day!

Day 6:

Our 6th day was low profile. We strolled through the streets of Munich, capturing the arrival of spring.

Late in the evening, we proceeded to Marienplatz again to bid farewell to this beautiful city.

That night, we opted for a traditional Bavarian dinner at Haxnbauer. Here is their website

Not that we didn’t have schnitzels or beer on other nights, but this was special. The restaurant is part of a historical building, the Scholastikahaus, which was historically documented in the 14th century. The restaurant is big, with lovely interiors.

Day 7:

With fondest memories of our first Europe trip, we returned home on our 7th day. Staying in a central location, we could use the local S/U Bahn to reach the airport. It cost us 12 Euros per person for the transit trip. (50 minutes from Central Station)

Flughafen München, is a major international airport near Munich and is the second busiest airport in Germany in terms of passenger traffic. It serves as the secondary hub for Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners like Air Canada. The airport has a ‘Visitors Park’ which includes a ‘Visitors Hill’, from which a good view of the westerly aircraft apron and Terminal 1 can be obtained, as well as a restaurant and a shop for aircraft models and other collectors’ items.

There is an open shopping arena between 2 terminals called the Munich Airport Center. The older area, which was built as part of Terminal 1, has a shopping mall and the S-Bahn station. The newer area built with Terminal 2 is a large outdoor area with a partly transparent tent-like roof.

We love spending time at airports too  I think its that feeling of “fernweh” (an ache for distant places; the crave for travel), especially when you see an aircraft taking off.  The feeling of moving to distant places, of wander and joy.

And with that feeling, we boarded our flight back home – Air Canada from Munich to Toronto.

Until next time,

Guten Tag Munchen

You can connect with Mayuri here :

Spotted Places: @Tosomeplacenew

Blog site:  Tosomeplacenew

Instagram:  @Tosomeplacenew  


Iceland: The Ultimate Road Trip


Iceland: The Ultimate Road Trip

Post By: Victoria Waller (Follow on Spotted Places @VenturewithV)

When you think about Iceland what would typically come to your mind?  You may probably think about a country completely covered in ice (hence the name obviously).  However, contrary to popular belief Iceland is actually filled with more green pastures and hidden waterfalls than ice, and in four days I was determined to see them all.  Now you’re probably thinking, “How do you plan on seeing all of the amazing sites Iceland has to offer in less than a week?”  Well, I defiantly wouldn’t have been able to see it all by booking daily group tours or by sleeping in one hotel the entire time.  No, I had to be mobile to get the most out of my short vacation.  The thought of spending at least $400 on a four night stay at a hotel, plus the cost of transportation, tour guides, excursions, meals and the ultimate cost of my time drove me insane.  Why pay for a hotel when I wouldn’t even be in it for 90% of the day?  Why spend money on a time restricted guided tour when I can guide myself and take as long as I want?  Especially considering that during most guided tours you are advised to stay, follow and leave with the group, what if I wanted to stay longer or explore a different area?  Can you see my dilemma?  I knew that there was a more affordable way to see all of Iceland without breaking my pockets.

Hence the ultimate road trip began with booking a camping van for less than I would have paid for a hotel plus a rental car through Camper Van Iceland.  My home on wheels included wifi, two sleeping bags, a blanket, a large mattress, lawn chairs, a prefilled water tank, cutlery, a mini gas tank, and any essential you can think of to accommodate an ultimate camping experience.   

Day 1 included a quick operational tutorial of my mobile home then on to my first site—Hallgrímskirkja, a modern cathedral with oddly amazing architecture.   From there I headed to get an aril view of Reykjavík at the National Museum of Iceland.  After marveling at the breathtaking landscape it was time to head to the main attraction of the day, The Golden Circle; which includes three major landmarks in Ϸingvellir National Park.  The Golden Circle is about a 147-mile route near Reykjavík, and the three major landmarks include:

  1. Ϸingvellir—a series of rifts in the earth, glacier water and several waterfalls

  2. Geysir—several geysers ranging in sizes erupting every 5-7 minutes.  

  3. Gullfoss—a  massive waterfall which is often covered by a rainbow

The great thing about camping and living on wheels is that you can literally sleep anywhere, which is what I did after my exhausting adventure filled day.  I grabbed a pizza and parked on the side of the road near a peaceful lake and was knocked out.

 Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park

Day 2 started bright and early with me returning to Ϸingvellir National Park so I could go snorkeling in the Silfra.  Now what exactly is the Silfra you might ask?  Well it is the fissure between the North American and Eurasian continents that’s submerged below freezing glacier water!  Through I booked the once in a life time diving experience.  *Disclosure, this was the only guided tour I booked for the entire trip.* Nevertheless, this tour was completely worth every penny.  The tour guides were very friendly, hospitable, and knowledgeable about the history of Iceland and the Silfra.

 Silfra from Above

Silfra from Above

After warming up from my freezing yet awesome swim I was back on the road driving straight down Route 1, with no scheduled plans or any time constraints hindering me, just the open road ahead.  Along Route 1 I made several stops to hike up waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skόgafoss.  

After I finished hunting waterfalls, I turned my search to find a DC-3 airplane crash.  Not too far between Skόgafoss and the town of Vík in a remote location called Sόlheimasandur is where I found the plane crash.  There is a yellow sign with the locations name as well as a short rickety bridge and a fence/gate off to the right hand side, that’s where you park and start walking.  After walking about 2.5 miles on Sόlheimasandur’s black sand beach or what seemed more like a never ending black desert I finally reached the iconic crash.  

 Airplane Crash Site

Airplane Crash Site

The hike to the crash and back was exhausting but with 24-hour daylight I couldn’t resist driving further down Route 1 to see what else I could find.  Day 2 ended with a short visit to Dyrhόlaey, a hillside mountain with incredible views of Reynisfjara’s black sand beaches.  Because Icelandic summers experience 24 hours’ worth of daylight it was hard to bring myself to stop exploring and actually go to sleep; however, I finally ended up at a campsite in Vík to lie down and get some rest.

 Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Day 3 I was on a mission, a mission to get to the famous Jӧkulsarlόn glacier lagoon that was featured in a James Bond film then back to Reykjavík.  The drive from Vík to the lagoon seemed to take hours, probably because along the way I made a pit stop at Hvannadalshnúkur, the highest peak in Iceland to hike up a few glaciers.  Eventually I did stumble upon the side of the lake unknowing that the main entrance was only a short distance away.  I took a break from the long drive to sit on the black sand and count all the seals I could find.

 Gljurafrafoss Hidden Waterfall

Gljurafrafoss Hidden Waterfall

Considering that it was still day light when I made my way back to Reykjavik I decide to make a few more pit stops.  While passing back through Vík I stopped at Reynisfjara to climb the stone pillars that align the mountain side of the beach.  When passing by Seljalandsfoss to my surprise after stumbling upon a subtle cave I found what I considered to be the most incredible waterfall I’ve seen during my entire trip, Gljúfrafoss.   



Day 4 ended with me touring the outside of the famous Blue Lagoon.  I wasn’t too keen on spending money to actually go inside and go swimming but outside of the main entrance there are smaller pools of the small therapeutic water which you’re able to put your feet in.  Thank goodness, the Blue Lagoon isn’t too far from the airport, because right after my visit I headed back to return my mobile home then hopped on my flight to head back to Washington D.C.  I had four full days of driving and exploring, stopping when I wanted to stop and going where I wanted to go. This had to have been the ultimate road trip.


Where to find Victoria:

Spotted Places: @VenturewithV


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How to Plan Southeast Asia For Under $1500


How to Plan Southeast Asia For Under $1500

Post By : Joelle Riding (Follow on Spotted Places @ridingaroundtheglobe)

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness, never bought a plane ticket.”

Southeast Asia is everything you would imagine and more. It’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s chaotic, it’s tranquil; it was better than I had even anticipated. My senior year of college my friends and I decided to plan a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia as our last big adventure before entering the “real world”. We checked out a couple tour companies to see what they offered and were baffled when we saw most of them offering 10 Day Tour Packages for around $3000. Lol no thanks. We decided to tackle all the planning on our own and I’m here to show you how we did it and how you can do it too!


Step One: Book Main Flight

With sites like Google Flights and SkyScanner, you can snag some seriously great deals. We wanted to go to Asia after graduation around the end of May so we started browsing flights three or four months beforehand. (Remember to try to search for flights on a Tuesday, in a private browser, and explore your options on Google Flights with their price calendar) In February, we found a flight from Chicago to Bangkok, returning from Singapore to Chicago, for $729, for three weeks. Hollllla. $729 might sticker shock you (as it did me) but this is where it comes in handy to have a credit card. Credit cards can be a slippery slope but if you’re smart about them, they are life savers when it comes to traveling. I have a CapitalOne QuickSilver card that I was able to put the flight on and not only get cash back, but it also allowed me to pay off the flight little by little instead of all at once. Cause as a college student, I did not have that kind of cash just lying around..

We had our arrival and departure dates and so next step: deciding where to divide our three weeks between!

Step Two: Deciding Where To Go

Southeast Asia has soooo many beautiful places to see, we felt kind of overwhelmed when it came to deciding where to go. Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, the options are endless. This is where a little research and advice comes in. (I will admit this took a good chunk of time and where most people get discouraged when planning a trip on their own. I personally could spend hours looking up places to go and things to see, but I realize it’s not for everyone! If you feel totally lost, find an itinerary on someone’s blog and tweak it to make it your own) I looked up “Top Southeast Asia Destinations” on Pinterest, browsed blogs that had backpacked SE Asia, talked to friends who had done it before, and made a list of the places they recommended. We found that most of the places we wanted to see were in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia but we didn’t want to cram too much into a small amount of time so after discussing, we decided on Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore!

In Thailand, due to personal preferences, we chose to see Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and the Phi Phi Islands. Bangkok for the temples and to see the main city of Thailand, Chiang Mai for a less hectic city and to play with elephants, Phuket as a place to explore a bit before taking the ferry to Phi Phi, and the islands because who doesn’t want to take a longtail boat ride in the crystal blue waters of paradise?  

Vietnam has three main cities; Hanoi in the north, Hoi An in the center, and Saigon in the south, which makes it a popular country to tour from top to bottom. I wish we had spent more time in Vietnam because it was one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited but since we really wanted to see Ha Long Bay, we chose to land in Hanoi and spend a few days there instead of doing a whole trek of Vietnam. I’ve heard great things about Saigon and am sad I missed it but it gives me a reason to go back ;)


Since our flight was out of Singapore, we dedicated a couple days to explore the “cleanest city in the world”. Beware, it’s an expensive city so if you’re really on a budget, I would either try to spend no more than a couple days here or flying out of another city.

IMG_4303 (Edited).JPG

Honorable mentions: This was my first Asia trip and my friend’s first solo international trip so we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew. If I had to do the trip differently, I would have spent less time in Chiang Mai, skipped Phuket, spent more time in Vietnam and maybe added a week to try to incorporate Laos and Indonesia. There were so many mind blowing places I wanted to see in these two countries but since we were short on time, we didn’t get the chance to go. Laos and Indonesia are way more outdoorsy and cheap to travel but when choosing countries to visit, it’s all about your personal preferences! Big cities, beaches, mountains, rice fields, whatever you want to see, Asia’s got it.

Step Three: Book Transportation

Europe has Ryanair, Asia has AirAsia. We wanted to have all our transportation and accommodation booked before we left but this isn’t absolutely necessary! AirAsia is extremely cheap and you can usually get cheap flights whether you book a month in advance or a day. But to ease our worries, we went ahead and booked everything before we left that way we at least had an idea of when we were arriving and leaving. Below is our itinerary:

May 17th Arrive in Bangkok

May 19th Leave Bangkok at 22:00 on sleeper train to Chiang Mai and arrive 12:00 $34

***It’s impossible to bypass Bangkok with flights. For example, Chiang Mai to Bangkok, Bangkok to Hanoi was cheaper than a direct flight from Chiang Mai to Hanoi

May 23rd Leave Chiang Mai, Arrive Bangkok at 14:50 $45. Leave Bangkok, Arrive Hanoi at 20:55 $55

Ha Long Bay 2 day 1 night cruise (booked through hostel when we arrived) $125

May 27th Leave Hanoi, Arrive Bangkok 10:50 $18. Leave Bangkok, Arrive Phuket 14:00 $37

June 1st Ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi Islands $6 (booked day of)

Island Longtail Boat Tour (Half Day) $40 (book when you get to Phi Phi)

June 5th Ferry from Phi Phi to Phuket $6. Leave Phuket, Arrive Singapore 15:30 $50

June 8th Leave Singapore to go back to US

Step Four: Book Accommodation

I’m usually a “hostel or nothing” girl but it is worth checking out Airbnb for Asia because you can find villas or penthouses for the same price as a nice hostel in Europe. Below is where we stayed:

Bangkok: D Hostel ($15 a night)

Chiang Mai: Airbnb  (split between 4 of us, $50 each for 3 nights)

Hanoi: Tomodachi House ($8 a night)

Phuket: Westin Resort (We knew somebody who knew somebody and landed 5 nights for free)

Phi Phi Islands: Blanco Beach Hostel ($12 a night)

Step Five: Research What You Want To Do!

As always, this step is optional depending on what type of traveler you are. I know some people who plan nothing and figure it out when they land and I know people who plan everything to the hour. I personally like to do a mix of both since I like to keep room for serendipity but I also want to be sure not to miss the main sights. Look at Tripadvisor, Pinterest, Lonely Planet, Blogs, Travel Groups, and any other resources you can think for ideas!


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Pizza, Pasta, Pronto - My trip through Italy


Pizza, Pasta, Pronto - My trip through Italy

Post by : Lisa Gransow (Follow on Spotted Places @letsbeadventures)

6 a.m. – Airport Berlin SXF.
It should be the beginning of something great, of something new. The beginning of an unforgettable journey with my best friend. It should be.

We planned our trip for weeks, we were both looking forward to it but everything changed from one minute to another.

I was left at the airport utterly alone. My friend canceled the trip and went back home.
Really confused and tired I had to decide what to do. Should I go alone or should I also cancel my trip? It would be the first time travelling alone through a foreign country for a longer time.

Finally, I did it! And it was the best decision of my life.

I want to show you the beauty of Europe – the beauty of Italy and also the passion for travelling alone which I discovered.

You could visit Italy for months but I only had three and a half weeks.

There are so many lively cities, university cities, mountains, the sea, islands and lot of other hot spots.

My journey started in Milan, going on to Bergamo, Bologna, further on to Firenze, Perugia, of course Rome and last but not least Naples.

I will give you a little report about two cities which inspired me the most. Can you already guess which?

Admitting that it was a really hard decision because at least every city had its own charm but finally I have chosen Bologna and Naples.

Here we go!


It was a short term decision to go to Bologna instead of Venice and I am really happy about it.

Bologna is an university city with the oldest university in continuous operation, founded in 1088. The city is also famous for its towers. From originally 180 towers are only 40 existing today.

Bologna gives you a special feeling, Bologna is different, Bologna is not Spaghetti Bolognese.
I felt like being back in time – back in the 16th Century. Old buildings and high towers mixed with young and kind people – the best opportunity to meet someone.

I had the pleasure to meet students from Austria, Italy and even Germany and it was not like here in Germany going to one bar and than to one club, no, we went from bar to bar, everywhere happy people. A lot of people (especially students of course) and all were full of joy. So do not hesitate about writing in an Erasmus group on Facebook – I never had so many messages in 24 hours what to do and what to see in Bologna, about nightlife and invitations to home-parties. A great and funny experience which I do not want to miss.

The welcoming was kind and the goodbye was tough. I envied every lucky (Erasmus-) student in Bologna – an old city for young people.

Despite the lack of sleep sightseeing was not to be missed. I have chosen the ‘soft’ version and took the ‘San Luca Express’ a little tram which brought me through the city and even to the Basilika that gave the tram its name – the Basilika of San Luca. Next to the big church there were four kilometers of arch transitions which were built by monks.
A lot of people use it for sports, they climb the stairs even more than two times up and down and I used it for enjoying the view over Bologna because San Luca is over the city on the top of a mountain. Take your time and your breath when walking those four kilometers in spiritually and sweaty atmosphere.

Back in town you do not have to miss the Piazza Maggiore and you will not miss it because it is the main square in Bologna. From here you can reach every sight by feet.
Another thing that I learned in Bologna is the ‘Aperitivo’. Aperitivo is sociable eating and drinking at a bar or little restaurant. It starts around 7 o’clock pm and if you buy one drink for 8€ to 12€ you will get a food buffet for free. If you already have tried every kind of Italian Pizza and Pasta you should try Apperitivo!

Wanderlust? Let’s go to Bologna! You will love it.

 Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore


I recognized that I had reached the south of Italy. Naples is the third biggest city in Italy but it is really different to the two other big cities Milan and Rome.

Because of travelling by train the first impression of a city was always the same – a main train station. It became interesting when I had to look how to get to the hostel. In Naples I had chosen a taxi. My taxi driver looked like a Spanish Eminem who listened only to Spanish songs like Despacito. It was hot, dirty, loud and I felt the rhythm of Despacito ( Song by Luis Fonsi).

Naples was my imagination of Cuba. It had this special kind of Latino character. Even Naples is a bit more dilapidated than other big Italian cities it is full of life. Furthermore Naples is not that touristic as Rome or Milan. You can calm down from tourist shops, tourist groups and photoholics.

Maybe you will see a German ship cruise group because Naples is by the sea. So why not going on your own little ship cruise? There are two big ports where you can take a ferry and escape from city bustle.

My first recommendation when you are in Naples: visit an island. In Naples you have no real beach in the city center so take a ferry to Capri, Procida or Ischia. Spontaneously I decided to go to Procida and what did I found? A little island with colorful houses, little ports and dark sand beaches because of volcanic rock. It was the first time that I felt relaxed. If you are in hurry this is the perfect place for some feel-good hours.

Back in Naples you have to taste the best ice cream of the city: Casa Infante will give you a new ice cream experience. If you have chosen your flavors take your cup and go for a walk through the district of Vomero (can be reached by metro, stop ‘Vanvitelli’). Here you have a wonderful view over Naples and to the Vesuvius – one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world.

And here is my next recommendation: climb the top of the Vesuvius – and do not take the tourist bus. Too expensive and too touristic. Take the public transportation. It will bring you almost to the crater of Vesuvius but you have to climb the last kilometer by feet. This takes around 20 minutes and a lot of sweat but you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view.

  left: view to the Vesuvius, right: view from Vesuvius

left: view to the Vesuvius, right: view from Vesuvius

Last but not least every journey comes to an end and here is my happy end – my last recommendation. You HAVE to visit an old Italian theatre. Whether it is the Teatro alla Scala in Milan or the Teatro San Carlo in Naples – you will feel like Alice in Wonderland. This was the play I watched in the Teatro San Carlo. The most inspiring aspect is the beautiful building. From the outside you cannot guess what you will see inside. I will give you a little sneak peek but you have to try it by yourself. I do not promise too much.

Naples is like a dirty man after a long, hot party night, and it is worth a visit because of its diversity – seas, volcanos, islands, culture, big city life, underground catacombs and so many other things that you cannot discover in only three days. I will come back Naples!

Furthermore do not hesitate about the Italian Mafia. I felt safe and sound in every Italian city, also in Naples. Maybe some travel guides say that Naples is one of the most dangerous cities in Italy but I never had any fear, quite the reverse!, I perceived the Italian as temperamentally, lively and warm people who make good food and ice cream.

After short three and a half weeks I was not afraid of travelling alone any longer. I always had fun travelling and exploring new places but travelling alone gives you the opportunity to meet people and see places from another view and not from the typical touristic one. You start living differently, acting more kindly and open-mindedly. I started understanding what it means to be far away from home and I lost my heart in Italy. Beautiful Italy with its variety and life full of joy is the perfect country even for a short term stay or a long term stay – it is your decision.

And do not forget – Italians speak with their hands.


Where to find Lisa :

SpottedPlaces : @letsbeadventures

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A Dublin Spring


A Dublin Spring

Post by: Rebekah Abigail Dobbs (Follow on Spotted Places @Miss_Venturous)

Top 15 bars, pubs & clubs in Dublin


The travel bug bite

In the first week of February, I embarked on a cross-Atlantic voyage for two months that quickly became more than just a trip to experience a new trade; it became an unexpected opportunity to make friends and learn about centuries of the culture surrounding the alcohol industry from countries around the world.

Little ‘Miss Venturous’

As a young Alaskan girl who spent most of her teen years on the central coast of California, a few months in Washington and then moved to Oregon for a few years to make wine; it wasn’t the craziest of notions that I wanted to travel away from the West Coast.  I’ve been all around the US for the most part, to Canada, and to Mexico, but I got bit by the travel bug the first time I opened a National Graphic magazine as a kid and that feeling is never going to fade.

The best month so far

Traveling to the Republic of Ireland was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Between working odd jobs in restaurants and cash handling positions to making wine and hard cider, I knew that I wanted to progress to a vocation that utilized both my years of customer service and fed my interest in the alcohol industry.

Why travel for a vocational school?

In a time where a four-year degree doesn’t guarantee you a job, and the world is full of uncertainties, it can be a huge financial risk to travel for work, education or even just a vacation.  But, there are some age-old trades that never go out of style.

Bartending on the rise

As an aspiring world traveler, I like to work wherever I find myself so that I can continue to fund my ongoing adventure.  Bartending is a field full of opportunity around the world that is surrounded by great vibes and excellent times!  Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for bartenders is expected to grow by 10% (faster than average) between now and 2024 in the United States alone.

Finding the right one

The European Bartender School was a diamond in the rough. I initially was considering learning how to distil whiskey when an advertisement for EBS popped up on my browser.  Walking around Dublin you would’ve been pressed for luck if you were hoping to just stumble upon it walking down the street.  However, local bartenders and bar owners alike were very familiar with the school, and are happy to hire its graduates.  Located on the south side of the Liffey, the “Dublin Bar Academy” is a local branch of EBS (European Bartender School).  The instructors there: Calum, Stevie, and Richard are a witty, hilarious, and knowledgeable trio.  Through side-courses like the 4-hour long whiskey, scotch, and bourbon lecture and tasting at the Institute of Fermentation and Distillation, to a 6-hour long Craft Brew tasting and lecture, a day with EBS never disappoints!  There were pub-crawls, daily cocktail tastings, tours of Tullamore D.E.W. and the Guinness Storehouse with so much more.

 European Bartender School at the Dublin Bar Academy class of March 2017

European Bartender School at the Dublin Bar Academy class of March 2017

Living in Dublin

While in Dublin, I stayed with 26 fellow students at the Abbey Court Hostel. These extra-stellar individuals quickly became like family. We lived together, ate together, drank together, and studied together; and even cried a bit together in a McDonalds on O’Connell street when we had to say our goodbyes.

I was asked shortly upon my return by a dear friend which bars and restaurants he should visit and where he should stay in Dublin, I quickly replied with a list of at least 50 bars alone and realized that I was truly diving into my northern European roots and staying “Irish Hydrated” throughout pretty much the whole two months I lived in Dublin.  Here’s a leaner version of my bar list of some amazing spots to check out in the city next time you find yourself there:

Top 15 Bars, Pubs & Clubs in Dublin

Small club and pub combination, great DJ’s and good vibes.  This place is always full of young Dubliners looking to have a funky time.  The small dance floor, outdoor smoking area (which makes up almost half of Workmans) lets you cool off after getting your groove on.

Absolutely dripping with ambiance, 37 Dawson St.  has unique walls of art, delicious food, and truly wonderful cocktails. (Especially their Mary Pickfords and Amaretto Sours)

Do you like sushi, signature cocktails, and an underground vibe?  Then Izakaya is your new favorite bar.  With top DJs every night you’ll feel like you’re in the know in a VIP way when you walk into this Japanese gem.

Rock n’ roll downstairs, Hip-Hop on the ground level dancefloor, and club music upstairs makes the Academy one of the most musically versatile clubs in the city.  With lines down the block it can be daunting to get in, but once inside it’ll be worth the wait. As you groove with beautiful men and women covered in glitter, you’ll gaze upwards to see circus-esque dancers above on the top balcony with hoola-hoops and poi.

They also have live music and tickets can be purchased in advance online.  I highly recommend getting yourself in the Academy to see Rodrigo y Gabriella on Sunday the 16 of July!

Located right next door the Abbey Court Hostel, O’Connell’s draws in young adventurers from around the world.  Go on by if you’d like to catch a match, have some fries and a pint, or meet up with some friends. They’re open with live music on most nights with Karaoke on Friday nights!

Shortly after arriving in Dublin I found myself walking through JW Sweetman’s doors for my first true Irish draft Guinness. I couldn’t have picked a better place to stumble into to kick off my adventure in Dublin. As the only microbrewery and craft brew combination bar in the city, they make themselves stand out from the rest.  If you get lost on your way, walk along the Liffey to the Heineken HQ off O’Connell street and you’ll be right next door.

Exclusive. Refined. Secret rendezvous. Late night soiree. No matter what you’re into you’ll love this.  Come ring VCC’s doorbell to step into the world of ‘silent movie starlets, cocktails and gourmet cuisine’.

Downstairs when you first walk in the door you’ll be in awe at their sky-high shelf of alcohol.  The backlit illumination makes it quite a sight.  “Farrier & Draper is a slick spot for the savvy drinker”. When you climb the stairs, you’ll find two Georgian style rooms that are open till the early AM with DJ’s playing every weekend.  The history behind this venue originates from the “Farriers” who were half veterinarian, half blacksmith, who worked for the aristocrats in the House of Draper (Clothing Producers) over 140 years ago.

 Aaron Rowe @Aaronrowemusic  (Check The Mezz Bar on Spotted Places app)

Killer live bands almost every night at this true dive bar made The Mezz one of my main hangout spots while living in Dublin.  With bras hanging off the back bar, dart boards, and an alley-way smoke spot, there’s a homey carefree vibe that surrounds this small pub.  When you are at the bar, ask for Slim.  He’ll keep you in the know about the after-hours bar life in downtown Dublin and the other hidden gems not mentioned here.

We had a resident bartender and mixologist from KOH come to lecture about Mixology over the course of our last two days, which included roughly 10-12 hours total of class-time.  At KOH, they craft their cocktails from beginning to end.  From infused sugar syrups to chocolate infused cognac they can do it all.  Their atmosphere and their food, as well as their killer cocktails, make them an excellent selection for any night out on the town.

If you like drag queens, dancing, karaoke and good times then The George is your new favorite place! With great brews on tap and a traditional club vibe, it’s an extraordinary place to hit with some friends some late Friday or Saturday night.

The George opened in 1985, making it one of Irelands oldest gay club, and provided a safe and fun place to have a good time; which remains true to this day.

Their pulled pork sandwich is heavenly; craft brews are on point and you can sit in a saddle-stool or chill in one of their picnic-style tables.  Perfect place to wander into for a pint and a bite on any given afternoon.

A bar, restaurant, café, nightclub and a tourist attraction make ‘The Church’ a holy all-in-one destination.  Award winning mixologists, live music, and Irish dancing contribute to this venues’ traditionalism as well as their modern twist. The Cellar Late Bar & Club within The Church is home to some of Dublin’s top DJ’s and photographers. Finally, after everything else they offer, they also have Dublin’s largest Beer Garden.

Located just across the Liffey from The Abbey Court Hostel, The Mercantile made a perfect late night stop for a signature cocktail and classic Irish cuisine.  The bar embodies Nineteenth century Dublin and “is the former workplace of Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses.  It was in Ulysses that Bloom was employed by Wisdom Hely of Hely & Co Ltd which was situated where the current Mercantile Bar & Hotel now resides.”

As part of the European Bartender School course, we had the opportunity to not only learn how to pour a “proper” Guinness but receive an industry tour along with free pints up top at the Gravity Bar.  With beautiful 360 degrees of historic and modern buildings of Downtown Dublin, you won’t get a better view than on the 7th floor of the Guinness Storehouse.


You can connect with Rebekah Abigail Dobbs here:

Spotted Places: Miss_Venturous





6 Ways to Save Money While Traveling


6 Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Post by: Jake Allegro (Follow on Spotted Places @jake.allegro)

It’s something every world traveler thinks about; how do you save those extra few dollars or euros while out there on the road? Well, it can be hard to do, especially if you’re trying to see every single attraction a city has to offer. However, there are a few ways you can save some cash throughout your travel adventure:

1. Hostels are a travelers Best Friend

Yes, it isn’t the most glamourous living situation, I mean who really wants to sleep in a room with ten other people? Well, if you’re truly a dedicated traveler, then chances are you’ve already experienced “Hostel Life” in all its glory, with the snoring roommates, the late-night party-ers, or just the loud and chatty bunkmate. That being said though, staying in a hostel can be a major benefit to your trip as well. You’ll typically meet cool, like-minded people, who are all looking to do the same too. Plus, with the money you save on a hotel, you can go out and experience more of the food, or nightlife, or whatever you’d like to see while visiting your country of choice.

All and all, hostels are a 50/50 shot. You’ll either win the lottery and be up all night with new friends, drinking and laughing the night away, or you’ll be up all night because the guy in bunk next to you snores like a chainsaw. Either way, you’ll have a story to tell.

2. Cook your own food!

Look, everyone dreams of going on the amazing tour through the city of Paris or Rome or Tokyo and eating all the amazing food from all the top-of-the-line restaurants, but chances are unless you’re Anthony Bourdain, you can’t afford to do so. So how do you get the same experience without the cost? Buy your own food from a local grocer and cook it yourself! All the same dishes you see at those fancy restaurants can be bought and made at home for half the cost. Walk down to the local Sainsbury’s or Tesco or whatever the local market is in the area, and buy the ingredients you need. You’ll feel the pleasure of knowing you made something great all while saving those all-important extra pennies!

And if it all goes wrong, and you end up burning the dish, or overcooking the chicken or whatever the problem may be, at least at the end of the day you’ll have a story to tell!

3. A Free Museum is Better than a £20 Museum

Yes, I know you want to go into The Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, but there are ways to do so without paying the ridiculous entrance fee. They have student days and on Sundays it’s free entry, so why not wait the two or three extra days to see it? That way you can take the euros you save and spend them on a few beers that night at the pub.

This isn’t confided to Paris either, lots of cities across the world will have museums with Student Days for a discounted rate, or even free admission one day a week. Granted, those days will probably be the busiest, but if it saves you the extra quid and you don’t mind a crowd why not wait it out. The Mona Lisa will look the same on a Sunday as it does every other day, well that is unless someone doesn’t steal it first!

4. Couchsurfing is a Great way to make new friends

If you haven’t heard of it yet, well now you know; there is a service out there called “Couchsurfing” where people open their homes to travelers for a free night’s stay. You may have to help out with cooking dinner or with a few chores around the house, but it’s honestly one of the coolest ways to meet new people in a country you’ve never visited. Often times, the hosts will be just as excited to have someone staying with them as the “Couch surfer” is to have a place to stay.

Couchsurfing is not just a way of avoiding paying for a hotel or hostel though, if you’re going to use the service you must be friendly and interactive with your host(s). Help cook dinner, engage in conversation, treat them to a drink after the meal, it’s all about broadening the global traveler community, and negative energy will not be tolerated.

A fun story from one of my own Couchsurfing experience, I was in Paris for a week, but I had not booked a place to stay. I thought upon arrival that I’d be able to just walk into a hostel and grab a bunk, but as chance would have it everywhere was booked up solid. Even most of the cheap hotels had no room to spare, so I turned to this new app I had downloaded called “Couchsurfing”. I opened it up created an account, and posted a notice that I was a traveler who had just come from the UK and was in need of a place to stay for just a night or two until a room in a hostel opened up. I waited a little while, walking around the streets of Paris as the sun started to go down. Finally, a notification popped up on my phone that someone had responded to my “plea for help”. It was three Brazilians who were living in a small apartment in Paris at the time; they said we should meet at a nearby market and then we’d head back to their place.

After a short walk, I ended up finding them in the streets of the outdoor market, were we proceeded to buy supplies for dinner that night. We went back to their apartment, cooked a delicious and fresh mushroom risotto (together) and then spent the night laughing and telling stories from all our travels. I actually ended up staying with them the whole time I was in Paris, and we’re still good friends to this day! So see, you never know what can come from a Couchsurfing experience!

5. Take local transportation

It can be a daring thought, going to a new country and jumping on their local transportation without really knowing how to use it, but it’s honestly one of the best ways to get to know a new city. Think about it: if you know how to get from the City Centre of Barcelona to La Sagrada Familia, you’ll feel much more comfortable in the city itself than if you have to ask every person for directions. Also, if you’re with a tour group or tour company who cover all your travel for you, you’re much less likely to go out on your own and experience parts of the city the tour doesn’t show you.

At the end of the day, the local transportation is what all the LOCALS are using! It’ll get you where you need to go, while helping you to look (at least a little bit) lees like a tourist in the process. And isn’t that really what we all want? To look comfortable enough in a city we’ve never actually been to?

6. Make friends with the locals

There’s no secret that no matter where you go in the world, the best people to ask for recommendations are the locals. They’re the ones who will be able to tell you about cool restaurants and bars to visit, or interesting sights to see. And once you know where the locals go, you can avoid all the tourist traps that are out there! Living like a local in any country is much preferred to living like a tourist.

Plus, locals will tell you all about the hidden destinations to visit; when I was in Toronto this past December, it was two local bartenders who gave me all the recommendations on where to eat, what to see, and most importantly where to get cheap drinks! That advice alone probably ended up saving me quite a pretty penny on the trip as a whole, and it was something that wasn’t even planned from the start! Getting to know the locals in any city will open up doors to see what the city or country is really like, and if you can do that all while saving money, well then that’s just a win-win.

Hopefully you can take at least a few of these tips and put them to good use. It doesn’t take much effort to save a few extra dollars throughout your travel adventure, and at the end of the trip you’ll be glad you did! And while some of these tips may not work in every city you visit, at least you know now how to (try) to save some money on your next big journey!

Carpe Diem Amigos and Bon Voyage!

Where to find Jake:

Spotted Places: @jake.allegro








First things first - Montreal to Quebec


First things first - Montreal to Quebec

Post by: Nicole Peters  (Follow her on Spotted Places @Nicole22 )

2017 is the year of firsts for me. I moved across the country, which was also my first time moving, my first flight alone and my first time attending university as a visiting student learning a new language. The plan for my new journey was to fly to Montreal, where I would spend a few days and catch a train from Montreal to Quebec in order to attend my orientation session. Surprisingly I was not afraid of this, yet incredibly excited for this new chapter in my life.

While in Montreal, I explored the city for the first time as a solo traveler. Montreal, in general, is a safe city, but coming from a small town in B.C., the idea of being alone in such a big city was frightening. With much thanks to Google maps, I managed my way around, and found interesting spots that I would normally not have visited, including the Café des Arts, in the Bonsecours Market, next to the Old Port. I felt so free without a time limit; I had the ability to do whatever I pleased. I used the metro to my advantage, starting from Berri-Uqam, the main hub in Montreal, to Lionel Groulx to Peel, visiting and walking past site after site. Place Jacques-Cartier is an excellent street with dozens of tourist shops that sell neat souvenirs from Montreal.

Having been to Montreal in the summer and now the winter, I had thought that hiking Mont Royal would have been a great way to see the whole city. Since I grew up in B.C., I had no idea about the snow here. It took me double the amount of the time to walk to Mont Royal. So when I had reached the top, it was close to 4 pm. Therefore, the sun was dropping quickly and so was the temperature, but the stubborn part of me won and I started climbing the long upward trail. Less and less people were around me, but thankfully, I made it to the top before it became completely dark. Regardless of my poor planning, the view was worth the treacherous hike to the top.

Luckily, I had previously visited the province of Quebec, which included the city I had now moved to, Quebec City, so I had a basic understanding of the layout.  All of that information was lost in my mind as I focused on moving into my apartment for the upcoming months and letting the taxi driver know the right address to drop me off. Being completely disoriented, I tried to use Google maps to walk to the nearest Wal-Mart; however, after an hour of walking the same streets, I took a taxi to and from there, in order to purchase bedding and food.

One the day of the orientation for my program, I was given a map of the campus, but in no way was I able to use it to find my way. Luckily there were students heading to the same area, so I followed and managed to find the place I was supposed to check in. There were many international students in the program I was, so we exchanged our contact information so that we could help each other out exploring and conquering the city. That afternoon, I walked around campus and found my way to and from the buildings. I returned back to my room later and called my friends back home to update them.

The first day of courses was finally here, and after just looking around the campus for one day, I was still lost. I managed to find a would-be classmate when I was asking for directions, which was very encouraging and so we spent the day learning about each other’s journey’s of getting to Quebec. After my class, I was shown how to get to the closest market to buy my groceries, instead of paying for a taxi to and from the mall. During the next few weeks, I took in all the information about the city that I could.

The thing that was most challenging for me was learning the bus system. I have my car back home, so I never used the public transportation, so when becoming dependant on it was something I had forgotten to be prepared for. I had no idea where each bus was going, and which side of the street I should be on, however, the bussing in Quebec is easy to learn. The routes head for downtown or the old city, depending on the side of the street. I found that the app called “transit” is helpful for using the public transportation. It works based on your location, so it can use it anywhere in the world. Just type in the destination, whether it’s a stop, address or rough location, it will direct you to the closest buses that are going to that area. It will also keep you alerted to know when to get off the bus as well!

The first two weeks after my move were challenging, but I managed to adapt and soon I became confident in going about the city and cooking my own meals, although I am not anywhere close to a good cook. I learned to find some delicious, yet student-budget friendly places to eat, including Âllo Mon Coco, which is located in the Boulevard Laurier, serving huge, delicious breakfast meals that can last you for a few days easily. Another amazing place to eat is Cacao 70, which serves as a chocolate specialty restaurant; the “3 Chocolate” Chocolate Fondue is unbelievable. It is also located in the same area as Âllo Mon Coco, but two malls over, roughly a 5-minute walk, in Place Sainte-Foy.

Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app

Quebec City, being the tourist city that it is, has many sites to see, so I have yet to complete my checklist of things to do and see here, even though my time is coming to an end. There are hundreds of cafés to choose from, however my favourite is the Starbucks closest to my place, which is a perfect place for me to complete all my homework for the week. Another good place to go is Nektar Cafélogue, which has the best hot chocolate! It is a little bit farther away, but it is worth the trip to try it out. There are also plenty of historical monuments, being that the city is over 400 years old and that it was a major player in the Seven Years’ War. There are cannon monuments in the upper and lower village, statues of Gandhi, Champlain, Churchill and many other important historical political figures.

A walk in the walled city of Quebec is also a must, especially since the infamous Chateau Frontenac is located there. Something to also consider when traveling to Quebec, is that the winter months here are beautiful, however, it is imperative to be extremely cautious, as the snow is often covering layers of ice, so the ground is exceptionally slippery. Also consider, that most of the city is located on hills therefore it is a good idea to be extra cautious in general. To get to the Chateau by driving, you can follow the street Grande Allée, where there is pay parking available on both sides of the street. After parking, just continue walking straight down the road until the Chateau Frontenac comes into view. It should be at the end of the road. By bus, the easiest route is to take the 800 or 801 to the D’Youville stop. After getting off at the D’Youville stop, take a walk down Rue St. Jean past the tourist shops until reaching the Chateau at the end of the street.

Looking for another adventure, I decided to try out Dog Sledding when my parents were visiting. There are many companies here that offer the same experience. We set out to Lévis, which is a thirty-minute drive out to the other side of the St. Lawrence River, where the Aventure Plein Air Inukshuk is located. It was a once in a lifetime experience and everyone in our group had fun. The guides make sure the dogs are well behaved, so there is no need to worry about that part of the activity and just enjoy your time spent in the wilderness.

Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app

I have only been on my own for a few months now, but the knowledge I have gained will last me a lifetime. Not only have I learned so much about traveling and the French language, which was the reason I moved out here, but I have also learned so much about who I am and who I want to be in the future. Having been a shy person in the past, I now have started to speak up and share my own stories. Through traveling by myself, I have learned to look at life from a broader perspective because at the end of the day, that is what life is about; to learn, to express and to experience the world and all it has to offer.           

Where you can find Nicole:


Penguins and Whales and Seals... Oh My!

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Penguins and Whales and Seals... Oh My!

Our Cruise to the End of the Earth

Post by: Dani and Riv (Follow them on Spotted Places @DykeTales)

When we started to plan our trip to South America Dani casually dropped into the conversation that she wanted to go to Antarctica if we were going to be that close (who knew 1000 kilometers was close). Now those of you who know us will know that Dani is 100% in charge of the budget and I do the planning. Every so often she throws me a planning curveball that makes me cringe but to date I have yet to be unable to make something work with the budget she gives me. Originally I looked into the 10 day cruises from Ushuaia, Argentina and discovered they can reach $10,000 USD per person. I knew she had her heart set on it but we could travel for a year (or longer in some parts of the world) on what it would cost for the 2 of us. More research revealed that you could book last minute cruises if you made it down to Ushuaia and patiently waited for available spaces on cruises that had disembarked from Buenos Aires. I found it very difficult however to find any information more up to date than 2010. People who had done the pilgrimage in 2010 were getting cruises as cheap as $3000 USD, which seemed manageable. This however turned out to be very old information.
Closer to our trip to South America I did a little more research and came across information from the summer season 2015/16. This stated that due to the increase in popularity of internet bookings the savings you could get by showing up in Ushuaia were no longer worth it when you factored in the cost of staying in Ushuaia and prices of the cruises were no longer as drastically low (having now been to Ushuaia we can now confirm that there are not as many tour agencies offering trips and the cheapest we found were $5,000 USD for the 10 day and $7,000 USD for the 7 day + flight; both leaving within 2 weeks). It was also during this research that I discovered a 21-day cruise starting in Valparaiso going via Patagonia, Antarctica and the Falklands to Buenos Aires. The major difference between this cruise and the 10 day is that you only cruise around you don't step foot in Antarctica but the cost of this cruise was only $3,500 AUD including tax per person and we have learned that this price dropped even further after we booked.

We're aware that for many of you reading this not stepping foot on Antarctica would be enough to put you off, for others it might be the thought being a backpacker on a cruise ship. We can tell you that if you can't afford the 10-day trip this is worth every cent.

Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app

The first 2 stops on this cruise are pretty pointless and there isn't much going on unless you've done your research into what there is to see out side of town. The cruise excursions are prohibitively expensive (and often not worth the money) so see if you can negotiate a good price with a taxi driver at the port. For the same trip people on the ship paid over $130 USD for, friends of ours got for $40 USD per person. At the next port friends got a 4-hour tour for $14 USD per person when excursions were going for hundreds. We did however book an excursion into Patagonia in Chacabuco. Despite having a wonderful day with the people we were with, we were disappointed to find out what we got for $200 USD. Admittedly this was a private park that you cannot enter without a guide and the trip included alcohol, a traditional lunch and folk dancing, however we had booked this for it's Patagonian experience and what it was a 2km amble along a boardwalk, through the bush, missing a lot of what the local area has to offer.

 Magellan Penguin Chick

Magellan Penguin Chick

Our next stop and excursion was to a penguin colony in Punta Arenas. This was a well worth it trip to an island 2 hours away from the port that has 10,000 pairs of Magellan penguins and their chicks. 

From here you stop at Ushuaia, which is the southern most city in the world (Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app). This town is not far from the Tierra del Fuego National Park and some beautiful glaciers, however we decided to walk around the town and use our time to reconnect with our families as we had been cruising over Christmas Day and hadn't been able to contact them.

Now it was time experience the primary reason we chose the cruise. We were off to Antarctica! We were extremely lucky with our trip to there. The passage across the Atlantic Ocean to Antarctica is known as the Drake Passage and is supposed to be one of the roughest journeys in the world. I'm not going to say it was smooth sailing, as the ship was still rocking, but no worse than it had in earlier sailing days and experienced Antarctica cruisers informed us that this was an extremely gentle passage. As a result of this incredibly smooth crossing we actually arrived early giving us an extra day in the Antarctic Peninsula!

There are no words to describe the feeling you get, seeing Antarctica for the first time. It's sheer pristine beauty is breathtaking and as one woman we spoke to said, "sublime". Every single doubt we had about whether it had been worth coming despite not being able to land disappeared. The serenity is magical and to stand under the ‪midnight sun on New Year's Eve while whales spout and dive at the end of the earth is indescribable. The waters team with wildlife and ship-sized icebergs float by while penguins dive off them and seals sun themselves. 

After waving goodbye to our last view of Antarctica we were off to The Falklands. What can we say?! Stanley, which is the capital/only town, is a quaint little place with a surprisingly strong English community. The accents, the architecture, the food, everything screams England, despite being a community on the edge of South America. We fell in love with it so don't be surprised to hear we've put in applications to move. I think it's the resilience of the community here that really sold us on it. 

Our next stop was Puerto Madryn, which unless you are visiting the National Parks isn’t really anything special. It’s a nice enough place to wander around and a lot of Argentinians use it as a beachside getaway from Buenos Aires. From here we were off to our next stop and our next country Montevideo, Uruguay. Unfortunately our ship was due in on a Sunday. This meant very little was open but it was still a worthwhile stop. There are free museums and it is an easily explored city on foot. We were lucky enough to be on the ship so it was not an expensive stop for us but be warned Uruguay is a bit of a budget stretching country. This being said it did not appear to be much more expensive than Argentina or Chile which we managed to do under budget. After a day in port it was time for our final stop in Buenos Aires, where we began our South American adventure just over 6 weeks earlier.

 King Penguins in Stanley -  Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app

So how was the overall experience? We really felt that for what we paid and what we got to see, this was well worth the expense. Dani has decided she would like to work on Antarctica (actually surprisingly possible to do) after witnessing it's beauty and listening to the Antarctica experts that give lectures on the ship. We have also started to discuss moving to the Falklands after falling for its small town charm (we’ll keep you posted). Now we have been warned that we were incredibly fortunate to have seen what we did and have the weather that we did. We were told that some who book the expensive 10-day trips sometimes do not get to land due to weather and that on other cruises the weather has been so bad that they see very little. We were inexplicably lucky and we know that, let's all hope this is some kind of good backpacker karma for deciding to do something so drastically unbackpackerish and splash out!! 

Budget Time $$

As the cruise is all-inclusive (minus alcohol and soda) there is no need for a budget breakdown but here is what it actually cost. 

We paid $3503.50 AUD ($2567.60 USD) each for 21 days. This included all port fees and taxes. We also found out that the cost dropped even further closer to the time of the cruise (we booked 2 months in advance) and that if taken up with Holland America rooms were upgraded or shipboard credit was given (which can be used towards excursions, drinks, food at the paid for restaurants, shopping or towards the service charge). In addition, there is a daily service charge fee of $12.50 USD pp, that you pay at the end of the cruise, which is a total of $262.50 USD.

Cruise Money Saving Tips:

  • Pre-paid beverage packages offered upon booking are definitely not worth it, as most people do not drink enough to add up to the amount charged.
  • Tea and coffee is available all day in the buffet as are water, juice and iced tea.
  • Soda cards are available and give you $50 USD worth of soda for $25. We found that a card each was enough to get us through the cruise.
  • Free drinks are almost always available through activities on board such as the art auctions (read free champagne) and the cheap alcohol tasting sessions.
  • Go to the cultural shows/events like tango shows and musical performances as these can cost a lot of money off ship and they often bring on great quality, local entertainers.
  • You’re entitled to bring on board one bottle of wine per person during the cruise without a corkage fee. After this, it’s much cheaper to buy bottles onshore and pay the $18 corkage fee (if they notice you bringing it onboard) rather than buying a bottle of wine through the ship. Cruises are by no means cheap but there are definitely ways and means to get your monies worth and to ensure that you don't frivolously haemorrhage money (as so many on the boats do)!

Connect with Dani and Riv:

Spotted Places@DykeTales


Instagram: @dyke_tales

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My Neverland - Agnes Water


My Neverland - Agnes Water

Post by: Brittany Ferreira (Follow Brittany on Spotted Places @Brittany.Ferreira)

As you are driving down the east coast of beautiful Australia you might just head for the big things on the map; but please take note of the small things. Take a look beneath the path as its then the Bruce Highway. Leave the Highway near Childers and make your way through to Bundaberg; a quit big town which is famous for its Bundaberg Rum. If you’re driving to Bundabergs north and take the Rosedale Road you’ll find yourself on a Road surrounded by greenery wherever you look. Here and there you’ll see a small House while making your way thowards the coast. After taking a turn in an area called Berajondo and drive about 35 minutes on this road you’ll arrive in as I call it Neverland, better known as Agnes Water. 10 Years ago there was only a dirttrack leading to Agnes Water so you’re lucky that you can get there more easily today.


The Town

The Town itself is really small. Big Shoppingcentres like Woolworth or Coles don’t even think about opening a branch there and the only pub in town is accessible by foot almost wherever in Agnes you live. You get your Pizza from the only Servo there an if you’ve the munchies after 8pm you have to go there too. If you want to shop the latest Surfing Clothes you’ll find them in the Reef 2 Beach Shop where everyone knows exactly your size and you can book your first ever Surf class, as Agnes Water is the first stop when you go from north to south where you can go surfing. As walking along the shops next to Foodworks you can check out the bakery where they’ve got the best lemington and sausage rolls I ever ate.

If you go for vegan and raw food do yourself a favor and visit Amber and her Team at Sol Foods. On my daily walks through the town I always stopped there for a smoothie or two and some fresh vegan cake slices which always gave me shivers. She also has got the best coffee I ever had and likes to have a chat with you if you have any questions. Ambers food is as fresh as it gets and you can learn a lot about environmental friendly articles and about sea shepherd which she is a big fan of.

If you’re staying in town for longer and want some new ink underneath your skin go up to Ian. He’s an English lad who came to Australia when he was young and just stayed in Agnes his whole life because it was that beautiful. I really enjoy his artwork and got a lot of art on my body done while I was in Agnes. Make sure you go there during the winter time as there not that many people staying in Agnes. Do you want to get a facial treatment done? Go to the famous beauty shop named Glamourpussy. The staff is really friendly and I immediately felt like I was in good hands while someone was tinting my eyelashes.

Something you shouldn’t miss is the Stone and Rock Shop; a small shop close to the beach where you can wander around and take a look at the most beautiful stones on earth. Get lost and discover the stones and gems Australia and the world has got to offer and if you don’t want to spend a fortune you can buy a small stone and make your own necklace.


The Hostel

There are four Hostels in Agnes Water. The YGA, Southern Cross Backpackers, Cool Bananas and Backpackers@1770. I haven’t been to all of them but I can definitely say which one of them is the best. Back when I was in Agnes I checked in at Backpackers@1770 and I never regret it. If you stay a bit longer you’ll get to know so many people there and everyone is growing into a big family where you can always come back to.

The owners name is Oscar and he is in his mid-twenys whether than some old guy who is owning a Hostel. He’s been traveling a lot and if he finds the time he’ll sit down next to you and talk about his travels. If you’re lucky enough you’ll meet his parents who can tell you many stories about their travels around the world and Australia when it wasn’t that developed.
The hostel consists of three buildings. There is one building where Oscars Room is located, you can find the big kitchen area and the three spacious Double Rooms with Aircon in there too. The middle building contains a huge roofed Chill-Out Area with lots of couches and chair and a big TV. It also has the office, the laundry room and the staff room in it. Between those two buildings you can find a big Balinese hub where everyone is coming together, relaxes and enjoys the social atmosphere. If you can’t be bothered going to the beach just take a towel or one of the chairs and lie down on the meadow in front of the hub. In the last building you can find 6 dorms with 10 beds each. One of them is an All Female Dorm so if you’re a girl and don’t want to spend your nights in an Unisex Room this Room is perfect for you. Every single Room contains a big bathroom. As I was staying there and started to work as a staff member I immediately went to the staff room. Every Day between 10 and 12 every room and every bathroom is being cleaned to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Enjoy the quiz nights or the bonfires at the beach where you can see Oscar doing his fire tricks and if it gets colder during the night there’s a bonfire at the hostel where you can melt marshmallows, sit by the fire and listen to some guys with guitar skills.

Don’t miss out the opportunity to take a refreshing shower in the tropical outdoor shower hidden behind bamboo. The best time of the day to shower in there is when it’s short after sunrise and the sun is crawling between the bamboo sticks to warm you up. While taking a look above your head the palm trees are breezing in the wind.

Don’t miss out the opportunity to take a refreshing shower in the tropical outdoor shower hidden behind bamboo. The best time of the day to shower in there is when it’s short after sunrise and the sun is crawling between the bamboo sticks to warm you up. While taking a look above your head the palm trees are breezing in the wind.

My favorite part in this hostel is the kitchen. It’s a total artwork.

Every time backpackers stayed in this hostel they came around and drew or wrote something on the walls or the table. Whenever I was standing in the kitchen I discovered a new saying, a new language, a new phrase. Make friends with “Duke” the hostel dog, a crazy black and white crossbreed and you’ll never be alone again. Sometimes he comes along and cuddles up to you or just pokes his head through your legs while you’re having breakfast. If you want to take a walk with him just ask at the reception and you can walk down to the beach with him where he loses everything. Check in at that beautiful hostel and enjoy hiring bikes, surfboards and snorkeling gear.

Sometimes Oscar gets his 4-Wheel-Drive and will take you to one of the beautiful national parks around Agnes Water where you either discover the red Earth Australias or the huge white sand dunes and wonderful beaches.

Book your accommodation now!


The Beaches and beautiful Surroundings

As I already said, Agnes Water is like the Neverland. It has got a beautiful main beach where you can snorkel, swim, surf and do kite surfing which will take your breath away. Do yourself a favor and wake up early to take a swim in the ocean while the sun is rising and crawling up over the cliffs. The main beach itself is about 7 km long. If you’re taking the main entrance to the beach in the morning you might see the surf class having its lesson and enjoy watching them practice. There are some cliffs on the right side where you can go for a hike and sit down at the very end to see the surf pros surfing with the big waves which burst against the big rocks.

On your left side you can stroll down the beach and see the kite surfers performing their tricks in the wind. Lie down under one of the big trees and enjoy the beautiful weather and the salty sea. If you’re lucky enough someone with fresh coconuts will come up to you and you can buy them for $1 each.

Head south from Agnes Water along springs road until you come to the Springs Beach Sign. Turn left for around 400-500m until you find the track to drive to my favorite beach in this area. I mean, who wants to have their towel lined up next some stranger when you can go to this stunning beach. Whether you want to surf there or just lie on the beach this one is the best spot. As it is in front of a private housing estate you have to access the beach on a 250 m dirt track so prepare to take your 4-wheel-drive up there.
When you finally made it and walked the track down to the beach you’ll find yourself in front of deep blue waters and the most beautiful spot for beach lovers. White sand dunes and stunning headlands wherever you look.


Paperbark Trail Walk

If you want to get lost for about 15 minutes the Paperbark Park is the perfect spot. It’s on the opposite side of the entry of Springs Beach. It has some stepping stones as you walk in there and a wooden boardwalk. Take your time and just enjoy the silence and the beautiful butterflies all around you. It’s definitely a picture worth but I would suggest you leave your camera in your pocket, at least for a few minutes and breath in deeply.


1770 Sunset Lookout

As I was working for the hostels I had the pleasure to drive the Hostel Bus and show the guest the famous sunset lookout in 1770, a town where James Cook landed in 1770. Due to the fact that Agnes Water and the Town of 1770 is on a promontory you have the opportunity of seeing the sunrise and the sunset above the Ocean. Driving to the very end of 1770 you’ll come to a big parking lot. Park your car and make your way down to a bay where you can sit down at the small cliffs and watch the sunset. If you’re lucky you can see dolphins and sea turtles and the sun will immerse the coast into a beautiful golden light until the sun sets behind the mountains and the ocean. I would recommend you going there when it’s a bit cloudy so the sun shines through the clouds and give them a nice glow.


Activities all around Agnes

Get up, get out and do something. And you can do plenty of stuff in and around Agnes. Book a Surf Lesson, hire some bikes and drive around Agnes to find hidden places, hire a kayak and paddle around the coast to find the secret beach (I won’t tell you where it is, you have to find it yourself). Go snorkeling at the coastline and find beautiful fishes in the clear water. Book the famous Castaway Tour where you will discover the Castaway live for 3 days and 2 nights. You truly aren’t allowed to be a princess (or a prince as it’s said on the website) when it comes to the castaway tour because you have to live with the things provided; wildlife, insects, sand etc.
If you are more down for a relaxing reef cruise book a cruise on the Lady Musgrave Cruises or the “1770 Great Barrier Reef Cruises” and go out for a beautiful snorkel trip at the famous Lady Musgrave Island. This island is a 14 hectares coral cay on the nothern south barrier reef.


Getaway Cafe

If you’re looking for coffee and fantastic food in a tropical paradise look no further. I found it! The Getaway Cafe ! It’s a cafe which you can access on the Road of Springs Beach and Paperbark Park. The moment you enter the garden coffee through the big wooden Balinese doors all your problems will float away and you find yourself in a jungle with a stone boardwalk. As you walk up the wooden area and take a seat you can relax in the immense greenery and see some Kangaroos lying on the grass during the afternoon. The best thing I ate was the bircher muesli. A fresh pinch muesli with spoons of yogurt, fresh passion fruit, banana, strawberries and blueberries. On top of all that try the smoothies and enjoy the babble of the tropical pond.  

During my time in Agnes Water I made a lot of friends and we grew into a big family. I know that they are somewhere in the world and I’ll always share a special bond with them. Agnes Water is Paradise. I learned how to ride a long board, I nearly learned how to surf but always fell of the board, I could really relax and get to know myself better. It felt like home away from home and whenever I have the chance to come back I definitely will.

Connect with Brittany:

Spotted Places: @Brittany.Ferreira

Instagram: @britt_aany


Vietnam Travel Guide


Vietnam Travel Guide

Post by: GoGo Budget Travel (Follow on Spotted Places @ChloeLiying.Lin)

When it comes to Southeast Asia countries, Vietnam is easily my favourite pick. Once a lesser-known destination, it has become more and more popular among tourists in recent years. With its beautiful nature and cultural diversity, Vietnam attracted 10 million visitors in 2016, an increase of 26.0% from 2015.

From the peaceful rice valleys of Sapa in Northern Vietnam stretching to the bustling city of the Ho Chi Minh in the south, Vietnam is home to a wealth of attractions and amazing cuisine that will attract both budget and luxury seeking travelers. Here’s your complete travel guide for your 1 weeks’ trip in Vietnam.

Quick Tips

  • Currency: Vietnam Dong (click here for current conversion rates)
  • Visa: Many countries have Visa exemption between 15-30 days. You can check out whether you’re the lucky one here. If you need to apply for a Visa, the best method is to apply online.
  • Safety: It’s generally very safe to travel in the Northern and Central Vietnam. However, as it gets to the South, things become trickier and people are more cunning. Be careful of thieves in Mui Ne and Ho Chi Minh.   
  • Climate: Depends on region. Summer is extremely hot and humid, while winter is rather cooling.
  • Best SIM cards: There are four Telco companies in Vietnam and all of them offer similar services and pricings. A 5GB/30 day package cost 100,000 VND (around $5 USD). However, I still recommend Viettel as it has the largest network and most customers, closely followed by Vinaphone. Avoid Mobifone and Vietnamobile if you’re heading off the beaten track.


Day 1: Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. At its heart is the chaotic Old Quarter, there are so many local food and restaurants for you choose from. Very often, travellers find themselves lost in choices. Luckily, when we visited Hanoi this time, our local friend Ha Linh brought us around to eat the best local food in Hanoi.

Must eat local delights recommended by the locals:

1) Pho - 10 Ly Quoc Su,
   Address: 10 Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

2) Square Cake (Bánh Chưng)
    Address: Along the street of the Old Quarter

3) Egg coffee (Fragrance Café & Restaurant)
    Address: 35 Gia Ngu Street, Hang Bac Ward, Hoan Kiem Distr

Apart from trying out all the delicious food, do remember to visit iconic sites like St Joseph Cathedral, Ba Dinh Square, Ho Hoan Kiem and more! For a more complete street food guide in Hanoi, check out my blog post here.


Day 2-3: Halong Bay

Hạlong Bay, in northeast Vietnam, is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Many travelers face the same question when they are considering a trip to Halong Bay: “Should I stay in Halong Bay cruise overnight?” The answer is a definite YES!

 Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app:

Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app:

Must-do activities in Halong Bay:

1) Enjoy the sunset and sunrise, and kayaking at the same time

Halong Bay is the most beautiful during sunrise and sunset moments. And you only get to see them if you stay overnight cruise. During these moments, the beauty of Halong Bay truly reveals itself. What’s more, you get to go kayaking in the quiet and serene bay as the sun sets. Truly amazing indeed!

2) Visit Sung Sot or “Surprise Cave”

Situated in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage area, Sung Sot or “Surprise Cave” is on Bo Hòn Island, and is one of the most spectacular and largest grottoes of Ha Long Bay. The cave is beautifully lit by different colour of lights. One of the best advantage of choosing Halong Bay cruise overnight is that you get to visit the cave during the earliest hour, as soon as it opens.

3) Make your own spring rolls on the cruise

The cruise caters all the meals you need and light refreshment such as fruits. To be frank, I didn’t have high expectation of the food but to my surprise, everything tasted fantastic and fresh! What’s more, there’s a Vietnamese Spring Rolls making session. It is very easy to do and pretty fun making your own spring rolls!


Keen to find out more about Halong Bay and watch a video I made for the trip? Check out my blog post here!


Day 4-6: Sapa

Located at 1500 meters (4921 feet) above sea level in Vietnam’s remote northwest mountains, Sapa is famous for both its fine, rugged scenery and also its rich cultural diversity. It is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. 

Must-do activities in Sapa:

1) Hiking

There’s no better way to explore Sapa than trekking. Sapa is orientated to make the most of the spectacular views emerging on clear days; overlooking a plunging valley, with mountains towering above on all sides. You’ll find yourself being surrounded by cascading rice terraces, endless greenery and amazing fresh air. Once you’ve stepped out into the lush fields, you’ll understand the Sapa area’s real charm.

 Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app:

Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app:


2) Animal Watching

While you are trekking in the field, you’re bound to encounter a lot of animals. On the hill, you’ll see a buffalo sitting in the paddy field. Along the road, you’ll see horses passing by. Out of the blue moon, you may see domesticated pigs looking for food. The animals are gentle and won’t attack unless you provoke them. So just watch them quietly and enjoy the peace together.


3) Visit Cat Cat Village

Nestled in a beautiful valley about three kilometers from Sapa Town, Cat Cat- the old village of ethnic groups- attracts tourists from all over the world for its distinctive customs and practices which have been lost in almost ethnic villages.


For a more complete Sapa guide, where to stay and how to get there, check out my blog post here.


Day 7-8: Ninh Binh

Located on the Southern end of the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh is around 2 hours drive from Hanoi. It is blessed with diverse topography of both mountainous and coastal areas. It can be said that the province contains all the scenic quintessence of whole Vietnam within its relatively small size.

Not only that, Ninh Binh represents typical rural villages of Northern region with vast green paddy field, expanding mountains and poetic river that flows to the horizon. Ninh Binh’s history is also worth mentioning: the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, Ninh Binh is a venue of relics that reflect its 1000 years of history and development. For a more detailed Ninh Binh travel guide, here’s my blog post dedicated to it.

Top 3 Attractions in Ninh Binh:

1) Hang Mua Pagoda (Mua Cave)

Down a sleepy road between rice paddies, this cave is truly impressive at the peak. It offers panoramic views of the rice paddies as you climb up the zigzags stairs. There are in total 450 steps but the height of the cave looks a lot more than that.

2) Trang An Boat Ride

If you’ve heard the beauty of Halong Bay, Trang An is the Halong Bay of the land. It has spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. And – best of all – there are very few tourists, so you can really enjoy the serenity of nature. 

 Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app:

Check out this spot on the Spotted Places app:

3) Bai Dinh Pagoda

Bai Dinh Pagoda is a religious complex covering a total area of 539 hectare, a size of more than 800 football fields combined! Located in the mountainous area, the peak of the pagoda offers breathtaking views. When you finally reach the top, you’ll be able to see a beautiful temple with gorgeous scenery as a backdrop. If you want to find out more about Bai Dinh Pagoda, check out my blog post here.


Cost Breakdown:

As Vietnam is a really cheap country to travel around, I spent around $450 USD for my entire 1 week trip. Such a budget really allows you to sleep in a comfortable and beautiful hotel, eat hearty meal 3 times a day, and pack your days with awesome activities!

Hanoi: $50 USD

Halong Bay Tour: $120 USD

Sapa Tour: $180 USD

Ninh Binh: $100 USD

Total: $450

If you have more time to spare, you can go further north to Dalat, Mui Ne and Ho Chi Minh. Personally I really recommend Dalat. Check out my complete Vietnam Travel Guide for more! Happy travel!


About GoGo Budget Travel

GoGo Budget Travel is an Investment & Travel blog geared towards the adventurous, off the beaten path-loving travelers. Most importantly, it’s for people who want to learn investing to fund their travel. The founder, Chloe, is a Singaporean Value Investor who has a passion to travel the world in the most genuine and budget-smart way. Whether you’re looking for investment knowledge, wealth management ideas, latest market news, to travel tips & tricks, Chloe will share with you her investment and travel experience so you can get on the road quicker, longer and better. Explore the world with GoGo Budget Travel.


Connect with GoGo Budget Travel:

Spotted Places: @ChloeLiying.Lin


Instagram: @gogobudgettravel

Twitter: @GoGoBudgetTrave


The Spotted Places Blog


The Spotted Places Blog

Spotted Places has a mission: Inspire others to experience the world, both locally as well as globally.

We are excited to introduce our blog, which we hope will help to inspire even more people. We see our blog being very similar to our our Podcast, which allows listeners to hear epic adventures and amazing tips and tricks when it comes to travel.

Even before the Spotted Places app launched, we were amazed by our growing tribe. We see the blog as another opportunity to get to know our users and community. We invite everyone to apply to submit material for our blog. This could be a cross-post from something already published, or unique content to Spotted Places. You are even encouraged to submit stories of how you used the Spotted Places app to find a new favorite spot!

To apply to submit content, please fill out this application.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out! We always love hearing from our community! 

-Bryant, Co-Founder & CEO