Tag Archives: Backpacking

4 Tokyo Shopping Districts for the Uninitiated

1. Shinjuku

img 7012 tokyo shinjuku sanchome kosaten - shopping dining business and entertainment district crossing

With lights, sounds, and throngs of people, the Shinjuku area looks perpetually busy- chaotic, even. A renowned shopping district that is among the country’s largest, this is perhaps the best place to start your exploration of Tokyo’s shopping and fashion culture. Department stores, electronic stores, book stores, etc.; you name it, Shinjuku probably has it.

2. Shibuya

shibuya-109

This is THE place to be if you are young and trendy. With countless fashion stores, the youth of Japan head to Shibuya for their fashion buys. The most popular department store in the area? The Shibuya 109. This building is the place to visit when you’re visiting the area, especially for fashion-conscious females. With floor after floor of women’s boutiques, this is the place of every shopaholic’s dream.

3. Harajuku

11482233_CRm8oRk2qWmixitxjwkOO_j9AwZ6WUkOO2WybcLRaVk

This is the influential fashion district where trends are set by Japanese teens experimenting with cosplay or kawaii lolita dresses, especially along the well-known Harajuku Bridge. So give yourself a Japanese-style makeover with the many boutiques along Harajuku, offering a variety of apparels just as diverse as the fashion choices of teens along the street itself.

4. Ginza

1476384_P_SWhKS-HMY5_wLLLQyVD-7Q5hAo2pf_yzmrJA-7shk

A large upscale shopping district, this is probably the place for the hip and wealthy. But don’t let that throw you off- as much as haute couture reigns here with elaborate branded boutiques (think Prada and Dior), this area has equally many stationery and down-to-earth craft stores. This mix of stores makes Ginza unique; a district that allows you to experience both the high fashion flamboyance, as well as the dedication of local craftsman.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): photopassjapan, japlanning, Harajuku foursquare, Ginza foursquare.

Visit travelog.me for more places to go when in Tokyo!

Have insider information or travel stories to share? Contribute to the Travelog blog & engage with travel-lovers like yourself (credits will be given). Email us at hello@travelog.me to find out more!

Phuket Photo Essays You Should See

For those planning to explore Phuket, here’s a compilation of photo essays that capture various sides of the Thai province that is well-loved by travelers.

From Fly See Stay:flyseestay

This photo essay mainly captures the beauty of nature in Phuket with shots of the clear waters and limestone cliffs, along with images of floating villages and the locals there. Oh, and the author sneaked in a picture of the notorious Patong area as well.

Full photo essay here: Fly See Stay

Best Beaches in Phuket >>>

From Bowdy Wanders:bowdywanders

With many pictures of the places of worship and the beautiful details in their architecture, this photo essay shows a side of Phuket that is different from the ‘sun, sand and sea’ stereotype, although some pictures of the latter is included as well.

Full photo essay here: Bowdy Wanders

Viewpoints in Phuket >>>

From Notes From A Big World:

notesfrabigworld

Perhaps not the prettiest or most professional of pictures, but this photo essay that focuses on Phuket’s transportation system is worth viewing nonetheless, as it captures the vehicles that locals use, providing insight to their daily lives.

Full photo essay here: Notes From A Big World

5 Things To Do In Phuket >>>

From Monkey Abroad:

monkeyabroad

This photo essay is very ‘real’- compiled over a period of 6 months by a foreign teacher who lived and worked in Phuket. It shows everything from the beaches to the temples to the nightlife, and is probably the closest to how the locals would see the province.

Full photo essay here: Monkey Abroad

Explore Phuket Nightlife at Patong>>>

Ever been to Phuket? Which was your favorite photo essay? Share your travel stories in the comments below!

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): Fly See StayBowdy WandersNotes From A Big World & Monkey Abroad.

Visit travelog.me for more places to go when in Phuket!

Have insider information or travel stories to share? Contribute to the Travelog blog & engage with travel-lovers like yourself (credits will be given). Email us at hello@travelog.me to find out more!

5 Hidden Cafes in Hong Kong with Great Coffee!

Common Ground

common ground

 

common grounds coffee

Tucked away amidst the busy roads of Shing Wong Street, this rustic cafe is a quiet spot to chill out while escaping the hustle and bustle outside. Once you’re at Shing Wong Street, find the stairway that runs from Caine Road to Hollywood Road and you’ll be able to spot this hidden gem.

Read more on Common Ground here >>

 

Mansons Lot

mansons lot

mansons lot coffee

Named after Sir Mansons, the first to import cattle to Hong Kong to provide fresh milk whom he felt was key to a good cup of coffee, you can expect fresh and delicious coffee concoctions at Mansons Lot. If you’re in Wan Chai, keep an eye out for this unassuming coffee shop along Swatow Street and hop in for a drink.

Read more on Mansons Lot here >>

 

Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard

opendoor

 

opendoor coffee

Next to a high-capacity traffic route opposite Sun Yet Sen Memorial Park, you’ll discover this peaceful haven of a cafe where you can escape the busy roads. Plus, they have a book sharing concept where you can donate or borrow books while you’re there. What better way to spend a lazy afternoon than with a book and a cup of coffee, right?

Read more on Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard here >>

 

The Cupping Room

the cupping room

 

cupping room coffee

When there’s a two-time Hong Kong Barista Championship winner at the helm, you can be sure the coffee at this cafe will be exceptional, from their house blends to single origin espressos. The cosy wooden setting makes this a great spot to relax and hang out with friends as well.

Read more on The Cupping Room here >>

 

Amical

amical

 

amical coffee

This is perhaps the most ‘hidden’ of all these coffee spots. Located above street level along the trendy Star Street Precinct, the only thing you can spot this cafe by is a small overhanging street sign. Other than great coffee, they also boast a variety of latte art (think cute animals and mustache faces) and a beautiful al-fresco balcony to chill out at.

Read more on Amical here >>

 

Visit travelog.me for more information on places to visit when next in Hong Kong.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): pinterest.com, yelp.com, goodcoffee.me, cremedelacash.wordpress.com, openrice.com, nofoamplease.com, openrice.com, hkmagazine.com, tripadvisor.com.

4 Historical Structures to visit in Beijing

1. The Forbidden City
4 Jing Shan Qian Jie, Dongcheng, Beijing, China

The Forbidden City

Recognised as a World Culture Heritage by UNESCO, The Forbidden City is one of Beijing’s most well-known historical attractions. It was home to 24 emperors throughout Chinese history, along with countless other royal subjects. Join a tour or explore on your own to see this majestic structure, and get a sense of how the Chinese royals lived back in the day.

Read more about The Forbidden City here >>

2. The Great Wall of China
Yanging, Beijing, China

2A well-known historical treasure, The Great Wall is a must-see for history buffs. Built over 2000 years ago, this is perhaps the most extensive construction project the world has ever seen. Explore Badaling section of this historical site while in Beijing; it’s the most popular section of the Great Wall amongst travellers. Climb on for amazing views at the top!

Read more about The Great Wall of China here >>

3. Ming Tombs
Changchi Rd, Changping, Beijing, China

Ming TombsNot far from where the Badaling Great Wall is located, the Ming Tombs are another historical attraction you should visit in Beijing, where the emperors of the Ming dynasty were buried. There are 3 tombs that are open to public- Dingling, Changling and Zhaoling. While visiting the Ming Tombs complex, walk along the Sacred Way, historically believed to lead to heaven, this path is lined with statues over a hundred years old.

Read more about the Ming Tombs here >>

4. Summer Palace
19 Xin Jian Gong Men Lu, Haidian, Beijing, China

Summer PalaceSaid to be the most well-preserved royal park in the world, the vast compound is a collection of lakes, gardens and palaces located at the northwest of Beijing. Take a boat ride to see an island temple, enjoy a traditional performance at one of the restored theatres, and relax at one of the airy pavilions in the Garden of Restful Peace. Other popular spots to visit include the path known as the “Long Corridor” and the Longevity Hill.

Read more about the Summer Palace here >>


Visit travelog.me for more interesting & unusual things to do when living in or visiting Beijing.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom) Strategieavc, Digitalhint, China Tour Guide, U Texas

Themed Cafes in Seoul – Part 2

If you’re done exploring the Seoul cafes introduced in the previous Travelog article, here are some more unique themed cafes to visit while you’re in Seoul!

Cafe’ra
Address: Incheon-si, Yeonsu-gu, Songdo-dong 18-1
Closest Subway Station: Central Park Station (Line 1)

cafe'ra

With the rise of Instagram, it seems everyone can be a photographer nowadays. For photography buffs and photographer wannabes, this is one cafe you’ll have to visit. The cafe is decorated with photographs on the wall and other knick-knacks on the shelves. P.S. if you bring along your own DSLR, they’ll let you have a go with their lenses too! After having fun taking pictures around the cafe, relax with a cup of coffee while picking out your favourite snaps of the day.

Thanks Nature Cafe

thanks nature cafe sheep

Cat cafes are cute and all, but for more novelty, why not visit this sheep cafe instead?This is probably the only cafe where sheep can be seen roaming around the cafe freely. Do note that the fluffy animals can only be seen during the cooler months of the year as the owner sends them back to the sheep ranch when it gets too warm, so be sure to plan your visit according to the season! Sheep aside, the cafe also offers well-loved sweet treats like waffles and ice-cream.

Read more about Thanks Nature Cafe here >>

Cafe Oz

cafe oz games.jpegReminisce about your childhood or just spend a lazy afternoon playing at this board games cafe. If you have no plans for the day or would like a break from exploring Seoul, this is a great place to be. Chill with your friends at Cafe Oz with a cup of coffee and tea, and play away. Be warned: time flies at Cafe Oz when you’re engrossed in your games!

See more about Cafe Oz here >>

Hanbok Cafe
Address: 249-24, Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul,South Korea
Closest Subway Station: Dongdaemun History Culture Park subway station

hanbok

Envision yourself as an actress in a Korean historical drama in this cafe. With beautifully coloured hanboks, the traditional Korean dress for women, have fun choosing your hanbok and getting dolled up. The cafe has many backdrops that depict the Korea of the past, providing many photo locations for you to snap a picture!

Princess Diary Cafe

Here’s another one for the girls- those who dream of being a princess would love this cafe. Live your dream and be a princess for a day at Princess Diary, where racks of dresses and shoes await you. From the interior to the dresses to the drinks, everything is pretty in this cafe! This is where playing dress up is completely acceptable for grown women, so rent a gown, spend time taking pictures and feel pampered like the princess you are.

Read more on Princess Diary Cafe here >>


And if you missed it, here’s the first Travelog article on themed cafes in Seoulclick here to view.

Visit travelog.me for more information on places to visit when next in Seoul.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom) jhtn38.blog.me, Thanks Nature Cafe Facebook,  Aclipse, 5 Flower, blog.naver.com.

Top Places to Party During The Hong Kong Sevens

This year, The Hong Kong Sevens are held on the last weekend of March, 27 – 29 March, at the Hong Kong Stadium. Once again, the city is bracing itself for an influx of tourists from all over the world. 28 teams will be participating in the 2015 tournament, and  here are some tips on where to party (and how to survive) the Hong Kong Sevens weekend.

Hong-Kong-Sevens-2015
Hong Kong Stadium

While the South Stand is hard to get into, this is the place to be if you want to party throughout the Sevens. It’ll be loud, colourful, and crazy, and you’ll see plenty of awesome costumes so be sure to dress up. The seating is unreserved, so try to get here early to grab a seat.

The Sevens will usually finish between 7 and 9, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore Hong Kong by night.

Here are some of the best places to party:

Wan Chai

Wan Chai used to be Hong Kong’s red light district in Hong Kong and these days is bursting with all sorts of pubs and bars, which overflow onto the streets.

wan chai
Wan Chai

This area is close to the stadium, and the streets are sure to be packed with people still in their costumes. This is where you’ll find the cheapest drinks in Hong Kong, and a lot of character which makes Wan Chai an interesting and exciting place to explore.

Take the outdoor public escalator to the top of the district, and pinball your way down, hitting the best bars.

The most boisterous and busiest parts of Wan Chai are “The Corners,” which are two intersections on Lockhart Road, one by Fenwick Street, and the other at Luard Road. These are where you’ll find the less sleazy bars, and it’s the place to go for a slightly more upscale drinking experience.

Mes Amis
Mes Amis

Mes Amis is an open facaded bar, and is usually considered to be the centre of Wan Chai. The central location is on the corner of Luard and Lockhart, and it’s a good place to meet friends, with crowds spilling out onto the streets. Walk a little further up Luard Road until you get to Jaffe Road, and you’ll find the Delaney’s The Irish Pub as well as Bar Amazonia, both popular choices in this area.

Delaney's Irish Pub
Delaney’s Irish Pub

See more on Mes Amis, Delaney’s and Bar Amazonia.

While the Fenwick-Lockhart junction isn’t quite as central as the Luard-Lockhart corner, the nautically-themed Typhoon is a must-visit, and is famous for giving out free shots whenever there is a Typhoon warning. Typhoon is a place that gets crazy during the Seven’s and is known as one of the best places to party.

Typhoon
Typhoon

When the booze hits, and you’re ready to dance, head to Carnegie’s, which has installed brass railings on the bar since dancing on top of it is so popular. This place generally draws a younger crowd with a mix of tourists, university students, and international school kids frequenting it regularly. It’s sure to be a huge hit during the Seven’s.

See more on Carnegie’s >>

Read more about Wan Chai here >>

Carnegie’s

Lan Kwai Fong

Lan Kwai Fong is one of the other main drinking districts in Hong Kong, and the bars here are some of the best in Asia, which has earned it the nickname of party central. It’s not as close to the Hong Kong Stadium as Wan Chai, but the area is still well worth a visit.

Dublin Jacks is an Irish bar, with a friendly atmosphere and a great deck to chill out on, and Irish pub-style food. Grab a bite to eat here, before heading to The Hong Kong Brew House for the best selection of beers in Hong Kong.

See more on The Hong Kong Brew House >>

Hong Kong Brew House
Hong Kong Brew House

When it’s time to really party, head to Stormies (LKF), which is where hundreds of people inevitably end up spilling out into the street. There’s a surprisingly good restaurant upstairs, serving excellent seafood.

 See more on Stormies (LKF) >>

stormies-lkf-3

For something a little different, head to Sub Zero Temp Bar, a Russian restaurant, where patrons can hang out in the freezer and drink multiple types of vodka. Don’t worry about being underdressed, as they have plenty of fur coats for you to wear.

The Seven’s is a great excuse to go out, and with the amount of amazing bars and clubs on offer in Hong Kong, you’ll be spoiled for choice when you go out after the games.

Discover more about Lan Kwai Fong >>

Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong

 See more on Hong Kong nightlife here >>


Article contributed by Stacey Kuyf, onetravelsfar.com.

Visit travelog.me for more information on planning a trip to Hong Kong.

Need more information to help you plan for your trip to Hong Kong? Check out these useful links for more ideas:

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom) Events.com.au, Romainjl.deviantart.com, The Creative Bull, Asia BarsMad Buzz HK, Blogs.wsj.com, Asia Pub Guide, VenueHub.hk.

4 Bars You Should Visit if You Want to Drink Like a Local in Chiang Mai

There are a lot of bars in Chiang Mai. In fact one would need to spend all of his life to visit them all. In the city centre all of them are targeted at tourists, where backpackers mix with the expat crowd. There you will also encounter sex-pats with their ladyboys and young Thai wives. But, Chiang Mai has also places, which are frequented mostly by Thais. Some of them are hidden in small streets, away from the tourists areas, and are hard to find if you are here only for a few days. However, there are a couple of places that are easily accessible, have wonderful atmosphere, and yet are omitted by those visiting the city. Here are 4 of them.

1.  Sudsanan

Location: Sukhaphiban 9, off Hauy Kaw Road

You would never think that the dirt road, full of holes, can lead to one of the nicest bars in Chiang Mai. It is hidden away, but once you get there you will come back again and again.

1

This wooden hut has a chilled out atmosphere and is popular among locals of all ages. They have a live band playing almost every night, but the music is very acoustic and not loud, so you can easily have a conversation without shouting over each other.

They also serve Thai food, which is tasty and not pricey at all – around 60-90 Baht per dish. During the weekend they have an outside barbecue.

2.  Seven Pounds

Location: Te Wan Road

This is one of my favourite bars. It is a tiny place, with a garden at the back, all decorated with random objects. There is a bath tub in the corner, where they used to grow flowers, and now it is left with growing weeds and empty bottles of wine sticking out of it. There is a dentist chair, old telephones and TVs, and really cool ancient chandeliers. This is a place, which a hipster would love.

2

The bar is very quiet during the week. They have a live band during the weekend, which starts playing at around 9pm. The music here is mostly rock and it is much louder than in Sudsanan. Come here if you enjoy a glass of beer and some noisy music .

3

3.  Kamrai Shop

Location: Nimmenhamida Road, it is on your right if you come from Maya Shopping Centre

It is not really a bar, but an alcohol shop, where people come to meet with friends over a drink. The great thing about this place is that it is not only in a great location, but also offers alcohol at retail prices.

I would say that the owners try to attract the ‘middle class’ customers, so they do not sell cheap Thai whiskey. All you can get here is beer, wine, vodka and a good selection of rum and imported whiskeys.

4

You can buy the alcohol to take away with you, or you can ask for a glass and drink it at one of the tables outside.

The shop doesn’t have a kitchen, but you can order food here and they will deliver it to you from the nearby restaurant.

The bar is noisy and lively, but there is no music playing. It is ideal for a drink before a night out.

 4.  The Bus Bar

Location: 11 Kampagdin Road, Across from Imperial Mae Ping Hotel

Looking for a place for a romantic date? Or maybe you would like to have a nice, quiet drink in a place, overlooking the Ping River? Look no further! Bus Bar is a place you are looking for!

It is a cool spot for many reasons. First of all, it really IS a bus bar. They sell drinks out of a double dekker bus, which you can also climb and spend the evening there, if you like. Second reason is the location – it is just by the river and next to an iron bridge (during the night you will see some young Thai couples making out, away from their relatives’ prying eyes) and the views and the atmosphere are quite romantic.

They sometimes have a singer, who usually sings some rock ballads, and if he is not there then they play all the classic rock and pop songs.

5

On Wednesdays you can come here for the Couchsurfing meet up. It starts around 7pm.

Learn more about Chiang Mai >>


Article & images contributed by Joanna Szreder, theblondtravels.com

Still looking for things to do in Chiang Mai? Check out this article onThe Ultimate Guide to 24 Hours in Chiang Mai : Backpacker’s Edition.

More useful resources :