Monday, January 29, 2018

3D2N in Hua Hin, Thailand

Why Bangkok again? 

Cause there will always be more of new things and places to discover and explore in this City of Angels. But when I went Bangkok for the third times with my friends, I suggested that we should include Hua Hin for our 5D4N Bangkok trip. And so we did. 

3D2N Hua Hin

Hua Hin is a beach resort city that offer number of attractions and a variety of entertainments to the local as well with foreigners. From sunworshipping at the beach, fun thrilling at the themed parks or to shop till you drop at their outlet malls and even night markets. So many things to do, so many things to see, hence it's impossible for you to opt a day trip from Bangkok to Hua Hin. I would advise to spend at least 2 or 3 nights in Hua Hin to discover all these excitement. 

How To Get To Hua Hin
So far, there is no direct international flight to Hua Hin and the nearest city to fly in is Bangkok. Bear in mind, there are two international airports serving Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport. As my friends and I flew with AirAsia, hence we arrived at the latter airport. 

Hua Hin can be accessible either by train or road but of course, in terms of the most economical way is by taking minivan. From airport, we took taxi to Victory Monument where the minivans are stationed at and these minivans run every half an hour from 4am until 7pm. It cost 180 bath per person and the journey takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the driver's speed and traffic. 

UPDATED: Starting from 25 October 2016, all interprovicial passenger vans operating from Victory Monument being relocated to Chatuchak (Mochit 2), Ekkamai and Southern Bus Terminal. 

2015 Bangkok Day 1- Van To Hua Hin

The minivan stopped somewhere nearby Hua Hin Night Market. The distance also not very far away from the hotel we booked. (Will blog more details in the upcoming post)

Cut the story short, let me share with you where my friends and I went when we're in Hua Hin for 3 days and 2 nights: 

Hua Hin Night Market

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Night Market 01

The first tourist spot we went straight after we left our luggages in the hotel room. We even went again on the second night as well. That's explain why I love to book most of my hotels nearby the night market. Simply because I do love strolling and venturing around night markets, especially those in Thailand.

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Night Market 02

Although Hua Hin Night Market is not relatively large as those night markets in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but still I found this market is charming and fascinating with numerous of stalls selling various apparel, handicrafts, arts and street food - generally what you might expect from a Thai market. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Night Market 03

Hua Hin also offers superb selection of seafood restaurants that line the road that hosts the night market, drawing a lot of attention from visitor eager to feast on the quality dishes on offer. The seafood restaurants here are incredibly well-known for its chic atmosphere, freshness quality and Thai-style low prices. 

Location: Intersection between Petchkasem Road and Decha Nuchit Road
Opening Hours: 6pm to 11pm (Best time to go after 7pm)

Hua Hin Railway Station

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Railway Station

Besides being one of the oldest station, Hua Hin Railway Station is crowned to be one of the country's most beautiful and enchanting train stations marked for its meticulous details in architecture. If case you are taking train from Bangkok, this is where the train stop here in Hua Hin. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Railway Station 02

Painted boldly in red and yellow, this Victorian-styled wooden building has become one of the popular and famous tourist attractions and instantly draws numerous of visitors to come here especially for phototaking. Hence, it is advisable to come early to avoid the crowd. We're lucky by the time when we visited this railway station, a train approached but barely remember where it originated from. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Railway Station 03

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Hua Hin Railway Station 04

Location: Western end of Damnernkasem Road
Opening Hours: 7am to 11pm
Admission Fee: Free of charge

Plearn Wan Shopping Village

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Plearn Wan Shopping Village 01

Well, a vintage lover? Then Plearn Wan Shopping Village is your kind of thing. From the main street, Plern Wan's curious looking entrance - a giant structure fashioned from reclaimed wooden planks is so hard to be missed by anyone. Once we stepped through the small opening, suddenly we felt like we're transported back to the 1950's. We found out that this themed open-aired mall is entirely decorated everything with vintage concept. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Plearn Wan Shopping Village 02

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Plearn Wan Shopping Village 03

This two-storey courtyard style building houses a community of period-style shops selling all kind of things, from liquor, inexpensive plastic-and-tin toys, snacks as well as a beauty salon, photo studio, outdoor cinema screen and 20-room guesthouse can be seen here. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Plearn Wan Shopping Village 04

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Plearn Wan Shopping Village 05

Location: Phatkasem Road (Between Hua Hin Sois 38 and 40), close to Klai Kang Won Palace
Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm (Mon-Thu). Vary for Fri to Sun
Admission Fee: Free of charge

Santorini Park Cha-Am

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Santorini Park 01

Inspired by the architecture and design of Santorini, this themed park brings a slice of the picture-perfect Greek Island to Cha-Am. It's got all the details right, from the classic whitewashed buildings with blue-painted windows down to stone-paved paths and domed towers. This photogenic outdoor entertainment outlet is beautifully designed at each and every corner making a great opportunity for phototaking. Therefore, dont' forget to dress up yourself beautifully when visiting Santorini Park so you can instantly upload your photos in Facebook, Instagram and other social media networks. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Santorini Park 02

An impressive lineup of shops, restaurants and an amusement park promises good time for everyone. Besides photo opportunity, shopping is another favourite pastime for visitors to Santorini Park. The collection of one-off souvenirs, fashion accessories, clothing brands like Nike, Adidas, Timberland, Billabong can be found here. Even if you leave without buying anything, it makes for quite a pleasurable look around. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Santorini Park 05

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Santorini Park 03

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Santorini Park 04

Even the toilet in Santorini Park is impressive enough and I just can't leave without taking photo itself.

Location: Phetkasem Road, Cha Am
Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm (Mon-Thu). Vary for Fri to Sun
Admission Fee: 150 baht per person

Swiss Sheep Farm

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Swiss Sheep Farm 01

Located just opposite of Santorini Park, the Swiss Sheep Farm is an European style countryside farm. It offers adults and children an opportunity to encounter and get up close with various tamed animals. Around the farm, you can find animals like sheeps, goats, horses, chickens, rabbits and even alpaca too. Visitors are allowed to feed these animals by using the coupon attached to the entrance ticket. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Swiss Sheep Farm 02

Well of course if you are visiting this farm with small children, definitely this is an ideal place for them. Small children will enjoy feeding the sheep, petting the rabbits and horse riding. As for the adult like us, we took this chance for another photo opportunity as this farm is creatively designed with multi dimensional paintings. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Swiss Sheep Farm 04

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Swiss Sheep Farm 03

Location: Petchburi Road, Cha Am
Opening Hours: 10am to 7pm (Mon-Fri). 9am to 7pm (Sat & Sun)
Admission Fee: 120 baht for adult and 80 baht for child

Cicada Night Market

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Cicada Night Market 01

Not all the nights market in Thailand opens daily. Similar to Cicada Night Market, it only opens on weekend, from Friday to Sunday. We're lucky enough to plan well our trip and grabbing our chance to visit Cicada before leaving Hua Hin on the next day. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Cicada Night Market 02

Unlike any typical night markets, Cicada Night Market is a platform for local art groups of people to express and showcase their talent and creativity. Here, you will find a wide collection of handmade accessories, decorative items, creative knick knacks and souvenirs. 

2015 Hua Hin Day 2- Cicada Night Market 03

Besides the craft markets, there is an open-air food court where it offers all kinds of savoury snacks, local and international cuisines. So in case you are in Hua Hin during the weekend, don't forget to spare some time to visit this interesting and colourful night market.  

All in all, Cicada Market reflects Hua Hin's laid-back yet vibrant personality. It's not just another outdoor night market but a place where you can chill out, appreciate art and even join in the fun.

Location: Suan Sri, Khao Takiab (on Phetkasem Road)
Opening Hours: 4pm to 11pm (Fri & Sat), 4pm to 10pm (Sun)
How To Get To Cicada Market: By taking songthaew and the charge is around 150-200 baht from Hua Hin town.

How Do We Get Around Hua Hin
We didn't pre-book any tour in advanced but we just randomly hired a taxi driver who we came across somewhere nearby the Hua Hin Night Market. There, you can find plenty of taxi drivers offering tour services to visitors. Our day tour around Hua Hin cost 1,800 baht covering from Hua Hin Railway Market, Plearn Wan Shopping Village, Santorini Park Cha Am, Swiss Sheep Farm to our last stop at Cicada Night Market. We bidded goodbye to our driver and then, we took songthaew back to our hotel. One day tour takes 8 hours, at least.

As for the hotel we stayed, we booked My Place @ Hua Hin Hotel. Check out my full post of this hotel here.

My Place Hua Hin 00

[Credit To:]

Friday, January 26, 2018

Kuching Café: Madeleine Cafe & Patisserie

When one mentions about Kuching, can't deny quite number of notable local dishes such laksa, kolo mee, kek lapis, kueh chap and more will instantly hit one's mind and even the mouth too. As I frequently visit Kuching cause it's my second hometown, I have try almost all the local dishes. Plus, I even did a list of what to eat and which shops or stalls are recommended to try for their respective dishes: Food Must Have When Visit Kuching

But because I keep going back Kuching and had the same local food over and over again, I want opt for something new, something unique. That's where I stumbled upon Madeleine Cafe & Patisserie, a very classic and cozy cafe with French-inspired design situated at Ground Floor, The Spring Shopping Mall of Kuching. So in case you are tired or exhausted from shopping spree, take a break and relax by sipping a cup of hot coffee or tea pair with heavenly slice of cake without have to travel far away.  

Madeleine Cafe - The Overview
#1: Madeleine Cafe & Patisserie situated at Ground Floor, The Spring Shopping Mall of Kuching

Madeleine Cafe - The Overview-1
#2: A very classic and cozy cafe with French-inspired design 

Even before you step into the cafe, you can see wide array of freshly baked breads, croissants, cakes and pastries serve beautifully in the display counter. It's so many until I really having an issue to choose which should I have.   

Madeleine Cafe 03
#3: Freshly baked breads and croissants 

Madeleine Cafe 05
#4: Their cakes are beautifully created 

Madeleine Cafe 04
#5: A bit pricey but value for money  

Madeleine Cafe 06
#6: So now, which should I choose? 

So far, I've been to this cafe three, or four times? I barely remember but I don't mind going back again when I return to Kuching for more of their sweet and savoury delights. Who ever thought such a beautiful and perfectly crafted piece of cake would ever exist in the heart of Kuching town? Even so far, I haven't find any cafes serve this kind of cake in Kota Kinabalu town. 

Madeleine Cafe 01
#7: Mango and Passion Cake

Madeleine Cafe 02
#8: Coffee Opera Cake

Madeleine Cafe 08
#9: Drinks, cakes and pastries we ordered

Madeleine also serves a variety of beverages such as speciality coffees, teas, fruit juices and soft drinks. But still, my main choice would always be a cup of hot latte or mocha everytime I pay my visit here. 

Madeleine Cafe 07
#10: Their signature Coconut Cake (behind) and Green Tea cake (front)

Madeleine Cafe 09
#11: Coffee and cakes - the perfect match ever 

Relating to the price, although it might be lil pricey but then it's worth every ringgit you spend. Their breads, pastries and cakes are priced so for their superior and excellent quality. Oh boy! I should stop myself from keep continue to blog about this cafe cause I'm craving for their cakes and matcha croissant at this hour. 

Madeleine Cafe & Patisserie
Ground Floor, The Spring Shopping Mall,
Kuching (Behind Sushi King)

Opening Hours: 10 am to 10 pm daily except for Saturday which opens until 12am 

P/S: I will going Kuching again soon and any new cafes to intro? 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Da Nang, Hoi An & Hue, Vietnam (Sneak Peek)

Kick off the year of 2018 by visiting Vietnam again and this time around I'm covering the Central Vietnam - Da Nang, Hoi An & Hue which I had been eyeing for quite some time. Once again, thanks to AirAsia for another cheap fare cause I'm quite particular and calculative too when come to buying airtickets. It might not be as cheap as the one I bought to Ho Chi Minh before but as long as within my budget, it's consider reasonable and affordable.

2018 Vietnam Da Nang 01
1: Da Nang International Airport - very close to the city 

Summary of My 6D5N Trip
Day 1: klia2 to Da Nang. Then we hired a private car to Hoi An which takes almost an hour journey.
Day 2: Hoi An Ancient Town
Day 3: Hoi An to Hue by private car
Day 4: Hue to Da Nang 
Day 5: Da Nang - Ba Na Hills 
Day 6: Goodbye Da Nang

Among the three cities, my favourite would be none other than Hoi An Ancient Town. Noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic Hoi An is the most delightful and atmospheric town in Vietnam. I love the old town is manicured and lifted up with vast array of colourful lanterns. Spending two nights here is a wise choice indeed.

2018 Vietnam Hoi An 14
#2: Colourful lanterns everywhere

2018 Vietnam Hoi An 15
#3: Japanese covered bridge with my best travel buddy

2018 Vietnam Hoi An 09
#4: Colourful lanterns at night 

From Hoi An, we hired private car to Hue which takes about 2 and half hours. We did sightseeing tour in between, which including visiting My Son Sanctuary and Marble Mountains (but I personally think you can skip this). In Hue, we managed to venture the Imperial City, a walled palace within the citadel of the city. Hue formally was an imperial capital of Vietnam and now listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2018 Vietnam Hue Imperial City 01
#5: Imperial City, a walled palace within the citadel of the city of Hue

The final two nights we spent in Da Nang and we went to Ba Na Hills, a hill station and resort situated 45 minutes away from the city. This magical resort has been shared virally in Facebook lately and I can't believe finally I left my footprints there. 

#6: 💗 the clear blue sky and cold weather

2018 Vietnam Da Nang 03

2018 Vietnam Da Nang 04
#8: Magical French village

2018 Vietnam Da Nang 05
#9: Dragon-shaped bridge spanning over Han River on last night before bidding goodbye 

So now I done with Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi & Halong Bay as well as Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue, thinking what next for Vietnam?  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Europe (2017): Salzburg, Austria

After spending a night in the world's music capital of Vienna, I embarked to the next city - Salzburg. Woke up early morning to pack my bags and straightly check-out from the hostel. Bidd goodbye to a Malaysian lady who I met last night staying in the same hostel and right after that, I walked to the train station which not far away the hostel I stayed.

From Vienna to Salzburg
Getting from Vienna to Salzburg, there are two cheapest options; either by bus or train. In terms of fare, both options are not much different with advance purchase fares from €19. I chosen to ride on the train because besides admire riding on the train, the journey time is lesser comparing to taking the bus.

Two competing operators link Vienna with Salzburg:
  • The State-owned OBB (Austrian Federal Railway) - run twice an hour between Wien Hbf & Salzburg main central station. 
  • Private operator WESTbahn - run every hour between Wien Westbahnhof & Salzburg main central station. It also run every house between Wien Praterstern, Wien Mitte, Wien Hbf, Wien Meidling and Salzburg. 
For more info about these two operators, check out "The Main in Seat 61" for more details.

2017 Europe Salzburg 01 OBB Railjet
Economy class on RailJet of OBB. The comfortable open saloons with large picture windows. Some seats are around table, some unidirectional. The best part is there is free WiFi connection in all classes. 

2017 Europe Salzburg 01 Salzburg Hbf
After less than three hours of train ride, finally reach Salzburg Hauptbahnhof - the main railway station of Salzburg. 

Accommodation in Salzburg
As I plan for my this Europe trip quite last minute, hence not many hostels were available. Even there were few available, but either there are overbudget and the location is not strategic enough. I have no choice but end up to book International Youth Hostel Salzburg. It's not that really bad - the dorm and shared bathroom is decent clean and the staffs were helpful and friendly. Just the matter of the location - 10 minutes walk from the main train station and city center. 

2017 Europe Salzburg 03 International Youth Hostel

Date Stayed: 13 September 2017 (1 night)
Room Rate: €20 for a bed in 6 bed mixed dorm (Booked via Hostelworld)

What To Do & See in Salzburg
Salzburg is well-known for two things: First, it's the birthplace of Mozart and secondly, the American musical film "The Sound of Music" was shooting here. Right after I reach Salzburg, immediately I signed up for the Panorama Tours: Sound of Music from hostel because I will be leaving Salzburg on the next day. It offers two tours daily; leaving at 9:15am and 2pm and the duration takes about 4 hours. 

This tour is exclusively bringing visitors to visit the original film location in and around Salzburg.

2017 Europe Salzburg 04 Sound of Music Tour
The charming bus with funny and friendly guide called David

Frankly speaking, I know about this movie but then until now I haven't watch it yet. Maybe someday I should find some time to watch this. Anyone is a big fan of "The Sound of Music" movie here?

Along with the live and cheerful guide who shared the highlights of the movie, he also shared the historical and architecture landmarks of Salzburg during the tour. So here I just simplified few of the places we managed to visit and see: 

2017 Europe Salzburg 08 Leopoldskron Palace
Our first pit stop: Leopoldskron Palace. We did photo stop at Lake Leopoldskron mirroring the palace, where the famous boating scene was filmed. 

2017 Europe Salzburg 09 Hellbrunn Palace Gazebo
The original gazebo was rebuilt especially for all the movie fans in the gardens of Hellbrunn Palace. The kissing scene of Maria and Baron von Trapp took place here.  

2017 Europe Salzburg 05 Basilica of Mondsee
Basilica St. Michael of Mondsee. This church is reached international fame because the wedding scene of Maria and Baron von Trapp was filmed in the movie. 

2017 Europe Salzburg 06 mirabell gardens
Our tour ended at beautiful and spectacular Mirabell Garden where the song "Do-Re-Mi" was filmed.

2017 Europe Salzburg 07 Mozart's Birthplace
Right after the tour ended, I went and wandered by myself. Unfortunately by the time I reach Mozarts Geburtshaus (Mozart's birth house) was closed. This is where the Mozart family lived in this house and Mozart himself was born here. Now, this house has turned into a popular museum to house interesting memorabilia and letters. 

How Much I Spent in Salzburg
Here are the breakdown:
International Youth Hostel Salzburg – 1 night

Train from Vienna to Salzburg

Sound of Music

Food & Beverages

Locker to store luggage
Souvenirs – magnets, postcards, stamps & etc











Exchange Rate: €1.00 = RM5.12 as at September 2017

Unlike Vienna, spending a day in Salzburg isn't sufficient enough. There are many things and places to explore apparently, like Bavarian Mountains and Eagles Nest. I have to admit it's my own mistake for didn't plan my trip well.