Iceland is definitely not one of those countries that springs to mind when thinking about affordable travel destinations. When you’re talking $10 for a beer, costs can soon mount up and before you know it you’ve spent your annual holiday budget on a single trip! However, there are plenty of ways you can travel Iceland on a budget and still have an awesome time.
If you’re looking for a romantic, relaxing winter city break I can pretty much guarantee that Bruges is the place for you. It’s known as the ‘Venice of the North’ for a reason and this time of year is the perfect time to visit… to quote a certain rather well known film it really is a fairytale town…
Nestled along the Danube, just an hour from Vienna, is Bratislava. One of the smallest and, in our opinion, most perfectly formed capital cities in Europe.
I can’t say that our experience in India was all bad by any means.
We met some nice people, saw some of the most beautiful buildings we’ve ever seen and ate some delicious curries. We took an incredible tiger safari, explored ancient forts and visited some fantastic museums. It’s probably one of the most photogenic countries we’ve visited
Having cancelled our trip to Nepal due to concerns about trekking in monsoon season, we did have some worries about visiting India in June / July. I did tons of research and it looked like if we stuck to our planned two week north India itinerary we’d be more or less okay and even if it did rain, it wouldn’t be 24-7. The predictions turned out to be correct and in spite of a few showers we found that our destinations were fairly monsoon proof at this time of year.
Train travel in India has its ups and downs but generally speaking we were pretty impressed by the efficiency of it all. The trains might not be the most modern and aren’t always the cleanest, but they are the same or better than your average bus in South East Asia and offer a cost effective and pretty quick way of getting round the country.
For once in our travels we decided to slow it down when we reached Indonesia. We were considering cramming in many more islands than we eventually managed, but I for one am glad we decided to minimise our two weeks in Indonesia as a couple of weeks isn’t really that long and sometimes it’s just nice to relax!. There is so much to see in Indonesia that you’d need a lifetime or at least many months to explore it anywhere near properly, but really who has that amount of time on their hands!
When it comes to travelling around the world the community tends to divide itself between those who travel fast and those who travel slow. Oh, and those who go on holiday – but we don’t care much for their type around here do we?
While we’ve visited several countries that are considered to be ‘dangerous’ I seem to find myself dwelling on the safety aspects of travel more frequently as time goes by. By now I’m pretty sure I should be one of those intrepid travellers who is hardened to the drama of travel advisories and is confident to venture out to places where you wouldn’t typically find many holiday makers.
We were pretty worried about how we’d find travelling in Taiwan – it’s not exactly a renowned backpacker destination after all. After doing some research we decided trains were best for inter city travel but didn’t work out how to navigate the cities until arriving in them which was interesting at times! Having heard reports of people getting horribly lost and having real trouble finding any English speakers to help out with buying tickets etc we were expecting it to be a bit of a disaster.
Okay, so we’re now halfway through our month in Thailand, which has gone insanely fast, so I thought I’d do a quick update on how we’re getting on. Some of you might remember we set ourselves some pretty big challenges for our time here, and I figured I’d be accountable on the blog and let you all know whether we’ve met our goals or not.
We’ve also just about planned our route home from here over the next 3 months or so to round off our current travels to around a year from when we first left the UK.
I wasn’t going to write this post as so many bloggers have written amazing things about travelling on this side of the world. As it stands though, our 10 week South America Itinerary and our 1 Month Australia Itinerary are some of our most popular posts. It’s also an opportunity to look back on our adventures as I can hardly believe that a whole 6 months has passed since we arrived to start our 10 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, with a bonus stop off in Fiji. Time flies when you’re having fun!
So many people who visit Taiwan never make it out of Taipei, which I think is a huge mistake when there are so many other awesome cities to see! Despite a somewhat dodgy start, we found loads of awesome things to do in Taichung, and it turned out to be our favourite city in Taiwan. Deciding to save money by walking the 30 minutes from the station to our hostel we found ourselves walking through some pretty sketchy looking areas. Tower blocks, concrete high rises and busy roads made the whole place feel pretty bleak and soulless and we thought we may have made a bit of an error. We figured that we only had a one day in Taichung anyway so perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had to stay in our apartment and get some work done…
Arriving in Taipei was an instant culture shock of the best kind and we loved every minute of our time in this amazing city. It’s one of the few places where my overly high expectations didn’t leave me disappointed and actually as we’ve continued our journey round Taiwan we’ve fallen more and more for the country. It’s a little crazy, very busy and intense at times but the people are so friendly and there’s so much to do that you can’t really help but love it. Do make sure that if you visit Taiwan you leave time to spend at least 3 days in Taipei exploring all the city has to offer.
Penang Island has to be one of the coolest, most laid back places we’ve visited and totally not what we expected from Malaysia. Whether you’re looking for urban creature comforts like wine bars and posh restaurants, art and culture or beautiful beaches and wildlife you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for in this little island as there are just so many amazing things to do in Penang. A short hop from KL by plane (£30 return Air Asia with baggage), or a 4-5 hour journey by bus or train, it’s even cheap and easy to get to.
Despite having studied History to A Level and coming from a family of history graduates and enthusiasts, my knowledge of Asian history was poor to none existent prior to travelling this continent. The majority of my GCSE and A Level history experience as I remember it was, whilst enjoyable, almost entirely centred around the Tudors, the Russian Revolution and WWs 1 and 2.
I wish I could have spent so much longer here. We already had to extend our stay to spend three days in Vang Vieng as to be honest, given the stories about it being a bit of a magnet for travellers acting like dickheads and more of a party town than anything else, we were pretty sure we’d hate it. Whilst we’re not averse to a good night out we’re not exactly major party people, and at nearly (ahem) thirty years old we didn’t fancy hanging out with a bunch of wasted 18 year olds.
Turns out that despite reading many many horror stories about the slow boat from Thailand to Laos (and the reverse journey) it was actually not that bad at all. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s been one of my favourite long distance journeys on this trip.