Where to Stay in Aguas Calientes

Where to stay in Aguas Calientes, the doorway to Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes is a small village on the Urubamba river, located in the Cusco region of Peru, South America. The village is mainly known as the tourist resting point upon visiting Machu Picchu. Besides the ancient monuments, the area has plenty of other natural beauty and resources to offer.

Source: Instagram @simply.angella 

How to get to Aguas Calientes

Getting to the village can be achieved in two ways:

  1. By direct train from the city of Cusco or village of Ollantaytambo
  2. By bus to Hidroelectrica, and then on foot or by train to the village

Best areas to stay in Aguas Calientes

The village is small, and wherever you choose to stay, everything you might want to visit should be a maximum of 15 minutes away. The town only has 4,500 residents, but thousands of tourists that come to sightsee are there every day. Here are our favorite neighborhoods:

  • Machu Picchu Station
  • Ave Pachacutec
  • Estación Peru Rail a Hidroeléctrica

Here’s a quick breakdown of why these locations are the best.

Where to stay in Aguas Calientes
Best area for first-timers Machu Picchu Station
Best area to stay on a budget Ave Pachacutec
Best for long-term stay Estación Peru Rail a Hidroeléctrica

Best area for first-timers—Machu Picchu Station

Machu Picchu Station is your likeliest point of entry to the village, as it’s done by railway from Cusco. This is where most visitors decide to stay in. The central area around the station is the most developed for tourists since it has the highest circulation of them. It’s also home to plenty of inner-village attractions like the Cancha Football stadium, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants around the area. As the most developed tourist area, it’s the ideal place for first-time visitors.

Best area to stay on a budget—Ave Pachacutec

Ave Pachacutec is a large street connecting a mostly residential area. It is full of local and family-owned businesses, so the prices for food, accommodation, and basic souvenirs may be lower than in the more touristy parts of the city. This makes it the best location if you’re traveling on a budget. The area is also quieter and less crowded with tourists than the rest of the village.

Best area for long-term stay—Estacion Peru Rail a Hidroeléctrica

If you’re entering the village of Aguas Calientes from Hidroelectrica either by foot or train, this is the area you’re going to end up in first. It is close, as well as connected by road, to the most important monuments that everyone comes to see, such as Machu Picchu, Phutuq K’usi, Chávez Ballon Archeological Museum, etc. It’s also the closest area to the two village’s hospitals and the police station if either is necessary. This, along with its location near major tourist attractions, makes it best for a long-term stay.

What to see and do in the village of Aguas Calientes

The village itself is so small that splitting things to do into areas doesn’t make sense. Everything is within walking distance, so here’s a list of 10 attractions nearby. They are in no particular order, so pick and choose what to see and do as you’d like.

Machu Picchu

If you’ve decided to visit this charming village, there’s a 99% chance Machu Picchu is the #1 reason. Machu Picchu is an ancient settlement of the people known as Inca. The remains of the city are located on the mountain of the same name, at an astounding 2,430m (7,970 ft) above sea level. The city is known as one of the New Seven Wonders of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the main reason for tourists to visit Peru and especially Aguas Calientes. Getting to the ancient site can be done in two ways:

  • By bus that runs from the local town, takes about 30 minutes
  • By walking from the village, about a 2-hour hike

Those who are physically capable of making the hike are highly recommended to do so, as the scenery and open-air are much better enjoyed that way. Plus, you get to make stops for some epic views and photographs.

Source: Pixabay

Mercado Artesanal

Mercado Artesanal is a cool marketplace in the center of the Aguas Calientes. The stands are full of mostly handcrafted items, such as statues, bags, clothing, and more. There are also things like tea, spices, and coffee, although not much food. It’s the ideal place to get a bunch of souvenirs from your Machu Picchu trip. Be prepared to bargain, as similar items may vary in price from shop to shop. Other smaller gift shops around the area are also known for housing the same items at lesser prices, so keep that in mind if you don’t mind waiting.

Source: Instagram @miranda_cairn

Inca Trail

What is known as the classic Inca Trail is a set of dirt roads (hiking tracks) that connect most of the ancient Inca sites around the area. Machu Picchu is the most famous, but far from the only monument left by the Incas. Just exploring the dense forests and hilltops in the area is an activity in itself. However, most places are only reachable by foot and recommended to those who can withstand multiple hours of walking through uneven fields. Most sites are a long walking distance away from the village, which is why many tourists go in groups and set up camp to spend the night. If you’re not in the mood for sleeping in a tent, ask for bus tours or bike rides to the locations.

Source: Inca Trail Peru

Patallacta

When translated, the name Patallacta means “Settlement on a platform”. What remains of this ancient village leaves plenty of evidence of it being used for religious and ceremonial purposes. The remains of shrines, temples, and tombs can be found all around the area. Getting to the location from Aguas Calientes may prove difficult on foot unless you’re willing to camp out or settle nearby. If you want to avoid tiring hikes, ask around for sightseeing tours.

Source: Instagram @catalin_mrs

Inca Bridge

Fearless hikers looking for a thrill should look just south of Aguas Calientes for the Inca Bridge. The trail leading to the area gets narrower as you come closer to the middle. Eventually, you end up walking on a less than a meter wide trail on the hillside. It’s definitely not recommended for people who are afraid of heights, as even experienced climbers are left feeling uneasy. Remember, just don’t look down, and you’ll be fine! Those willing to take this road will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world.

Source: Instagram @amandagooge

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a small village settlement next to an ancient Inca settlement. It served as a royal estate to emperor Pachacuti, who is credited for leading the largest expansion of the Inca empire through his conquests. During the early invasions of the Spanish conquistadores, Ollantaytambo was used as a stronghold and housed the native people’s resistance. Many tourists going to Aguas Calientes will come through Ollantaytambo by train. In case you chose another path, use the same train to visit Ollantaytambo instead. Explore the village to find some local food and souvenirs, then head over to the terraces for a view of the area.

Source: Instagram @renatojaneri

Dead Woman’s Pass

Behind the noticeably sinister name is a rather normal sight to be seen, so to speak. This passageway between two mountain peaks along the Inca Trails got its name because it resembles a typical female body shape when observed from above. The pass is the highest hiking point along the trail, standing at 4,200m (13,780 ft). That’s almost twice as high as Machu Picchu itself! It is a must-see place on all Inca Trails sightseeing tours. Still, it’s a bit far from Aguas Calientes to cover in a single day’s hike, so you will have to settle for camping out or resting at nearby resorts.

Source: Instagram @anitaawu

Putucusi 

Putucusi (Phutuq K’usi) is a mountain peak just west of Aguas Calientes. Getting there takes little time, but it’s not nearly as easy to reach as some of the other mountain peaks. This one is an adventurer’s dream. The pathway leading to it is extremely harsh, and there are no beaten paths to follow. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself walking through the forest.

Eventually, once the mountain gets too steep, the only way up is by wooden ladders and ropes that are set up by the locals. No, that is not a joke. This is a seriously risky path for inexperienced climbers and those with low stamina. However, those who make it to the top are rewarded with a 360-degree view of the mountain surroundings. From the top, you will see Machu Picchu as well as the river valley. Those brave enough to climb it will literally find themselves in the clouds. Going up!

Source: Instagram @sweetspottravels

Temple of the Moon

The name itself holds no intrinsic meaning to the Incas. It was given more or less randomly by modern explorers. Although the exact usage of the temple is unknown, it is speculated that it was used for ceremonial purposes. A giant rock carving in the center of the cave is guessed to be a throne. The remains of the site are located inside a narrow, open-face cave. Evidence around the archeological site suggests it could have been used as a place of worship, a royal residence, or even a tomb. Most likely, it served multiple purposes over time.

Source: Martin St-Amant – Wikipedia – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Los Jardines de Mandor

When translated into English, the name of this site means Mandor gardens. This nature preserve is located about an hour’s walk from Aguas Calientes and can only be accessed by foot for a reason. The land is privately owned, meaning you’ll have to pay to get access to it. There is a reception office along the way. However, by paying to visit the reserve, you aren’t just filling someone’s pockets. The family that lives in and maintains the area has been doing so for three generations and can even be considered single-handedly responsible for the preservation and development of the surrounding flora and fauna. Along the way, you’ll be able to observe many species of plants and animals living peacefully in the gardens. At the end of the hike, you’ll be greeted by a waterfall.

Source: Instagram @jardinesdemandor

Where to Stay in Nicaragua

Where to stay in Nicaragua—the land of volcanoes 

A multiethnic and multicultural country, the Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It neighbors Honduras to the northwest and Costa Rica to the south. The largest city is Managua, and it is also the capital. Nicaragua has a lot to offer to its visitors due to its rich history, culture, and tradition. These factors, along with its amazing nature and environment, have led to the rise of popularity amongst visitors and tourists. 

Image source: breakaway.surfretreat_

Best cities to stay in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is rich with amazing architecture, stunning landmarks, and breathtaking, inspiring nature. The cities presented below were chosen based on:

  1. Landmarks
  2. Sights
  3. Beauty
  4. Convenience 

These are our picks for top cities to stay in, while in Nicaragua:

  1. Masaya
  2. León
  3. Managua
  4. Granada
Where to stay in Nicaragua
Masaya Known as the cradle of Nicaraguan culture, Masaya is a city filled with markets, shops with arts and crafts, as well as street art.
León León is the second-largest city in Nicaragua, and the home to plenty of monuments, churches, landmarks, as well as several well-known Nicaraguan poets.
Managua The capital has plenty of beautiful sights and places to visit, as well as being the home to a large number of immigrants and expats. Great for people looking for a new place to live. 
Granada Picturesque and beautiful, Granada has a number of historical sites to offer to visitors who are on a budget.
Managua As the capital city, Managua has more than enough fun clubs, bars, and pubs to offer to all night owls and nightlife enthusiasts. 

Transportation in Nicaragua

Most of the larger cities in Nicaragua have a system of public transportation, usually in the form of buses. Taxis are also widely present, as well as rent-a-car places.

Buses are the most affordable way to get around town or between cities. You can find information about the route the bus takes at the bus stop. There are several types of buses, depending on the frequency of stops, distance, vehicle, and passengers.

Image source: wikipedia.org

Taxis can be found pretty much anywhere, especially in the capital. Nicaraguan taxis are a bit different from your typical taxis, in the sense that there aren’t any meters. So, the first thing that you have to do when you enter a taxi is to negotiate the price. Also, a registered taxi vehicle should have a number painted on it—if you don’t see a number, do not enter.

Where to stay in Nicaragua for art and culture—Masaya

Frequently referred to as the City of Flowers, Masaya is the hub of tradition, art, and culture of Nicaragua. Besides being the place to visit if you are interested in art and culture, Masaya has an impressive cuisine, amazing landmarks, and incredible natural environments— namely the Apoyo Lake and Masaya Volcano.

Things to see and do in Masaya

Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Visit the famous markets
  • Head out to Jueves de Verbena
  • Visit Museo del Folclore

Arts and crafts markets

There are three popular markets in Masaya, namely Old Craft Market, Masaya Crafts Market, and Main Market. They sell all kinds of crafts and creations from the locals. Explore and shop around these colorful and vibrant markets. 

Image source: twoblondevagabonds

Jueves de Verbena

Jueves de Verbena is an event that occurs every Thursday, and it takes place at the Old Craft Market. It features music and traditional Nicaraguan dance, as well as delicious local food.

Image source: romsandino

Museo del Folclore

Museo del Folclore is an exquisite museum dedicated to the extensive history, culture, tradition, and of course, folklore of Nicaragua.

Image source: spicyphotographer

Where to stay in Nicaragua for the first time—León

León is the place to be if you are visiting Nicaragua for the first time. It is home to marvelous architectural structures, historical landmarks, a cathedral, and an astonishing number of churches. You can also see the ruins of the original León city that has been proclaimed as a World Heritage Site.

Things to see and do in León

Here are some ideas for places to visit:

  • Visit León Viejo
  • Visit The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary
  • Visit Casa Salud DeBayle

León Viejo

The ruins of the old city serve as a record of the first European settlements in the New World. It was rediscovered in 1967, and the most impressive thing about this ancient ruin is that it remained unaltered for the entirety of the time it was undiscovered. Today, there are people who work hard to preserve this remarkable site. 

Image source: vegansaurios

The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary

Also known as León Cathedral, this cathedral is an imposing and incredible building that has significant historical value not just for León, but also for Nicaragua. Built in the Baroque and Neoclassical style, this cathedral serves as a final resting place for several prominent Nicaraguan figures, including Luis H. DeBayle, Rubén Darío, and Alfonso Cortés, to name but a few.

Image source: jdodsonian

Casa Salud DeBayle

Casa Salud DeBayle is a museum dedicated to the first doctor in Central America, Luis H. DeBayle. He opened the first private clinic and provided free medical care to those who couldn’t afford it.

Image source: karlacajina_

 

Where to stay in Nicaragua long term—Managua

Managua has become quite popular among foreigners for its attractive and relatively affordable cost of living. Managua is the heart of the economy, education, and nightlife, as well as an amazing place with a number of fabulous sites to visit and explore. Managua is well connected to other cities and areas in Nicaragua. The city of Managua is also the only one to have an international airport in the country. 

Things to see and do in Managua

These are some of our suggestions for things to do while staying in Managua:

  • Hang out at the Montelimar Beach
  • Have a drink at Next Club Managua
  • Have lunch at Cocina de Dona Haydee

Montelimar Beach

Relax and unwind at this great beach with white sand.

Image source: many_park

Next Club Managua

If you’re looking for a good party, head straight to Next Club Managua—a club with an inviting atmosphere that plays trendy music and serves tasty drinks.

Image source: lana_dj

Cocina de Doña Haydee

A highly rated restaurant that serves traditional local Nicaraguan food, Cocina de Doña Haydee is a must-visit place for any foodie out there.

Image source: dietdropouts

 

Where to Stay in Patagonia

Where to stay in Patagonia — an explorer’s heaven

Choosing where to stay in Patagonia depends on your budget, vibe, and interests. Patagonia is a region of South America shared by Chile and Argentina. Around 10% of the region falls under the jurisdiction of Chile, and the remaining 90% belong to Argentina. Patagonia is a huge area that isn’t densely populated, and it has some of the most diverse and incredible fauna and flora. Thanks to these factors, Patagonia has been able to preserve its natural beauty and keep it pristine and unspoiled. Over the years, Patagonia has become somewhat of a paradise for adventurers and explorers who seek excitement and thrills.

Image source: patagoniachile

Best places to explore in Patagonia, Chile

In the Chilean part of Patagonia, there are five regions: Aysén, Araucanía, Los Lagos Region, Los Ríos Region, and Magallanes. Each of these regions is further subdivided into administrative areas, towns, cities, municipalities, etc.

About the regions
Aysén This region is home to a number of glaciers, lakes, fjords, rainforests, and icefields. Aysén is one of the least populated regions in Patagonia, ideal for people who like to explore nature and dislike large gatherings and crowds.
Araucanía The homeland of the indigenous Mapuche people, it is filled with many national parks and national reserves. There is also a large number of unspoiled forests. In Araucanía, you can find the largest city of Patagonia—Temuco.
Los Lagos Region Bordered by Los Ríos Region and Aysén, to the north and south respectively, and by the Pacific on the west and Argentina on the east, Los Lagos Region is home to the wild environment and several protected areas. The protected areas include nine parks and two national monuments.
Los Ríos Region Los Ríos Region is divided into two provinces: Valdivia and Ranco Province. Its economy relies mostly on tourism, manufacturing, and forestry. 
Magallanes Magallanes is the largest and southernmost of all the regions. Some of the more prominent and well-known landscapes and attractions include Cape Horn, Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego, and Torres del Paine. A large portion of the land is uninhabitable. The majority of the population that lives in this region is situated in the capital, Punta Arenas.

How to get around Patagonia

The best way to see and explore Patagonia and all it has to offer is by car. By renting a car, you have the liberty and independence to travel across Patagonia at your own pace. On a side note, there are some areas where there aren’t that many gas stations, so you should keep that in mind when traveling.

Where to stay in Patagonia for the first time—Magallanes

Patagonia as a whole is ideal for travelers who love the great outdoors and who enjoy exploring nature. However, a starting point is necessary, and our pick is Magallanes. This region can offer something to everybody.

Image source: laura_villagranhildebrandt

Things to see and do in Magallanes

These are some of our suggestions for places to visit during your stay in Magallanes.

  • Visit The Penguins Natural Monument
  • Learn at museum Nao Victoria
  • Explore Pali-Aike National Park

Los Pingüinos Natural Monument

This monument is a popular tourist destination that is typically open to people from October to March. It is home to the Magellanic penguin, as well as other species such as sea lions, dolphin gulls, common gulls, imperial shags, and South American fur seals. It’s open from 2 pm to 7 pm.

Image source: wen_wen_jiang

Museo Nao Victoria

The museum is primarily dedicated to Ferdinand Magellan and Nao Victoria (or simply, Victoria)— the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the globe. Located in Punta Arenas, the capital of the Magallanes region, it offers its visitors a great history lesson and an opportunity to explore the replica of the ship. You can also find replicas of tools used during that time, as well as documentation and books.

Image source: errante_travel

Pali-Aike National Park

The landscapes of this park include volcanoes, forests, and caves. It is full of different kinds of plants and animals, some of which are native only to this region. According to the local people, this is where the devil resides. 

Image source: osobuco_

Where to stay in Patagonia for explorers—Aysén

Aysén is an explorer’s paradise. This region is gaining popularity among explorers because of its alluring and breathtaking natural beauty. Here, you can see the magical Marble Caves, the San Rafael Glacier, the Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Cerro Castillo, and so much more.

Things to see and do in Aysén

Here are some suggestions for places to explore.

  • Visit Queulat National Park
  • Explore the blue and beautiful Marble Caves
  • Visit Cerro Castillo

Queulat National Park

In this stunning park, you can witness the amazing hanging glacier under which a waterfall trickles down. You can also walk through the park and see its impressive animals and plants.

Image source: yuki_tsukada

Marble Caves

Kind of mystical and magical with its blue crystals and waters, the Marble Caves truly are a wonder of nature. This awe-inspiring sight is most definitely worth visiting.

Image source: dailyhivemapped

Cerro Castillo

Find a guide and explore the wildlife this mountain has to offer. There is also the option to set up a tent here and camp. 

Image source: cata_etcheverry

Where to stay in Patagonia long term—Araucanía

Araucanía is our pick for a place to stay for a longer period of time. Its largest and most populous city is Temuco. Some other large cities worth visiting are Angol and Villarrica. We picked this region because it offers expats the opportunity to work and find a job. There is also a large number of immigrants from all over the world.

Things to see and do in Araucanía

Here are some ideas for things to do during your stay in Araucanía.

  • Relax at Caburgua Lake
  • Dine at A la Olla 
  • Shop at Vivo Outlet Mall

Caburgua Lake

Have a fun and relaxing day at Caburgua Lake. The sights and views are a feast for the eyes. 

Image source: jorgeeestyle

A la Olla restaurant

Dine at this restaurant with a gorgeous setting, and you’ll enjoy every single bite.

Image source: alaolla_restorant

Vivo Outlet Mall

If you’re a bit of a shopaholic, you’ll love Vivo Outlet—a shopping center that has all the trendy shops, along with a food court and a cinema. 

Image source: holamoyra

Where to Stay in Koh Phangan

Where to stay in Koh Phangan — our favorite areas

Koh Phangan is one of the districts belonging to the province of Surat Thani. It is an island located in the Gulf of Thailand in southeast Thailand. During the 1980s, tourism became one of the main sources of income and still is to this day. The Full Moon Party is the most well-known attraction among tourists and travelers and has largely contributed to the increase in popularity of the island.  

justintimefortravel

Five best places to stay in Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan can be approximately divided into four areas: the Northwest, the Northeast, the Southwest, and Haad Rin.

Here are our top 5 picks for places to stay:

  1. Haad Yao
  2. Ban Khai
  3. Thong Sala
  4. Haad Rin
  5. Thong Nai Pan
Best areas in Koh Phangan
Haad Yao First-time visitors.
Ban Khai For travelers on a budget.
Thong Sala For those wanting to stay long-term.
Haad Rin For travelers seeking fun and a good night out.
Thong Nai Pan For travelers looking for a relaxing and quiet place to stay.

Getting to and around Koh Phangan

You can access Koh Phangan from the mainland by ferry in Surat Thani and Chumphon. As far as getting around the island is concerned, you have several options: by motorcycle, by songthaew, and by boat.

Getting around by motorcycle is the easiest, most efficient, and arguably the cheapest way to move around the island. You can rent a motorcycle pretty much anywhere on the island. It’s important to note that you will most likely be asked to provide your passport when renting. Don’t worry—you’ll get it back once you return the motorcycle. Be careful of scammers, and make sure to take pictures of the motorcycle so that they can’t accuse you of damaging the ride and ask you for additional money.

If riding a motorcycle isn’t for you, you can always travel by songthaew. A songthaew is best described as a “mini truck” or “minibus” with benches in the back. The fare is negotiable, depending on the number of passengers, destination, and time of the day.

Image source: merrylee21

Traveling by boat is best for exploration around the island, rather than the island itself. You can book a boat, or, as it is known in Thailand, a longtail boat, in any shop that offers tours around the island.

Where to stay in Koh Phangan for the first time—Haad Yao

Haad Yao is known for having one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. The white sand glistens in the sun, and it is perfect for relaxing. Here, you can see people sunbathing, swimming, playing beach volleyball, exploring the mesmerizing waters by diving or snorkeling, and enjoying other fun activities.

Things to see and do in Haad Yao

Here are some of our suggestions for things to do and see:

  • Relax on the beach
  • Eat at Pura Vida Cafe
  • Unwind at Rasta Home Koh Phangan

Relax on the beach

Bask in the warm Thai sun and have a relaxing holiday by spending time on the beach. You can swim, sunbathe, or have a relaxing walk on the beach.

Image source: 0liviasmith

Pura Vida Cafe

Have a slice of Europe in Thailand. This restaurant serves daily specials in a pleasant atmosphere. It’s located close to the beach.

Image source: clairehealthy_

Rasta Home Koh Phangan

Listen to the relaxing tunes of reggae with some cool and refreshing drinks. 

Image source: kahlum7788

Where to stay in Koh Phangan on a budget—Ban Khai

Ban Khai is known as a tranquil and quiet village that offers cheap accommodation and proximity to other areas on Koh Phangan. It is only a few kilometers away from another village with a similar name—Ban Tai—and the Haad Rin beach.

Things to see and do in Ban Khai

Here are some budget-friendly activities and places to see in Ban Khai:

  • Visit Wat Pho
  • Visit Yang Na Yai Tree
  • Watch the sunset on Ban Khai beach

Wat Pho

If you love exploring different religions and cultures, make sure to visit Wat Pho—a Buddhist temple located in the nearby village of Ban Tai.

Image source:  karamullina

Yang Na Yai Tree

Yang Na Yai Tree is the biggest tree in Thailand, standing high at 53 meters. It is estimated that it is over 400 years old. Some villagers consider this tree to be sacred.

Image source: damian.harper

Ban Khai beach

Head out to the beach and enjoy the breathtaking view of the sunset. 

Image source: joshrees_

Where to stay in Koh Phangan long term—Thong Sala

Thong Sala is the main port and largest town on Koh Phangan. This is a great place to stay for a longer period of time, as it is the main port. It is home to a number of internet cafes, banks, ATMs, travel agencies, shops, and markets, as well as the post office. It provides you with all the things you need in your everyday life. It can also serve as a great starting point for exploring the rest of Koh Phangan and everything it has to offer.

Things to see and do in Thong Sala

Here are some of our suggestions for things to do and see during your stay here:

  • Dine at Nine Restaurant and Bar
  • Shop at Thong Sala Night Market
  • Visit the Jam Bar Koh Phangan

Nine Restaurant and Bar

Dine at this pleasant and inviting restaurant that serves Thai food, as well as food from American and British cuisine.

Image source: hungry_honey_

Thong Sala Night Market

During the week, this famous market is open from 4 pm to 11 pm, and you can find an abundance of delicious local dishes and food for a low price. On Saturdays, you can also find all sorts of crafts and clothes. Note that the market closes a bit early on Saturdays— at 10 pm.

Image source: myloveofcolour

Jam Bar Koh Phangan

Visit this bar during the night and hang out with the locals and enjoy some refreshing drinks. Musicians gather here for open mic nights and encourage people to go on stage and perform tricks, stand up comedy, or dance.

Image source: littledumdumclub

Where to Stay in Koh Lanta

Where to stay in Koh Lanta, the relaxing island of Thailand

Koh Lanta is considered somewhat of a hidden gem in Thailand. Although budget travelers and backpackers have been visiting it for years, the island’s popularity with everyday tourists has recently skyrocketed as well. It’s becoming a top destination to visit in Thailand, especially for those coming for their second visit to the country.

Getting around Koh Lanta

When getting to Koh Lanta, chances are you’ll be coming from the Krabi International Airport. From there, you can choose to go to the island by ferry or minibus, which should cost you no more than $10 per person. If you want fast, private transport, taxis around the airport will be willing to take you there as well, although you should expect to pay up to $100. 

The island does not have any official public transportation system. Some locals offer a motorbike-taxi service to and from popular tourist spots, although you’ll have to bargain for the price. If you’re staying at a specific resort, you’ll find that most things you’ll be doing will be within walking distance. If you want to go around the island and require reliable transportation, your best bet would be to rent a vehicle. Most resorts, hotels, and tourist information centers will offer this service. Well-known rental companies such as Sixt, Hertz, and Budget Car Rental also operate within the area of the Krabi airport. The typical rental rates are:

Time One day Ten days
Car Around $30 Around $200
Motorbikes Around $20 Around $150
Bicycles Around $15 Around $100

These are the prices for average vehicles that are more than capable of getting the job done. Within these price ranges, you’ll find all types of cars: coupes, large family cars, SUVs, etc. If you’re willing to bargain at local rental service stations, you may get away with paying even less. However, only official rental companies offer commodities like car insurance.

Where to stay in Koh Lanta: our top three areas

Despite being relatively small compared to similar tourist destinations, Koh Lanta manages to bring a lot to the table. Everyone from budget-conscious tourists, families, backpackers, and even luxury travelers can find something to do around the island. The most populated areas also happen to be the most tourist-friendly, although plenty of nature resorts sit just outside of them. Here are the areas you should consider:

  1. Holiday Villa (Saladan)
  2. Klong Khong Beach
  3. Koh Lanta Old Town
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
Best for first-timers Holiday Villa (Saladan) A lively area with plenty of fun activities
Best for nightlife Klong Khong Beach A paradise for beach-party fans
Best on a budget Koh Lanta Old Town A small town with affordable prices and exciting history

Where to stay for first-timers in Koh Lanta—Holiday Villa

This aptly named area happens to be the most popular and tourist-friendly on the island. It’s located just down the road from Saladan Village, where you’ll likely be entering the island, either by sea or land.

What to see and do in Holiday Villa

  • Pra-Ae beach
  • Visit local food markets
  • Fat Monkey Restaurant

Pra-Ae beach

The beach offers typical tourist activities. You can swim, snorkel, or even dive. You’ll also find plenty of drink and snack bars with both local and popular foods. But the best reason to visit this beach is the gorgeous view at sunset. 

Source: mathildehsaetre

Visit the local food markets

Although there are plenty of grocery stores, with even the famous 7-Eleven present on the island, this neighborhood’s rich food markets will provide you with the best food shopping experience of your life. Douse yourself in the smell and colors of local produce and enjoy bargaining for prices on things like fruit, vegetables, and fish. If you get hungry, try some local food on a stick—the typical way “to-go food” is served on the island. Visit early in the morning to buy fresh products and come back in the evening to enjoy the street food.

Source: bernat_gelabert

Fat Monkey Restaurant

Located in the center of action in the area and ideal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant successfully blends traditional and modern food choices on its menu. You’ll find everything from traditional dishes to world-famous food like pizzas and burgers. They also add unique twists to popular foods by mixing them with Thai cooking. The restaurant is known for a large selection of wines and exquisite cocktail choices, making it a fantastic place to visit for drinks too.

Source: Fat Monkey — Koh Lanta

Where to stay for the nightlife in Koh Lanta—Klong Khong Beach

Koh Lanta island may not be the destination choice for tourists looking to party like there’s no tomorrow. However, Klong Khong Beach should not be underestimated. It has the highest concentration of clubs, bars, and restaurants that work well into the night. You will find everything from chill beach bars to big dancefloors. It’s also the place where you can expect to be surrounded by a younger crowd.

What to see and do in Klong Khong Beach?

  • 6ixcret Bar
  • Mushroom Bar
  • Khow Mhai Hom Restaurant

6ixcret Bar

Just south of Klong Khong, you will find a locally owned beach bar called 6ixcret. Visit throughout the day to enjoy affordable drinks and snacks or come back in the evening to catch the view of the sunset while enjoying a delicious cocktail. The bar also organizes beach parties occasionally. You can find all the info you need on their Facebook page.

Source: 6ixcret Bar

Mushroom Bar

Mushroom Bar is your typical beachside bar until sundown. At night, they host beach parties with unique twists. Every now and then, a fire breathing performance will take place at the beach for visitors to enjoy. The bar is full of crazy colors and encourages its visitors to play along by getting body paint on the spot. Take that, boring everyday clubs.

Source: sonja_stojanov

Khow Mhai Hom Restaurant

Khow Mhai Hom is far from a typical restaurant. It’s a family-owned business that serves local cuisine freshly prepared on the spot. You can even watch as your food is being prepared. The restaurant owners are also environmentally conscious and serve food with natural, reusable materials. If you want to eat authentic, homemade Thai food, this is the place to visit.

Source: Khow Mhai Hom (Ory Baum)

Where to stay in Koh Lanta on a budget—Koh Lanta Old Town

On the eastern side of the area is a local fishing village known simply as Old Town. It’s the ideal area to have a quiet, relaxing vacation away from mass tourism. The area is less popular than the west coast, meaning the prices will be noticeably lower, particularly for items like food and souvenirs. The town also has historical significance that you can learn about at the local history museum.

What to see and do in Old Town, Koh Lanta

  • Khlong Chak Waterfall
  • Koh Lanta Culture History Museum
  • Snorkeling/Diving

Khlong Chak Waterfall

Ask the locals where you can get a bike taxi to the waterfall. If you have your own vehicle, you can use it as well, since the beginning of the trail has parking spaces. While the waterfall itself heavily depends on the rain from previous seasons, the hike through the jungle is also a great experience. It’s definitely the top nature visit on the island.

Source: tina.everywhere

Koh Lanta Culture History Museum

This small but surprisingly rich museum of local history is the ideal place to visit before you go out exploring the island. The museum is maintained by a retired teacher who has vast knowledge of the island’s history. You’ll get to learn about the different island settlers throughout the years and find out how their coexistence shaped the local culture to become what it is today. Sometimes, live local music events will be held at the museum. The entrance is free to enter but kindly accepts donations.

Source: Instagram@kittipongjeng

Snorkeling/diving

Old Town may not have fancy tourist beaches, but what it does have is crystal clear water. Find a good place to swim, or ask the locals for directions. Enjoy the clean water and surrounding coral reefs. Pick up snorkeling gear at local shops or check for any diving tours at information centers. 

Where to Stay in Madrid

Where to stay in Madrid—The center of all the roads in Spain

A place where history and modernity meet, Madrid is an exciting city to visit. The landscape of the entire city is filled with something for everybody—museums, galleries, historical and cultural landmarks, clubs, pubs, bars, shops, restaurants—you name it, and Madrid has got it.

Madrid is considered to be the heart and soul of art and nightlife in Spain. Some of the more prominent and well-known tourist attractions and sightseeing locations include The Royal Palace of Madrid, Plaza Mayor, Puerta de Alcalá, and many more.

Image source: nenne_eg

5 best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid

The neighborhoods in Madrid are known as barrios, and there are well over a hundred of them scattered among twenty-one districts.

These are our picks for the top 5 best neighborhoods:

  1. La Latina
  2. Sol
  3. Malasaña
  4. Lavapiés
  5. Barrio de las Letras
Neighborhoods in Madrid
Best for expats La Latina A neighborhood located in the Centro district. Ideal for long-term visitors. During the day, it feels like any other busy city, but during the night, it comes to life. You can see people sitting around in cafes and bars, relaxing after a long day.
Best for first-timers Sol Situated in the heart of Madrid, Sol is close to all the sights that should be seen, as well as restaurants and shops. Most of the shops and restaurants have English speakers, so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier.
Best for party animals Malasaña The hub of Madrid’s nightlife. With bars, clubs, and pubs to spare, Malasaña is the place to be if you want to party like there’s no tomorrow.
Best for budget travelers Lavapiés One of the more affordable barrios in Madrid that has still retained its old charm and appeal.
Best for bohemians Barrio de las Letras One of many neighborhoods full of culturally relevant and significant places. Perfect for those who want to dive into the culture and art scene of Madrid.

Transportation in Madrid

 

 

Image source: robotlaand

Like any major city, Madrid has an efficient and reliable public transportation system. You can move through the city via bus, metro, taxis, trains, and electric bikes.

Buses cover the whole city, and they typically run from 6 am to 11:30 pm. There are also some buses that run during the night time, covering the time period between 11:55 pm and 5:30 am. A one-way ticket costs €1.50, but you have the option of buying a metrobús which enables you to ride the bus and metro 10 times for a fee of €12.20.

Madrid has one of the longest metro systems in the world. This is one of the fastest and most reliable ways to get around the city. When it comes to the type of tickets, there are one-way tickets which cost around €1.50–2, the aforementioned metrobús, and tickets that get you to and from the airport for around €4.50–5.00.

Cercanía is the name of the train system in Madrid. The trains usually operate between 5 am and midnight. There are seven zones, and each of them has a different ticket price. For additional information on how this works, check out this website.

Taxis are another way to move around the city, but they are a bit pricier. Beware of taxi scammers, since there are drivers who will try to take you on longer routes in order to charge more. Another piece of advice is to write down the address and to keep an eye on the meter.

Renting an electric bike is a green way to move around and explore the city. If you want to learn more about how it works, check out the official website.

Where to stay in Madrid long term—La Latina

Known for its narrow streets and large squares, La Latina covers most of the oldest section of Madrid. Full of hidden gems in the narrow streets, this neighborhood is a unique blend of traditional and modern. The history of the city is visible pretty much everywhere. Besides having a number of mesmerizing landmarks, La Latina has quite the number of tapas bars. We picked this neighborhood for long term visitors because it is full of charm, and it is close to all the other areas and neighborhoods of Madrid.

Things to see and do in La Latina

These are our picks for things to do:

  • Juana La Loca
  • Plaza de la Cebada
  • Church of San Andrés

Juana La Loca

A restaurant in La Latina which serves traditional Spanish food. Enjoy some of those delicious tapas.

Image source: foodie_guide_miam

Plaza de la Cebada

One of the most well-known squares in La Latina, here you can see a number of vendors, street art, and performers.

 

Image source: sr.irregular

San Andrés Church

A beautiful and remarkable church which you should definitely visit when exploring the city.

Image source: m_socarras

Where to stay in Madrid for the first time—Sol

Smack in the heart of Madrid, Sol is a neighborhood full of energy and excitement. Every year it sees a great number of tourists, so there are a lot of places where you can find someone who speaks English, which is great if you are a first-time visitor and your Spanish isn’t the best.

Things to see and do in Sol

Here are some of our picks for things to see and do:

  • Gran Vía
  • Chocolatería San Ginés
  • Puerta del Sol

Gran Vía

One of the best-known streets in Madrid, occasionally referred to as the Spanish Broadway, Gran Vía is located in the center of Madrid. It is packed with shops, bars, cinemas, restaurants, as well as gorgeous architecture.

 

Image source: carneirotg

Chocolatería San Ginés

Satisfy your sweet tooth with some delicious sweets. This chocolatería is open 24 hours and is best known for churros with chocolate.

Image source: jm_nimmer

Puerta del Sol

Here is another famous square, whose name means Gate of the Sun. This is the square from which New Year’s celebration is broadcast on television and the home to some great landmarks.

Image source: elisa.vespucci

Where to stay in Madrid for nightlife—Malasaña

A neighborhood where young people, as well as those looking for a vibrant atmosphere, gather and meet. Known for its youthful and fun energy, Malasaña has an abundance of bars, pubs, and clubs.

Things to see and do in Malasaña

Here are some of our suggestions for a good time out:

  • La Vía Láctea
  • El Penta
  • Tupper Ware

La Vía Láctea

A bar that plays a variety of music and serves delicious drinks.

Image source: camilolara

Lucy In The Sky Club

Experience a true Spanish night out, with excellent music and an enticing atmosphere.

Image source: lucyintheskyclub

Tupper Ware

A club with an easy-going vibe and 60s and 70s feel and decorations.

Image source: jbotet

Where to Stay in Okinawa

Where to stay in Okinawa, the tropical paradise of Japan

Thanks to its rich and interesting history and culture, Japan has plenty to offer as a popular tourist destination. In the south of Japan’s main archipelago is a group of islands known as Okinawa, which is one of the favorite hotspots for international and local travelers alike. The islands are a true tropical paradise with pleasantly warm temperatures and pristine waters throughout the year. We have created a list of the best areas to make things less overwhelming for those of you looking where to stay in Okinawa for your next travel adventure.

Image by Joshua Bouchard from Pixabay

Transportation in Okinawa

Main public transport in Okinawa involves a Yui Rail monorail, buses, and taxis. It’s still more convenient to rent a car, motorcycle, or even a bicycle to get around if you want unlimited freedom to explore Okinawa. You’ll need a license for driving in Japan if you want to rent a car. Learn more about it here.

Image Source: yuirailgirl.kayoko

Five best neighborhoods to stay in Okinawa

Okinawa is a group of islands in the East China Sea, perfect for everyone who wants to explore Japan in a tropical atmosphere. Snorkeling and diving are immensely popular, but there are also plenty of shops, restaurants, gardens, old castles and temples, and a jungle waiting to be explored.

If you’re looking for the best neighborhood to stay in, make sure to check out our top picks:

  1. Nago
  2. Iriomote
  3. Naha
  4. Ishigaki
  5. Kerama Islands

For our neighborhood roundup, we used several factors to pick the best areas for your stay:

  1. The atmosphere and vibe of the area
  2. Interesting things to do and see
  3. The cultural and historical importance
  4. Neighborhood safety
  5. Ease of transport
  6. Accommodation cost
Best neighborhoods to stay in Okinawa
Nago For a first-time visit Natural and wildlife paradise
Iriomote For a budget-friendly stay Jungle and tropical forests
Naha For nightlife fun The largest city with sandy beaches
Ishigaki For a cool and boho vibe A place with beautiful beaches
Kerama Islands For families/long-term stay Hotspot for diving and snorkeling

Image by knpknp from Pixabay

Where to stay in Okinawa for the first time – Nago

Nago is a buzzing city in the north of Okinawa’s main island, ideal for your first-time visit. It has an amazing beach, but there are other options to keep you entertained. The Busena Marine Park is a great way to learn more about the area’s marine life, while Pineapple Park will let you learn more about pineapples in a fun and unique way.

Image Source: jennijoneal

Where to go in Nago

  • Enjoy the amazing marine and wildlife of the island
  • Learn more about the island’s history and culture

Best for nature lovers: Busena Marine Park

At the Busena Marine Park, you’ll be able to visit the underwater structure, so that you can watch and learn more about marine life without having to get into the water. You can also visit the Neo Park Zoo if you want to check out the island’s wildlife. And Pineapple Park is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in something different and special.

Image Source: wangyichen1212

Best for history buffs: the Nago Museum

If you want to learn more about Okinawa’s culture and history, head to the Nago Museum. It effectively represents the shift from the past to the modern lifestyle of the island. One of the most popular exhibits includes the giant clam shell weighing more than 200 kg.

Image Source: nagosokinawa

Where to stay in Okinawa on a budget – Iriomote

The second-largest Okinawa island is Iriomote, home to the National Park and a place mostly covered by tropical forests and jungle. This is the best place to stay in Okinawa for nature lovers and people looking to explore the area on a budget. River cruises, hiking, and beach fun are the main activities on Iriomote.

Image Source: igworldmilkyway

Where to go in Iriomote

  • Hit the Urauchi river to explore the area
  • Hike and dive to get the adrenaline pumping

Best for newbie explorers: Urauchi river

Iriomote is the ideal place to get in touch with nature and check out the beautiful scenery, flora, fauna, and marine life of the area. In case you’re not an experienced adventurer, it would be best to get a kayak or join the cruise on the Urauchi river.

Image Source: hiroko.ni

Best for experienced adventurers: Manta Way

In case you have more experience with natural explorations and wildlife, don’t miss the opportunity to dive in Manta Way and swim together with manta rays. If you prefer hiking, you’d definitely enjoy the 20-kilometer hiking path in the middle of the island.

Image Source: cassiusmk

Where to stay in Okinawa for nightlife – Naha

Naha is the capital of Okinawa and the biggest city on the main island. This is where the main airport is located, which is why the place is filled with tourists. The small beach in the city is really popular, and there are also plenty of other fun activities. History buffs will adore Shuri Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is packed with bars and clubs, as well as lovely local shops.

Image Source: hungtzuchieh

Where to go in Naha

  • Shop around and eat delicious local specialties
  • Explore the ancient sites and marvel at the architecture

Best for foodies and shopping fans: Kokusai Dori

At Kokusai Dori, you’ll be able to find the most curious items that will satisfy your souvenir needs. Make sure to visit the Tsuboya Pottery District, too if you’re interested in local pottery work. Soba noodles are the local specialty, so don’t hesitate to treat yourself with some at the Shuri Soba restaurant.

Best for history buffs: Shuri Castle

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Shuri Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Naha. It dates from the 14th century. For almost 500 years, it was used as the royal court and administrative center of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Today, it holds huge historical importance for Okinawa and Japan.

Image Source: japonismo

Where to stay in Okinawa for the bohemian vibe – Ishigaki

Ishigaki is one of the Okinawa islands considered to be the coolest place in the area with some of the most gorgeous beaches. It’s also a great place to try out diving and snorkeling. Ishigaki is a paradise for foodies and it also has some fun activities for people interested in historical and cultural sightseeing.

Image Source: atsushi_okiphoto

Where to go in Ishigaki

  • Explore and relax at Ishigaki’s popular beaches
  • Check out the museum
  • Try out local delicacies

Best for relaxation and water sports: Ishigaki beaches

If you’re looking where to stay in Okinawa for a sandy paradise, Ishigaki is the best place. Yonehara Beach, Sukuji Beach, and Sunset Beach are the most popular hotspots where you can also engage in diving and snorkeling.

Image Source: juhudel

Best for history buffs: Yaeyama Museum

In case you want to learn more about Okinawa and Ishigaki, pay a visit to the Yaeyama Museum, and immerse yourself in the archaeology, history, art, and folk traditions of the area.

Image Source: marc_hungrylawyer

Best for foodies: Ishigaki restaurants

You can’t go wrong with any restaurants or eatery in Ishigaki. Ishigaki beef is the local specialty that is an absolute must-try during your visit. It’s even available in the form of sushi and sashimi.

Image Source: kaz.mix

Where to stay in Okinawa long-term – Kerama Islands

Those of you that decided to settle for a longer period of time in Okinawa should consider Kerama Islands. It’s also a fantastic place if you’re looking where to stay in Okinawa when traveling with your family. This is the hotspot for diving and snorkeling thanks to the amazingly clean ocean water. You can also witness the migration of humpback whales during the winter.

Image Source: tokyovisite

Where what to do in the Kerama Islands

  • Relax at the beaches, dive, and snorkel
  • Take a tour during winter months to see humpback whales

Best for nature lovers: Tokashiki and Zamami islands

Tokashiki and Zamami islands are the two most popular diving locations in Kerama Islands. Even if you’re a complete beginner, this is the place to learn how to dive. You can also snorkel and swim together with the sea turtles, or simply enjoy the sun and scenery at one of its picturesque beaches. If you’re staying in the Kerama Islands between January and March, you can easily find a cruise to check out the humpback whale migration.

Image Source: mkay2899mkay

Where to stay in Da Nang

Where to stay in Da Nang

Where to stay in Da Nang, the city of bridges

Da Nang goes by several nicknames—Tourane, City of Han River, and The City of Bridges. As one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, it has gone through the process of urbanization over the years. The history of the city can be traced back to ancient times, and throughout the centuries, Da Nang has been through a lot which is reflected in the city’s landscape and culture. Da Nang plays a key role in the region of Central Vietnam, and that’s thanks to its accessible port, which is important for the economy and trade, and a number of universities.

Image source: nature_egeo

5 best places to stay in Da Nang

There are eight districts in Da Nang – two of them are rural, whereas the remaining six are urban districts. Each of them has a number of communes. 

Here are our picks for the top 5 places to stay in Da Nang:

  1. Hải Châu 
  2. Hòa Vang 
  3. City Centre
  4. Liên Chiểu 
  5. My Khe Beach 

Where to stay in Da Nang

Best for culture vultures Hải Châu The cultural center of Da Nang filled with historical and cultural sights
Best for first-time visitors Hòa Vang The most popular tourist districts in Da Nang, home to the most iconic sights in the city 
Best long-term City Centre The most developed and urban area, as well as the business center of Da Nang 
Best budget area Liên Chiểu A quiet district filled with small cafes, local shops, and some great attractions 
Best for nightlife My Khe Beach A neighborhood lined with a number of bars and beach clubs, so it’s a great spot for partying and having fun.

Transportation in Da Nang

There are several ways of getting around the city. The cheapest way is by bus, but it is not the most convenient due to the potential long waiting period. It also takes a while to get to your destination due to the number of stops.

When it comes to taxis, there are two options – your regular, good old taxi, and Grab. Grab can be described as Vietnam’s Uber. In order to get a Grab, you need to download an app from the App Store. This option may save you a bit more money than a regular taxi. Another thing worth mentioning is that regular taxis have a meter, so you don’t have to negotiate the price and you don’t have to worry about being overcharged for your ride.

Motorcycles are the most popular mode of transportation in Da Nang. You can rent a motorcycle pretty much anywhere in the city, even at the airport. If you are feeling confident and have the skills, rent a motorcycle and explore everything Da Nang has to offer.

Where to stay in Da Nang – the culture edition: Hải Châu

Hải Châu represents the cultural hub of Da Nang.  If you decide to stay here, you can see some truly remarkable landmarks and sights. It is home to the Da Nang Cathedral, a museum, charming cafes, and other interesting sights. 

Things to see and do in Hải Châu

Here is a list of things you can visit in Hải Châu:

  • Da Nang Cathedral
  • Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
  • Dien Hai Citadel

Da Nang Cathedral

Da Nang Cathedral was built in a Gothic style in the early decades of the 20th century. Besides being the only Catholic church in Da Nang, its most recognizable feature – and what ultimately contributed to its popularity among tourists and visitors – is its pink façade.

Image source: kanokwan_mamayaa

Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture

A museum that exhibits and showcases the collection of Cham sculpture. This museum has the largest collection of art from this ancient civilization.

Image source: gabika.sipos

Dien Hai Citadel

Once an important fortress, the Dien Hai Citadel today serves an important function as a historical landmark and a national relic.

Image source: grandmercure.danang

Where to stay in Da Nang for the first time: Hòa Vang

A little less urban and a little more rural is the best description for this district in Da Nang. It is a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Still, it has some beautiful and mesmerizing sights definitely worth visiting.

Things to see and do in Hòa Vang

Here are some ideas for places to visit while staying here:

  • Hot Spring Park
  • Fantasy Park
  • Ba Na Hills SunWorld

Hot Spring Park

Treat yourself to a relaxing day at this resort. They offer a variety of services, including the options for enjoying a mud bath or soaking in the hot spring pool. It’s a perfect way to spend a day during your holiday in Da Nang.

Image source: worldthermalsprings

Fantasy Park

Fantasy Park is an indoor amusement park located in the Ba Na Hills. This fun, exciting amusement park has rides and attractions suited for different ages and preferences.

Image source: ramiya0914

Ba Na Hills SunWorld

Ba Na Hills SunWorld is an incredibly popular tourist attraction both among the local population and foreign visitors. It consists of two levels: one which contains a massive amusement park (Fantasy Park) and a French Village, and the other level with the Golden Bridge and gardens, among other things. An impressive feat of engineering and architecture, this attraction is definitely worth a visit.

Image source: ralh1

Where to stay in Da Nang long term – City Center

The City Center is an ideal location for an expat wanting to live in this city. This is because it offers you easy access to transportation, shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, and all the other things we are used to having access to while living in an urban area. The City Center is also the heart of business and economy, and you can find a wide variety of properties.

Things to see and do in the City Center

Here are some ideas for places to visit or things to do:

  • Dragon Bridge
  • Hàn Market
  • Han River Bridge

Dragon Bridge

Da Nang didn’t earn the nickname “City of Bridges” for no reason. The Dragon Bridge is an impressive achievement of both engineering and design. And if having a dragon at one end of the bridge isn’t impressive enough, make sure to check out the fire and water show. This usually happens during the weekend.

Image source: ruben.anyone

Hàn Market

No foodie should miss the Hàn Market: a large indoor market where you can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothes and house products.

Image source: elusivek

Han River Bridge

Han River Bridge is yet another impressive bridge Da Nang has to offer. It lies over the Han River, and during the night it lights up with beautiful lights in different colors.

Image source: jinstg

Where to stay in Luang Prabang

Where to stay in Luang Prabang

Where to stay in Luang Prabang, the cradle of religion and spirituality

Even if you’ve never considered going on a spiritual journey, Luang Prabang may awaken your inner religious enthusiast. Although this picturesque little town is hidden in the north of Laos, it has been one of the most beloved destinations in Asia for decades. With so many temples and gorgeous villas, it looks like a place from a fairy tale. It’s known for its laid back lifestyle, so it’s an ideal place to leave all your worries behind. If you’re wondering where to stay in Luang Pang, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. 

Photo credit: wherewemakememories

5 best neighborhoods to stay in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is an incredibly small place, and you can get anywhere you like on foot. Since you don’t have to worry about convenience, you can choose the neighborhood to stay in based on your own interests. To help you out, we have made a list of our top neighborhoods:

  1. Wat Mai
  2. Nam Khan Riverfront
  3. Wat Xiengthong
  4. Old Quarter
  5. Pakham

Where to stay in Luang Prabang

Best for the first time Wat Mai The central neighborhood in the Old Quarter where you will find all major landmarks
Best on a budget Nam Khan Riverfront An affordable area with lots of interesting places to visit
Best for bohemian souls Wat Xiengthong A gorgeous area near the estuary with interesting bars and sights
Best for nightlife Old Quarter The historical heart of the city with several great restaurants and bars
Best for expats Pakham A peaceful neighborhood close to the Old Quarter but away from the tourist crowds

Photo credit: elena_wuest

Where to stay in Luang Prabang for the first time: Wat Mai

Wat Mai is a small neighborhood in the heart of the Old Quarter, close to the Mekong waterfront. This area is Luang Prabang’s main tourist center and home to gorgeous sites. You will find temples, gardens, and monuments at every corner. It is also the most crowded part of the city and home to fantastic cafes and restaurants. As it is one of the most central areas, we recommend it to first-time visitors.

Best landmarks to visit in Wat Mai

The best thing about Wat Mai is that it is packed with all sorts of entertainment and sightseeing spots. You can visit many temples, go shopping, or even ride an elephant. Here are some of our favorite places to visit:

  • Wat Mai Monastery
  • The Royal Palace Museum
  • Haw Pha Bang
  • The Night Market
  • Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort

The Royal Palace Museum

The Royal Palace was built under the French colonial rule for King Sisavang Vong. After the revolution that ended the monarchy, the palace was turned into a museum. It contains artifacts of immense value, as well as an impressive royal car collection. 

Photo credit: archanarjun

Where to stay in Luang Prabang on a budget: Nam Khan Riverfront

The mainland part of the Nam Kham Riverfront is an amazing place away from the tiring tourist crowds. As it is outside the Old Quarter, the prices are quite affordable. Still, it is close to the city center and you can get to the major sights on foot. 

What to see and do on Nam Kham Riverfront

Just because Nam Kham Riverfront is not the epicenter of the town’s attractions, it doesn’t mean that you will get bored in this neighborhood. This area has a lot to offer, especially in terms of sightseeing. Check out these places that we highly recommend:

  • Wat Misunarat
  • The Old French Bridge
  • Wat Mamorom
  • Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center

The Old French Bridge

The Old French Bridge is one of the most notable attractions in Luang Prabang. Although the bridge was poorly built, and only motorcycles and pedestrians can cross it, it has its charms. The view from the bridge is amazing, so you will be able to take some Instagram-worthy shots. 

Photo credit: unpetitboutdechemin

Where to stay in Luang Prabang for bohemian souls: Wat Xiengthong

The neighborhood surrounding the Wat Xiengthong temple is a place any bohemian at heart will appreciate. It is located at the very tip of the peninsula. Wat Xiengthong area is known for its many bars and restaurants, as well as several temples. It also includes a beautiful park where nature lovers can relax.

What to see and do in Wat Xiengthong area

In Wat Xiengthong, you can do all sorts of relaxing activities, from temple hopping to shopping and pampering yourself in a spa center. You will also see amazing restaurants where you can give local snacks a try. If you’re not sure where to go first, check out these amazing places:

  • Wat Xieng Thong temple
  • Burasari Heritage
  • Riverview Park
  • Le Banneton
  • Queen Design Lao

Wat Xieng Thong temple

Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most breathtaking temples in Luang Prabang. Known as the Temple of the Golden City, it was built back in the 16th century. It is a wonderful representative of Laos craftsmanship and religious devotion. 

Photo credit: pattdevdex

Where to stay in Luang Prabang for nightlife: Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is the town’s historic center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The whole quarter is packed with wonderful sights and temples to explore. It is where the most lively neighborhoods are located, which is why we recommend it to nightlife lovers.

Where to go out in the evening in the Old Quarter

Luang Prabang isn’t a place where you can party all night long. Most places are quiet and the closing time is around 11 pm. Still, there are several great bars and restaurants where you can enjoy your evenings after a long day of sightseeing. Here are some places that have a good evening atmosphere:

  • Icon Klub
  • Chez Matt
  • Sa Sa Sunset Cruise Bar
  • Tangor Restaurant Bar & Lounge

Sa Sa Sunset Cruise and Bar

The only thing better than sipping a delicious drink is sipping it while watching the sunset from a boat. Sa Sa Sunset cruises are known for delicious food, interesting music, and an overall uplifting vibe. It’s a perfect ending to a beautiful day. 

Photo credit: krausedav

Where to stay in São Paulo

Where to stay in Sao Paulo

Where to stay in São Paulo, the city of drizzle and street carnivals

Long overshadowed by its sister city Rio De Janeiro, the city of São Paulo slowly overtook the spotlight to become the megacity it is today. One of Brazil’s most vibrant cities, it is known for its crazy weather, mixed culture, commitment to art, and diverse architecture. It also happens to be the most populated city on the South American continent. You could spend weeks exploring it, and you’ll still have plenty left to see and do.

With a city this large, it’s difficult to decide where to stay in São Paulo. To help you out, we will list the best areas and give you reasons why to pick them. Here are some top areas to consider:

  1. Centro Histórico
  2. Republica
  3. Bela Vista

We made our picks after careful consideration, based on the following factors:

  • The overall vibe of the neighborhood
  • Fun things to do and see
  • How connected the area is
  • Accommodation options
  • Safety

Where to stay in São Paulo

Best for first-timers Centro Histórico The historical center of the city with plenty of sightseeing options
Best for the nightlife Republica The most vibrant part of the city packed with clubs and bars
Best long term Bela Vista A peaceful neighborhood with all the amenities you could wish for

São Paulo transportation system

São Paulo metro map. Photo credit: Wikimedia

There are several ways you can get around São Paulo:

  1. Metro: There is a total of 15 subway and suburban railway lines run through São Paulo and connect pretty much all the important districts. São Paulo metro is fast and reliable since it plays a major part in the city’s tourist economy and connects many business sectors.
  2. Bus: Buses are plenty throughout the city, and they are frequent and reliable since the majority of citizens commute with them to work. They’re good for short distance hopping and are color-coded for the areas they pass through, making them easy to memorize.
  3. Taxi: Taxis are relatively cheap and reliable. A usual starting fee is around 4.5 reals ($1), and the price of one kilometer is about the same. Just make sure the driver uses a taximeter to avoid any unwanted “tourist taxes”.
  4. Uber: As in most modern cities, rental car services, such as Uber, are present in São Paulo. Although not necessarily cheaper than a regular taxi, they still provide the comfort and safety that attract customers to these types of services.
  5. Helicopter: Here’s a transportation method unique to São Paulo. The city has the largest fleet of helicopters in the world. The Voom service, for example, is similar to Uber and other vehicle renting services, charging passengers based on the distance traveled and weight carried. Although it’s obviously more expensive than ground transport, it’s worth checking out, if at least once for the experience. 
  6. Biking: The city has constructed over 400km (250 miles) of bicycle routes to battle its high traffic. Make use of them for short distance traveling to avoid getting stuck.

Where to stay for first-timers in São Paulo — Centro Histórico

There is no better place to start your journey through São Paulo than where it all originated from. Centro Histórico (city center) is the city’s core that brings all the pieces together. It’s a diverse combination of economic prosperity and cultural development. The district has plenty to offer for everyone.

What to see and do in Centro Histórico?

São Paulo Cathedral

The land upon which the cathedral stands has been a place of worship since early settlements in the then village of São Paulo. Construction began in 1913 under the guidance of Duarte Leopoldo e Silva, the first archbishop of São Paulo. The project was handed to German architect Maximilian Emil Hehl, who was renowned for his architectural work in Brazil.

This Neo-Gothic style megachurch stands at 111 meters (364 feet) tall and serves as a reminder of the city’s European roots and the strong spirituality among Brazilian people.

Photo credit: assembleiasp

Mercado Municipal de São Paulo

There’s no better place to experience the Brazilian taste and smell (literally) than the Marketplace of São Paulo. This legendary marketplace consists of two floors, the first floor being the shopping area and the second a restaurant. The stands are full of homegrown fruits and vegetables, coffee, spices, meat, and similar delicacies ready to intrigue your taste buds.

Although the historic building the market is housed in was built for the purpose it serves, looking at its architectural style, it reminds of elements typically found in cathedrals, such as large stained windows, pillars, tall ceiling, and a dome.

Photo credit: lubelingieri

Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo

Ancient Greek and Roman picture galleries called pinacothecas served as inspiration for the São Paulo Pinacoteca. It was founded in 1905 and established as a state museum in 1911.

Focused mainly on Brazilian art pieces from the 19th century, the museum also houses a department of European works. Most notably, you will see the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, who inspired many Brazilian artists. The part of Pinacoteca devoted to his art is considered to be one of the most important art displays in Brazil.

Photo credit: lariduarteoficial

Where to stay for the nightlife in São Paulo — Republica

Republica is the area located around the Praça da República (Republic Park) and the metro station of the same name. You will find it right next to the historic city center.

Its large concentration of skyscrapers is broken by the parks and historic buildings that can be found in the area. This modern neighborhood offers plenty of things to do throughout the day and well into the night, and isn’t shy of its cultural significance either.

What to see and do in Republica

Theatro Municipal de São Paulo

The municipal theater of São Paulo was built in 1911 as a tribute to the city’s increasing presence and importance on the international stage. Architecture connoisseurs will recognize its Renaissance style and notice that its designers took inspiration from the Paris Opera House.

Home to the São Paulo Symphonic Orchestra and the city’s official ballet ensemble, its stage was graced by both the local and internationally acclaimed actors, orchestras, and opera singers.

Photo credit: theatromunicipal

Museu do Futebol

Brazilians are world-famous for their passion for football (soccer). The sport plays one of the largest cultural roles in the country. Located in the area of Estádio do Pacaembu, the most important stadium in the region of São Paulo is a museum dedicated to that passion. 

The exhibits are just as much dedicated to the players and their amazing achievements as they are to the fans without whom none of it would be possible.

One of the most beloved exhibits is the World Cup Room (Sala das Copas do Mundo) which hosts modern displays of each World Cup, from its inception in 1930 to the present day.

Photo credit: museudofutebol

Love Story Club

Known as “the house of all houses” and one of the best nightlife venues in São Paulo, Love Story Club has achieved world-famous status in the world of EDM (electronic dance music). The parties hosted in the club are known for lasting up to ten hours straight, usually starting before midnight and ending around 9 a.m. the next day. This makes the club absolutely unmissable. Whether you’ve just started your night or looking for a killer after-party, you’re bound to love this club.

In 2002, the legendary British duo Layo & Bushwacka created a song called “Love Story” to celebrate their time in São Paulo and the club.

Photo credit: Love Story

Where to stay long term in São Paulo — Bela Vista

The district of Bela Vista is the ideal location to base yourself long term for many reasons. It’s close to the city’s historic center, well-connected with public transportation, and has plenty of entertainment options to offer. What makes it ideal for living is that you can find everything you may need within the neighborhood, which makes it completely independent from other areas. Schools, shopping centers, hospitals, and similar necessities are within walking distance, and it’s a generally safe area.

What to see and do in Bela Vista?

Ibirapuera Park

Just a few blocks from Bela Vista you will find the Ibirapuera — the most visited park in South America, averaging jaw-dropping 40,000 visitors per day. While the park itself offers plenty of escape from the concrete jungle with its lakes and greenery, the real gems inside it are the many cultural and historical monuments. They include, but are not limited to:

  • São Paulo Modern Arts Museum (Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo)
  • Ibirapuera Auditorium
  • Afro-Brazilian Museum (Museu Afro Brasil)
  • Japanese Pavilion (Pavilhao Japones)

Photo credit: paulosilva087

Museu de Arte de São Paulo

The São Paulo Museum of Art is located on Paulista Avenue, one of the most recognizable streets in the city. The building was designed by Lina Bo Bardi, a famous Brazilian-Italian architect. In her effort to conserve as much of the public space as possible, she created a design that elevated the building above ground using four pillars.

Although the museum itself is a private non-profit, its founders went to great lengths to secure the best collection available. Because of their efforts, the museum now holds a priceless collection of recognizable European art, considered the finest one south of the equator.

Photo credit: masp

Some of the notable artists and paintings include, but are not limited to:

  • Portrait of a Young Man with a Golden Chain; Rembrandt, 1635
  • Portrait of Suzanne Bloch; Picasso, 1904
  • The resurrection of Christ; Raffaello, 1502
  • Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist; Botticelli, 1490
  • The Student; Van Gogh, 1888

Livraria Cultura National Assembly

Just down the street from the Museum of Art sits the largest bookstore in all of South America: Livraria Cultura Conjunto Nacional. It is part of the Livraria Cultura bookstore chain and located in a renovated movie theater space inside the Conjunto Nacional building.

The incredible selection of books is tourist-friendly, as most of them can have the English edition as well. Apart from books, the store also houses music records, trading cards, board games, and more. It is also home to plenty of cultural events from the world of literature.

Photo credit: livraria_cultura