2017 Spring Getaway – Perth, Australia

perth-australia

ABOUT PERTH, AUSTRALIA

australia-map

Timezone : UTC+08:00 (same as Malaysia)

Seasons: Summer (December – February), Autumn (March – May), Winter (June – August), Spring (September – November)

Currency: Australia Dollar (AUD)

Visa: Required for everybody who is traveling to Australia, except for Kiwi’s

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GETTING THERE

Went to Perth in September 2017 (Spring) by Malindo Air and bought the tickets during promotion period. Each ticket for adult includes 30kg check-in luggage and meal. For infant it includes 10kg checked-in luggage. Meaning total luggage for me, my husband & son was 70kg! The plane took off from KLIA (and not KLIA2, reminder to those who will be traveling to Perth on Malindo Air) and safely landed at Perth International Airport after 5 hours and 50 minutes. At the airport, make sure to grab ‘Hello Perth’ booklet for discount vouchers and purchase local SIMcard to stay connected!

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From the airport international terminal, you may choose to take a taxi or bus to go to your hotel. At first we were planning to take a taxi but took the bus instead since we were assisted by locals on how to go to the hotel we were staying at using the bus (we save around $40 but we need to walk to the hotel with 2 luggage, a stroller and an infant on a baby carrier – since he refuse to sit on the stroller).

The bus number that we took was 380, fittingly named after the Airbus A380 and it has dedicated luggage racks and runs daily between the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station in the Perth city centre and T1 and T2. However, it is a limited stops service with connections to other services available at few points.

For more details of the airport, visit https://www.perthairport.com.au

VISA

Visa is required for everybody who is traveling to Australia, except for Kiwi’s. It is quite easy to apply for it. Just go to https://www.australiavisa.my/ , fill in the form and make the payment. You can choose either to get a regular visa (RM26) or express visa (RM50). I manage to get my visa approved within the same day of submission (regular visa). Make sure to print a copy of the visa even though in your email it will state that you do not need to print it. I was asked to show the printed visa twice, once at KLIA and also at Perth airport during check-in (because they are not able to find my son’s details).

GET CONNECTED

If you would like to stay connected, you can purchase Optus or Vodafone simcard at the airport. The counter is near the arrival hall gate – you will see it once you exit arrival hall. When we were there, my husband and I purchased Optus simcard. We decided to use the simcard for 6 days so we purchased a 7 days package which is worth $15 (there’s also different packages based on number of days you would like to use it). The package includes free call & text to any Australian number, plus 1GB data daily.

optus

BIOSECURITY AND QUARANTINE

For most Muslims traveling abroad, it is very common that we will bring food from home, just in case it is difficult to find Halal food. When traveling to Australia, you can bring food but you need to make sure that you declare it in the declaration form – else if you get caught, you might get fine.

Here’s a list of foods that we bring to Perth. Before flying, I have printed a list of foods that we are bringing in and put it all in the same luggage. All food that we bring passed the inspection – actually they don’t really inspect much. Only the chicken rendang was being inspected and it got through.

  • Brahim’s nasi lemak
  • Brahim’s fried rice
  • Brahim’s chicken rendang
  • Maggi & mee sedap instant noodle
  • Nescafe 3-in-1
  • Biscuitss
  • Knorr’s instant porridge
  • Infant formula

From my own understanding, we can bring in food which are commercially prepared & packaged, shelf stable, no refrigeration required to store the food, and for personal consumption. However, you may visit this link for more details: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/travelling/bringing-mailing-goods#check

ACCOMMODATION

If you are planning to stay around Perth CBD (CBD stands for center business district), it is good to find a hotel which is close to the bus stop so that you can go around CBD for free (using CAT bus or any buses if you are traveling within the free transit zone – FTZ). Would also help in getting to places outside of CBD if you are taking public transportation.

For our 6 days 5 nights holiday, we stayed at Season’s of Perth which is located at Pier Street and booked it through Agoda. Before decided to booked the hotel, we read reviews saying that the hotel was old, dirty and smelly, the receptionist was rude, etc but we still booked it since we like the location, the room is big (36 m² – good for an active infant) and it was RM800 cheaper compared to another hotel we were considering as well.

When we reach the hotel, the receptionist was very friendly and polite. Please note that the deposit for this hotel is $100 per night (max $400). However the receptionist only charge us $50 per night.  When we entered our room, we fell in love with it. Clean, big, comfortable room! Lucky we didn’t really focus on those negative comments – or maybe we were just lucky to get the nicer room. 🙂 Halal eateries is also close by (Insan’s Cafe, halal kebab, etc) and same goes to Woolworths – for your groceries shopping. Will definitely stay here again if we have the change to visit Perth again next time 🙂

94941618   standard king room

* Image source: https://www.agoda.com

Other hotel which I did consider staying was Pensione Hotel. This hotel is just opposite of Season’s of Perth. However please note that most of the rooms are very small. The biggest room is 26 m² and it is also the most expensive room (Premium King Room – right image). I am OK with small room but since I brought along my almost 2 years old son, I prefer to stay in a bigger room so that he will have space to play and run around. This hotel is also quite new compared to Season’s of Perth. Read good reviews of this hotel as well.

pensione hotel pensione room

* Image source: http://www.pensione.com.au/perth

Another hotel that was on my list was Bailey’s Motel. Even though it is a motel instead of a hotel, the rating on Agoda is 8.2=Excellent and the room is big. Fridge, kettle, microwave, stove, cutlery, etc. is also provided. The motel is also close to Yellow and Red CAT bus (Wellington Square). The motel provide free WiFi and free parking, which most hotel doesn’t provide and some might charge for it.

bailey's motel bailey's motel room

*Image source: http://www.baileysmotel.com.au/

GETTING AROUND

  • TRANSPERTH – They provide the Perth metropolitan region with bus, train and ferry public transport services. As for the ticketing, there are few options provided, and some can even help you to save more especially if you are a budget traveler. There’s a standard fare, concession fare, DayRider (unlimited all day travel, can be used for bus, train & ferry, however please check on availability of this ticket – day and time), FamilyRider (a cash ticket that gives a group of up to seven people unlimited travel on the day of purchase, provided no more than two of them normally pay full fare. However please check on availability of the ticket – day & time. Wanted to purchase for my trip to Fremantle on Friday, however FamilyRider only available after 3pm on Friday). There’s also free buses provided which is call CATs bus. The normal buses are also free if you are traveling within the Free Transit Zone.
  • CATs bus – Free buses in Perth are known as CATs, short for Central Area Transit Services. There’s 4 different colours which have their own route – blue, red, yellow, green. It also covers different area such as centre of Perth, Fremantle and Joondalup. You may view and download CAT map here: VIEW CAT MAPPerth Free CAT bus route
  • Visit their website to learn more about their services, routes, fare, etc.: Transperth. You can also download their mobile apps, which I found quite useful. It will show you different route to reach your destination, plus how much you need to pay for the fare as well! To download, search for ‘Transperth’

Transperth Train Route

  • Car rental – there are a lot of car rental companies that you can choose from. Each have their own pros and cons and it also depends on what you are looking for. Please note that if you are traveling with an infant or toddler, using a baby seat is a MUST. Here are some of the car rental company in Perth: Bayswater Car Rental, Thrifty, Aries Car Rental. For Malaysians, international driver license is not required as Malaysia driving license is accepted in Australia. Please also note that you will need to pay some bond or deposit. Do check on that as well when booking for a car.

INTERESTING PLACES

  • Elizabeth Quay – To go here, you can take blue or green CAT bus and stop of Elizabeth Quay. Can also take any bus which stop nearby as well since there’s a bus station near Elizabeth Quay. At the jetty, you can take a ferry to cross to the other side, or just remain on the ferry if you are just want to enjoy the ferry ride.

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            Image source: mra.wa.gov.au

  • Swan River – Take a ferry from Elizabeth Quay jetty and enjoy the ride on the Swan River.
  • Bell Tower – Bell Tower is located near to Elizabeth Quay. You can just walk over to Bell Tower from Elizabeth Quay. Blue CAT bus stop no 2 (Barrack Square) is just opposite of the Bell Tower.

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  • Northbridge – Northbridge is an inner city suburb of Perth.  It is a vibrant and exciting area with cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, nightlife, cultural events and festivals. By the way, we were able to walk from Northbridge to Perth CBD.

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  • Crawley Edge Boatshed – This is one of the most famous icon of Perth! To go here, take bus 950 towards Qeii Medical Center and stop at Mounts Bay Rd Before Wingfield Avenue (stop id 23000). To go back to Perth CBD, cross the road to the bus stop opposite the road (stop id 10384) and take bus 950 towards Elizabeth Quay.

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  • King’s Park & Botanic Garden – Kings Park is a 4.06-square-kilometre park located on the western edge of the central business district in Perth, Western Australia. There’s several options on how to go here, however we took bus 935 to Fraser Avenue King’s Park (stop id 17501). Went there at night since our day was full of other activities but it was too dark for us to go explore. Only manage to take Perth skyline and then immediately cross the road to go back to our hotel.

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  • Fremantle – Fremantle is a port city and known for its maritime history. Amongst tourist, Fremantle is a famous place where you can get cheap souvenir (scroll below to learn more)! Famous Fremantle attractions include E-shed (souvenir), Fremantle Prison, Fremantle market, maritime museum, shipwreck museum, etc. It is also famous for its fish & chips! Went here twice during our Perth trip! To go to Fremantle by public transportation, you can take a train on Fremantle line and stop at Fremantle station (not North Fremantle). There’s also free CAT bus in Fremantle.
  • Caversham Wildlife Park – Caversham Wildlife Park showcases many of Australia’s unique native animals, including koalas, wallabies, possums, Tasmanian devils and wombats – providing visitors with the opportunity for a close-up encounter with some Australian icons! It is open from 9am – 5.30pm everyday, except Christmas. Admission fee: Adult $28, Child 3-4 years old $12.50, free for children below 3. There’s Halal food sold there. To go here, take a train on Midland Line and stop at Bassendean Station (Zone 2, around $4.70). Walk out from the station and you will see bus stops no 1&2 and 3&4. Walk towards stop 3&4 and wait for bus 955 or 956 to Ellenbrook (you do not need to pay for the bus ticket if your previous ticket is still valid). Stop at Lord St Before Youle-Dean Rd (Whiteman Park, stop id 15529). When you reach Whiteman Park, you can choose to either walk (around 1.7km) or take a free shuttle van. To take the free shuttle van, use the intercom available at the entrance of Whiteman Park and a van will come and pick you up. However the free shuttle van is only available on weekdays. To go back Bassendean train station, take the shuttle van back to the entrance and cross the road to the bus stop opposite (stop id 15526). Take bus no 955 or 956.

Since we had limited time in Perth (should stay there longer) and we didn’t rent a car (some places is unreachable by public transportation), we didn’t manage to visit places listed below. However since I have done some research, might as well share some of the details here.

  • Margaret River Chocolate Factory – Located in 3 different locations (one of them is Murray Street), The Margaret River Chocolate Company brings a taste of Margaret River to the city, combining hundreds of delicious, award-winning chocolate products with a range of gourmet products and homewares. By the way you can try some of their chocolate for free!!
  • Perth Zoo – Perth Zoo is widely known as a unique events and functions destination and can offer a host of amazing experiences. Thousands of visitors come to the Zoo not only to see the animals, but to be entertained by the many and varied events held in the Zoo’s spectacular setting.
  • Swan Valley – World-class wineries, breweries, distilleries, countless gourmet artisan goods, handcrafted wares, bustling markets, vibrant studios, top-notch eateries and endless experiences.
  • Western Australia Museum – will be close until 2020
  • Western Australia Art Gallery – Gallery visitors are offered unique and exciting experiences of historic and contemporary Australian artists, as well as the art of the world. Open Wednesday – Monday, 10 am – 5 pm.
  • Pinnacles – The Pinnacles desert is the major tourist attraction of the region. Attracting around 250,000 visitors every year, the Pinnacles desert covers an area of approximately 190 hectares, and contains thousands of limestone Pinnacles, some up to 5 meters high. The variation in colours and the stark relief of the Pinnacles against a backdrop of constantly shifting sand dunes creates an eerie landscape of ever changing moods often viewed at it’s best at dawn or sunset when the shadows create remarkable patterns and shapes that ripple over the sands. Entrance fee of AUD12 per car

Pinnacles

Image source: www.australia.com

  • Lancelin Sand Dunes – Sand, surf & sunset! Lancelin is Australia’s premier sandboarding destination. Pure white sand rises three storys high and entry to the dunes is free and open every day from sunrise to sunset. Board can be rented at nearby shops or petrol station for around AUD20 for 2-3 hours.

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Image source: www.lancelin.com.au/tourism/sandboarding/

  • Yanchep National Park – Yanchep National Park is located north of Perth. Its bushland and wetland are home to western gray kangaroos and rich birdlife. Trails include a raised boardwalk among trees inhabited by koalas. One of many caves in the park, Crystal Cave is an underground limestone cavern with stalactites and stalagmites.
  • Busselton Jetty – Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty in the world, stretching almost 2 km out to sea from the town of Busselton. A day pass to the jetty (to walk, swim, fish, dive, etc) costs AUD2.50 for adults (17 and over) and free for kids (16 and younger). If you don’t feel like walking, there’s a train which you can ride. The train ride costs AUD13 for adults aged 17 and up and AUD6.50 for children aged 3 to 16.
    There’s a museum and interpretive centre at the start of the jetty is open from 9 to 5 in winter, and 8:30 to 6 for the rest of the year

Image source: www.busseltonjetty.com.au/

  • Araluen Botanic Park – Situated in the Perth hills with a north-south valley aspect, Araluen Botanic Park is home to many species of Australian and international flora.

Image source: http://araluenbotanicpark.com.au/

  • Cottesloe Beach – Cottesloe Beach has been the favourite seaside destination for Perth locals for more than 100 years. With more than a kilometre (0.6 miles) of pure white sand, Cottesloe Beach is one of Perth’s most popular spots for swimming, snorkelling and surfing.

Image source: www.australia.com/en/places/perth-and-surrounds/guide-to-cottesloe-beach.html 

  • Scarborough Beach – Scarborough Beach has the best white sand surf beach in the world. This Perth beach is the ideal Indian Ocean vacation destination to relax.

Scarborough Beach

Image source: http://www.scarboro.info/

  • Penguin Island – Located in the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, just 45 minutes south of Perth is Penguin Island – a beautiful, unspoilt nature reserve home to WA’s largest colony of little penguin as well as dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans, ospreys and more.

penguin island

Image source: www.penguinisland.com.au/

  • Rottnest Island – Rottnest Island sits just offshore from the city of Perth. A protected nature reserve, it’s home to the quokka, a small wallaby-like marsupial. White-sand beaches and secluded coves include the Basin, with its shallow waters, and Thomson Bay, the main hub and ferry port. Strickland Bay is known for its surf breaks, while reef breaks occur at Radar Reef, off the island’s far western tip.

Image source: www.experienceperth.com/region/rottnest-island

SHOPPING

  • Woolworths – A place for your groceries shopping. My usual shopping list from Woolworths includes chocolates & coffee!! 🙂
  • Target – Went to target just to buy Hotwheels! Manage to get Hotwheels at only $1 each, meaning its half of the price selling in Malaysia!

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  • E-shed Market (Fremantle) – E-shed is the place to go if you want to buy some souvenir since the price is way cheaper compared to if you buy from Perth CBD. E-shed is actually a warehouse that houses several shops. The most famous shops inside are Megabes and Assin. There’s also food court and Halal food is available there. E-shed is located quite close to Fremantle train station. Parking is also available nearby. However please note the E-shed is open only on Friday, Saturday & Sunday + selected public holiday.
  • Fremantle Market – Fremantle market is a busy indoor market selling fruits, food and drinks, souvenir, etc. Megabes (shop selling cheap souvenir) is also available here!

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  • Watertown Brand Outlet – The venue for outlet and specialty shopping, with all the best brands at all the best prices, it is Perth’s home to outlet shopping (basically similar to Johor Premium Outlet). You can go here on Yellow CAT bus and stop at Sutherland Street (stop no 17). There’s 2 food outlet selling Halal food – Ispa Kebabs and Nenem’s (do try their gozmelez. Delicious!). Opening hours: Monday – Thursday: 9am – 530pm, Friday: 9am – 9pm, Saturday: 9am – 5pm, Sunday: 11am – 5pm
  • London Court – London Court is an open-roofed shopping arcade located in the central business district in Perth. There’s souvenir shop & cafe along the whole stretch of road. We didn’t buy anything here but it is definitely a nice place to take photos!
  • Chemist Warehouse – you can get cheap perfume, vitamins, skin care products, etc here! There is one Chemist Warehouse located in Perth CBD (Murray Street). It is also close to Insan’s Cafe (in case you want to eat Halal food afterwards). To come here, you may take Red CAT bus and stop at Murray Street (Red CAT stop no 25). There’s also other branches that you may visit example Northbridge (can take Blue CAT bus stop no 8). For opening hours, please refer to their website because different branches will have different operating hours. When we were there, I bought few bottles of perfumes and also lotions for my son (since he has eczema). Regret didn’t buy more lotions since the price are wayyyy cheaper compared to those selling in Malaysia! Bought Cetaphil, Aveeno and Dermaveen.
  • Joondalup Laketown Shopping City – This is a Perth’s major and largest shopping centre, located in Joondalup, a satellite city in the north of Perth. The Centre is home to Myer, Target, Kmart, Big W, Coles, Woolworths, as well as over 300 specialty retailers, a cinema, two food courts and multiple outdoor dining options. For Muslims, there are 2 eateries selling Halal food – Kebabbque and Maya Masala. To go here by public transportation, take a train on Joondalup line and stop at Joondalup station. The shopping centre is just outside of the train station.

FOOD

  • Danish Patisserie – Delicious pie & pastries and the best part is, the food is also Halal. It is close on Sunday and open on the remaining days. However please note on the opening hours; Saturday (7am – 11am), Monday to Friday (6am – 2pm). Click on the link to visit their website for more details.
  • Corica Pastries – Located in Northbridge and selling the most famous Halal apple strudel in Perth. To go here, you may take the free Cat bus and stop at Blue CAT bus stop no 8 (Aberdeen Street). Their opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am – 5.30pm and Saturday 8am – 12pm

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  • Charcoal Chicken Express – The food sold here are Halal and it is famous for its lamb rib but if you don’t eat lamb (just like me) there’s chicken as well. To go here, take bus 960 towards Mirabooka bus station and stop at Dianella Plaza (stop id 12838). Opening hours: 10am – 8pm
  • Insan’s Cafe – Halal food & own by a Malaysian. Located at Murray Street and located close to our hotel. By the way, we went here almost every day 😛

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  • Pondok Indah – Halal & own by an Indonesian
  • D’Ankasa – A Malaysia restaurant located in Perth CBD, selling Halal food. We went here once and ordered chicken rice and nasi lemak!

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  • Kaili’s Fish and Chips (Fremantle) – Famous for its Fish and Chips!
  • Cicerello’s (Fremantle) – Similar to Kaili’s, Cicerello’s is also famous for its fish & chips. It is located close to Kaili’s

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  • Chocolateria San Churro (Northbridge) – A very nice cafe to just relax while enjoying a cup of coffee and churros!
  • Halal Kebab – can’t really recall the name of this place but it is located on Murray Street, opposite of Insan’s cafe

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  • Ice-cream! – Enjoyed ice-cream on a cold windy night! LOL
  • Twilight Hawkers Market – located along Forrest Place in Perth CBD, Twilight Hawkers Market is the original & biggest Street Food Market bringing the tastiest street food from around the globe to the heart of Perth. It it open every Friday, 4.30pm – 9.30pm, October to April each year. We didn’t have a chance to visit this market since we went to Perth in September.

twilight hawkers market

Image source: www.facebook.com/Twilight-Hawkers-Market-220654328006092/

USEFUL LINKS

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Yogyakarta, Indonesia

yogyakarta

ABOUT YOGYAKARTA

Timezone : UTC+07:00

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)

Visa: Not required for Malaysian

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GETTING THERE

Went to Yogyakarta by Air Asia. The flight will take you from KLIA2 to Adisucipto International Airport. From the airport you can take a taxi to your hotel. There will be a taxi counter near the exit door. Paid IDR 70,000 for a taxi from airport to hotel in Malioboro. When flying back from Yogyakarta to Malaysia, you will need to pay for the airport departure tax. Paid RM32 for the tax through AirAsia (payment for Indonesia Airport Tax), meaning I do not need to pay before the departure itself. By the way the airport is very small for the International flight so don’t be surprise 😛

ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at Whiz Hotel and this time booked a room through AirAsiaGo instead of the usual Agoda.com. Booked it through AirAsiaGo because I’m using a voucher code so manage to get a room at a cheaper price. Whiz Hotel is located in a very strategic area on Jalan Dagen, Malioboro, at the heart of the city’s tourism business district. It is surrounded by various shopping centers, eateries (a lot of Halal restaurants around) and other commercial sites. The breakfast served is Halal although the option is quite limited. (images below taken from their website)

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GETTING AROUND

Yogyakarta is not really a big city so traveling around town will not be too expensive. You can take a taxi (preferable metered taxi), by trishaw or also known as ‘becak’ (quite cheap. Around IDR 5,000 to IDR 20,000 depending on the distance), horse cart also known as ‘andong’ (around IDR 50,000 depending on distance), or you can just walk around.

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SHOPPING

  • Malioboro Street – This is the place where I did most (or maybe all) of my shopping. The stuff sold here are quite cheap (you can get IDR 15,000 for a t-shirt). Even though prices are already quite cheap, don’t forget to bargain for a better price!
  • Malioboro Mall – located in Jalan Malioboro
  • Ambarukkmo Plaza – this is the largest shopping complex in Yogyakarta. Went there by taxi. IDR 30,000 from Malioboro to the plaza

INTERESTING PLACES

  • Borobodur Temple – this is the biggest Buddhist temple in the 9th century. It is also declared as a UNESCO site. Notes to pregnant mommy, when I was there I was 4 months pregnant but still manage to climb up. The top is not really that high up but just make sure to be careful with the steps and take it slowly. Bring along water since it can be quite hot. Entrance fee was IDR 250,000 for foreign tourist (as at April 2015)

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  • Prambanan Temple – an ancient temple dedicated to the Trimurti Gods. Entrance fee was IDR 225,000 for foreign tourist (as at April 2015)

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  • Ratu Boko – an archeological site, 3km away from Prambanan Temple.
  • Malioboro – A famous street in the heart of the city. This is also a must-visit souvenir paradise.

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  • Mount Merapi – For adventure seeker. You can hire a jeep and choose a short, medium or long trail for sight-seeing

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  • Parangtritis Beach – Enjoy a romantic evening enjoying sunset while riding on a carriage or for the more adventurous, you can try the all terrain vehicle (ATV). If you have time, walk up to Tebing Gembirawati (Gembirawati Cliff) and you can see the whole area of Parangtritis Beach, southern sea, up to the horizon. There’s also a temple ruins at the east side of the cliff
  • Benteng Vredeburg – A fort built by the Dutch in 1765 during the colonial domination, which has been converted into a museum. Entrance fee required.

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  • Kraton – Entrance fee required.
  • Taman Sari – Entrance fee required.

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TOURS

Hired a ‘supir’ or driver from the hotel. Rate was IDR 500,000 for the supir + vehicle + petrol for 10 hours. Went to Borobodur Temple, Merapi Volcano, lunch and finally Prambanan Temple.

FOOD

Majority of people living in Yogyakarta are Muslim so there’s no problem finding Halal food. However, every night I went to this restaurant called ‘Mas Bowoo’ and ordered their nasi goreng (fried rice) and chicken. Quite delicious. This restaurant is located near to Whiz Hotel (Jalan Dagen). Also do try out BAKPIA (a local dessert that you should try when you are in Yogyakarta) an NASI GUDEG (a local delicacy in Yogyakarta).

Bakso Bakso Ayam penyet Nasi gudeg food mas bowoo

MORE READING ON YOGYAKARTA

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The serene Da Nang & Hoi An, Vietnam

DaNang HoiAn

ABOUT VIETNAM

Timezone : UTC+07:00

Currency: Vietnam Dong

Visa: Not required for Malaysia

Plug adapter:

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GETTING THERE

Went there by Air Asia. The flight will take you from KLIA2 to Da Nang International Airport. If you are flying back from this airport, there will be no airport departure tax.

From the airport I went directly to Hoi An. There’s a shuttle bus and taxi but I took a taxi instead. Paid around 500,000 dong for the one way trip. The journey to Hoi An from Da Nang took around 45 minutes.

hoi-an

Hoi An is one of the city in Vietnam and it is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In my opinion, Hoi An reminds me of Amsterdam…an Asian Amsterdam or maybe Amsterdam would be a European Hoi An 😛 One more thing about Hoi An is that at night it will be brightly lit with colourful beautiful lantern (You can also buy lanterns there)

ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at Thanh Van II hotel (currently known as Like Hoi An Hotel) and booked it through AirAsiaGo (you can also book through Agoda or Booking.com, etc. Booked it through AirAsiaGo because I’m using a voucher code so manage to get cheaper price). The hotel is located around 15 minutes walk from Hoi An Anchient Town, but if you are too tired to walk, you can use the free bicycle or take the free shuttle bus which they provided on hourly basis. The shuttle bus will take you from Thanh Van II – Thanh Van (located near Ancient Town) – Thanh Van II. On overall I’m very satisfied with my stay at this hotel. The staffs were very friendly and helpful, the room is clean and big (booked a suite), Wi-Fi connection was fast, etc. Below would be the image of the room I stayed in, the suite, and the hotel (taken from their website)

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GETTING AROUND

Most of the tourist in Hoi An walk or cycle. Most of the hotel provided free bicycle. If not, you can just rent a bicycle. There’s also a lot of taxi around. From personal experience, you may use Vinasun taxi.

SHOPPING

There’s row and rowssss of shops at Hoi An Ancient Town. You can buy souvenirs, silk, clothing, coffee (Vietnamese coffee taste really good!), etc. You can also get a tailor made clothes and shoes. Actually the whole area of Ancient town are mostly shops.

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INTERESTING PLACES

  • Hoi An Ancient Town: This is a must visit place in Hoi An. There are a lot of shops for shopping and monuments and museums to visit. One of the famous monument would be the Japanese Bridge.

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  • My Son: The second day in Hoi An, I took a day tour to My Son, which means beautiful mountain. My Son is actually a cluster of partially ruined Hindu Temples constructed by the king of Champa. My Son is perhaps the longest inhabited archeological site in Indochina, but it was then destroyed during Vietnam War. Too bad when I was there, it rains through out the tour so not much of a photo to share but you can try to goole. It is such a beautiful place. As for the whole tour, went to My Son by bus but took the boat back to Hoi An. It was a better choice since there are more things to see and enjoy.

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FOOD

There’s a lot of place to enjoy local or western cuisine. However if you are a Muslim, make sure to bring a lot of packed foods since I didn’t find any place selling Halal food and most of the restaurant sell pork. Since Vietnam is famous with coffee, make sure to try out their coffee, especially if you are a coffee lover like me. You can find a lit of coffee shops along the road.

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da nang

Da Nang is one of the major port cities in Vietnam and is situated on the coast of South China Sea, at the opening end of Han River.

ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at A La Carte hotel and booked it through AirAsiaGo (you can also book through Agoda or Booking.com, etc. Booked it through AirAsiaGo because I’m using a voucher code so manage to get cheaper price). The hotel is very beautiful! Friendly and helpful staff, big and comfortable room, beautiful decoration and a lot of services you can get from this hotel. (Images below taken from Agoda)

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GETTING AROUND

You can get a taxi or just walk around. From My Khe to the city center is a bit far so taking a taxi is a good option.

SHOPPING

Didn’t find much place for shopping in Da Nang (or maybe i didn’t look hard enough). However if you would like to buy souvenir, coffee, clothing, cloth, etc., you may head to Han Market. The souvenir and coffee there are cheaper compared to Hoi An.

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There’s also a souvenir shop called Da Nang Souvenirs located opposite Novotel Hotel. The souvenir sold there are a bit more different compared to those sell at Han Market or Hoi An so you have ore choices of souvenirs to bring back.

INTERESTING PLACES

  • My Khe Beach – one of the beautiful beach in Da Nang (the hotel that I stayed in faces My Khe Beach). Too bad I was there during monsoon season so the sky is not as blue and its too cold for a dip at the beach or pool.

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  • Ba Na Hills – a mountain resort with indoor theme park

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  • Marble Mountains (didn’t manage to visit but saw it on the way to Hoi An)
  • Han River Bridge & Dragon Bridge (picture credit to Philips)

Philips lights Vietnam’s iconic Dragon Bridge in Da Nang with sustainable LED lighting solutions (b)

  • Monkey Beach

FOOD

There’s one halal restaurant in Da Nang called Mumtaz. It sells nice and Halal Indian food. Throughout the 3 days in Da Nang, I ordered food from there and ask for delivery, which is very convenient!

Travel Tips to China

china

After several trips to China, I decided to share these few tips that might be useful to know if you planning to visit China.

Capital City: Beijing

Currency: Renminbi (RMB, ¥)

Timezone: GMT +8

Language: Mandarin (official) & countless regional dialects

Visa: Required (A MUST!). Please check on the validity period and entry frequency (multiple or 2 times, etc.) before going to China.

Electricity: 220V/50Hz

Plug type:

plug type_i_large

Weather:China is one of the countries that have climatic conditions that resemble those of regions in the northern hemisphere. The best season to visit china is in autumn or spring since the weather is very conducive.

NOTES:

  • Please make sure to keep your boarding pass with the luggage tag/sticker if you have checked-in luggage because the authority at the airport will check upon exit to make sure people are taking the correct luggage.
  • If you are planning to visit several places within China by train, you can purchase the train ticket online. Make sure to book it earlier and if possible do take first class.
  • If you are on a work trip and need to claim back your money, ask for ‘invoice’ instead of ‘receipt’ because most of them use the terms invoice instead of receipt (easier for them to understand). For some places (especially outside city center), the receptionist might not understand English so use this word ‘Fāpiào’ (means invoice in Mandarin)

BANGKOK!!

bangkok-thailand

ABOUT BANGKOK, THAILAND

Timezone : UTC+07:00

Currency: Thai Baht (THB)

Visa: Not required for Malaysian

Plug adapter:

plug

GETTING THERE

Went to Bangkok by Air Asia. The flight will take you from LCCT Kuala Lumpur (starting 9 May 2014 will be from KLIA2) to Don Muang International Airport, or Suvarnabumi Airport if you are taking Malaysia Airlines.

From Don Muang Inernational Airport to Khao San Road (or anywhere within Bangkok), you can take a van or taxi. I took a taxi and bought the ticket at one of the counter inside the airport. Can’t really remember how much I paid for it.

When flying back from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, there is no airport departure tax. However this time I didn’t fly back to Kuala Lumpur but instead I continue on with another adventure in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Click on the link to read about Ho Chi Minh City)

ACCOMMODATION

Booked a room through Agoda.com as usual. This time, I wanted to experience different surroundings, so I stayed in 2 different hotels, in 2 different locations.

  • Rambuttri Village Inn & Plaza – Located ni Soi Rambuttri. Very close to Khao San Road and Banglamphu, which is a heaven for backpackers. Since it is not really on the street of Khao San, you can still get a good night sleep, without the noise that you might experience if you stay in the middle of Khao San Road. The hotel is quite nice and the most important thing is that they provide free wi-fi! Here you can enjoy the life as of a backpacker!

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  • Tune Hotels, Asoke – Located close to Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT station. Quite convenient to go to places within the city center just by taking the BTS or MRT. Here you can enjoy staying in the middle of the city of Bangkok!

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PS: I prefer staying at the backpackers area since I can still wander and enjoy the shops and massage center until late night (since I can just walk within the area and enjoy the nightlife)

GETTING AROUND

It’s quite easy to move around Bangkok. You can either take the skytrain a.k.a BTS, MRT, Taxi (make sure to ask the driver to turn on the meter), Tuk Tuk (make sure to confirm on the price before going in), Chao Phraya Express Boat or walking especially in Khao San area depending on the area you are at since some of the mode of transport, like BTS and express boat does not cover the whole Bangkok. Please take note of the last train or boat service.

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KHAO SAN ROAD

A place where backpackers around the world gather. Hotels around this area are quite cheap and same goes to foods and shopping. It is very close to Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and other ‘must visit’ places. By the way, do not forget to visit Khao San Night Market!

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SUKHUMVIT

It is located in the middle of Bangkok city center, where you can find all those big hotels and shopping malls.

TOURS

There are so many tours that you can choose from and there are a lot of tour agencies that you can go to. For me, I just went to the one quite close to where I’m staying – Mr. Thai Tour Agency near Rambuttri Village & Inn. Paid for 2 tours:

  • FLOATING MARKET (DAMNOEN SADUAK)

** tips: if you want to buy cheaper souvenir, walk towards the end to Paew Souvenir

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  • DINNER RIVER CRUISE

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INTERESTING PLACES

  • GRAND PALACE : Inside Grand Palace compound, there are also Temple of Emerald Budda (also known as Wat Phra Kaew), The Golden Stupa and Mini Angkor Wat. (Entrance fee 400 Baht)

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  • WAT PHO + THAI MASSAGE : Wat Pho, also known as the temple of reclining buddha. If you are visiting, don’t forget to try out their massage since there is also Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School, where they provide massage service (but you need to pay). (Entrance fee 50 Baht)

wat pho massage rate

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  • WAT ARUN : Also known as Temple of the Dawn. (Entrance fee 50 Baht)

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SHOPPING

You can shop like crazy in Bangkok!! From high end shopping mall to a simple night market, it’s just a matter of whether you have time to visit all! Also do not forget to visit Chatuchak market if you are in Bangkok on weekend! It is a must place to visit!

MARKET

  • KHAO SAN NIGHT MARKET
  • BANGLAMPHU MARKET
  • CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET; Open only on Saturday & Sunday, 6 am – 6 pm. Take a BTS to Mo Chit and walk around 5 minutes. (Just follow the crowd if you don’t know the way. Most of them are going to chatuchak market). If you are feeling hungry, there’s plenty of places to eat including those selling Halal food 😉

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  • ASIATIQUE; a combination of indoor & outdoor shops. To go here, take BTS to Saphan Taksin and jump on the free shuttle boat at the end of the pier.
  • CHINA TOWN
  • LITTLE INDIA
  • PAK KLONG TALAT/ FLOWER MARKET
  • SILOM NIGHT MARKET & PATPONG
  • SOI COWBOY NIGHT MARKET

SHOPPING MALL

  • MBK – must visit!

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  • SIAM DISCOVERY CENTER
  • SIAM CENTER
  • SIAM PARAGON
  • CENTRAL WORLD
  • GAYSORN
  • CENTRAL CHIDLOM
  • THE EMPORIUM
  • TERMINAL 21 – this mall is so cute!

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  • PLATINUM SHOPPING MALL; an indoor version of Chatuchak Market

* Most of the shopping malls are accessible via train. You can also walk from one mall to another (for some of the malls) if you don’t mind walking

FOOD

You can find food everywhereee!! But for Halal food, it is quite difficult. However here are some places that I went to:

  • Aishah Rosdi, Banglamphu Market, near the big roundabout & opposite 7-11. If you cannot find it, you may ask the information counter (that’s what I did). Just ask for ‘Halal food or Muslim food’ and they might be able to help you.

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  • Street food

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MORE READINGS ON BANGKOK:

Travel Guide to MALAYSIA!!

Planning to travel around Malaysia but not so sure where to head to & what to do? Download Malaysia Travel Guide now!! By the way, did you know that 2014 is Visit Malaysia Year?

malaysia travel guide

Click here now to go to download page and to start planning your wonderful journey!

http://www.airasia.com/travel3sixty/downloads/travel-guides/travel-guide-malaysia

TRIPOMATIC – Free Trip Planner Apps!!

Plan your trip with TRIPOMATIC and BE YOUR OWN TRAVEL GUIDE!!

tripomatic

It’s a free apps that will help you plan for your travel itinerary anywhere around the world!

Available for both iOs & Android

apps

TRIPOMATIC WEBSITE: http://www.tripomatic.com/