Since I don’t have idea what present i wanna give to my other half and my princess for their coming birthday, I planned this surprise birthday trip for them!. At first my husband didn’t know the destination until the flight attendance announced it in the plane before we took off. Anyway, It doesn’t matter. He looked very happy and look forward for the surprise.
This is just a relaxing holiday on the beach and pool. Here are the itinerary and cost for 4 days 3 nights.
First night we were staying at Senggigi beach and we moved to Gili Trawangan for the rest 2 days.
Surprise Birthday Card
Surprise Birthday Card Invitation I gave to them 1 week before departure.
Day 1 – 3rd March 2018 | Saturday
Our departure flight time was 6:50am, so we leave the house around 4:00am by Grabcar to Klia2 terminal.
We arrived Lombok Praya International Airport around 10:02am. From here we transferred to our resort at Senggigi by private taxi. This was tricky part, you have to negotiate with them firmly. I went directly to the taxi counter and asked the rate and every counter gave a different rate. First counter offered me IDR285,000. Second counter gave between IDR300,000 – IDR250,000.
Then, I walked away and went to Damri Bus counter. The bus fare per person was IDR40,000. I can’t believe the price was so high. If I’m not mistaken, the bus fare is only IDR25,000. Then 1 taxi driver approached me and asked IDR250,000. I said no and negotiate the rate to IDR200,000 (MYR57.) and he said yes. I know the rate will not more than IDR200,000. So we proceed to his car after I bought a local simkad 2gb+2gb at IDR25,000 (MYR7) at the airport.
Halfway, the driver stop us at Restaurant for lunch without any extra cost. Since we were not hungry, we just ordered drink and some snacks. 1 coconut drink, 1 es teh and fried tempeh cost IDR60,500 (MYR17). Yeah, its expensive.
1:30pm: The taxi driver dropped us at our resort, Living Asia Resort & Spa. We stayed here for 1 night cost at IDR1,392,000 (MYR398)
2:00pm: Checked in to the room. Our room has partial ocean view. Clean room and cozy. Swimming pool and beach just a minute walk.
3:00pm: We went for in-house spa at Champlung Spa.
4:30pm: Complimentary tea and snacks at the bar. My favorite snack was keledek goreng. I can’t help myself from not taking it many time.
5:30pm: We spent time swimming at the pool while watching the sunset. It was a great moment spending time with them. the pool water was so warm and nice.
7:00pm: We rest and took a nap.
9:00pm: Dinner with surprised cake at the end.
11:00pm: We walked at the beach for awhile before heading to our room. Sleep.
Our New Zealand adventure started from North Island. We choose to explore Auckland city, Bay of Islands & Northland for 5 days, then the rest of the trip was in South Island, which I will share the story in another page.
Journey start from Kuala Lumpur KLIA2 terminal by Airasia X and arrives at Auckland International Airport on 11 November 2017. For your info, I was planned the trip a year before the departure date. Flight booking done in November 2016 and accommodation booking done in march 2017. Indeed, there were some minor changes prior to departure date.
This time me and my husband together with my little girl on board for the adventure. Despite of the stressed and drama traveling with toddler, we still smile and enjoy the rest of the trip until we got back to KL.
Travel Period: 10 – 15 November 2017 North Island
Travel Period: 15 – 26 November 2017 South Island
10 November 2017, Friday
Kuala Lumpur -> Auckland (Layover Gold Coast)
D7 206 Low fare Depart: Friday10 Nov 2017, 2355 hrs (11:55PM) Arrive: Saturday11 Nov 2017, 1755 hrs (5:55PM)
Day 1 – Auckland | 11 November 2017, Saturday
Landing in Auckland;
We flew in with Airasia X from Kuala Lumpur and transit in Gold Coast, Australia then landed at Auckland International Airport after 13 hours flight.
We grabbed a simcard deal at the dutyfree shop (before the arrival exit door). Spark 3-IN-1 sim travel pack only at $25 (normal price $29). What’s included? 1GB mobile date + 200 local & 100 international minutes + 200 local & 50 international texts + Free WIFI 1GB per day at designated wifi booths.
We rented a car from Drive NZ for 4 days. They don’t have counter at the Airport, hence we called them for pick up. Cost for renting the Toyota Corolla was MYR343, paid during booking. We travel with toddler so we have to top up another NZD30 for child seat.
Our Accommodation was a guesthouse at Takapuna, 10km from Auckland city. Name of the place isiHoliday cost 1 night for economy double room was NZD79. The room has private entrance and private bathroom. They only have 2 rooms with private bathroom, so make sure you check first which room to book. Common area and kitchen are shared. They also provide Self-prepared breakfast in the fridge such as egg, milk and bread.
We were chatting with the owner, Mr Kevin who are originally from China.
After we checked in to the guesthouse, we seek an information where to eat around the neighborhood area from the host. He’s very friendly and helpful. The neareast town was Takapuna, only few shops are open late night. We managed to get fish & chips for takeaway.
Day 2 – 12 November 2017, Saturday
Auckland city – Paihia, Bay of Islands.
Total KM: 231km
From our stay, we just drive for 10 min to Devonport Ferry Terminal. At this terminal, they have several parking type, from 24hr free parking to charged parking space. We were lucky to get 24hr free parking when we were got there.
We bought return ferry ticket for NZD12.50 per adult to Downtown Auckland via Fullers Ferry. It just a short ferry journey, as you can view Auckland city from far. My kid enjoy it!.
Nothing much to do at the Queens Street, apart from cafes, restaurants, shopping outlet and souvenir shops. We spent time for lunch and shopping at grocery store, Countdown Auckland Metro.
Around 3pm we continue driving to Paihia, its about 3 hours drive.
We reached Paihia in the late evening. We had nice dinner at Alongside, Paihia. Its a seaside restaurant. The blue hour at Paihia was so amazing but a little bit cold though. Make sure to wear thick jacket if you want to stay longer outside.
Our accommodation was Aloha Seaview Motel. Cost NZD110 per night for 1 bedroom apartment. The room complete with kitchen, kitchenette and electric blanket in bed.
First in the morning, we heading to Opua Ferry terminal and cross over to Okiato. 2-way vehicle ferry tickets are NZD26.
Bay Of Islands;
Located at Kerikeri.
We stopped at Kaeo for takeaway lunch since we were late to reach to Ahipara. You can buy Fish & Chips here or have a meal at Indian Restaurant.
We arrived at Ahipara at 3pm. We stayed at seaside holiday home called Escape to 90 mile. This very nice house cost us NZD145 per night. The house complete with kitchen, balcony, living room and 2 bedrooms.
Nearest big town is Kataia. You can get your grocery from Pak’NSave. Distance from Ahipara is 15 min drive. Very small town
We did a bbq dinner that night and stargazing.
Day 4 – 14 November 2017, Monday
Total km: 530km
Giant Sand Dunes;
When it start drizzling we decided to leave the place and continue our long journey. We stopped at Kataia for dinner at Indian Restaurant. Then freshen up at public toilet before continue our 4 hours driving to next destination.
We experienced the most scary route i ever encounter in North New Zealand. Why I called it scary? because we were driving at night and its raining on winding road, foggy and dark. The visibility was so bad, we can’t drive fast and whenever we encounter the car from opposite direction, we have to be extra careful because the road is bit narrow. We passing through Raetea Forest and become so foggy.
Finally we arrived at Kawakawa around 9:30pm at night. We stopped for awhile for toilet break and stretch our legs. There’s only reason why we stop here in Kawakawa is because of infamous public toilet, The Hundertwasser.
The Hundertwasser Toilets is a public toilet located at 60 Gilles Street, the main street of the town Kawakawa on New Zealand’s North Island. The structure was completed in 1999 and named after architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who conceived the project. It is one of few toilet blocks seen as an international work of art and a tourist attraction in its own right.
After the break, we continue another 2.5 hour drive with 1 stop at Wellsford to refuel.
Our stay for tonight was Duncansby Road, whangaparaoa. Distance to Auckland Airport is about 60km. Cost for a night was NZD100. Nice & cosy guesthouse room. Very warm-hearted and friendly hosts, very clean and comfortable accomodation made with love. The views from the room were beautiful, and the location quiet at night.
Day 5 – 15 November 2017, Tuesday
Total KM: 60km
Heading to Auckland Airport after breakfast. We flew with Jetstar direct to Dunedin (South New Zealand). Fare for 2 person was NZD148 and additional NZD17 for baggage checked-in. Infant is foc.
Earlier, we flew from Auckland Domestic terminal via Jetstar at 1:55pm.We arrived at 3:45pm in Dunedin Airport Terminal D. Cost for 2 adult NZD148, 20kg bag NZD17, infant is free.
Destination: Dunedin – Balclutha – Kaka Point – The Nugget Point Lighthouse.
TOTAL KM: 97.7
3:45pm : Arrived Dunedin Airport
4:30pm : Pick up car rental with Ezi Car rental. We rented Toyota Rav4 for 11 days for MYR2281 + NZD40 for 1 child seat.
5:40pm : First stop was Balclutha town. Stop at subway for dinner. After that continue drive to Kaka Point for about 20km.
7:00pm : Checked in to guesthouse. We stayed at Mike & Jenny’s Accommodation Kaka Point for NZD100 per night. Continue drive to The Nugget Point lighthouse for about 10km.
7:40pm : We start walk from carpark to the lighthouse. We arrived after half hour (30min) walk. We catch sunset here at The Nuggets Point Lighthouse. This Department of Conservation Wildlife Reserve at Nugget Point has dramatic views of “The Nuggets.” These wave-eroded rocks, which are likened to the shape of gold nuggets, can be seen from the viewing platform at the Nugget Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1869-70, is 9.5 meter high and situated 76 meter above sea level.
Along the way you may see the fur seal colony on the rocks at sea level to the left of the track and also below the lighthouse, or the many seabirds that make The Nuggets their home.
The Nuggets Point
9:00pm : We drive to Roaring Bay to checkout some penguins. Roaring Bay, which is on the road to Nugget Point, is only a short walk (15 minutes one way) from the car park to a bird-viewing hide. Yellow eyed penguins can be seen here as they move from the sea to their nesting places in coastal vegetation. These shy birds are best viewed late in the afternoon when they come ashore after fishing at sea. Yellow eyed penguins (hoiho) are one of the rarest penguins in the world and they are unique to New Zealand and the sub-Antarctic islands.
We only saw 1 penguin from far. There’s a observertary deck for us to observe the penguin. The deck is like a small hut and very limited window size to watch the penguin, but there’s 1 binocular we can use. Unfortunately, we don’t have any picture of penguin because we don’t have tele- lens to shoot long distance object. Below picture was taken at 9.08pm at night. We do enjoy road trip during end spring season which have long daylight hours.
9:30pm : Drive back to guesthouse, freshen up and making dinner. Rest & sleep.
Destination: Purakaunui Falls – Florence Hill Lookout – Bluff – Stirling Point – Cathedral Caves – Te Anau
TOTAL KM: 543
9:00am : Heading to Owaka for breakfast. Since the cafe here offered very high price, we decided to buy some bread and milk at FourSquare supermarket.
10:15am : Arrived Purakaunui Falls car park. 10 minutes walk from carpark to the waterfall. Here, we spent about more than 1 hour.
The Purakaunui Falls is one of Otago’s iconic, most-photographed sights.
The track through mature beech forest, is suitable for anyone to the top viewing platform. From there the track descends to give the view of the three-tiered falls that’s often seen on calendars and postcards.
Facilities such as carpark, toilets and picnic area are available on site.
11:30am : Heading to Florence Hill Lookout for 20 minute drive.
12:30pm : Arrived at the entrance of Cathedral Caves. Unfortunately, opening hour (low tide time) is at 6pm. Since the low tide time is late evening, we put this on our last visit of the day. Then we decided to come back later at 6pm.
2:00pm : Arrived The Stirling Point near Bluff. Very unfortunate too when the bluff oyster isn’t in season.
3:00pm : Late lunch at local chinese restaurant in Bluff town. We did take away some food for dinner later.
4:00pm : We drive back to Cathedral Caves. We planned to go Curio Bay using the coastal route which is unsealed road for 10km start from Haldane. Another unfortunate event, we were almost reach to Curio Bay but the road was closed. We have to turn back and continue straight to Cathedral Caves.
Situated just off the Southern Scenic Route, Catlins, New Zealand at the northern end of Waipati beach, south of Tautuku.
From the car park at the end of the 2km access road (an old logging road) there is a pleasant 20 minute walk through natural podocarp and kamahi forest, over a metalled track leading down to a 10 minute walk along Waipati beach. At the south end of Waipati beach is Chaslands Head, the historic Catlins site of the shipwreck of The Otago.
6:30pm : We reached at the car park. After paying the entrance fee of NZD5 per adult, we quickly walk to the caves. Bush walk to beach is 15 minutes (one-way). Along beach to cave is 10 minutes (one-way). Always check low tide time before the visit. Visiting hour is strictly 2 – 3 hour only.
Access is open two hours before low tide until one hour after low tide. Exceptions – no access before 7.30am or after 8.30pm. Access is checked daily and may be closed at short notice due to weather or sea conditions. Information Centres can be found at Balclutha, Owaka and Waikawa , or official website https://www.cathedralcaves.co.nz will usually have the latest information however due to the remote location the most up to date information will be on the notice boards at the Southern Scenic Route entrance to the Caves Car Park.
Cathedral Caves are a highlight for visitors to The Catlins. Located in cliffs at the northern end of pristine Waipati Beach, they have attracted international interest for their length – the two sea-formed passages together measure just on 200 metres – and their impressive height, up to 30 metres.
Popular for decades, this outstanding natural feature is 15km south of the village of Papatowai and 2km off the highway. From the car park a one-kilometre walking track descends through lush coastal forest to the beach. Visitors cross Maori freehold land, which is managed by a trust.
Fact about The Caves
Over tens of thousands of years, crashing waves have gouged out the caves in a cliff of Jurassic sandstone about 160million years old. The two caves, which have separate entrances 40 metres apart, eventually became joined at the back during the long process of forming them. Because the transport of beach sand is affected by storms and currents, cave entrances may have rocky pools or sandy floors, depending on the sea’s actions.
In contrast to limestone caves, which are formed from chemical action as well as physical process of water pounding on rock, the Cathedral Caves were created by waves eroding the harder sandstone. Near-vertical fractures in the sandstone provided weak points for the wave energy to slowly dismantle the sandstone faces. In time the overhanging rocks collapsed, creating caves with cathedral-like formations. – courtesy from official page.
8:45pm : We started to tracked back to the carpark. This time, I feel a little bit harder to climb up to the cliff. Ascending is lot more tiring than a descending. The night getting dark, I was the last person walking back to the shelter, yes I feel eery walking alone in the forest.
9:30pm : Once arrived at the carpark, the guard was waiting for us to close the gate. Then we quickly leave the place and had dinner in the car while continuing our journey to Te Anau.
1:00am : Reached Te Anau after 3 hours drive with 1 stop at Gore for fueling petrol. We stayed at Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park, MYR446 per night. The hotel reception was closed but we already informed them that we are late, so he left the note sticked on the reception’s door and the key was in the room. Good job!.
Day 3 – 17 November 2017 , Friday
Destination: Mirror Lake – Milford Sound Cruise – Lake Gunn – Te Anau – Queenstown
TOTAL KM: 404
6:45am : Woke up early and enjoy the lake Te Anau with my little girl.
7:30am : Prepare own breakfast.
9:30am : Checkout from the lodge and continue drive to Mirror Lake.
10:30am : Arrived Mirror Lake.
12:00noon : Arrived Milford Sound. We took Milford Sound Cruise nzd50 pp. We booked best deal 12:30pm cruise time with Go Orange! but when we arrived at the jetty, they were not sailing today. They put us at Real Journey Cruise. What a wonderful opportunity they upgraded us to Real Journey Scenic Cruise (normal price NZD76 pp). Cruise duration was 2 hour and we get free picnic lunch box.
12:30pm : Cruise start.
2:30pm : Cruise finished. We continue driving to Te anau and make few stop along the journey. There are plenty of viewing point and scenery not to be missed.
4:20pm : We stop at Lake Gunn. A small lake between Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound, it lies close to the New Zealand State Highway 94 (the Milford Sound Road) and the Divide of the Southern Alps.
4:55pm : Stop at Mackay creek doc campground for taking pictures of lupins.
7:00pm : Arrived Te Anau for dinner.
11:00pm : Arrived at our lodging in Queenstown after drive more than 2 hours. We stayed for 2 nights here.
Picnic Lunch box
Having lunch on the cruise.
Day 4 – 18 November 2017, saturday
Destination: Lake Hayes – Arrowtown – Queenstown – Kawarau Gorge – Cromwell – Queenstown Skyline
TOTAL KM: 158.7
9:00am : We do some laundry and breakfast.
12:00pm : We start our driving trip very late today. First stop was Lake Hayes.
12:40pm : Arrived Arrowtown. Arrowtown is charming and quirky – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. You’ll be enchanted by Historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand treasure.
1:30pm : Shotover jet.
2:30pm : Arrived Queenstown for lunch. We had lunch at Erik’s Fish & Chips.
4:00pm : Kawarau Gorge suspended bridge.
4:45pm : Pillars of the king (LOTR).
5:30pm : Jones Family Fruits stall in Cromwell for Tea time & Ice cream. After that, we back to lodging and get changed.
8:00pm : Queenstown Skyline Gondola. Ticket for gondola ride was NZD35 pp, infant is free. We aimed for sunset and night view of Queentown skyline. We had drink at the restaurant while enjoying the sunset.
Skyline Gondola opens 9am daily. Access closes at 9pm for uplift from the bottom terminal. The last departure from the top terminal is when the restaurant closes.
10:00pm : We descending and look for late dinner at Queenstown.
10:30am : Checkout guesthouse and went to the lake Tekapo again before heading to next destination.
12:30pm : Stop at Farm Barn Cafe near Fairlie town for tea & snacks. We spent time feed the sheeps.
2:00pm : Stop at Geraldine for some shopping & late lunch.
Best Salmon meal we had in Geraldine town.
5:00pm : Checked in to our B&B at Staveley in late afternoon. The host welcomed us at the front door once we reached to their place. The place called Staveley Heights Bed & Breakfast, rate per night we got from booking.com was NZD155 per room. Its very nice room facing the farm. This is one of the finest B&B’s we have ever stayed, the couple who run this place keep it the place very comfortable and clean. Location, views and the measure of comfort is of the highest quality. Unfortunately we only had the one night. Could have easily stayed longer!.
8:00pm : We drove to nearest town, Methven for dinner. We had thai cuisine there.
10:00pm : Rest & sleep
Day 8 – 22 November 2017, Wednesday
Destination: Lake Clearwater – Rakaia Gorge – Darfield – Castle Hill – Lake Pearson – Arthur’s Pass – Greymouth
TOTAL KM: 406
6:00am : Woke up and drive to Lake Clearwater. Journey approximately 45KM from my accommodation. The journey consists 10km gravel road to reach the lake.
7:00am : Reached Lake Clearwater. We spent about an hour here. After that drove back to guesthouse for breakfast at 9:00am.
10:30am : Checked out guesthouse and continue to Rakaia Gorge.
11:15am : Stop at Rakaia Gorge
12:00noon : Bought takeaway lunch and some snacks at FourSquare.
1:45pm : Reached at Castle Hill. The grand limestone rock battlements of Kura Tawhiti led early European travellers to name this unique area Castle Hill. The area is rich in Maori history.
4:00pm : Lake Pearson.
5:00pm : Otira Viaduct Lookout, Arthur’s pass national park.
7:00pm : Greymouth. Shopping at The Warehouse Greymouth and had dinner at KFC.
10:00pm : Arrived at our accommodation at Punakaiki. Rest & sleep.
Day 9 – 23 November 2017, Thursday
Destination: Punakaiki – Westport – Hanmer Spring
TOTAL KM: 298
8:00am : Prepare own breakfast.
10:30am : Reached at Pancake Rocks & Blowholes. This is an all weather walk around the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Looking like giant pancakes the curious limestone formations are especially spectacular at high tide in a westerly sea. The blowholes are at their best around high tide when there is a westerly swell.
3:30pm : Arrived Tauranga Bay Seal Colony. Walk from Tauranga Bay carpark to Tauranga Bay Seal Colony viewpoint (30 min return) overlooking the New Zealand fur seal/kekeno breeding colony. Kekeno can be seen here all year round, numbers changing depending on the season. The busiest time of year is the breeding season from November to January. There are picnic facilities, interpretive displays and public toilets here.
4:15pm : Arrived at Cape Foulwind lighthouse. Walk from the carpark to Lighthouse (15 min return).
7:00pm : Stop at Victoria Forest Park.
7:45pm : Poplars Range near Lewis Pass. Stop when we encountered a rainbow.
9:00pm : Checked in lodging at Hanmer Spring.
10:00pm : Went out for supper & drinks.
3:00am : Stargazing.
5:00am : Rest & sleep.
Day 10 – 24 November 2017, Friday
Destination: Hanmer Spring – Kaikoura – Hawarden
TOTAL KM: 286
10:00am : Checked out from lodging. Walked around Hanmer Spring town and had breakfast at local cafe. I met a malaysian lady who are on WHV.
11:30am : We started our long journey to Kaikoura. There are a number of ways to get to Kaikoura from Hanmer Springs. The most scenic route is via the Inland Road which takes you past the entrance to the ski village of Mount Lyford, or you can take the Leader Road. The Leader Road incorporates coastal and rural farming views which is start from the Waiau Township. On both routes there are plenty of photo opportunities for the avid photographer.
2:10pm : Finally we reached Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a base for wildlife experiences of all kinds – it’s also a great place to eat crayfish/Lobster. So, our first stop was World famous Seafood BBQ. Here, we ordered half of crayfish for NZD52.
3:45pm : We arrived at The Point Sheep Shearing show at 4pm. Ticket price adult was NZD12 and children was NZD5.
4:30pm : We visited Peninsula Seal Colony & Walkway near the Point Kean Viewpoint. Seals laze around on the rocks lapping up all the attention. Give them a wide berth (10m), and never get between them and the sea – they will attack if they feel cornered and can move surprisingly fast. Since the uplift of the coastline during the 2016 earthquake, the seals have moved further from the road and car park, so keep a close eye on tides. The best moment i ever had here i can watch seals very close.
6:00pm : We start driving to Hawarden, our overnight stay place.
8:00pm : After 2 hours drive, we reached to Bentleys Country Stay. Very nice country house. We prepared own dinner and we had a hot bath at Jacuzzi provided by the host. Rest and sleep.
Day 11 – 25 November 2017, Saturday
10:00am : Checked out from the house and heading to Waipara. Made a few stop along the journey.
10:45am : Visited Glenmark Station.
11:15am : Reached Waipara Hills Winery. We had lunch here and visit the winery. Farmland, vineyards and olive groves characterise the Waipara region, which is known for its wine and food – an excellent place to pause for refreshment.
1:00pm : Visited Lavender fields at Waikuku town.
3:00pm : Arrived at our stay in Christchurch. After get changed, we went out for walk at Christchurch town. Places we visited; Christchurch Cathedral Square, New Regent Street, Cashel Street for shopping, Antigua Boatsheds, Christchurch Botanic Garden.
8:30pm : We had dinner at Bloody’s Mary restaurant. Very long wait, suggest to make a reservation first before come. We waited for more than 1 hour for a table.
11:00pm : Rest & sleep.
Day 12 – 26 November 2017, Sunday
Last day in NZ. We went to Burger King for breakfast. Visited their shopping street before heading to airport.
12:00noon : Arrived airport. returned car rental and proceed to AirNZ counter.
Time: 2:00pm , arrive 3:20pm
3:20pm : Arrived Auckland Airport. Fly back to KL from Auckland Airport.
This is it, Tulip flower exhibition in Singapore is over. The exhibition was held from 1st April to 7th May 2017 at Flower Dome, Garden by The Bay Singapore. The theme of Tulipmania 2017 is Tulipmania Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. He was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. He created about 2,100 artworks during his lifetime. He died on 29 July 1890 when he was aged 37.
I am very proud to have visited the exhibition last weekend. I brought along my husband and little girl to enjoy the moment there. The entrance fee is normal like usual day, SGD16 per adult and kids below 3 years old is free. This is single entry to Flower Dome only (where the Tulipmania exhibited). You may get the two-conservatory tickets at SGD28 per adult. This ticket you can enter Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. However, local residents fee is much lower price.
My trip this time was driving from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. You must have an Autopass card to let your vehicle to enter Singapore. The parking facility at Garden by The Bay is very nice and cheap, SGD0.03 per minute.
Eating place is also easy to find and very convenient. There are Satay by The Bay, where you can try their famous satay and other varieties of food such as steamboat, hawker food, seafood and many more. Halal certified McDonald and Cafe Crema are near to Garden’s Visitor Centre. Bakerzin, Conservatory Cafe and Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant are between Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Meanwhile, Pollen is inside the Flower Dome.
Hope you enjoy viewing the photos. Interested for free watermark photos, do contact me. Thank you!.
Austria is a country rich with history, beautiful places, traditions and activities that are distinct to the area. Visitors are drawn as much for the scenic beauty of this Alpine republic’s provinces as they are for splendid cities like Vienna (Wien), the historic capital, and beautiful Salzburg, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One of Europe’s smallest countries, Austria is predominantly a nation of upland areas and high mountains, with the Eastern Alps occupying a good 60 percent of its territory.
Trip in December 2011 | €1 = MYR4.60
First stop was Salzburg, stayed for 3 nights then took train to Vienna. From Salzburg we make a day trip to Hallstat. People says, stop by Hallstat when u are in Austria. Indeed it was a beautiful place to see and capture your great moment there. Its a small town and of course very touristy.
Day 1 Salzburg | 24 December 2015
We stayed at Best Western Plus Amedia Art Salzburg for 3 nights, double room with ensuite bathroom costs us €172 (around MYR791). One of the best hotels I’ve been to, the staff were extremely welcoming and polite. The hotel room was huge, clean and cleverly designed, which have some touch of Mozart’s music.
Location is not in the center but there are bus stops right in front of the hotel that will take you to the center or to the main station in few minutes (buses run quite frequently during the day). Nearest train station, Salzburg Gnigl is just 300 metres away.
Best Western Plus Amedia Art Salzburg location
Since we arrived hotel at night time, we only had a chance to eat dinner at the nearest eating place then back to hotel and rest.
Day 2 Salzburg | 25 December 2015
Today we spent full day in Salzburg Town. Didn’t purchase any special passes for transportation, from our hotel just hop on city bus and drop-off at Salzburg Makartplatz bus stop. From here, we start our walking tour towards to Fortress Hohensalzburg.
Places we were encountered while walking towards Fortress Hohensalzburg;
First part walking map.
Dreifaltigkeitskirche, Catholic Church. This building just right on your left once u stop at the Salzburg Makartplatz bus stop. This is nice Roman Catholic church in the center of Salzburg. Anyway, we didn’t go inside the church. we proceed to walking to the next places of interest.
Dreifaltigkeitskirche, Catholic Church.
Mirabellgarten ( Mirabell Gardens). A beautiful formal garden but only once the flowers have bloomed. Until then it’s just a bit bland and waiting for late spring/summer. Visit during winter, only few flower can be seen here. Mirabell Gardens is one of the most important shooting locations from the famous Hollywood musical “The Sound of Music”. In the film, Maria and the children dance around the Pegasus Fountain in front of the palace, singing the song “Do Re Mi”.
Mirabell Palace. Mirabell is a woman’s name from Italy, a compilation of two words: mirabile “admirable” and bella “beautiful”. Mirabell Palace and Angel Staircase open daily from 8 am-6 pm and admission is free.
After that we walked towards the Salzach river and enjoy the riverview of Salzburg. As your eyes roam across the city of Salzburg, it’s almost as if you are leafing through the pages of a fairy tale.
Day 3 Hallstatt | 26 December 2015
Today we make a day trip to Hallstatt, 75km from Salzburg. Catch a bus to Bad Ischl Bahnhof (Bus terminal) about 1 hour, then you’ll have to transfer to a train. Then get off the train at Hallstatt Station and take a ferry across the lake. This route will take you past some of the most scenic lakes of the Salzkammergut.
Day 4 Vienna | 27 December 2015
Early morning catch a train to Vienna, 2hour 30min journey. Our initial plan was skip Vienna from our itinerary. Since direct train to Prague was canceled and changed to new route which is stop at Vienna first then connecting train to Prague, why not we detour in Vienna. It’s like we have won a jackpot!.
Munich was our stop for Germany trip. Why we choose Munich? Munich is the capital and the most populated city in the German state of Bavaria, on the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is also the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, and the 12th largest city in the European Union.
Bavaria’s capital, is home to centuries-old buildings and numerous museums. The city is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and its beer halls, including the famed Hofbräuhaus, founded in 1589. In the Altstadt (Old Town), central Marienplatz square contains landmarks such as Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (town hall), with a popular glockenspiel show that chimes and reenacts stories from the 16th century.
Things to see in Munich was another reason, we want to see Fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle. It is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.
Trip in December 2015 | €1 = MYR4.60
Departure: 15:05 Helsinki (Vantaa), Terminal* 1
Arrival: 16:05 Riga
Flight: BT304 / Economy class / Basic ticket, E
Operated by: airBaltic, Boeing 737-500
Layover at Riga for 1 hour then catch Air Baltic to Munich.
Departure: 17:00pm Riga
Arrival: 18:15 Munich, Terminal* 1
Flight: BT223 / Economy class / Basic ticket, E
Operated by: airBaltic, BOEING 737-300 (WINGLETS)
In this page, I will tell about how I maximise 1 day in Munich. On the first day, was traveling day, we flew from Helsinki to Munich via Airbaltic. It was night time once we reach at our accommodation.
6:15pm: Arrived Munich Airport and quickly catch train direct to Munich city then to nearest station to our accommodation at A&O München Laim. Total train journey was 45 minutes. We have to walk about 8-10 min from the Laim station to our hostel.
A&O München Laim walking map
Hotel: A&O München Laim
Address: Landsberger Straße 338 Laim,
München, 80687, Germany
Cost: Twin Room with Private Bathroom – €126 for 3 nights
After checked in done, we went out to look something to eat. There are Italian restaurant just across the road named Nuova Italia. You can dining-in or takeaway from this restaurant. They make simple pizzas for takeaway which you can pay cheaper price than dining-in. So we prefer takeaway and eat it at our hostel’s lounge where we can get free flow of coffee and tea. Regular Pizza Tonno e Cipolla at €6.50 only.
| 22 December 2015 |
Today’s plan was visit to Top sight around Munich. We start early morning to visit some places on my wishlist. Never buy special pass for the public transport, we bought normal train and tram tickets throughout the day. Here’s places of interest we got a chance to visit for 1 whole day;
National Museum/Haus d.Kunst
Haus der Kunst in Munich is a key global center for contemporary art located in Munich, Germany. We didn’t visit the interior of the building.
English Garden/Englischer Garten
English Garden is one of the largest urban parks in the world. The layout has undergone constant change throughout the centuries as new buildings and green spaces were added time and again.
Created in 1789 the English Garden is situated in the heart of Munich and offers many leisure activities: Not only is the park used for picnicking in summer by hundreds of people, you can also go for a swim in the Eisbach, an icy stream running through the area, and enjoy a beer in several different beer gardens, such as the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) or the Seehaus (“lake house”) at the Kleinhesseloher Lake.
One of the most special attractions of the English Garden are the surfers in the Eisbach: A stone step constructed under water at the mouth of the stream creates a standing wave that can be used for surfing all year round. Spectators can watch the expert surfers perform daring stunts from a bridge on Prinzregentenstraße. We went on an absolutely freezing day and there were still people surfing
Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower)
St. Luke Church/Lukas Church
St. Luke Church/Lukas Church
Slightly off from the tourists beaten path, this beautiful church is undoubtedly among the most beautiful in the city, or perhaps better the outside facade and beautiful steeples. Really huge and absolutely a must-see attraction, but only if you have enough time, Munich reserve wonderful surprises, and this is one of those.
Church of St. Luke, also called Lukas Church, is the third Protestant-Lutheran church in Munich. The church was built in 1893-1896 according to plans by Albert Schmidt. St. Luke is the only almost completely preserved Protestant church of historicism in Munich. The location near the river Isar is beautiful, especially when the sun goes down behind the church.
From left, The Feldherrnhalle, The Theatinerkirche and Mercedes-Benz Gallery
It is used as a central square for the capital city. The square even has political importance: in 1923 Hitler’s coup attempt was stopped here; however, 10 years later National Socialism was glorified. Today the popular Open-Air Classics Concert take place yearly at Odeonsplatz. In the vicinity is the Hofgarten (“court garden”) in which many Munich residents meet to play boules and relax.
Odeonsplatz is also the northern boundary of the pedestrian zone and the starting point of Ludwigstraße. Around the square are the royal residence including court garden, the Feldherrnhalle, the Theatinerkirche, some city palace and the elongated bazaar building.
I should say this is nice spot in Munich to hangout and visit. Here, you will see many people having their a cup of coffee and sitting down watching sunset. You can buy yours at Starbucks and do the same.
Another good place to stop by was Mercedes-Benz Gallery. Not just another outlet of Mercedes Benz but more a real show room with big windows inviting you to stop and take a look. From old timer to concept cars, ever-changing exhibitions show you that cars can be quite exciting.
Don’t forget to get your personalized dummy card for free here. You can treat as souvenir to bring back home.
Done Odeonsplatz, we walk towards Marienplatz, along the way we stop for shopping spree. Among the well-known and affordable brands are H&M, Mango and Zara. During X’mas sale you will get a lot of good deals.
Mercedes Benz Gallery
This prominent public square, the largest in Munich, still stands as the center of social activity in the city, much as it has throughout history. From Marienplatz you can perfectly start a shopping spree. No matter which direction you go, there are shops everywhere. The pedestrian zone with the most shops is Kaufinger Straße, which leads from Marienplatz to Karlsplatz (Stachus). I went into my favourite shop, H&M and get a good deals for winter wear.
We went during the Christmas time was for the Christmas markets/Weihnachtsmarkt. The experience was fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone who loves Christmas. There were many things to look at and buy, the food was delicious and it felt so lively. It’s a very enjoyable experience for us and once again, I would totally recommend going for the Christmas markets.
What will you see around Marienplatz?
New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) – Impressive building. Must to see in Munich. Good example of neo-gothic architecture style. You can go also to the tower for nice sightviews of Munich old town. In the building is the city municipal offices, restaurant, clock tower. Went during christmas and it was bustling with people, music and christmas markets!. recommended!.
Marienhof (Park Marienhof) – Really nice park with many banches to sit and rest after walking along city streets. Big open green space and relaxing ambient in the middle of the city.
Altes Rathaus – Town hall dating back to the 14th century with gothic facelifts after lightning damage & bombing.
Frauenkirche – Cathedral with 2 towers top, this restored Gothic church, bombed in 1945, known for its legendary Devil’s footprint.
Munich Christmas Market on Marienplatz.
End for today. Continue reading Day 3 in Germany here.
Why visit Finland?. Many reason to visit this little hidden gem located far up North. While they might be small in size, they’re big in things to discover. The air is one of the cleanest in the world and landscapes are second to none. You can find thousands of lakes and forests – which are never far away from wherever you are. You also can pay a visit to Santa, admire the Northern Lights or experience the peace of the countryside & cottage life.
Trip in December 2015 | €1 = MYR4.60
This was unplanned trip since I’m expecting and due in March 2016, my husband asking me “why don’t we travel to Europe?” …. “You will be busy with baby next year”… I put a smile on my face and i quickly do all the bookings and planning within 2 months before the departure.
It was a great experience traveling with baby bump. Did a spectacular walk in cold winter which I never expect I could had done it with 6 months baby belly.
The journey started from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam Schipol Airport, Netherlands back in December 2015. Before fly to Finland, we stayed in Amsterdam for 3 nights. Then we flew with Norwegian Airlines with layover at Arlanda Stockholm Airport for 6 hours, and yeah! we slept at the cafe couch at the Airport since the connecting flight to Helsinki, Finland was at 6:40am next day. Cost of this flight was US$214.08 for 2 adults (baggage 20kg added).
Departing Flight – Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015
Norwegian Air Shuttle Flight 4258
BOEING 737 800 JET Airline confirmation: 7DKTZY
From Amsterdam (AMS) 09:40pm – Dec 16, Wed
To Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) 11:40pm – Dec 16, Wed
Flight Duration: 2hr 00min
Return Flight – Thursday, Dec 17, 2015
Norwegian Air Shuttle Flight 4281
BOEING 737 800 JET Airline confirmation: 7DKTZY
From Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) 06:40am – Dec 17, Thu
To Helsinki (HEL) 08:35am – Dec 17, Thu
Flight Duration: 0hr 55min
We checked out outside of the terminal for awhile.
In Finland, we only visit Helsinki and Saariselkä, Inari.Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital, sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central avenue, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum, tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present. Also on Mannerheimintie are the imposing Parliament House and Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. Ornate red-brick Uspenski Cathedral overlooks a harbor.
Saariselkä, Inari is a resort village in northern Finland. It’s a gateway to the trails and ski areas of mountainous Urho Kekkonen National Park. The village’s Destination Northernmost Europe exhibition has a panorama theater with films on the region’s plant and animal life, including reindeer.
Day 1 Helsinki | 17 December 2015
8:35am: Arrived Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Kept our luggage at coin-locker store at the airport. Storage costs EUR 5 / 24 h in a small locker (height 56 cm, depth 56 cm, width 28cm) and 6 €/24h in a large locker (height 86 cm, depth 78 cm, width 36 cm).
9:30am : We took train from Helsinki Airport Station (Lentoaseman Asema), 500 meters from Helsinki-vantaa airport. Train journey was about 40 minutes to the Helsinki City at €5.50 one-way per person. We met nice girl from Malaysia who studied here in Finland. She so friendly and talkative.
Once we arrived Helsinki city, we bought 1 Day tickets for public transport for €9 per ticket.
Places we visited:
Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki – Russian-designed Orthodox cathedral. Hilltop center of the Finnish Orthodox faith with an ornate exterior & lavish interior decoration.
Suomenlinna – UNESCO-listed 18th-century sea fortress. World Heritage site accessed by ferry, with cannons, tunnels, a dockyard, museums & a brewery.
Helsinki Senate Square – Neoclassical architecture in large public square with the cathedral, Government Palace & university.
Helsinki Cathedral – Landmark 19th-century religious edifice. Steps lead up to Carl Ludvig Engel’s grand neoclassical cathedral, topped with an iconic green dome.
11:00pm : Heading back to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Our stay was nearby the airport about 1km away. Very comfortable twin room with shared bathroom. Per night at €50.40 booked via booking.com
5:00am : We woke up early to catch an early flight to Ivalo. We flew via Finnair at 5:50am
Departure: Vantaa (HEL), Helsinki, Finland
Date: 12/18/2015 05:50am
Arrival: Ivalo (IVL), Ivalo, Finland
Duration 01H 35m
Finnair Boarding Pass
Me arrived at Ivalo Airport
Once arrived Ivalo airport, We quickly catch a shuttle bus to Saariselka, Inari. Journey about 30 minutes (fare €10 per person).
During our trip, day light hours was only 2 hour. This is known as the polar night when the sun never fully rises. Snow reflects the light, too, so it may seem brighter than it actually is. There is also a so-called blue moment just before dawn and again before it gets dark when the scenery has a blueish tone.
9:00am in Saariselka
As usual, if you are staying in expensive countries, first thing to consider is self catering. So, the tips are book an accommodation with fully-equipped kitchenette and spend time in supermarket to buy some groceries. Mainly, I cooked vegetable soups, stir-fried seafood and grilled fish. I do not practice bringing food from Malaysia except Extra-Hot peri sauce, this will become handy for some extra spicy taste in your cooking.
In Saariselka, there’s only 1 supermarket available, Supermarket Kuukkeli. They have just about everything you need and quite cheap. There is also a good cafe there serving good food and reasonably priced. Staff in the place all very helpful. We spent €14.35 only for 3 nights grocery.
First day in Saariselka, we just checked out the town by foot, buy grocery and rest. In mid night, we took taxi went up to highest point of Saariselka town, Kaunispaa just to check if we get to see the Aurora but failed since the skies so gloomy and snowing heavily. We only waited for half hour because the weather was too cold to be outside and the cafe was closed.
Day 3 Saariselka | 19 December 2015
Today, initial plan was to catch a bus to Rovaniemi, Finland to visit Santa Claus Village. Distance from Saariselka is about 4 hours journey by bus. Bus fare is €46.60 for local bus & €50.20 for Express bus ( per person). Check out here for fares and timetable https://www.matkahuolto.fi/en/. We missed the early bus then decided to go for plan B, took shuttle bus went up tu Kaunispaa again.
Kaunispaa has spectacular view from mountain top. At night it is an excellent place to watch the aurora from. But we failed to see it last night. It has a souvenir shop and a restaurant too. We had a cup of Cappuccino at €3.70 at Huippu Kaunispaan cafe. Spent time playing with snow and snap some photos.
In the late afternoon, we went to Santa’s Hotel Tunturi to have lunch. It’s a bit extraordinary for us to tried out reindeer meat in Finland. We ordered 1 poro wrap (reindeer meat) at €16.50 and Paivan Kala (fish of the day) at €14.50. vat at 14%, included. Turned out very well taste and juicy. After that, we went back to our “home” to rest before another long night to catch an Aurora.
Saariselkä is an excellent place to set off on the Urho Kekkonen National Park nature trails. The Saariselkä area’s nature trails have their starting point at Saariselkä tourist resort at the Urho Kekkonen National Park gate. The nature trails are marked in the terrain with green poles which carry pinecone symbols.
We went hiking in middle of the night at Iisakkipää Nature Trail, 3 km, leads along the lower slopes of Iisakkipää Fell through a dell with a stream. The nature trail is a circle trail the starting point for which is at Saariselkä tourist resort, at the national park gate near Tunturi Hotel. The boards along the trail have text in Finnish, English, French and German. The trail is suited for inexperienced hikers. During winter the trail doubles as a snowshoeing trail. Means, we didn’t finish the loop. we tracked back our footprints back to our “home”. Yeah! another failed attempt to catch the Aurora light.
Day 4 Saariselka | 20 December 2015
Today, we went to Santa’s Home at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort west village.
We took a taxi to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort east village first before heading to west village. Taxi fare was so expensive, €28 one-way.
What’s so unique about Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort? Kakslauttanen is one of the best places in the world to see the magical glow of the Northern Lights. The season lasts from late August to late April. They provide the perfect opportunity for observing Aurora Borealis as the season is long, there is virtually no light pollution and very few trees obscuring the sky nearby. And naturally the view from their Glass Igloos and Kelo-Glass Igloos is unbeatable. However, they cannot guarantee Northern Lights or any other natural phenomenon. There are many things that affect the visibility of the Northern Lights like magnetic activity, position of the sun and cloudiness of the sky.
Meanwhile in West Village, you can visit Santa’s Home. After all these centuries, Santa has finally decided to unlatch the door’s of his home to the public.
Day 5 Saariselka – Ivalo| 21 December 2015
Woke up early, had breakfast and catch early bus to Ivalo, Airport.
We took bus Eskelisen Lapin Linjat at 8:30am. Fare 1 adult is €10.00 direction Kiilopaa – Ivalo.
Next destination is Munich, Germany. Flew from Helsinki via Air Baltic layover at Riga, Latvia for 1 hour.
My visit to The Netherlands was back in December 2015 and its winter season. Although it was winter cold but no snow for the rest of the trip. I spent 4 days together with my husband alone. There are few places we visited during the trip based on our interest. In day 1, we already missed few places for visit since we were jet lagged. We decided to walk around the hotel for food and back to sleep. Our day only started on the second day.
We didn’t buy any special passes for transportation. We use daily tickets bought from the machine like what locals do. We don’t have any proper itineraries, but we do have what’s in mind. Throughout the 4 days trip, mode of transportation we took was train and walking.
About meals, mostly we eat fast-food, street-food and Indian restaurant. Breakfast was in the hotel package, means we don’t have to worry about what to eat before visiting places of interest. I was on 6 months pregnancy during the trip, means I have to stop whenever i feel uncomfortable. Later I will share some tips about traveling while you’re pregnant.
Our flight was on 12 December 2015 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport direct to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Flight: MH0016. Departing time was 11:40pm (23:40) and arrived on Sunday, Dec 13, 06:30am. Flight cost for return tickets was RM3512 per person via MALAYSIA AIRLINES.
View from the hotel.
Park Plaza Hotel Amsterdam
Once arrived airport Schiphol we catch city train to Amsterdam Central Station, nearest station to our hotel. We stayed at Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam for €530.91 for 3 nights. The taxes and services was included in the price.
We checkout the nearby town first since we were too early arrived at the hotel. The earliest we can checked in that time was at 11am. I stumbled upon when stepped my foot on Amsterdam Central. No wonder people are interested to repeat their trip to here. Very fascinating and unique town. Let me share places which I managed to visit and do in my 4 days trip.
Just get lost in narrow alley Amsterdam Central, checkout their building architecture. High number of tourists who visit each year, Amsterdam is known for its historical attractions, for its collections of great arts, and for the characteristic colour and savour of its old sections, which have been remained in good condition.
You may grab any walking tour map from the hotel or airport, plan yourself for 1 or 2 days walking tour around Amsterdam Central. Definitely you won’t get bored walking to the same alley repeatedly.
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Dam Good Coffee
Looking for Giant Windmills ? Head over to Zaanse Schans, only 40 mins by train from Amsterdam Central Station. Alight at Zaandijk Zaanse Schans Station and walk about 17 min.
The Zaanse Schans is a residential area in which the 18th and 19th centuries are brought to life. Stroll past the bakery museum and enjoy the smell of fresh cookies, or take a look at the warehouse where clogs are made. You should be sure not to miss the cheese factory where you can sample them too, pewter foundry and the various windmills. The Zaanse Schans is a unique part of the Netherlands, full of wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops. Make a cycling or sailing trip, browse the shops or treat yourself at the pancake restaurant. A day out at the Zaanse Schans in North Holland is fun and educational.
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With its ancient buildings, cobbled streets and winding waterways, the medieval city of Haarlem is one of the most photographic destinations in the Netherlands. You can easily reach here by train (just 15 min from Amsterdam Central Station).