Darwin, Australia

Darwin is the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory and a former frontier outpost. It’s also a gateway to massive Kakadu National Park. I would recommend joining a tour to cover the Northern Territory, I joined a Topdeck tour allowing me to make friends, not have to worry about plans and especially driving on endless roads (lots of dead kangaroos along the way, you may also spot snakes and crocodiles as I did). Here is what we got up to:

  1. Mindil Beach and markets, be sure to go during sunset!20180506_181135
  2. Crocosaurus Cove on Mitchell Street (main street with the mall, hostels, restaurants, Coles and pubs). Up-close wildlife exhibits with reptiles, turtles & a saltwater crocodile in a viewing cage. You can also pay more for the ‘cage of death’, an unclose encounter with crocodiles! Or enjoy a free photoshoot with various reptiles, and a paid photoshoot with baby crocodiles.
  3. Darwin Waterfront, wave pool and open air cinema with more fancy restaurants along the waterfront.
  4. Litchfield National Park: Wangi Falls, Termite Mounds, Florence Falls, Buley Rock holes.
  5. Katherine: Edith Falls, Katherine Gorge boat tour and Katherine Hot Springs.
  6. Kakadu National Park: Aboriginal rock art at Anbangbang, Yellow Water Billabong Boat Tour and Sunset at Ubirr (best one in my opinion).

Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide is South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital. Its ring of parkland on the River Torrens is home to renowned museums such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, displaying expansive collections including noted Indigenous art, and the South Australian Museum, devoted to natural history. Below is my list of things you can do/visit in Adelaide or from Adelaide:

  1. Central Market: Opened in 1869, this gourmet haunt has 80+ vendors selling organic fruit, premium meats & more.
  2. Rundle Street for shopping
  3. Handley Street for the pubs, clubs and bars
  4. Adelaide Oval, world famous cricket ground
  5. Stroll along River Torrens or grab a free bike and cycle around the river. You will pass Adelaide festival centre, Convention Centre, Torrens River Weir, Torrens Bridge, Golf course, Light statue, Adelaide Oval and St Peter’s Cathedral.
  6. Norther Terrace for the art gallery, State Library, Museum, Migration Museum, Adelaide University, War Memorials, Parliament House and Botanic Gardens.
  7. Adelaide Zoo
  8. Adelaide Hills (vineyards)
  9. Mount Lofty view point (you can hike there too)20180521_102944
  10. Port Noarlunga
  11. Barossa Valley and Handorf
  12. Melba Chocolate Factory: Melba’s Chocolate Factory is a ‘working’ tourism factory in a heritage listed complex 40 minutes from Adelaide, South Australia; in the picturesque township of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. https://www.melbaschocolates.com.au
  13. Berenberg Jam farm and the world’s largest rocking horse: Beerenberg Farm is an Australian producer of jams, condiments, sauces and dressings, located in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.
  14. Horseshoe Bay sunrise
  15. Maslins Nude Beach
  16. Glenelg (direct train from the city centre) – you can spot Dolphins here too.
  17. Victor Harbour where you can also camel ride
  18. Cleland Conservation Park where you can hold a koala or feed a wombat
  19. Day trip to Kangaroo Island with a tour so you will cover: Seal Bay, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Koala Walk), Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks, Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and Admirals Arch. This day will start around 6:30am and you won’t be back in your Adelaide accommodation till 10:30pm!
  20. Boomer Beach good for body surfing
  21. Flinders Ranges: The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia, which starts about 200 km north of Adelaide. The discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 km from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna.
  22. Port Lincoln: a city on the Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia. It’s known for its fishing industry and seafood. Axel Stenross Maritime Museum details historic seafaring, with old vessels and a blacksmith’s shop. Nearby, mostly surrounded by water, rugged Lincoln National Park is home to rare flora and fauna. At the edge of the city, Winter Hill Lookout has views of Port Lincoln, plus surrounding islands and coves.
  23. Lake Torrens: Lake Torrens is a normally ephemeral salt lake in central South Australia. After extreme rainfall events, the lake can flow out through the Pirie-Torrens Corridor to the Spencer Gulf.
  24. Lake Eyre: officially known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, contains the lowest natural point in Australia, at approximately 15 m below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, is the largest lake in Australia covering 9,500 km²

Singapore

Singapore is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. If I were to ask my Singaporean friends what they would recommend, they are all very proud of their food and hawker food centres! Hawker centres (also known as food courts) are down-to-earth culinary destinations where you can find a wide variety of local dishes, from Chicken Rice, Fried Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Bak Kut Teh, Satay, Laksa, and Chilli Crab to the vegetarian Yong Tau Fu dish. So be ready to eat a lot when you visit and be blown away by how cheap the food is. I find all hawker centres foods are just as good, so best to ask a Singaporean which one they would recommend.

Apart from that, here are my other top recommendations:

  1. A very easy night time walk to see Singapore’s prettiest skyline: Walk from Clark Quay (restaurants and clubs) to the MCI Rainbow Building (nice photo spot) to Fullerton hotel (beautiful bridge and hotel, you can also use this hotel as a short cut to the bay front). You will see Boat Quay across the river along the way as well as City Hall on your side of the river footpath. Once you reach the bay front,  you can do a circular loop where you’ll see the Merlion, random art sculptures along the way, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Helix Bridge, Lotus looking Art and Science building, tall office buildings, Louis Vuitton and the Ferris Wheel. I was lucky to have also caught a temporary Carnival. You can definitely repeat this during the day but be aware that Singapore is really HOT!

  2. Haji lane (hipster, soho like alley with live music and bars) and Zam Zam restaurant for famous murtabak (stuffed pancake with egg, onion and a meat of your choice)
  3. Visit Katong to see typical Peranakan style houses and why not try a typical Singaporean breakfast (Kaya toast dipped in soft boiled egg)
  4. CHIJMES is a historic building complex in Singapore, which began life as a Catholic convent. It is now used for weddings and many restaurants have opened up. You can even do yoga in the courtyard.
  5. Sentosa Island – the happiest island ever. You have Universal Studios and a lot of other activities such as flow boarding. Be sure to give yourself at least 3 days to enjoy everything on this man made beach island.
  6. Orchard Road is known for shopping if you’re into malls that follow one after another.

Faro and Lagos, Portugal

Faro and Lagos are part of The Algarve, with Faro being the capital and where the airport is. You can see Faro in half a day so feel free to explore the rest of the Algarve, in particular Lagos which was beautiful! To get to Lagos, it would be best to pre-book a shuttle from transfer ( I used Greenbus costing 25euros, you can probably find something cheaper as I didn’t realise I needed to book in advance). This will save you time because if you wanted to take a public train or bus, you would first have to get to Faro city centre to then wait for specific set times and public transport stops at more places. A bus from the airport to the train station cost about 2euros and the train to Lagos costs 7.50euros or 5.50euros for students.

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Walk around Lagos within the old town walls which is a tiny area so you can easily do in a few hours. There is a church, the fortress, a unique male statue and on a Saturday, the fresh fruit market is fantastic for cheap and good fruits. Spot all the art work too!
  2. Walk along the boardwalk, using the footbridge to see the Marina and Meia Praia beach. Consider taking a boat tour which departs from the boardwalk to see the caves, or kayak tour which departs from the fortress. 20180208_113555
  3. Walk from Praia Da Batata beach all the way to the light house to see sun set. You will pass by Praia do Pinhao, Praia Dona ana, Praia do Camila and Praia grande as you follow the walking path, stopping by each beach as you wish.
  4. Surf in Praia Porto De Mos known for good waves
  5. Take a day trip to Sagres, the extreme southwest of continental Europe (7.50euros return bus ticket from Lagos bus centre) and use the Tuk Tuk Sagres service which is 100% electric, therefore you won’t smell awful fumes and you’ll easily access all the main tourist spots rather than the usual huge tourist coaches. The Tuk Tuk shop is just outside the only tourist information centre in Sagres (18 euros for 1 person but the price decreases the more people there are, up to 5 people). The 2h tour will take you to Baleeira Harbour, see a view of Mareta Beach, Tonal Beach and Belich Beach, visit St. Vincent Cape (lighthouse), visit a fishing harbour and you can either return to the starting point or be dropped off at Belich Fortress to enter and explore at you’re own leisure. You’ll learn how fisherman catch all sorts of seafood!
  6. Faro is extremely walkable, especially with its designated pedestrian only shopping area, and the small old town still surrounded by a wall. Consider visiting the chapel of bones if you are interested in seeing a cathedral known for a wall of skeletons (I didn’t do this). I did enjoy taking photos of the beautifully designed and colourful doors around the city.

    Extra note: Make sure you have a nata or two! 20180211_091229

Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa. It’s dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain’s tallest peak.  The island has many beaches (with sands from yellow to black) and resort areas, including Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas.

  1. Hike Masca taking less than 3hours from the top of the mountain to the sea where you can then take a boat/water taxi back to Los Gigantes-  Beginning amongst giant agave spikes and prickly pear cactus, the terrain gives way to the valley floor where, fed by underground currents, mini forests of willowy cane and lush ferns frame gentle waterfalls and still ponds of emerald translucency. You can swim as you wait for your boat to arrive, so bring your swim stuff and towel.
  2. Go jet-skiing near where you get off the boat after your hike10900093_10153926628458849_2775179284665471745_o
  3. Tiede quad safari. The guide takes photos on the trip which you can then purchase after for memories and to support their business. Mount Teide is a volcano on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. Its 3,718-metre summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic11036498_10153926625273849_1789620945618698312_n17991_10153926625158849_7564016527436502834_n
  4. Siam Park – famous waterpark with the coolest almost 90 degree slide! Remember to keep your legs together, crossed at the ankle for safety. Pre-buy your tickets and online to avoid long queues, make sure you print it out and make sure you arrive well before opening hours.
  5. Los Cristianos Beach because it was closest to my hotel – The beaches are beautiful and it has a harbour that offers fishing trips, pleasure cruises, outings on glass bottom boats, diving excursions and ferries to the neighbouring island of La Gomera.

Extra note: Playa de las Américas is next to Los Christians beach where you can go to party the night away