Travelogue

Top 3 must-dos in Barcelona (Including a day trip to Monsterrat!)

Top 3 must-dos in Barcelona (Including a day trip to Monsterrat!)

If you’re pressed for time and are only able to spend 2 days in this beautiful city, here are top 3 recommended must-dos in Barcelona!

Immerse yourself in the enchanted luxury Park Güell

Despite not being enthusiastic architecture fans, we still ended really enjoying ourselves and were fully in awe of this breathtaking luxury estate. This place was originally built for the rich living in Barcelona, away from the city centre.

Tip: Buy your tickets in advance as it’s almost always fully booked!

In the photos above, you can see how Gaudi likes using natural rocks of different sizes to design his works. His design is often inspired by nature, animals, water, waves, etc, with lots of curves and odd sized pieces being put together. The left photo above shows how the walkway was inspired by waves where the columns & ceiling were all slanted to one side.

The plan was to build 60 houses in total, but the plan backfired when the rich didn’t feel safe living away from the city centre’s security. In the end there were only 3 houses being built, and 1 of which became Gaudi’s home in his later years. Part of this place was designed by Gaudi, a renowned Spanish architect.

Gina posing with the famous lizard of Park Güell

In the photo above, Gina’s posing with the famous lizard which according to our guide, was supposed to be a charm located right at the main entrance to protect Park Güell. On the contrary, most of the people were still pretty conservative at that point in time and felt that this lizard was a little weird and they didn’t like it.

Get blown away by the unmissable magnificent La Sagrada Familia

The largest church in the world till date that seem to take forever to build. We’ve heard so much about this basilica from news, media, online, and everywhere else. Being able to stand right in front of it was really quite an amazing feeling! This church was designed by Gaudi, and it was his baby all the way till he departed this world. He spent almost all of his life working on this church!

Look at the insane amount of details! 

This church was built using purely donations, and for quite a long time, the funds were insufficient which brought the construction to a standstill. It was only in recent years when tourism really boomed for Barcelona and they started to have more funds for the construction of La Sagrada Familia again! Apparently now they are only left with 3 more years to fully complete this magnificent building! You really need to visit this place in person, photos aren’t adequate to describe how impressive this piece of work is!

Enjoy the picturesque views from the Montserrat Mountain

View from the Montserrat Mountain

We highly recommend taking a day trip the the Montserrat Mountain if you can spare the time. The views were really breathtaking! We were actually very lucky as according to our guide, most of the time it’s foggy! But we had a super clear view of the valley and the mountains!

Inside the basilica of Montserrat

We were really impressed by the interior architecture of the basilica. So beautifully and intricately designed.

View of the monastery from one of the hiking trails

Tip: If you have more time to spare, you can try the hiking trails here at the Montserrat Mountain! The routes are marked clearly and you can’t really get lost. A pity we were pressed for time and didn’t have time to hike. 

So that’s all from us for the must-dos in Barcelona! Do you guys agree with our list of must-dos? Do comment below if you have other recommendations!

Why You Must Make Time For A Day Trip to Segovia

Why You Must Make Time For A Day Trip to Segovia

Segovia was one of our favourite places in Spain. A quaint little city nestled about an hour drive away from Madrid. If you are in Madrid, do make time for a day trip to Segovia!

Enjoy spectacular views of Segovia City

Great view of Segovia city with the Cathedral

The entire city spans over 2km and it takes only about 15-20 minutes walk from the Aqueduct to the Palace. In the photo below, that’s basically how the main street of Segovia looks like. Lots of local small shops, no big names like Zara, H&M, etc. Most of these houses were built a long time ago and its architectural style definitely help gives this place its character and charm.

Main shopping street in Segovia

Impressive Romanian Aqueduct That Withstood Time

Segovia made us feel like we were transported back in time. The iconic landmark of this place is the ancient Roman aqueduct which was built back in 1st century to transport water from the mountain to the city. This has gotta be one of the most impressive Roman architecture in Spain. This structure was built without the use of any cement, and it has stayed intact till now! And because it has not been cemented together, the structure remains flexible during earthquakes.

The aqueduct of Segovia

Cathedral of Segovia

The Segovia Cathedral is one of the last Gothic cathedrals to be built in Spain. Despite not being religious people, we really enjoyed admiring the detailed architectural design of the cathedral.

Posing with the Segovia Cathedral

We really loved the inside of the cathedral, where the facade was adorned with bright shimmering gold, accompanied by intricately curved out biblical figures.

Inside the Cathedral of Segovia

Pictures that tell a million words

Alcázar of Segovia – “Cinderella’s Castle”

Alcázar of Segovia, which literally means fortress of Segovia. Built right next to the river, this was originally a fortress to guard the Segovia city. But it ended up being used as the royal palace, state prison, college, etc.

Fun fact: This castle was actually the inspiration behind the Cinderella’s castle!

Inside of the castle

You will realise that most of their furnitures are portable and can be easily folded. As the royal families usually don’t stay at the same castle for long as their aim is to continue to conquer more places, and hence needing portable furnitures so that they can easily pack up and move anytime.

Savour the absolutely delicious tender traditional Cochinillo Asado!

Definitely one of our highlights of Segovia – being able to taste the absolutely delicious tender Cochinillo Asado, which is also known as the roasted suckling pig! It’s amazing how they are able to cook it to such perfection! With delicate crispy skin on the outside, and tender meat inside. Definitely a must try if you’re in Segovia!

Super delicious Cochinillo Asado – Roasted Suckling Pig

Tip: We ate the Cochinillo Asado at Mesón De Cándido (right at the entrance of Segovia near the Aqueduct). 

Have you been to Segovia before? Did we miss out anything? So share with us your experience in the comments below!

Don’t Miss Out on Zaragoza If You’re Heading to Barcelona from Madrid

Don’t Miss Out on Zaragoza If You’re Heading to Barcelona from Madrid

Zaragoza is definitely a hidden gem as most travellers tend to miss out on this beautiful city when exploring Spain. If you’re planning a trip to both Madrid and Barcelona, you should consider adding a stop in between and stay a night at Zaragoza! This charming city certainly has lots to offer!

Bask in the beautiful Aljafería Palace

Aljafería Palace has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Not surprising why, with its rich history and beautiful architecture. It was built by the Arabs back in the 11th century and was originally meant to be a summer palace. Hence you will see lots of greenery & water in this palace.

This place has changed ownership several times, but it’s still very well maintained and preserved till date. It was even once used as a military training ground for the soldiers and unfortunately that was the time that a large part of the building was destroyed. Thankfully after it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the government started its restoration works and now we are able to visualise what this place used to be like when it was first built.

Enjoy the breathtaking view from the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar

This has gotta be one of the best places to get the most beautiful view of the city. We took a lift up to the top of the tower and were rewarded with this amazing view. Definitely worth it!

The interior of the cathedral was also really beautiful!

Tip: Head down to the bridge at the back of the basilica for a view of the basilica. Best time would be to go during sunset!

1 night stay in Zaragoza should be sufficient to experience the charm of this splendid city. Also it’ll be a great break to take between 2 major cities, Madrid and Barcelona. Have you been to Zaragoza before? Would you recommend 1 day to explore this city? Share with us your view in the comments below!

3D2N Itinerary for Madrid, Segovia & Zaragoza

3D2N Itinerary for Madrid, Segovia & Zaragoza

With only 3 days in Madrid, here are our recommended things to do in Madrid which includes a day trip to Segovia & Zaragoza!

When in Madrid, enjoy a delicious tapas tour around the Old Quarters

One thing that we realised during this trip – Spain is all about Tapas. You’ll be able to find a tapas bar almost at every corner of the street! You won’t even need to search for it, just turn your head around and you’ll see one. So what better way to explore the city than to do a tapas tour! It’s a great way to experience the city’s culture & history, through their food! And it’s soooo delicious! We really loved the variety of tapas!

Most of the tapas bars are similar to the one in the photo above. Small and pretty crammed, with cocktail tables for people to stand around. Usually they only serve 3-4 dishes, and people drink them with wine. Tapas is kinda similar to finger food in my opinion. You can’t really get full from it. It’s more like a snack to go with your wine.

We had one of the most tasty & succulent garlic prawns ever in the tapas bar above. It was so simple, yet so good. The locals like eating the prawns with the bread, followed by a sip of their red wine.

People usually pair their tapas with wine. If you’re a wine lover, Spain is definitely a place that you must visit.

Jamón – the one thing that we ate almost every day in Spain

One of the most popular tapas is definitely the Jamón. It’s was our first time trying it and to be honest, it was kinda of an acquired taste. The taste is similar to very thin slices of ham, but a lot saltier.

Jamón’s not exactly raw meat, but neither is it cooked meat. It’s actually cured meat, meaning that the pork leg has been salted and left to hang dry for a couple of years. Ham from different pigs will cost differently, and the Iberian pigs (black pig) apparently cost the most!

Chocolate churrossssss!!! Our ultimate fav in this cold winter!

Tip: Head down to Chocolatería San Ginés where they serve the best choc churros ever!

Get transported back in time at Segovia

Segovia was one of our favourite places in Spain. A quaint little city nestled about an hour drive away from Madrid. If you are in Madrid, do make time for a day trip to Segovia!

Impressive Romanian Aqueduct

The aqueduct of Segovia

The iconic landmark of this place is the ancient Roman aqueduct which was built back in 1st century to transport water from the mountain to the city. This has gotta be one of the most impressive Roman architecture in Spain. This structure was built without the use of any cement, and it has stayed intact till now!

Check out our post about why you must make time for a day trip to Segovia for more things to do in this beautiful city!

Do Drop by Zaragoza if you’re heading to Barcelona!

Zaragoza is definitely a hidden gem as most travellers tend to miss out on this beautiful city when exploring Spain. If you’re planning a trip to both Madrid and Barcelona, you should consider adding a stop in between and stay a night at Zaragoza! This charming city certainly has lots to offer!

Do check out our post on more things to do in Zaragoza!

View from the top of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar

Inside the Aljafería Palace

Have you visited any of these cities before? Which one is your favourite? Do share with us your comments below! 😀

Exploring Belitung, The Hidden Gem of Indonesia

Exploring Belitung, The Hidden Gem of Indonesia

We were pretty stoked when we were invited to explore Belitung, a place that we’ve never heard of before! When people think of Indonesia, the first thing that comes to their mind is usually Bali. But Indonesia is so much more than just Bali! Indonesia consists of more than 15,000 islands and Belitung is just one of them!

Picturesque azure waters of Belitung island in Indonesia!

So first up…where is Belitung in Indonesia?

Belitung is this island (circled in red above) situated next to South Sumatra in Indonesia. Although geographically speaking, Belitung is much nearer to Singapore than Jakarta, the demand for flights from Singapore to Belitung is not high enough for the airline companies to come up with direct flights. Scroll to the bottom to see how to get to Belitung from Singapore!

What is there to do in Belitung?

Experience glamping at Billiton Eco-Beach Tent

Glamping at Billiton Beach Tent!

Seriously, one of the most luxurious camping experiences of our lives!

Trust us, we’ve tried glamping (or so they termed it) several times at different places. But THIS wins hands down, this truly is the epitome of glamping. For the uninitiated, glamping means glamour + camping (aka atas camping). Which glamping experience comes with AIR CONDITIONING?! And your personal outdoor shower & toilet?!

Enjoying our romantic candlelight dinner at the front porch of our tent!

We even had a romantic candlelight BBQ dinner right at our front porch. And the BBQ dinner was one of our best meals ever in Indonesia!! Definitely a MUST-TRY!

Test your balance at stand up paddle surfing

First time trying stand up paddle surfing! Fun!

This turned out to be a lot more tiring that we expected! We always thought it looked kinda easy and chill, but it was actually quite challenging! Especially at the start when we were trying to get our balance right. But once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy, except that it’s really taxing on the thigh muscles!

ps. This activity is available for Billiton Eco-Beach Tent guests!

Trek through the wilderness and enjoy an amazing summit view

Breathtaking views at the summit of Batu Baginda!

Considered to be an easy trek, suitable for beginner hikers! Took us less than 30 minutes to reach the summit and the terrain was pretty straightforward too. We did 2 treks in Belitung, Batu Baginda and Pramoen Hills.

Batu Baginda’s summit view was breathtaking and the strong breeze was so soothing (shiok)! The last climb up to the summit was pretty challenging though where we had to climb ladders and

Pramoen Hills was quite entertaining, they had several pit stops for photo taking with props, and even a car carefully positioned at the cliff’s edge! I kid you not! We actually climbed into the car for a photo!

Taking a selfie in a car at a mountain’s cliff face? Checked!

Island hopping & snorkelling

A secret lagoon discovered at Kelayang Island!

Interestingly though, when the locals island hop, they literally island hop and not enter the waters for most of it! We visited about 5 islands in total, and only snorkelled at 1 island – Lengkuas Island (Lighthouse). For the rest of the islands, we only walked around the island and took photos with the unique rock forms.

On the way to Lengkuas Island with the lighthouse as the landmark!

The unique & distinctive feature of Belitung is certainly the huge rounded granite rocks. Being avid climbers, we were so tempted to boulder when passing by some of these rocks with cracks so deep they form amazing handholds!

One cool thing about this experience is that we were one of the rare few foreign tourists! We went on a weekend and it was packed with locals, but hardly a foreigner in sight! So if you’re looking for an authentic travel experience, you should definitely check out Belitung!

Tip: Try travelling to Belitung during the weekdays if possible to avoid the domestic crowd!

Try the traditional Belitung coffee (Must-Try!)

Ahhh we absolutely love their coffee! There’s just something so delicious and addictive about their coffee! We love the taste of the roasted coffee bean and when paired with a thick layer of condense milk, ahhh heavenly goodness!

If you’re staying at the city centre of Belitung, you must try the local’s favourite coffee at Kongdjie Coffee! It’s really gooooood! 😀

Ps. it’s only 5 minutes away from Billiton Hotel, just right across the street!

Taste the local Belitung Mie

This dish reminded us of our local dish Mee Rebus in Singapore and probably Malaysia. The gravy is a little sweet and the noodles slightly springy. Overall not too bad….but……we still prefer our all time favourite INDOMIEEE! I know…..but, we can’t help it!

Visit the “Pamukkale” of Indonesia – Danau Kaolin

Interestingly, Belitung together with a neighbouring island, Bangka, form the world’s second largest tin producer after China! The above place is at Danau Kaolin which once used to be a mining area but now no longer in use. Also known as the Blue Lake, its beautiful sky blue colour is attributed to the water deposited inside the crater being mixed together with the rich white minerals.

Get inspired at the Museum Kata Andrea Hirata

This colourful museum was founded by the author of the best selling novel, Laskar Pelangi. Also the first literature museum in Indonesia! Great place for photo taking with all the colourful walls!

Tip: Belitung grew to fame because of the popular local movie, Rainbow Troops, where they shot the movie set at Tanjung Tinggi Beach. So, watch the movie or read the book first before visiting this island to get a better appreciation!

Essential Information

How to book the above activities in Belitung

We booked our tour with Belitung Wonder, a local tour agency in Belitung. Ria was our main contact person for this trip, and she arranged all of our transport, accommodation and activities! The thing about travelling in less commercialised places is that it’s much tougher to travel around on your own (unless you hire a private driver/guide).

If you’re looking for a tour agency to travel with in Belitung, we would highly recommend Belitung Wonder!  Their service is really good, reliable & trustworthy! Pls contact Ria via email (riaindra@belitungwonder.com) for more info.

How to get to Belitung from Singapore

We flew to Jakarta first (~1.5hr) via Jetstar and then followed by a domestic flight to Belitung (~1hr) via Sriwijaya Air. Do factor in some time for the (high) possibility of the domestic flight being delayed.

Hope we inspired you to check out this hidden gem of Indonesia! Travelling off the beaten path is always more exciting! 😀

9 Reasons Why Ko Lipe Should Be Your Next Beach Getaway

9 Reasons Why Ko Lipe Should Be Your Next Beach Getaway

Thailand has always been well known for their beautiful beaches. But not many know about their best kept secret – Ko Lipe, a pristine tiny island located southernmost of Thailand. Here’s our take on why you should consider Ko Lipe for your next beach holiday.

Ko Lipe – the ‘Maldives’ of Thailand

1. Soft white sand and crystal clear waters

Stayed at Sunrise Beach where it was a lot quieter and more beautiful!

The water is so clear that when we took a photo of our feet in the water, it looked as though we were just stepping on sand! No joke! Despite the number of longtail boats, we were very impressed that they managed to keep their waters so clean!

Tip: Stay at Sunrise Beach if you prefer a quieter experience away from all the buzz and noise.

2. Less commercialised than the other Thai beaches

The crowd on a Saturday night.

We went in early Nov which is supposedly the best time to visit Ko Lipe, and also its peak season. But surprisingly, it’s still not that crowded!

3. Delicious & affordable local food

One of my favourite things about Thailand – the local FOOD!

THE BOMB! Nutella crepe, we ate 1 almost every day :/

One of the top reasons why people love visiting Thailand is because of the delectable local cuisine! And the food here at Ko Lipe definitely did not let their name down. Not super cheap though, since after all it’s still a tourist place. An average dish costs probably around 80 to 100 baht (SGD3-4)? Our favourites include pad thai, yummy fruit shakes, thai milk tea, nutella banana CREPES, coconut ice cream, tom yum and more! Salivating as I’m typing this…..

4. Cheap and good massages

Plenty of massage shops along this Walking Street!

Where else can you get quality massages at $12 for an hour long massage?! Of course don’t expect a luxurious spa treatment and service at such a price, but for the massage alone, it’s seriously worth it. We didn’t expect much, judging from the shop’s facade. But since it was cheap and we had time to kill, we decided to pop in to try it out. And boy were we both pleasantly surprised! In fact the massage that we had here was better than the ones that we usually get in Bangkok for the same price.

5. Colourful coral reefs teeming with life

That water snake that gave us a huge scare when it started swimming towards us!

First time seeing such brightly coloured and vibrant coral reefs!

This place wins hands down for being one of the best snorkelling sites in Thailand. Unfortunately due to a tight schedule, we didn’t manage to dive. But we heard that diving here is awesome too! Especially if you appreciate beautiful corals, you will love it here.

Enjoying our dinner while watching the sunset by the beach <3

There are 2 standard packages A & B for snorkelling. Package A is cheaper (550baht) and they bring you to nearer sites for snorkelling. Package B (650baht) brings you to further sites.

BUT there’s a 3rd package that’s offered by a few vendors only (Thai beach travellers and Paradise Tours) which offers snorkelling plus plankton tour! We did that package with Thai Beach Travellers (they were the cheapest) and no regrets, highly recommended! The package consists of half a day of snorkelling during the day, followed by dinner on the beach as your eyes feast on the sunset, and then off to find the glowing planktons. More on the planktons in the next point.

6. Experience seeing millions of glowing stars underwater!

Definitely highlight of our trip! This is a MUST-DO! After the sun has set and our tummies were full, we set off on our longtail boat to a really dark area near Ko Adang. The boat soon came to a stop and our boatman excitedly told us to jump into the water, which we did! The moment there was movement in the water, the bioluminescent plankton started glowing like fireflies underwater! It was INCREDIBLE and MIND BLOWING! Too bad it was extremely difficult to take a nice photo as it was too dark and the camera can’t focus properly 🙁

Snorkelling+Glowing Plankton tour (highly recommended!): 800 baht per pax, 1.30-8pm. Includes all snorkel equipment and a simple dinner too!

Did you know? Bioluminescent plankton squirt globs of glowing chemicals into the water as a defense mechanism against predators! The glow will distract and confuse the predator, giving them time to escape! :O

7. Breathtaking view of Ko Lipe from Chadoe Cliff

As always, no trip is complete for us without a trek. This trek is highly recommended even for beginners! The entire trek up and down won’t take you longer than 2 hours! We took about 1.5 hours with some time spent taking photos and flying the drone. The terrain is challenging no doubt but the spectacular view at the summit makes it all worthwhile. The path is relatively well marked with yellow arrows pointing you in the right direction. You don’t need a guide for this trek.

For more details, check out our detailed guide on how to get to Chadoe Cliff at Ko Adang!

8. Beautiful resorts with amazing views of the sea

Serendipity Resort, beautifully nestled right at the end of Sunrise Beach.

Our cozy room at Serendipity Resort!

We stayed at 2 different beach facing resorts at Ko Lipe. The first resort that we stayed at was Serendipity Resort which was nestled amongst the greens at the edge of Sunrise Beach. The overall feel was very cozy with wooden furniture and flooring. Some rooms even have their own private pool! They even serve you breakfast in your room! If you like a more tranquil and relaxing experience, you will love it here!

Checking out our beach front room at Idyllic Concept Resort 😀

Our second night was spent at Idyllic Concept Resort which had a very different overall feel as compared to Serendipity. We were pleasantly surprised when they upgraded our room to a beach front room! The view was amazinggggg! Only thing was that there was a lack of privacy as everyone below can see you in your room :/

9. More convenient now with direct flights via Jetstar from Sg to Hat Yai!

How to get to Ko Lipe:

1. Fly direct to Hat Yai via Jetstar (~1.5 hours)

Good news is that Jetstar now flies to Hat Yai four times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays) with one-way fares starting at S$43!

2. Book a land transfer from Hat Yai airport to Pak Bara Ferry Terminal (~2 hours)

You can get your tickets online. It’ll cost around 1,700 baht (2 way) per pax for the mini van transfer from Hat Yai to Pak Bara, and speedboat ticket from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe.

3. Take a speed boat from Pak Bara Ferry Terminal to Ko Lipe (~1.5 hours)

Jetstar only just launched their flights to Hat Yai on 3rd Nov 2017 and we were one of the lucky few who were on this inaugural flight to Hat Yai! Before Jetstar launched direct flights from Singapore to Hat Yai, you’ll have to fly to Bangkok first followed by a domestic flight to Hat Yai. So we’re really glad that we managed to skip a step by flying direct to Hat Yai instead!

Thank you Jetstar for the seamless experience from checking in to the flight experience!

Hope you’ll enjoy Ko Lipe as much as we did! 😀 Do share with us tips on travelling in Ko Lipe if we missed out any!

Ultimate Guide to Climbing Chadoe Cliff at Ko Adang

Ultimate Guide to Climbing Chadoe Cliff at Ko Adang

For the best view of Ko Lipe, trek up to the top of Chadoe Cliff at Ko Adang to get a bird eye’s view of the island! Here’s our step by step guide on how to get to the view point of Chadoe Cliff.

1. Hop on a taxi boat from Sunrise Beach

Just walk along Sunrise Beach and you’ll eventually see a sign that says Taxi Boat. Or if you can’t find, just ask any of the boat man or staff around and they will point you to the right direction.

The taxi boat stand is near a huge dumpster cargo

Just inform the boat man that you’ll like to go to Ko Adang and that you’ll need around 2 hours there. He will come back and pick you up when you’re done at the same point where he dropped you off. Ours was quite punctual and we didn’t have to wait long for him.

How long does it take from Ko Lipe to Ko Adang by boat: 15-20 minutes

How much does it cost: 100 baht/pax 1 way. (doesn’t matter how many pax on the boat, they still count per head).

2. Follow the signs to Chadoe Cliff

Once you alight from the boat at Ko Adang, head towards the visitor centre, and you will see a signboard like the one below. Follow the sign to Chadoe Cliff.

Keep walking straight on the path and you’ll see a restaurant on your right. That means you’re in the right direction.

Keep walking on the path till you see a sign that says Chadoe Cliff which leads you into your first entry into the forest. Be mentally prepared, the trail is quite challenging. The start itself is quite a steep climb and you might need to clamber your way up!

3. Follow the markings and stay on the trail

Along the way you will see yellow painted arrows like the one in the photo below.

Some parts are quite challenging, almost like an obstacle course. And that’s why it’s fun!

4. Look out for the “View Point” signboard

The first view point took us around 40 minutes to get there. The first point wasn’t the best as there were some trees  blocking the view. Don’t stay there for too long, the next view’s better!

View point 2 was not bad too, but we mainly took photos at view point 3!

      

Amazing view of Ko Lipe from Chadoe Cliff’s view point 3!

To get down, it was still quite tough as some parts were really steep and slippery! Thank god we had great weather. In total we took around 1.5 hours including time used for taking photos and to fly our drone. So 2 hours should be a safe estimate if you need to let your boat man know how much time you’ll need.

Hope the above guide is useful for you! For more details on Ko Lipe, do check out our post on why you should consider Ko Lipe for your next beach getaway! 😀

Top 7 Fun Activities To Do In Tioman

Top 7 Fun Activities To Do In Tioman

Tioman has always been a favourite among beach lovers, wildlife & outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re planning a trip to Tioman soon, here are some fun activities that you can do!

1. Kayak above aquamarine waters

We’re not kidding when we say that you can literally see fishes swimming beneath you as you kayak your way around the island. At some parts the water is shallow and clear enough to see right to the bottom! For those staying at Berjaya Tioman Resort, kayaks are available for rental!

2. Snorkel with the sharks

We were enthralled to see not one, not two but 3 sharks when we snorkelling in Tioman! We saw a mama shark, papa shark and a cute little baby shark! We spotted the baby shark first and decided to follow it to see if it’ll bring us to her family. And true enough, she did! Unfortunately we didn’t manage to capture any good shots of the shark. But according to the locals, it’s very common to spot the black tip reef sharks off the shores of Tioman! So good chance you will get to see it too!

3. Trekking into the wilderness

No trip is complete without a trek for adventure/outdoor travellers 😉 Well, at least that’s true for us! Berjaya Tioman Resort offered jungle trekking as part of their activities and we did the 3 hour trek to the waterfall. Initially we thought that it might just be a very simple trek with nothing much to see. Boy were we so wrong! Our guide was excellent and he shared with us so many interesting facts along the way! We learnt about Poison Ivy, the usefulness of curry leaves and many other medicinal plants!

The trek itself was quite challenging as well. Proper footwear is definitely required. Thankfully it didn’t rain or it would have been twice as hard! Some parts were pretty steep where you had to climb up using ropes.

And….best part of the trek? A refreshing shower at the waterfall! The water was icy cold and it felt so good as the water hit our sore and aching muscles!

Tip: Bring your swimwear for the trek if you’re planning to have a splash at the waterfall!

4. Challenge your eyesight to see if you can spot any wildlife

These beautiful animals here were definitely not easy to spot! With colours that camouflage so well with the surrounding, it was so easy to miss them! To make things even harder, they are usually so still that you’ll think it’s part of the tree!

A closer look at the cute chameleon that our guide spotted! Look at his tiny hands, aren’t they just so adorable?!

We saw this monitor lizard while we were on our way back to the resort. It seemed to be digging for something, presumably food?

5. Explore the island while cycling

This is pretty much a very chill activity for those that prefer a quiet and relaxing evening. The pavements here were smooth which makes it very easy to cycle around. Not too many upslopes too. Bicycles are available for rent too at Berjaya Tioman Resort. For those that don’t know how to cycle, not to worry, they have tandem bikes too!

6. Catch the sunset with your loved one

On days with clear skies, the sunset here is sublime. Also, during the evening when it’s low tide, you can actually head out much further into the sea and take picturesque images like the one below! Look at how the water was only up to our ankles.

7. Delight your tummies with delicious local food

Especially for people who love spicy food, you will definitely enjoy Indonesian food! Their food is really savoury and tasty! At Berjaya Tioman Resort, they have a restaurant that offers buffet meals, an Indian restaurant and even a Thai restaurant!

Tip: If you’re staying at Berjaya Tioman Resort,  you must try the food at the Thai restaurant. It’s one of the best that we’ve ever had!

Essential Information

Where we stayed at

Berjaya Tioman Resort
The rooms here were really spacious and there’s even a living room in the Deluxe Room! The service staff were great too!

The bathroom was also really big and comes with a bathtub too!

How we got here

We took a coach (arranged by the resort) from Singapore to Mersing and then take the ferry direct to Berjaya Tioman Resort. Transport can be arranged by the resort.

Berjaya Tioman Resort is now open all year long. The resort is now offering a special ‘Room with Meals Package’ from MYR420 nett per room per night. Package is available from 1 November 2017 until 15 February 2018.

8 Reasons Why Malaysia Should Be Next On Your Bucket List

8 Reasons Why Malaysia Should Be Next On Your Bucket List

For us Singaporeans, Malaysia’s only less than 2 hours flight away. There’s no need to venture out far for your next adventure! Here’s why you should consider Malaysia as your next weekend getaway.

1. A wide variety of trekking routes for you to choose from

Whether it’s your first time or 100th time trekking, there’s always a mountain for you to climb in Malaysia. For beginners, Mount Kinabalu would be a great starter as the path is relatively well paved and safe and you can complete it in 2 days 1 night. However, it’s still challenging with an altitude of 4,100m and you will still need to train for it. For the more advanced climbers, you can consider climbing Gunung Tahan which takes 9 arduous days to complete!

2. Enjoy amazing summit views after you’re done trekking

The good thing about trekking in Malaysia, is the views that come with it. Especially if you’re planning on trekking Mount Kinabalu, you will be rewarded with spectacular views at the summit. Aim to reach before sunrise to witness the most gorgeous sunrise ever from the summit.

3. Dive with hammerhead sharks and a million other fishes

If you’re not a fan of mountains, and you’d prefer being underwater, you will love it here too! Our favourite would be diving in Sipadan, where we had one of the most amazing dive experiences ever! We were in the middle of a Jackfish storm and also, it was our first time seeing so many sharks!

4. Explore the mystical caves of Sarawak

There are just so many caves to explore in Sarawak. But the strange thing is that we never get bored of it, even after visiting our 7th cave! Each cave is so unique and interesting in its own ways! One of our favourite caves has got to be the Fairy Cave in Sawarak. The entire feel of the place was very magical and fairy tale like. We were so amazed to see so much greenery inside a cave!

5. Immerse yourself in the local culture

For those that prefer a more cultural experience, there are many temples in Malaysia that you can visit. One of the more recent temples that we visited was Pu Ji Shi temple in Sandakan. The temple was located at the top of a hill and you will get to enjoy the magnificent view of the city.

6. All foodies will definitely love it here – no doubt about that

The local food here is seriously the best. We don’t even know where to start. From the local’s version of bak ku teh, to their kolo mee, even their usual wonton mee is very delicious. Not forgetting affordable too! You can check out our favourite top 5 must try foods in Sandakan!

7. Surround yourself with beautiful wildlife and nature

Animal lovers, you have to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitan Centre. This centre takes in orphaned or injured orangutans and nurse them back to health before releasing them into the wild. It was such an amazing experience seeing these cute orangutans up close! Do check out our post on recommended things to do in Sandakan!

8. Simply relax at the Maldives of South East Asia

For those looking for a cheaper alternative to Maldives, you can consider visiting Manukan Island in Sabah! The water there is really clear and the sand is so soft and white! For those with a bigger pocket, you can consider staying at Manukan Island Resort as they have their own private beach and you don’t have to deal with the crowd! Alternatively, if you’re restricted by budget and time, you can also hop on a day tour to Manukan to enjoy the beach and their activities before heading back to the city! It’s only a 10 minutes ferry ride away from Kota Kinabalu!

How to get to the above places in Malaysia

Malaysia Airlines flies directly to Kota Kinabalu/Miri/Sandakan/Kuching and their flights are estimated around 2 hours away from Singapore! Check out the best MAS online booking you can get now!

How to book your accommodation in Malaysia

You can book your hotel using Traveloka, where you can easily filter your selection by location or price range! One good thing about booking with them is that the pricing you find on their webpage is the actual price with no hidden charges or taxes. A lot of the other booking sites are not as transparent with their prices.

10 Interesting Facts about Davao That You Will Want To Know

10 Interesting Facts about Davao That You Will Want To Know

If you’re looking for an interesting and off the beaten path travel destination, this post is for you.

Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

So first up, where in the world is Davao Oriental?

Davao is located south of Philippines, and also its largest city. Davao Oriental is located right in the Davao region in Mindanao. Most people will think of the more popular places when they think of Philippines (ie. Boracay, Cebu, Palawan). These places are unquestionably beautiful, but also at the same time overcrowded and commercialised. So let us introduce Davao Oriental to you, the next food/party/beach travel destination to visit in the Philippines!

1. Davao has one of the nicest beaches in Philippines.

Most beach lovers will flock over to Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, etc in a heart beat. But if you’re like us, who’d prefer the less commercialised beaches, you will love Dahikan Beach in Mati City. Aquamarine waters, void of tourists, cheap & fresh coconuts and fun water sport activities like skim boarding and snorkelling!

My amateur attempt at skim boarding, very fun (and challenging)!

Fun fact for the day

Do you know that Dahican beach is also known as the skim boarding capital of Philippines?! Time to get your skim board ready!

Don’t forget to check out the largest whale in Philippines at the Sabangan Museum when you’re in Mati City!

2. Durian is everywhere in Davao and is very very cheap!

Durian lovers? You will love Davao! Durian, the king of fruit, is synonymous with Davao because it’s so widely available everywhere in Davao! Durian is being paired with almost every single food/drink here, not kidding. You have durian candy, durian coffee (it’s super nice!), durian pastries, durian ice cream, durian curry, basically durian everything! Durian is also really cheap here, it costs just S$0.50 for 1 kg!! The rich fertile volcanic soil and tropical climate of Davao make it perfect to grow durians and they have about 20 different species of durian here.

Best time to visit Davao for durian feasting

For hardcore durian fans, head to Davao during Aug-Oct when it’s the perfect season for durians!

Durian halo-halo is absolutely DA BOMB DIGGITY!!

3. The president of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, lives here in Davao.

No wonder why Davao is often coined as one of the safest city in Philippines, their president resides here! Interestingly though, the security outside his house didn’t seem extravagant. In fact, if you hadn’t known, you probably wouldn’t even realise that you’ve just walked past Duterte’s house! Yes he still does live here! He’ll be in Manila during the weekdays but he’ll return here for the weekend!

Yes no joke, this is really the Philippines’s president’s house!

4. You can actually trek on top of a bonsai forest at Mount Hamiguitan (yes on top)!

This was one of the more interesting discoveries that we had during this trip. How cool is it to be able to trek on top of an entire bonsai forest which covered more than 6,000 hectares! With its immense collection of flora and fauna and unique landscape, it’s no wonder that this place has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The mountain is only about 1,620m and will require at least 8 hours to reach the summit.

Photo by dfjtees

Unfortunately due to a tight schedule, we only made it to the museum of Mt Hamiguitan 🙁 We will be back!

Getting wowed away by the short presentation of Mt Hamiguitan

5. Davao has one of the best artisan goat cheese ever.

Cheese lovers, just a heads up, do you know that Davao produces one of the best cheese in the country (and maybe even in the world?) Unfortunately you can only get their cheese in Davao itself as they do not export it.

Perfect souvenir for cheese lovers back home!

You can get artisanal handmade cheese from Malagos Food, perfect as souvenirs for your loved ones back home if they happen to be cheese lovers too!

6. Party your night away at the Summer Frolic EDM festival!

This was our first time attending an EDM party in Philippines and we had soooo much fun! Summer Frolic is held once a year in Davao Oriental, Mati City. Think loud music, soap suds, coloured powder/paint, free flow of alcohol, bubbles and international DJs, everything that make a fun party!

Wheeeee! So fun to play with soap and bubbles! 😀

With the party squad!

7. You can enjoy some of the best award winning chocolates here in Davao.

At Malagos Chocolate, they pride themselves with their tree to bar method of making chocolates. They farm and harvest their own cacao beans and produce chocolates that are on par with the best in the world. They won the best drinking chocolates in the world at the 2015 International Chocolate Awards World Drinking Chocolate Competition in Germany.

8. Get your adrenaline fixed by taking the first ever ultralight flight in Davao!

Yup, just you and the pilot on a small wall-less aircraft.  Imagine that! It’s practically a 360 degrees view throughout the entire ride! The entire ride will take only around 15-20minutes with a fee of PHP1,300. But the literally breathtaking view from above is definitely worth the money!

Image credit: Inakisievert

9. Coconut is used for almost everything here.

Majority of Philippines coconut trees can be found in Davao and boy do they produce the freshest coconuts ever! They use coconut for almost everything, ie. delicious coconut flavoured food/desserts/drinks, coconut oil, coconut shampoo/soap/moisturiser, basically coconut everything.

image by Johanna Alexis

10. Do you know that a dinosaur still resides in the Philippines?

Well, at least not a “live” one, but a sleeping dino :p This shot is almost becoming the iconic landmark of Davao Oriental. You can find it along Badas Point in Barangay Dawan in Davao Oriental. Anyone driving along the scenic coast will definitely stop for a photo with the sleeping dinosaur! With the beautiful blue skies, fluffy clouds and azure waters, I don’t see why not! 🙂

Can you make out the shape of the sleeping dino? 😉

So how can we get to Davao from Singapore?

Good news is that Cebu Pacific flies direct to Davao twice a week and it only takes 4 hours to get there! So what are you waiting for! 😀 Book your tickets here!

More about Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is the largest airline in the Philippines, offering its low fares and seat sales on twice weekly flights between Singapore and Davao. It also flies direct to four other destinations from Singapore, including Manila (32 times weekly), Cebu (seven times weekly), Clark (seven times weekly) as well as Iloilo (up to three times weekly).

CEB also operates an extensive network across the Philippines with its 37 domestic destinations. Operating from six strategically placed hubs: Manila, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo and Davao, CEB is the preferred airline to explore the Philippine archipelago.

You can book flights through here or their Singapore number +65-3158-0808. Don’t forget to check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!