Day trips from Taipei

Having been to Taipei several times now, I decided to explore the countryside a little bit more. Here are some day trip options even though I chose to stay over night at Jiu Fen to make the trip a bit more relaxing and to avoid large groups of tourists:

  1. Jiu Fen and Jing Gua Shi – Jiufen is a mountain town east of Taipei. It’s known for the narrow alleyways of its old town, packed with teahouses, street-food shacks and souvenir shops. It is also known as the back drop for the movie Spirited Away! Don’t forget to try Grandma Lai’s famous mochi type dessert opposite the post office along the old street.Close by, the Gold Mine Museum in Jing Gua Shi traces the town’s history as a mining hub during the Japanese-era gold rush. Be sure to check out the golden waterfall too which you will surprisingly find just by the main road.

    You can easily take a public bus from Rui Fang station to Jiu Fen and from Jiu Fen to Jing Gua Shi.

  2. Jing Tong to Ping Xi to Shi Fen to Rui Fang – Buy a day pass or use your easy card to access the Ping Xi line train that connects all these must see villages. This area is rich in history and is famous for the sky lantern experience. I chose to do the sky lantern at Ping Xi station instead of the famous Shi Fen one because of the number of tourists! Releasing a sky lantern starts from 150NT depending on the number of colours you want on your latern as each color represents a different meaning (this matters to some people). Shifen is also known for it’s waterfall so be sure to check that out (closes at 4:30pm) – photo in my Taipei blog post.
  3. Ying Ge is famous for the production of porcelain and an abundance of art studios and shops. It was good fun learning to make pottery! Note that it take’s about a month for it to be fired and colored so it might be useful to have a Taiwan friend help you pick this up as I’m not sure that they do international deliveries. It cost 150NT to make and an additional 150NT for the firing process etc.

Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

Banská Bystrica is a city in central Slovakia located on the Hron River in a long and wide valley encircled by the mountain chains of the Low Tatras, the Veľká Fatra, and the Kremnica Mountains. This is also where Outbreak Europe Summer edition is held (Bboy jam). The town isn’t big, literally one high street, two malls and a waterpark. But worth a visit because it’s really pretty!

Accom: Kuria Hotel. Blown away by how cool the building was! Felt like I was living in a different age. They have done really well to preserve the historic buildings across the city

Here are some photos from the event. The first two days took place near the water park and the final day at Urban Spot for Rep your country. And of course photos of the town.

 

 

South Island New Zealand Road Trip

Having accomplished the North Island on my working holiday visa and loving it, I definitely needed to do the South Island too! Here is my 16 day itinerary and photo highlights to encourage you to take on this adventure. #noregrets

Tips:

  • I would definitely recommend all the accommodations I stayed at apart from the Takaka one.
  • There is plenty of possum road kill on the South Island so be careful and some roads were icy during this period so I can imagine it would be worse in Winter.
  • My rock climbing and paragliding got cancelled due to poor weather so always have some idea of what you could do if the weather isn’t in your favour and be ready to adapt the below itinerary. If you see the weather is good, move main hikes around and accomplish them while you still can!
  • Always fuel up when your tank isn’t full and you see a petrol station because you never know when you will come across another one!
  • Pre load your destinations on maps as signal can die at any point and bring an iPod as the radio could also get cut at any point.
  • Clockwise or Anti-clockwise road trip loop from Christchurch? Clockwise (what I did) starts off more intense and then it chills off as there isn’t as much to do/see/as many long days.
  • Always cheaper and safer to travel with another person.

Day 1 – Landed late at night in Christchurch from Sydney and stayed at the YMCA which was surprisingly clean, comfortable and spacious. Highly recommended especially it’s central location and lowest price.

 

Day 2Christchurch and 3h drive to Tekapo – Started the morning with the Christchurch Gondola. There is a $10 NZD return Gondola specific shuttle that takes you from Canterbury Museum to the Gondola base and back to the city departing every hour on the half hour. The Gondola ($30) takes your to amazing lake and mountain views and there is even a short indoor train ride which takes you through a bit of history. You don’t really need more than 1 hour unless you’ll eat at the restaurant up top too.

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View from the top of Christchurch Gondola 

I then spent plenty of time at the free Canterbury Museum and Botanic Gardens, walked to Cathedral Square to see the damaged Cathedral from the Earthquakes ><

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Botanical Gardens during Autumn 

Picked up my car from OMEGA car rentals (not recommended, not cleaned well and my car roof ended up leaking during my Queenstown leg of the trip so had to go out of my planned route to change cars midway though which wasted time) and drove to Tekapo to stay two nights as I wanted two chances of seeing the famous stars at night incase I came across bad weather. It was completely cloudy this night so enjoyed my AirBnB Ashwick Flat

Day 3Tekapo and 2h drive to Mount Cook – Caught sunrise at Lake Tekapo. Drove to the start of the Hooker Valley Track which should have been a 3hour return walk but the track was closed near the start so only made it to the first bridge. I then did the 1h return Kea lookout track which is in the same area for a view of Mount Cook. Anorak Mount Cook Village is near by where you can stop for lunch and the information centre. I then drove to Lake Pukaki and did the kettle hole track for a higher view point and 1h loop  walk. This day was perfectly clear so I spent plenty of time at Lake Tekapo (bridge and Church of Good Shepherd) for sunset and viewing the stars. You can do a tour from Mt John Observatory but this cost over $100NZD (includes telescopes etc), but I just chose to enjoy it near my car for free.

Day 4 – 5h drive from Tekapo to Catlins – Nugget point and lighthouse, Purakaunui falls, Matai Falls and Horseshoe falls (these two are near each other on the same track) as Mclean Falls (the more famous one) was closed, and Florence hill lookout of the bay. Visited Curio Bay for penguins and dolphins after checking in but it wasn’t the right season. This was a random add on since the Mclean falls track was closed. I stayed at The Whistling Frog Resort, right next to Mclean Falls track, and the shared toilet and kitchen facilities were really clean.

Day 5 – 3.5h drive to Fiordland National Park and Te Anau– Eglinton Valley for views, Mirror Lake (don’t go when the sun is too high because you won’t see a reflection or when it’s bad weather because the lake has to be still), Chasm Gorge, Totuko Bridge, Milford Sound, Lake Gunn Nature Walk from Cascade Creek and stay the night in Te Anau. I fitted in a short lakeside walk at the start of the kepler Track in Te Anau before resting up in Fiordland Hotel the next two nights.

Day 6Te Anau bird sanctuary and lake, Humboldt falls, Key Summit Hike 3h, Te Anau Lion lookout point

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Te Anau Lake

Day 7 – 2h drive to Queenstown and another 40 to Glenorchy for the Glenorchy Lagoon walkway (1-2h depending on whether you want to do one or two different loops). Visited the little town for its lake and red boat shed too before heading back to Queenstown for skyline Gondola. Free parking is super hard to find in Queenstown (lots of tourists) so be prepared to walk up/down hills and go in circles before you find a spot. Beautiful skyline view indeed and enjoy the luge ride too. Stayed the night at 8 Cotswold Court AirBnB.

Day 8Queenstown where we were suppose to do rock climbing and paragliding but the weather wasn’t great for it. Tried the famous Fergburger, walked the gardens and did two escape rooms before catching the Autumn festival in Arrowtown. From Arrowtown, we drove to Wanaka passing by Cardrona to stay the night at the amazing Airbnb for two nights, 10 Mills Road, Kirimoko Crescent. Since the weather was descent, I visited the Wanaka tree before sunset in case the weather forecast of rain to come would be correct (glad I did).

 

Day 9 – Wanaka – This day was suppose to be for the famous Roy’s Peak hike but our Airbnb host recommend we skip the hike because of poor weather conditions and heavy winds up top. Managed to book horse riding in Cardrona instead for the morning, spent the rest of the day at Puzzling world (great indoor option) and watched Avengers at night at their quaint Paradiso cinema (sofa cinema!). Found out the car war leaking from the roof onto the drivers seat somehow so had to sort some admin and organise for a change of cars.

Day 10Wanaka – Drove back to Queenstown in the morning to change the car and back to Wanaka to compete the 6h Roy’s Peak hike (did it in less than 6h including photos, not without pain! As you are going straight up and straight down for hours on muddy ground since it was raining and snowing) Did not want to miss the hike and am so glad I pushed through in the rain and snow as when I reached the top, the sky cleared for a window of about 25mins! The view was absolutely incredible and worth it. This was a tiring day starting the hike late and then having to drive 3.5h to our next stop Franz Josef to stay the next two nights. Worth it for the views! Stayed at Rainforest Retreat which was really nice and had a hot tub/Sauna too.

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View point from Roy’s Peak

Day 11Franz Josef – so blessed the weather was perfect as all heli-hikes were cancelled before the entire week before we arrived. Our helicopter hike went ahead on Franz Josef Glacier and afterwards, we drove to Fox Glacier for Lake Matheson. From here you can see Mount Cook and the Tasman Glacier, and the lake is famous for being on most NZ postcards.

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Franz Josef Glacier

Day 12 Hokitika Gorge which wasn’t as blue as it could be due to previous days of heavy rain but was still pretty, Punakaiki Pancake rock and blowholes (very unique rock formation), Truman Track where I spotted my first ever blue mushrooms (random), West Port for their River walk before heading to Murchison Hamden Hotel. The cheapest accom ever yet really good. $37 for the night! This day is a great middle stopping point on the way to the Nelson region furthest North of the South Island which is quite a large area. The drive along the West Coats is really pretty and you see NZ’s version of the twelve apostles along the way throughout the coastline.

Day 13Nelson/Abel Tasman National Park – Lake Rotoiti in the morning where the walkway still had ice on it giving it a great effect on the pictures. Te Waikoropupu Springs which definitely requires a drone if you want to see all the colours, and clear weather. You can tell it’s really clean from just looking at it but it’s hard to capture on pictures. Wharariki beach (this was pretty incredible, felt like a small version of the Sahara with all the dunes and pure sand) for rock formations, seals (including baby seals swimming in the pools near the beach) and a short drive to see Cape Farewell point (or you could walk there and back from the beach). Stayed the night in Takaka Telegraph hotel just to break up the drive to Nelson the next day.

Day 14Nelson/Abel Tasman National Park – Drove to Wainui falls (3.4km return), Skinner Point Lookout and Goat Bay 2h walk from Totaranui Beach and enjoyed amazing burgers at Fat Tui Foodtruck Marahau before ending the day with Split Apple Rock. Stayed the night at the Prince Albert Backpackers and Bar which was really good as they had plenty of facilities for guest such as a spacious TV room and free waffle breakfast.

Day 15 – 3h drive to Kaikoura for the Peninsula Walkway (it’s a 3h loop from the Seal Colony/point Kean Carpark). Drove to the Kaikoura view point (absolutely stunning panoramic views) and started the way from there actually as Google maps didn’t show there was a carpark at Point Kean. Saw seals of course! Headed to Hanmer Springs after ($25 entry for the hot pools, $5 for towels, extra $10 to use the slides). You could spend awhile here if you pay for the slides as it’s pretty much a water park. I just enjoyed the hot pools, hottest going up to 42 degrees! The petrol station here closes at 6pm so be sure to fill up before then. Drove another 1.5h to get to Honeyfields Alpaca Farm where we stayed the night. This was by far the best accom, $220 a night for a big apartment including a farm tour the next morning and breakfast.

Day 16Honeyfields Alpaca Farm – enjoyed farm things – feeding Alpacas, petting them, walking them, holding a chicken, picking fresh eggs, trying honey before driving 20mins to return the car near Christchurch Airport.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the coastal capital of the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. People always compare Melbourne and Sydney but it’s really up to you to decide which city your prefer as they both have pros and cons. Melbourne is known for being more artsy but you could get four seasons in one day! Here is a list of things to do in the city, a few eating recommendations and near by road trips you can do too.

  1. Adelphi Hotel rooftop pool (glass bottom)
  2. Aga The French Patisserie
  3. Art Centre Melbourne
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  4. Australian Centre for Moving Image
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  5. Ballarat day trip known for its Gold!
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  6. Bendigo Day Trip
  7. Brighton Beach for the famous colourful beach huts20180623_164239
  8. Carlton Gardens where you’ll find Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building
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  9. Chadstone shopping centre with 550 shops, free shuttle available
  10. China Town
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  11. Cycle Merri Creek Trail
  12. Dandenongs Day trip (puffing billy railway)
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  13. Day trip to Yarra Valley with Autopia Tours
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  14. Degraves street for cafes
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  15. Eat at Hawker Chan (Singaporean food)
  16. Etihad Stadium
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  17. Eureka Tower 88 floor observation deck
  18. Federation Square
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  19. Flag Staff Garden
  20. Flinders Street station
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  21. Forum Theatre
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  22. Geelong day trip
  23. Get a bird’s eye view from the balcony of Hamer Hall2F232308-EBE0-4D05-8C4F-EF343265EB6D
  24. Grampians

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    On the way to Balconies Lookout Point
  25. Great Ocean Road

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    Gibson Steps Beach
  26. Hanging Rock – Macedon Ranges ( I would highly recommend Hanging Rock Llama Walking Tours hosted by Mark, be sure to book ahead)850D80D9-FE42-481F-9AFF-C3A022CE306E
  27. Heide Museum of Modern Art
  28. Hopetoun Tea Rooms – always fully booked
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  29. Hosier Lane and Centre Place for street art
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  30. Immigration Museum
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  31. Luna Park
  32. Lune Croissanterie, always sells out
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  33. Melbourne Museum
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  34. Melbourne Zoo
  35. Mornington Peninsula day trip with Bunyip Tours which will include either the hot springs or Sorrento and Port Sea in the morning followed by the Enchanted Adventure Gardens in the afternoon

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    Arthur’s Seat View Point
  36. National Gallery Victoria
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  37. Nicholas building (shopping)
  38. Old Melborne Gaol
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  39. Old Treasury Building (really good free museum)4E60113F-7576-48E9-9B62-E71BDAA82C8F
  40. Parliament House
  41. Philip Island day trip, they come out after sunset
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  42. Pidapipo Gelato (try the Nutella one)
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  43. Port Campbell (part of Great Ocean Road trip)
  44. Princes Bridge
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  45. Queen Victoria Market
  46. Royal Botanic Gardens
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  47. Royal Exhibition Building
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  48. Sofitel Hotel toilets for a view!
  49. Sorrento and Port Sea
  50. South Melbourne Market
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  51. St Kilda where you can also see Penguins for free
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  52. St Paul’s Cathedral
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  53. State library
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  54. Take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento
  55. Take the free city loop tain
  56. The Block Arcade
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  57. The Star – their ferris wheel for great views from up top
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  58. Town Hall
  59. Waterfront city/New Quay
  60. Yarra River

Great Ocean Road and Grampians

I’d like to share my itinerary for this famous road trip to make your life easier!

Tip: It tends to be gloomy in the morning with really blue skies 12pm onwards, so keep this in mind for your photos.

Day 1:

Pick up car from Melbourne Airport, drive to the Great Ocean Road putting in Torquay as you first stop. The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives whilst fighting WW1. From here, head to Bell’s beach known for its surfing -> Anglesea -> Memorial Arch -> Lorne -> Eskirne Falls > Teddy’s Lookout -> Apollo Bay for lunch and grab takeaway dinner here -> Otway National Park for Cape Otway light station (this is a paid activity and closes at 5pm with last entry being 430pm. If you miss this, you can still do a free walk on the side to see the lighthouse from a distance). Check in to 12 Apostles Inn and drive to Gibson Steps and the 12 Apostles for sunset.

This sounds like a lot in one day but keep in mind it’s all about the drive and view points so nothing took up too much time other than the lighthouse walk. Of course we took the first flight that got us into Melbourne ASAP.

Day 2:

Continue along the Great Ocean Road and ensure plenty of time to stop at the lookouts along the way. There are short walks at Loch and Gorge -> Bay of Islands -> Logans Beach viewing platform for whale watching (May-Oct is best) -> Warrnambool for lunch and cheesy factory-> Tower Hill State Game Reserve for multiple walk options -> Port Fairy for Griffith Island lighthouse (nice gentle walk) -> Stay the night in Warrnambool Redwood Manor Motel Apartments.

 

Day 3:

Drive to the Grampians! First stop Dunkeld where you will find The Old Bakery known for its croissants (opens 9am) -> Boroka Lookout especially stunning at sunset if you wanted to do the drive here the night before instead (90m from carpark, best view) -> Reeds lookout (100m from carpark) -> The Balconies (Easy 2km return walk) starting from the Reeds lookout carpark -> Mackenzie Falls 2km return to the base of the falls (there are also other short walks to other falls from here) -> Beehive falls which is almost the highest point of the Grampians National Park (there wasn’t any water when we went, seasonal, 2.8km return therefore not worth doing) -> Pinnacle Lookout (2.1km climbing rocks too, best hike, starting from Sundial Carpark). Stay at Halls Gap, The Grampians Motel and eat at The Views Bar and Restaurant. Food around this area is pricy because there isn’t much choice. Halls Gap is the base for the Grampians. Sunset is best from The Balconies and Reeds Lookout if you want to catch this.

We initially thought we needed to split all these across two days but it is absolutely doable to see and hike everything in the one day as long as you stay the night because you will need the rest!

 

Day 4

Grampians to Ballarat exploring the town known for Gold. From the information centre in the city centre, pick up a free walking tour guide so you can read up on the historic buildings you will see everywhere you walk. Definitely visit Sovereign Hill and the gold museum. Drive back to the airport to return the car and fly home.

North Island, New Zealand

Kia Ora (hello,welcome, goodbye, have a safe journey)

I’ve just come back from my 10 day road trip from Wellington to Auckland and thought I would share my entire itinerary here. I definitely could have spent longer at each destination due to the many hikes so i’ll be back!

Day 1: Arrived in Wellington and picked up our JUCY car rental from the airport to drive ourselves to the city centre not far away. Climb up Mount Victoria for a 360 degree view of the city and enjoy the play area there too (definitely adult friendly). Take the Wellington cable car up and walk back down to the city through the Botanic Gardens. AirBnB 120 The Terrace.

Day 2: Drive from Wellington to Cape Palliser where you will see a large seal population along the sea front near the light house. Climb the steep steps to reach the lighthouse and enjoy the views. Return up the road to the start of the Pinnacles hike (funky rock formations from Lord of the Rings). Drive to Whanganui and visit the near by beach for sunset. Accom: Whanganui Backpackers (a motel).

Day 3: Visit Whanganui National Park for the Atene Viewpoint Walk. Another highly recommended option which we didn’t do is the ‘Bridge to nowhere’. Then drive to Tongariro National Park for plenty of hike options! We did the 2h Taranaki falls loop track from Whakapapa Village (the largest ski area). If you have a full day, definitely do the Tongariro Alpine track which takes around 8hours. This was my favourite park out of all the hikes I did so I definitely want to come back to do it one day. Have dinner in Taupo and watch sunset by the lake. Accom: A Plus Samurai Lodge Backpackers (not the cleanest but it’ll do for the hike day)

Day 4: Drive to Taupo lake view point before heading to Wai O Tapu geothermal pools and geysers. The entire highway passes thermal pools so you’ll see plenty of steam along the way as you drive. Wai O Tapu is the most well known and the lady Knox geyser show starts at 10:15am so don’t miss that. Before heading to Rotorua, stop by the blue and green lake viewing point and lake Tarawera viewpoint, they are along the way. When in Rotorua, definitely try out luging! We then did the Maori village cultural show and dinner, and stayed the night in Rotorua Motel.


Day 5: Drive from Rotorua to Mount Maunganui and hike up of course! Then drive to Coromandel area for Ha Hei beach, walk to Cathedral Cove and then hot water beach (visit during low tide only). Stayed the night in Coromandel in the most amazing cabin ever (find Viv on AirBnB 75 Harbour View Road). I would go back to Coromandel just to stay in this accommodation again.


Day 6: Drive to Hobbiton  for the tour and then to Hamilton, stopping by the massive garden they have created. You could spend a whole day here if you wanted, appreciating the design and  gardens of the world. AirBnB 80 Beerescourt Road Suite (really cozy accom again)

Day 7: Drive to Waitomo Glow worm caves (no photos allowed) for the short tour then to Auckland, stopping by Mt Eden crater before dropping off the car. This was my favourite drive day in terms of awesome views along the way, other than the Tongariro national park drive day. Accom for the next three nights: Grand Central apartments (15min walk to city centre)
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Day 8: Walked Auckland’s main high street: Queen street and competed in Battle of the Year at night. Didn’t do much this day due to the competition.

Day 9: Ferry to Rangitoto volcanic island for the summit hike. There are specific ferry times so make sure you pre-book for the trip there and know when the last ferry is to get back! 36NZD return.


Day 10: Chill day, walked the city and played an escape room before flying back to Sydney. Try Giapo ice cream!

My first legit road trip and I loved driving those country side roads  I would do it all over again.

 

 

Shanghai, China

Shanghai is a global financial centre and transport hub in China, with the world’s busiest container port. It is buzzing with life and here are my top recommendations as a tourist:

  1. Yu Yuan (Yu Garden) is a really big area with traditional looking buildings, temples, tea houses and of course, a garden. You will find constant rows of shops and street food too, so make sure you come with an empty stomach!

     

  2. The Bund and Nanjing Road can be done together as they are within walking distance. The Bund is where you’ll get great views of the Shanghai’s financial district and it’s tall towers such as the Oriental Pearl TV tower. Nanjing road is full of bright lights and your common shops, but the atmosphere is particularly great at night.
  3. Qi Pu Lu is where you can find several buildings filled with market style shops which is particularly useful to get a bunch of cheap stuff or very good quality fake branded goods. The branded goods are not always laid out but trust me, someone will approach you to bring you to secret stores and rooms (I felt safe, but would never go alone so go with your gut feeling).
  4. Tian Zi Fang – known for its artsy area with bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studio, galleries and boutiques. It is also known for old Shikumen houses (stone-framed-door houses). Consider trying ‘Smoky Cookie’, where they use liquid nitrogen so you can have a bit of fun blowing smoke through your mouth or nose from the cookie!
  5. Qi Bao Water Village – there are many water villages but this is the closest one if you don’t have much time. They have maintained their traditional buildings and are known for rivers running through the village. Another place filled with narrow alleys of shops and street food, as well as museums which are also great to visit to learn more about Chinese history and culture.
  6. Visit a Speakeasy Bar – Speak Low is ranked one of the best bars in Shanghai, having placed #15 The World’s 50 Best Bars Awards 2016. Slide behind the secret bookshelf of a cocktail supply store and find a speakeasy bar with wood panels, jazz music and well-dressed bartenders. 2/F & 3/F, 579 Fuxing Zhong Lu (near Ruijin Er Lu) 复兴中路579号 (近瑞金二路).
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  7. Hai Di Lao Hotpot. Literally the best hotpot because of the incredible service. You can expect to queue for at least one hour, but while you wait, they provide free snacks, drinks, origami paper, games, massage chairs and even manicures. I suggest you opt for the VIP room (you have an extra $130 RMB) but get a personal waiter who will take good care of you e.g. give you bibs, hair ties, zip lock bags for your phone, refill your drinks, organise the food for you etc.

    Extra tips: Download we chat because whatsapp won’t work in China. Download baidu maps because Google maps won’t work in China. It would help if you or your friend had a China bank account because a lot of things are paid through we-chat, which requires a local bank account. We-chat gives you access to their bicycles, their version of uber and many shops prefer to run cashless! I suppose this system doesn’t make it tourist friendly, but it makes sense that we move towards a cashless society.

Seville, Spain

Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. I actually did a day trip from Algarve, Portugal but would have loved to spend longer here to admire its architecture for longer. All the main sites are extremely walkable from one another but it is definitely a lot of walking.

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Plaza de Espana and Parque Maria Luisa just opposite Plaza de Espana which will then get you to the Museum of archeology and  Museum of art and tradition

  2. Seville Cathedral and La Giralda (The bell-tower right next-door to the Cathedral). There are horse drawn carriages everywhere! You could probably take them to visit all the main sites if you are tired of walking
  3. Triana neighbourhood opposite the old city, and a view of of both sides from Isabel bridge including Torre Del Oro, a tower along the river
  4. Metropol Parasol – incredibly unique design! You can go up and they give you a free postcode and drink as part of the entrance fee
  5. Maestranza bull ring 20180209_112237
  6. Alcazar Castle – the queue was so long so I had to give this a miss, but I’m sure it would have been beautiful

Extra note: Have paella of course!

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

Paris, France

Paris, France’s capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Here is my recommended itinerary:

Tip: All the main sites are very walkable because there are always things to see along the way! So don’t be stuck in their chaotic underground system, just walk everywhere.

Day 1:

  1. Notre-Dam and Pont Neuf where you can see a few locks on the bridge which you can cross to get to the other side for the LourveIMG_20171208_180257_315
  2. The Lourve for its unique pyramid structure and of course, the Mona Lisa inside. Free entry for students btw. Might as well visit the Jardin Des Tuileries and the Ferris Wheel
  3. Stop by Pont Alexander III for its beautiful bridge and shot of the Eiffel from afarIMG_20171209_140720_422
  4. Carry on to the Champs-eleysee and walk its entire length
  5. Reach the Arc De Triomphe IMG_20171209_212850_787
  6. Walk to the Eiffel tower, its surroundings for photos from all angles, and the best view from Trocadero

Day 2:

  1. Moulin Rouge
  2. Sacre-Coeur 20171209_102809
  3. Opera20171210_0954491.jpg
  4. Galeries Lafayette, particularly beautiful during Christmas because of its decorations

Food:

My favourite snack: Definitey try Maxim’s crepe snack

My favourite macaroon brand: Pierre Herme

My favourite bakery – Le Grenier a Pain. Make sure you get their baguettes and croissants ( in between Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge)