Bangkok Hangover!

Bangkok’s endless maze of streets is part of its fascination and its complexity, getting around is never easy. Bangkok has so much to offer to its visitor that I am sure one who visits here in-spite of the chaos and cons here definitely pays a second visit.
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is about 30 km southeast of the city. It offers many domestic flights and has recently become the terminal for budget airline flights. There’s a free shuttle service connecting the two airports.
The airport is really swanky and modern.

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Inexpensive and available around the clock, taxis are the most convenient way to get between downtown and the airport. Don’t forget to have some baht on hand. The public transport system in Bangkok was really good. One of the other good option is the sky train here known as the BTS. Bangkok has three major terminals for buses headed to other parts of the country. The Northern Bus Terminal, called Mo Chit, serves Chiang Mai and points north.

The Airport Link rail system is your best option during rush hour. Costing B150, the express train takes 15 minutes to reach Makkasan Terminal, next to the Phetchaburi MRT subway stop. A local train that takes 23 minutes and costs B65 takes you to the Phaya Thai BTS Station, convenient for those staying on the Skytrain line. The entrance to the system is on the airport’s lower level. The most enjoyable means of transport within Bangkok is the TUK TUK, but beware of the con drivers.

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The central train station in Bangkok is Hualamphong, located near Chinatown and accessible by subway. Trains from here leave to all destinations in the country. We had a lovely overnight sleeper first class journey from a station called Surat Thani which was 4 hours drive from Phuket. Just an amazing experience to travel in Thai Railways.

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The train station in Bangkok was really good.

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I stayed at the H Residences a decent inexpensive hotel in the heart of the city. Was very convenient and near to the BTS station.

Top reasons I find to visit Bangkok:

THE CANALS: They don’t call it “Venice of the East” for nothing. Sure, boat tours are touristy, but the sights, from Khmer wats to bizarre riverside dwellings, are truly unique. The Chao Phraya river ride is just a memorable one.

STREET FOOD: Bangkok may have the best street food in the world. Don’t be afraid to try the weird stuff—it’s often fresher and better than the food you’d get at a hotel restaurant.

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SHOPPING BARGAINS: Forget Hong Kong and Singapore: Bangkok has the same range of high-end designer goods at much lower prices. You will be amazed to see the gigantic size of the shopping malls here, equally competing with those in Dubai.

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SKY-HIGH SIPPING: “Bar with a view” is taken to the extreme when you sip martinis in open-air spaces atop lofty towers. Enjoy the views of this dynamic city during sunset. There is so much hustle and bustle in the evening which you can enjoy from the roof top bars here.

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TEMPLE-GAZING: From the venerable Wat Pho to the little wats that don’t make it into the guidebooks, Bangkok’s collection of temples is hard to top. High recommendations are Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Emerald Buddha and the Golden Buddha Temple.

NIGHT AND WEEKEND MARKETS: Numereous night and weekend markets are a hit in Bangkok. The best one being the Patpong night market and the Chatuchak weekend market with loads to offer.

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Things to do and see in Bangkok.

The list here is endless but here are the best recommendations for the busy tourist who wants to explore the best of Bangkok in a short time visiting only the best places.

1 Grand Palace.
This is Thailand’s most revered spot and one of its most visited. King Rama I built this walled city in 1782. The views and the surroundings it just amazing here. They have time restrictions visiting here and you can’t get a ticket after 3.30 pm so make sure you are before time. Proper attire (no flip-flops, shorts, or bare shoulders or midriffs) is required, but if you forget, they loan unflattering but more demure shirts and shoes at the entrance. B400, includes admission entrance to Wat Phra Kaew and Vimanmek Teak Mansion. Metro: Skytrain: Hua Lamphong.

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2. Wat Arun.
This riverside spot is inspiring at sunrise, it’s even more marvelous toward dusk, when the setting sun throws amber tones over the entire area. From the Chao Phraya river the view for this looks just amazing.

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3. Wat Pho.
The city’s largest wat has what is perhaps the most unusual representation of the Buddha in Bangkok. The 150-foot sculpture, covered with gold, is so large it fills an entire viharn. Especially noteworthy are the mammoth statue’s 10-foot feet, with the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha inlaid in mother-of-pearl. Many people ring the bells surrounding the image for good luck. This is also know as the reclining Buddha with the golden statue in a reclining state. Just an incredible view!

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4. Chatuchak Weekend Market.
You can purchase virtually anything at the sprawling Chatuchak Weekend Market, including silk items in a mudmee (tie-dyed before weaving) design that would sell for five times the price in the United States. Strategically placed food vendors mean you don’t have to stop shopping to grab a bite. It’s open on weekends from 9 am to 7 pm, and the city’s (some say the world’s) largest market is best in the morning before it gets too crowded and hot. It’s easy to reach, across the street from the northern terminus of the Skytrain and near the Northern Bus Terminal. Just follow the crowd.

5. Chao Phraya river cruise & TUK TUK ride.
I fact the best and the most cheapest way to roam around Bangkok is to take a ride on the Chao Phraya river cruise. They have stopovers at all the major attractions and shopping places. One can also go for the dinner cruise to see the skyline of Bangkok in the evening.

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Shopping has always been an unforgettable experience in Bangkok. Top places for shopping are the MBK mall, Siam paragon an entire shopping district and Siam Square. Do not miss the roof top bars and the special Thai massage parlors.

Bangkok is absolutely a must visit place more than once for sure. It’s a shoppers paradise and of the vibrant places on the planet.

Vietnam The Hidden Charm!

Vietnam is by far one of the most dramatic and dynamic countries in the Southeast Asia. The name ‘Vietnam’ translates to as Southern Viet and the Capitol of the country is Hanoi the second largest city in Vietnam with first being Ho Chi Minh. It is also the 8th populous Asian country. The Vietnamese are known for their patriotism towards their country as well as their countrymen and also for their hospitality.

There are numerous packages available to visit Vietnam and an extensive range of itinerary available for combination to visit. An ideal combination for a short visit is about 4 days which combines visits to Hanoi and Halong Bay or Ho Chi Minh and Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a must must visit without which the trip to Vietnam would always be incomplete. It is voted as the second natural wonders of the world with an area covering of 3000 sq km which consists of solid rock limestone formations with Emerald green water surrounding them.

Catch the glimpse of Halong Bay. One of my lifetime favorite shot.

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I visited Hanoi from Singapore with a good deal from an LLC tiger airways, but the best way to go is through the national airline Vietnam Airlines. There are numerous flights available to Hanoi from various countries. The international airport is No Bai with visa on arrival options for almost all countries. But I would suggest you have a visa before hand in order to save time and avoid long queues for visa on arrivals and Immigrations.

Vietnam was once ruled by the French so on arriving the heart of the city Hanoi you can see a strong influence of the French colonies which are still preserved in the old Hanoi quarters. Many hotels offer good packages with an average of around 80$ per night. They also arrange for the city tour as well as Halong Bay packages and the most recommended way is to book through the hotel and avoid booking in advance on other websites to save money. They give a good deal and also arrange a fantastic customized tour. I had booked the tour with the HiddenCharm hotel which offered me a very good package for a couple with 2 nights in Hanoi and an overnight cruise stay at Halong Bay complete with transfers and city tour costing only 700 USD. Not to forget the food on board.

My hotel stay in Hanoi. Courtesy the Hidden Charm hotels of IndoChina group.

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Places to visit in Vietnam:

1. Hanoi
Hanoi is the Capital city of Vietnam and the most crowded. You can see the crazy traffic here which many of you might not have experienced. It has a good vibrancy and a strong French influence. Within Hanoi there are plenty of wonderful places to visit as part of the city tour which are the water puppet show, Hom kiem lake, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, the presidential and government buildings showcasing the history of Vietnam and the great freedom fighter and president Ho Chi Minh.

The lovely water puppet show a must see.

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The crazy traffic in Hanoi.

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I was amazed to see the body of this great man Ho Chi Minh still preserved in the mausoleum building. The surrounding was really colorful. A visit to the old quarters is highly recommended. A visit to Vietnam without the local mouth watering delicacies in incomplete. Vietnamese cuisines are world famous. I was happy to see an Indian restaurant though ;).

Check the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and the Hom Kiem lake.

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The one pillar pagoda in Hanoi a famous place.

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Shopping for local handicrafts and artifacts is worth and inexpensive.

2. Tam Coc River
One of the most interesting and beautiful river I have ever seen. It on the outskirts of Hanoi.

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3. Halong Bay
Halong bay is a 4 hour drive from Hanoi and the most beautiful place for which Vietnam is famous. There are many cruise lines which offer packages for overnight cruise in the middle of the enchanting sea. They provide you pick and drops from the hotel as well as food on board with Halong bay excursions. It was a lovely and never forgetable experience we had here.

Halong bay was just a memorable experience.

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The Glory Cruise pickup and drop service.

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The Glory cruise which I booked for my stay.

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See the amazing landscape. Also the famous caves.

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A floating village in Halong Bay.

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Sunset at Halong Bay.

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4. Ho Chi Minh
It is the largest city in Vietnam formerly known as Saigon with good industrialization and infrastructure. It’s the economic center of Vietnam. You can find good shopping malls with all luxury brands. It’s the modern face of Vietnam.

Other lovely places to visit include Sapa, Dalat, Da Nang, Phuket Quoc, Hoi An giving extensive views of the beauty of Vietnam.

Dalat is a beautiful old French hill station as well as Sapa is famous for both its fine, rugged scenery and also its rich cultural diversity.

Hoi An is a trading port with a UNESCO world heritage listed old city.

Vietnam is definitely a must visit place once a lifetime. After visiting Halong bay I really feel to visit again soon!

Experience Macau!

Macau is the latest hot spot for luxury vacations. It’s a mix of the ancient Portugese and the modern Chinese cultures. Macau has everything from World Class Gaming to beautiful beaches. The people in Macau are extremely friendly. Macau is located on the Southeast coast of China to the western bank of the Pearl River Delta.

How to go there: It’s an hour away from Hongkong and the best way to go from HK is by a ferry. It was a wonderful experience I had. The ferries are inexpensive and very comfortable. I enjoyed the breathtaking views of the Hongkong Harbour and the South China Sea. Cotaijet ferries are the most famous. Most people club Macau’s visit with Hongkong which is highly recommended. Below is the picture of the Cotaijet ferry premium class which I booked

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One of the most exciting things in Macau is the delicious food. Different cuisines offered are Macanese, Portuguese and Chinese food in the Historic City Center. Many want to try popular Portuguese egg tarts at places like Koi Kei Bakery, which also sells different kinds of cookies and braised meats… make sure to bring home some. Egg tarts specially are not to be missed.

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The moment we think of Macau the first thing that comes to mind is the ultra luxurious hotels and the mega casinos. In fact it is hosting the worlds largest casino at Venetian Macao. It’s a Mecca of Gambling.

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I stayed at the Venetian Macao an exquisite 5 star property. I booked the deal just before the Chinese New Year and got a very tempting deal with bed and breakfast at 300SGD for a night. The hotel itself is a famous tourist attraction with loads of delicacies to offer. Shopping is a never forgettable experience here! For guys, don’t miss the Manchester United boutique. Another recommendation in the hotel is the Gondola ride. It was fantastic, the hotel portrays an elegant look and feel of Venice. You can see some of the glimpse of the hotel.

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The Grand entrance of the hotel.

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Other things to do and places to visit in Macau are:

1. St Paul’s Ruins. The Ruins of St. Paul refer the remains of the Church of Mater Dei, which occupied this spot from the early 17th century until 1835, when it was destroyed by fire. It’s the landmark place in Macau and the most recommended
There are many spectacular views to see in Macau.

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2. A Ma Temple. A-Ma temple is quite an old temple which existed even before the city of Macau come into being. It is dedicated to the worship of different believed i.e. Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple folk beliefs. This Temple is there since the 15 Century.

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3. Senedo Square. Senado square is really an inviting place and one where I will visit every time I am in Macau. The variety of shops is amazing. It is one place where tourist can satisfy their shopaholic inclinations. The Macau Tourism board is located at the corner of Senado square and you may want to make this the first stop.

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4. Macau Tower. The visit is good to see live Bungy Jumping and ariel view of Macau. Bungee jumping is supposed to be one of the highest here. You can also do sky walking. Zhuhai can be seen from the top.

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5. Grand Prix Museum. If you’re a fan of GP racing, then the Macau GP Museum should be on your list of things to see when in Macau. Some great old and recent cars and bikes on display.

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6. Venetian Macao Hotel and Casino. The largest casino in Macau but spectacular deco, it was a winter wonderland when we visited. The food court must be a boon for westerners as there is a Fatburger there. Don’t miss the Gondola ride here. The hotel was fantastic and enjoyed the stay here.

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My Grand Royal Suite in Venetian Macao.

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Shopping is one thing I just can’t control :).

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The colorful streets of Macau!

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In all Macau is one of the most colorful and lovely places I visited. Definitely a worth visit place.

Experience Macau and all Macau’s beauty!!

Hongkong. Asia’s World City

The moment I landed in this beautiful city, I instantly fell in love with it. Hongkong is so dynamic & vibrant it really captured my heart. There was magic in the air and i was amazed to see how colorful the entire city is. It seemed someone has really painted it with a paint brush.

Me and my wife had a real crazy to visit this vibrant place which is the Asia’s travel hub and a shoppers paradise ! In the following blog I would share with all you guys my experiences about traveling to Hongkong, places to visit, do’s and dont’s, how to plan your trip hassle free in advance and lastly about the food and shopping.

I visited the place in February 2013. We booked the tickets to Hongkong from Singapore 3 months in advance as soon as we saw the early bird promotions for flights from http://www.jetstar.com/sg/en/home and http://www.tigerair.com/sg/en/.  Jetstar was offering a real good deal and I was able to book the tickets for just 700 SGD for a return ticket of 2. We hopped on to the very first flight in the morning  from SG to HK to reach there as early as possible to have a good time for the day.  This pic is at the Changi Airport in the morning and we were off to Hongkong.

At Changi Airport Singapore
At Changi Airport Singapore

Jetstar was a wonderful airline. Some shots below from the flight. The morning was lovely.

Off to Hongkong on Jetstar
Off to Hongkong on Jetstar

Lovely Morning

Hello Hongkong here I come
Hello Hongkong here I come

Hongkong is separated between 2 islands. One is the Hongkong Main islands and the other is the Kowloon Islands. I had booked the hotel called Bridal tea house in Kowloon http://www.bthhotel.com/BTH/en/Home. It was a pretty decent hotel and costed me around 70SGD per night.

Hongkong has a wonderful public transport system and one of the best preferred by most travelers is the Airport Express train http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/transport/to-from-airport/airport-express.html connecting the HK international airport with the city in just 15 mins. It was a superfast experience and really loved it. We enjoyed the ride while admiring the beauty of the city. The train even has a free wifi. Getting a local sim card with 3G internet @ the nearest 7 Eleven is fairly easy. I would recommend 3, which has a very good network connectivity and good 3G options.  Hongkong International airport was a state of the art building and had pretty good amount of options to eat and shop.

Airport Express Train Hongkong
Airport Express Train Hongkong
Airport Express Train Hongkong
Airport Express Train Hongkong

Hongkong was really a colorful city and we could feel that on the streets, one of the most densely populated cities on Earth. It was hustle and bustle all over.

There are numerous places to visit in HK and you would definitely require a 4 day trip to Hongkong to enjoy the places fully without any regrets :).

Getting around Hongkong is really easy. The public transport is awesome with good connectivity throughout the island. MTR and Bus is the most preferred option as Taxi can be a bit costly. Grab a local copy of the HK map or any smartphone application having a map as well as details of the places to visit to save time. Get the Octopus card which is very convenient to use on all Buses and MTRs. Do not forget to take a ride on the most famous Trams which operate only in the Hongkong Island.

Hongkong Central Station
Hongkong Central Station
Public Transport in HK
Public Transport in HK
Trams in HK
Trams in HK

The top 5 places worth visiting on my hit list were

1. Victoria Peak

A unique experience to visit HK on a 18th century old tram taking you to a 500m top to enjoy a breath taking view of HK. Also after the visit to the Peak do not forget to visit the Madame Tussads.

Victoria Peak HongKong
Victoria Peak HongKong
Peak Tram
Peak Tram

2.  Disney Land

Memorable Experience of your favorite cartoon stars come live.  You need an entire day to cover this place as it has lots to see inside. They offer a variety of shows and things inside but the best one is the fireworks in the End of the day.

Disney land HK
Disney land HK
Disney land HK
Disney land HK
High Street US Replica
High Street US Replica
Warm Welcome
Warm Welcome

3. Symphony of lights

Symphony of lights @ Victoria Harbor
Symphony of lights @ Victoria Harbor
Symphony of lights
Symphony of lights

4. Times Square

One of the vibrant places in Hongkong and a shoppers paradise. So get your credit cards loaded for a shopping spree. You can get the most luxurious brands under one roof you had ever imagined.

Times Square HK
Times Square HK
Times Square HK
Times Square HK
Thats huge
Thats huge
New year Decorations
New year Decorations
Cant control Shopping
Cant control Shopping

5. Ladies Market

A must visit place for the budget shopping with a wide variety of shopping with a good bargain. Use your best bargaining skills here. Not to forget the local food stalls in this area serving mouth watering delicacies.

Ladies Market
Ladies Market

Alternately there are other famous places worth visiting that includes Ocean Park, Ngong Ping cable car, Old Hongkong, Kowloon Park and much more. For shopping as well there are other famous districts i.e Nathan Road, Argyle street and Queens road.

One of the things Hongkong is really famous for apart from skyscrapers and shopping is food. The best way to enjoy is the road side delicacies served or even some decent restaurants serving them. I honestly tried only a few including fish balls. But I had mostly Indian food which was again very easy to get. There were a lot of Indian food joints in Chunking Mansion and near the Tsim Sha sui District, the best being at 10 Prat Avenue.

Now my insider tips for you guys is book your flights and hotels well in advance to get a good deal. Roam around in HK on public transport as it is pretty easy and well organized and don’t spend much on food as you have lot of options available for it. Instead save your bucks for that shopping which is really cheap in HK compared to other places.

Here is my video on this entire experience just for you guys.

I hope my experience and details was useful to you guys. Please stay tuned for more travel experiences within Southeast Asia including Macau to come soon.  Please subscribe to my Youtube account http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7IxQ_PjWeaOKUslhPTubAQ for more videos on my Travel to HK.

Happy Travelling !

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