Johor Bahru: Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park

Opened on December 2015, Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park is one of the newest themeparks in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. This 3-in-1 park caters to anyone of all ages, i would definitely recommend this place for family day or friends outing!

Getting There

The most convenient way to get there is by car. On a clear traffic road, you can easily get to Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park within 25-minutes drive from City Square Mall. You can find directions from here

Our initial plan was to take a public bus (Bus BET6/ BeXTRA6) from JB Sentral Bus Terminal. The chart on bus terminal stated that the bus interval is every 30-minutes and the journey will take about 1-hour+. We waited patiently for 40-minutes and decided to ask the bus conductor for the bus timing. He told us the bus won’t be here for another 1-hour or more! In the end we called for Grab which cost us RM15 (USD4). 

Berth 2 to take Bus BET6

1. Adventure Park

At the entrance, you will be greeted by the 2-tier of obstacles courses (5-meters & 9-meters) before seeing the ticketing counter.

This high elements course has 7 course routes with 51 different obstacles. There are 2 areas where the adventure rope course lies: one outside the entrance of the park (sheltered) and the other facing the water park (outdoor). You will begin with a mock obstacle course being taught how to use the equipment (Karabina & Safe Roller) and maneuver along the safety lines. They even had a mini zip line where we were taught to zip down safely.

Sheltered: Loop 1 to Discover, proceed to Loop 2 & 3 to Explore and Navigate. Loop 4 for the Challenger.

Overview of Adventure Park (Sheltered)

Cargo Net

Half-Criss Crossing

Super Zipline

Outdoor: Hop on to Tarzan Swinger at Loop 5 & 6. Do a Big Zipper at Loop 7 to complete your course!

Tarzan Swing

Jamor Crossing

There were only 2 of us monkeying around and took us 2.5-hours to complete all 7 courses. 

Entrance Fee: RM80 (USD20)

Operation Hours: 1000hrs – 1800hrs

 2. Water Park

At one glance, the water park isn’t as huge as most slides are concentrated on two main towers of different levels. These slides will end at the splash pool leading to lazy river, thus the floats used for slides can also be used in lazy river. Overall, it’s still a fun park to spend soak up your day!

Water Park Map (Source: funtime.my)

Overview of the water park from high elements

Splash World: For tots

Lazy River

Rainbow Hood: All these twirly slides passed through rainbows! (Source: sgmytaxi.com)

Racer Bowl: I got stuck here going round & round (Source: sgmytaxi.com)

Supersurf: The only stand alone slide which uses sliding mats instead of floats

Yellow Wall: The most thrilling and our favorite! (Source: sgmytaxi.com)

Wavepool: Waves only come in once every hour

As it was a quiet Monday, we spent less than 2-hours playing some slides twice, lazing around the river and waiting for the waves. 

Entrance Fee: RM80 (USD20)

Operation Hours: 1000hrs – 1900hrs

We were very lucky to find out the online promotion the night before visiting the park: RM90 (USD23) for combo tickets with both adventure and water park!!! (Usual price for this combo is RM150)

3. Sports & Leisure Park

One day is not enough to do everything in this place! Sports & Leisure Park consists of 3 activities: Ice Skating, “Go-Kart” and indoor trampoline.  

Till next time!

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Our Day-to-Day Itinerary and Costs

The almost 300-kilometers Annapurna Circuit is challenging but rewarding trek. In 23-days, we trekked all the way from Besi Sahar to Landruck without a guide or porter or any tour agency. On average, we walked about 6-8 hours, crossing 4 different districts namely: Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi, and experienced 4 different seasons covering a great sparse of geography. We got to witness people of varying tribes and ethnicity which differ along the trail in every 30km. 

A summary of our day-by-day route: 19April – 12May

Besi Sahar – Ngadi – Jagat – Bagarchhap – Chame – Upper Pisang – Manang – Acclimatization in Manang – Seeri Khadka – Tilicho Base Camp – Tilicho Lake – Seeri Khadka – Ledar – Thorong High Camp – Muktinath – Marpha – Kalopani – Tatopani – Ghorepani – one more day in Ghorepani – Gurjung – Dovan – Annapurna Base Camp – Chhomrong – Pokhara

Basically our only expenses in the mountains are accommodation, food and drinking water. Here’s a rough breakdown on how much both of us spent over the 23-days trek:

Accommodation: ~4,000 NPR (USD37)

Food: ~55,670 NPR (USD520)

Drinking Water: ~545 NPR (USD5)

Most of the days, we managed to bargain for free accommodation in exchange for having meals (dinner and breakfast) with the hosts, thus our budget were heavily spent more on food. 

So, let’s get started!

Day 1: Kathmandu – Besi Sahar (820m) – Bhulbhule – Ngadi (890m)

We took a 6a.m bus from Kathmandu’s Gongabu Bus Park to Besi Sahar (350 NPR/pax) where the trek officially begins. The bus ride is supposed to be 6-hours but ended up the whole journey took us 8-hours. 

We did our first check-in at TIMS check post in Besi Sahar! 

Since it was only mid-noon, we decided to start trekking instead of staying at Besi Sahar like most other trekkers. We managed to end our day before sunset after 3.5-hours of 12km walk to Ngadi.

First suspension bridge of the trek!

ACAP Check post at Simpani

Friendly Nepalese!

Our humble meal

Accommodation: Hil-ton Guesthouse & Restaurant (Free!)

Dinner area

Bedroom for 2  

Expenditures Breakdown:

Lunch:

  • Dal Baht: 300 NPR

Dinner:

  • Potato Momo: 250 NPR
  • Egg Fried Rice: 450 NPR
  • Small pot of tea: 240 NPR

Day 2: Ngadi (890m) – Bahundanda – Ghermu – Jagat (1,300m)

We learned to order breakfast after dinner and gave specific timing for the meal to be served. If not, be prepared to wait about 30-45 minutes as Nepalese prepare their meals from scratch. We started our trek by 8.30 a.m and the weather was already getting hot. 

It took us 2-hours to walk from Ngadi to Bahundanda (6.2km). We sweat a lot from climbing up the ridge and stairs to 1,310m. I spent 150 NPR for a bottle of coke (70 NPR in Kathmandu) as I needed to use the toilet urgently. 

Bahundanda’s Gate

View from Bahundanda before descending to flat paddy fields leading to Ghermu which is 5km away.

At the last lodge in Ghermu, the rainbow lodge, you got a choice to walk the upper trail (ascending path but beautiful) or lower trail (flat road but dusty) to Jagat. We chose the shorter trail (red & white) which took us 3-hours to cover 5km of road.

Accommodation: Tilicho Guesthouse (Free!)

Easily be seen ’cause of its bright colors

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Oat Porridge: 250 NPR
  • Omelette: 250 NPR
  • Big pot of Hot water: 240 NPR

1 x bottle of coke: 150 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Dal Baht: 450 NPR
  • Veg Fried Potato: 350 NPR
  • Small pot of Hot Lemon: 350 NPR

Day 3: Jagat (1,300m) – Chamje – Tal – Dharapani – Bagarchhap (2,140m)

Today’s trek started with a 1.5-hours trek to Chamje where you will pass by a teahouse facing the waterfall.

There is an ascend about 130m before reaching Chamje village, where you will see a sign leading to Tal.

Chamje – Tal: 5km, 3.5hrs

Tal definitely has my heart!

Tal is also the first village on the trail where you can find safe water!

Instead of getting a new bottle for Rs100, safe water only costs Rs40

It is a 6.6km walk from Tal to Dharapani which took us 3.5-hours. 

AWWWWWWWWWWWWW~~~

The trekking trail ends here so we have to cross the bridge to the road side

There is a check post in Dharapani.

We continue another 3km to Bagarchhap and didn’t regret at all.

View from our room

Accommodation: Eco Holiday (Free!)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Apple Porridge: 300 NPR
  • Banana Muesli: 300 NPR
  • Small pot of Hot water: 150 NPR

2 x Safe Water: 80 NPR

Lunch:

  • Mushroom Soup: 260 NPR
  • Bottle of coke: 205 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Dal Baht: 470 NPR
  • Omelette: 230 NPR
  • Potato Soup: 280 NPR
  • Milk Tea: 80 NPR

Day 4: Bagarchhap (2,140m) – Danaqyu – Timang – Thanchowk – Koto – Chame (2,670m)

From Bagarchhap to Danaqyu is only a 20-minutes walk (1.7km), but after that is a 2-hours with 350m steep climb to Timang. 

Safe water station at Danaqyu

Steep climb includes fighting your way with gazing cows

Timang: 2,350m

About 1-hour away (3.4km) from Timang, we passed by Thanchowk, an old village where there are two ways to reach Chame: trekking or road trail. Both path take about 2-hours.

Pretty Sakura-look-alike tree

Check post at Koto

Chame is a big bazaar compared to other villages. You can stock up snacks and medicines, or get new gears. We stayed at the end of the village opposite the bridge where it’s much quieter. 

There are many lodges here!

Safe water station: Rs45 for 1-litre bottle

Pharmacy with a wide variety medicines available

Accommodation: New Tibet Hotel & Restaurant (Free!)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Apple Porridge: 330 NPR
  • Fried Potato: 300 NPR
  • Hot water x 2: 100 NPR

Lunch:

  • Veg Momo: 350 NPR
  • Bottle of coke: 250 NPR

2 x Safe Water: 90 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Dal Baht: 550 NPR
  • Egg Curry: 450 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 180 NPR
  • Local Wine: 100 NPR

Day 5: Chame (2,670m) – Bhratang – Dhukur Pokhari – Upper Pisang (3,300m)

It was an easy forest trail from Chame to Bhratang. 

Chame – Bhratang: 6.3km, 1.5hrs trek

Bhratang: 2,800m

There’s a choice of taking the upper or lower Pisang trail. Lower runs along the road and is much easier, while upper involves a steep 600 meter gain but is good for acclimating and is the more beautiful trek by far, offering magnificent views of the Annapurna peaks. 

Accommodation: Himalayan Hotel & Restaurant (Free!)

We stayed at the highest lodge in Upper Pisang.

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Boiled Potatoes: 300 NPR
  • Muesli with apples & milk: 300 NPR
  • Black Tea: 50 NPR
  • Hot water: 45 NPR

Chocolate Donut: 200 NPR

Lunch:

  • Onion Soup: 250 NPR
  • Masala Tea: 200 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Dal Baht: 550 NPR
  • Egg Noodle Soup: 380 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 180 NPR

Day 6: Upper Pisang (3,300m) – Ghyaru – Ngawal – Manang (3,540m)

Today is a long trek of 20-kilometers!

After the suspension bridge, it’s a steep ascend to Ghyaru

A great view comes after a tough climb!

There are a few side trips to do on the way to Manang. 

From Ngawal to Manang is a relatively flat trail of 9.2km.

Accommodation: Hotel Himalayan Singi (Free!)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Chocolate Pancake: 350 NPR
  • Pancake with Honey: 350 NPR
  • Small pot of Hot water: 200 NPR

Lunch:

  • Chicken Fried Noodle: 450 NPR
  • Veg Noodle Soup: 380 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup x 2: 760 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 90 NPR
  • Apple Tea: 90 NPR

Day 7: Acclimatization in Manang

This was a rest day in Manang to acclimate to the altitude. This is highly recommended as many people really start to feel the altitude by this point. We slept in, did a short side trek up to Gangapurna Glacier Viewpoint and had a feast!

Alternative, you can just chill and maybe catch a movie!

There is also a free lecture everyday at 3pm at Manang’s clinic conducted by volunteered-doctors. 

Accommodation: Hotel Himalayan Singi (Free!)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • French Toast: 290 NPR
  • Cheese Toast: 260 NPR
  • Hot water x 2: 80 NPR

Lunch:

  • Honey Hot Lemon: 120 NPR
  • Seabuckthorn Juice: 120 NPR
  • Tuna Fried Rice: 400 NPR
  • Egg Burger: 550 NPR
  • Rosti: 300 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup: 380 NPR
  • Minestrone Soup: 370 NPR

Day 8: Manang – Gunsang – Sheree Kharka (4,076m)

Today was our worst day on trail because we got so lost!

Our planned route was supposed to be Manang – Khangsar – Sheree Kharka – Tilicho Base Camp. But instead, we made a wrong turn at Manang, and went all the way to further Gunsang before realizing we were on wrong trail. We managed to be back on track to Sheree Kharka, but it was on a trail of super steep ascend.  

This exit leads to Gunsang instead of Khangsar

Goodbye Manang

Gunsang: 3,990m

So, we were to cross the bridge and ascend the trail where everyone is heading down

It took us almost 5-hours on this trail to reach Sheree Kharka. If we were to choose again, we would choose to walk back to Manang, stay another night there and start the correct trail to Khangsar.

Accommodation: Hotel Tilicho Peak & Restaurant (Free!)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Muesli with Milk: 300 NPR
  • Potato Soup: 300 NPR
  • Small pot of Hot water: 250 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup: 355 NPR
  • Tomato Noodle Soup: 355 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 100 NPR

Day 9: Sheree Kharka (4,076m) – Tilicho Base Camp (4,150m)

This trail is probably the most dangerous part due to narrow steep path and common rocks fall/landslide. We had trekkers telling us they are going to give a miss to Tilicho Lake as “it is dangerous to cross”.  It is highly recommended to do this trail early morning as chances of rocks falling is higher when got heated up by the sun.

Also, we deposited our backpack at the lodge in Sheree Kharka and only brought what is needed for the night. Yes, you don’t need to carry your full load since you will have to pass by Sheree Kharka anyways.

Landslide area

Steep slope down on rocky sands

Nevertheless, the view is breathtaking

It took us about 2-hours to trek this 4.5km trail.

Accommodation: New Tilicho Base Camp & Restaurant (Free!)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Plain Omelette: 295 NPR
  • Fried Rice: 340 NPR
  • Hot water x 2: 100 NPR

Lunch:

  • Fried Rice: 365 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 220 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Fried Potato: 400 NPR
  • Fried Noodles: 475 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 220 NPR

Day 10: Tilicho Base Camp (4,150m) – Tilicho Lake (4,919m) – Sheree Kharka (4,076m)

We started our trek before 6 a.m knowing that it’s gonna be a tough 800-meters ascend. 

The trail starts right behind the lodge

Rise & Shine!

It was a gradual ascend till we came across a steep zig-zag climb

When we reached on top…..

Still not there yet!

and so we just kept walking…on snow!

There are many small lakes along the way which looks beautiful

And finally the lake which is still frozen

We both had slight headaches from the altitude so we only stayed about 30-minutes for photos and chatted with another pair of trekkers. We descended back on the same route for 2-hours, took a quick bite and a short nap, and continued back down to Sheree Kharka for overnight.

Expenditures Breakdown:

Lunch:

  • Fried Potato: 400 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 220 NPR

Dinner: 

  • French Fries: 420 NPR
  • Veg Soup: 325 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 220 NPR

Day 11: Sheree Kharka (4,076m) – Yak Kharka – Churi Ledar (4,200m)

We trekked in the snow today!

We descended by the same route we had ascended on Day 9. It was definitely much more easier and only took us 2-hours back to the point where we can continue to Yak Kharka. 

I can’t really tell you where to find this rock, but if you are on the right track, you will definitely see it

It was a 2-hours up and down trail to Yak Kharka followed by a 40-minutes gradual ascend of 200m.

There are about 5 lodges at Yak Kharka (4,035m)

It started snowing when we left the Yak Kharka, but we decided to continue walking to Churi Ledar

Opposite the bridge is Churi Ledar!

If you do not have any problems with altitude related symptoms, we recommend to stay over at Churi Ledar (4,200m) as it makes it easier to go on Thorong High Camp (4,850m) the next day. If you stay in Yak Kharka (4,035m), it is recommended to stop in Thorong Phedi (4,450m) for overnight instead. 

Accommodation: Hotel New Phedi (Free!)

There are only 2 lodges in Churi Ledar. We chose the one at the furthest.

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Veg Soup: 320 NPR
  • Potato Soup: 300 NPR
  • Hot water x 2: 100 NPR

Lunch:

  • Fried Rice: 300 NPR
  • Potato Soup: 300 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Egg Fried Rice: 370 NPR
  • Veg Soup: 310 NPR
  • Apple Fritters: 390 NPR
  • Hot water x 2: 90 NPR

Day 12: Churi Ledar (4,200m) – Thorong Phedi – Thorong High Camp (4,850m)

We are getting closer to Thorong-la pass!

From Churi Ledar to Thorong Phedi is not an easy trail. Not only that you have to overcome the climb with this high altitude, there is a “danger zone” of frequent falling rocks which you need to be cautioned too!

Snow from last night at Churi Ledar

There are two options to cross the river: via the suspension bridge, or continued the main trail to descend till you saw a wooden bridge. The latter option is more dangerous with falling rocks and will end up with a steep climb up the slope.

After passing two tea houses, the “danger zone” starts.

Shortly after the end of “danger zone” (about 20-minutes), the lodges in Thorong Phedi (4,550m) come in view.

From Thorong Phedi to Thorong High Camp is a hard climb!

High Camp is right above those mountains!

Halfway up to High Camp

Accommodation: Thorong High Camp & Restaurant (500 NPR/Room/Night)

The lodges in High Camp are owned by one landlord, thus there’s no way to get free room here. Behind the lodge is a long steep ridge with an awesome view at the top. 

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Noodle Soup x 2: 640 NPR
  • Hot water x 2: 100 NPR

Lunch:

  • Baked Macaroni Tuna : 740 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 100 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Margarita Pizza : 630 NPR
  • Potato Soup: 330 NPR

Day 13: Thorong High Camp (4,850m) – Thorong-la Pass (5,416m) – Muktinath (3,800m)

Today is the day!

We only started our trek at 6 a.m. whereas most trekkers probably started as early as 4 a.m., making us the last few to ascend. It took us almost 4-hours to complete this cold and breathless trail. Along the way, there are only 2 tea houses: one at around 5,000m and another one at Thorong -la pass. 

After suspension bridge is a steep ridge up to the snowy mountain

The rest of the trail is walking on icy slope

The poles are indicators you are on right direction

And this is the moment we had been trekking for!

We spent almost an hour at Thorong-la pass talking to the Gurkha who was tending the tea house for this season. 

The descend to Muktinath is long and exhausting. There are no lodges nor tea houses along the way so do save up some snacks for the descend journey as well. It took us another 3.5-hours before we can finally rest.

On the left side is Muktinath, on the right is Ranipauwa

Similar to Manang, there are a few side trails to explore. We wish to have more time in Muktinath but we still have ABC to do.

Accommodation: Dream Home (800 NPR/Room/Night)

Dream Home is the last lodge in Muktinath, across the bus station. It is run by a Kyrgyzstan lady who cooks delicious Russian food!

From the rooftop

Expenditures Breakdown:

Lunch:

  • Salo (Pork) : 370 NPR
  • Chicken Burger: 400 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Golubtsy: 460 NPR
  • Mac & Cheese: 280 NPR
  • 1 pot Hot Lemon: 100 NPR

Day 14: Muktinath (3,800m) – Kagbeni – Jomsom – Marpha (2,670m)

Our plan for today was to take a bus from Muktinath to Jomsom for overnight. Simple and easy day, supposedly. 

There was a bus strike so no public bus will be running for today, and maybe the next day. Walking from Muktinath to Jomsom would be a 6-hours over 18-kilometers of dirt road.

We were lucky to get a hitchhike from Khinga to Kagbeni!

Overlooking Jharkot Village from the road

Kagbeni: 2,800m

We trekked about an hour to Old Kagbeni and was once again lucky to get another hitchhike to Jomsom by an Indian family!

Windy and dusty

It wasn’t a bad day after all

Jomsom was not what we expected at all, probably because we were here at the wrong season. It was quiet like a ghost town, super windy and super dusty! We can’t really find a proper place to eat as most places were closed due to the strong wind. 

So, we decided to continue walking to the next village, not knowing what to expect either.

There are 2 ways to Marpha: by road or by trail. By trail will take longer time and we quite enough of walking up and down, so we chose the flat dusty road instead.

After two hours of braving against the strong wind and dust, Marpha is a sanctuary. The moment we entered through the gate, the howling of the wind stopped! All houses are painted with bright white color and the lanes are paved with spotless clean stone plates. And it’s a sin not to try apple products while in Marpha!


Accommodation: Paradise Guest House (300 NPR/Room/Night)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Tuna Sandwich: 300 NPR
  • Pancake with Honey: 380 NPR

Lunch:

  • Tomato Egg Sandwich : 325 NPR
  • Apple Juice: 150 NPR
  • Apple Lassi: 200 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Fried Rice: 300 NPR
  • Egg Burger: 400 NPR
  • Apple Juice: 120 NPR
  • Apple Cider: 130 NPR
  • Apricot Brandy: 80 NPR

Day 15: Marpha (2,670m) – Sauru – Kalopani (2,480m)

This is a long walk of 20-kilometers! This time we avoided main road and passed through a few beautiful villages along the trail. 

We skipped Tukuche and continued the trail to Chokhopani where we cut through an army training ground.

After Sauru, the trail to Kalopani is not marked with white&red but you can still easily follow the walking path.

Chokhopani – Sauru – Sirkung – Kokhethanti – Kalopani: 5.5-hours

A ladder was placed there to avoid walking on river

Passing through Sirkung

View through the trees

A few side treks from Kokhethanti

And finally arrived in Kalopani

Accommodation: See You Lodge (300 NPR/Room/Night)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Chapati: 70 NPR
  • Onion Omelette: 180 NPR
  • Organic Coffee: 100 NPR
  • Apricot Juice: 100 NPR

Lunch:

  • A bottle of Coke : 160 NPR
  • Meat Momo: 400 NPR
  • Egg Fried Rice: 300 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Veg Noodle Soup: 245 NPR
  • Dal Baht: 475 NPR
  • French Fries: 295 NPR
  • Hot Chocolate: 95 NPR
  • Sea Buckthorn Tea: 80 NPR

Day 16: Kalopani (2,480m) – Tatopani (1,220m)

It’s a cheat day!

We hired a jeep for 300 NPR per person and had a rough roller coaster ride due to the harsh road condition. Under a good road condition, this 23-kilometers journey would have been less than 1-hour. Because this is in Nepal, the travelling time became 6-hours! If we chose to walk instead, it will take us 8-hours. 

We actually “psycho” her to share the jeep with us

Shortly after we left the village, the driver stopped and told us “construction ahead”

The locals started singing & dancing till we can get back on road

So, there’s always a reason for buses and jeeps to stop. 

Good luck to these dudes!

Tatopani is famous for its natural hot spring! 

Tatopani

Seems like they are going to expand the hot spring

Accommodation: Namaste Lodge & Restaurant (100 NPR/Room/Night)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Tuna Sandwich: 495 NPR
  • Cheese Egg Rosti: 395 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 160 NPR

Lunch:

  • Egg Spring Roll : 299 NPR
  • Chicken Butter with Rice: 390 NPR
  • Apple Juice: 170 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Tuna Lasagna: 370 NPR
  • Special Dal Baht: 400 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 50 NPR
  • Milk Coffee: 95 NPR

Day 17: Tatopani (1,220m) – Sikha – Chitre – Ghorepani (2,750m)

Back to ascending! 

This part of the trail is sunnier and much more humid, but there’s also more greenery to see.

From Chitre (1,542m) to Ghorepani (2,750m), is a continuously ascend of steps!

Just as we thought we had arrived at Ghorepani…….

There are more steps to climb!!!!

Accommodation: Annapurna View Lodge & Resturant (400 NPR/Room/Night)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Tibetan Bread: 180 NPR
  • Lemon Sugar Pancake: 200 NPR
  • Milk Coffee: 95 NPR
  • Nana Tea: 60 NPR

Lunch:

  • Cold Lemon Squash x 2: 160 NPR
  • Tomato Onion Fried Potato: 380 NPR
  • Egg Fried Rice: 350 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Egg Noodle Soup: 250 NPR
  • Veg Egg Fried Noodle: 430 NPR
  • Hot Lemon x 2: 180 NPR
  • Raksi: 100 NPR

Day 18: Poon Hill Trek

Today is our rest day before heading up to Annapurna Base camp!

Instead of catching sunrise like all other trekkers, we slept in and slowly made our way to Poon Hill. 

There’s a small entrance fee if you come up for sunrise

40-minutes up on nicely paved steps

We are the only humans up here!

Lucky to be in time for clear sky

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Western Breakfast: 570 NPR
  • Veg Egg Fried Rice: 380 NPR
  • Poon Hill Coffee: 250 NPR
  • Milk Coffee: 120 NPR

Lunch:

  • Potato Soup: 220 NPR
  • Garlic Soup: 220 NPR
  • Tibetan Bread: 200 NPR
  • Black Tea: 60 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 90 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Potato Soup: 220 NPR
  • Veg Egg Noodle: 430 NPR
  • Mac & Cheese: 450 NPR
  • Chips with Eggs: 400 NPR

Day 19: Ghorepani (2,750m) – Tadapani – Chuile – Ghurjung (2,258m)

Good breakfast to start the day!

Her food are so yummy we ate so much during our stay

The trek wasn’t hard, just a lot, a lot, a lot of steps.

And we came across this magical place with lots of stacking stones!

Most part of the trail was trekking through the forest. 

Accommodation: Ghurjung Lodge & Restaurant (100 NPR/Room/Night)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Tibetan Bread: 200 NPR
  • Fried Potato: 350 NPR
  • Boiled Eggs x 2: 150 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 90 NPR
  • Black Tea: 60 NPR

Lunch:

  • Noodle Soup: 300 NPR
  • Fried Noodle: 360 NPR
  • Hot Water x 2: 60 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Egg Veg Noodle Soup: 250 NPR
  • Tomato Noodle Soup: 250 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 80 NPR
  • Hot Chocolate: 90 NPR

Day 20: Ghurjung (2,258m) – Chhomrong – Sinuwa – Bamboo – Dovan (2,870m)

Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most popular trek in the World. Starting from Chhomrong, the trail is pretty much well marked and maintained. There’s only one way to and fro the base camp. Since we had acclimatized from Thorong-la pass and feeling much stronger than before, we used 2-days to ascend and 1-day to descend back to Chhomrong. 

There are limited lodges in each village. You may get a list of phone numbers from check point in Chhomrong

Instead of buying snacks from lodges which charge higher, you may stock up at this wholesale shop just below the town

It is not possible to get lost doing Annapurna Sanctuary Trek by yourself

It’s a hell lots of steps to go down, cross the bridge, and up again

No meat on sanctuary trek!

Accommodation: Tip Top Lodge & Restaurant (400 NPR/Room/Night)

There are only 3 lodges in Dovan. On top of paying for the room, there’s additional charge for hot shower (150 NPR), Wifi (300 NPR) and charging gadgets (200 NPR).

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Banana Pancake: 280 NPR
  • Gurung Bread with Egg: 380 NPR
  • Milk Coffee: 100 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 80 NPR

Lunch:

  • Egg Veg Fried Rice: 390 NPR
  • Egg Veg Fried Noodle: 460 NPR
  • Ice Lemon x 2: 200 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Egg Veg Noodle Soup: 370 NPR
  • Egg Veg Fried Rice: 440 NPR
  • Hot Chocolate: 100 NPR
  • Hot Lemon: 90 NPR

Day 21: Dovan (2,870m) – Himalaya – Deurali – MBC – ABC (3,700m)

The journey up to ABC continues……most trekkers either stopped at Deurali or MBC (Machapuchare Base Camp) for overnight and head up to ABC next morning as a day trip. We strongly encouraged to stay at ABC for stargazing and for the awesome sunrise!

A make-shift bridge to cross the stream

AKA Fishtail Mountain, this is a forbidden place where no one ever set foot on!

When hot air rises…

Finally arrived at ABC!!!

Stargazing

Accommodation: Annapurna Sanctuary Lodge & Restaurant (400 NPR/Room/Night)

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Gurung Bread with Cheese: 350 NPR
  • Muesli with Hot Milk: 360 NPR
  • Lemon Tea: 90 NPR
  • Hot Water: 60 NPR

Lunch:

  • Hot Water x 2: 120 NPR
  • Fried Rice: 450 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Cold Lemon x 2: 200 NPR
  • Hot Water x 2: 140 NPR
  • Mac & Cheese: 590 NPR
  • Korean Shin Noodle: 570 NPR

Day 22: ABC (3,700m) – Chhomorong (2,170m)

Sunrise!

This, we gonna miss….

From ABC, we trekked all the way down to Chhomrong! It was a super long day and whereas we are descending, the last part to Chhomrong is basically steps all the way up to another mountain. 

Accommodation: New Chhomrong Guest House (300 NPR/Room/Night)

This guesthouse is just next to ACAP check post in Chhomrong. We had a nice deal of 300 NPR for both of us inclusive of hot water and wifi.

Expenditures Breakdown:

Breakfast:

  • Hot Water x 2: 140 NPR
  • Egg Veg Noodle Soup: 480NPR

Lunch:

  • Milk Coffee: 100 NPR
  • Lemon Tea: 90 NPR
  • Egg Veg Fried Rice: 440 NPR
  • Veg Soup: 270 NPR

Dinner: 

  • Hot Lemon Tea: 60 NPR
  • Hot Chocolate: 80 NPR
  • Chicken Burger: 700 NPR

Day 23: Chhomorong (2,170m) – Jhinu – New Bridge – Landruck – Pokhara

It is about 3-4 hours trek to Landruck where you can get a jeep back to Pokhara. The jeep ride is 1000 NPR per person and definitely not a comfortable ride…. 

This is before another 10 people came in and squeeze the bumpy ride with us

Not sure where to start? Check out my other post to get yourself prepared for the trek!

Annapurna Circuit: What You Need To Know To Trek Without A Guide

Trekking the Himalayas in Nepal can sound intimidating. Many think that it is an experience accessible only to seasoned trekkers or those who can afford to use expensive trekking companies. Well, with enough research and planning, you can absolutely trek in the Himalayas independently – and on a budget just like we did!

The almost 300-kilometers Annapurna Circuit is challenging but rewarding trek. It is arguably still one of the best treks in the world which crosses two different river valleys and encircles the Annapurna Massif. If you open yourself to this experience, we guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Getting There

Fly into Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport and spend at least two or three days in the city–sightseeing, getting your trekking permit, and shopping for supplies. We stayed in Thamel where is considered a backpackers haven. It is accessible by bus from airport, lots of guesthouses/ hotels to choose from, wide range of food places, walking distance to most attractions and many gear shops for you to bargain with. 

We flew in Kathmandu from Singapore with Airasia

Tribhuvan International Airport

You can literally bring no trekking gears and bargin in Thamel for good price!

Yes! There are famous for North”Fake” products

But of course, there are legit North Face and a few other brands stores just right outside the main street of Thamel 

Visa

Most nationalities can get either a 15/30/90 days visa when arriving into Nepal either by flight or overland. 

15 days – US $ 25.00 for 15 days single/multiple entry.

30 days – US $ 40.00 for 30 days single/multiple entry.

90 days – US $ 100.00 for 90 days single/multiple entry.

I, personally was quite impressed by the visa procedures. Maybe it was a low-peak trekking season, thus it doesn’t looks as hectic as what I’ve read online.

Arriving into the immigration lounge, walk over to the electronic passport scanners kiosks on the left

Simply place your machine readable passport ID page over the scanner on the lower left. Make sure the barcode bit of it is directly over the black part of the scanner. If successful you need to confirm by pressing on the touch screen. You’ll be prompted to enter in your hotel details and length of stay. You may enter “0000” for Nepali “Ward” and “District” (Thamel is Ward 29 & District is Bagmati). The machine will then try to take a photo of you (Yes! So you may keep your photos for other purpose). Confirm all your details and collect the bit of paper it spits out.

Payment!

The payment does not have to be United States Dollar (USD) or Euro (EUR)! They accept a wide range of currencies: Australian Dollar (AUD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Singapore Dollar (SGD), Danish Kroner (DKK), Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), Pound Sterling (GBP), Swiss Franc (CHF), Emirati Dirham (AED), Qatari Riyal (QAD), Saudi Arab Riyal (SAR), South Korean Won (KRW), Japanese Yen (JPY), Chinese Yuan (CNY), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Thai Baht (THB).

After payment, queue up at the immigration counter on the right. There are counters for 15/30 days visa and for 90-days visa so do make sure you queue up the correct lane. Pass you passport and visa receipt to the officer, and you’ll get a sticker visa on your passport’s page within minutes!

SIM Card

We bought a Ncell SIM card from the airport. Alternatively, you can easily get one or recharge your card at most shops in Thamel. Documents required buying a Sim in Nepal:

  1. Copy of Passport
  2. Passport-sized photograph
  3. Sim Registration form
  4. Copy of Visa 

Wi-fi

Surprisingly, almost every teahouse we stayed had Wi-Fi but do not expect strong connection. And, the higher the altitude, the wi-fi rate goes from being free to USD1-USD3 for 24 hours. But hey we were in the Himalayan mountains so just enjoy being with the nature! 

Electricity

For Nepal, there are three associated plug types: C, D and M. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins, plug type D is the plug which has three round pins in a triangular pattern and plug type M has three round pins. Nepal operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

It’s a common issue to have power failure in Nepal, even in big cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara. Bear in mind to have touch light with you and keep in a compartment where you can reach out easily.

Currency

The legal currency of Nepal is Nepalese Rupees (NPR). I would recommend to change your home currency to Nepalese Rupees in Nepal itself as the rate will be much better. We actually brought USD50 worth of Nepalese Rupees out of Nepal without changing it.

Trekking Seasons

Best time of the year to hike Annapurna Circuit is Autumn – from September to November. And then – Spring, from Mid-March to Early-May. Summer, June through September is the monsoon season, when as much as 70% of the annual rainfall occurs. This is also when rocks fall and landslides are most likely to occur. December through February will be too cold to trek! 

We did our trek from Mid-April, which was considered low-season as we hardly met more than 5 trekkers each day (no photo-bombers!). We were glad to trek during this period as the guesthouses were mostly empty which made us easy to bargain for free private room and request for extra blankets. Until when we reached Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, that we met more tourists crowd.

Weather

There are no rules for the weather in the mountains. Over the 23-days trek we experienced 4 seasons with gorgeous sunny days with temperatures up to 20°C and then days below freezing temperatures, the lowest was a chilly -5°C (this was close to the Thorong-La Pass above 5,000-meters). The wind can suddenly arrive from no-where and you turn a corner to nearly get blown over, this was definitely the case walking through ‘Windy Valley’ (from Kagbeni to Marpha).

Do expect snow in Spring season!

Insurance

To get ACAP and TIMS permit, you need to have a travel insurance. The travel insurance should at least cover trekking altitude of up to 6,000-meters, or even better with emergency evacuation at mountains. There isn’t any insurance company in Singapore which offers such package for independent trekkers. So…..we decided to make do with a basic travel insurance and bluff our way through.

Trekking Permits

You will need to apply your Trekker’s Information Management System card (TIMS) and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP). You will need these to check-in at various checkpoints along the trek. The whole process is fairly straightforward and we spent less than 1-hour to get both done. 

TIMS costs 2,000 NPR and ACAP costs 2,260 NPR. Do bring at least 4 passport-sized photos (2 for each permit), have an insurance policy number, as well as you need to know when and where are you starting your trek, more or less your route and when and where are you planning to finish it.

Nepal Tourism Board

2 forms to be filled up

There are many different treks in Nepal. They are in different parts of the country. And in each part of the country there is a different trekking permit needed. Prices vary as well.

Prices for different trek permits

Different counters for different treks too!

And do not leave without getting some free trekking maps! Instead of buying complicated and detailed maps for the trek, we think these simple maps are good enough.

Packing List

For Him:

  • 3 x Dry-fit Tee
  • 2 x Long Trekking Pants
  • 2 x Boxers
  • 2 x Socks
  • 1 x Cap
  • 1 x Long Sleeve Shirt
  • 1 x Rainproof Windbreaker
  • 1 x Down Jacket
  • 1 x Sunglasses
  • 2 x Buff
  • 1 x Trekking Shoes
  • 1 x Flip-Flops
  • 1 x  Fleece Jacket (1000 NPR/ USD10)
  • 2 x Trekking poles (1000 NPR/ USD10)

For Her:

  • 2 x Sportsbra
  • 2 x Long Sleeve 
  • 3 x Dry-Fit Tee
  • 1 x Zip-off Trekking Pants
  • 1 x Long Skirt
  • 2 x Long Leggings
  • 25 x Disposable Underwear
  • 2 x Bikini Bottom
  • 1 x Fleece Jacket
  • 1 x Rainproof Windbreaker
  • 1 x Shawl 
  • 3 x socks
  • 1 x Trekking Shoes
  • 1 x Flip-Flops
  • 1 x Trekking Poles
  • 1 x Sunglasses

Gadgets:

  • 1 x GoPro 
  • 1 x Compact Camera
  • 1 x Universal Adapters
  • 1 x Multiple Plugs
  • 1 x Extra Memory Card
  • 4 x Power Banks
  • 2 x Headlights

Others

  • Dettol Wipes
  • Baby Powder
  • Water Bottle
  • LifeStraw
  • Ginger Tea with Lemon Sachets
  • Coffee Sachets
  • Toilet Roll
  • Whistles
  • Basic First Aid (Band-aids, Alcohol Swipes, Charcoal pills)
  • Sunscreen

Budget

Basically our only expenses in the mountains are accommodation, food and drinking water. Here’s a rough breakdown on how much both of us spent over the 23-days trek:

Accommodation: 4,000 NPR (USD37)

Food: 55,670 NPR (USD520)

Drinking Water: 545 NPR (USD5)

Accommodation

The Annapurna Circuit winds its way through towns with plenty of accommodation to offer. Room prices range from 100 – 500 NPR (USD1-5) per room. Generally, they will have a cozy common area with a fireplace and good company. All guesthouses will come with a “restaurant” where you are expected to dine in (dinner & breakfast). If you did not, they will charge higher rate for the room.

We didn’t pay for any accommodation until Thorong High Camp. We (basically me) always try my luck and ask for it – can you give us a free room, if we eat dinner and breakfast with you? And it works! They will usually show you the room first when you asked if there’s any available. If you are satisfied with the room, that’s the time you can make the deal. There are many others trekkers we spoke to had been paying for accommodation.

The higher you ascend, especially once you start Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (Annapurna Base Camp Trail) where there are limited guesthouses, the room charge DOES NOT include hot shower, wifi and power charging. All these necessities will be additional charges.

Food

The meals on the trek are basic with choices ranging from porridge, pancakes, and eggs for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, we usually choose between Dahl Baht, fried potatoes with mixed vegetables, or noodle soup. Meal prices typically range from 250 – 650 NPR (USD2.50 – 6.50).

 

Dhal Bhat comes with unlimited refills!

You will find small shops dotted along the trail and in small villages you pass. Be aware that goods get more expensive the higher you ascend. We stocked up our snacks at two places: Kathmandu and Chhomrong. Manang is also a good place to stock up your snacks at cheaper price. 

Shopping in Manang

Water

Make sure you stay hydrated! 1 liter of water in Kathmandu may cost you 25 NPR (25 cents), though further up the trail it is not unusual to pay 200 NPR (USD2) per liter. Nevertheless, you can save money by using water purification tablets or fill up at safe water stations available throughout the trek. For us, we used Lifestraw to drink from our bottles.

Safe water station

Instead of buying a new bottle for USD1, refilling the bottles is a cheaper option

The safe water drinking stations are available in: Jagat, Tal, Bagarchhap, Chame, Pisang, Humde, Manang, Churi Letdar, Mukinath, Kagbeni, Jomsom, Marpha, Tukuche, Larjung, Lete, Ghasa and Birethanti.

Trekking Route

Our trek started in Besi Sahar (an 8-hours bus ride from Kathmandu’s Gongabu Bus Park) and ended in Landruck where we took a jeep to Pokhara.

Our day-by-day route:

Besi Sahar – Ngadi – Jagat – Bagarchhap – Chame – Upper Pisang – Manang – Acclimatization in Manang – Seeri Khadka – Tilicho Base Camp – Tilicho Lake – Seeri Khadka – Ledar – Thorong High Camp – Muktinath – Marpha – Kalopani – Tatopani – Ghorepani – one more day in Ghorepani – Gurjung – Dovan – Annapurna Base Camp – Chhomrong – Pokhara

What to Expect from the Trek

The trek goes through from lush green jungle and farming areas through to barren and rocky mountains. The paths can be wet, muddy, slippery, rocky, dusty and lined with snow. The Annapurna Circuit definitely takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes Nepal has to offer!

Bahundanda: 1,270-meters

Ghyaru: 3,730-meters

Ledar: 4,200-meters

Be prepared for all weather conditions. The weather to be hot and humid at the start. As you go higher, it gets cooler. You’ll likely start in shorts and a t-shirt and finish in a jacket and pants. The trail is well-marked with red and white markers, and there are guest houses in every 5 – 10 kilometers. As from our experience, the locals were happy to help us when we asked for directions!

Expect to be both mentally and physically challenged. Trek at your own comfortable pace and take some moments to enjoy your surroundings. After-all, this is all part of the fun of completing the Annapurna Circuit!

Thorong Pass: 5,416-meters

Colmar Tropicale: Medieval French Village in Malaysia

Colmar Tropicale is a highland resort inspired by the 16th century village in Alsace region of France, famously known as one of the fairy-tale villages in Europe. Located 2,700-feet (more than 800-meters) above sea level in Berjaya Hills in Pahang, Colmar Tropicale is undoubtedly one of the popular attractions to visit in Malaysia.

Entry Fee: RM15 (USD4)

Adjacent to the entrance of Colmar Tropicale is the Le Chateau (Spa and Organic Wellness) which is also inspired by a castle in Alsace. The beautifully crafted fountain with cranes (behind us!) is an official gift from Alsace, France.

A medieval French village in the middle of a Malaysian rainforest, the entrance to Colmar Tropicale features a castle’s wooden drawbridge which leads you through an intricate cuckoo clock tower which was inspired by France’s Riquewihr Tower into massive cobblestone courtyard.

No need to fly far for an European backdrop

On the way to find Rapunzel!

Surrounded by the greens

Views are always better from the top

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore the Japanese Village and Adventure Park…So, till next time!

Getting There

Colmar Tropicale is just a 45-minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur city centre. Alternatively, if you have no intention to drive or hire a private car/taxi, Berjaya Group provides daily shuttle bus services that run daily from Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur to Colmar Tropicale, Berjaya Hills at the scheduled timing. A return trip with entrance fee will cost RM60 (USD15).

7 amusing things to do in Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang is Vietnam’s third largest city, after Hanoi and Saigon and the largest city of Central Vietnam. The city itself has neither the atmosphere of Hanoi nor the hustle-bustle of Saigon, but has its share of sights and is close to the ancient town of charming Hoi An and the imperial capital of Hue. Da Nang is probably one of those incredible backpacking destinations that is unfortunately skipped by so many travelers aiming for the main destinations like Sapa and Ha Long Bay.

We took a yellow-colored local Bus #1 from Hoi An to Da Nang. The fare is 20,000VND (as of Dec 2017). They will most likely ask for more if you are a foreigner but keep smiling and continue offering the 20,000 – don’t let your frustration show nor raise your voice and eventually they should give in. Note that Bus #1 only runs between 0530 and 1730.

#1 Chill at Hipster Cafes…or just along the road stalls

Da Nang is a perfect hub to experience modern Vietnam. It gives you an idea where the country stands and where it is heading. It’s more authentic than bustling Saigon, and less rough than the capital of Hanoi. You can easily find gorgeous-themed cafes in city centre or traditional low chairs stalls along the riverside. Either way, it’s a nice way to chill like a local in Da Nang.

Egg coffee and lemon tart

Coconut jelly

Coconut coffee

#2 Relaxing at My Khe Beach

During the Vietnam War, this beach used to be a chill and relax location for the American Army. Today, it is an ideal place for surfing, relax on the beach, enjoy the sun and clean sand. 

#3 Enjoy Cool Climate at Ba Na Hills

Enjoy four seasons within a single day: spring in the morning, like summer by noon, autumn by the afternoon and winter in the evening! With refreshingly cool weather and gorgeous countryside views, Ba Na Hills is a real treasure of Da Nang.

Take the longest cable car ride in the world!

A totally different climate from the city below

#4 Summit the Marble Mountains 

Located on the south of Danang, the Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Sơn) is a cluster of five limestone and marble mountains which are named after the 5 elements: Kim (metal), Moc (wood), Thuy (water), Hoa (fire), Tho (land). Over the centuries the Marble Mountains were used as a safe haven for soldiers and a place of worship for Buddhists. For years the hills were mined for their valuable stone, although that has been recently banned. You can see examples of intricate stonework along the roadside workshops from the bus stop to the entrance of Marble Mountains.

The Marble Mountains is located along between Da Nang and Hoi An, thus you can take Yellow local Bus #1 to get there.

40,000VND (<USD2) for entrance fee

Additional cost if you wanna take the elevator

150-steps!

#5 Discover Da Nang Cathedral a.k.a Rooster Church

Da Nang Cathedral was built by French priest Louis Vallet in 1923, with a pink-painted edifice that earns its reputation as one of the most unique catholic churches in Vietnam. Standing at 70-meters, it’s also known as Con Ga Church (Rooster Church) due to the imposing bell tower that’s topped with a rooster weather vane.

#6 Sleep in Unique Hostels

We stayed in two different hostels in Da Nang.

PACKO Hostel is a container inn with 16 colorful rooms, 5-minutes walk to My Khe Beach. There are 4 types of rooms, with room rates from VND180,000/person. Bedrooms have wooden floors and bunk beds. The toilets are very clean and fully equipped.

The Memory Hostel is located in the heart of the city, 800 meters from the Han River. The entire building is paved with refined bricks with attractive earthy colors and unique vintage touch.

#7 Catch Fire-Spitting Dragon Show

Dragon Bridge in Da Nang is the longest bridge in Vietnam, offering a dazzling display of lights, fire, and water that no first-time visitor to Da Nang should miss out on. Measuring at 666 metres in length, it is located in Da Nang City and constructed in the shape of a golden dragon.

Every weekends evening at 9 p.m, there will be a fire and water spiting performance at the head of the Dragon Bridge. It’s nothing fantastic but the place will be filled up with locals and foreigners. 

Ba Na Hills: A French Village in Da Nang, Vietnam

Located 25 km southwest of Da Nang at an altitude of 1,487m, Ba Na Hills are considered as “One temperate place in the tropical forest” because the climate is cool all the year round and you can enjoy four seasons within a single day: spring in the morning, like summer by noon, autumn by the afternoon and winter in the evening! With refreshingly cool weather and gorgeous countryside views, Ba Na Hills is a real treasure of Da Nang.

Source: justgola

How to get there?

Unfortunately for backpackers, there is no public buses to Ba Na Hills. Either, you can get a taxi to Ba Na Hills for 600 000 VND (USD26) round trip, or you can go by signing up for a Ba Na Hills tour. Alternatively, you may rent a bike from hostel (USD5 for 24-hours) and it’s about an hour drive. However, we only recommend this option for confident riders as you may pass by bumpy roads and with big trucks. 

Always happy to be your pillion

Beautiful scenery along the way

Nicely paced road once you reached the property of Sun World

Free sheltered-parking space for bikes

Security card for the bike

How much is the ticket?

The price to enter Ba Na Hills includes the ticket for all cable cars and theme park entrance ticket.

  • Adult: 650,000 VND (USD29)
  • Children ( 1m – 1.3 meters): 550 000 VND 

Luckily there wasn’t any long queues

This ticket price does not include the price for Wax Museum (100,000 VND/ adult, and free for kids), as well as food and beverage. You can read more about the ticket price here.

Grand entrance to take the cable car

Ba Na Cable Car

Apart from the cooling climate and its french architectures, Ba Na cable cars hold two Guinness World Records: the world’s longest single cable car system (5,042.62 m long) and the world’s highest gap between its departure and arrival station (1,291.81 m)! It was an amazing feeling on a cable car cabin floating over an ancient rainforest, hovering over boulders and waterfalls. 

When it’s so great to travel off-peak

Whole cabin to ourselves

Spectacular views

Longest cable car ride we ever had: 20-minutes

What to see?

We arrived at the D’amour Garden (or Le Jardin D’amour) at Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort. The whole area consist of 9 gardens: Love Garden, Mystery Garden, Legendary Garden, Memory Garden, Heaven Garden, Grape Garden, Thought Garden Suoi Mo Garden and Sacred Garden. It was very foggy once we were up there, and it started to drizzle. It was unfortunate for us not being able to take nice pictures. 

There is a Derby Wine Cellar with a constant temperature of 16 to 20 degrees Celsius for you to explore!

Take a funicular up to the French Village!

Here’s the part where I shall let pictures tell the story.

Once it gets too cold to explore outside, there is a 3-storey amusement park to play! All rides, rock climbing, arcade games and movies are inclusive in the entrance ticket except for wax museum and carnival games. 

29-meters drop & twist tower

21-meters rock climbing wall

Pac-man machine

First dinosaur park in Vietnam

Biggest indoor bumper car floor in Vietnam

5-D movie

We glad that we chose to bike up ourselves instead of joining the tour because there’s no way you can explore everything within the limited time frame! We will definitely come back again in another season for better photoshoot!

Avoid Unnecessary Expenses In Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is a charming town on the east coast of Central Vietnam. The Ancient Town of Hoi An is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site and has become one of the “must-visit” destinations in Vietnam. Unfortunately to say, Hoi An has an attitude of “it’s okay to rip off the foreigners” much pervasive than most Vietnamese cities. Here are some of the things we had taken note of which we think are not worth spending on.  

Famous icon of Hoi An: Lanterns

Food

No doubt you can easily googled a list of popular cafes and restaurants recommended in Ancient Town, but be prepared to fork out two or three times more for a piece Bahn Mi or a bowl of Cau Lau (a local dish only found in Hoi An) where serving portions may be half of the typical size. Try getting your meals along the streets outside of Ancient Town, or best of your home-stay offers free breakfast!

Free breakkie made by our hosts!

Typical make-shift stalls along the street

Most costs about 20,000VND (<USD1) for a bowl of noodles

We did, however, splurge a bit on our last day in White Rose Restaurant which sells only 2 dishes: Bahn Bao Vac (White Rose Dumplings) and fried shrimp wanton. Each dish costs 70,000VND (USD3) which is considered quite an expensive snack in Vietnamese standard.

Bicycle Rental

Hoi An can be easily explored by walking or riding a bicycle (riding motorbike is not recommended as you can’t enter Ancient Town with it and most roads are quite narrow). If you are staying within the Ancient Town, chances are you will have to pay for bicycle rental from the owner of your homestay/guesthouse or from rental shops. However, if you are staying a little out of town, the owners are usually happy to let you use for free.

Parking Fees

From Ancient Town area to beaches, everywhere you will be asked to pay a fee, even for bicycles! Note that you can ride bicycle within the Old Town, and may push your bike if you are not comfortable riding in crowded places. For beaches, skip the main entrance to the beach or you may buy a bottle of drink for free parking.  

You will be stopped before even reaching the beach

i’m not sure if you are willing to pay and see this beach, but we are not….

Floating Lanterns

It is a common sight at Ancient Town to see old ladies selling floating lanterns at night. The gimmick is to make a wish, release the lantern to the river and wait for your wish to come true! While it can be a pretty sight to see all the colourful paper lanterns floating on the river, this is just another way of polluting the water used by the local. And some of these lanterns are being used again by another lady on the sampan scooping them out of the river!

Beautiful sight of paper lanterns floating on the river

Easily scooped up one for photo-taking

Doesn’t it looks like pollution?

Sight-Seeing

To enter most of the attractions in the Ancient Town, you are required to purchase a ticket. Most tourists purchased a ticket with coupons (USD5) which allows you to enter five attractions within 24-hours. To us, it’s not a worthy deal. Crossing the Japanese Covered Bridge is definitely no worth USD1 for us. You can easily cycle around to another street, or you may do so after 6pm where the staff is gone and you can cross for free! 

Japanese Bridge

You will be asked to show ticket, or purchase a ticket to cross over the bridge

However, it’s free at night!

Anyways, we suggest that you should cycle to other islands instead of just staying around the Old Town. 

You might be told that entering the Old Town need to present the ticket, but we weren’t stopped by anyone at the kiosk by passing in and out several times a day.    

Where we stay

We stayed at Beautiful Moon Hoi An Villa (Sky House) which is 15-minutes walk from the town. It is a 3-storey house runs by a young couple who make delicious local meals for breakfast. All rooms are private rooms comes with attached bathroom and TV. The owner, Mr. Sky, would give you his hand-drawn map of Hoi An Town will some recommendation of eateries and shops. 

Most people get to Hoi An from Danang, which is only 1-hour bus ride away. Since we were travelling from the South, we took a 12-hours overnight sleeper bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An.

3 foods you shouldn’t miss in Nha Trang, Vietnam

To try real Vietnamese street food you’ll have to get out of the tourist centre. In this post, we are going to recommend 3 foods we had tried during our short stay in Nha Trang, and we think you should too!

Duck Hotpot

Vit Tiem 69 Bach Dang is particularly popular for its duck hotpot, which is served with vegetables, rice noodles, chopped lemongrass, as well as Nha Trang’s signature fish sauce. Drawing a predominantly Vietnamese crowd, the menu here is not in English so it’s best to just point out what is ordered by the neighbouring tables. Expect to pay about VND 300,000 for your meal, which is inclusive of drinks, sauce, and vegetables.

Around the corner behind our hostel

We thought of having duck noodles, but instead a duck hotpot!

Yes! The whole duck in a pot

All the herbs to make the soup for yummy!

Finished the whole duck and soup on a rainy afternoon

Opening Hours: Daily 11:00 – 00:00

Address: 69 Bach Dang Street, Nha Trang

Bánh Xèo

Known as Vietnamese crepes (translated as “sizzling cake”), Bánh Xèo is one of the popular snacks widely eaten by the locals as well as tourists. A much as the style of Bánh Xèo is made vary somewhat throughout Vietnam, the ones in Nha Trang often prepared it with seafood. In Nha Trang, we had the biggest (25-centimeter of diameter) and probably the most delicious Bánh Xèo in Vietnam. 

35,000VND (USD1.50)

You can choose to eat with lettuce or rice paper

’cause one is not enough!!

Opening Hours: Daily 16:00 till ingredients sold out

Address: 85 Tô Hiến Thành, Tân Lập, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Avocado Ice-cream

How could we miss out dessert?! Just opposite the street where we ate duck hotpot, we chanced upon a small dessert shop which served awesome, creamy avocado ice-cream.

Rainy days not gonna stop us from having cold dessert

There are other desserts & fresh smoothies

Creamy avocado topped with vanilla ice cream & shredded coconut

Avocado-coma

All these places are less than 15-minutes walk from our hostel, Mozjo Dorm, in Nha Trang. If you happened to stay there, do check out these hidden gems and much more from their street food map.

Check out Mozjo’s yummy street food map!

 

Indulging in Premier Nha Trang’s Mud Bath and Spa

Soaking in a tub of mud feels as eccentric as it sounds, but it has become a quintessential Nha Trang’s experience. The mud is claimed to have all sorts of healthy, therapeutic properties. Other than mud bath, the facilities usually include Jacuzzi, mineral water swimming pools and other novelties for a full day hydrotherapy extravaganza.

What is a mud bath?

Mud bath is soaking in a bath containing mineral mud. Mineral mud is a natural mud formed from the change of geology, mineral mud derived from plants such as trees, flowers, grass buried or from land created mineral mud.

The medicinal benefits of mud-bathing include removing dead skin cells, detoxifies, deposits minerals into your body, strengthens bones, reduces fatigue, smoothen and toned your skin. It is also believed to treat a number of diseases such as chronic arthritis, tuberculosis, insomnia, sciatica, stress and psoriasis.

I-resort

As highly recommended by Mozjo Dorm’s staff, we chose I-resort to experience my very first mud bath (Gan did it few years back at 100 Egg Mud Bath). As I-resort is located in the hillside on the outskirts of the city, the hostel arranged for us a shutter bus for a fee of 30,000VND (USD1.30). 

Since we didn’t get to do diving for this trip, we have more budget to splurge a bit to pamper ourselves. We got a private tub for 300,000VND (USD13) per person. The price includes a bathing suit (if you need), towel, locker and usage all other facilities in the resort. The mud bath was prepared right in front of us and we were then asked to enter the tub. The bath was very relaxing and calming, leaving the skin soft and refreshed.  A very unique experience to say the least!

After 20-minutes of soaking in the hot mud, we washed off with hot water and explore the rest of the facilities. There are a soaking hot mineral pool, 2 swimming pools with Jacuzzi and four hot waterfalls to enjoy. There are also hydrotherapy sprays for massaging muscles! 

Other places to consider

Thap Ba Spa

Being the first mud bath service in Nha Trang, Thap Ba Spa is considered the cheapest but most crowded mud bath compared to the rest. Starting price is 150,000VND (USD6.50) for shared tub with cold mud. 

100 Egg Mud Bath

For a more unique experience, 100 Egg is a place devoted to eggs! Everything from tubs to decoration to menu in the restaurant are all about eggs. A private egg tub is big enough to hold 3 people for the price of 300,000VND (USD13) per pax.

Apart from diving, this is a must-do experience in Nha Trang!! 

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Crazy House in Dalat, Vietnam

Thailand has Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Vietnam has Crazy House!

The Crazy House, as it is called by locals and tourists alike, does actually have a real name – the Hang Nga Guesthouse. It has rooms that can be slept in but also open during the day for visitors to wander through and explore.

Our plan was to stopover at dalat to do canyoning, but it was far too cold so we decided to come back again during summer. And that left us a few hours on this highland before proceed to our next destination. Our option is pretty obvious: The Crazy House. 

Entrance fee: 50,000VND (USD2)

Here’s 5 reasons why you shouldn’t miss The Crazy House: 

It has an inspiring story

The existence of the Crazy House exists purely through the undying faith and perseverance of Dang Viet Nga. An idealist with lofty ambitions overcomes overwhelming obstacles to make her dream a reality. Her neighbors tried stop her. The banks tried to stop her. Even the government tried to stop her, but she never gave up on her dream.

Even though it is theoretically a hotel, Hang Nga Guesthouse is today regarded as a “museum” of dream, childhood and abnormality. The Crazy House was not her ticket to fame and fortune but her ticket to headaches and heartburn, her passion, her contribution to the world, and her triumph. 

This whole project is still in progress and aimed to be completely done by 2020.

This area is still in construction, but visitors can walk around at their own risks

Under-the-sea’s theme coming up!

Unique architectural designs 

As art, as architecture, even as an attraction, the Crazy House is true only to the artistic spirit of Dang Viet Nga. The Crazy House is outrageously beautiful, hideously eccentric, and downright weird of tree-houses with uneven windows, tunnel-shaped stairways, etc.

It is the top 3 strangest hotels in the world

Dubbed “The Crazy House” during its construction, this bizarre guesthouse in the heart of Dalat City is the creation of Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga. Featuring ten nature-themed rooms, the hotel is “Gaudi meets Disneyland,” with more than a little of Dali thrown in.

Everywhere is an instagrammable spot!

Great view of Dalat City

Getting there to Dalat

We left Mui Ne on a small bus and headed to Dalat, a city in the Highlands region of Vietnam. Lying on the hills and surrounding Ho Xuan Hurong Lake, its climate differs from the otherwise tropical climate of Vietnam—the lower temperatures and humidity gave it the name of the “City of Eternal Spring”.

The journey took around 4-hours (99,000vnd/USD4) through twisting roads and cars overtaking us like in an action movie. On the bright side, the landscape grew greener as pine trees started covering the hills. Up there, coffee plantations and strawberries greenhouses substituted the dragon fruit plains of the lowlands.

There are many more things you can do in Dalat besides The Crazy House. We will definitely come back on drier season and explore more places!