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Travel Insurance – A Must or a Waste?

Why do you need a Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance is a must when you travel abroad. Should you take one? The unequivocal answer is an YES!

Safety First. Adventure Next.

Luckily, I have never been mugged. I have never missed a connecting flight due to flight delays. Rather, I had planned so well that the odds of missing a connecting flight were slim to none! I did fall sick once, but managed to move on with the medicine I carried. I have never lost my passport or luggage. I have never visited a physician or met with an accident abroad. I did scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking in Thailand and Surfing in the Philippines. Luckily, I have never got injured and came out alive every other time. My house was not burgled when i was out on a vacation.

What are the odds that I would make it the next time? What are the odds that you may not meet with unforeseen circumstances on your trip?

I am not rich enough to bear any emergency medical expenses or compensate for a third party injury owing to an accident and I assume that you may not be too…

Save or Lose?

10$ / 600 INR is the average cost of a Travel Insurance purchased in India without Adventure Sports inclusions. 60$ / 4200 INR is the average cost of a Travel Insurance purchased in India with most of the Adventure Sports inclusions.

You may save 10$ to a 60$ on a minimum, by not purchasing a travel insurance, but is it worth risking your life?

If you were to end up in an emergency hospital visit, lose your luggage or passport, miss a connecting flight due to delay – the price you pay is higher both in terms of money and effort. You also get to have one real hell of a vacation to regret for! You lose!

[quote align=”” name=””]Should you bet your hard earned vacation against saving few dollars?![/quote]

A prudent traveler purchases a Travel Insurance with safety on mind. Are you prudent enough to safeguard yourself by investing on Travel Insurance or rich enough to pay at premium during emergency situations?

How to Choose a Travel Insurance?

  • Coverage Limit – Eg: 50,000$, 100,000$ etc.,
  • Medical Coverage
  • Loss of Passport / Baggage coverage
  • Trip cancellation coverage
  • Trip Delay
  • Hospital Cash
  • Personal Accident cover
  • Adventure Sports inclusions / exclusions
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation
  • Repatriation of remains
  • No matter the insurance you may want to purchase, you MUST always read through the policy wordings. You MUST read the inclusions and general exclusions in particular. For eg. A travel insurance may not cover adventure sports. What’s the point in purchasing such a product if you wanted to go on an adventure trip?
  • A travel insurance is ideally the one you should never end up using. However, it is prudent to read and understand the procedure, documentation and the timelines to notify any mishap so as to claim for the loss.

Important Exclusions to be aware of!

  • Most policies DO NOT cover Medical and Hospitalization arising out of existing conditions
  • Treatment/loss arising out of alcoholic or drug influence
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Traveling against the advice of a Physician or Medical Practitioner
  • Self-inflicted injury, Suicide and Attempted Suicide

The exclusions quoted above are just a few to name. Do read the Policy wording or contract of any insurance you may opt for!

www.policybazaar.com is an insurance market place in India for you to browse and purchase various insurance products.

“Promotravelling” isn’t just about traveling on a budget saving your bucks on transportation and accommodation. Rather, being a prudent traveler than just a frugal traveler. Safety First, Adventure Next!

[quote align=”” name=””]Travel Insurance – A Must or a Waste ?  Don’t let your luck favor![/quote]

I like to use and prefer World Nomads Travel Insurance primarily due to adventure sports inclusion.

Note: A purchase through my links helps me to keep afloat and supports the website. Please do comment if you have any suggestions or travel insurance episodes and questions, if any!

Places to visit around Hampi – A Backpacking Guide

Hampi – A lucky accident!

History and Architecture were the least of my travel-character. Islands, hammocks, boat trips, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, the white sandy powdery beaches and the bluish green waters have been my fascination. Hampi, however, was my lucky find! I had learnt about the architectural magnificence of Hampi, but never did i expect to for it’s visual splendor. Although my brain is inferior to appreciate the intricate beauty of this architectural and historical marvel, i have realized that i could diversify. Hampi is worthy enough to scale one’s Bucket list. There are so many places to visit around Hampi that even a week would seem too less to take all-in!

We set out on a group trip from Chennai, India. I had charted the backpacking budget trip for 8 days to cover Hampi, Gokarna and Goa. The plan was to be a frugal spender on stay and travel. This article is on our experience at Hampi, Karnataka.

How to reach Hampi – A Unique Architectural Marvel in India

From Bangalore:

Hampi is located at 350 KM (approx.) from Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka; a perfect weekend getaway from Bengaluru. The nearest railway station is at Hospet.

  • Trains – Garib Nawaz Express (16532), Hampi Exp (16592) & Hospet Passr (56909) run from Bengaluru SBC to Hospet HPT
  • KSRTC – The Government run buses from Bangalore to Hampi

Recommended Read: Weekend Getaway from Bangalore – Chikmagalur

 

From Chennai:

Hampi is located at 700 KM (approx.) from Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu. There are no direct trains from Chennai to Hampi. One should either go to Bengaluru and then take a train to Hospet, or take a train from Chennai to Gunttakal / Gooty and from Guntakkal / Gooty to Hospet.

  • Trains – Chennai Exp (12164), Mumbai Express (11042), Mumbai Mail (110228) run from Chennai MAS to Gunttakal GTL
  • Train – Kacheguda Exp (17651) runs from Chennai MS to Gooty GY
  • Trains – Haripriya Exp (17415), Hampi Exp (16592), KCG YPR EXP (17603), Amaravathi Exp (17225), HYB KOP Express (11303), TPTY UBL PASS (57274), Hubli PASS (56501) run from Gunttakal GTL & Gooty GY to Hospet HPT
  • There are few private buses from Chennai to Hampi, which takes around 14 hrs of travel.

Tourist Expenses – Costs in Hampi

  • Bus : Hospete to Hampi – 12 INR
  • Auto : Hospete to Hampi – 120 INR
  • Auto : Day trip – 5 to 7 HRS – 650 – 750 INR
  • Bicycles : 150 INR / Day
  • Bike Rentals : 250 INR / Day
  • Ferry Ride: 50 INR (crossing the river)
  • Backpacking Accommodation: Huts / B&B – 700 INR for 2 pax
  • Food : 300 / Day

Understanding Hampi – History and Geography – Just the basics to appreciate it’s glory!

Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage, is located in Northern Karnataka, India. Thungabadra, a confluence of Tunga and Badri rivers, flows through Hampi. The breathtaking ruins of Hampi were once the power-center of Vijayanagara Kingdom. Given the array of places to visit around Hampi, it’s pertinent to gain a basic knowledge to understand it’s glory.

Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagara Kingdom owing to it’s strategic location surrounded by massive rock boulders and the fertile lands owing to torrential Thungabadra River. Hampi is also known as Pampa Kshetra. Pampa, portrayed in the Hindu Mythology, was the daughter of Lord Bhrama and married to Lord Shiva. The architectural marvel and the affluent city was reduced to ruins in the later years by the Moghuls.

Hampi - The North and The South! - Places to Visit around Hampi
Hampi – The North and The South!

Hampi can be categorized as North and South, with Thungabadra River as the base.

The North side has villages with paddy fields, narrow roads, guest houses built among the fields – a typical village scene. It is an ideal place to chill-out, considering the fact that most of us work and live in urban areas, far from having experienced the village environment.

  • North Side Guest Houses serve alcohol.
  • Motorbike rentals are allowed and available at ease.
  • Scenic and less touristy.

The South side is featured as the religious part of Hampi with all major tourist attractions – the ruins and temples.

  • The establishments in the southern side are forbidden to serve alcohol – No Beer; No Wine;No Liquor.
  • Only Vegetarian Food is served. Non-Vegetarian Food is forbidden.
  • Registered Motorbike rentals are only 10 in number, which makes it a Herculian task to rent.
  • Bicycles are available for rent.
  • Auto-rickshaws are available for day trips.

Crossing the river:

Coracle ferries are available to cross the river from South to North and vice-versa. It is easier to cross the river on foot, when the river is dry during Summer. The operational Ferries in the torrential monsoon are available till 6 PM, post which one would need to travel 30 km (approx) to cross the river by road.

Crocodiles – Beware!

Warning Sign Boards on Crocodiles - Places to Visit around Hampi
Warning Sign Boards on Crocodiles

I came across many warning sign boards on Crocodiles. The sign boards were in the reservoir and the river alike. However, i was not fortunate enough to see any. Regardless, caution advised.

Have you read about the Weekend Getaway from Chikmagallur.

Where to Stay in Hampi: North Side of Thungabadra River

The best place to stay in Hampi would be on the North side of the river. The North side could give you a stress-free holiday set in a village environment. There are many a guest houses with basic huts and mouth-watering Indian food.

Waterfalls Guest House, Hampi North - Places to Visit around Hampi
Waterfalls Guest House, Hampi North

We stayed at Waterfalls Guest House, a 3 KM drive from the ferry point on the North side of the river. The owner, Ramu, was friendly and accommodating. The huts were basic and comfy. There were swings outside each hut, which made our stay ideal. In fact, i had a cool and peaceful sleep on the swing. The in-house restaurant was affordable and offered a variety of good food. An old lady in the guest house offered us farm fresh raw mangoes from the adjacent farm. The dry paddy fields and adjacent farm were a spectacular sight from the restaurant. The room cost was 650 INR / night on a average. It was off-season and we were the only guests to stay at the guest house. Undoubtedly, the royal guests! 🙂

Other Guest Houses to consider:

Mougli Guest House

White Elephant Guest House 

White Elephant Guest House and Restaurant, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
White Elephant Guest House and Restaurant, Hampi : Sign Board on the rocks at Sanapur Reservoir

The White Elephant Guest House is a bit far from the ferry point. It would be prudent to rent a motorbike, head towards the Sanapur Reservoir and then towards the Hanuman Temple. The Guest House is located almost midway on route to the Hanuman Temple. The restaurant at the White Elephant Guest House was amazing. The décor and the sitting arrangement; the food and the hookah was worth it. The manager who runs the property was very friendly. If you don’t mind travelling couple of KM, White Elephant Guest House is certainly worth it.

Places to eat in Hampi:

There are many a street vendors selling Indian food. Poori, Idli, Vada, Dosa and Mirchi Bajji were widely available. Mirchi Bajji, a spicy and crispy Indian delicacy, is deep fried with green chilli soaked in gram flour. Mirchi Bajji is a very famous in Northern Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. We had the chance to eat at a street vendor stall near the ferry point. The food was inexpensive and tasty.

Laughing Buddha and White Elephant Guest House and Restaurant are famous on the North side of the Thungabadra River.

On the Southern Side, Mango Tree and Shiva Moon are few of the famous restaurants located at a walking distance from the bus terminal and Virupaksha Temple. Mango Tree had an amazing seating area. The food was equally good.

Mango Tree Restaurant, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Mango Tree Restaurant, Hampi

Places to visit in and around Hampi:

The list of places to visit in and around Hampi is exhaustive. It is impossible to visit, absorb and enjoy the beauty of Hampi in one day. It is important to plan the schedule allowing adequate time to visit the places to avoid exhaustion. An ideal plan would be to cover the North in one day and the South in two days.

The Scenic North – List of places to visit around Hampi

#1. Sanapur Reservoir: 

“Beware of Crocodiles”, the warning sign welcomes everyone at the entrance. It is advisable to avoid diving in the reservoir from the high walls lining the reservoir. There are coracle rides in the reservoir. It might be 400 – 600 INR. We swam in the reservoir under the bridge, at a depth of 5-6 ft. The rumors of crocodiles did scare us; May be we were lucky not to find one. Regardless, the reservoir is a must visit place in Hampi.

Sanapur Reservoit, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Sanapur Reservoir, Hampi

#2. Monkey Temple:

The Anjeneya Temple is located on a hill top, about 5-7 KM from the reservoir. There are two paths leading to the hill top. We took the hard way scaling 420 steps to the hill top. It is also the Sunset place in North Hampi. It was a beautiful sight to see the Sun donning an orange veil.

Monkey Temple, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Monkey Temple, Hampi

The Historic South – List of places to visit around Hampi

Temples and massive monumental ruins are a plenty in the Southern Hampi. I have categorized the list of places to visit in Hampi in to various sets to ease planning.

Set#1:

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Hemakuta Temple, Krishna Temple, Sri Krishna Temple, Badavilinga Temple, Urga Narasimha Temple are the places to cover in the first set. Virupaksha Temple could take considerable time to cover. Badavilinga Temple and Urga Narasimha Temple are relatively smaller. There were fruit vendors, Sugarcane juice and tender coconuts stall at the entrance of Urga Narashimha temple complex. Alternatively, you can cover Virupaksha Temple and Hampi Bazaar along with set#3.

Places to Visit around Hampi - Set#1
Places to Visit around Hampi – Set#1
Urga Narasimha Temple, Hampi- Places to Visit around Hampi
Urga Narasimha Temple, Hampi
Krishna Bazaar, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Krishna Bazaar, Hampi – opposite to Krishna Temple entrance

Set#2:

The second set starts from the recently excavated (1985 or so) underground Siva temple. The ruins are at least 10-20 feet underground. The Mohammadan watch tower and Mohammadan Quarters weren’t as impressive as it’s peers. The Elephant stable, Lotus Mahal, Queens Basement and the Museum is simply amazing; the Lotus Mahal stealing the show. The Queen’s Bath and the Royal Enclosure were also good.

Places to Visit around Hampi - Set#2
Places to Visit around Hampi – Set#2
Elephant Stable, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Elephant Stable, Hampi
Lotus Mahal. Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Lotus Mahal. Hampi
Mohammadan Watch Tower, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Mohammadan Watch Tower, Hampi
Underground Siva Temple, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Underground Siva Temple, Hampi

Set #3:

This is the best of Hampi. The trekking circuit starts from Vitthala Temple all the way leading to Hampi Bazaar and Virupaksha Temple. There are numerous places of interest all along the way. The carvings at the Vitthala temple are one hell of a sight. The stone chariot is a marvel. Vishnu Temple, King’s Balance, Inscribed Vishnu Temple, Purandara Mandapa, Sugriva’s cave, Varaha Temple, Yantrodharak Anjeneya Temple, Kodandarama Temple, Kampa Bhupa Marga, Achutaraya Temple, Mathanga Hills are the places to visit along this circuit. The ruins of the bridge near Kodandarama temple envisages the architectural and technological expertise that existed centuries back. It puts the current infrastructure to outright shame! The list is exhaustive and so is the 2-3 KM trekking circuit. An electric car ride, priced at 30 INR, is available till Vitthala Temple.

Pointer: Do take a water bottle with you. You could get exhausted walking the circuit in hot sun.

Places to Visit around Hampi - Set#3
Places to Visit around Hampi – Set#3
Ruins along Tungabadra River, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Ruins along Tungabadra River, Hampi
Stone Chariot, Vittahala Temple, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Stone Chariot, Vittahala Temple, Hampi
Pushkarni, Hampi - Places to Visit around Hampi
Pushkarni, Hampi

What do you think?

A visit to Hampi would make you feel so small on the kind of lifestyle we lead. The Royal families back then did truly live the King’s Life! Culture and Art have been the driving force for Kingdoms. The technological prowess of these centuries old kingdoms are still a marvel! I have listed the places deemed to be important in the list of places to visit in Hampi. However, there are numerous other places that could leave you awestruck.

Did you like this article? Have you been to Hampi? Do you have any suggestions or new places to add to the list?

Top 10 Things to do on Koh Lanta – A Concise Guide

Things to do on Koh Lanta: Wondering what to do?

“Koh Lanta” had long been in my Thailand bucket list. I had read and heard so much about this mesmerizing island and it did live up to its name. The feel and the need to travel to less touristy places was catching up with me. I did not expect this little island to win my heart, and yet it did! There are many things to do on Koh Lanta to keep one occupied and entertained.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - Bamboo Bay View
Koh Lanta – Beach View From Bamboo Bay

The island plays host to wander-lust and laid-back backpackers who wants to spend their time at ease, lazing on hammock with a beer and a book. The 25 Km long island is lined with white sand beaches perfect for a laid-back holiday. The infrastructure was good with good roads, umpteen restaurants, beer bars, hotels, ATM and convenient stores. It’s generally hard for vegetarians to survive on road, and yet the street food was simply superb with a fair list of vegetarian menu.

Islamic culture is prevalent in Koh Lanta, unlike rest of the touristy places in Thailand. Girls run the establishments just as any other place in Thailand. The attitude of the people – friendly and truly Thai. Koh Lanta has topped my favorite places to hangout in Thailand, in fact my most favorite place in the whole of Thailand.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - Koh Lanta Map
Koh Lanta – Krabi Thailand

Getting to Koh Lanta:

There is no airport in Koh Lanta. One would need to reach Koh Lanta either by Passenger Ferry or by road. Koh Lanta can be reached from the following destinations…

  • Krabi – Ao Nang Passenger Ferry (Nopparat-Thara Pier)
  • Krabi – Koh Lanta – Private Mini Van Transfer – approx 3000 THB
  • Koh Phi Phi – Koh Lanta – Passenger Ferry

Be advised that the ferry companies may not be operating during Monsoon Season. Getting to Koh Lanta is easier with an all inclusive/ Joint ticket offered by Airasia / any other airline.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - Passenger Ferry from Krabi to Koh Lanta
Ao Nang Ferry – Krabi to Koh Lanta

How I reached Koh Lanta:

I purchased an all-inclusive ticket from Thai AirAsia flying from Bangkok to Koh Lanta (Saladin Pier). It cost me around 2000 THB for a flight from Bangkok to Krabi, a shared mini-van from Krabi airport to Ao Nang Pier and a passenger ferry from Ao Nang pier to Saladin pier, Lanta. It was rather a wise decision to purchase the joint ticket than to book the transports individually.

Thai AirAsia was spectacular as usual. The drive from Krabi airport to Ao-Nang pier was about 30-40 minutes, a quick ride through the bustling city. The two and half hour Ferry ride from Nopparat-Thara pier was a scenic one too. The Ferry made one stop on the way to pick up few passengers. Saladin pier at Koh Lanta was small with the capacity to handle two or three Ferries simultaneously.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - Ao Nang Beach
Beach View at Ao Nang, Krabi

Where to Stay in Koh Lanta : Sonya Bungalows – Koh Lanta: Next time again, Yes!

I stayed at Sonya Bungalows, a 20 minute ride from the Pier. A shared taxi/Songtheaw cost me 100 THB. Sonya Bungalows is a family run property located conveniently on the main road, the beach being 3 minutes walk from the property. Supermarket, Coffee Shop, Laundry Shop,Massage Parlor,Bike Rentals and Restaurants are just a walk away. Sonya Bungalows has a restaurant of its own serving food and beer. The food was splendid and the owners were very friendly and accommodating. I was supposed to checkout at 7 am in the morning to board the Ferry to Koh Phi Phi, on the 3rd day of my stay. Unfortunately, i fell asleep and missed my Ferry. The owner was kind enough to let me stay a while longer and booked me the next Ferry with a pickup from the BnB.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - Stay at Sonya Guest House and Bungalows
Sonya Guest House and Bungalows – View from Room
Things to do on Koh Lanta - Bamboo Bay View
My Room @ Sonya Guest House and Bungalows
Things to do on Koh Lanta - Room View
Room View – Sonya Guest House and Bungalows

The beach near Sonya Bungalows was calm and beautiful. I went for a walk for a picturesque sunset view. The shore was not suitable for a swim, but too pleasant to spend an evening to watch the sunset, enjoy a cocktail and have a lazy massage by the beach.The miles long beaches are calm, serene and picturesque. Sonya bungalows is the best place to stay in Koh Lanta, considering the budget and the location advantage!

The owner at Sonya Bungalows gave me a Biker Map. The Biker Map came in handy when treading the Island by an automatic moped. The Bike rentals were cheaper and fuel was available almost everywhere on the Island. Regardless of the numerous things to do on Koh Lanta, I was so drawn to doing nothing and lazing on a hammock.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - BIker Map
Koh Lanta – Biker Map

Things to do in Koh Lanta:

  1. Visit the Beaches – Swim, Eat, Read and Relax – 11 beaches to explore
  2. Go on an Elephant Trek- 600 THB
  3. Rent a Motorbike – 250 THB / day
  4. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling – Four Islands Tour
  5. Visit Old Lanta Town
  6. Party at the Beaches
  7. Street Food
  8. Mu Ko National Marine Park
  9. Thai Massage
  10. Play Pool in the Beer Bars
Things to do on Koh Lanta - Old Lanta view from Lanta Ferry Point
Old Lanta Town – View from Lanta Ferry Point

Koh Lanta does not have high end parties or the vibrant night life such as Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. The island is meant for people who want to spend a peaceful holiday. Nevertheless, there are few night parties and bars around. If nightlife is your priority, I suggest you to skip Koh Lanta.

Koh Phangan is an amazing place for party lovers and beach lovers alike. Full Moon Party, Jungle Party, Half Moon Party are few of the best parties in the island. Here’s a concise guide to partying at Koh Phangan.

Koh Lanta Marine National Park:

to do on Koh Lanta - Mu Ko Lanta National Marine Park
Old Watch Tower and an Old Light House at Mu Ko Lanta National Marine Park

Mu Ko Lanta Marine National Park is located at the far end of the island. This Marine National Park is a stunning and breathtaking place, one that’s not to be missed on the list of things to do on Koh Lanta. The entry fee is 220 THB approximately (October 2016). There is an old light house by the cliff and the view from cliff is simply stunning. The beaches are even more beautiful with crystal clear bluish green water. It is less crowded. However, beware of the Monkeys. There is a 2 km long trekking route uphill.

Things to do on Koh Lanta - Cliff View from Mu Ko National Marine Park
Cliff View from Mu Ko National Marine Park
Things to do on Koh Lanta - Mu ko National Marine Park
Mu Ko National Marine Park Beach


Full Moon Party – A Complete Guide to Koh Phangan

Ever heard of the “Full Moon Party”? This is THE GO-TO party in Thailand for all party mongers. Haad Rin, the famous beach, plays host to the tens of thousands of tourists and local folks alike. Koh Phan Ngan (or) Koh Phangan is a small island, located between Koh Samui and Koh Tao, in Surat Thani Province of the South-east Thailand.

Quick Reference:

  • Thonga Sala – The Main pier catering to the Ferry transport to and from Koh Phangan
  • Haad Rinn – Full Moon Party Beach
  • Haad Yao & Haad Salad – Pristine & Famous beaches (Best suited for people who love to be at peace)
  • Famous…
    • Bar near Haad Salad & Haad Yao – Pirates Bar
    • Day-trips – Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Tao
    • Parties – Full Moon Party, Half Moon Party, Jungle Party, Boat Party

How to Reach Koh Phangan:

Bus & Ferry: Lomprayah is a renowned operator, selling joint ticket – a bus and a ferry combo, from Bangkok to Koh Phan Ngan. There are many agents selling tickets in and around Koh San Road in Bangkok.

Air: The nearest airport is in Koh Samui. Bangkok Airways and Nok Air operate in and out of Koh Samui. There are hourly ferries leaving Koh Samui to Koh Phan Ngan. Check out for package tickets which includes air ticket and ferry ticket.

Alternatively, Air Asia offers Island Transfer packages from Bangkok to Koh Phan Ngan (Bangkok airport to Nakhon Si Thammarat airport, followed by a bus ride for an hour and a half to Don Sak Pier, followed by a ferry ride from Don Sak Pier to Thong Sala Pier in Koh Phan Ngan).

The 3-hour ferry ride from Don Sak Pier to Thong Sala Pier is an amazing ride with stunning views. The huge ferry with 2 decks has open seats on the top deck and air-conditioned seats on the lower most deck.

Suggested Read: Thailand Visa for Indians

Areas to Stay in Koh Phangan:

 Full Moon Party - Guide to Staying in Koh Phangan
Guide to Staying in Koh Phangan

Party lovers – Haad Rinn is the place you should be heading to, if you are a party addict. There are numerous Hostels, Budget accommodations and Luxury Resorts to cater to every type of traveler.However, in my opinion it is better-off to stay near Thong Sala Pier or Ban Tai. Thong Sala and Ban Tai are almost located at the center of the Island, consequently making it the convenient place to traverse either side of the Island.

Few Budget Accommodations to consider…

Lime n Soda Beach Resort – Near Thongsala Pier

Viva on the Beach – Chaloklum

Most of the accommodations during Full Moon Party period would require a minimum of a weeks’ stay or so. One would be required to pay the Full Moon Buffet fee as well to most of the hotels/resorts!

Shopping & Food:

The Saturday market often referred to as the Walking street in Ko Phan Ngan, is open between 4 PM and 10 PM. The bustling market has an amazing line up of street food vendors selling delicious and sumptuous Thai delicacies, cloth merchants selling inexpensive garments – of course, women get the better deals and a line up of vendors and hawkers selling household items. The Walking Street stretches from Thong Sala Pier down the road leading to Haad Rin. There are also an array of Cocktail bars and Bistros along the lane.

Ever treated your taste buds to a cocktail of Thai whiskey (Sang Som) and tender coconut? Watch out for the street side stalls selling these coconut cocktails!

Om Ganesh Indian Restaurant was the only Indian Restaurant in Haad Rinn the last time i checked out. They served spicy Indian food, the best Indian food you could find in the whole of Ko Phan Ngan.

Finding Western and Italian food would be a cakewalk in Haad Rinn and the rest of the Ko Phan Ngan. Treat yourself to the Pancake street side vendors serving Chocolate, Banana, Mango, Nutella and a variety of other Pancakes.

Full Moon Party - Koh Phan Ngan - Scenic View from a Restaurant
Koh Phan Ngan – Scenic View from a Restaurant

Night Parties:

Hadd Rinn is the soul of Koh Phangan, the infamous Party hub which draws party goers in tens of thousands on Full moon days. The beach is packed with serious party goers donning bikinis, flaunting glossy face paintings, blowing trumpets and carrying the signature of Ko Phan Ngan – the cocktail buckets. The pubs by the beach side organize gaming events to unite the travelers from all around the world. The parties are lively and lovely, with people of all ages dancing to the tunes “PitBull”, “AfroJack” and so on.. You would find almost all genres of music being played around. The Psy-trance is sure to lift your spirits high with a cocktail in hand. The Full moon party which lasts till dawn would consequently drain your energy. It is prudent to keep yourself hydrated and enjoy within your limits.

best places to visit in thailand for honeymoon - Cocktail Buckets, Ko Phan Ngan
Cocktail Buckets – The Ko Phan Ngan Signature

Full Moon Party Schedule 2017: 

Full Moon Party Dates 2017
Thursday 12, January
Sunday 12, February
Sunday 12, March
Tuesday 11, April
Thursday 11, May
Friday 09, June
Monday 10, July
Monday 07, August
Tuesday 05, September
Friday 06, October
Friday 03, November
Sunday 03, December

Tips to Survive the Full Moon Party:

  1. Leave your valuables such as Passport, Mobile Phones, excess Cash and Cards locked in the safety lockers back in your rooms. There were reports of theft, both in the parties and in rooms. Use of Safety locker is advisable.
  2. Do not get drinks or any eatables from the fellow partying gentlemen. They might be laced with drugs which could knock you out or could eventually land you behind bars. Drugs are illegal in Thailand.
  3. If you are worn out partying, it is safe and wise to retire in your room. Do not sleep on the rented beds or sleeping areas by the beach. The chances of getting ripped off are high to certain.
  4. It is advisable to leave your rented bikes back in your hotel and commute to the party location by tuk tuk. Motorcycle might get stolen. Also, the rate of accidents and unfortunate incidents on party nights are higher.
  5. Do not get involved in a scuffle with any Gentlemen. It could be a scam in place to rip you off out of a fight or a scuffle.
  6. Exercise extreme caution and common sense to stay safe.

The tips above would generally save you in any happening party in Ko Phan Ngan. The other happening parties are Jungle Party, Half Moon Party and the Boat Party. Stay safe and have fun!

Jungle Experience Party:

This party happens a day before and 10 days after every Full Moon Party. The party location is set in the deep jungle of Baan Tai. Look out for the schedule before you plan your trip to Koh Phan Ngan. This is an unique experience you cannot afford to miss in the Party Island.

Muay Thai Boxing:

The traditional Thai boxing has a massive fan following. Ko Phan Ngan has at least four of the Muay Thai Stadiums, where you can experience the traditional boxing. You would find posters of the event and the fliers being distributed through out the island in Songtheaws. It’s an unique experience to watch a Muay Thai boxing match.

Island Hopping,Kayaking & Snorkeling Day Trips:

There are many travel agents selling Island hopping and Snorkeling tours throughout the Island. Ang Thong National Marine Park day trip is a renowned and scenic trip not to be missed. Ang Thong National Marine Park is an archipelago off 42 islands with crystal blue waters and stunning views. The trip includes pick up from the hotel between 6-7 am in the morning, Island hopping by Speed boat, Snorkeling, Kayaking (depends on the cost of the package), Buffet lunch, Emerald Lake, View points, Snacks, Cool drink and Water bottles, and drop at the hotel between 5-6 PM in the evening. Checkout few travel agents for the price before booking.

Emrald Lake - Ang Thong National Marine Park
Emrald Lake – Ang Thong National Marine Park

Most Note Worthy tours available from Kho Phan Ngan..

  • Day trips to Koh Tao
  • Day trips to Koh Nang Yuan

Scuba Diving:

Scuba Diving in Thailand is absolutely stunning. There are scores of PADI shops offering certificate courses in Diving. Rather, if your interests are limited but to enjoy Diving, opt for Discover Scuba Diving (DSD), an one day diving affair with open water training and two assisted Diving up to a depth of 12m. As a precaution, please do not to fly for the next 48 hours after diving, owing to the nitrogen in Diving Cylinders. Plan your trip accordingly. Ko Tao, an island near Ko Phan Ngan is the one of the best places for Diving. There are numerous dive shops offering accommodation and diving courses. Alternatively, you could opt to stay in a luxury resort and experience DSD. The vibrant coral reefs and the bluish green waters makes it an ideal place to experience Diving and Snorkeling.

Other Adventure activities:

Canopy adventure, Trekking trips in to the jungle, Zipline, Kiteboarding, Surfing are few other adventure activities that are available in the Island.

ATM & Super Market:

ATMs are available in Thong Sala and Baan Tai. There are a few 7/11 and Big C supermarkets.

Motor Bike Rentals:

The Bike rentals are available at around 300 THB a day. One would need to surrender a passport as security to avail rental bikes. First of all, please do check the condition of the bike before availing the rental service. Be a wise and careful rider. Damages arising out of any accident could cost you high!


Best Places to Visit in Thailand for Honeymoon – Top 9 Places

I am Single. Consequently, i never had the chance or the need to experience a honeymoon. I have pondered over the idea of writing on the best places to visit in Thailand for honeymoon for a while. Well, I am no judge of “how it feels like” to honeymoon in Thailand. But, I have seen happy couples laughing, cuddling, romancing and having the best of their times in Thailand. Honeymoon has a significant role in bonding relationships. Honeymoon destinations are indeed a significant catalyst and a binding factor in the magical bond. Places are magical, bestowed with the power to cast a powerful spell, to bond the people in love. Thailand, as a honeymoon destination, has stunning places to kindle your love and kick-start your life as a couple!

Best Places to Visit in Thailand for honeymoon:

A honeymoon is essentially quality time spent to acquaint with one another. It is to your liking about how you would love to spend a quality time. Thailand has an array of adventure activities to indulge in – Night parties, Island hopping, Snorkeling, Diving, Muay Thai Boxing, Day trips, Zip lining, Trekking, Surfing, Yoga, Cooking classes and so on… Listed below are few of the best places to honeymoon in Thailand, with activities.

#1. Phuket, Phi Phi Islands (Ko Phi Phi), Krabi, Ko Lanta

These magical islands are to the south-west of Bangkok, the Thailand capital. Phuket is the most favored destination among the best places to visit in Thailand for honeymoon. Phuket offers a raving night life in the infamous area “Patong”, the Bangla street; stunning day trips to Phi Phi islands, Phang na Bay and Ko Lanta. There are many a beautiful and well equipped resorts to indulge in an intimate honeymoon.

Indian restaurants are aplenty. Western and Thai restaurants are no lesser. Enjoy an exotic honeymoon in luxury resorts; go on an Island hopping, Snorkeling and Kayaking; treat your taste buds to the street food and the mouth-watering desserts. If your intention is to have a calm and well relaxed honeymoon without party or the hustle bustle – choose Ko Lanta. Ko Lanta is relatively free of the tourist crowd and is yet to be commercialized as Krabi or Phuket.

Best Places to Visit in Thailand - Tourist Enjoying a Swim In Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping Tour
Tourist Enjoying a Swim In Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping Tour

#2. Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & Koh Tao:

These pristine islands are located to the south-east of the Bangkok, in Suratthani Province. Koh Samui, relatively a larger island compared to Koh Phan Ngan, is often preferred by the honeymoon couples,the élite and the high budget tourists.

Koh Phan Ngan however, is preferred by budget tourists,party goers and the backpackers. Couples who love to party at nights and go around sight-seeing in the days could opt for Ko Phan Ngan. Couples could choose to party or have a lazy, warm relaxed holiday on the serene beaches.

Best Places to Visit in Thailand - Koh Tao - Koh Samui Island Hopping
Koh Tao : Island Hopping from Koh Samui

Koh Samui and Koh Phan Ngan both offer comfy and luxury resorts for an intimate honeymoon. Ko Phan Ngan and Koh Samui are at a distance of a 40 minute ride by speed boat. Couples could alternatively choose to stay at Koh Samui to enjoy its tranquilty and make a day trip to Koh Phan Ngan on party nights.

Ko Phan Ngan is the party capital of Thailand. Full Moon Party, Half Moon Party, Jungle Experience are few of the renowned parties that bring in thousands of party goers every season.

Koh Tao, the smallest of the three islands is undoubtedly the best of the three islands. The scenic island has scores of night parties, which is just a short boat ride away from Koh Phan Ngan and Koh Samui. However, the island is renowned for it’s pristine white sandy beaches and the coastal line. Koh Tao offers the best diving spots in the whole of Thailand and there are scores of authorized diving schools ready to mesmerize you with the beauty underwater. Diving, Day trips, Parties and a relaxed Honeymoon – the island guarantees you moments to cherish for a life time.

#3. Bangkok and Pattya:

Bangkok and Pattaya are the most touted honeymoon destinations in India. I was earlier wondering about why honeymoon couples would want to visit the busy Bangkok, choking in Traffic. The serene beauty of other destinations were an irrefutable fact to be labelled as honeymoon destinations. However, Bangkok and Pattaya never met the criteria in my opinion, until i had an open chat with a honeymoon couple.

Bangkok, in the couple’s perspective, has temples such as Wat Po, Wat Arun; the Grand Palace; Shopping heaven such as Chatchuk market, Indira Market, JJ Weekend Market, Terminal 21, Nana Plaza etc,; the high-rise buildings, the infrastructure and the Sky Train. Bangkok city is an amalgamation of a girl’s shopping needs, sight-seeing and a new city exposure.

Pattaya is otherwise known as “Las Vegas of Asia”, quoted the couple,a fact i was ignorant of! A walk down the vibrant streets packed with beer bars, buffet restaurants, night markets, street food, massage parlor and the street hawkers, is an exciting experience to begin with.

Pattaya does have an array of things to do – such as…

  • Underwater Museum
  • Sri Racha Tiger Zoo
  • Floating market
  • The crown jewel of Pattaya – the Koh Lan Island(Coral Islands)
  • Pattaya Beach
  • Jomtien Beach
  • Silver Lake Vineyard

Koh Lan is a 40 minute ride by a ferry that costs 30 Bhat. It’s a stunning and serene island to spend a day at leisure.

Partying couples will be at the helm of their honeymoon at Pattaya and Bangkok.

Best Places to Visit in Thailand for Honeymoon - Pattaya - Drinking Street View
Drinking Street – Bar Scene

Offbeat, yet best places to Visit in Thailand for honeymoon:

Visa on arrival for Indians is an enticing and the primary driving factor, for Indians venturing on a honeymoon to Thailand. Consequently, the Indian diaspora numbers in Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Bangkok and Pattaya has gone up by the days.

If you are a couple who likes to stay away from the crowd, the choking traffic and the touristy places – the best places to visit in Thailand for honeymoon would be a choice of Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, Hua-Hin, Pai and Chiang Rai.

Hua-Hin, 90 miles from Bangkok is easily accessible by a taxi. The beach town has scores of popular resorts in its portfolio.

Chiang Dao,Chiang Mai,Chiang Rai and Pai are towards the north of Thailand. I would personally suggest home-stays in Chiang Dao to enjoy the weather and an amazing honeymoon. There are few resorts down the hill near Chiang Dao caves, which are luxurious unlike the basic home-stays atop the mountain.

Have you been to any of these exotic places on a Honeymoon? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have any beautiful pics to tag? Please add your comments, suggestions and tips for the benefit of fellow travelers.

How to get Philippines Tourist Visa for Indians – A Concise Guide.

Philippines Tourist Visa for Indians – Why not Indians?

Indians traveling to Philippines for tourism is unheard of, let alone securing a Philippines Tourist Visa for Indians! News watchers may be aware of it’s existence on account of the ongoing dispute in South China Sea. “What? Are you going to the Philippines…? Why? Do you want to Starve?” blurted the Immigration officer, when i was on my way to the heaven! First of all, its ignorance and an uncommon travel for an Indian. It was an overwhelming joy to break the myth.

The picturesque country has stunning and pristine islands offering wonderful tourism destinations.The cumbersome process in securing a Philippines tourist visa for Indians is the major setback discouraging the Indian tourists in visiting the Philippines.You might ask, if visiting Philippines is really worth the painstaking Visa process. I would happily nod an YES!

Imagine a trip to the Philippines & Get a Visa:

Imagine a lazy sunbath on a pristine beach side with a cocktail.Imagine meeting scores of foreigners and Filipino on a pub hopping; diving in to the deep seas to see the vibrant corals; swimming with the Whale Sharks; seeing the vast green UNESCO World heritage site of “Banaue rice terrace” and the sight of the chocolate hills. Philippines could make your dreams come alive! This is what a trip to the Philippines looks like! Is it worth the pain? Why not go on an off-beat tourism destination?

Key Facts to understand about Philippines Tourist Visa for Indians (9A):
  1. Philippines does not offer Visa on Arrival for Indians. (Ah! This is one country, we MUST fight for a VOA!)
  2. Indians must obtain a valid Temporary Visitor’s Visa for Pleasure (Tourist Visa) – 9A, before entering the port of entry in the Philippines.
  3. Visa will be verified before boarding an air plane to the Philippines. In the event of not showing a valid tourist visa, the airline can deny boarding (in any country) and so does the Indian Immigration.
  4. An applicant can apply for a Temporary Visitor’s Visa for Pleasure (Tourist Visa) either individually or by availing visa services of a travel agent, such as Thomas Cook.
  5. The applicant has to appear in person, if the Consular officer so demands, when applying through a travel agent.
  6. The Embassy does not accept Passports for visa processing via Mail or Courier.
  7. Indian Nationals holding diplomatic or official passport need not apply for Visa if the intended stay is within 30 days.
  8. Visa Validity: A tourist visa, if and when issued, is valid for 3 months from the date of Issue.
  9. Length of Stay: The length of stay during each visit cannot exceed 59 days. The number of days issued for a visit lies with the Consular Officer and is also the discretion of the officer examining the Visa at the port of entry.
  10. You can choose Single entry or Multiple entry Visa depending on your travel needs.

Thailand - Visa On Arrival ForIndians

Visa Free Entry for Indians : A Welcome relief for Indian Nationals holding PR:

Effective 20 April 2015, Indian passport holders do not require a visa for tourism travel (Visa Free Entry for Indians), if the leisure travel does not exceed fourteen (14) days provided that they –

  1. hold a valid visa or permanent residence permit issued by Singapore (including E Pass, S Pass, Work Permit,Student Pass, Dependent Pass), Australia, Japan, Schengen country, U.K. or U.S.A.
  2. hold a valid return ticket to country of origin or next country of destination.
  3. have a passport valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the stay in the Philippines.

Philippines Tourist Visa for Indians in Chennai:

Visa Process:

I applied for Philippines Visa a month before the travel date. The travel forums and the official Philippines Embassy website in India were my reference for Visa application and Guidelines. I applied for the Visa as an individual applicant and did not use travel agents. I would strongly advise you to read the official Embassy website in addition to the information presented here.

Philippines Honorary Consul General Chennai:

The “Philippines Honorary Consul General Chennai” is located in SPIC building, Guindy. The Embassy has a token system for processing Visa applications. It is advisable to arrive early morning (around 8 AM) at the SPIC building. The security guard at the entrance of the building issues token for the Embassy. The Embassy office is located on ground floor on the left side, towards the parking lot. Applicants are allowed to enter the Embassy office waiting area only after 9 AM. A Consular officer starts verifying the Visa documents around 930 AM, based on the token system. The officer verifies all the documents and accepts or rejects the papers on a case to case basis.

My First Experience – Mistake and Learning:

I was the third in line to appear for the Visa scrutiny. I walked up to the officer with the papers mandated by the official website, New Delhi. The officer rejected my visa documents on the following grounds.

  1. The Payable Name on the Demand Draft was not in line with the Chennai office requirements. The Payable name quoted in the official website was different – “Embassy of the Philippines“. (Read the Official Guidelines laid down by Chennai office).
  2. Printout of the HR letter stating the Leave Dates, Certificate of Current Employment and Salary Certificate. The Embassy does not accept Printouts. The certificates issued by the Employer should be on Original Letter Head.
  3. Credit card copy, as mandated by the official website was not required.
  4. PAN card copy was not required.

The officer handed out a document carrying the requirements in detail, requesting me to come back with the right set of documents.

Important:

It is advisable to go to the Philippines Embassy and get the latest handout before applying for the Visa.

Official Guidelines For Tourist Visa – Handout from the Philippines Honorary Consul General Chennai:
  • Visa application form fully and legibly completed in English by the applicant.
  • One Passport size photograph taken no more than 6 months ago. Scanned photos are not acceptable.
  • Original Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the contemplated stay in the Philippines.
  • One Passport photocopy (first and last page).
  • Letter of Invitation (if applicable) indicating complete address and telephone number should be notarized by the notary public.(Passport copy and the Visa copy) – Scan copy.
  • Covering letter from the applicant.
  • If employed, applicant’s certificate of current employment from employer to include Leave sanctioned, employer’s full name, address, telephone number, applicant’s length of service and salary details and the registration certificate of the company.
  • Business Men (If self-employed), Proof of Business.
  • If Student, applicant’s certificate of Bona fide from the School/College.
  • If minor, under 15 years of age traveling alone or to be accompanied by a person other than a parent or not joining a parent in the Philippines. Affidavit of support and Consent to travel. The affidavit must be executed by either or both parents indicating traveling companion of minor and address in the Philippines, duly Notarized by a local Notary Public, attested by the MEA and consular officer of the Philippine Embassy. This affidavit must be presented before immigration officials at the port of entry in the Philippines upon the minor’s arrival in the Philippines.
  • Spouse of a Philippine Citizen: Name of the Filipino spouse should be indicated in the visa applicant’s Passport copy of Report of Marriage issued by the Philippine Embassy of Philippine National Statistics Office.
  • Unmarried Minor Child of a Filipino Parent: Copy of the Birth Certificate and Copy of Parent’s valid passports.
  • Spouse is in the Philippines under Business visa or Employment visa, the copy of marriage authentication certificate to be submitted along with the other documents.
  • Bank statements for latest 6 months(Healthy Balance).
  • IT Returns for 3 years.
  • Confirmed return air ticket.
  • Confirmed Hotel Accommodation.
  • Visa processing – normal – 5 working days,express – 2 working days.
  • Visa submission time – 9.30 to 10.30 (Monday to Friday).
  • Schedule of Visa fees – Normal Rs.2840/- Express Rs.6390/- each
  • Only demand drafts drawn from any bank in India with a branch in Chennai are accepted. Pay to be “PHILIPPINE HONORARY CONSULATE GENERAL CHENNAI” Payable at Chennai.

Are you contemplating if you should visit Philippines, having read the tedious visa requirements? Here are 6 reasons why you should travel to the Philippines.

Ever heard of Boracay? Boracay is featured in the Top 10 romantic beaches in the world. Boracay is a romantic place to go on a honeymoon. El Nido, Palawan Islands is another island you would fall in love with!

Visa Approval – Success on second attempt!

Do you remember walking in to the Principal’s office at school? Well, my second attempt instigated the anxiety hormones. The papers were in order as mandated by the Philippines Honorary Consul General Chennai. I had to cancel the previously issued Demand Draft and request a fresh one with the mandated payable name. The certificates were on the original company letter head. I didn’t want my Visa rejected, having planned and waited for the dream trip!

Travel agents charge approximately INR 6000 for Visa processing. I opted to process my application through “Express”. I was happy to pay the required fees than opting for a travel agent. The consular officer accepted the papers on my second visit, since I had the right answers for the Consular’s questions. Consequently, the consular officer asked me to come two days later, around 4-430 PM, in the evening to collect the Passport. Finally, I was granted a 9A-Tourist Visa for 3 weeks, valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

Philippines Visa Application Form Download Link – Application form available in the official website. Please refer the official website – http://newdelhipe.dfa.gov.ph/index.php if the link is outdated.

Philippines Embassy / Philippine Honorary Consulate General – India locations:

Contact Information as listed in Philippines Embassy Website, New Delhi.

Philippine Embassy in New Delhi

H.E. (Mrs.) Ma. Teresita C. Daza
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
50-N Nyaya Marg, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi: 110021
Tel number:+9111- 2688-9091, 2611-0152, 2410-1120 and 2688-8838
Fax number: +9111- 2687-6401
Office Hours for Submission of Visas: 9:00 am to 11:00 am, Monday to Friday
Email: philippineembassynewdelhi@gmail.com 

Philippine Honorary Consulate General Mumbai

Mrs. Rajashree Birla – Consul General ad Honorem
Mr. Retnaswamy Swaminathan – Consul ad Honorem
Mr. Subramaniam Krishna Moorthy – Vice Consul ad Honorem 
1st Floor, Industry House
159 Churchgate Reclamation,
Mumbai 400021
Tel: (+91-22) 2202-4792
Fax: (+91-22) 2281-4103
Office Hours for Submission of Visas: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, Monday to Friday
Collection of Visas on the 3rd working day between 10:00 am to 12:00pm
Email: pcgmumbai@gmail.com 

Philippine Honorary Consulate General KOLKATA

Mr. Deepak Kumar Khemka – Consul General ad Honorem
37 Shakespeare Sarani
2nd Floor, Kolkata, 700001
Tel:(+91-33) 2280-2546
Fax:(+91-33) 2280-8345
Email: pcgkolkata@gmail.com 
Office Hours for Submission of Visas: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday
Collection of Visas on the next day between 2:00 pm to 4:00pm

Philippine Honorary Consulate General Chennai

Mr. Ashwin Muthiah – Consul General ad Honorem
“Spic House” Annex Building
VIII Floor, 88 Mount Road
Guindy, Chennai 600032
Tel: (+91 44) 22354063 and
Fax: (+9144) 22352062

E-mail: pcgchennai@spic.co.in

The Philippines tourist visa for Indians seems like a tough process. However, if you have the right documents, you could enjoy a trip to the heaven!

Do you have an experience getting a Philippines Tourist Visa? In addition, do you have any suggestions or points to add? Request you to add your experience in the comments section.

Places to visit around Chikmagalur, Karnataka – A Weekend Getaway

Are you looking around for places to visit around Chikmagalur? I visited the scintillating place in the month of June, at the onset of Monsoon and here goes my experience…

It had been a while since i ventured out and it was a Herculian task to stay put controlling my wanderlust. The travel infested, just as me, would nod their heads in agreement! Earning in INR and spending in USD leaves me cold. It’s the one thing i find it hard to digest. However, i made an exception and planned to venture on a weekend getaway from Chennai, on a short notice.

There are few places to go on a weekend getaway from Chennai – such as Pondicherry (Puducherry), Kodaikanal, the mangrove forests near Pondicherry – Pichavaram, Yelagiri, Yercaud or even a trip to the “God’s own country” Kerala. However, i stumbled on Chikmagalur (Karnataka State), a scenic retreat located at 250 Km from Bangalore. Well, to be honest, it isn’t a weekend getaway from Chennai. Regardless, the places to visit around Chikmagalur lured me. One would need at least 4 days if it’s a backpacking trip by train and bus.

Scenic and Misty Road on route to Buttermilk Falls
Scenic and Misty Road on route to Buttermilk Falls

Chennai to Bangalore:

Typically, it takes around 6-7 hours by bus from Chennai  to Bangalore (there are numerous trains between Chennai and Bangalore. Checkout www.erail.in for information) and another 4-5 hours by Taxi to Chikmagalur. Travelling by bus from Bangalore to Chikmagalur will add to your woes, given the traffic in Bangalore and the bus schedule from Bangalore to Chikmagalur.

A flight from Chennai to Bangalore could cost you around 1500 INR on a minimum fare, plus the taxi/bus fare from Bangalore airport to the city (around 1.5 hours) makes it a less preferred option. The best way is to travel by bus/train from Chennai to Bangalore, which would ideally cost only 500-800 INR.

Reaching Chikmagalur:

The nearest airport to Chikmagalur is located at 250 kms at Bangalore/Bengaluru and at a distance of 200 km on an average at Mangalore. There are buses leaving from both Bangalore and Mangalore to Chikmagalur. However, it is most visited by bikers and group travelers by bike or vans either by means of tour packages or individually arranged vehicles.

The nearest railway station to Chikmagalur is located at Kadur (40 Kms) and at Hassan (60 Kms). You could rent a taxi from the railway station to Chikmagalur hotel / resort.

PS: It is a must to have an own vehicle or rented vehicle to visit the places in and around Chikmagalur.

Distance from Bangalore to Chikmagalur:

  

Distance from Mangalore to Chikmagalur:

Places to visit around Chikmagalur – best means of transport:

  • A weekend tour package from Mangalore or Chikmagalur – Taxi & Hotels / Homestays
  • Own Vehicle – Car / Bike (preferably day time or early morning on weekends)

Chikmagalur – an ideal Weekend destination:

Chikmagalur is a laid back town and the places to visit around Chikmagalur are a visual treat. You would be happy to miss the choking smoke from the hardly serviced Government bus, the irritating honking, your ever running mind, and your boss most of all! Well, the place is no escapade from pollution and a mild traffic. But sure, the places in and around Chikmagalur has few tricks in store.

Weather in Chikmagalur:

Chikmagalur is located at an altitude of 1090 mts above sea level. The weather in Chikmagalur is predominantly pleasant. The best time to visit is in December. However, the monsoons are no less – for the rains and the misty fog add beauty to the lush green environment. The places near Chikmagalur such as KrishnaRajendra Hill Station (has a Government run resort), Baba Budangiri, Kemmangudi etc., offers a very good weather. The mist, the rains, and the cool winds breezing through on the hill tops makes it an ideal place to hangout. I visited Chikmaglur in June, supposedly off-season. Despite the off-season, i witnessed a decent crowd.

places to visit around chikmagalur - Sitalayyana Giri Temple on Route to Mullayanagiri - View 2 from Outside the temple
Weather in Chikmagalur in July

Falls & Lakes:

Chikmagalur has numerous scenic Falls and Lakes in it’s portfolio. Buttermilk Falls, Kalhatti Falls, Manikyadhara Falls, Hebbe Falls, Honnamana Falls, Sankara Falls,Rameshwara Lake, Ayyankere Lake and so on…

Trekker’s Paradise:

There are many a trekking places near Chikmagalur. Kemmangudi, Baba Budangiri Hills, Muthodi forest are few of the trekker’s paradise around Chikmagalur. I saw few trekkers in their adventurous attire taking a break near Manikyadhara Falls. Trekkers from Bangalore throng the place during Weekends for a blissful stroll. You could shop your trekking needs from the renowned Decathalon stores in Bangalore and Chennai.

Honeymooner’s Paradise:

Chikmagalur and the places around are a good place for a romantic honeymoon. Taj property has a huge resort “The Gateway Hotel”, in Chikmagalur. Couples who prefer a luxurious honeymoon could opt for “The Gateway Hotel”. There are numerous coffee plantations offering cheaper homestays, which gives an opportunity to dwell amidst the Coffee plantations, Falls and cool breezy nights. The rates of properties vary depending on the amenities and the localities.

Places to see near Chikamagalur:

Following are the places to see near Chikmagalur. I have listed down the places you cannot miss during your trip to Chikmagalur…

  • Kemmangudi.
  • Baba Budangiri hills .
  • Mullanyangiri.
  • Hebbe Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Manikyadhara Falls.
  • Coffee Barn – Aromatic and original coffee priced at INR 30. It has lots in store to explore.
  • Coffee Museum – Priced at 20 INR for entrance, the Museum is a must go to understand as to how Coffee came into existence in India.
  • Chennakesava Temple, Belur
  • Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu

Baba Budangiri:

It was the first place where coffee bean was planted by Baba. A flight of stairs leads down to the Baba tunnel temple. One could smell the scented sandal akin smell from the moist rocks donning the temple. The lush green and the misty fog adds to the scenery of the temple. I couldn’t descend down the temple, due to a mud slide inside the temple. It’s worth a visit.

Places to visit around Chikmagalur - Baba Budangiri Temple Entrance View 1

Baba Budangiri Temple Entrance View 2
Baba Budangiri Entrance clouded in Mist

Manikyadhara Falls:

A short drive from the Baba Budangiri leads to Manikyadhara Falls. There were few small time shops selling hot omelette, food, coffee and cool drinks. The view point is scenic with mist covering the mountains and the drizzle from the windy fog is scintillating. The Manikyadhara falls has an entrance fee of Rs.2 and is certainly worth more than the fee! A small falls, the Manikyadhara, adorns the hill top.

Chikmagalur and it’s surroundings, is all about the scenic views, mist, falls, the lush green and the food. It’s certainly a paradise for the bikers and the trek lovers! Oh yeah, it certainly is a romantic retreat for the couples in love!

places to visit around chikmagalur - Manikyadhara Falls
Manikyadhara Falls

Buttermilk Falls:

The Falls is located on a steep and rugged road down through coffee plantations from the alighting point. One must take a Jeep ride down the hill, which would cost 1500 per jeep (for 8 pax max). The normal sedan and the passenger cars cannot and are not allowed on the road to the Falls. One could take a cold shower in the scintillating falls. There is also a small shop just near the Falls selling hot omelette, Vada Pav, and more.

Places to visit around Chikmagalur - Buttermilk Falls
Buttermilk Falls
Places to visit around Chikmagalur - Bumpy Jeep Ride to Buttermilk Falls
Bumpy Jeep Ride to Buttermilk Falls

Kalhatti falls:

The Falls failed to impress us – for we did travel long, at least an hour drive from Chikmagalur. The falls was very small. I would rather suggest not to add this to your itinerary. I did learn that there was a trekking route up the falls to a bigger view point. However, this route isn’t for everybody!

Kemmangudi:

“Z view point” and a Rose garden are an amazing sight in Kemmangudi. There was a heavy downpour when we arrived at the “Z view point” and the Rose garden. Given the altitude, the weather was cold, the rains were chilling to the bone and the views were absolutely stunning! It certainly is worth a visit. To add to it, the KrishnaRajendra resort, a government run resort was beautiful with stunning views. The rates were moderate and is certainly worth a stay in Kemmangudi.

 

 

Hebbe Falls:

On ascending down the hill from Kemmangudi, you would find an outpost with few jeeps lined up. It leads to Hebbe Falls, which we missed! The jeep rates were 400 per head and 3200 per jeep. The drivers would neither reduce the rates nor let us drive through. It’s the way the local population makes money from tourists! We were just two in number and owing to Sunday evening, the visiting crowd from Bangalore and around had already left for the day. It is advisable to visit Kemmangudi route on days other than Sunday. If otherwise, you may need to pay 3200 INR just to visit the falls! Last i heard, it was worth the money!

Temples near Chikmagalur:

Chennakesava Temple and Hoysaleswara Temple could be covered on your way back to Bangalore. Chennakesava is located in Belur, while Hoysaleswara is located in Halebidu. They are renowned for the artistic and intricate architecture, built during the period of Hoysala empire. They are feast for the art lovers and a must on the places to visit around Chikmagalur!

Suggested places to stay in and around Chikmagalur:

  • The Gateway Hotel, a Taj Property
  • Eagle Eye Resorts –  http://www.eagleeyeholidays.com/
  • The Planters Court – A budget hotel with mediocre standard rooms. The Deluxe rooms were good and consequently a bit over priced!
  • Krishna Raja Resort, Kemmangudi – Near Rose garden and Hebbe Falls. Stunning view points.
  • Coffee Barn – A Homestay amidst the Coffee plantations
  • Homestays near Buttermilk Falls

 

Dambulla, Kandy & Sigiriya – How to get there

Sigiriya – How to get there?

Before exploring on “Sigiriya – How to get there?” – here’s a piece of the historical information on the site…

Sigiriya was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. The enormous rock structure, about 660 ft high, draws millions of visitors for its glory and historical importance. The Sigiriya Lion Rock goes a long way back in history to 477 AD.

Sigiriya was made a capital by King Kasyapa, who fled from the Capital Anuradapura after murdering his father. He transformed the massive rock in to a beautiful fortress by building himself a scenic palace atop the rock, referred to as the “Sky Palace“. The structure today reveals his court room – no more than the basic structure though, beautiful ponds, and the Raja’s seat. The palace was built so high in the sky that clouds would breeze through them. The king had built it with such aesthetic taste, with frescoes in his palace. Few of the paintings have been preserved.The view from the top is breathtaking.

The King built a well planned entrance in the shape of Lion’s foot and hence the name “Sigiriya Lion Rock“.The surrounding lush gardens and the giant rock itself is a grandeur!

How to travel from Colombo to Sigiriya:

Bus:

From Colombo – Route Number 15 to Anuradhapuram, Route No 48 to Kaduruwela and Route No. 49 to Trinco. Alight at Dambula or Habarana. Take a tuk tuk to Sirigirya Rock.

Train:

There is only one train running between Colombo and Habarana, 15 Km away from Sigiriya. The frequency is less, which makes it even more difficult!

Private Car:

The best option.

Air: 

Cinnamon operates from Colombo International Airport to Sigiriya Domestic Airstrip. This is by far, the most expensive means of transport. Check schedule and prices.

sigiriya - how to get there - Sigiriya Map
Sigiriya Map
sigiriya - how to get there-Lion Rock Distant View
Lion Rock Distant View

More Pictures of Sigiriya…

Dambulla Cave Temple has five caves in all. A huge golden Buddha adorns the down hill. A short hike to the Monastery on the hill unfolds the beautiful flat lands filled with lush greenery all around. People of all ages hike to the monastery to offer their prayers to the Buddha. The ceilings of the caves are adorned with Buddha paintings and the caves are filled with Buddha of various sizes.

How to travel from Colombo to Dambulla:

Bus:

From Colombo – Route Number 15 to Anuradhapuram, Route No 48 to Kaduruwela and Route No. 49 to Trinco. Alight at Dambula.

Private Car: Best option

Sigiriya - How to get there - Dambulla Cave Temple
Dambulla Cave Temple
Sigiriya - How to get there - Dambulla Golden Temple Buddha
Dambulla Golden Temple Buddha
Sigiriya How to get there - Dambulla Lotus Pond
Dambulla Lotus Pond

It is advisable to couple a visit to Dambulla and Sigiriya.

Kandy is a hill station and the second largest city in Sri Lanka, next to Colombo. Kandy is the home to the renowned Temple of Tooth Relic, a world heritage site, where the tooth relic of Gautama Buddha is preserved. A beautiful lake is located in central Kandy offering scenic view. A walk around the lake may take around 30 minutes. The view-point offers a panoramic view of the lake and the Kandy city.

How to reach Kandy from Colombo

Train:

Train is the best option if you were not on a package tour, travelling by a hired taxi. There are several trains from Colombo Fort to Kandy.

Sigiriya How to Get There - Kandy Lake View 2
Kandy View Point 2
Sigiriya How to Get There - Kandy Lake View
Kandy Lake View

Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

The best of Sri Lanka, in my opinion, was the train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. There are buses with regular service from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. However, they take an alternate shorter route, which can never equal the scenic experience of the train ride. Why miss all the fun?

You would need to board a train at Peradeniya Station, which is about 7 Km from Kandy and alight at Nanu Oya, which is also at a distance of 6 Km from central Nuwara Eliya.  Do not miss your train ticket. We came across a ticket inspector at the exit of Nanu Oya, who demanded for the tickets.

Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya - Peradeniya Station
Peradeniya Train Junction
Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya - Peradeniya Station
Peradeniya Railway Station

There are three options to take train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (Boarding point: Peradeniya Station)

The private run trains are comfy but expensive. You could book the tickets online and in-advance for the private run trains. The private run trains are air-conditioned, which means, you would be enclosed in the coaches, only to look through the glass windows! Schedule below for both trains for your convenience…

Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya - Rail Expo Timings
Rail Expo Timings
Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya - rajdhani-schedule
Rajdhani-schedule

The best way to travel is to get the train ticket at the counter on the day of travel and travel by 2nd class coach. The 2nd class coach offers spectacular views of the lush green tea estates, waterfalls, dam and the mountains all along the journey. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to mingle with the locals. Make sure you get a window seat to enjoy the spectacular views at ease!

Few Pics below from our journey…

More Pics from our Journey…

Sri Lanka Tour Itinerary – 4 days in Sri Lanka & Top 10 things to do

Sri Lanka Tour Itinerary – The Route Map:

The daunting work had kept me occupied beyond the scale. It was six months since my previous trip and i wanted to break the routine – a “wanderlust thing“. I planned to go on a group trip to Sri Lanka with few friends for the “Independence Day” holidays. Well, as usual, we had to plan in advance for the Promo tickets. We found a decent offer for return tickets in Spice Jet for about 9,000 INR (MAA<->CMB) with a Sri Lanka tour itinerary in hand. We wanted to try package tours for a change and booked with Travel Triangle, a package tours marketplace.

Air India – A Chance to Fly for free to Sri Lanka using Air Miles:

I am a member of Air India – Flying Returns. Redemption could have benefited me free tickets to Sri Lanka. Redemption was an option, but let’s say i had bigger number on my mind and i wanted to save my air miles for a different destination. Well, I am choosy! Here’s a sample redemption detail : MAA < – > CMB required 4800 miles one way. If you have managed to save 9600 miles, you could travel for free (although, you may need to pay taxes in extra).

The redemption rates have gone up this year. A member would need 8000 miles one way. Redemption chart.

[alert type=””]Note: The number of redemption tickets are limited for every flight. Booking in advance is the only means to win free tickets![/alert]

[launch_button][button text=”Guide to Travel for free” url=”http://promotraveller.com/category/travel-hacking/”][/launch_button]

Sri Lanka – Tour Itinerary

4 days in Sri Lanka was our plan owing to the time constraint and the project deadlines back at work. We had to research the must see places in Sri Lanka and choose the best, that suited us. Well, getting around Sri Lanka was the next thing we were tied up with. We did ponder over the option to get an International driver’s licence and rent bikes (bike rentals were available at 20$a day). On second thoughts, we dropped the idea with security and the time constraint on the mind. We researched on all the cheapest methods to travel between destinations. Since, getting around was a challenge to cover the must see places in Sri Lanka, we decided to opt for Sri Lanka package tours with a customized itinerary of our own. Traveling as a group does play a significant role in making a trip luxurious at a relatively cheaper cost!

The Plan!

We drew up the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka, that we wanted to visit within the time frame. The Sri Lanka tour itinerary was well researched and prepared to give us a blended experience of the Sri Lankan culture, religion, history, adventure, beach, night life and culinary. Listed below are the top 10 things we managed to do in Sri Lanka in 4 days and 3 nights. Sri Lanka did welcome us with open hands (well, our tour guide did 🙂 ).

Our trip was a 90% success, since we missed the amazing night life in Unatwana, Galle – owing to a shut down on Full Moon day, a fact that we were not aware of!

Top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka:

  1. Sigiriya Lion Rock
  2. Dambulla Cave Temple
  3. Kandy – Over night Stay for the Weather
  4. Train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
  5. Gregory Lake at Nuwara Eliya by dusk
  6. White Water river rafting
  7. Night Life at Unatwana, Galle
  8. Kasgoda Turtle Hatchery
  9. Madu River boat ride
  10. Night Life at Colombo

4 Days in Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Tour Itinerary break up

Day 1:

The flying experience was akin to a bullock cart ride and the deafening sound from the engine had our ears “vrooming”! At times, we did talk about the on going Sri Lankan politics and the recent gruesome war – only to be reminded that “Traveler needs no Politics!”. Well, we were more excited about what Sri Lanka had in store for us! We arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport (Colombo International Airport) around 2 AM in the morning.

Our tour guide and driver for the whole trip, an young chap in his late twenties was waiting for us with a Name Board. Long have i wished for a warm welcome. It was a dream come true and a happy sign indeed! I owe you, Lanka!

The tour operator had offered us a van for four ( the vehicle could easily accommodate 7 pax). The air conditioned vehicle was comfy and more than we had anticipated!

It was almost 4 hours drive from Colombo Airport to the famous Sigiriya Lion Rock. The Sigiriya Lion Rock was one hell of a sight. It took us almost two hours to hike to the peak. It was worth a visit.

[alert type=””] Day 1: Colombo > Sigiriya Lion Rock > Dambulla Rock > Kandy (over night stay)[/alert]

Experience at Dambudlla, Kandy & Sigiriya – Recommended Read:

Dambulla, Kandy & Sigiriya – How to get there

Day 2:

The best of Sri Lanka, in my opinion, was the train ride from  Kandy to Nuwara Eliya [Peradeniya (Kandy Railway Station) to Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya)]. The best way to travel is to get the train ticket at the counter on the day of travel and travel by 2nd class coach. The 2nd class coach offers spectacular views of the lush green tea estates, waterfalls, dam and the mountains all along the journey. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to mingle with the locals.

Nuwara Eliya offers a wonderful climate to chill out. The city is laid back and has fewer attractions such as Victoria Park, Lake Gregory and a huge Golf course. Lake Gregory has boat rides and water scooters. It gets freezing cold in the evenings. Nuwara Eliya – Climate at it’s best.

[alert type=””] Day 2: Kandy Sight seeing > Train ride from Kandy Railway Station (Peradeniya) to Nanu Oya > Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya by Cab > Stay at Nuwara Eliya[/alert]

A scintillating experience on a Trains Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya – Recommended Read:

Train Ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Day 3:

After a relaxed stay at Nuwara Eliya, we opted to go for White Water River Rafting on the way to Galle. It was a unique experience.

Unfortunately, the night life at Galle, Unatwana was shut down due to Full Moon day. The pubs were closed and the restaurants were forbidden to sell liquor. It was mostly dull, except for the scenic beach and the sounds of the waves.

The views along the Galle fort were a sight to remember. The streets were colorful and the architecture was good.

[alert type=””] Day 3: Nuwara Eliya > White Water River Rafting > Galle – over night stay[/alert]


Day 4: 

The Kasgoda turtle hatchery is involved in conservation of the endangered sea turtles. The conservation program relocates the eggs from the nesting grounds, protects them until they hatch and release them on to the sea.They have been preserving the disabled turtles which cannot survive at sea. They have been creating an awareness among the locals on the importance of these endangered species. The tiny little turtles were so amazing. It was worth a visit.

Boat ride on Madu River:

We took a boat ride on the Madu river, with a designated “Captain”. Madu river is renowned for it’s Mangrove spread boasting an asset of 64 islands, few of which are inhabited by humans. We spotted huge lizards and birds of different kinds on our tour. We did enjoy the fish spa for a nominal fee.

Night life at Colombo:

We visited two renowned pubs, the names of which, i hardly remember. The night life at Colombo seemed to be a desperate attempt to mimic Bangkok, with an utter failure. We just wanted to sample or see how the night life was really taking off in the Capital. Well, it was mediocre.

[alert type=””] Day 4 : Galle Sight seeing > Kasgoda Turtle Hatchery > Boat ride on Madu River > Mount Laviniya beach > Colombo Night Life and Shopping > Depart Colombo[/alert]

The tourism industry in Sri Lanka is good and Sri Lanka offers amazing destinations for travelers and tourists alike. The Sri Lanka tour itinerary could be customized in line with your interests. Sri Lanka has more to offer on Diving, Cultural tourism in Anuradhapura, pristine coastal lines along Matara (a fishing hamlet), Arugam Bay and much more on eco-tourism. Experience the “Wonder of Asia”.