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History of the Albert Dock, Liverpool

Located in Liverpool’s incredible World Heritage waterfront, the Albert Dock Liverpool is one of the areas most visited tourist attractions. The site features the largest collection of grade I listed buildings in England and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site along with other areas of Liverpool in 2004.

The history dates back to 1839, when it was once a thriving port. Designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick, it was the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone with no structured wood. By the 1920’s commercial shipping had virtually ceased and the site was used mostly for storage. However, it remained a working dock until closing in 1972. It then turned into a derelict site until it received a full regenerative transformation in 1988. In June 2018, the Albert dock was recognised by Her Majesty The Queen and was officially re-named the Royal Albert Dock.

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

Albert Dock Liverpool: Why Visit?

No trip to Liverpool is complete without a visit to the Royal Albert Dock.  This historic and cultural part of the city is actually the most popular free tourist attraction in the North West of England. There is always something to do, including several museums, art galleries, as well as an regular themed events throughout the year. As well as the historical sites and museums you will also find many bars, restaurants, cafes, shops and artwork dotted around every corner. Regardless of age and interests, you’ll easily find something to do in the Albert Dock.

Albert Dock Liverpool: Things to do

There is no shortage of things to do at the Albert Dock and you could easily spend a whole day here, whether you’re visiting with your friends, family or exploring on your own.

One of the best things to do is too just walk round and explore. As you walk around you’ll notice lots of artwork, musicians and beautiful architecture. Sometimes you may even find yourself in a festival of some kind! For more information on what events are planned in the future, check out the Royal Albert Dock Website here.

Mersey Maritime Museum

The Mersey Maritime Museum showcases the maritime history of the Port of Liverpool. Highlights include ship models, maritime paintings, colourful posters from the golden age of liners and even some full sized vessels. You will also find several exhibitions including:

  • Titanic and Liverpool: Discover the untold story of the famous ship.
  • Seized!: Border and customs uncovered
  • Lusitania, Life, Loss and Legacy: The incredible story of Liverpool’s favourite liner.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays you can also book a free tour that takes you underneath Liverpool One shopping centre to check out the carefully preserved Old Dock. The Old Dock was discovered during excavations in 2001 after being buried since 1826. For the first time in centuries the bed of the Pool, the creek that gave Liverpool its name, can be seen.

For more information check out the Mersey Maritime Museum website, entrance is free, donations welcome.

The Piermaster’s House

The Pier-masters’s house was one of four houses originally built in 1852. The Pier-master was responsible for the safe passage of ships entering and leaving the docks at high tide. The house was the only one still standing after the heavy bombing during the Second World War. The house was converted in 2003 into a wartime house complete with original period furniture, and everyday objects. Today you can wander around the rooms and find out what it was like to live during war time Liverpool.

International Slavery Museum

Located on the third floor of the Mersey Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum highlights the stories of millions of Africans who were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic by Europeans and Americans as a labour force to work, especially on plantations.

Liverpool ships alone are known to have carried 1.5 million slaves across to the Caribbean, returning with goods such as sugar, cotton, coffee and tobacco. It was this trade that made Liverpool boom! Although the British ended the slave trade in 1807, Liverpool’s connection with slavery continued through cotton and other trades that were dependent on slave labour for much of the 19th century.

The International Slavery Museum opened on the 23 August 2007, not only the date of the annual Slavery Remembrance Day, but the year 2007 was particularly significant as it was the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade. The museum not only highlights stories and artefacts from the transatlantic slave trade but also focuses on modern slavery, raising awareness for slavery in today’s world!

For more information check out the International Slavery Museum website, entrance is free, donations welcome.

Tate – Liverpool

Check out some great British modern art at Tate Liverpool. Entrance is free, except for some exhibitions. Checkout the official website here.

The Beatles Story

As most people probably already know, Liverpool’s most famous export was The Beatles! Follow the story of how four young lads from Liverpool were propelled to the dizzy heights of fame and fortune.

Tickets cost £16.95 Adults £10 Children. Tickets and more information can be bought in advance on the official website here.

Escape Hunt

Are you in Liverpool with a group of friends, looking for something different to do, if so check out Escape Hunt. Groups of 1-6 are ideal but if you have more, split up and go head to head?

There are four different games to play, once locked in, you have an hour to work together as a team to figure out the clues and escape. Can you beat the clock! Afterwards enjoy the in-house bar and fun photo opportunities.

For more information check out the official website here, prices range from £20-25 per person depending on group sizes.

Liverpool Wheel

For some of the best views across the River Mersey and the Albert Dock head to the Liverpool Wheel. Situated next to the M&S Bank Arena and Conference Centre. The structure measures 196 feet tall, weighs 365 tonnes and incorporates 42 fully enclosed capsules offering stunning panoramic views across the city. If its a special occasion why not book the VIP package offering a private capsule, leather seats and Champagne!

For more information and to book on line check out the website here.

Liverpool Wheel

Check out the fabulous bars and restaurants

There are numerous bars and restaurants all located within the Albert Dock itself as well as a number of great street food options.

My favourites include:

Gusto – One of my favourite restaurants in Liverpool. If you like Italian food then this is the place to go! Also serves great cocktails! Menus and how to book a table can be found online here.

The Smugglers Cove – A great themed pub, brace yourself for the perfect pirate experience at Smuggler’s Cove’s atmospheric eatery. Menus and booking information can be found online here.

Miller and Carter Steak House – If its a steak ya after, then you definitely need to check out this place! For more information on menus and booking check the website here.

Albert Dock Liverpool
One of the many street food options

As a Liverpool lass myself, I can honestly say that the Albert Dock is one of my favourite parts of the city. You will never get tired of wandering around, coffee in hand watching the world go by. Even if you just fancy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, its a great place to relax and watch the sun go down. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve visited but will always come back for more!

Have you visited Liverpool? If so did you check out the Royal Albert Dock? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Did you enjoy reading this guide to the Albert Dock Liverpool, if so please share on you favourite social media and subscribe to my blog to be the first to hear about my future travels.

Thanks for reading,

Happy Travels,

Louise X

Can you see Venice in 24 hours? Ideally, I would say no, you need to spend at least a few days in Venice to make the most of this beautiful city. However if short on time like I was, then this guide to 24 hours in Venice is just what you need.

Venice, also known as the ‘Floating City’ is an archipelago of 118 islands connected by numerous canals and bridges. The main island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. At its height, Venice was one of the wealthiest trading posts in Europe, and most of its buildings date to this period between the 13th and 18th centuries. As Venice has some very strict laws about historical preservation, the views you see today are probably the same as back then.

Unfortunately one sight not seen in its heyday was the many cruise ships that now dock in its lagoon. Campaigners have long argued that these huge ships are damaging canal banks with the waves they create as they churn down the picturesque Giudecca Canal. However, from 2021 the Italian government is banning large cruise ships from sailing past through St Mark’s Basin and docking in the city.  Instead cruise ships will dock
on the mainland at Marghera. So if you plan on visiting Venice via a cruise after this date, be prepared for a coach journey to take you into Venice.

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

24 hours in Venice: Where to stay?

Venice is renowned for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe and accommodation is no exception. Hotels on the main Island near to St Marks square are the most expensive and as you move away to the surrounding islands and even the mainland, the prices become considerably cheaper. Here’s my pick of accommodation for every budget all located in the San Marco district of Venice. All prices are based on a stay in April 2019, expect to pay double in July/August. For the best deals I recommend using Hotels.com.

High End – Hotel Ai Reali ££££

The Hotel ai Reali is a beautiful hotel situated just around the corner from the Rialto bridge. Starting at £170 a night for a basic room and £700 for a suite with a canal view, it’s not the option for most budgets. For more details check out the official website.

Top End – Hotel Flora £££

I’m normally a budget traveller but as this trip was to celebrate my parents wedding anniversary we decided to up our budget and booked a night at the fabulous Hotel Flora. This hotel is conveniently situated close to St Marks Square tucked out the way on the popular Calle del Pestrin. This hotel is situated in the perfect location, has beautiful rooms looking out into the private courtyard were a variety of home made delights are served for breakfast. Room prices start from £120 a night for a budget room to £200 for a deluxe room with garden view. For more details check out the official website.

Mid range – Hotel San Samuele ££

Hotel San Samuele is a beautiful simple hotel set within a historic building, just a short walk away from St Marks Square. Rooms cost around £75 a night. For further information check out the official website.

Budget End – Hotel San Maurizio £

For budget travellers you can’t get much better in the centre of Venice than the Hotel San Maurizio. Situated in a noble, carefully restored sixteenth-century palace, this hotel offers an affordable option for a perfect stay in Venice. Prices are around £40 a night for a double room with shared bathroom. For more information check out the official website.

Hostel – Generator Venice £

For single travellers then a stay in a hostel may be a better option if needing to stay within a tight budget. Generator Venice is not in located in the centre of Venice, but just a short ferry ride across from St Marks Square. For only £30 a night for a bed in a shared dorm, this hotel offers great value for money. For more information check out the official website. If unsure about staying in hostels then check out my guide to surviving hostels here.

For finding the best value deals on hotels and hostels in and around Venice I recommend using Hotels.com. This useful website will give you all options for any budget and you can even filter results by price, star rating, facilities and location helping you make the right accommodation choices for you. For Hostel accommodation then Hostel World is your best choice.

24 hours in Venice: Getting there?

Plane

The nearest airport to Venice is Venice Marco Polo which is served by most major airlines. Located just 7 miles from the city centre its the easiest option if travelling from outside Italy. For the best flight deals I recommend using Skyscanner. You can get from the airport to Venice by either bus of boat. Buses are the cheapest option at €6 one way and €11 return. Boats offer a more traditional way of getting into the city and cost €15 one way €25 return. Tickets for both options can be purchased in the arrivals hall. Taxi’s are also available costing around €35 and a private water taxi €100.

Treviso airport is another option, located 19 miles outside the city. this airport is generally used by the more low cost budget operators. Buses into the city are available for €12 one way €22 return and take around 70 minutes.

Train

The main station is Venezia Santa Lucia, conveniently located right on the Grand Canal. If travelling from other cities in Italy then taking the train is a great option. The national rail operator in Italy is Trenitalia, tickets can be bought online at The Train line. Once at the station you can get to most places around Venice from the many water boat services located outside the entrance.

Bus

You can get to Venice from surrounding cities in Italy and beyond by various bus networks. A useful website for finding bus services in Europe is GoEuro

Getting around Venice

The Grand Canal is the main waterway in Venice and runs for 3.8 km through the city.

Water buses or vaporetti as they are known locally are the most popular way to get around Venice. There are two main vaporetto routes: from Santa Lucia train station and Piazzale Roma road terminus. Vaporetto tickets cost €7.50 single, valid for 60 minutes with any number of changes in the same direction. If you are planning to use the water buses a lot, invest in a travel card (€20 for 24 hours; up to €60 for a week). Just note that its not possible to buy vaporetto tickets as some of the smaller vaporetto stops.

24 hours in Venice, things to see & do:

If you only have 24 hours in the city, then I recommend arriving as early as possible in the morning and leaving as late as possible the next day to maximise your time in this beautiful city. Unfortunately we arrived via train from Lake Garda around noon and the crowds where already at full force! It didn’t help that it was the end of July, the height of peak season. However it didn’t stop us from seeing most of the main sights. I would recommend visiting the main sights on the first day and then taking a morning trip out to Burano Island the next day before leaving Venice in the evening.

If you want to see as much as possible in a short space of time, then consider taking an organised tour. Depending on what you want to see these tours will make the best use of your time whilst in Venice. Some options to consider are:

Basilica di San Marco

A visit to the Basilica di San Marco is a must for a first-time tourist to Venice, and indeed the church holds so many precious artworks and relics that subsequent visits are recommended. Considered one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in the world, the Basilica di San Marco is known for its opulent design and gilded interior mosaics, and nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro, “Church of Gold”. Its design is a mixture of eastern and western architecture styles resulting in a unique architecture typical for Venice.

The lines to visit the Basilica di San Marco can be extremely
long, especially in the summer months, therefore I recommend booking skip the line tickets in advance! This will save you time especially if only in Venice for 24 hours. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Doge’s Palace

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Doge’s Palace is an impressive structure thought to have been originally built in the 10th Century. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic, opening as a museum in 1923. Entrance fees are €20, tickets can be purchased on line here.

St Mark’s Campanile

St Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica, located in the Piazza San Marco. It is one of the most recognisable symbols of the city. The tower stands alone in a corner of St Mark’s Square, near the front of the basilica. With its 99 metres of height, St Mark’s Campanile offers the best view over the city and its lagoon! Be sure to purchase skip the line tickets on line here, cost €13

Bridge of Sighs

Believed by many to be the most beautiful bridge in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs is a must see! Built in the 17th century this fully enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and is attached to what was once the interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace. Poet Lord Byron once described the bridge as the last point where condemned prisoners could see the beautiful city of Venice before they were brought to their executioner.

Rialto Bridge

The Ponte di Rialto was built between 1588 and 1591, as a permanent replacement for the boat bridge and three wooden bridges that had spanned the Grand Canal at various times since the 12th Century. The bridge has three walkways: two along the outer balustrades, and a wider central walkway leading between two rows of small shops that sell jewellery, linens, Murano glass, and other items for the tourist trade. beware though this bridge can get extremely busy and can be a effort to cross due to the crowds and the many steps.

Gondola ride

No trip to Venice is complete without a ride on a Gondola, although quite expensive, this has got to be the best way to explore the unique waterways and bridges of Venice. Gondola stands are located throughout the city. Some trips include a jaunt down the Grand Canal while others paddle along the quieter side canals. Gondola rides are offered at a fixed cost set by the city government, however many gondoliers do not always adhere to these costs, so negotiation may be necessary! Expect to pay around €80 for 30 minutes and €40 for every extra 20 minutes. These prices will also increase after 7 pm.

Get lost

Venice is not only famous for its beautiful architecture and waterways but also its crowds! Even in low season it can appear crowded. For some reason though, most travellers walk along one or two major arterial’s from the train station or cruise port to the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square and then back again. However spend a few hours wandering around its side streets and you will almost have the place to yourself. Not only will you find tranquillity in one of Europe’s busiest cities you will also see some beautiful architecture and some hidden gems.

Piazza San Marco at night

The Piazza San Marco is immensely crowded during the day but come nightfall, it’s magical! Like the rest of Venice, once the day trippers have left you almost have this beautiful city to yourself! You can sit listening to the restaurant musicians playing beautiful music whilst taking in the beautiful Basilica di San Marco and the bell tower all lit up. This was my favourite experience in Venice, to see this place all lit up in the evening bought tears to my eyes! Simply stunning!

Burano Island

A small fishing village located in the Venetian lagoon, Burano is a fun day trip. Its small houses are brightly painted, creating a rainbow coloured backdrop, perfect for popping Instagram photographs. Burano is easily accessible by Venetian water bus from St. Mark’s Square. However if short on time I recommend booking a morning tour, some of which may also take you to some of the other nearby islands as well.

Tips on visiting Venice

  • Eat authentic local food, there is some for any kind of budget. Cheaper options are always away from the main tourist hot spots!
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, you will do a lot of walking around Venice!
  • Carry a refillable water bottle, not only good for the environment but also your wallet. Almost every main square has a working fountain where you will be able to refill your bottle.
  • Buy attraction tickets in advance, if possible skip the line as queues can sometimes be hours long.
  • Venice is extremely safe, just keep an eye on your belongings especially in crowded areas.
  • Always be prepared for the unexpected, make sure you always travel with Insurance!

There is so much more to do in Venice but with only 24 hours to explore, its not possible to see it all. These were my top picks for 24 hours in Venice. I hope you enjoyed reading and I have inspired you to take a trip to this beautiful city. Do you have any tips on visiting Venice, if so let me know in the comments section below.

Also if you like this post and want to read more then please subscribe to my blog and follow me on your favourite social media,

Thanks for reading,

Happy travels,

Louise X

3 week Thailand: A Budget Guide

For many people, Thailand is seen as an exotic dream location. Magazines are filled with images showcasing the countries endless opportunities to experience the hospitality, culture and historic sights of this beautiful country. Although mostly from 5 star boutique resorts and Spa’s. However Thailand is also a very budget friendly country which can be enjoyed even with the smallest of budgets! This 3 week Thailand Itinerary guide will show you how you can enjoy the best of Thailand without blowing the budget!

The majority of people who travel to Thailand, do so by booking pre-organised package holidays or tours that can usually work out quite expensive. However travelling independently can work out around 60% cheaper. Many people believe that organising an independent trip can be risky and complicated but I’m here to persuade you otherwise. Over the years I have spent over 3 months in Thailand and have learnt a few things about travelling around this amazing country.

For ease I have noted most prices in British Pounds and smaller prices in Thai Baht (current exchange rate £1 – 43 Baht) Prices as of Jan 2019.

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

3 Week Thailand Itinerary: Budget

Flights to Thailand

For most people the biggest expense travelling to Thailand will be the international flights. However by booking in advance and using a search engine such as Skyscanner you can find some really great deals. If booking 6 months in advance you can usually find return prices from Europe with airlines such as Emirates or Ethihad for around £450.

If travelling from other Asian countries, you can usually find cheap fares from the likes of Air Asia or Nok Air.

Most people will arrive in Thailand via Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. Once at the airport there are a number of options to get into the city.

Taxi – The public taxi stand is located on level 1 (ground level). Receive a ticket from the ticket machine and then proceed to the taxi lane indicated on the ticket. Fares will be metered with extra costs for airport surcharge (50 Baht) and expressway fees. Average fares into the city cost around £10. Although I have heard of some tourists being ripped off and charged around £40.

Rail Link – Bangkok Airport Rail Link is a commuter rail line connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phaya Thai (BTS) station via Makkasan Station (MRT Phetchaburi). Fares cost between 15-45 Baht. Bear in mind that if staying in some parts of Bangkok such as the Khao San Road you will also need to get a taxi or bus to your final destination.

Bus – There are a number of public buses to various parts of Bangkok. To get to the khao San road you can now get the new S1 Link bus form exit 7 for 60 Baht. The last time I went to Thailand I got this bus and would very much recommend it, very comfortable and convenient.

Private transfer – There are many companies offering private transfers, however if on a budget these may not be the best option. Prices range from £20

Accommodation in Thailand

There are a vast array of accommodation options in Thailand ranging from hostels to 5 star resorts.

For many budget travellers, hostels are the way to go costing anything from £3 to £30 a night for a dorm room. However if travelling as a couple it may be more cost effective to get a private room in a hotel. If apprehensive about staying in hostels then check out my guide on surviving hostels here.

Hotels range from £10 to upwards of £100 a night for a private room. For the best deals on accommodation costs I recommend using Hotels.com and Hostel World for more budget friendly options such as hostels.

Food costs in Thailand

Thai food is one of the reasons I keep going back! Thai food is amazingly tasty and is available everywhere and is extremely cheap! Hardcore budget travellers can get by on a £5 a day food budget but I wouldn’t recommend this option as you will be restricted to street food. Although tasty it could quickly become boring. My advice is to up your food budget to around £10 a day. This would mean enjoying the fabulous street food during the day but also the chance to eat in a lovely restaurant in the evening.

The most popular street food options include fried rice, noodle dishes, chicken sticks and spring rolls. All available for around £1 a dish. Don’t be scared of trying the street food, its some of the tastiest food in Thailand and very safe to eat. Just make sure you buy food from vendors who look busy and food hasn’t been left out for long periods. In all the time I spent in Thailand I was never sick. If in doubt stick to the veterinarian options.

Meals in a local Thai restaurant will usually set you back around £5 and more western type dishes costing slightly more. Throughout Thailand you will also find all the usual fast food chains but with all the amazing Thai food around I wouldn’t recommend visiting.

If you want to find out more about Thai cuisine, then check out these fabulous food tours below:

Drinking in Thailand

Thailand is well known for its drinking and party culture. However if you are not a big drinker you can still enjoy all the sights this beautiful country has too offer.

For those who do like to have a drink, this is where you budget could quickly be eaten up.

  • Large bottled beer costs around 50 Baht in a 7-11 to around 100 Baht in a bar.
  • Spirits cost around 100 – 400 Baht depending on brand.
  • Buckets made for sharing cost anything from 150 to 500 Baht again depending on brand used.

Just be aware when drinking in Thailand, especially drinking buckets. These drinks have been known to include drugs as well a fake alcohol. Men should be especially aware when drinking in “girlie” bars as these girls have been known to drug and rob Western men. Always be careful with any drink and don’t share with strangers.

3 Week Thailand Itinerary

Day 1 – Bangkok (3 nights)

Check in to your hostel or hotel and depending on how long you have been travelling either take a nap or go out and explore. For first timers and budget travellers I recommend staying in the Khao San Road area.

My favourite hostel in Bangkok is Nap Park located a block away from the Khao San Road. From just £8 a night for a dorm bed, this hostel has everything you need. Extremely clean and comfortable dorm room, with excellent shower facilities. Friendly staff and a communal area, great for meeting other travellers.

If a private room is more your thing then I recommend a stay in the Dang Derm Hotel situated right on the Khao san Road. This hotel is slap bang in the middle of the action so don’t expect it to be quite. However, you can easily escape the craziness of outside whilst chilling at the fabulous rooftop pool. A night in this hotel is around £30 for a twin room with air-conditioning. Excellent value if sharing with a friend or partner!

Day 2 – Bangkok Temples

Today I recommend a visit to Bangkok’s most famous temples, The Grand Palace and Wat Pho, home to the reclining Buddha.

The Grand Palace is a series of buildings and temples that have been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. The king no longer lives here but its still used for state ceremonies. Inside you will be in awe of the beauty of the place and the intricate detailing within the architecture. Try and visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Entrance is 500 baht.

Scam alert: If any tuk-tuk drivers tell you the palace is closed and offer you alternative trips, ignore them! The Palace is open every day.

Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha is also know as the Golden Buddha. This site is only a short walk away from The Grand Palace and is famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 meters long. Entrance is 100 Baht.

Next head over the river to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, probably one of the most photographed temples in Bangkok. It has an imposing spire over 70 meters high, beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns. To get there take the boat from pier 8 directly across from Wat Pho for only 3 Baht. Entrance is 100 Baht.

Note: Remember to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites throughout Thailand. Shoulders and Knees should always be covered.

After visiting the temples head back to the Khao san Road for lunch and maybe a few beers! In the evening check out some of the local night life. The Khao San road is the place for cheap drinks and lively nights but if you fancy something more special then you could always grab a taxi to one of the many Sky bars, my favorite being Octave. Be sure to arrive around 4.30 pm ready to enjoy the 2 for 1 coctail offers and watch a beautiful sunset over Bangkok.

Day 3 – Bangkok tours

Depending on what you are interested in, I would use this day to either take a tour, go shopping or just wander around the city taking in all the sights. Tours I recommend are visiting the floating markets or the ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya.

Personally I would take a trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park just a few hours drive from Bangkok. This historic city is a UNESCO world heritage site, founded back in 1350. This is a fascinating trip and a must see for those interested in Thai history and culture. For more information about visiting Ayutthaya historical Park check out my guide here.

Day 4, 5 & 6 – Kanchanaburi (2 nights)

Kanchanaburi is a couple of hours drive from Bangkok and is a beautiful part of Thailand to explore. Spend a few days exploring the countryside or visiting some of its historic sights. To get to Kanchanaburi you can get a minibus from many of the bus stations around Bangkok for around 200 Baht. You can also arrange transport from any of the tourist agents either at your hotel or around the area, expect to pay an extra 50 Baht if using an agent.

One hotel I recommend in Kanchanaburi is the Sky Resort Kanchanaburi. For around £20 a night you get lovely clean air-conditioned rooms and access to a refreshing swimming pool. Across the road the hotel also owns a restaurant serving great Thai food with wonderful views across the River Kwai.

Sky Resort Kanchanaburi
View from our room at Sky Resort Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is famous for ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’ and ‘Hell Fire Pass’ as well as other monuments and museums dedicated to those who lost their lives during WW2. Other thing to do include:

  • Exploring the beautiful Erawan National Park
  • Taking a train ride along the ‘Death Railway’
  • Taking a boat ride along the River Kwai
  • Exploring many of the museums
  • Making the most of the tranquil environment and taking the chance to relax and maybe enjoy some cocktails by the pool.

For more information on Kanchanaburi check out my guide here.

In the evening of day 6 catch the overnight bus to Chiang Mai. If you have never taken a trip on an overnight bus before then you may be pleasantly surprised. These buses offer comfortable almost fully reclining seats, a blanket, pillow, water and a snack for around £15. For tickets you need to visit the bus station in Kanchanaburi in person, I recommend buying them the day before.

Day 7, 8, 9 & 10 – Chiang Mai (3 nights)

Surrounded by beautiful mountains and a relaxed vibe, Chiang Mai is everything Bangkok isn’t! Chiang Mai was once the capital of Thailand explaining the sheer amount of temples and ruins dotted around the city. The old part is surrounded by its historic city walls and is known for its cafes, restaurants and sightseeing options.

I recommend finding accommodation within the walled city, however these will be more expensive. I stayed in the Pai Residence Chiang Mai Gate which was inside the walls close to the main walking street. The rooms were small but adequate with a small pool to cool off in, however are air conditioning was broken for the duration of our stay which meant uncomfortable nights. For only £20 a night I wasn’t too aggrieved.

Things to do in chiang Mai include:

  • Check out the fabulous markets, if possible try and stay in the city over the weekend in order to check out the Sunday walking street market.
  • Check out the Chiang Mai Art and Cultural Center dedicated to preserving (and educating people about) the history and culture of Chiang Mai. 
  • Have a Thai massage, I recommend visiting the Women’s Massage Center run by ex-offenders. This center trains ex-prisoners in Thai massage in order to help them reintegrate into society and provide an income.
  • Explore the temples. Either take a bicycle tour or set off on foot and get lost in the cities side streets. No mater which way you turn you will find a temple!
  • Take a cookery class. Chiang Mai is famous for its Thai cuisine and what better way to learn about Thai food than taking a cooking class.
  • Grab a coffee in one of the many coffee shops around the city, you will be spoiled for choice!
  • Explore further afield by taking a local tour. Get your Guide offer value for money tours to many of the popular options in and around Chiang Mai.

3 Week Thailand Itinerary

Thailand Island’s – Day 10 – 20 (10 nights)

Once your time in Chiang Mai has come to an end you have a few choices. You can either take a cheap flight down to Krabi (around £30) and check out Thailand’s West coast or take a more expensive flight to Koh Samui (around £120) and check out Thailand’s East coast. With 10 days to spare before having to return to Bangkok for the flight home, I recommend sticking to 2 separate island’s within the same area. Which ever islands you choose you will have plenty of opportunities to relax on beautiful beaches as well as hiking, snorkelling, fabulous restaurants and excellent nightlife.

Here’s my round up of island’s to discover:

Thailand’s East coast

Koh Samui – One of Thailand’s more touristic islands, Koh Samui has everything from, beautiful white sandy beaches, temples, cafes, restaurants and great nightlife. However as the island is more geared towards the luxury crowd, accommodation can be more expensive than some of the other islands. Even so you can still find plenty of budget options. My favourite is Cheeky monkeys where you can have a private double room, fabulous rooftop pool and restaurant, all for only £20 a night.

3 week Thailand itinerary
Cheeky Monkeys rooftop pool

Koh Phangan – Famous for its full moon parties, however there is more to this island than partying. Around the island there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, exploring waterfalls and relaxing on almost deserted beaches. However if partying is your thing then make sure your around for the ‘Full Moon Party’. These parties are held on Haad Rin Beach and known to attract between 5000 and 30,000 people depending on the season. For accommodation you will find plenty of low cost budget options. Be sure to check out Serena Bungalows offering bungalows right on the beautiful Baan Tai beach.

Koh Tao – This island has to be one of my favourites in all of Thailand! Made famous for its snorkelling and scuba diving, this island is a beach lovers paradise. For budget stays you won’t find a better hotel than the Montalay Beach Resort. This hotel sits directly on one of Koh Tao’s most beautiful beaches offering some of the best snorkelling directly from the beach! The only downside is that the location is away from the main town which means you are limited for places to eat etc, however the hotel can arrange taxi’s as well as free pick up and drop off from the pier. The secluded location also meant hardly any tourists meaning the beach was almost empty, the perfect place to chill out and relax!

Thailand’s West coast

Krabi – The gateway for Ao Nang and Railay beach. The area is famous for its natural beauty, with spectacular mountains and rain forest inland and over 150 islands along it coast.

Many people opt to stay in Ao Nang and visit the nearby islands as a day trip. Access to the islands is extremely easy as there are plenty of vendors taking you across in the traditional Thai long tail boats. Boats from Ao Nang to Railay beach cost 60 baht and take 15 minutes. There are plenty of budget options around Ao Nang, I personally recommend Chic n Chill bed and Breakfast, not only does it provide spacious clean rooms but gives you access to the 4 star hotel across the road including breakfast and use of the fabulous pool all for £22 a night.

Koh Phi Phi – This island is know for its party atmosphere as well as its accessibility to The famous ‘Maya bay’ featured in the movie The Beach staring Leonardo DiCaprio. I was originally going to give this island a miss thinking it would be too touristy for my liking but in the end decided to check it out. Accommodation in Koh Phi Phi is known to be a lot more expensive than the rest of Thailand with standards far shorter. With this in mind we increased our budget and checked in to the lovely Panmanee House. This hotel had no pool but offered lovely clean air-conditioned rooms in a central location for £40 a night. Well worth the extra considering some of the stories we heard about other cheaper establishments on the island.

Although Koh Phi Phi is extremely busy with tourists I found it to be a fabulous island. Although accommodation is more expensive we found the cafes and restaurants to be just as cheap as the rest of Thailand. Boat trips around the island and to Maya bay were surprising cheap as well. We took a long tail boat trip around the island stopping a various snorkelling stops as well as a couple of hours on Maya bay to chill out and explore. on the trip back we were even offered the chance to see the glow in the dark plankton which was amazing all at only 400 Baht.

Koh Phi Phi is also know for its night life. Although I don’t see myself as a party animal it didn’t take long for me to be pulled under the Phi Phi spell. Before I knew it I was drinking buckets of cheap vodka watching fire shows on the beach and even woke up with a new tattoo! Be warned the night life can be wild!

Koh Lanta – If needing to recover from the party island of Koh Phi Phi then Koh Lanta is the perfect destination to relax and enjoy the beautiful white sandy beaches. We stayed at Lanta Sunny house in a lovely little bungalow just a 2 minute walk from the beach. There was also a very inviting pool to enjoy all for only £15 a night. There is not a lot going on in Koh Lanta but its the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen!

So there you have it, my 3 week Thailand Itinerary. Of course, there are lots of other places to explore in Thailand but I believe this itinerary is best for first time visitors offering a good mixture of things to experience in this beautiful country. After all, after one trip you are sure to be back to the ‘Land of Smiles’ again and again!

Have you been to Thailand? If so let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this guide please give it a like or a share and be sure to subscribe to be the first to hear about my future travels.

Happy Travels,

Louise X

A Rio de Janeiro travel guide

Rio de Janeiro is probably one of the best known tourist destinations in South America. If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to spend a week in Rio de Janeiro then look no further. This guide will give you all you need to know to make the best out of trip to this iconic city.

Rio de Janeiro is one of 27 federal units in Brazil, and is the country’s second largest city. It is also known locally as Cidade Maravihosa, the Marvellous City. Rio de Janeiro in nestled in a beautiful location squeezed in-between the Atlantic Ocean and dominant hills giving it a unique dramatic setting.

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

a week in rio de janeiro
Ipanema beach


A week in Rio de Janeiro: Getting there

Rio de Janeiro international airport is approximately 20km from the city centre. Several bus, taxi and transport services offer transport between the airport and city centre. For the best flight deals use Skyscanner, I managed to get return fares from the UK to Rio for £450 with Air France!

BRT (Rapid Bus Transport) – At the airport there are two stations serving passengers, price R$ 4.50

  • Galeão – Tom Jobim 1: located in the Terminal 1 arrivals – H door
  • Galeão – Tom Jobim 2: located in the Terminal 2 arrivals – D door

Bus – There are several bus companies that run from the airport to various locations around the city, costs R$ 4-16 For more information check out vadeoni bus, there is also a downloadable phone app for convenience.

Taxi – There are a variety of taxi companies waiting at the airport. Bookable ‘radio taxi’ located inside the terminal have fixed prices  from R$ 40 You pay at the counter at the airport so you don’t have to worry about drivers taking you the long way round and ripping you off.

Transport companies – You can find various private transport companies on-line offering private transfers for around R$ 180


A week in Rio de Janeiro: Where to stay?

There are a variety of hotels and hostels throughout Rio de Janeiro offering everything from budget to luxury accommodation.  I personally stayed in a fabulous hostel located in Leblon close to Ipanema beach.

The Lemon spirit is a great low cost budget option with very friendly staff and a great bar and outside patio, a great place to meet other travellers.  If you are looking to stay in a hostel but not sure what to expect, then check out my guide on how to survive staying in hostels.

For the best deals on accommodation in Rio I recommend Hotels.com for great hotel deals, with the added bonus of 1 free night in every 10 booked! For hostel accommodation then you don’t get any better than booking with Hostel World!


A week in Rio de Janeiro: Best time to visit

Rio de Janeiro can be visited at any time of year but it’s probably best enjoyed during the summer months between December and March when you can really get out and enjoy all the fabulous beaches and outdoor activities. Of course you can still visit Rio de Janeiro in the colder months especially if beaches aren’t your thing. Just make sure you prepare for the colder weather. I visited in May and the weather was very changeable, some days beautiful sunshine and others cold and rainy.

Rio carnival is a popular time to visit in February but expect a lot of crowds. During this time expect extravagant parades and all day parties.

Rio de Janeiro: Things to do

If staying for a week in Rio de Janeiro you will have plenty of time to enjoy the best of what’s on offer! Here are the best things to do whilst in Rio de Janeiro.

Christ the Redeemer

One of the things most tourists check out whilst in Rio is visiting the famous statue Christ the Redeemer. This iconic statue is classed at one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is located on top of Corcovado Mountain, in the Tijuca National Park, the largest urban forest in the world.

a week in rio de Janeiro
Christ the Redeemer

There are two ways to get up the mountain, train or vehicle.

Train – You can get the train from the Trem do Corcovado station at the base of the Corcovado peak. Prices are between R$ 65-79 depending on the season and include return a journey and entrance. Tickets and more information can be found online here

Vehicle – You can get the official van from three different locations around the city, these are Copacabana, Largo do Machado and Barra da Tijuca.  As with the train these include return fare and entrance. You can buy tickets online here

You may have heard about hiking up the mountain but I would not recommend this. There have been a large number of muggings in the area and I believe the route has since been closed to the public.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain also known as Pão de Açúcar is just as iconic as Christ the Redeemer. The views from the top are truly spectacular. Unless you are an avid climber the only way to reach the summit is by a series of cable cars.

The first cable car takes you half way up the route to the smaller peak of Morro da Urca, the second cable car then takes you to the peak of Pão de Açúcar. The cable car itself offers 360 degree views of the surrounding area and takes approximately 6 minutes. At each of the stops you will find cafes where you can enjoy a bite to eat or a drink whilst taking in the amazing views.

It’s best to visit Sugar Loaf Mountain early in the morning before the crowds arrive. Another good time to visit especially if it’s a clear evening is to make the journey to the peak to watch a beautiful sunset across the city.
Unfortunately the day I visited the clouds quickly drew over giving us virtually no visibility!

Tickets cost from R$ 99 and a number of different tours are available, for more information and to book tickets in advance on line check here

Rio de Janeiro Walking Tours

One of the best things to do when visiting a new city is to take a free walking tour. There are a number of different walking tours available in Rio taking in a variety of different areas and sites.

Some options to consider are:

  • Downtown & Lapa
  • Copacabana & Ipanema
  • Olympic Boulevard

For more information check out Free Walk Tours that provide free walking tours as well as pub crawls and food tours.

Escadaria Selarón

Escadaria Selarón is one of the most beautiful staircases in the world and one of the most popular places in Rio de Janeiro to get that selfie. This beautiful artwork was created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, who had travelled to more than 57 countries in the world, but settled down in Rio and dedicated 20 years to designing his so-called “tribute to the Brazilian people”. In total there are 215 steps all covered in ceramic tiles from all around the world, with around 2000 tiles in total.

The steps are situated in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, near to the Lapa Arches.

Jardim Botânico – Botanical Gardens

The Jardim Botânico is a 137-hectare exotic garden situated in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. The site was built by the order of the Prince Regent Dom João in 1808 and houses more than 8000 species of plant. Highlights include a lake with hundreds of water lilies and the enclosed orquidário, home to 600 species of orchids.

Admission is R$ 15, for more information check the official website here.

Favela Tour

There are many companies offering tourists a trip to a favela, however it’s important to choose wisely and pick a company which offers non-intrusive tours and also gives back to the local people living in the favela. For this reason I recommend using favela Walking Tour.This company employs only favela residents and focuses its tours on giving guests a genuine experience educating them on the favela and its issues. Tours cost R$ 110 and last 3 hours.

Hang Gliding

If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie or fancy something different to do whilst in Rio de Janeiro then why not throw yourself off the side of a mountain! I had always wanted to have a go at hand gliding and I was so glad I did this in Rio! The views from the air are absolutely incredible!  

A week in Rio de Janeiro
Hand gliding over Rio de Janeiro

The team pick you up from your hotel and drive you straight to the mountain where at first you need to register at the São Conrado Free Flight Club. Once registered you are then driven up to Pedra Bonita where you will be given a safety talk before being strapped in and attached to your instructor. I was so nervous before take-off but the instructors all spoke perfect English and made me feel less anxious. The leap of the mountain was both incredible and scary but once in the air all you can hear is silence, you truly feel like a bird soaring through the sky.  Gradually you will descend to eventually land on the beautiful white sands of São Conrado beach. Such an incredible experience!

Price is R$ 600 and includes pickup, insurance, photo and HD film. For more information check out the Rio tandem website here

Go to a football match

If you get the chance, try and go to a local football match. One of the staff at my hostel was able to get a few extra tickets for a match and took a group of us with him. I must admit I was a little intimidated at first as the security was something like I’d see at a riot back at home in England but I didn’t see any real trouble. The match was a derby between two local teams and was very fiery, the support was incredible between both teams with flares going off and flags flying everywhere, it truly was a fascinating experience, nothing like a football match back at home!

a week in Rio de Janeiro
Waiting for the football to start

Rio de Janeiro beaches

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its beaches, the most famous being Copacabana and Ipanema.

Copacabana beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. This is a very lively beach with a vibrant atmosphere which also makes it extremely busy! The beach itself runs for 2.2 Km, on the left you have the beautiful views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Fort Duque de Caxias built in 1779 on the right. Along the beach you will find a number of bars, local sellers as well as water sport options.

Ipanema is the more chic laid back option, based in Leblon this is the more upmarket area of Rio de Janeiro. Personally I preferred this beach, although it still had all the same options as on Copacabana it has a much more chilled out vibe.

Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach

Along both beaches you will also find pedestrian only walkways, cycle paths and workout stations. The Brazilians defiantly take working out seriously!

At the end of Ipanema beach you will find the rocky Arpoador peninsula. During the day this place is a surfers paradise but come night time its famous for watching the beautiful Rio sunset. Be sure to check it out!

Sunset looking over Ipanema beach
Sunset looking over Ipanema beach

If you are looking to do some of these trips as part of a tour or looking for other things to do in Rio de Janeiro, then I recommended the following links:


A week in Rio de Janeiro: Safety tips

Many people believe Rio de Janeiro to be too dangerous to visit, however with a few sensible precautions you can have a stress-free trip. I travelled to Rio de Janeiro solo and never had any problems. Yes the city does have an extremely high crime rate but use the same safety common sense that you would use in any big city and you should have no issues at all.

Here are some useful tips:

  • Take care at night – Try not to walk alone after dark and get taxis if you need to travel around. Many areas including along the beach, Lapa and the city centre can be dangerous of a night. If travelling to any nightclubs, get a taxi straight to the door and ask the staff or use UBER to get a taxi home, only leave the club once the taxi is outside.
  • Only use public transport during the day, always use taxi’s after dark.
  • Don’t show off any valuables, this will only make you a target to thieves. Also be careful of your bag, try and use a cross body bag that makes it more difficult to grab and keep a close eye if on the beach.
  • Try and keep to the tourist areas and not wander to lesser known areas unless with a guide.
  • Be careful in the sea, the waves can be larger than expected. Always check for warning signs.
  • Always wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. The sun can be very intense especially in the summer months.
  • Be careful in the favelas; don’t go wandering in on your own. Although many are perfectly safe some are still run by crime gangs.
  • Always use mosquito repellent. Dengue, zika and chikungunya are all mosquito borne viruses known to be in the area.
  • Make sure you travel with travel insurance; this is the same for anywhere you travel! For the best cover and deals I recommend World Nomads

I Hope you enjoyed reading this guide to Rio de Janeiro. Have you been to Rio de Janeiro, is there anything else you would like to add? If so feel free to post a comment below. To be the first to hear about any future posts, subscribe to my blog or other social media channels.

Happy travels,

Louise X

Angkor Wat Archeological Park is an enormous temple complex situated just outside the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. It is thought to be the biggest religious complex in the world.

Angkor Wat at Sunrise
Sunrise

Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

Although the site was once the centre of the Khmer Empire, by the 1800’s most of its many building and temples had sustained extensive damage due to earthquakes, war and forest overgrowth. In the early 1900s the French who ruled Cambodia for much of the 20th century established a restoration committee, although most major works didn’t happen till the 1960s. In 1922 the site was made a UNESCO World Heritage site which now safeguards this symbolic complex.

The archaeological park can be extremely busy! Over 2 million visitors pass through the site each year, with thousands every day trying to catch a glimpse of the sunrise over its masterpiece, Angkor WatThis majestic structure lies at the heart of the archaeological Park and is one of Cambodia’s most loved temples. You will also find many tourists posing for selfies in and around the temple of Ta Prohm which was made famous by the film Tomb Raider staring Angelina Jolie. If you want to get away from the crowds then you really need to visit the outlying temples, some of which are in my opinion more beautiful!

Although many people may be put of by the number of tourists that now flock to Angkor Wat, a visit to this amazing archeological site is a must! You will be in awe of the sheer size of the complex and diversity of each structure. As you wander through many of the sites you will marvel at the beautiful detailing, intricate carvings and wonderful architecture. You will see it’s pioneering system of reservoirs and waterways, that form a complex irrigation system that helped the Khmer people thrive. Most of all, you will be amazed at how it was all built centuries ago!

Angkor Wat
The walk up to the Main Angkor Wat Temple

How to get to Siem Reap:

Plane

Siem Reap International airport (REP) is situated approximately 6 km out of the city. The city can be easily reached by Tuk-tuk or private taxi. Many hotels also include a free pick up service. For the best flight deals I recommend Skyscanner!

Bus

Siem Reap can also be reached from other nearby destinations such as Bangkok by bus. However these although cheap an be long tiresome journeys! Me and a friend I was travelling with arrived via bus from the Thai Island of Koh Chang which was a long 10 hour journey. One thing to remember if crossing via land border is to watch out for scams!

The Bus from the Thai side will stop shortly before the border crossing where you have to get off, take your luggage and walk to the border. Here you will get you visa and then get on another bus which will take you to your final destination. However some bus company employees will tell you a few tales before making your way to the border. Don’t let them intimidate you, its all just a scam! Examples include:

  • 1.Telling you there are no ATM’s in Cambodia so taking you somewhere to get out cash before you cross the border, usually somewhere with high exchange rates! No need though, there are plenty of ATM’s in Cambodia especially in the cities!
  • 2.Getting you to pay them to get your Cambodia visa for you, making out it will be so much faster and you won’t miss your connecting bus on the other side! Don’t! They will charge you extra and the bus will wait for you. There was no issues or delays getting my visa or the connecting bus.

Admittedly I was a little scared about the border and did a lot of research beforehand about possible scams. I just politely declined any offers of help and had no issues at all. Most of the other travellers on the bus did the same and nobody seemed to have any issues so don’t be put off it travelling this way. A useful app at finding the best transport options around Asia is 12Goasia.com I used this so many times for booking trains, buses and ferries throughout Thailand and Cambodia during my travels.

If planning ahead of time you may actually get a great deal on flights which may be similar prices as taking the bus! For finding the best flight deals I use the Sky Scanner App

Private taxi

If budget is not an issue you can also travel between Siem Reap and other Cambodian Cities such as Phnom Penh by private taxi. Expect to pay around $100.

Angkor Wat: Where to stay

There is no shortage of accommodation in Siem Reap, whatever the budget you will find somewhere suitable. Most mid-range hotels are situated around the old town near the famous ‘Pub Street’ with its many bars and restaurants. Whereas the most luxurious are slightly outside the old town towards the quieter North.

Hostels can be found for around $5 a night, if ya not sure if hostels are your thing then check out my guide on how to survive staying in hostels.

To check out the best deals on hotels check out Hotels.com and Hostel World for more budget friendly options.

During my trip I had opted to stay in hostels and guesthouses with an average price of $10 a night, however my stay in Siem Reap also coincided with my birthday so I decided to stay somewhere a bit more fancy! After a lot of research, I choose to stay in the fabulous Angkor Elysium Suites. This hotel was located just outside the city close to the airport in a rather peaceful location offering some tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the city! Although it wasn’t close enough to walk into town, it did offer free drop off and pick up tuk-tuk rides to Pub Street. The hotel was amazing with some of the biggest rooms I’ve ever stayed in, swim-up bar, spa and an amazing restaurant! All this and only cost $40 a night! They even surprised me with a birthday cake!

Angkor Elysium Suites
Angkor Elysium Suites

Angkor Wat: Best time to visit

Cambodia’s dry season runs from November to February so naturally this is the best time to visit, although its also its busiest time of year! Meaning Crowds! I decided to take a risk and travel during the rainy season in September. This turned out to be a great choice as the weather was hot and sunny virtually everyday with just the occasional rainy downpours.

In my opinion, any time of year is a good time to visit just be prepared for some sudden downpours! Although they don’t tend to last long.

Angkor Wat Tickets:

All foreign nationalities much purchase the Angkor Pass to gain entrance to the Archaeological Park. Tickets can be purchased at the official ticket centre located about 5 km from Siem Reap town. The office is open from 5 am to 5.30 pm everyday.

There are three types of tickets available:

  • 1-day pass – US$ 37
  • 3-day pass – US$ 62
  • 7-day pass – US$ 72

The 3-day pass is valid for 10 days from the issue date, the 7-day pass is valid for 1 month from the issue date. So with both of these passes it’s not necessary to plan your visits on consecutive days.

Tickets cannot be bought in advance, although if you buy after 5 pm they are valid for the following day. If you choose to to explore by tuk-tuk or private taxi then they will take you to the office to purchase tickets before taking you to the park.

Angkor Wat: Getting around

There are many ways to to get around the Archaeological Park such as by bike, taxi or tuk-tuk. Don’t even attempt to walk as the site is huge and you soon regret it! Even think carefully about hiring a bike, there is a lot of distance between each temple and the heat can be really tough! I choose to book a tuk-tuk via our hotel which cost $25 for the day, although you can hustle with the drivers in town and probably get it a bit cheaper at $20. I was happy to pay $25 knowing I was definitely going to be picked up, this also included bottled water and umbrellas to use.

Our driver picked us up early in the morning and took us straight to the office to purchase our tickets. There are a number of different routes to take around the park depending on which sites interest you the most. We just wanted to see the main attractions in one day so we just chose the short circuit.

Angkor Wat Complex Map
Complex Map

Angkor Wat:

This was the first temple we visited. We knew it was going to be busy inside by the sheer number of tuk-tuks parked up outside! There seemed to be hundreds of them! Our driver parked up and off we went to explore our first Cambodian temple.

Surprisingly, once inside the temple we found large parts of the site to be completely empty.

We walked along its long corridors and admired all its intricate detailing along its 600 meters of walls.


Bayon:

Bayon temple is located inside Angkor Thom and was one of my favourite temples to explore!

From a distance the site looks like a pile of rubble and rocks but as you get closer you see all the intricate detailing. Exploring these fabulous ruins and seeing the famous large faces carved into the stone was one of the highlights of the trip for me.


Baphuon Temple:

The next temple was Baphuon, which was a pyramid like temple offering amazing views of the surrounding area!

Baphuon Temple
Amazing views from the top of Baphuon Temple

Baphuon Temple
Climbing to the top was a bit tricky with the really steep stairs!

Royal Terraces

These consist of the Terrace of the leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants. These terraces were once used an audience hall and for public ceremonies.

Terrace of the Leper King
Carving that surround the Terrace of the Leper King
Terrace of the Elephants
Terrace of the Elephants

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is probably the second most visited site in Angkor Wat due to the Film Tomb Raider! This temple was lost to to jungle and is famous for its huge trees and massive roots growing out of its walls. Although I enjoyed walking around, it was extremely busy with selfie takers! Beware of lots of uneven ground!

Banteay Kdei:

The final temple of the day was the peaceful Banteay kdei. This temple was lovely to walk around with not another tourist in sight!

Handy Tips:

Dress appropriately, remember Angkor Wat is a religious site! Both men and women should have shoulders and legs covered.

Bring plenty of water! Do not underestimate the heat! The temperature inside the complex seems to be hotter than anywhere else in Cambodia!

Bring a parasol or umbrella! Our tuk-tuk driver offered us the use of some but we politely declined thinking we knew better! Wrong! We struggled so much with the heat and in many sites there is little shade from the sun.

Wear comfortable shoes, you will be walking around a lot! Also, be aware of lots of uneven surfaces.

Whilst walking around the complex watch out for monkeys, you can even buy bananas from sellers to feed them.

There are plenty of places around the complex to stop, catch a drink, a bite to eat and even buy some souvenirs. You may find the Prices are a little more expensive than in town but still pretty cheap compared to western standards.

Monkeys around Angkor Wat
Monkeys around Bayon
Shopping around Angkor Wat
Shopping

So there you have it, my guide to exploring Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. Hope you have enjoyed reading, if so let me know in the comments below, subscribe and feel free to share.

Are you travelling to Phnom Penh before or after a trip to Siem Reap? If so check out my post about exploring Cambodia’s dark history.

Happy travels,

Louise X