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DestinationsPhuketThailand

Phinally Phuket…

June 27, 2015 — 0

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So as the title of this page suggests, we actually went to Phuket really late given that we are from Asia, living very close to this wonderful and famous beach destination and which is usually one of the first ones for Asians would go to. Given that we went to Uzbekistan, Africa, Iceland and most of SE Asia including Bali, it has indeed been “news!!!” that we have NOT been to Phuket yet!

So ladies and gentleman, travel buddies and backpackers… yes, we finally made it to (arguably) the most famous beach destination of Asia – Phuket in 2014! Checked! Done! Been there! Marked!

To be fair (to us!), there had been a few reasons for us not going to Phuket for quite a while…

DestinationsThailand

Thailand

June 18, 2014 — 0

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First written in 2009, updates in 2012, 2013, 2015

Chill-out, relax, eat eat and eat, Thailand is THE place in Asia for a relaxing and value for money vacation. It has some of the best beaches in the region, soooper warm and welcoming local people, great weather for most of the year, and of course – nothing beats the Thai messages especially while sipping away your fav cocktail at the beaches. Oh, how can we forget Thai food!!! Yummy spicy crabs, prawns, Thai green curry, and lot more!

Thailand is where we’d want to time and again – its one place we never “tick off” from our bucket list – to return again!

DestinationsTaiwan

Taiwan

December 29, 2012 — 0

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Taiwan offers the perfect blend of nature and a vibrant city life. Coupled with the comforts offered by a well developed country, travelling around is a breeze as long as one manages to get around with slight language issue.The city of Taipei offers some good mix of nature, history, culture, modern life itself and in fact, one can spend a few days in the city itself and still not get enough of it.

Taiwan – Truly a great place, great people and great hospitality

Also, within small distances on the outskirts of the city, one can get to natural hot water spring resorts, mountains and the sea, amazing natural rock formations geo-park and so on. Overall, there is plenty the country has to offer and one can easily spend 1-2 weeks if one wants to see the country wholesomely.

Read on for

TRAVELLED IN DEC 2012

Covered North Taiwan, including Taipei, Shifen and Taroko Gorge, Hualien.

Still to see the rest of Taiwan such as Koahsiung, Taichung etc.

QUICK TIPS

  • Airport/transfers: Taipei has two airports – Songshan Airport which is within the city and Taoyuan Airport which is further away from Taipei and bigger and more recently built, having an increasing proportion of international flights. Taoyuan airport itself is very well built, has a good modern feeling to it and quite efficient. The staff, like for more Taiwan people, are very warm and friendly although my dad mentioned his officer didn’t understand English which was surprising. The rest of us didn’t have that issue though. Access from both airports is easy with buses (including Express Airport Bus), taxis (more expensive option) and Touyuan also has the High Speed Rail (HSR) access. Overall, it is more expensive to come to the city relative to Songshan.
  • For transfers after arrival, there are cabs, buses, MTR and the HSR (from Tuoyuan). We are told that the city is very safe to come by yourself even in late evenings and public transport access is a breeze.
  • Phone connection: Surprisingly, we didnt find a lot of phone shops offering simcards. There are 7-11s which give sim cards but we were looking for proper shops so we could discuss what plan we wanted, as I wanted that having more data and less of talk time, since I can do my international calls through data (VoIP). There were some FarEastone shops but they were only selling mobile handsets so I was bit puzzled. However, this could be one off our experience.
  • Money exchange: As a thumb-rule  one should not exchange FX at the airport, but after coming out of the arrival gate, there are bank counters, which did offer competitive rates. So, the thumb rule didn’t matter for Taipei but nevertheless, the rate offered was still 1-2% less competitive than city rates, for whom it matters.
  • Language: Mandarin is very commonly spoken there, and language is somewhat of an issue for non-Mandarin speakers. However, the people in Taipei and Hualien (where we travelled) were so warm and helpful that they did run around and find someone knowing bit of English to help us. While roaming around the city, we can say that most people knew English reasonably and all these factors helped us overcome the language issue quite easily.
  • Getting around: Public transport is easy and convienient and not too expensive. Language was not much of an issue with taxi drivers but bus stops had all destinations written in Chinese only which was disappointing, though signs at Subway stops were in English and well displayed and that was never an issue. We went with our parents who were not very restrictive in their walking and hence accessing the public transport was not difficult at all. That said, if walking is a constraint, then access to some public transport such as Metro/Tube/Subway/MRT/MTR (whatever u call in your country) can be slightly more challenging though there are elevators and facilities in train to take care of that.
  • Food and eating out: Taipei is known for some great street food for non-veg lovers and we think the reputation is not without a reason. The local food in the city is very good and a must try for those who like to experiment new cuisines, though for some time, forget that you’d be having more oil than your daily quota. Drinking Chinese tea with it will also help. For the not experimenting and veggies, there are limited options as such on the street as well as in local restaurants and Western restaurants are not that easy to find except in main streets and popular spots in the city.
  • Tipping tips: Tipping in China is not as mandatory as in the US though typically tipping 5-10% is not bad anyways and some of the people we tipped appeared pleasantly surprised we did that.

Read on for Taipei and Taroko Gorge in Hualien experiences.

DestinationsTaipeiTaiwan

Day 3: Yehliu, Beitou and Fisherman’s Wharf

December 24, 2012 — 0

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To an extent, one can say that the last day of our Taipei trip (before leaving for Hualien) was left for some of the best stuff Taipei could offer. However, while it appears to be, this above itinerary is actually not that hectic even with parents. We covered Yehliu geonational park, which is about two hours from Taipei by bus towards east of the Taiwan island. Then, Beitou which is about 45min by MRT in the northern outskirts of Taipei and summed up by a trip to the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Yehliu is a geopark with some stunning natural rock formations. It is next to the sea and hence has some great views and photography spots. About 1.5hours from Taipei by bus, which is NT$60 per person one way.

Beitou is a place where people go for natural hot water springs. There are many hotels there as well if one wants to stay and also have access to private natural hot water pools.

Fisherman’s Wharf is at the northern end of Taipei, near to Beitou where the Taipei river is close to meeting the sea.  It is another place for some wonderful street food, seafood, a great photography spot and where one can just spend the evening relaxing. It is also next to Tamshi, which is a good mid-market shopping market.

Before we get into the details, incase you missed earlier, please see the day 1 or day 2 part of Taipei. We also visited Hualien in case you’re interested. Hualien is a retreat place with the famous Taroko Gorge trip.

DestinationsTaipeiTaiwan

Taiwan’s day 2 – Trip to Shifen and evening around 101

December 22, 2012 — 2

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On day 2, we planned a trip to Shifen, which is about waterfalls, walking amongst lush green lanes and roads and mountains. It is so much better for those who can walk a bit – not much but say, about a km in one go. For those with little kids, it is a manageable journey. A carrier is always helpful and think needed, given the walk involved. Do not expect much food help, so carry what your child needs here.

See Taipei day 1 link here for introduction to Taipei and day 1 highlights.

Also,

The trip to Shifen is about 2 hours train journey away from Taipei. OK, note that Taiwan has three types of trains in the city, and one should not get confused.

  1. MRT – which is for Taipei’s metro/tube/subway type travel within Taipei only
  2. TRA – The slower version of cross country trains which runs across Taiwan country
  3. HSR – the newer train which is High Speed Rail again throughout the country, but more powerful, fast, but costlier.

ChinaDestinationsSanya

Sanya, China

July 28, 2012 — 2

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Sanya is a place of relaxing luxury resorts. That was exactly the plan for this trip and exactly the location we were looking for. The island is a beautiful getaway about one hour from Hong Kong and decent connectivity. The place is well developed, neat and infrastructure matches a good developed city. [pullquote style=”pullquote” ]Sanya is all about resorts, hence as good as they are[/pullquote] That said, there is little much that needs to be cared and known about Sanya as a city. Yes, there are markets to see, local food to try and so on and on, but that can be done in a better, more indeginious way in many other cities of China. Like we said above, there is little more about the city to look forward to, other than the many resorts lined along the coast of the island. In essence, a visit to Sanya is as good as the resort you stay in. Period.

DestinationsKoh SamuiThailand

Koh Samui / Phangan

December 1, 2010 — 0

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Koh Samui and Koh Phangan islands are super beautiful islands off the coast of Thailand. We highly recommend a visit to the islands (which are 20min ferry apart between themselves), for honeymoon, family vacation or mad – parties with friends at Haad Rin beach at Phangan.

Visited: 2010

DestinationsMauritius

Mauritius

July 20, 2008 — 0

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We consider Mauritius as one of the best honeymoon spots with its clean and pristine beaches and very warm people. For the fun loving couples, it also has some great water activities, serene environment to enjoy the cosy moments and great food to enhance the experience.

We think you’d either love the place, or love it more!

Please see mauritius attractions in the

TRAVELLED IN: 2008

Main island, Port Louis (capital) – We visited the main island only and stayed at Port Louis, which is at north tip of Mauritius island. The main island has most of the activities and fun. You can take cruises to few neighboring islands but when we looked at details, we didn’t find much to add to.

DestinationsMauritius

Mauritius Attractions

July 1, 2008 — 0

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Mauritius is a perfect honeymoon spot. The place competes with nearby Maldives and Seychelles in terms of similar offerings. What you expect from Mauritius would be long white sand beaches, awesome water sports, very warm and English/French speaking people and some history. Trivia – what you won’t find is snakes – the island is made from volcanic ash and we are told due to this, snakes cannot survive in the island. The beautiful island is ideal for honey-mooners, romantic holidays or just plain relaxing get-aways with 5-8 days being sufficient to see the place and relax.

Getting there…