Europe one month itinerary

The highest concentration of nations is found in none other than Europe, which means you can experience the highest diversity of culture in the shortest time here. Europe also offers much in terms of places of historical significance, natural landscape, food, shopping and more, which is why you keep having to go back.

There are millions of permutations when planning for a Europe itinerary. Here’s how I am going to do it this time:

Days 1 to 8

Villa d’Este

Italy. I have been to Rome twice, yet there are many places near Rome I have not visited, such as Necropoli della Banditaccia (UNESCO heritage site) and Civita Di Bagnoregio. No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to The Mall, the famed luxury goods outlet centre. This would be my fourth time there. Continue reading Europe one month itinerary

How to get a Russia Tourist Visa in Singapore

St Basil’s Cathedral is the first thing that comes to my mind at the mention of Russia. The iconic cathedral with multi-coloured onion domes is something i thought i should behold someday. Well, the day is coming soon. I have just obtained the Visa for entry into Russia for tourism.

What deters many from visiting Russia, besides the distance, is probably the difficulty in getting a Visa. Yes, Russia is one of the few countries for which a Visa is required for a tourism visit with a Singapore passport. Vfs handles the application for Russia Visa in Singapore, and their website provides comprehensive information on how to do so. Continue reading How to get a Russia Tourist Visa in Singapore

Hokkaido 9 days itinerary

It took 3 days to work out this itinerary and book all the hotels, so you could say a trip to Hokkaido is actually not difficult to plan for. I do still need to work out details like where to go for meals, finding exact view points to see, as well as to book a rental car (that will be another blog post), but once the accomodation reservations are done, the rest are less worrying.

All my itineraries are planned with the same basic assumption – that i will never visit there again. This itinerary covers all attractions that are significant in Hokkaido, including places that seem less attractive, like Hakodate. I guess everyone has different preferences and pacing when it comes to how they do a trip, and few people will do it like i do. Nevertheless, i believe i have tips to share that may be useful for reference and consideration.

My trip happens in mid June, and unfortunately, the timeframe is in between the Pink Moss and the Lavendar bloom. Some people might be going to Hokkaido specifically for these. If so, to catch the Pink Moss, you need to be there mid to late May, and for Lavendar, mid to late July. Continue reading Hokkaido 9 days itinerary

Krabi and Phuket trip report card

Probably the only thing that didn’t go as smoothly as planned during the entire trip was the immigration clearance at Krabi airport. I was among the last to disembark from the plane, and it took 40 minutes of queuing before it was our turn to get through immigration. Anyway, not a single hitch thereafter.

Day 1

After picking up the rental car, we headed towards the Emerald hot spring pool, and upon enquiry about entrance fee, i decided to only visit the hot spring waterfalls, which was also around the vicinity. It cost 200 Baht (S$8) to visit the Emerald pool, but only 90 Baht ($3.60) for the hot spring waterfalls. We had time only for one, and i had originally planned to only take a dip at the hot spring waterfall anyway. To me, there’s more novelty in a hot spring waterfall than a hot spring pool.

Take in the view of the river while dipping in the naturally formed pool from mineral deposits . Almost like a Japanese Onsen, except that the pools here are not man-made but natural. How cool is that.
At around 5pm, there will be intervals when you can have the pool to yourself.

Continue reading Krabi and Phuket trip report card

Renting a car in Thailand

The car rental experience in Thailand was a pleasant one. I was really impressed by the condition of the roads – wide, two lanes, level trunk roads just about everywhere. Very low volume traffic (in South Thailand), and few traffic lights. No speed camera, mostly. Thais are rather polite on the road (beyond comparison to Malaysia). Motorcyclists keep to the side. All these made for an ultra smooth and pleasant road trip.

Here’s how my rental experience went: Continue reading Renting a car in Thailand

Best travel prepaid data deal on earth

I doubt you will find a better deal – S$32 for 1GB of data over 30 days in 42 countries including Europe and USA. Or S$54 for 12GB. This incredible deal is offered by Three, UK, and even though it is intended for UK residents, there’s no way they can enforce it, and they won’t. For m1 subscribers in Singapore, the data passport option is also pretty good, at S$50 (plus S$2 activation fee) with 3GB and above for one month of usage in 28 countries in Europe. Update: Not wanting to be outdone, SingTel now offers a competitive package – ReadyRoam. Pricing wise, it is expensive for Asia (S$20 per 1GB) but competitive (S$35 per 1GB) for USA and Europe. It has the advantage of not being tied to your statement date unlike m1. The list of countries included is more limited though.

The problem with the m1 data passport is having to be mindful of the monthly statement rollover date. If the rollover date happens during your trip, you’ll be paying the monthly data passport subscription fee twice, which is terrible. You could be paying for two months of subscription for 2 days of usage in the worst case.

Continue reading Best travel prepaid data deal on earth

Pearl River Delta Trip Report Card Part 2

In case you didn’t know, there are two ways to travel between Guangzhou/Foshan and Hong Kong. The first is the most commonly used Hexiehao high speed rail service, while the other one is actually an older service called the MTR Intercity through train. The advantage of the latter is not having to disembark from the train for border crossing, as you clear the immigration before boarding and after disembarking from the train. You do have to pay almost triple the amount compared to Hexiehao, but you save quite a bit of time and hassle, especially during peak hours, and probably have better comfort and privacy.

Continue reading Pearl River Delta Trip Report Card Part 2

Pearl River Delta Trip Report Card Part 1

Firstly, I wanted to showcase photos of my kids taken with some of the transportation vehicles/vessels we rode during the trip, spanning land, sea and air. If you have a kid who’s fascinated with various modes of transportation, a trip to the Pearl River Delta can fulfill his/her dreams. You don’t need to go to Europe.

Clockwise from the top left, plane, ferry to Zhongshan, Hexiehao high speed rail to Lowu, MTR, double decker electric tram (aka “Dingding”), light rail (tram) at Yuen Long, mini bus, Hong Kong airport express. Not pictured above, taxi in Zhongshan, private rental car from Zhongshan to Kaiping and Dongguan, taxi and double decker bus in Hong Kong

Continue reading Pearl River Delta Trip Report Card Part 1

Where to pump petrol before entering Singapore from North-South Highway

It is no secret that petrol prices in Malaysia is about one third that in Singapore. At present, the price of RON97 is RM 2.05 per litre, whereas it costs S$2.05 (before applying discount) per litre for RON95 in Singapore. Topping up your tank before returning to Singapore from Malaysia means huge savings, especially for cars with bigger tanks. Some even perform the rather unsightly maneuver of rocking their car in an attempt to get that little bit more petrol into the tank.

Cars returning to Singapore after travelling on the North-South Highway will have to decide where to pump petrol, and it’s best to plan ahead exactly where. One might say this is an easy decision – just choose the station nearest to the immigration checkpoint. Under optimal conditions, when there is no queue at the checkpoint, this is a sensible choice. However, when there queue, pumping at a petrol station near the checkpoint may cost you more time to clear the immigration, since your queue will virtually start at the petrol station. It is demoralizing, i can tell you.

Let me go straight to the point and show you the three options you have in choosing the petrol station:

1. Petrol station near checkpoint

For the second link, obviously the Shell station just before the Tanjung Kupang CIQ is the one, and probably 90% of the cars returning to Singapore will pump petrol here.

Continue reading Where to pump petrol before entering Singapore from North-South Highway

Malaysia destinations – Cameron Highlands

Can this be Malaysia?
Can this be Malaysia?

Cameron Highlands has quite a few things going for it to become a holiday destination in Malaysia: the cool climate, which brings about agri and eco tourism encompassing horticulture, tea plantations, strawberry farms and nature trails, and traces of the colonial past. These were reason enough for us to spend 2 nights on holiday here. Continue reading Malaysia destinations – Cameron Highlands