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Thaintro – The best week in Thailand!

Heading to South East Asia for the first time? Well look no further!

This past May, I had the pleasure of heading over to South East Asia, starting my trip in the Land of Smiles, Thailand.

Throughout my research of Thailand, I quickly came to realize that there were SO many places to start, routes to follow and things to see/do, even for a travel agent (haha) it all became a bit overwhelming. To pin point the exact itinerary I wanted to complete in my three-week time span, it took careful consideration, however all I knew was that I wanted to ensure that my holiday actually felt like a holiday.

I wanted the ease of travel, everything to be sorted for me before I went, someone to tell me all the best places to go/see/eat/drink/party and on top of that to have an awesome group of people to share it with me… and then I came to the realization… all I wanted to do was Thaintro!

Thaintro is an amazing group tour commencing in Bangkok and finishing up on the island of Koh Phangan. It’s the perfect option for solo travellers, couples, or for anybody heading to South East Asia for the first time.

With a jam-packed itinerary (don’t worry you’ll still have plenty of free time for sun-tanning and cocktails on the beach) – Thaintro is able to tick off your Thailand bucket list in 9 days! With thai massages, elephant cuddles, beach parties’, floating bungalows & heaps of new friends – Thaintro is the trip of a lifetime.

Day 1: Arrival into Bangkok

The day was finally here! I landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (BKK) and was pleasantly greeted by our group’s guide for the week Dan. Dan was waiting at the airport’s meeting point to ensure we landed safely off the plane and made it with ease into the madness of Bangkok city.

The streets of Bangkok are fast-paced, covered in market & food stalls, eager tuk-tuk drivers and keen Thai sales people trying to sell you their local city tour for only 100 baht ($4 AUD). For a first time visitor – it can be quite full on but it’s all about the experience and within a couple hours it will seem quite normal.

Our accommodation in Bangkok was at a guesthouse called the Wild Orchid Villa. Wild Orchid Villa is conveniently located in the centre of Bangkok – close to the shops, temples, various cafes/restaurants and the very well known Khao San road. The villa is decked out with an all day restaurant & bar, private outdoor poor & local travel agent on site.

Wild Orchid Villa Twin Rooms 

Outdoor pool at Wild Orchid Villa

After checking in and getting settled into our twin share rooms – we were given the remainder of the day to explore Bangkok before the welcome dinner later in the evening. I decided to spend my day sampling some of Bangkok’s best food & cocktails, and splurging on a 150 baht ($6 AUD) 1-hour long traditional Thai massage. This easily became a trend throughout the rest of my Thailand trip as well.
Some of my favourite Thai appetizers – Chicken Satay & Spring Rolls!

The welcome dinner was the first opportunity to get everyone together. We had a very diverse group with people coming from the UK, Canada, America, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria and Spain; all ranging in age from 18-35 years old.

By the end of the night it didn’t take long to realize it was going to be an amazing week!

Day 2: Temples, Tuk Tuks & Party Night in Bangkok

Day two rolled around and it was time to explore some Bangkok’s most popular highlights! We headed out after breakfast and walked to our first temple Wat Arun where we meet our guide “Mr James Bond.” He knew absolutely everything about Thailand, temples, Buddhism and more! He even called me Miss Universe Canada so I instantly became his biggest fan!

When in South East Asia it is always advised to cover your knees and shoulders when visiting temples. This shows respect to the people praying in the temples, the monks on the premises and other visitors to these temples.Temple visits in Bangkok

On arrival to the first temple we were taken through a traditional Thai blessing ceremony – surrounded by beautiful lit candles and incense sticks. As we made our way through the rest of the temple we entered a room where a monk blessed our group with holy water and sent us off with well wishes for the rest of our travels in Thailand.

Following Wat Arun temple our group walked through the city towards the river where we would boarded a long boat along the Chao Phraya River. Along the river were beautiful man-made river bungalows and little ladies in boats selling their goods those passing by. One lady absolutely stole my heart with her beautiful smile and charm, so much so I had no problem purchasing a few cold drinks and souvenirs off of her.

Cruise along Chao Phraya River

Our river cruise took us to the entrance of the second and a more popular temple, Wat Pho Temple. The Wat Pho Temple next to the Grand Palace is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. At Wat Pho you will find the magnificent 46 meters long gold plated Reclining Buddha, and plenty of other smaller buddhas around the area.

After a full morning of temples we jumped into our tuk-tuks (Thai-styled taxis) and made our way through the city back to our villa. In Thailand, road rules simply don’t apply. Traffic lights aren’t abided by, passing other cars is the norm and jay-walking is extremely common.

Tuk tuk madness! 

Our tuk-tuk driver gave us the full crazy experience as he whizzed in and out of the lanes speeding his way to our destination!

Our “party night” out in Bangkok began at a little Indian restaurant named Bombay Blues. After some food and some cocktails we finally hit Khaosan Road. Khaosan Road is a famous street amongst Bangkok’s hustle and bustle. Lined with bars, Khaosan Road attracts tourists, backpackers from around the world for it’s nightlife, cheap drinks and exotic street food. The party atmosphere on Khaosan is great and every night there’s something going on so if you’re ready to cut loose, this is the place to be.

On Khaosan road, our first stop was a bucket’s bar named Kim’s Cocktails. Drinking from children’s beach buckets (where they make sand castles out of) is a very popular thing to do while in Thailand. We all had the chance to test this out ourselves – choosing from hundred of different drinks on the menu; everything from pina coladas, daiquiris, long island ice teas to mystery Thai concoctions. After a nice pre-game we were ready to hit “The Club” to finish off our night.

Traveller trip: These buckets are strong (not like your standard measured drinks back in Australia, UK, Canada or Europe – These are best shared with someone else if you want to remember your night! However – they are delicious and a great way to get your buzz on for the rest of your night on Khaosan Road. Not to mention they are cheap (~300-400 baht – $12-16 AUD for way to much drink!)

Day #3: Thai Cooking Class & the Overnight Train

With a sore head and the after taste of a late night McDonalds burger from Khaosan Road; I awoke ready for day 3. It was the Thai cooking class day and I was so excited! I love to cook and I LOVE Thai food – what a perfect activity!

Mai-Dee’s Cooking School hosted us for the morning and we were going to cook three classic Thai dishes. We had the chance to make a Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai and a Massaman Curry. It’s crazy to now know how simple it is to make some of your favourite Thai dishes!

Ready to cook! 

Simple ingredients, simple steps and a bit of love and you’d be able to cook some of your favourites too. And the best part of this class… was of course tasting all of our creations! Following the cooking portion – the group was lead through some dancing and Thai sing-alongs, which had everyone in hysterics.

We had the afternoon free to do some last minute shopping, get a Thai massage, grab some lunch or visit some of the local sites we missed. A lot of people chose to venture down Khaosan Road for some market shopping, while I decided to lounge by the pool and recover from my alcohol-bucket hangover.

Shortly after 5pm we met in the lobby to begin our journey on the overnight train that would take us from Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park. I am not going to lie… I was a bit apprehensive about spending a whole evening on the sleeper train… but this train was lush!

Overnight train fun!

The beds were extremely comfortable, food was served on board, you had your own little cubby to put your belongings, and every bunk had curtains for privacy while sleeping! Before we knew it – it was 7AM and it was time to depart the train!

Day #4: Khao Sok National Park

After we arrived off the train, we grabbed a quick breakfast before jumping onto a bus + longboat into Khao Sok National Park. Thaintro makes this journey from Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park absolutely seamless – I would have had NO clue how to navigate these bus and train timetables if I had to do it alone… especially with a Khaosan Road bucket hangover…

The longboat journey into the entrance of the National Park is nothing short of spectacular. The pictures speak a thousand words, and my description and photos won’t even begin to do it justice. We stopped for a swim stop along the way. In a quiet little bay lined with beautiful cliff edges the longboat stopped for us to cool off, and enjoy some rock jumping!

Khao Sok National Park 

Shortly after we made it into Khao Sok and our accommodation for the evening. For a backpacker trip this place felt like absolute luxury! We were staying in floating bungalows on the water, had access to jumping platforms to swim from, rubber tubes to relax in the crystal clear waters, kayaks to explore the park and plenty more.

Our group spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine, (some people enjoyed the sun a bit too much – don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!) having a few drinks and cranking tunes on the dock. It was the perfect day and goes down as one of my top 5 best travel experiences to date!

The fun didn’t stop in the evening. After a yummy Thai dinner the whole group sat around in the common area and played some camp games including The Box Game, Mafia, and Who’s Coming to Dinner? You are never too old for these kinds of games!

Day #5: Khao Sok National Park to Koh Pha Ngan

Off to the southern islands of Thailand today! We said goodbye to the stunning Khao Sok National Park and jumped on the long boat back to the mainland. A 2-hour bus journey and 2-hour ferry; we finally arrived at Koh Phangan, our home for the next 4 nights.

Sarana Bungalows is the ‘home of Thaintro’ in Thailand and was our accommodation on the island. Situated directly on the beach with a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the ocean – this place was lush. When we arrived we were all given our room assignments and were put in either twin/triple or quad share rooms. They were all en-suited and had hammocks on the front deck – the perfect place to read a book or have a mid-day nap to get out of the sun.

Welcome to Paradise! 

Our day was left for us to enjoy. Some people went into the town to check out the market and shops, whereas others decided to kick it at the resort; have some lunch or chose to enjoy the sun by the pool. Around the accommodation there were two resort dogs that were so friendly: Dave and Rosie. They had been taken in by Thaintro a while ago and have now made themselves resident on the property.

Hey Dave!

The evening was set for our first beach party on the famous “Full Moon Party” Island of Koh Phangan. We headed out for dinner at a restaurant called Matty’s Joint and then ventured to the Pirates Bar to get beach party ready: buckets, neon paint and glitter!

One bucket each? Sure, why not!

Haad Rin is the area where the legendary Full Moon Party is hosted. Even though our trip didn’t follow on a Full Moon Party, Thaintro creates it’s own beach party for everyone to experience a taste of the real deal. On the beach you will experience fire shows, table dancing, musical chairs, limbo, basketball shooting contests and plenty of other party games to get people in the spirit!

Day #6: Massage and Chill Day

What could be better than a traditional Thai massage on the beach after a late night out at Haad Rin beach? Absolutely nothing! Thaintro includes a 45-minute massage at Sarana Bungalows overlooking the ocean in your package– what a treat!

The remainder of the day was spent sun-tanning by the pool, visiting the markets in the town and playing some beach volleyball at the resort.

In the evening the group gathered in the yoga hall for the travel talk. Dan our guide went through various different destinations to visit following our week on Thaintro and some of the other Intro travel products in other countries (Bali, Vietnam & Australia). Thaintro really focuses on the total travel solution for each and every one of their travellers. From even before arriving into Thailand, to landing at the airport, to the entire week and leaving the group – you are sorted from start to finish!

Day #7: Island Boat Trip + BBQ

Instead of exploring the island of Koh Phangan by land, Thaintro includes an island boat trip to experience the beauty of the island by water.

Our boat had a sun deck, bar and jumping platform which led into the water. We spent the day cruising the island, stopping along the way to snorkel, swimming from the boat and going kayaking.

Following lunch we headed to Malibu Beach for the rest of the afternoon. Malibu Beach has a nice beach bar serving food, drinks, and a secluded private beach just for us! We had the afternoon to ourselves to catch some rays, or play some beach volleyball.

When we got back from the boat trip our evening finished off with a freshly prepared BBQ at Sarana Bungalows.

Day #8: Elephant Experience & Farewell Dinner

On the bucket list of many backpackers to South East Asia is to visit an elephant sanctuary. Getting that elephant selfie is a must for any traveller’s Instagram page. If you didn’t get an elephant photo in Thailand did you even go? Well no, so of course Thaintro pre-included this experience in the trip and it was definitely a highlight for many people. Just after breakfast, our group headed out and had the remainder of the morning to spend at the elephant sanctuary.

Splashing around with the elephants

The farewell dinner was hosted at a lovely Thai restaurant in town. As we were all going separate ways the following day it was nice to share stories from the week. We all looked back on day 1 in Bangkok and couldn’t believe how well we all knew each other, all the amazing places we had seen and all the amazing things we had done. From temples, to tuk-tuk rides, overnight trains, boat trips, beach parties and more – it really was an action packed week!

What an amazing week! 

Day #9 – Onward travels or off to the Phi Phi Islands!

For those who only booked onto the 9 day Thaintro package their trip finished on day 9. Many people (if they have time) choose to continue to travel with Thaintro on their 4 day Phi Phi island add-on package from Koh Phangan across the Gulf.

This add-on package is a separate trip to the 9-day trip. Included in this package is your transfers across the Gulf from Koh Phangan to Koh Phi Phi, 2 nights on Phi Phi, a half day sunset boat trip and the highlight; the overnight Maya bay sleep aboard trip.

To continue reading more about my Thailand trip in the Phi Phi Islands with Thaintro click HERE.& the adventure continues…

sam.C

For more information on booking a holiday with Thaintro you can find their website HERE.

Asia

Thaintro – Koh Phi Phi & Maya Bay Overnight

Day 1 – Welcome to Koh Phi Phi!

After an amazing 9 days on Thaintro it was time to continue the adventure on the other side of the Gulf of Thailand. We left Koh Phangan at 6AM and began our 8-hour journey (ferry-bus-ferry) across to Koh Phi Phi.

Koh Phi Phi Island is the highlight of many travellers when they go to Thailand. The Phi Phi Island group is known for it’s tropical beaches, stunning rock formations, turquoise waters and colourful marine life – it has something for everyone! In the year 2000 it become famous off the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” which was set at Maya Bay. Phi Phi Island is only a 45-minute speedboat journey from Phuket making it an easy first destination to visit after many people step off their international flight.

The stunning Phi Phi Islands. 

We arrived just after lunch and were met at the ferry terminal by our new Thaintro guide, Whitney. The first thing I noticed when arriving at Phi Phi was that it reminded me slightly of Gili Trawangan Island in Bali. There are no paved roads (or a very limited number of them) on the island, and the streets are lines with shops, restaurants, dive shops and bars. It is well known as one of the biggest party islands in Thailand – very similar to Gili T’s reputation in Bali. Phi Phi is truly a backpacker’s haven, and I could definitely see why.

We checked in to our accommodation, Kinaree Hostel and had the rest of the afternoon to our leisure. Whitney has been living on Phi Phi for over a year and knows all the hidden gems of Phi Phi, so she wanted to take us to a secret little spot that overlooked the island. It was a cliff-top pool bar, which showcased Phi Phi island’s stunning sunset.

We met up as a group in the evening and headed to Unni’s Restaurant for dinner and some drinks. After a long travel day many people took the night off and had a chill night, while others decided to venture out into the town for the evening.

Day 2 – Bamboo Island + Monkey Beach Sunset Boat Cruise

Bright and early a few people in our group decided to get up to see the sunrise from the Phi Phi Island lookout point. It was a short 45-minute walk up-hill – but it was bloody worth it! Once you arrived at the lookout point you were treated to stunning panoramic views of Phi Phi Island.

Well worth the hike!

Later in the afternoon our group gathered for departure on the boat trip to Bamboo Island & Monkey Beach. The weather (as expected during rainy season) was not great today. This was one of the only days of the 12 that we received “typical rainy season weather.” Lucky for us!

After returning from our afternoon on the boat we met at Acqua Restaurant in town for some happy hour cocktails (80 baht = $3 AUD) and dinner.

Day 3 & 4 – Check out & Maya Bay Overnight Sleep-aboard

Today we checked out of Kinaree Hostel and had the morning to explore Phi Phi before departing on the overnight Maya Bay sleep-aboard trip. My morning consisted of a delicious breakfast, some market shopping, a watermelon fruit shake and some sun-tanning.

Ready for the Maya Bay Sleep Aboard. 

The sleep-aboard boat visiting Maya Bay is a main highlight of many visitors to the Phi Phi islands. Our boat cruised out of the bay and headed past the Viking Cave and anchored at Blue Lagoon for a couple hours. At Blue Lagoon we had the chance to do some snorkelling or kayaking out around the bay. The snorkelling around the boat was breathtaking. Schools of fish would swim right around your face and the reef was beautiful.

Later in the afternoon we cruised around to the entrance of Maya Bay. Due to the water being so rough surrounding the area we were unable to enter the bay the normal way and had to get a bit more creative.

En route to Maya Bay!

At Maya Bay the water was crystal clear, the sand was so fine and it was everything you could have imagined and more! I now understand why it’s so famous and so commonly visited. Another highlight of the overnight sleep-aboard experience is that when the horn goes off for all the day boats to leave the beach to head back to Phi Phi, we were able to spend another hour at the beach and get our photos without anyone else around! We had the whole Maya Bay to ourselves!

After dinner, we had the option to head out to a secluded beach for a beach party and bonfire or go swimming with the plankton off the back of the boat. One of the most unique experiences I have ever had was swimming with the plankton. Once you get in the water and turn off your torches – you move your limbs against the water and light up like a star! The plankton lights up in the water due to it’s bioluminescent nature. Following the swim, we spent our night sleeping on deck, having views of the beautiful stars in the clear night sky.

In the morning we had another chance to visit Maya Bay and get those last minute photos we missed the day before. We cruised back via Monkey Beach to Phi Phi Island arriving just before 10am.

The beautiful Maya Bay. 

When we arrived back at Phi Phi Island this was where our Thaintro trip ended. Everyone in our group was headed to different places; many were staying longer in Phi Phi, some were going to Krabi, Phuket or flying back to Bangkok.

The rest of my time in Southern Thailand following Thaintro was being spent visiting Phuket, Koh Tao & Koh Samui. I had made some life-long friends during my time on Thaintro that I would be connecting with again during the rest of my travels. To follow the rest of my Thailand and South East Asia travels – check out the rest of my Asia blogs!

To read more about my trip in Thailand (Bangkok – Khao Sok NP – Koh Phangan) click HERE.

For more information on booking a holiday with Thaintro you can find their website HERE.

Asia

Bali, Indonesia – Uluwatu, Gili Trawangan & Ubud

A popular destination for all style of travellers; surfers, yogis, beach bums, party animals, foodies and scuba diving addicts; Bali, Indonesia has been on my bucket list since the travel bug bit.

Bali is easily accessible from Australia; 6 hours by plane from Melbourne & Sydney, 3 ½ hour from Perth & 2 ½ hours from Darwin – due to that it is quite common for travellers to find themselves spontaneously booking flights to this tropical state of mind.

With all my bikinis packed (one for each day of course), my GoPro and a sense of adventure I was ready to explore Bali myself!

Uluwatu – Surf’s Up and Single Fin 

When we landed in Denpasar (Bali’s International Airport), our driver who was bringing us back to our accommodation in Uluwatu pleasantly greeted us. The 45-minute drive from the airport to our accommodation cost us 300,000 IDR, which equates to roughly $30 AUD. We chose to stay at a little homestay close to the famous Padang Padang beach named Bali Bule Homestay. The homestay has a prime location for us as we only had a short stay in Uluwatu. It was only a 5-minute walk from the beach, and a short 5-minute drive to Uluwatu Temple; both of which we wanted to see during our stay.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetBali Bule Homestay, Uluwatu. 

Uluwatu Temple

“Pura Luhur Uluwatu or Uluwatu Temple is a famous Balinese sea temple in Bali. It is one of the nine directional temples of Bali meant to protect it from evil spirits. This spectacular temple is one to marvel with as it perched at the edge of the rock overlooking the sea as if on guard.” 

IMG_8866We decided to walk from our accommodation to the entrance of Uluwatu Temple. Just before we arrived we stopped by a little market stall offering sarongs, handmade bracelets and souvenir shirts. As it was our first day in Bali we figured a couple sarongs would come in handy throughout our week so we (Ben) bartered for a cheaper deal and purchased our first souvenirs!

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Ben’s new sarong! 

As you enter the sacred land you are warned over the intercom about the resident monkeys who don’t hesitate in taking your belongings… food, sunglasses, cameras and even selfies sticks! Balinese long-tailed monkeys can be found all throughout Bali. They sure do make for some hilarious photos and videos! One of them even tried to snatch my camera case while I was holding it!

We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the temple and wandering the walkways; whilst taking in the spectacular views from the cliff-edge.

Single Fin                                                  http://singlefinbali.com/

Before even arriving in Bali, I was informed that we HAD to go check out Single Fin for dinner & drinks while staying in Uluwatu. Let’s just say that the night let for an experience I could never forget!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOur balcony, the biggest in the archipelago, boasts stunning views of one of surfing’s spiritual homes, and comes alive as the sun sinks into the Indian Ocean.

We arrived at Single Fin and was pleasantly greeted by their bar staff who showed us to our table. Like any night out in Bali, a couple Bintangs were ordered to start us off.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetTwo Bintangs Please! 

Due to a not so friendly couple that ended up squeezing their way into a table beside us; the lovely manager at Single Fin upgraded us into one of the epic booths! We had a whole 10-person booth to ourselves to watch the sunset.

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The cocktails were delicious, the food was divine and the whole Single Fin experience exceeded our expectations and need to be put on any Bali Bucket List!

Gili Trawangan – Turtle Capital of the World

Our next destination in Bali was to the popular tropical destination of the Gili Islands. The Gili Islands are a group of 3 tiny islands; Gili Air, Gili Meno and the most visited; Gili Trawangan. They are all known for their sandy beaches, lined by palm trees and exotic coral reefs offshore.

IMG_8951Main Beach, Gili Trawangan.

For the short amount of time in Bali, we decided to spend the majority of it at Gili Trawangan; the largest of the three islands. Gili Trawangan is easily accessible from the mainland of Bali through fast-boats and air.

Fast Boat Bookings: https://www.gilibookings.com/bali-to-gili-fast-boat?gclid=CKyI9an2h9ICFcGSvQodoM0GCw

Denpasar (Bali) to Lombok Flight Companies: Lion Air, Wings Air & Garuda Indonesia.

IMG_8981Bluewater Express Fast Boat

When we arrived off the Bluewater Express fast boat, “taxi drivers” wanting to transport us to our accommodation overwhelmed us at the terminal. When I say taxi drivers, I don’t mean the typical taxi drivers you would expect to see in yellow cars in busy cities… but taxi drivers riding horses in carriages.

IMG_8937This is very unique to Gili T and makes it a very bustling place to visit as there are absolutely no motorized vehicles on the island; with everyone getting around on horse or push bike! If you aren’t careful you might get run over by a horse as these guys move fast down the tiny Gili streets!

We decided to make our own way to our accommodation, which was a short walk from the fast boat terminal. We chose to stay at a stunning little spot called Villa Nero, which was just off the main drag. From the minute we arrived on Villa Nero’s property we know we chose somewhere special. From the stunning minimalistic design of the villas, the sparking welcome drink on arrival, to most importantly the service from all staff on property – it was an absolute treat to stay there.

IMG_8907Villa Nero, Gili Trawangan. 

With Gili boasting the reputation of being the Turtle capital of the world, Ben and I were both keen to see these majestic creatures ourselves.

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 6.34.57 PMGili T TURTLE! 

As a certified diver; Ben went out on a ‘fun dive’ with Manta Dive Gili Trawangan to a dive spot called Celo Turbo. Celo Terbo was only a short boat trip away from the Gili T’s main beach. When he resurfaced he reported to me when he got back that he spotted: a massive turtle, lion fish, puffer-fish, mantis shrimp and reef stone fish! I was so jealous that within weeks of getting back to Australia I have booked into getting my PADI Open Water Dive Certification!

16426234_10155047053276474_2166986930162670652_nAs I was not certified at the time, I chose to snorkel a few times in Gili and was able to see the stunning colourful reef a few steps off the shore. I also managed to sneak in a stand up paddleboard session as well!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThough it was rainy season in Bali, we still managed to find some time to kick back and enjoy the sunshine on the beach. All we needed here… was a Bintang Radler!

UbudPeace, Love, Yoga & Rice Paddies! 

Our last stop on trip to Bali was Ubud. Ubud is commonly known for being Bali’s cultural and spiritual heart. Featured in the famous movie; Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts – Ubud situates itself in the cool mountains, surrounded amongst various rice paddies. Popular activities in Ubud include (but are not limited to): spa & yoga retreats, hiking up Mt Batur, gazing at local artisans work at the Ubud Markets, enjoying delicious cuisines in the various restaurants and cafes and monkeying around in the Sacred Monkey Forest. There is plenty to do for all types of travellers, and many find Ubud easy to stay and hard to leave.

Anusara Luxury Villas - Ben’s Review

Ubud was a one of those must go and see places and to say that Anusara Luxury Villas sits in the heart of it, well it left me and my partner speechless. In a little world of it’s own and what many would say a ‘honeymoon’ destination, it was actually worth it’s weight in gold. Sitting on one of the most amazing views of rice paddies you can imagine and what is real Indonesia, Bali, it’s safe to say that you don’t need much else.

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Private pool overlooking the Rice Paddies, Anusara Luxury Villas. 

Although segregated and about a 5 minute drive from town, it has multiple opportunities for a ‘free’ shuttle into town and also back, allowing you to experience what Ubud is like in the evening. The original complex we stayed in was impeccable, needless to stay when my partner (me) accidentally got the key stuck in the door, they had the generosity to UPGRADE us to the presidential suite, which they certainly didn’t have to do… (Certainly do not try this for good measure haha).

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Presidential Suite Upgrade, Anusara Luxury Villas. 

Gusti (the chauffeur) was second to none in the customer service he offered with not only the way he was, but also the fun he made us have, singing along to Balinese music – if only you could imagine. We would like to take the time to thank the whole team at Anusara and we hope to be back in the future.’ 

– Benjamin Wootton (Trip Advisor, Feb 2017)

Sacred Monkey Forest

One of the top tourist destinations in Ubud is the Sacred Monkey Forest. Located only a short walk from the Ubud centre; it’s easily accessible from anywhere in Ubud. When we arrived at the monkey forest we purchased some bananas from the vendors; and started to explore through the forest.

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Going Bananas in the Sacred Monkey Forest!

As you can see from the photos – these monkeys are absolutely hilarious! They don’t hesitate to crawl all the way up you to reach for a banana held above your head. Also if you have loose electronics (phones, cameras, etc) in your hands you need to be sure to hold onto them tightly! You can easily spend hours here enjoying the antics of these funny animals.

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Monkeying around! 

Ubud Markets

Located in the heart of Ubud is the Ubud markets. There is no complete trip to South East Asia without a visit to the local markets – discovering all the local artisans work, crafts, jewelry, and plenty more. You can easily get lost in a maze of market stalls with eager sellers showcasing their products. Half the fun of visiting the markets is bartering “your price” vs “their price.” Ben managed to barter himself a NBA basketball jersey and hat from over 400,000 IDR ($40 AUD) down to only 204,000 IDR ($20 AUD). Cheeky, cheeky!

Pod Chocolate

When we were at Single Fin in Uluwatu we were recommended by friends to check out a place in Ubud named Pod Chocolate. I had never heard of this place before and had no idea what to expect or what we were going to see.

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I spy with my little eye… 

Pod Chocolate is a chocolate factory situated on the grounds of an Elephant Camp just north of Ubud. With the chocolate made on location – you can participate in chocolate tours, chocolate making classes or chocolate tastings.

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Complimentary Chocolate shot on arrival! Yummy! 

On top of just the delicious variety of chocolates made on site, you will also find a herd of Sumatran Elephants on property. Ranging from fully-grown (~3 metre high) adult elephants to only 6-day old baby elephant calfs – it was definitely the highlight of my visit.

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The sweetest little Dumbo! 

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Ben has made a new friend!

After spending some time playing with the elephants we headed over to where the sun bears were located. The sun bears were all rescued and brought to Pod Chocolate; where they now all live happily amongst each other and their bear trainer. Occasionally when the bears are in a good mood – tourists are able to get a ‘bear hug’ photo while the bear is feeding.

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Note: The bear is in no way sedated, drugged or mistreated for these photos to happen – they have just been brought up in this environment after being rescued and they have been trained to be tame around humans.

Pod Chocolate is definitely somewhere I would recommend visiting while staying in Ubud. It is only a 1 hour drive from the city centre; and has a reasonably priced entry fee of only 95,000 IDR ($10 AUD).

I absolutely loved my time at Pod Chocolate and I am looking forward to visiting again in the future.

Bali Zoo – Breakfast with Orangutans

On our final day in Ubud, we checked out of our villa bright and early and were taken to the Bali Zoo. One of their most popular exclusive attractions they have at the Bali Zoo is the Breakfast with Orangutans. Included in this experience was: Full buffet breakfast, entrance into the Zoo & personal souvenir photos with the Orangutans.

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This was a big highlight of my time in Ubud as I had never been so close to these creatures before. It’s incredible to see how human-like they are as well – they show expression and emotion on their faces as blatantly as we do! One of the orang-utans you could tell was in a mood as he would sulk… then be happy… then sulk again! It was bloody hilarious to watch and made for such an enjoyable experience. Ben even tried to give him his hat and the little fellow couldn’t be bothered.

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Holding me with his feet! 

I would highly suggest this experience for anyone visiting Ubud. The Bali Zoo is only a short 30 minute drive from the main centre, and only requires a morning from start to finish!

Until next time Bali… 

Bali completely took Ben and I for a surprise. We had heard from others that Bali was just a crazy party place that Aussies enjoy going for spring-break; but we never expected to be blown away by the beauty, culture and nature found within the various places we visited. Each place we went (Uluwatu, Gili T & Ubud) left us wanting more – feeling like we only had a small taster of how unique each destination was. This is my favourite way to leave a place though – so I have a reason to come back!

I haven’t stopped checking flights to Bali since being back… so I will be back soon!

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Until next adventure…

sam C.

Asia

Welcome to Singapore!

Yay, I finally made it to Singapore. With 21 hours of being airbourne and being awake for over 36hours I finally touched down. After immigration and collecting my baggage, I made my way to catch a Taxi outside the Airport. I really should’nt of been so naive to how many taxi drivers are able to take advantage of tourists and take them on a wild goose chase all throughout Singapore in hopes they don’t notice they are trying to rack up the cab fare. My driver took me in every which way, and had no idea where my friends residence was in the first place. Not to mention the language barrier was a major issue. Neither of us could understand each other, which led to more confusion. Afterall, I eventually made it to University Town which is a part of the National University of Singapore’s campus.

After getting a few hours of sleep I was ready to see what this place was all about. We grabbed a Starbucks which is a 1 minute walk from his residence *super handy :)* and started my guided tour. We caught a free shuttle which brought us to the main campus which is called Kent Ridge. From there, I was shown many of the buildings where his classes were held, and the various cafeterias and dinning options. It was a very similar set up to “Centre Spot” at Western. My first meal was Teriyaki Pepper Rice, which ultimately was teriyaki chicken on rice, vegetables, with a side cup of soup.

Here are a few things I have learned/noticed about Singapore in only one day…

  1. Construction occurs all the time. Everything is constantly being renovated or enhanced.
  2. Racquet sports are very big here. Tennis, squash, etc.
  3. It is winter season at the moment and it is still over 20 degrees. I am in shorts and a t-shirt and many people are currently wearing jeans and sweaters.
  4. Wednesday nights downtown is “Ladies Night”… meaning we get to drink for free.
  5. Cars are very expensive here. A Honda Civic in CAD is about $13,000 – $15,000, however in Singapore it is close to $100,000.
  6. A drivers permit for 10 years also costs $50,000.
  7. Singapore doesn’t have LCBO’s or Beer Stores. You purchase your alcohol at places like 7-11.

Justin is in a 4 hour lab at the moment so I decided I would plant myself in the local Starbucks. This Starbucks is apparently one of the largest in Asia, as it has a huge indoor and outdoor seating area with Wifi. I think when he is done class for the day, I am going to be shown downtown, and we may go out later tonight.

So much time, so much to do!