The Perfect South Bali Itinerary for 3 Days

Welcome to South Bali! Whether you’re planning to stay on the island for only a few days or explore it for longer, South Bali is a must see! If you love staying at all inclusive resorts, the beach life, a few one-day excursions, South Bali is for you! This is your three day South Bali itinerary, including everything you can't miss!

 

Nusa Dua Beach Water Hammock in Bali - The Next Trip

 

South Bali is the most popular part of Bali. It is surrounded by incredibly beautiful beaches, luxurious beach resorts, and often a party destination. It is equally as beautiful as the rest of the island, but has distinct vegetation compared to north or west Bali.

If you're an adventurous traveler and want to visit the jungles of Bali, make sure you read our Guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing. For everyone trying to get away from tourism and wanting to relax, West Bali is the best place for you! We share how to get there and why we fell in love with West Bali here.

 

Where to Stay in South Bali - Bali Luxury Resorts

 

At the southern tip of Bali is an enclave called Nusa Dua which is resort heaven for all resort lovers! It includes over 20 resorts and has some of the best Bali luxury resorts. It has everything to offer that you could possibly think of.

 

Pool at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa - The Next Trip

 

Spa Pool at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa Hotel - The Next Trip

 

We stayed at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa, Bali which is located right on the beach. The hotel is very distinct as it authentically represents the Balinese culture. When you drive up the hotel, the first thing you’ll notice is the huge Bali gate followed by a beautiful water garden with many fountains. It is by far the prettiest Bali gate I saw on the island.

 

Bali Gate Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

The resort is built with traditional Balinese style in mind and features a lot of detailed wood carvings. To bring the culture to you, the hotel showcases the Legong Dance during dinner on Wednesdays and a Beach BBQ and Fire Dance on Fridays.

 

Bali Gate Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

What to do in South Bali

 

Being right at the beach, you have the best part of South Bali steps from your hotel room! The water in South Bali is amazingly clear and surprisingly warm to swim in. That being said, there are a few attractions in South Bali you can’t miss out on. Since three days can go by in no time, we are summarizing the best places to see in South Bali, and put together a South Bali Itinerary below.

 

Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa Entrance Garden - The Next Trip

 

Admire the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue

 

The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue is almost in the center of South Kuta (the southern-most tip of the island), yet you can see it from almost everywhere in South Kuta. That's because it is 400 feet (122 meters) tall and thus almost 100 feet (30 meters) taller than the statue of Liberty!

 

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It is immensely impressive, and we’re disappointed we didn’t have the time to see it from up close. It is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Make sure you add it to your itinerary by combining a visit with the drive to Uluwatu Temple.

 

Watch the Sunset at Uluwatu Temple

 

On the opposite side of Nusa Dua is the Uluwatu Temple. The temple itself might not be the prettiest or the most intricate in all of Bali, but the temple setting will leave you speechless! Built on top of a 230 feet (70 meter) cliff, it provides the most spectacular views, especially around sunset.

 

Make sure you visit the temple 1 to 1.5 hours prior to sunset. That way you can avoid the crowds and still get the most incredible sunset views. The best viewpoints are from vantage points to the north and south of the temple. While watching the sunset, you can befriend the cute monkeys which are believed to guard the temple from bad influences. Keep your belongings stowed away or hold them close to you to make sure a monkey doesn’t mistake it as a gift.

 

Go for a Sunrise Stroll at Nusa Dua Beach

 

South Bali has some of the best beaches in Bali! Get up before sunrise and stroll along the beach while watching the sun rise. You will have the beach almost to yourself and may only see a few joggers and hotel staff setting up for the day.

 

Sunrise at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

Nusa Dua beach is full of photo opportunities. If you enjoy taking photos this early in the morning without anyone interrupting you, make sure to bring your camera.

 

Morning Stroll at Nusa Dua Beach

 

Admire the Water Blow

 

Only a short walk away from Nusa Dua beach is the Water Blow. A water blow is basically a combination of high waves hitting steep cliffs, thereby creating a large water spray. This particular water blow can be extremely intense depending on the waves and with spectacular sprays. It’s another great location to take photos.

 

Treat Yourself to a Balinese Massage

 

There is nothing better than pampering yourself when you’re on vacation, especially after a full day of exploring. So why not go for a traditional Balinese massage? The Balinese massage combines acupressure techniques with skin rolling, flicking, firm and gentle stroking and the application of essential oils.

 

Balinese Massage at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

We enjoyed a full Balinese massage at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa, Bali and it was such a blissful experience. The massage started out with a foot scrub, followed by a full body massage. As part of the tradition, the masseuses used essential oils which we got to pick beforehand. I chose a flowery jasmin oil which smelled heavenly.

 

Spa Pool at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

South Bali Itinerary for 3 Days

 

We put together a South Bali itinerary for you to make it easier for to plan your stay in South Bali and make sure you get the most out of your 3 days there!

 

Day 1 in South Bali:

Morning:

Arrive in South Bali

Relax by the beach after a long trip

Afternoon:

Treat yourself to a Balinese massage

Evening:

Enjoy a dinner on one of the best beaches in Bali

 

Dinner at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa Bali - The Next Trip

 

Day 2 in South Bali:

Morning:

Get up early for a stroll along the Nusa Dua Beach

Walk to the water blow and enjoy the view

Afternoon:

Drive to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue

Enjoy the sunset at Uluwatu Temple

Evening:

Have dinner in a bamboo house and enjoy live music at Pirates Bay Bali 

 

Day 3 in South Bali:

Reserve one day to stay at the beach to do watersports, bike rides along the beach, or just enjoy the beautiful water before leaving the area.

 

The Perfect South Bali Itinerary for 3 Days 8

@travelwithtalia and I enjoying local fruit at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa

 

Bali is an incredible island and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! If you are spending more time on the island and are looking to explore other areas, make sure you read our Guide on Munduk and the famous Bali Swing and our best kept secret travel tip: visiting West Bali!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Travel Tips for Nusa Dua

 

1) Bring Snorkeling Gear!

South Bali has amazing snorkeling opportunities which you don't want to miss out on. Make sure to bring your own snorkeling gear if you own some. Otherwise, your hotel might rent out gear.

 

2) Bring Mosquito Repellent

Bali can have a lot of mosquitoes due to its tropical climate. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent to protect yourself.

 

3) Bring Sunscreen

Given that your South Bali Itinerary likely includes long hours in the sun, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen. I was surprised to find that it is difficult to find high SPF sunscreens in Bali and was glad I had brought my own.

 

4) Book a Massage in Advance

Massage spots can fill up fast, so to ensure that you get a time that works with your schedule, book a time slot as soon as you arrive at your hotel, or even beforehand.

 

5) Schedule South Bali at the Beginning or End of Your Trip

As South Bali includes Denpasar International Airport, it is best to schedule your time here at the beginning or end of your time in Bali to minimize driving times, and relax either before or after your flight.

 

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3 Day Itinerary to Nusa Dua, South Bali! Here is everything you can't miss out on and how to plan your stay.

 

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Your Guide To Munduk Bali and the Famous Bali Swing

If your visions of a Bali vacation include chasing waterfalls, wandering through lush jungles, and sampling delicious coffee, you will want to visit Munduk, Bali! This is the place of incredible mountain views, the famous Bali swing, and the iconic infinity pool.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Munduk Moding Plantation Infinity Pool in Bali - The Next Trip

 

Munduk is located in the mountains of central Bali. Some people say this is where the true beauty of the island is hidden. Given its higher elevation, Munduk is a couple degrees cooler than the rest of the island and is incredibly green. It is known for its lush forests, hills, culture, temples, lakes and waterfalls. Munduk, Bali is highly distinct from South Bali and is perfect to get away from the sun, learn more about the Balinese culture, and explore the outdoors. If you're looking to get away from tourists completely, you would love spending time in the tranquil West Bali!

 

Bettina at Munduk Moding Plantation in Bali - The Next Trip

Revolve Dress

 

How to get to Munduk, Bali

 

The most common way to get to Bali is by flying into Denpasar Airport. If you're looking for tips on how to book cheap flights to Bali, check out our 5-step guide here. Once you get to the airport, the easiest way to get to Munduk, Bali is by car. You can either rent a car or rent a car with driver. Estimate at least 2 hours get from Denpasar to Munduk without traffic. We left right during the evening traffic and it took us almost double the amount of time. The roads in central Bali are winding and narrow, but incredibly scenic. If you're driving during the day, you're in luck! Every corner you turn is a new incredible viewpoint.

 

View of Munduk Bali - The Next Trip

 

If you decide to drive by yourself, make sure your travel insurance covers you in case of accidents. We have heard about quite a few people getting into scooter accidents because of the way the roads are designed and how bad traffic is. Accidents are never fun but without the proper coverage, things can get worse quickly.

 

Where to stay in Munduk, Bali

 

The ultimate Munduk experience is not complete without staying at a hotel in the middle of the jungle with the most iconic infinity pool! We stayed at the Munduk Moding Plantation which is a gorgeous hotel consisting of private villas, situated in its very own coffee plantation. The hotel is known for its incredible infinity pool views blending in with the surrounding hills.

 

Bettina at Munduk Moding Plantation Infinity Pool in Bali - The Next Trip

ModaPosa Dress / ModaPosa Scarf

 

View of Infinity Pool at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Infinity Pool at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

The villas feature indoor and outdoor showers, as well as private relaxing areas. Depending on which villa you’re staying at, you will also have your very own pool.

 

Villa at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Outdoor Shower at Munduk Moding Plantation - The Next Trip

 

Outdoor Relaxing Area at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

The main hotel area includes two infinity pools with incredible views as well as a Jacuzzi. Even though the hotel was relatively booked, we had plenty of alone time at the pool and were able to fully relax and take in the views.

 

Jacuzzi at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

@travelwithtalia and I relaxing at the Munduk Moding Plantation Jacuzzi. / Swimsuit

 

Pool and Breakfast area at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Pool Area at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Munduk Moding Plantation also offers a variety of daily activities on the property such as a coffee plantation tour, where you learn everything about growing coffee to making coffee, trekking tours, as well as mountain biking tours.

 

Coffee Plant at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

They even have four Bali ponies which can be booked for horse back riding trips.

 

Horse Back Riding at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

Talia's dress / Bettina's dress

Disclaimer:  We were hosted by Munduk Moding Plantation and had a wonderful time! We are excited to share our trip with you here. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

What to see around Munduk, Bali

 

Munduk and Central Bali is the culturally richest area in Bali and if you like visiting temples, you can easily fill 3-4 days. However, a visit would not be complete without seeing some of the most impressive waterfalls on the island and taking a picture with the famous Bali Swing!

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls (Wanagiri)

 

The Banyumala Twin Waterfalls are located at the north end of central Bali and are relatively lesser known than other waterfalls. They are only a 30 min drive from Munduk itself. The waterfalls are absolutely worth a visit! The falls can be accessed by car, followed by a relatively steep decline. Make sure you wear good footwear, especially if it has been raining, as the path might be slippery.

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

Banyumala Twin Waterdalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

Once you get to the falls, you are rewarded with the most amazing views of multiple waterfalls ending in the same basin. The basin itself is not overly deep but great to swim in.

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfall Tips

 

Location: North/Central Bali

When to go: mornings are least busy, but it’s not overly touristy so you can also go in the afternoon.

Cost: IDR 50,000 (roughly 3.50 USD)

What to pack: Make sure you bring good shoes to walk to the falls and bring a swimsuit if you can brave the cold water.

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

We also recommend seeing Munduk Waterfall and Leke Leke Waterfall as we have heard great things about them. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see them ourselves, given our tight schedule.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a major Hindu Shaivite water temple on Bali. It’s actually a temple complex and consists of five compounds of temples. During rainy season or at the end of the rainy season, you will understand why it is called a water temple as the main temple appears to be “floating.”

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3wf0E2Bu9n/

 

During dry season, the temples are not floating but the complex is just as beautiful.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

Dress from Red Dress / Sandals

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

The temple is very popular among tourists and can get quite busy. We were there early in the afternoon and it was very busy. We’d recommend going earlier in the day, preferably in the morning to avoid the crowds.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Tips

 

Location: Central Bali at the Beratan lake

When to go: the earlier in the day the better. Opening hours are 7am – 7pm.

Cost: tickets to enter the temple grounds are IDR 100,000 (roughly 7 USD).

What to pack: Make sure you bring water. It can be very hot there and as with every tourist destination, buying water there is more expensive than bringing it.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

Lake Tamblingan and Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan

 

Lake Tamblingan is a quiet lake at the foot of Mount Lesung in central Bali. It’s relatively unknown and the perfect getaway if you’re looking to escape the tourists. The lake is home to the Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan, a spectacular floating temple. You may have seen some incredible photos on Instagram showing the temple and the lake during the rainy season. During the dry season, the water levels at Lake Tamblingan are low which makes is perfect to walk around the temple grounds but takes away the “floating” temple views.

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Floating Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Floating Temple Bali - The Next Trip

The dress is forever old but you can find a similar one here / Earrings

 

If you visit during, or at the end of the rainy season, you can rent a canoe to get all the way to the temple and snap some beautiful photos.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvxVO09F8hP/

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Tips

 

Location: Central Bali at Tamblingan Lake

When to go: The lake is very quiet and the perfect escape from mass tourism. Any time of the day would be great to visit.

Cost: Park entrance is IDR 10,000 (roughly 0.7 USD). You can rent canoes starting at IDR 200,000 (roughly USD 14).

What to pack: Since you’re right at the lake, make sure you pack insect repellent and sun screen. Even though the temperatures are mild compared to other places in Bali, the sun is just as intense.

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Floating Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

The Famous Bali Swing & Hidden Hills Wanagiri

 

While this is not a Bali-native attraction but mostly created for Instagram, it has become a very popular attraction and is just as stunning as other sights. If you don’t believe in taking a photo with the Bali Swing and feeding the hype, no hard feelings. Feel free to skip this paragraph and jump to our 5 travel tips for Munduk, Bali.

 

Bali Swing Hidden Hills Wanagiri Bali - The Next Trip

Swimsuit / Chicwish Skirt

 

Wanagiri Hidden Hills & the Bali Swing have gained huge traction with tourism around the globe in the recent years. It’s a photo area in central Bali, set up to take staged photos with an incredible backdrop of Lake Buyan and surrounding mountains. There are several different places along Jl. Raya Pancasari road to take these types of photos and each of them has a slightly different set-up. Every stand is equipped with some dress rentals, a changing room, and the locals are super friendly and help you take the perfect photo. They even have a reflector to create the perfect lighting for you.

 

Wanagiri Hidden Hills Bali - The Next Trip

Revolve Dress

 

Hidden Hills Wanagiri Bali - The Next Trip

Revolve Dress

 

It’s a very popular destination to stop at and if you don’t like to be rushed, we recommend going early in the morning. We paid IDR 100,000 (roughly 7 USD) as entrance fee but heard that the price is going up over the years.

 

Bali Swing and Hidden Hills Wanagiri Tips

 

Location: Jl. Raya Wanagiri in Central Bali, if you're going there with a driver, show them a photo and they will know exactly where you want to go. If you're driving yourself, look for little huts/stands on the lake side of the street. Upon getting closer, you will notice the photo ops set-up.

When to go: The Hidden Hills Wanagiri are extremely popular so expect to wait in line to take your photo. The earlier in the morning you arrive, the less people will be there. We were there around 10am and once we left, it got very busy.

Cost: We paid IDR 100,000 (roughly 7 USD) to access the park area but heard that prices are on the upswing. Also, getting access to the big Bali swing costs extra.

What to pack: There are quite a few different photo spots. If you want additional variety in your pictures, make sure you bring some clothes to change into. They have a changing room so you can easily switch between outfits. If you don't have any outfits you like, the operators provide long and flowy dresses there which you can borrow/rent.

 

Wanagiri Hidden Hills Bali - The Next Trip

 

Note that the famous Bali gate is very close to the Wanagiri Hidden Hills. We wanted to take some photos there also. However, as we drove past, we saw that the wait was already at least 1 hour. Bali has so much to offer that we didn’t think it would worth waiting in line.

 

Pool View at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Overall, Munduk is a beautiful area to explore and you can easily fill 3-4 days visiting temples and waterfalls. It is not as busy as South Bali and a few degrees cooler, making it a great getaway! If you have more time on the island, make sure to also visit Ubud and check out some of these best hotels in Bali.

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Travel Tips for Munduk

 

1) Rent a car or have a driver.

Getting to and from Munduk, and getting around Munduk is difficult without a vehicle. We recommend renting a car or hiring a driver for the days when you're exploring. Talk to your hotel if they can recommend a driver for you.

2) Make sure you bring cash!

Bali is very cash-centric and doesn’t accept cards everywhere. Most of the sights/attractions in Munduk are paid attractions and require you to pay cash. There are some ATMs around Munduk but they generally don't let you withdraw more than 1,000,000 IDR (about 74 USD). We found this maximum to be the case in South Bali also. We paid our driver 680,000 IDR (about 50 USD) for the drive from Denpasar Airport to Munduk. For a day driving around Munduk, we paid our driver around 400,000 IDR (around 30 USD).

3) Bring Mosquito Repellent

Being located in the jungle with regular rain fall, there can be a lot of mosquitoes in Munduk. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent to protect yourself.

4) Bring Sunscreen

This is true for almost every outdoor destination. Even though it's a few degrees cooler than on the beach, the sun is just as intense in Munduk. Usually, higher elevation destinations require more sun protection.

5) Eat all the Fresh Fruit

There are a ton of fruit stands in Munduk on the side of the road. I am usually not a fruit person, but we sampled almost everything and had the best fruit I have ever tasted! I can highly recommend the passion fruit which are just picked from the trees.

 

Save this post to your Bali travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next vacation!

 

Your Guide To Munduk Bali and the Famous Bali Swing 18

 

Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.

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West Bali: One of the Best Places to Stay in Bali

What is your idea of heaven on earth? Welcome to our personal heaven! There are a lot of great places to stay in Bali and picking where exactly you want to go can be difficult. Each geographic area has its own appeal and unique history.

 

View of West Bali from Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Why West Bali is One of the Best Places to Stay in Bali

 

West Bali is the least known, unspoiled, and uncrowded area of Bali, which makes it one of the best places to stay in Bali! It is the perfect place to get away from your busy every-day life. The days you will spend here are utter bliss and there is no better place to just disconnect.

 

Sunset View of West Bali at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

West Bali is dominated by the West Bali National Park, a mostly uninhabited jungle. It is home to quiet and deserted beaches, great places to surf, and shallow waters perfect for snorkeling and diving. Most tourists don’t know much about West Bali and don't venture this far west on their Bali trip. Not even the locals visit the “wild west.” This provides for a very quiet surrounding and the perfect base for a retreat and exploring nature.

 

How to Get There

 

West Bali is relatively secluded but still accessible via car or scooter. There are two ways to get to West Bali, taking the road along the south shore or along the north shore, via Munduk. Either route will take around 4 hours, depending on traffic. Since the roads are quite narrow and windy, this makes for a long drive but trust me, it is completely worth it!

 

What is the best month to go to West Bali?

 

West Bali has relatively constant temperatures throughout the year, due to its proximity to the equator. However, there are two main seasons: the wet and the dry season. October – April is usually the wet season. During this season, the weather can be quite unpredictable and as the name suggests – wet. April through September is called the dry season and will have relatively little rain. This might sound great, but the lack of rain also affects the vegetation and might leave forests and hills looking more dried up than expected.

 

Pool View at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

In our opinion, the best months to go to Bali are April – June. It’s right at the end of the rainy season / the beginning of the dry season. This means humidity levels are slightly lower than during the wet season and the vegetation is lush and green. Further, if you travel outside the peak season, flight prices are likely cheaper. If you would like to learn more about saving money on cheap flights, check out our 5-step guide to booking cheap flights.

 

Where to Stay in West Bali

 

West Bali is truly a place where you can fully relax. With the weather being perfect almost every single day, it is one of the best places to stay in Bali and the perfect place for a retreat.

 

Pool and Bali Villa at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

Koy Resort Beach Cover Up

 

Pool View at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

Chicwish Dress / Earrings

 

We stayed at Sumberkima Hill in North West Bali. The hotel consists of private Bali villas with a main area for yoga classes and spa treatments. You stay in your very own villa, which includes a personal pool, a kitchen, living room, dining room, bedrooms, and bathrooms. It is basically your new luxurious home away from home. Sumberkima Hill has 2 main restaurants on site to either dine in or order from so that you can dine in your own villa.

 

Living Room at Sumberkima Hill Bali Villa - The Next Trip

 

Living Room at Sumberkima Hill Bali Villa - The Next Trip

 

If you like spending time in the pool, you will love the opportunity of having a floating breakfast. You can let the staff know a day in advance when you place your breakfast order and they will serve it on a floating tray. There is really nothing quite like having a smoothie bowl and a coffee with these pool views.

 

Floating Breakfast with @travelwithtalia at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

@travelwithtalia and I enjoying our floating breakfast at Sumberkima Hill.

 

In case you ever feel like leaving your villa (which we didn’t), Sumberkima Hill offers yoga classes for beginners or seasoned yogis with the most breathtaking views. You can also enjoy a spa, massage or reflexology treatment onsite. This was one of our favorite places to stay in Bali and we are already planning to go back.

 

Falling into the Pool at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

Target Swimsuit

 

Jumping into the Pool at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Disclaimer:  We were hosted by Sumberkima Hill and had a wonderful time! We are excited to share our trip with you here. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

What to Do in West Bali

 

The best thing about West Bali is the chilled lifestyle and the ability to completely relax. However, West Bali also has some of the most amazing natural sites on offer which brings it to the top of the best places to stay in Bali.

 

Sunset View at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Snorkeling in North West Bali

 

In North West Bali, you can find the largest area of shallow reefs in Bali! Given the shallow water, the experience is perfect for beginners but also has plenty to offer for intermediate snorkelers and divers. Since the North West Bali reefs are relatively unexplored by tourists, you’ll also be sure that nobody ruins your view or bumps into you as you’re trying to take a photo of Nemo.

If you’re an avid diver, a tour of the coral garden at Menjangan Island is definitely worth the trip. In addition to an abundance of small fish, there is also the possibility to see larger fish cruising by the outer reef. Think reef sharks, tuna, eagle rays, sting rays, and wild sea turtles.

Most hotels in the area will offer to organize snorkeling and diving tours for you, including a personal guide.

 

Canoe Trip in the Bay of Sumberkima

 

The Sumberkima Bay is lined with mangrove trees which provides for amazing views when canoeing. The trees with their high arching roots are a spectacular sight to see for anyone who loves exploring nature. Rent a canoe or book a canoeing trip with your hotel to explore the area. Depending on the tide, you can also reach Gili Putih, a small white sand island which is located in the bay. During high tide, the island is relatively small, almost not visible, and only accessible by boat. During low tide, you can walk to the island from the mainland which is about one mile (1.5 km) away.

 

Night Hike on Mount Ijen and the Blue Flames

 

Possibly the most exciting excursion you can think of is hiking Mount Ijen. Mount Ijen is located on East Java, Indonesia’s most populated island. It’s a 2-hour ferry ride away from the west Bali harbor Gilimanuk. The Gilimanuk harbor is very close to Sumberkima Hill and. This makes Sumberkima Hill a great place to stay for a Mount Ijen hike.

 

Top of Mount Ijen in East Java - The Next Trip

 

Mount Ijen is famous for the electric-blue sulfur flames and the stunning views from the top of the crater. The blue sulfur flames are a result of the burning of sulfuric gas which emerges from the cracks of the volcano. The volcano is the largest blue flames area in the world and the locals call it blue fire.

 

Blue Flames at Mount Ijen - The Next Trip

 

Blue Flames at Night

 

As the blue fire is only visible at night, night hikes are the best way to see them. We booked our night hike with Sumberkima Hill who organized everything for us. The entire hike was seamless and well planned. This was our first time going on a night hike and we forgot to adjust our sleep schedule! Trust me when I say we were incredibly tired in the end. If you are planning to do a night hike, we highly recommend you take a longer nap in the afternoon, or sleep at least 4 hours before embarking on your hike.

 

Blue Fire at Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Mount Ijen Night Hike – The Experience

 

After a 30-minute car ride to the ferry port, a 1-hour ferry ride, another 1-1.5 hour drive to the base of Mount Ijen, we started our hike at 2am. The entire hike is guided but completely in the dark. You wear headlamps so that you see where you step and a gas mask to wear in the crater of Mount Ijen. The hike is relatively steep but the terrain is easy, which makes for a great cardio work-out.

Depending on your speed, you will reach the rim of the crater in an hour or two. You will then start your descent into the crater, which takes about 40 minutes. The descent is technically more challenging, and for anyone who is scared of heights also emotionally challenging. The drops on either side of the path are significant, and can be deadly. That being said, our guides were extremely helpful. One guide even took one of our co-hikers by the hand as she is terrified of heights. Even though she didn’t love every second of the hike, she was still extremely happy she did it!

 

Warning Sign at Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

View of the Crater Hike of Mount Ijen in East Java - The Next Trip

 

On your way down into the crater, you will pass mine workers. Sulfur miners extract sulfur pieces and manually carry them out of the crater. These mine workers face extremely dangerous working conditions on a daily basis. They walk up and down the crater multiple times per day and often carry a load of 50lbs or more. Whenever you pass a mine worker, make sure to step to the side as sign of respect and to make things easier for them.

 

Sulfur Mine Worker at Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Sulfur Pieces from Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Sulfur Mine Worker on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Once you get closer to the crater, your guide will ask you to put on your gas mask as the smoke from the burning sulfur can make it very difficult to breathe. Seeing the blue flames at the end of the hike makes it worth all of the effort! There is no better way to describe it than spectacular. We have never seen anything like this before and it was an incredible feeling to stand there and stare. The flames’ size and shape varies by the minute as different amounts of sulfuric gas emerges from the ground. It’s an incredible experience and a must see if you like adventurous travel.

 

Selfie with the Blue Flames on Mount Ijen - The Next Trip

 

The hike back up the crater is relatively quick and timed in a way that you reach the top of the crater rim in time for sunrise.

 

Crater Rim on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Crater Rim on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

View from Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Mount Ijen Famous Instagrammable Spot

 

Instead of heading back to the bottom of the volcano, we asked our guide to take us further along the crater rim for a better view of the Mount Ijen crater lake and the area. The crater lake appears in a bright turquoise blue due to the high acidity and is an incredible sight.

 

Famous Instagrammable Tree on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

Chicwish Skirt (also available in red, yellow, blue, and black) / White Top / Other Similar White Top

 

View of the Mount Ijen Crater Lake, East Java - The Next Trip

 

View of the Crater Lake on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

West Bali: One of the Best Places to Stay in Bali 28

 

Instagrammable Tree on Mount Ijen - The Next Trip

 

If you are planning a trip to Bali but don’t know where to go, we can highly recommend spending a few days in West Bali. The serenity of the area together with the natural wonders makes it one of the best places to stay in Bali. Especially if you are looking to avoid the other overly touristy areas.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in West Bali

 

1) Be ready to relax!

With West Bali being the least populated and touristy area in Bali, it is one of the best places to stay in Bali to kick back and enjoy some peace and quiet. All areas of Bali have spa-like retreats, but we were most relaxed while at our Sumberkima Hill villa in West Bali.

 

Floating Breakfast at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

2) Plan out the activities you would like to do in West Bali.

Some of the water activities are highly dependent on the tides and won’t be as worthwhile every day. We had initially thought of doing a canoe trip, but the tides didn’t line up with our schedule so we had to pass until next time.

3) Plan on visiting towards the end of the wet season.

The best time to visit is between April and June, to get the most amazing view of the lush surrounding hills. We visited West Bali in November which is at the end of the dry season. As a result, the majority of the flora was relatively dry.

4) Hike Mount Ijen!

It is hands-down one of the best experiences we have every completed and worth every minute of sleep deprivation. Since it is relatively cold at night on the volcano, make sure you dress warm for the hike and bring a scarf just in case.

5) Enjoy the best sunsets!

We saw the most amazing sunsets from Sumberkima Hill in North West Bali. Make sure you plan a few evenings at your villa and have your camera ready and charged to capture those precious moments! As Bali is so close to the equator, sunsets don't last very long.

 

Sunset at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Bright Red Sunset at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

 

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You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!

 

You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

Bangkok is one of the quintessential cities in Southeast Asia with its amazing food, huge nightlife scene, crazy traffic congestion, and intense heat – it truly is a full-out assault on the senses. This however, doesn’t mean that your trip to Bangkok needs to be hectic, stressful, or overwhelming. While three days is not quite enough time to see everything, it is the perfect amount of time to get a true sense of the city, so read on for our recommendations on the best things to do in Bangkok in three days. If you are looking to see more of the country outside of Bangkok as well, don't miss out on these ways to explore the beauty of Thailand.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Wat Arun - The Next Trip

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on things to do in Bangkok in three days, click here.

 

Is Bangkok Worth Visiting?

 

Absolutely! Even if you only have three days in Bangkok, the city is worth it as it has a little bit of something for everyone! Bangkok, officially known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, has a population of over 11 million inhabitants who welcome over 20 million visitors every year. This makes Bangkok one of the most visited cities in the world, and it is not hard to see why.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The tropical metropolis is extremely tourist friendly and offers everything from a vibrant street and nightlife, to hundreds of ornate temples and cultural sites, to bustling markets, to relaxing spas and wellness, all topped off by delicious and affordable food. The busyness of the city is exactly why Bettina fell in love with it.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

In addition, Bangkok has two large airports, and is an aviation hub of Southeast Asia, meaning that it is often more affordable than you think to fly here from virtually anywhere on the globe. If you’re interested in learning more on how to book cheap flights, check out our Five Step Guide.

 

Where to Stay in Bangkok

 

As Bangkok is such a huge city with so many diverse sights spread across the city, a hotel with a central location and access to public transit is ideal. For our time in Bangkok we stayed at the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok, which worked out perfectly. The Shama Lakeview Asoke hotel is located in a quiet area of the Central Business District and is an easy 10-minute walk to BTS Skytrain and MRT metro stations, as well as shopping malls and restaurants galore. This location allowed us to take public transportation when we were out exploring for the day!

 

View from Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

What makes the Shama Lakeview Asoke especially great for those on an extended Southeast Asia stay is every room in the hotel is an apartment style suite so you have lots of room to relax, and have some of the conveniences of home. Our one-bedroom lakeview suite included a fully stocked kitchen, comfortable work space, and washer and dryer, all of which we greatly appreciated.

 

Hotel Room at Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

When not relaxing in your room, the hotel amenities include a huge outdoor pool and large gym, and a few fun activities like a ping pong table and indoor golf driving range.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Last but not least, there are two restaurants you can choose from for breakfast! We ended up eating all of our hotel meals at the Coffee Club café. It was so good that we even came back here for late night snacks, dessert, and drinks each night.

 

Breakfast at Coffee Club Cafe

 

If you are looking for a centrally located place to stay in Bangkok, which is comfortable, incredibly clean, and full of amenities, we can highly recommend the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok.

We were hosted by  Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok and had a wonderful time and are excited to share our trip with you. All of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Thai Food

 

Thai food is world-renowned for its diversity in flavors and attention to detail and happens to be one of our favorite cuisines in the world. If Bettina could pick just one favorite meal, for her it is absolutely Thai Green Curry. As a result, we went on the search for green curry every day in Bangkok!

 

Basil Chicken Thai Food at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

With a three-day visit to Bangkok, there is a lot to see in a short amount of time. One thing you don’t need to be too worried about, is having great food. There is amazing Thai food around every corner. For our time in Bangkok we enjoyed every meal, and didn’t really do any significant prior research.

 

Street Food in Thailand - The Next Trip

 

That being said we recommend a quick peak on Google Maps restaurant ratings when you are ready to eat. We found that while there were a lot of highly rated restaurants, there were also a surprising number of poorly rated restaurants (which we would generally say is less than four stars out of five, however there were a lot below three stars when we searched).

Some of our other favorite Thai dishes which are definitely worth trying are Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, a fresh Thai Salad, and so many others.

 

Streetfood in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

You may be wondering "is street food safe in Bangkok?” and to that we can say that we sampled street food too many times to count and we never got sick. We highly recommend you try some local street food as it is an essential part of the Bangkok experience! There are so many street vendors on every corner, you can and should be picky about where you eat. Choose the vendor with a clean looking cart, and where the meat is being freshly grilled, as opposed to looking like it has been sitting in the hot sun all afternoon.

 

Fun Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

 

A trip to Bangkok can be very different for each individual person, depending on your interests.  If you want to party all night long, the city can certainly deliver, but we opted for a visit focused primarily on exploring some of best wats (Buddhist temples) the city has to offer.

 

Temples in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Before you visit any temples, make sure you are respectful to the religion and culture and dress appropriately. For women, this means covering your shoulders and knees. If you are wearing a short skirt and revealing top, make sure you bring a large scarf to cover up your knees and a cardigan to cover your shoulders and chest area. Men should wear long pants and either short- or long-sleeve shirts (no tank tops). No worries if you forget to dress properly though; most wats also have clothes rentals.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun is one of the best known in Bangkok, and is one of the few main tourist sites located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. Getting here is fairly easy as it is a short walk from one of the MRT Blue Line stops. Wat Arun towers in the distance, as its central spire is over 70 metres (200 feet) tall, and is covered in colorful porcelain.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 50 baht (about $1.65 USD). Due to its popularity, we highly recommend arriving early in the morning to avoid the worst of the thick crowds. We also heard that the morning sun reflects off the temple to give a nice pearly glow.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Most people arrive at Wat Arun by taking one of the many ferries that cross the Chao Phraya River, which is another experience worth doing! The ferries are inexpensive, and the quickest way to cross over to the next main attraction!

 

Crossing Chao Phraya River on a Ferry - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

 

In addition to Wat Arun, Wat Pho is another of the best known Bangkok attractions, together with the nearby Grand Palace. This temple has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, and also includes the famous Reclining Buddha, built in 1832 and lying 46 meters long (151 feet).

 

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 100 baht (about $3.30 USD) and is worth it! We again recommend arriving early due to the huge crowds that come to see the Reclining Buddha. Even if you don't arrive early, the entire area is not overly crowded. That means you can easily walk around and enjoy the sights.

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you have enough time and truly are an early bird, be sure to check out The Grand Palace. It is the most famous landmark in Bangkok and Thailand's most sacred site. Tickets to the palace are 500 baht ($16.60).

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

More of Wat You Want

 

During our time in Bangkok, we toured two additional wats, although there are hundreds more that we didn’t get to.  Wat Ratchanatdaram is stunningly beautiful, with a style that is slightly simplified and symmetric compared to most other wats that we saw.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The best part about this wat is that there is no entrance fee. As it is further away from the main tourist area, it is also not very busy at all. We arrived in the late afternoon, and there was only a handful of other people visiting at the same time.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Only a tuk tuk ride away is Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, our favorite wat in Bangkok.  We arrived just before sunset, and had the place almost all to ourselves.

 

Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, Thailand - The Next Trip

 

This wat is also known as the marble temple; and you can see why from the photos! Entrance to Wat Benchamabophit was 50 baht (about $1.65 USD), and definitely worth it.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

 
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Chatuchak Weekend Market

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market is another quintessential Bangkok experience and is one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days. It is the world’s largest and most diverse weekend market with more than 15,000 stalls selling almost everything you could imagine.

 

Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Entrance to the market is free, so you can save your baht for shopping and eating! We purchased a few souvenirs at the market, but since we were most excited about the food, we arrived hungry and sampled as much as we could! If you like coconut, you will love the Thai coconut ice cream! It comes in a coconut and with toppings of tapioca pearls, peanuts, shaved coconut, etc.

 

Dinner at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Thai Coconut Ice Cream at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

We visited Chatuchak Weekend Market on a Friday evening which is less busy than during the weekend. However, not all market stands were open so we didn't get to experience the full size of it. We'd recommend visiting on a Saturday or Sunday for shopping, but Friday night for eating.

 

Accessories at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Food court at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Getting to Chatuchak Weekend market is relatively easy as both public transport systems, BTS and MRT,  have nearby stations to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

 

How to Get Around Bangkok

 

Not only is Bangkok a large city population-wise, but also geographically. This means you will be spending time trying to figure out how to get between the amazing sightseeing opportunities here. Traffic congestion can also be a problem, which can seriously cut into your time enjoying the city.  We primarily used the MRT (metro) to get to and from our hotel to various areas of the city. As the MRT travels underground, you don’t have to worry about traffic.  The same goes for the BTS Skytrain, which travels above the city streets. Another great reason to take the MRT is that it is cheap, safe, but more importantly, air-conditioned which comes in super handy on those hot and humid summer days! As a bonus, with stations looking as pretty, taking public transport is a sight in itself!

 

Metro Station in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you find yourself too far away from a MRT or BTS Skytrain station, we can highly recommend Grab, which functions just like Uber or Lyft. We also used Grab to get to and from the airport, without any issues.

Of course, no trip to Bangkok would be complete without a trip on a tuk tuk! Be sure to agree upon a price prior to getting in, and then sit back, and hold on!

 

Spas and Thai Massages in Bangkok

 

We were pretty jetlagged when we arrived in Bangkok, so decided to pamper ourselves with a famous Thai massage. The Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok offers in-house Thai massages and we couldn't resist to book one for each of us. We both received a set of pants and top to put on before getting situated on the massage bed. Thai massages are very different to Swedish massages and combine acupressure and yoga postures. If you are looking for a relaxing massage, Thai massages may not be your best choice. Bettina chose a "medium" strength massage but I'm pretty sure I heard her say "ouch" at some point! 🙂 The massages can be a bit painful but we felt extremely relaxed afterwards and were able to sleep off our jetlag.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you are looking to get your nails done, Bangkok is one of the best places to do so! Bettina and I picked a place in a nearby shopping center and received and incredibly detailed and gentle pedicure. It is also very reasonably priced, making it another one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days:

 

1) Prepare for an assault on the senses. Sometimes your expectations can make or break a trip. While Bangkok is absolutely amazing, it is not the most relaxing place to be. If you are prepared to experience extreme heat and humidity, smell delicious food mixed with raw sewage nearby, see extreme wealth and poverty juxtaposed, and are prepared to battle the insane traffic congestion, you will have a great time! Part of traveling is just rolling with the local scene, even if it is not what you are used to. It's Bettina's favorite part about traveling!

2) Stay Hydrated. Building on top of our first point, almost no matter what time of the year you visit, it will be hot. Nothing takes the fun out of travelling like a good headache, sunburn, or dehydration. We carried water bottles and sunscreen with us everywhere we went and absolutely needed it. You can buy water bottles almost everywhere from street vendors. However, if you are in tourist area, prepare to pay 2-4x the “regular” price compared to a stand just a few blocks away.

3) Use the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro!  Before arriving, we planned to walk and take tuk tuks mostly everywhere, but after a half day in the heat, taking a tuk tuk spitting out exhaust fumes, while sitting overtop the hot engine in a traffic jam, was less than appealing. Our rides on the MRT were an nice air-conditioned break, rejuvenating our energy for the next activity.

4) Take out enough cash. Cash truly is king in Bangkok.  There were very few places that we went that accepted credit cards, so make sure to have enough Thai Baht currency for all of the wat entrance fees, street food, and market shopping for your trip. ATM machines are plentiful to take out more cash if you run out.

5) Eat the street food. This is absolutely part of the Bangkok experience. If you still have concerns, inspect each street vendors stall carefully to look for reasonable food preparation conditions. Look for stands where they cook the meat in front of you. You can even ask them to cook it longer if you prefer. Another tip is to seek out the food vendor that has the longest line of locals getting food.  If locals line up to eat there it should be delicious and safe.

 

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days 38

 

Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat at Chatuchak Weekend Market, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.

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Tokyo for Lunch

Our Thanksgiving Asia adventure was beginning to come to an end as we boarded our flight in Kuala Lumpur to begin our long trek home. No need to feel sorry for us though, as we were headed to Tokyo for lunch and planned other stops along the way to keep things interesting. (For our full itinerary, check out this post.)

 

Japan Airlines Check-In in Kuala Lumpur - on our way to Tokyo for lunch

 

We left Kuala Lumpur (read about our adventures in KL here and here) around 11PM and had a fairly short 7 hour flight to sleep on our way to Tokyo. Although we were able to fly Business Class, it was a bit too short for a decent sleep. We took a quick shower at the airport, and after stocking up on some delicious Japanese snacks, we were all set for the train ride into Tokyo!

We’ve stopped over in Japan a few times in the past when flying to and from Asia, and always love coming back. The efficiency, cleanliness, and respect for everyone and everything is truly unmatched!

Making the most out of our layover, we planned to meet an old friend from Univerity here for lunch. I studied with him in Canada and he recently moved to Tokyo. Arriving in Tokyo a bit early for our lunch get-together, we spent about 10 minutes trying to find our way out of Tokyo Station and walked the streets around Ginza which are every bit as impressive as one would expect.

 

Street view of Ginza on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Street view of Ginza on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Meeting up with my friend was an excellent way to finish off our trip, made even better by satisfying our love for sushi! We wanted to have the true Japan experience and had asked Yusuke to find the perfect restaurant for us. He took us to a sushi restaurant called Surugawan Sansen which is located on the 8th floor of the Exit Melsa mall. It's fair to say that this was one of the more adventurous meals we had, especially as a few ingredient names were lost in translation and became ‘mystery’ fish.

Our culinary experience started off with a shrimp and egg soup served in a tiny soup dish...

... followed by some sort of snail and other mystery seafood. We struggled a bit with the idea of eating a snail and didn't realize what we had asked for when we requested a typical Japanese experience. It was surprisingly tasty though once we got used to the texture.

 

Snail for starters on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Our main was a plate with a variety of sushi, including more mystery fish - culinary heaven for all raw fish lovers.

 

Sushi on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

The meal was topped off with some excellent matcha ice cream which Bettina was thrilled about. It's fair to say that Bettina is seriously obsessed with all things matcha: matcha tea, matcha kit-kat, matcha mochi (she's also obsessed with mochi in general), matcha everything.

After lunch, we had a few more hours until we had to get back to the airport so we decided to explore Ginza a bit more and walk to the Imperial Palace.

 

Tokyo for Lunch 49

 

Imperial Palace on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Kyle and Bettina at Imperial Palace - on the Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Walking around the city was a bit of shock as it was hovering around 0°C and we were used to the 30°C and humidity of KL! Luckily the sun was shining!

 

Area around Imperial Palace - on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Area around Imperial Palace - on our Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Before we knew it our Tokyo for lunch break was over and we headed back to Toyko-Narita to hop across the Pacific for coffee in Vancouver! After a bit of confusion on whether or not we would have to pick up and transfer our luggage at YVR and getting told two different things from two different people, our bag was once again on track to get back to Chicago! Soon, we were too and made ourselves comfortable aboard JAL.

 

Kyle on the JAL flight home from the Tokyo for lunch layover

 

Because we can't have a layover in Vancouver and not see my family, we got out of the security zone to meet them for a quick coffee and treat from Tim Hortons.

From there, it was one more quick stop through Seattle on the way back to Chicago. We did eventually make it home, only 43 hours after we started the journey back. In total, we took 4 flights to get from Kuala Lumpur back to Chicago with 3 layovers.

 

Tokyo for Lunch 50

 

I would like to say that we slept for days but given the way we plan our trips - maximizing the amount of things we see while taking minimal vacation days - we had less than 8 hours until we had to be back at work!

We can safely say we had an amazing adventure and maximized our time off! What was your craziest trip? Let us know in the comments below!


 

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Kuala Lumpur: Exploring

When we weren’t eating or shopping, we spent the 5 days in Kuala Lumpur exploring the city!  We were there over Thanksgiving (you can check out our itinerary and our stops in Beijing and Phuket on the way to Kuala Lumpur) and as it is generally the case in November, it was hot, humid, and rained at least once a day. We didn’t have too much of a plan other than meandering in the general direction of the main sites. We generally don't plan out every single detail when we travel but like to have time to get lost around the city and really explore the culture and hidden gems.

 

Colourful building row in Kuala Lumpur

 

White and blue mosque and apartment buildings in Kuala Lumpur

 

Shopping street in construction in Kuala Lumpur

 

Stopping by the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, there was a bit of a communication breakdown on what to do with our shoes. As with all temples, you are not supposed to wear your shoes. Not wanting to leave our shoes randomly on the street, we found a tiny shoe deposit where you can leave your shoes and they are being stored safely. The temple is fairly small, but is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur with ornate architecture and the beautiful Raja Gopuram tower.

 

Raja Gopuram tower in Kuala Lumpur

 

Raja Gopuram tower in Kuala Lumpur

 

Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur

 

We continued our self-made walking tour to the confluence of the Gombak and Klang Rivers and the Masjid Jamek mosque as well as the Sultan Abdul Samad building, the former offices of the Colonial Secretariat. The architecture was breath-taking and we couldn't get enough of it.

 

Masjid Jamek mosque in Kuala Lumpur

 

Masjid Jamek mosque in Kuala Lumpur

 

Sultan Abdul Samad building in Kuala Lumpur

 

Kyle in front of Sultan Abdul Samad building in Kuala Lumpur

 

Stairs in Kuala Lumpur

 

Stairs in Kuala Lumpur

 

We liked the historical buildings so much we came back at night to see them again!

 

Masjid Jamek mosque in Kuala Lumpur

 

Masjid Jamek mosque in Kuala Lumpur

 

Sultan Abdul Samad building in Kuala Lumpur

 

Sultan Abdul Samad building in Kuala Lumpur

 

One of the most popular daytrips from Kuala Lumpur is visiting the Batu Caves. The journey was a pretty reasonable 1 hour by train from our hotel. Unfortunately, it was raining almost the whole day but that didn’t stop us from having fun!

 

Bettina and Kyle in front of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

 

The Batu Caves were formed within the limestone hills 400 millions years ago, but it wasn’t until the 1890’s that it became a place of worship. We walked up the steep and slippery 272 steps to the top, and I can personally verify that there are in fact 272 steps.

 

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

 

Stairs to Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

 

The walls of the Batu Caves are partially covered in trees trying to grow towards the light. It was quite the unique sight.

 

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

Bettina and Kyle at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

 

One item we did not plan in advance was heading up to the observation decks on the Petronas Twin Towers. Having seen them at night from the THIRTY8 dining experience, we wanted to see them in daylight also.

 

Petronas towers at night in Kuala Lumpur

 

Petronas towers at night in Kuala Lumpur

 

You have to reserve times in advance as it is quite a popular destination, however when we were in Kuala Lumpur, the weather was fairly cloudy for most of the trip, and so we didn’t want to book our tickets for the towers on a cloudy day. We ended up booking our tickets the afternoon before our our last day in the city, once we had taken a look at the weather forecast and were pretty confident it would be nice. For once, we picked the right day and were rewarded with amazing views of KL.

 

Bettina and Kyle in front of Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur

 

Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur

 

View from Petronas tower in Kuala Lumpur

 

Bettina and Kyle at Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur

 

When viewed from above you can really get an appreciation for the sheer expansiveness of the city and the incredible ongoing growth with all of the new construction projects and cranes poking through the skyline.

 

View from Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur

 

View from Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur

 

Have you been to Kuala Lumpur? Or would you like to go? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 


 

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Kuala Lumpur: Shopping and Eating

On day 5 of our Thanksgiving trip (we spent day 1 flying, day 2 in Beijing, and days 3 and 4 in Phuket), we finally made it to our destination, Kuala Lumpur! We arrived very late in the evening and the city almost seemed deserted as we made our way to our hotel.  After a late-night flight we were very happy to receive an excellent check-in experience and were pleasantly surprised by our room! Being able to have a luxurious and relaxing stay at the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur was one of the primary reasons why we had chosen KL as a destination, so it had better be nice (see how we booked our trip and our full itinerary here)! There are so many cool hotels Kuala Lumpur with infinity pools which would turn your trip into a great get getaway.

 

Christmas Tree in the Lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

 

We walked into the lobby and were greeted by the most amazing Christmas tree. The presents underneath the tree were real presents and part of an event that the JW organized to support children in need.

 

Christmas Tree in the lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel Kuala in Lumpur

 

The entire hotel was shiny and sparkly. I especially enjoyed the short disco lights hallway on the way to breakfast (which we didn't miss on days 2-5).

 

Kuala Lumpur: Shopping and Eating 64

 

We had five days in Kuala Lumpur, and so were in no hurry to rush and explore the city, given the option of sleeping in the next morning! Because we missed breakfast, the JW was kind enough to let us order anything from the breakfast menu to the room, complimentary!

 

Room service breakfast spread at the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

 

Breakfast in bed anyone?

 

Breakfast in bed at the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

 

Once we got ourselves going to head out into the city we were immediately hit with the heat and humidity. Our hotel’s location in the Bukit Bintang district meant that we were in the heart of the shopping and entertainment district and directly across the street from the Pavilion KL – one of the newest shopping centers in the city.

 

Kuala Lumpur: Shopping and Eating 65

 

Kuala Lumpur loves to shop as evidenced by the well over 200 shopping malls in the greater KL area! With less than a month to go to Christmas, the decorations and festivities were in full swing! We thought we were used to Christmas being a huge deal in the U.S., but we were not prepared for this...

 

Christmas decorations at the Pavilion KL in Kuala Lumpur

 

Entering the Pavilion KL, we were overwhelmed with thousands of Christmas lights, ornaments, Christmas carols, and more.

 

Christmas decorations at the Pavilion KL in Kuala Lumpur

 

Many people do not realize that Malaysia is a muslim majority country, and so out of respect Bettina made sure to cover her shoulder and legs. As she describes, it was the perfect time to wear all of her favourite maxi dresses.

 

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After shopping for a couple of hours, we were starving again. If you aren’t coming to KL to shop, then surely you are coming for the food! KL has a diverse mix of cuisines available due to it’s placement and history in the region. You can find excellent Malay, Chinese, and Indian food among others. The best part of all is that it’s not hard to find cheap and delicious meals!

Living in the American midwest, shopping center food courts are usually best left as a ‘last resort’ alternative to a proper meal, but not in Kuala Lumpur! Some of the best cheap eats can be found in the many food courts all around the city.

 

Char Kuey Teow at Lot 10

 

We tried Char Kuey Teow in the Lot 10 food court and some authentic Indian food later on.

 

Kuala Lumpur: Shopping and Eating 66

 

Shopping in KL wouldn’t be complete without a walk through Petaling Street in Chinatown.  Bettina managed to test her haggling skills on a couple new purses. Unfortunately, we didn't take enough pictures of Petaling Street so you will just have to believe us when we say that you can find everything from purses, clothes, souvenirs, to food here.

 

Entrance to Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur

 

Kuala Lumpur: Shopping and Eating 67

 

On our last evening in KL we decided to splurge and go for dinner with a view. The THIRTY8 restaurant is, surprisingly, located on the 38th floor of the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, where you can enjoy excellent views of the Petronas Twin Towers while you eat.

 

View from THIRTY8 Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur

 

We enjoyed a glass of bubbly and couldn't say no to the chocolate cake! Full disclosure: we saw other guests receive a spectacular dry ice dessert which we wanted as well. We didn't think of asking our waiter what to order and just hoped it was the molten lava chocolate cake that everyone else got. Turns out, we were wrong. If you're ever at THIRTY8, make sure to get the THIRTY8 Signature Cake. You won't be disappointed. To be fair, the molten lava chocolate cake was pretty amazing too.

 

 

Even with our five days in the city, we didn’t even scratch the surface of where to shop and what to eat in KL.  We will definitely be looking to return to try out everything we missed! Do you have any food recommendations for when we go back? Let us know in the comments below!

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Cloudy Days in Phuket, Thailand

We arrived late in the evening (you can find a review of our itinerary here) and were greeted by equal parts of rain and humidity. The drive along the winding roads from the airport to our hotel near Patong Beach seemed to take forever! Phuket Island is the largest island in Thailand and a very popular tourist destination. The main beach areas are Patong and Karon on the western side, with a number of other smaller beach areas throughout the island.

 

We like to think there is a difference between travelling and taking a vacation, and these two days were a rare planned vacation for us. We decided to stay at the U Zenmaya Phuket, a hotel just outside of the party-centric core. The hotel offers the most incredible views and pool area - perfect for our relaxing trip.

 

Coffee, juice, and pastries at U Zenmaya Hotel Phuket, overlooking a cloudy bay

 

We awoke to a bit more rain and a lot of clouds – not exactly what we had envisioned when booking the trip looking at white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and blue skies. Our worries about the weather were partially put at ease though once we saw the breakfast buffet. No better way to start the day than to stuff yourself until you can’t move anymore!

 

Pastries at breakfast buffet at U Zenmaya Phuket hotel

 

Breakfast buffet at U Zenmaya hotel

 

After our initial cup of coffee, we both filled our plates and enjoyed having breakfast with an incredible view over the bay.

 

Thai cuisine and different fruit juices at U Zenmaya hotel overlooking the bay

 

Our hotel offered a shuttle into the city, but we decided to opt for the 45-minute walk and explore along the way.

 

View of Patong Beach Phuket Thailand

 

Gasoline stand in Phuket Thailand

 

We spent the afternoon wandering through the streets and shops, and stopped at a café for some air conditioning and a caffeine injection.

 

The colourful streets of Patong Beach

 

We soon located the main Banzaan fresh market area which contained an incredible amount and variety of food.

 

Busy Banzaan market area at night in Phuket, Thailand

 

They sold everything from a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables ...

 

Fruit selection at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

Passion fruit selection at Banzaan fresh market, Phuket, Thailand

 

To fresh fish and seafood ...

 

Seafood selection at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

To some of my favourite Thai noodles dishes and meat skewers, all made fresh before your eyes ...

 

Fried thai noodles selection at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

Thai dishes at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

Meat skewers selection at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

All the way to insects. Bettina was of course fascinated by all the food choices, and couldn’t resist some tasty appetizers.

 

Magots, crickets, and other insects selection at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

Bettina eating fried crickets with skewers at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

Fried cricket on a skewer at Banzaan fresh market in Phuket, Thailand

 

The crickets were apparently quite tasty, especially when paired with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit of salt, though you will have to take her word for it as I certainly didn’t try any.

 

The town really came alive at night. When walking down the main Bangla Road, you can’t help but equate this to the Las Vegas of Asia. There were bars and clubs everywhere, playing loud music and each offering some special deal to get you in the door. We later learned that Patong is considered one of the party capitals of Asia, so our assessment was quite accurate!

 

Busy nightlife at Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

 

There was a lot of noise, a lot of people, and a lot going on. We must be getting old, as we left this area pretty quick – not our idea of a relaxing vacation!

 

We settled on a fairly out of the way restaurant and happily finished our plates, as we are both huge fans of Thai curry, Green and Yellow, respectively.

 

Bettina eating green curry at Patong Beach in Phuket Thailand

 

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Kyle eating yellow curry at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand

 

We enjoyed walking around the chaotic streets for just a little bit longer before heading back to the hotel.

 

We were only in Phuket for two days, so we were pretty happy when the sun decided to make an appearance for the second day, our pool day!

 

Bettina sitting at the infinity pool at U Zenmaya hotel in Phuket, wearing a beach hat

 

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It was warm with our without the sun, so there were no complaints lounging around the infinity pool all morning, complete with some pina coladas before noon – no judgment please.

 

Bettina holding a Pina Colada at the infinity pool at U Zenmaya hotel in Phuket, Thailand

 

Bettina sitting at the infinity pool with view of the bay, holding a Pina Colada and holding her hat, U Zenmaya hotel, Phuket, Thailand

 

The views only improved as the skies opened up.

 

Two sun chairs and view of the infinity pool and the bay at U Zenmaya hotel in Phuket, Thailand

 

Bettina suntanning at the infinity pool at U Zenmaya hotel, Phuket, Thailand

 

Kyle at the infinity pool of the U Zenmaya hotel in Phuket, Thailand

 

View from the pool area of the U Zenmaya hotel, Phuket, Thailand

 

Despite the weather overall not being that great for a beach-type vacation, we really enjoyed our two days in Thailand. We will most definitely be back to explore more of the country and eat as much food as humanly possible! Do you have any recommendations on where in Thailand we should go next?


 

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24 Hours in Beijing

China has always been a bit of a mystery to us as we haven’t explored much of Asia, and it is so vast and different from what we are used to. We started our Thanksgiving 2017 Asia discovery trip with 24 hours in Beijing, exactly the amount of time we were allowed to stay in China without a special visa. The almost 14 hour flight from Chicago to Beijing (check out our itinerary here) was not even long enough for us to enjoy all the free-flowing drinks and food, watch all of the movies we wanted, and get a decent night’s sleep. The presentation of the food was more than we were expecting as was the genuine care of our flight attendant.

 

We were greeted with a choice of drinks and some warm nut mix, which Bettina ate for us both.

 

Welcome drinks and nuts on Hainan Airlines Business Class flight.

 

After take-off, we were served some amuse-bouche and more drinks, followed by the starter - smoked salmon and roasted duck, served with your very own bread basket and rose shaped butter.

 

Amuse-bouche on Hainan Airlines business class flight.

 

Rose smoked salmon and champagne on Hainan Airlines business class flight

 

Rose shaped butter and bread basket on Hainan Airlines business class flight

 

As a main course, we had a choice of Western or Chinese meal. Guess which one we went for!

 

Main course of Kung Pao Chicken on Hainan Airlines business class flight

 

For those who are interested, we picked the braised sea cucumber, Kung Pao chicken, and baby bok choy with rice. Last but not least was dessert - cheesecake with strawberry coulis! However, we were too full to fully appreciate it at that point.

 

Cheesecake and port wine on Hainan Airlines business class flight

 

Luckily for us, the flight arrived in the evening so even if you are not able to sleep too much on the plane, you can sleep in a proper hotel bed shortly after arrival to combat the jetlag.  That’s what we had planned to do. What we did not plan was for Hainan to put us up in a hotel for the night. Of course, when you are offered a free hotel room you don’t say no, so we graciously accepted. The only problem was we had already booked a hotel months before for our layover, not knowing that one would be provided. It was 6:10pm local time, and quickly pulling up our reservation showed that we could cancel free of charge up to 6:00pm day of arrival. We frantically tried to find the correct phone number, and after being transferred around a few times to someone who could speak English, we successfully cancelled our room for a full refund and were off for a good night’s sleep.

 

After a successful 12 hours of sleeping, we awoke to a frost-covered Beijing airport hotel construction area. The hotel itself was nice, though the surrounding area was less than appealing. We had until 5:25PM for our next flight to Phuket, so wasting no time we grabbed a taxi and set off into Beijing! The thing about cabs in China is that most cab drivers don’t speak English and they also don’t read addresses. So we asked the hotel to order us a taxi to the Forbidden City. We had no idea where we were going and just looked out the window, hoping we would be taken to the right place! Sure enough, we were dropped close to the entrance and were able to enter and purchase tickets fairly quickly before the crowds arrived for the day.

 

Entrance and red gate to the forbidden city in Beijing

 

We knew the Forbidden City complex was big but didn’t quite realize how big it was. Consisting of 980 buildings over 180 acres, we had some ground to cover! Fortunately, there were (relatively) blue skies and sun as we explored the many gates, halls, and palaces.

 

Empty cobble stone square in the forbidden city Beijing

 

Palace and orange rooves in the distance showcasing the size of the forbidden city palace complex in Beijing

 

Kyle and Bettina in front of an imperial guardian lion at the forbidden city in Beijing

 

Bettina walking the cobble stones with sun reflection in the forbidden city, Beijing.

 

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The attention to detail we found throughout the whole complex was incredible.

 

Colourful and detailed palace in the forbidden city, Beijing

 

Yellow dragon on the roof of a colourful palace in the forbidden city, Beijing

 

Roof of a colourful palace in the forbidden city, Beijing

 

Close-up of paint and decoration of palaces in the forbidden city, Beijing

 

Close-up of colourful paint and decoration of palaces in the forbidden city, Beijing

 

After struggling to find the exit (it took us an hour to get to the right exit after we had tried to leave the complex where we had entered), we proceeded to walk in the wrong direction to reach Tiananmen Square.

 

Bettina similing in front of the forbidden city, Beijing

 

Kyle jumping in front of a palace in the forbidden city, Beijing

 

While learning about the history of the square is humbling, it is not overly picturesque so we continued on our self-made walking tour to Wangfujing Street for a quick bite to eat before grabbing a taxi back to our hotel and on to the next flight.  It was a quick few hours in Beijing, but with great weather and was well worth it!

 

Almost empty Tiananmen Square and blue skies in Beijing

 

We made it back to the airport for our flight to Phuket with plenty of time to spare and were surprised how much you can see in 24 hours.


 

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