Asia

10 Best Instagram Spots in Jaipur, India

10 Best Instagram Spots in Jaipur

Are you looking for the 10 Best Instagram Spots in Jaipur, India? In this blog post, you will find a tour to discover the best incredible spots in Jaipur, including some tips on how to get there and when to go for the perfect shot!

Guest post by @travellovebirds_

Jaipur, the Pink City, is one of the most photogenic cities of Rajasthan. It is packed with Instagram worthy locations that will not only inspire your creativity but set the scene for the perfect photoshoot.

This colourful city was founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II, also known as Sawai Jai Singh in 1727. There is no doubt that Jaipur was a well-designed with its mix of Mughal architecture, religious Indu temples and pink colourful buildings.

10 Best Instagram Spots in Jaipur: Our itinerary – Map

1) Panna Meena ka Kund

The Stepwells are an example of the many types of storage and irrigation tanks that were developed in India.

Even early in the morning, there is a guard present who will let you take photos for 300 Indian Rupees ($4 USD). You get 10 minutes to take your shots. When other tourists are there you can’t walk down the stairs.

How to get there – The stepwell is a 10-minute drive from Amer Fort, easily reachable by Tuk Tuk.

When to go – Also, early morning is best to make sure you can go down the stairs and avoid people.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Panna Meena ka Kund

2) Jagat Shiromani Temple

Jagat Shiromani Temple is located in front of Stepwell and is one of the hidden gems in the heart of Jaipur.

This magnificent structure is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Krishna, and Meera Bai, several Hindu Gods. It is one of the most beautiful Instagram spots in Jaipur.

How to get there – This temple is on the way of Amer Fort to Panna Meena Ka Kund (Stepwell). The best way to reach the temple is to travel by car.

When to go – The best time to visit Jagat Shiromani Ji Temple is early in the morning, before 10 AM. The prayer starts at 11 AM and finishes at noon, so consider that hour as the busiest time here.

We spent about 20 minutes there.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Jagat Shiromani Temple

3) Amber Fort

Jaipur is highly known for its museums, food, monuments, and shopping, but also its forts. Of course, the Amer Fort is one of those must-visit places.

Amber Fort – or Amer Fort – was built to be a defence around the city. The Indian and Mughal blend of architecture is immensely beautiful. In fact, it is said that even the attackers did not want to destroy it.

The entrance fee is 500 INR ($7 USD) per person, and the estimated time inside the fort is around 2-3 hours.

How to go there – Amber Fort is located in Amer, a town roughly 10km outside of Jaipur. It can take up to 30 minutes to get there depending on traffic, so we suggest taking a Tuk Tuk. With luck, your drop off spot will only be a ten-minute walk from the fort.

When to go – The Fort opens at 8 AM, so make sure to be there at least 1 hour before if you want an empty place for the perfect photoshoot!

TIP – Make sure to check out the secret queen balcony. It’s a beautiful room that was built to allow the queen to watch outside without being seen. You can ask the guide to bring you there and let you in.


Please do not support the elephant rides!

These elephants are forced to toil all day hauling tourists, often in dangerous heat.
The visitors were rightfully horrified, but this act of extreme violence is the norm in this area.
Remember: if there is no demand, there is no offer!


4) Royal Gaitor

The complex of Royal Gaitor is a charming little spot in Jaipur. Head here to ditch the crowds and enjoy some quiet and tranquillity. Gaitor Ki Chhatriyan (or Royal Gaitor) is surrounded by lush green hills and beautiful Indian architecture, perfect for meditation.

How to get there – It’s a 20-minute drive outside of the main city centre and only costs 30 INR to enter.

When to go – We went in the early morning but afternoons are also less crowded.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Royal Gaitor

5) City Palace

Jaipur City Palace is located in the centre of Old Jaipur. It was built between 1729 and 1732 and the Royal Family still lives there today! The best way to explore the palace is to hire a guide, especially if you want access to private rooms.

One of the most beautiful parts of the City Palace is the four gates that symbolize the four seasons. Summer, spring, fall and winter are all dedicated to different Gods and Goddesses. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of hours and be immersed in architecture, art, and history.

How to get there – The City Palace is near the Palace of Wind (Hawa Mahal). The easiest way is to take a car to one of the palaces and then walk to the other.

When to go – The City Palace opens at 9.30 until 5 pm. We suggest going in the early morning before 10.30 am to avoid tourist groups.

TIP – You can have access Blue Room of the Royal Palace, Chandra Mahal, by paying an entry fee of 2500 rupees.

Instagram spots Jaipur - City Palace

6. Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal is known as the Palace of the Winds because of its 953 windows on its façade, allowing air to enter and refresh the interior. Similar to the secret room of the queen in Amer Fort, the window design was also for the royal ladies to observe the daily life and festivals outside without showing herself in public.

The best way to enjoy the view of the Hawa Mahal is from any of the numerous terraces on the opposite side of the road.

How to get there – It’s located in the middle of the pink city, so a Tuk Tuk ride is your best option. Unfortunately, the street in front of the palace is very busy. To save yourself the trouble, head up to one of the cafés across the street to get the picture-perfect view (Wind Cafe Cafe or Tattoo Cafe and Lounge).

When to go – We went there for lunch and the view was pretty amazing. It wasn’t crowded at all, but we suggest going before noon or in the late afternoon for the best light.

7. Patrika Gate

Located just a short distance away from Jaipur International Airport, you can easily fit it into your Jaipur itinerary. The colourful building of Patrika Gate is a masterpiece and a must-see spot in the Pink City.

You will be amazed by the beautiful and intricate details in every corner. We could have walked here for an entire afternoon admiring the stunning beauty of all the details.

How to get there – Patrika Gate is a complex of coloured doors which form the entrance of the Jawahar Circle Garden. Surprisingly, it’s known for being the largest circular park in all of Asia! Not to mention its only a 25-minute tuk-tuk drive from the centre of Jaipur.

When to go – It can be visited at any time of the day, as Patrika Gate is open 24 hours. Normally, it’s not very crowded in the early morning or during lunchtime.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Patrika Gate

8. Nahargarh Fort for that perfect sunset

Nahargarh Fort is one of those perfect Instagram sunset spots in Jaipur. In fact, this Fort has the best aerial views of the entire city.

Nahargarh means the ‘abode of tigers’, hence why there are panthers that prowl the hills around the Fort. We wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to get lost in this place, checking out every attraction and restaurant.

How to get there – Nahargarh Fort is pretty far and it’s on the top of Aravalli hill to Amer Fort of Jaipur. It takes about an hour from the city centre. We took a car with a driver, but you can also take a tuk-tuk.

When to go – Make sure you arrive one or even two hours before sunset. This spot is located at the sunset point and the photo was taken from the terrace of the cafe that is there.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Nahargarh Fort

9. The opposite side of Amber Fort

To get the views of Amber Fort from Jaigarh Fort, we climbed up all of the stairs in front of the fort. The views were worth it and there’s not even an entrance fee!

How to get there – Tuk Tuk + a steep climb up so make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. We climbed up the stairs right across from Amer Fort.

When to go – You may want to watch the sunrise from up here, so make sure you arrive here on time.
We recommend getting there at least an hour before sunrise, so you have enough time to climb and set up the shot.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Amber Fort

10. Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal is built on a Sagar Lake and means Palace on the Water. This Palace is only five floors above water level and in ancient times was a hunting lodge for Maharajas.

How to get there – The most convenient way to visit Jal Mahal is on your way from Amber Fort to Jaipur. In fact, Jal Mahal is located just on the side of the main road. Years ago it was also accessible by boat, but nowadays, due to pollution, it can only be seen from the road.

When to go – To make sure to have the best picture, visit at sunrise or sunset and enjoy the colourful reflections on the water.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Jal Mahal

Would you like to write a blog post for backpackersintheworld.com?
Send us an email at backpackersintheworld@gmail.com or send us a DM on Instagram.


About us

Hi, we are Greta & Nic, known as @travellovebirds_ on Instagram.

We are lovers of the Earth, living sustainably, passionate about photography and writing.

We try to inspire others to travel, have a positive impact on the planet and improve their life, mind, soul on www.cosmopolitanlovebirds.it where we publish every week a new blog post!

Mindful Travelling: Travel Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

There are so many things to do whilst travelling in South East Asia. Thanks to Instagram many places have become more and more popular but some aren’t always necessarily the right choice. Here is a guide with the best travel tips to Southeast Asia to help you see a backpackers’ top destination, mindfully.

Post wrote in collaboration with Hannah from @thatwanderlustboho.


Travel Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia


1) Dress and behave appropriately

When travelling through Southeast Asian countries you will most likely end up visiting many temples. Please remember that these temples – also the ancient ones – are religious complexes for the locals and you should be dressed & behave accordingly, also when is not strictly specified.

Dress Appropriately, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

How to dress respectfully?

It may be required to wear clothes that cover the shoulders and fall below the knees, and please respect these rules, even though it may be very hot and uncomfortable at times. If you don’t have appropriate clothes on, carry a scarf to cover your shoulders. It will come in handy. Also, don’t embrace each other in religious sites, keep it PG.

Thai Temple, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

Asides from religious landmarks you can wear whatever you are comfortable in, in most places in S.E Asia. However, showing any skin in a small minority of places can acquire the odd ‘look’ from both males and females. Some people are not used to seeing bare arms, legs or chests. This may be something to keep in mind while travelling. Always respect the culture and remember you are a guest in their home.

DON’T

  • Wear shorts or vests to a religious sight
  • Take selfies with your back to Buddhas
  • Wear shoes inside a temple

DO

  • Cover shoulders and below the knees when visiting religious sites
  • Consider getting a scarf to cover-up

2) Show respect when visiting traditional villages

Southeast Asia is filled with traditional villages and rural areas where you can see how locals really live. From the ‘Abatan River Community’ in the Philippines to Thailand’s ‘Ban Na Ton Chan’, from ‘Kyaing Tong’ in Myanmar to the ‘Brunei fishing village of Kampong Sungai Matan’ in Malaysia, chances to visit them are countless.

Some of these villages, however, are more controversial than others. I.e., have you ever heard of Huai Sua Tao village?

It is better known as “Long Neck Women village“. I’m sure you know now.

Traditional Village, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @nomadiclio

Huai Sua Tao in Northern Thailand is home to about a dozen long neck women, known for wearing coiled brass rings to elongate their necks. To put things into perspective, you should know that these women are not actually from Thailand, but refugees from Myanmar who moved to Northern Thailand to escape war and poverty.

As our friend Lio pointed out in his post, places like this may be seen by many as “Human Zoos”, but at the same time these women want tourists to keep coming as it’s their main source of revenue and they would have no other job opportunities – nor have land granted from the Thai government – otherwise. If you decide to visit, please, treat them with respect, ask permission to take photos and treat them as human beings.

DON’T:

  • Invade their privacy
  • Take photos without permission

DO:

  • Treat these people with respect
  • Ask them before you take a photo
  • Spend some actual time with these people

Photos by: @nomadiclio

3) Know how to interact with children

Whilst exploring the streets and attractions you may come across children begging or asking to take selfies with you for a small price. People connect more with children than adults and so feel obligated to help the children by giving them money. Their families are also aware of this hence why it is such a problem.

Travel Tips for Southeast Asia, children

These children are put to work from a very young age, sometimes not long after they learn to walk. This means they are missing out on an education and forced to deal with experiences no child should have to endure. Children begging are at risk from many dangers including physical or emotional abuse, abduction, rape, and human trafficking.

DON’T

  • Give money
  • Take selfies with them
  • Encourage this in any way
  • Follow children anywhere, it could be a scam or worse – dangerous!

DO

  • Donate pen & paper
  • Speak to them, it’s great for them to learn English and meet new people
  • Support local organizations that help put an end to the cycle of poverty

4) Be responsible when it comes to animal tourism

For many people, seeing animals such as elephants and tigers (to name a few) would be a dream come true. Sadly, a lot of these people are often unaware of the whole picture when it comes to animal tourism. In S.E Asia alone, animal tourism has become increasingly popular and many tour organizers are taking advantage of this.

You’ll often see tours advertising elephant riding and tiger selfies, some even go as far as stating they are sanctuaries or ethical when in fact they are deceiving tourists. These activities are cruel so researching is very important. Animal tourism is a huge industry around the world so below we have listed some animals that are increasingly at risk.

Elephant tourism, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @ourkindlife

Elephants

This is probably one of the most important travel tips to travel to Southeast Asia mindfully.

Elephants are one of the most endangered species in Asia and their population is rapidly decreasing. Their population has declined by an average of 50% in the last 75 years. It is estimated that only 20,000-40,000 are left in the wild. It is believed that over 70% of baby elephants found in tourism were most likely poached from their natural habitat, often meaning their mothers were killed.

Animal tourism, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

The amount of tourism in Thailand alone has resulted in a 30% rise of elephants held in captivity. That number is largely increasing due to the lack of knowledge when it comes to elephants and animal tourism as a whole.

A quick glance behind the scenes:

Elephants used in tourism are often captured from the wild. Many baby elephants will endure the “Phajaan” which means the breaking of an elephant’s spirit. This cruel process enables its captor to gain control of the elephant resulting in the elephant being forced to carry tourists, preform tricks and so on. Elephants often face abuse and neglect their entire lifetime or until they are no longer fit for use.

DON’T

  • Ride elephants. Ever! (if riding elephants is allowed, it’s definitely not ethical)
  • Visit elephant shows, the circus’ etc
  • Visit unethical zoos, sanctuaries, etc (quick research can help decide where is ethical and where isn’t)
  • Touch If you see chains, rope or an elephant hook/spear – leave and write a review to warn others

PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS

DO

  • See elephants in the wild
  • Support elephant organizations
  • Raise awareness, and doing your research
  • Visit ethical sanctuaries with zero riding
  • Visit ethical national parks

Photos by: @ourkindlife

Tigers

Another highly endangered species but thanks to conservation efforts their numbers are slowly growing. There are currently an average of 3,900 tigers left in the wild and the majority of those are found in S.E Asia. Although their numbers are growing they are still largely at risk.

What happens behind the scenes

One country, in particular, has become very popular for its tigers and sadly not for good reasons. Many venues in Thailand have been known to exploit tigers by allowing tourists to take selfies with them, and see them up close. Here is a report by World Animal Protection:

The suffering behind the selfie

The main welfare concerns witnessed by our investigators at these venues were:

  • tiger cubs separated from their mothers just two to three weeks after birth
  • young cubs presented to tourists and mishandled hundreds of times a day, which can lead to stress and injury
  • tigers punished using pain and fear, to stop aggressive, unwanted behaviour. One staff member told our researchers that starvation is used to punish tigers when they make a ‘mistake’
  • most tigers were housed in small concrete cages or barren enclosures with limited access to freshwater. 50% of the tigers we observed were in cages with less than 20sqm per animal, a far cry from the 16-32km they would roam in a single night in the wild
  • one in ten tigers observed showed behavioural problems, such as repetitive pacing orbiting their tails. These behaviours most commonly occur when animals can’t cope with stressful environments. “ – World Animal Protection

Did you know that a few years ago a tiger tourist attraction was raided and shut down? What they found was heartbreaking. Fifty tiger cubs were found frozen and waiting to be sold for soup medicine.

DON’T

  • Take a selfie with a tiger
  • Touch or hold a tiger/cub
  • Watch shows/circus’ with animals
  • Visit unethical zoos/sanctuaries etc

PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS

DO

  • See tigers in the wild
  • Support conservation organizations
  • Visit ethical sanctuaries and national parks where #tigerselfies are NOT allowed
  • Raise awareness

Whale sharks

chapter by @joyoushapes

Whale sharks, also known as gentle giants, are the largest fish in the ocean. They can be as large as 18 meters in length and they can be found in the tropical ocean. Even if they are huge, and the name “shark” could sound scary, they eat only plankton and small fish and they are harmless to humans.

Usually encounters happen on very shallow water, this is the reason why many people join snorkelling tours to meet these beauties. Tours with whale sharks are becoming more famous thanks to social media, but we should be very careful in how we choose a tour and ensure it’s a responsible and ethical one.

A very popular – yet unethical – whale sharks tour is in Oslob, Philippines.

While people swim with the whale sharks, the guide/s have been known to hit these magnificent creatures to make them move! And, these creatures are fed every day because of the tour, so they have stopped migrating.

This behaviour can lead to the extinction of the already endangered species, as they will no longer be able to feed themselves because they have become dependent on tour feeding times.

This tour is very chaotic, a huge amount of people get in the water at 6 am trying to see the whale sharks. It has become dangerous for these animals, but also for people because crowds + water + animals = very critical mix. Please avoid any such tour. 

DON’T

  • Feed them or visit
  • Touch whale sharks
  • Take pictures with flash
  • Visit them at the aquarium and unethical places in general (if you want to spot them, find a tour where you can see them from the boat, without interacting with them. Check through the internet)

DO

  • Visit ethical places where they do NOT feed them
  • Go on tours where you are not assured you’ll see whale sharks, they are nomadic animals, how can you expect to find them always in the same place?

Other at-risk animals

When backpacking S.E Asia you will no doubt encounter animal tourism of some sort. Another animal that is at risk in S.E Asia is the monkey. Monkeys are often abused and forced to put on shows for tourists. Unfortunately, animal cruelty is a worldwide issue and so we will try our best to raise awareness. Below we have listed some popular animal activities that you should research beforehand:

  • Camel riding
  • Horse riding
  • Donkey riding
  • Any sanctuaries/zoos
  • National parks

Always avoid: Street vendors with parrots, monkeys, snakes, etc
Always check that the animal looks fit and healthy. See how the animal is treated by the owner. Research sanctuaries and zoos. Don’t visit national parks that allow vehicles to crowd around any animals.

And lastly, always be observant of any animal neglect/cruelty. Be sure to leave negative reviews if you, unfortunately, experience any of the above. 
Some places that have a bad rep and to be cautious of:

  • Donkey rides in Santorini
  • Elephant ride in India, Thailand, Indonesia, etc
  • Horses and donkey taxis in Gili Islands
  • Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
  • Camel ride in Jordan

“With animal tourism becoming more and more popular World Animal Protection found that 75% of wildlife tourist attractions are having a negative impact on wild animals.”

5) Do your research

When backpacking, doing research is essential if you want to travel mindfully. Below we have listed some important factors to consider when carrying out research:

  • Check the website- what’s their story? Do they support local communities, organizations? Are they ethical/sustainable/eco-friendly? Do they give back? 
  • Always read reviews- once you’ve checked a website always read reviews on a third-party platform such as Trip Advisor. Do the reviews support the website’s claims?
  • Talk to backpackers- have they been there? What was their experience?
  • Spontaneous trip? Be observant, raise awareness if you see something that may be wrong.
  • Boycott anywhere that- allows animal selfies, touching, handling or provides “entertainment”.
  • Don’t be naive.

Doing research is also crucial before booking any accommodation. Always check recent reviews for any signs of bed bugs before making a reservation.

6) Haggling

Bargaining in Southeast Asia is common practice pretty much anywhere. Depending on the country you are in, vendors will start with prices that are usually 2 to 4 times higher than the ones applied to locals. Expect this to happen mostly in touristy areas, in night markets, and with taxis and tuk-tuks.

Tuk Tuk, Thailand

Even though haggling is often necessary, remember to be respectful and try to offer a fair price. This tip may seem obvious, but while it’s true you should not pay more just because you are a tourist, please do not haggle over very small amounts.
We’ve seen people haggling over a 50-cents price difference, and even though backpackers do need to stretch dollars, you should remember that such small amounts make no difference to you while it does for them. Accept the deal if you think it’s fair, walk away if you think they’re trying to rip you off, but always be respectful.

DO

  • Negotiate prices wherever is necessary
  • Check average prices before to have an idea of what is a fair price.

DON’T

  • Be disrespectful, offering prices that are too low
  • Haggle over very small price differences

Photos by: @thatwanderlustboho

7) Be aware of the risks

Travelling in Southeast Asia is a lot of fun; however, you should never underestimate its risks. Here we listed some of our best tips to avoid any problems:

  • Always wear a helmet when driving a bike
  • Consider having travel insurance as hospital care is very – VERY – expensive in these countries.
  • Research beforehand if you need any specific vaccines for your destination. Some of the vaccines recommended for travellers to East and Southeast Asia are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and polio. Check always with your doctor before to book any flights.
  • Be careful while petting dogs on the way. It’s common to see backpackers dealing with rabies shot after getting bitten by dogs on their trips. The same also applies to monkeys and other wild animals.

Thanks to @thatwanderlustboho, @joyoushapes, @ourkindlife and @nomadiclio for helping us create this post.


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READ ALSO:

Angkor Wat: the 8th Wonder of the World – a backpacker guide

Angkor Wat

In southeast Asia, an abandoned city sprawls magnificently across the heart of Cambodia; its hundreds of monuments contain more stones than the Egyptian pyramids and cover more ground than modern Paris. This is Angkor Wat, the capital of an empire that once controlled most of Southeast Asia.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

More about Angkor Wat

Angkor’s greatest marvel, Angkor Wat, meaning ‘Holy Temple’, served as a shrine, an observatory and a funerary temple. Researchers suggest that it took almost 30 years to complete, and it was finished in time to bury an important King.

But Angkor Wat had hardly claimed its space in the horizon when disaster struck. Drawn by its increasing splendour, the Chams from what is now Vietnam attacked and burned the city.

When the capital was rebuilt, the King built a walled city, Angkor Thom, to protect them in time of war.

But the Khmer story came to an end not long afterwards. More than 500 years ago the Khmer fled this grand city. The Khmer capital was lulled into a centuries-long sleep by the encroaching jungle.

To the outside world, the city existed only in obscure travelers tales. Then, in 1860, a French naturalist named Henri Mouhot stumbled across the ruins.

After being overlooked by travellers for many decades, also due to the country’s unstable situation, Angkor Wat has seen a boom in visits in recent years and it is now facing another huge challenge: mass tourism.

The number of visitors to Angkor Wat reached nearly 2.5 million over the course of 2017, making it the most popular tourist attraction in Cambodia, and an entire city, Siem Reap, serves as its gateway.

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

Best places to stay

Pretty much anywhere in the city of Siem Reap is a great place. With over 900 hotels, hostels and homestays, you can easily find the best accommodation that suits your needs.

SIEM REAP IS BUDGET FRIENDLY

You can find bunk beds for as low as $3 USD if you are on a budget.

Here are the best hostels in town, powered by Hostelworld:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Onederz HostelRooftop pool, perfectly located9.6/10from $8Book now
Lub D CambodiaVery new, clean, modern hostel9.4/10from $8Book now
Mad Monkey HostelCheap Party Hostel9.3/10from $3.5Book now
Cozy Cloud
Backpackers Hostel
Outdoor swimming pool &
garden
9.4/10from $4.5Book now
Funky Flashpacker
Siem Reap
Party hostel, sky bar open 24/79.2/10from $3.5Book now
One Stop Hostel
@ Pub Street
Clean, comfortable and well-designed
hostel with a rooftop area.
9.3/10from $6Book now
Alternatively, if you don't like staying in hostels, check the best accommodations on Booking.com.

Angkor Wat site only gained its worldwide popularity in the most recent years.
This means that most of Siem Reap accommodations are fairly new, modern and clean.

The city has various night markets as well as the very popular ‘Pub Street’.

Very similarly to Khao San Road in Bkk perhaps, Pub Street is a long road, dotted with pubs, lounges, restaurants and cafes that starts getting crowded around 6 PM and stays that way until sunrise, making it one of the best party places in Southeast Asia.

Angkor Wat Relief

How to get around

By bicycle:

The terrain in Siem Reap is flat and many hostels and guesthouses include free use of bicycles in their room rate or offer very cheap bike rentals. This makes Siem Reap a very suitable destination for bike lovers.

However, keep in mind that it gets very (VERY) hot in Cambodia and temples are relatively far from each other.

By motorbike:

In Siem Reap motorcycle rental is still technically forbidden, but lately authorities are taking a relaxed view and a growing number of places now hire out motorbikes to tourists. It is usually possible to rent a 100cc motorbike for between US$4 and US$10 per day.

READ ALSO: How to buy & sell a bike in Vietnam

By tuk-tuk:

Tuk-tuks are the most common way to see the temples, especially if you are on a budget.

Usually a tuk-tuk can accommodate 4 people and hostels organize them the day before so you can jump on a shared one even if you are a solo traveller.

A tuk-tuk (with driver) will cost about $15 USD for the day, which is less than $4 USD/person if you share it with other 3 people.

The price is variable and it depends on which temples you want to visit and how far they are.

TIP: Check out our top tips section to “Arrange a custom tour”.

By car:

If you want to avoid the heat or just to travel more safely or comfortably, renting a car with driver and a/c is probably the way to go.

Expect to pay about $30 USD for a day.

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

Angkor Wat Pass and Entrance Fee

Prices of admission for foreign visitors to Angkor Wat are now set at $37 for a single day pass, $62 for a three-day pass and $72 for a weeklong pass. They used to be $20, $40 and $60, respectively, until early 2017.

Ticket Office is open from 5.00 AM to 5.30 PM every day.

  • 1 Day pass, $37 USD – valid only on the day of purchase, or for the next day if bought after 5PM.
  • 3 Days pass, $62 USD – valid for ten days from the day of purchase.
  • 7 Days pass, $72 USD – valid for a month from the day of purchase.

You can read more about it at http://www.angkorenterprise.gov.kh/.

The ticket office is located here:

Angkor Wat Overview

The most touristic routes are the ones marked in red and green, respectively called small circuit and big circuit.

Angkor Wat Map

The visit along the small circuit usually starts at sunrise in Angkor Wat, and you can then proceed either clockwise or anticlockwise. Those who start the tour early in the morning often don’t stay out until sunset, due to the heat and the redundancy of the temples.

The people who visit the temples along the big circuit usually start their trip later in the day, around 11AM and stay out until sunset.

If you want to avoid the crowd you can try to use the following information and do something different.

How to avoid the crowd

Avoiding the crowd is not an easy task in the Angkor complex.

All sunrise tours start at Angkor Wat temple, making it probably one of the crowdest places at sunrise in the world.

Instagram vs Reality, credits: @swedishnomad

There are two lakes in front of Angkor Wat temple, but you can try to watch the sunrise from the lake on the right since most of the people go to the one on the left. The view is pretty much the same.

Keep in mind that the only temples that are open at sunrise (Opening Time 5 AM) are Angkor Wat Temple, Sras Srang, Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup.

Also watching the sunset in Phnom Bakheng is a very popular thing to do.

The only temples you can visit after 5.30 PM are Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup, which stay open until 7 PM.

There is no way to completely avoid the crowd in Angkor Wat, but you can follow a few tips to get the most out of your visit!

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

Top tips

One day is not enough

Plan to stay a little longer. There is so much to see in Angkor Wat and you definitely can’t see it all in one day. The chances you will get “templed out” are high if you rush it, so take your time and consider taking a day off between the visits.

Sunset at Phnom Bakheng is NOT a must

A temple packed with tourist for no reasons. Expect to find the same amount of people you see in the morning at Angkor Wat, just to see the sun setting over a forest from a temple. There are no temples between you and the sun, nothing special is waiting for you.

Take advantage of the closing hour

All temples stay open until 5.30 PM but hardly anyone visits them in the last hour or half an hour. This happens because the sunrise tour is quite a must, so most people are exhausted at the end of the day. At the same time, most of the other tours end up in Phnom Bakheng for sunset. You have the chance to wander in temples such as Bayon, Ta Phrom and many others by yourself. We promise you it’s a totally different experience, and you can really feel like Henri Mouhot in 1860. Also, while during the day the security is very rigid, no one seems to care when the temple is about to close. We have stayed in many temples after 5.30PM until it was dark, before to head home.

Drones are not allowed

You can have them with you, there aren’t security checks, but you can’t fly drones in the temples. If you do so, expect to see dozens of policemen running at you (it happened to us) telling you to delete all footage at the very least. So, if you really want your drone footage of the temples, we highly recommend you to fly only over the less popular temples. However, this is not enough. Security agents stay on their toes even in the most remote temples out of the circuits, so we’d recommend to set up everything from a distance and to fly quite high in the sky.

Arrange a custom tour

If you rent a car or a tuk-tuk with a driver for the day, arrange a custom tour instead of following the circuits mentioned above. This way you will be able to see some temples at the least crowded hours. The price will change depending on which temples you want to visit, so be sure the driver understood what your plans are. Expect to pay about $20 – $25 USD for a custom tour.

Get your tickets in advance

You can’t buy tickets online yet, but we’d recommend you to get your tickets in advance if you are going for sunrise. The ticket office will be way less crowded in the afternoon and you can save up some time in the morning. If you are only interested in a one day pass you can still get it the day before after 5 PM and it will be valid for the next day.

Ticket / No Ticket Groups

If you got your ticket in advance but you are sharing a tuk-tuk with other people, you want to make sure that also the others already have their tickets. Some hostels include this info on their ‘planning boards’. It may look like a minor thing but it’s a huge waste of time to go to the ticket office in the morning.

The first temple matters

Besides Angkor Wat Temple, Sras Srang, Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup, all of the other temples open at 07.30 AM. At this time of the day you will avoid most of the tourists of the peak hours and you can enjoy being the only one visiting these ancient ruins, so you may want to visit the one you like the most. Also,

Go off the beaten path

If you look for a less touristic experience, there are many other temples far from the popular circuits. I.E., check out the Rolous Complex, but don’t expect to see the greatness of Bayon or Angkor Wat.

Start from the least famous ones

Visiting Angkor Wat temple at sunrise is a must. However, if you are NOT on a one day visit to Angkor Wat, plan to do it later. Our brain works by comparison and saving the best for last is always a good idea. You will enjoy much more all of the other smaller temples.

Visit Bayon at 5 PM

When the sun is about to set, you want to visit Bayon temple. The temple closes at 5.30 PM but no one is really there checking it so you can also have some extra time to wander among the ruins. Bayon is one of the most beautiful temples in Angkor Wat so we highly recommend to visit it out of the circuit.

Bayon Temple Angkor Wat

What to pack

You will find many local sellers in the temples area, so water, food and other essential things are not a problem, and they are very cheap too.

Instead, remember to pack sunscreen and additional clothes. It gets very hot in Angkor Wat and you may want to change yourself during the day and protect from the strong sun of Cambodia.

Dress code

Angkor Wat is a sacred site, so you need to wear proper clothes to be able to enter the temples.

“Wearing revealing clothes disrespects the temple’s sanctity. We will not allow [tourists] to buy a temple pass if they wear revealing clothes. Our officials will inform them what they should wear to be able to visit our ancient temples, so they can come back to buy a ticket later after they change their clothes” said Apsara spokesman Long Kosal.

Apsara is the authority which manages the Angkor Wat site.

Apart from clothes, Apsara also issued a code of conduct for visitors, warning them not to touch or climb on the ruins, give money to begging children, or take selfies with the local monks.

The authority has illustrated its point by issuing photographs of unsuitable clothing on its website.


What other backpackers say

@northsouthtravels – January 2019: Our alternative route around Angkor

If you want to explore the Angkor Temples without hoards of tourists, here’s our alternative route and timings to get you on your way! From sunrise to sunset. FYI, catching that much sort after sunrise is not for the tired traveller!

1st stop – Srah Srang

4.40 AM. This quiet temple leads out onto ‘the royal bathing pool’ which was used for ritual washings. This expansive reservoir not only guarantees to escape the coach loads of tourists heading to Angkor Wat but also the most rewarding and golden sunrise that reflects across the water only adding to the magic. Head here for 5AM latest to watch the sky turn from night to day.

2nd stop – Ta Prohm Temple

This is only a short Tuk Tuk journey from Srah Srang. We recommend you head here for 7.30 AM when it opens to avoid the crowds and get to explore with only a handful of others. It’s here that Tomb Raider was filmed in 2000 and is now famed for the trees that have grown routes in and around the temple. It’s quite amazing to see, especially at this time of day when the light is streaming through the branches.

3rd stop – Banteay Srei

Often referred to as the the jewel in the crown of all temples. Translates to ‘The Citadel of Women’ and is dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu God. Glowing in the mid-morning sun, the pinkish tones and intricate carvings make this definitely the most beautiful in our eyes. We recommend heading here for 10AM.

4th stop – Pre Rup

Meaning ‘turn the body’, Pre Rup insinuates that this temple could have been used as an early royal crematorium. We headed to this temple at mid-day to avoid the crowds and it was empty. The temple as lots of hidden spots for great pictures and allows you to roam freely unlike others.

5th stop – Banteay Kdei

This is a peaceful & quiet temple to explore. The temple ruins are a fascinating maze of chambers which is fitting as the names translate to ‘Citadel of Chambers’. Head here for around 1pm to get lost all by yourselves.

6th stop – Bayon Temple

Our favourite temple it must be said. From a distance, this place doesn’t look much to behold, yet entering the temple gates and climbing the steps to the top, the temple’s magic comes to life. All 216 gigantic faces across a staggering 54 gothic towers become apparent, resembling Avalokiteshvara, the earthly representation of the eternal Buddha. This temple is NEVER without its tourists, however, we visited around 3 pm and found quiet spots to ourselves, just have to seek them out.

7th stop – Angkor Wat

Visit it at sunset. Often the most sought-after temple to visit and it is breathtaking. We decided to end our journey around the temples here. Watching the sun set and Angkor Wat glow in the golden light was the perfect end to our, somewhat busy, day.

Hope this helps you plan your day around the wonders of Angkor.

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Best things to do in Laos: 5 Must-Visit Places

Guest post by: @thatwanderlustboho

Laos, a landlocked country filled with incredible mountains surrounded by stunning mist, famed for its spectacular waterfalls and natural scenery, a place packed with adventure.

Laos is the perfect place for backpackers wanting to explore. Check out the best things to do in this guide!


DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!


Where to stay in Laos

We have grouped together the best Hostels in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng: powered by Hostelworld!

Vientiane:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Petit EspaceNew hostel, good reviews9.2/10from $10Book now
Lao Lao HostelNew hostelfrom $10Book now
Dream Home Hostelover 2500 reviews8.5/10from $7Book now

Luang Prabang:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
City Central HostelPerfect location9.2/10from $10Book now
Mad MonkeyPool, Party hostel9.3/10from $7Book now
Riverside Pool HostelPool & free breakfast8.5/10from $7Book now

Vang Vieng:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Nana Backpackers HostelBest Party Hostel in town9.2/10from $5Book now
Rock Backpackers HostelFree breakfast8.7/10from $5Book now
Easy Go HostelGreat view!8.5/10from $5Book now

How to get around in Laos

Getting around Laos is relatively easy. Many things are within walking distance but hiring a scooter is so cheap to get around you should take advantage.

Enjoy the winding roads and stunning scenery while you travel to your destination.

Scooter rental for 1 day costs- 80,000- 100,000 Kip ($9-11 USD)

How to Get around in Laos

5 Best things to do in Laos

So here we are, find the 5 things you cannot miss in Laos

1 – Kuang Si Falls

One of the top things to do in Luang Prabang is Kuang Si falls. Head here for the day and explore this natural wonder.

Kuang Si waterfalls are situated 45 minutes from Luang Prabang Centre. Head there by scooter for a mini morning adventure as you drive along the winding road passing through villages and beautiful scenery.

Kuang Si Falls, one of the best places to visit in Laos

INFORMATION:

Entrance fee- 20,000 Kip ($2.50 USD)

Opening time- 8am-5:30pm

LOCATION:


2 – Mount Phousi

A mountain in the middle of a small city and only a 10-minute walk from most accommodations. Mount Phousi is a religious mountain with temples at the top. Tourists head here for sunset and it’s not hard to see why: the view is breathtaking.

Go here for sunrise to enjoy the view in peace without the crowds.

Mount Phousi Laos

INFORMATION:

Entrance fee- 20,000 Kip ($2.50 USD)

Opening times- 5:30am-6pm

LOCATION:


3 – Cave Exploring

Something Laos isn’t short on is caves. There are many caves to explore but Jang Cave is one of the most popular. A staircase leading into the mountain, as you climb to the top you’ll see the cave entrance. Inside of the cave, the walkways lead you around the cave-like a maze. If it’s a hot day take a dip in the freshwater lagoon at the entrance. It’s very serene & peaceful.

To get here is a short walk from Vang Vieng town and you must cross the orange bridge to enter.

INFORMATION:

Bridge costs- 5,000 Kip ($0.70 USD)

Entrance fee- 20,000 Kip ($2.50 USD)

Opening times- 8am-5pm

LOCATION:


4 – Nam Xay Viewpoint

A stunning 360° view of the valley below, rice fields, lush greenery and magical mist. To get to the top requires a 500m steep hike so wear sensible footwear. Once at the top, the view is mesmerising but you can also chill in the little hut made by the local farmers. Travelling there is an added bonus as the road leading to Nam Xay winds through villages and farmlands. Aim to do this for sunrise and you might catch the odd hot air balloon and fiery sunrise.

INFORMATION:

Entrance fee- 10,000 Kip ($1.20 USD)

LOCATION:


5 – Secret Blue Lagoon

Not many things remain a secret these days but the Blue Lagoons are still pretty unknown to the masses. There are 6 Lagoons in total, 1 being the closest and busiest and 6 being the furthest away and quietest. Here is Blue Lagoon 3, it’s off the beaten track and you can enjoy this place all by yourself if you head there early enough. Enjoy the peaceful scenery, have fun on the zip wire and swing or go explore the nearby caves. This place is not to be missed.

Secret Blue Lagoon Laos

INFORMATION:

Entrance fee- 20,000 Kip ($2.50 USD)

Parking fee- 2,000 Kip ($0.20 USD)

LOCATION:


Author Bio:

Hannah Jean is a content creator & writer travelling with her partner, Max. Together they have travelled through S.E. Asia, Fiji & are now road tripping through Australia.

Hannah is passionate about travelling responsibly & mindfulness. She is intent on inspiring her followers to make mindful travel choices & to live in the moment.

To follow more of Hannah’s adventures check out her:

Website: http://thatwanderlustboho.com/

Instagram: @thatwanderlustboho

Mount Bromo: why you don’t need a guided tour

Located west of Bali, Java is known for being the most populated island in the world. Despite that, this stunning Indonesian island hides so many natural wonders. One above all: the incredible Mount Bromo.

If you are travelling to Indonesia, you can’t miss it!
When you get to Mount Bromo you will see that there are many guided tours available, but if you want save some money or you’re just seeking some adventure, we’d recommend you to do it yourself!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!

SKIP AHEAD:


How to get to Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo is located in East Java, and the closest airport is Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, roughly 3,5 hours by car.

To visit Mount Bromo there are mainly 2 options: by departing from the city of Malang or via the city of Probolinggo.

As far as we know, the option from Malang is much more complicated as it would require to cross the park, so we didn’t even consider it. If you are willing to explore mount Bromo from Malang, search for other blogs that will be certainly more helpful than ours.

For all the other cases, we would highly recommend the option from Surabaya (or wherever you are) – Probolinggo – Mount Bromo.

  • If you are already in Java, you need to head to Probolinggo, and just ask your hosts, google or locals for the best way to get there.
  • If you are coming by flight through Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, you can either come by bus or by car.

BY BUS:

The journey from Surabaya to Probolinggo is not an arduous one. The bus ticket should cost no more than 50.000 IDR ($3.5 USD) and it takes around 3 hours. All buses depart from Purabaya Bus Station (yes, Purabaya, not Surabaya).

Once you get to Probolinggo, you will need to jump into a small minivan to complete your journey to Mount Bromo.

This ride to Cemoro Lawang (the last town before mount Bromo) will take upwards of 90 minutes, and it will cost about 20,000-30,000 IDR ($2 USD) one way.

Keep in mind that the last minibus leaves around 8 pm.

Where exactly you should stop for the night really depends on what your plan is, but you will probably want to stay in Cemoro Lawang (check “WHERE TO STAY” for more info)

BY CAR:

This was the best option in our case. Renting a car for the journey from Surabaya to Cemoro Lawang won’t cost more than 600.000 IDR ($41 USD) and you can actually easily bargain it down (keep in mind that the price for a whole day (12 hours) car rental with driver in Java is about 650.000 IDR). Obviously, you can share the price with other people if you are a group.

The journey from Surabaya to Cemoro Lawang takes about 3.5 hours.

If you are landing in Surabaya in the afternoon as we did, you may be late to catch the last minibus from Probolinggo so hiring a car may be the best option.

Where to stay in Mount Bromo

As we mentioned before, the closest town to visit Mount Bromo is Cemoro Lawang.

Sitting at 2,217 metres (7273.622 ft) above sea level, this town is the last village before Mount Bromo and it overviews the sand sea that surrounds Mount Bromo as well as the other volcanoes.

You can see the volcanoes from above directly from a viewpoint in Cemoro Lawang, which makes it a nice spot for star photography.

The only case you do not need to sleep in Cemoro Lawang is if you are planning to visit Mount Bromo with a pre-arranged jeep tour. In this case, since they will pick you up from your homestay anyway, you may just want to look for a more comfortable – and cheaper – hotel.

Mount Bromo, Cemoro Lawang Map by google

About the location, the best accommodation is Cemara Indah Hotel (check location here), so you most likely want to sleep there or very close to that.

Cemara Indah Hotel is also where the viewpoint of Cemoro Lawang for star photography is. Check it out in the evening.

There are many accommodations in Cemoro Lawang, check Booking.com for more options. Accommodations are very basic and not really clean, and remember it gets very cold at night!

What to see and do in Mount Bromo

Be prepared for witnessing one of the best sunrises of your life.

Alongside Raja Ampat and Komodo National Park, Mount Bromo is a MUST-VISIT place in Indonesia.

There is a set of viewpoints from which you can watch the sun rising and lighting up Gunung Batok and Mount Bromo.

Sunrise Mount Bromo

SERUNI SUNRISE VIEWPOINT

The lowest viewpoint is called Seruni View Point:

this viewpoint is easily accessible from the town of Cemoro Lawang. It’s a 3km walk, which starts quite flat and then becomes quite steep, and it takes about 2 hours with a total elevation gap of 250m.

There is only one road going up here so you can’t miss it.

KING KONG HILL

The highest viewpoint is called King Kong Hill and it’s 3.8km far from Cemoro Lawang. It is about 200 metres higher than Seruni Viewpoint and the total elevation gap with Cemoro Lawang is about 440 metres.

NOTE: Guided tours get here by car, so don’t expect to be by yourself once you make the effort walking up.

There are many different spots to watch a stunning sunrise in between those 2 viewpoints, so if you are walking up, don’t give up and search for the best spot!

TIP: If you are using MAPS.ME you will have a more detailed map with several more viewpoints displayed.

MOUNT BROMO CRATER RIM

Another must-do experience is walking up the crater rim of Mount Bromo.

After watching the sunrise from one of the viewpoints you can walk down into the caldera (sand sea) and then up to the Mount Bromo crater rim.

The sand sea is the dustiest environment you’ll ever see. The walk (about 2km) is flat until you reach the temple at the base of Mount Bromo, after which a steep walk begins. There are local people who will try to sell you a horse ride, but you don’t really need it.

There are stairs to walk up the last (and steepest) part, so don’t be afraid of going up.

Once you are at the top, you can look straight into mount Bromo.

There are some safety barriers along the first part of the crater rim, but always pay extra attention since it’s very dangerous.

Check out the next chapter for detailed information about the different ways to experience it!

Guided tour vs DIY

SUNRISE GUIDED TOUR:

The “jeep mafia” of mount Bromo is quite real. They want you to join a tour, even if you don’t really want or need to.

This is what to expect from a guided tour. They will pick you up at night on a 4×4 jeep and you will reach the highest viewpoint, where a lot of people are waiting for the sunrise at the same spot.

The PRO of it, if you will, is that you won’t have to walk. The CONS are that you are missing out part of the fun (the trek itself is part of the experience), and that you will most likely rush your visit since you are part of a group.

From the viewpoint, you will jump in the jeep again, drive down into the caldera and park in the sand sea. You have to walk then up the Bromo crater rim, visit it and when the group is done you go back to the jeep and they drive you back to your homestay.

The entrance fees are:

  • Weekday IDR 235000/person
  • Weekend IDR 335000/person (weekend; Friday, Saturday and Sunday

An example of the prices for a private tour with a private jeep, including the entrance fee, provided by one of the hotels of Cemoro Lawang are:

(Monday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday)

  • 2 Locations: IDR 850000/jeep for 2 person
  • 4 Locations: IDR 1100000/jeep for 2 person

(Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

  • 2 Locations: IDR 950000/jeep for 2 person
  • 4 Locations: IDR 1200000/jeep for 2 person

DO IT YOURSELF:

This is what we did and what we will focus on in this blog post. You don’t really need a guided tour to visit mount Bromo and doing it yourself is a much more enjoyable (and a much cheaper) experience.

First of all, you need to set up an early alarm. A very early alarm!

Sunrise is at about 5 AM, so you need to wake up quite early to get up the viewpoint at least half an hour before sunrise, considering that the walk up takes about 2 hours.

At this time of the day is SO cold (8°C or lower)! Make sure to pack warm clothes!

NOTE: If you can’t wake up so early for any reasons, you can actually arrange with your homestay a one-way motorbike ride from your place to the base of the viewpoints. It will save you over 1-hour walk in the dark for about $5 USD.

From the town of Cemoro Lawang, facing the Mount Bromo, you have to walk RIGHT.

There is only one road: you can’t really miss it.

The best viewpoint, if you are looking at “maps.me“, should be called “Seruni Sunrise Point 2”.

We stopped there and it was only us, although many people were walking up. The view was just great. After sunrise, you can walk down on the same path until you reach again Cemara Indah Hotel.

We are referring to this hotel because from this spot is where you can walk down into the caldera. Once again, we recommend using the app “maps.me” instead of google maps to find this place.

This shortcut will allow you to save some time, but also to avoid the ticket gate. Rangers may be present, but if you are going not exactly after sunrise you will probably be fine.

In our case, we decided to chill and have breakfast after sunrise, mainly to avoid the crowd that was moving from the sunrise spots into the caldera on the jeeps. After a while, most jeeps (and tourists) were gone.

We walked down at about 9 AM and it was much less crowded than expected, plus it was for free.

Once you get to the sand sea (the red point on the left of the vegetation) you are practically done. You will be in front of a super flat desert, in fact, a sand sea. It’s very, very dusty!

You will see the Mount Bromo from there and you can just walk on a straight line until you reach it.

Some locals will approach you offering a motorbike ride or a horse ride. You won’t need it in our opinion, but it’s still an option.

FAQ and tips

  • How long does it take to visit Mount Bromo?

– We did it in less than a day.

If you are short in time like we were but you don’t want to miss Mount Bromo, you can get to Cemoro Lawang in the afternoon, watch the sunrise, get to the crater rim the next morning and you will be done at mid-day. However, if your travel plans allow you, you might consider spending some more time there and watch the sunset on the crater or explore the surrounding areas. It would definitely be less crowded than the morning.

  • Is it worth to go to Java just to visit Mount Bromo?

– Yes, absolutely.

Actually there are several other things to do and see in Java, such as Tumpak Sewu (one of Indonesia’s most beautiful waterfalls), Kawah Ijen (a complex volcano home of the largest acidic lake in the world), the temples of Yogyakarta or the hidden islands of Karimunjawa just to name a few, but if you are short in time you can easily visit Java and Mount Bromo in 2 days/1 night.

  • When is the best time to visit Mount Bromo?

– The best time to visit Mount Bromo is during the dry season, from April to October. The national park is open all year round, however, the incidence of rain is higher during the other months.

  • How difficult is the trek?

The trek overall is quite easy. There are a few steep parts but it’s nothing like the mount Rinjani or other difficult hikes.

  • What are the temperatures of Mount Bromo?

– The temperature in Mount Bromo can be as low as 5 Degrees Celsius before sunrise. The temperature in the late morning will be around 15 to 20 Degrees Celsius.

What other backpackers say

@bender_ca & @bwils_ca – Date of visit: December 2017

The morning begins in the quaint mountain town of Cemoro Lawang.

We stayed at a tiny guesthouse offered by a nearby local upon our arrival, we layered on all our warm clothing and hit the sheets around sundown.

THE HIKE

Woke up at 3:30 am and began following the uphill road (on the right at the fork) to get up to the local viewing point. Keep in mind there are some tourist taking Jeep rides to this viewpoint so it’s very very difficult to get lost en route.

Just grab your headlamp (only needed for the initial dark road after the town) and walk on the road toward the bright lights of the Jeeps that are clearly marking the route above.

The route is simple, it’s a road that gains elevation with many switchbacks, there shouldn’t be any confusion. Once the road ends where all the Jeeps are parked you will take stairs that also climb and have many switchbacks towards the viewing area.

THE VIEWPOINT

We were quite disappointed when we arrived at the viewing area because there we so many people there talking loudly, taking selfies and vendors selling things. After taking a look around we realized that behind the big crowd there was a rocky wall with some steep rocky/muddy trails heading further up, so we decided to climb higher.

We were able to get up to another ridge about 50 meters higher and sit quietly with two awesome Dutch guys to enjoy the sunrise over Mount Bromo.

INSIDE MOUNT BROMO

At the conclusion, we made our way down to the Sea of Sand (flatlands surrounding the volcanoes) by discovering an unmarked path beside Cemara Indah Hotel.

We walked for roughly an hour or two from our sunrise viewpoint to the base of Mount Bromo while enjoying the unbelievably beautiful landscape in peace. Others chose the Jeep or motorbike option, but we took the heel-toe express.

THE CRATER RIM

Finally, on the ridge of Bromo after the crowded stair climb, we walked around the rim of the volcano to a point where we were alone and could truly feel how small we were in comparison to the loud roaring beast that is Bromo.

We decided to hire a motorbike back to the town centre as on the way down huge dreary clouds rolled in and it began pouring rain. Despite the rain, it was an incredible experience we will never forget, it absolutely pays off to work a little extra to discover this region independently.

There are many tours overcharging for something that can be done with a little sense of adventure. Enjoy!


More about Indonesia:

Raja Ampat: the ultimate travel guide

Still untouched and undiscovered, the islands of Raja Ampat aren’t easy to reach and information about it are quite limited.

After going there we have put together in this Ultimate Raja Ampat Guide all the useful tips you need to know before to visit this piece of paradise.

SKIP AHEAD:

More about Raja Ampat

With over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals, Raja Ampat is an archipelago that still awaits to be discovered.

Located off the Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat literally translates as “The Four Kings”, representing the four main islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. Each of these islands and all of the other islets in between are home to a multitude of species and critical marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

But what’s so special about Raja Ampat?

Here are some data:

  • Raja Ampat is the heart of the “Coral Triangle” and the global epicentre of marine biodiversity with the highest coral reef biodiversity for any area of its size in the world.
  • Total area: Over 4 million hectares of which 1,358,170 hectares are protected.
  • 1470 species of reef fish
  • More than 550 species of corals, 75% of all known coral species in the world
  • 8 species of whales
  • 7 species of dolphins
  • Regionally significant Green Turtle and Hawksbill populations.
Piaynemo Raja Ampat

How to get to Raja Ampat?

Raja Ampat is located off the coast of West Papua, which is a remote area of Indonesia.

The first step, from anywhere you are, is to get to Sorong.

sorong map

STEP 1 – GET TO SORONG

The easiest way to get to Raja Ampat is by flying to the city of Sorong, in West Papua.

If you come from another country the best option to reach Sorong is to fly to Jakarta first. Direct flights operate daily from Jakarta to Sorong, although the cheapest one would include a stopover in Makassar.

If you are already in Indonesia you might consider also the options from Surabaya (East Java) and Makassar (Sulawesi), from which direct flights operate daily as well.

Surabaya in East Java is the best option for those who don’t want to miss Mount Bromo. For our itinerary, we have opted for visiting Raja Ampat first and then we flew from Sorong to Surabaya for Mount Bromo.

If you are in Bali, the best option is to fly from Denpasar to Makassar and then get another flight to Sorong.

Once you get to Sorong, your next destination will be Waisai, the main city of the Raja Ampat islands.

waisai Raja Ampat

STEP 2 – FROM SORONG TO WAISAI

Unless you are going to stay in a high-end resort (which may include a private transfer directly from the city of Sorong), once you get to Sorong you will need to reach Waisai on your own.

Located on the island of Waigeo, Waisai is the main city of Raja Ampat and it’s basically a gateway to all the accommodations of Raja Ampat.

To get from here there are mainly two ways.

BY BOAT:

The first (and cheapest) one is by taking the Express Ferry that departs twice a day from the harbour of Sorong. Note: taxi drivers will ask you about 100.000 IDR ($7 USD) per car for the 3km ride from the airport to the harbour. You can bargain it down to 50.000 IDR or lower if you are patient enough.

Boats leave twice a day, 9 AM and 2 PM (Sunday-Friday) and 9 AM and 12 PM (Saturday) and it takes about 2 hours. Tickets cost 100.000 IDR ($7 USD) and they can be purchased directly at the port, or even into the boat.

BY FLIGHT:

The other option to reach Waisai is by air. Although websites like Skyscanner don’t show it, there are two companies that operate this route: Susi Air and Wings Air (Lion Air Group).

The schedules are the following:

Susi AirMonday, Wednesday and Friday09:40 AM
Wing’s AirEvery day10:20 AM

The flight duration between Sorong and Waisai is approximately 30 minutes.

* Flight times may change at any time and without prior notice, so it is always best to call and confirm the flight schedule prior to your travels.
** Due to the various dimension of aircraft, it is best to make sure of the maximum baggage weight allowed for each ticket holder.

STEP 3 – ONCE IN WAISAI

After you get out of the ferry you will have to walk to a different harbour (2 minutes walk) in which you will have to pay the “Environmental Service Fee” (we will talk about right after).

Here is where the boats from the different homestays come to pick you up. The price is always shared by boat so, although it’s not easy, it’s best to look for other people travelling to the same island/homestay. Our recommendation, however, is to arrange the first transport from Waisai with the first accommodation beforehand.

TRAVELLING TO KRI ISLAND

If you are travelling to Kri, which is the most popular of the islands out of Waisai, you will find other boats going there quite easily, so you may save some money by sharing the transfer instead of booking your own transportation.

STEP 4 – INTER-ISLAND TRANSFER

After you reach the first homestay, there is no inter-island public transport. However, it’s quite easy to arrange private transport with your own accommodation or with the ones nearby. Once again, try to share this transport if you are on a budget.

Fam Island Raja Ampat

The environmental service fee

In 2014, the Raja Ampat Environmental Service Fee was introduced to generate the significant funding needed to effectively manage Raja Ampat’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

This means that each traveller has to pay a consistent fee upon arrival. You should keep proof of purchase of the E.S.F. on you at all times to show the officers from the management unit during random patrol checks.

The entrance permit is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

  • International Visitor’s Fee: 1.000.000 IDR ($65 USD)
  • Domestic Visitor’s Fee: 500.000 IDR ($32.50 USD)

Where to stay?

In Raja Ampat, you have two options when it comes to accommodations: Luxury Resorts and Homestays.

LUXURY RESORTS

If you are looking for a comfortable stay and you are not on a strict budget you may want to check out one of the many Luxury Resorts present in Raja Ampat. Each resort has a different website and you can easily browse them on google and choose the one you like the most, according to their services and your needs.

Note: we haven’t been in any luxury resorts so we don’t have particular information about them other than what you can find online.

HOMESTAYS

For those on a budget, as well as for those looking for an authentic experience, staying in a homestay is the best choice.

Raja Ampat provides a very useful service that groups all the Homestays of the different islands into the same website. Basically, homestays are very basic bungalows built on the beach or overwater and run by local families.

Staying in a homestay is a very deep and authentic experience.

When you are looking for the right homestay in Raja Ampat you have to check www.stayrajaampat.com. All homestays are listed on that website and you can filter them by location, price, activities and other features. The most common price is 350.000 IDR ($23 USD) per person per night, including 3 meals.

Bear in mind that when you stay in a homestay you will have no other options when it comes to eating so you want to look for a place that provides good food.

There is something interesting about this “per person per night” thing. Check out the TOP TIPS section to know more about it.

Raja Ampat Guide

Cost of life in Raja Ampat

How much does it cost to travel to Raja Ampat?

The overall cost of a trip is usually the most uncertain variable. It’s highly dependent on what your lifestyle is and on how many activities you are doing.

However, we made a rough estimation of the basic costs of a trip to Raja Ampat, in the case you are flying from Jakarta and you are travelling to Surabaja (East Java) after your stay. The prices will be similar also in the case you’re flying from other airports.

COSTS BREAKDOWN:

  • 1.500.000 IDR ($100 USD) per person, one way (Flight Jakarta – Sorong)
  • 100.000 IDR ($6.5 USD) per car, one way – Taxi cost (Sorong Airport – Sorong Harbour)
  • 100.000 IDR ($6.5 USD) per person, one way – Express Ferry (Sorong – Waisai)
  • 1.000.000 IDR ($65 USD) per person – Environmental Service Fee
  • 350.000 IDR ($23 USD) per person, per night, including 3 meals – Average Homestay cost
  • 100.000 IDR ($6.5 USD) per person, one way – Express Ferry (Waisai – Sorong)
  • 100.000 IDR ($6.5 USD) per car, one way – Taxi cost (Sorong Harbour – Sorong Airport)
  • 1.500.000 IDR ($100 USD) per person, one way (Flight Sorong – Surabaya)

To these prices, you must add the costs of transportation within the islands.

Getting around is pricey in Raja Ampat. The reason why it’s so expensive is mainly that distances are big and fuel is very expensive. For example, the journey from Waisai to Piaynemo will cost you about 2.000.000 IDR per boat, one way. The journey from Waisai to Kri Island will cost you about 600.000 IDR per boat, one way.

Considering the case of 2 people travelling on one boat, doing the journey Waisai to Piaynemo – Piaynemo to Kri – Kri to Waisai (sleeping in both Kri and Piaynemo islands, for a total of three boat rides) the total cost of transportation will be around 4.300.000 IDR, which is equal to 2.150.000 IDR ($145 USD) per person if it’s two of you. Remember, the more you are the less you pay.

In the case of a 10 days stay, we would get a total cost of:

  • 3.000.000 IDR = Flights
  • 100.000 IDR = Taxi Rides
  • 200.000 IDR = Public Ferries
  • 1.000.000 IDR = Environmental Service Fee
  • 10 x 350.000 = 3.500.000 IDR = 10 Days Stay (Room + 3 Meals per day)
  • 2.150.000 IDR = (hypotetical Waisai to Kri – Kri to Piaynemo – Piaynemo to Waisai ) Transportation

Which is equal to a total amount of 9.950.000 IDR ($667 USD), per person.

(avrage $66,70 USD/day, per person – or about $46,50 USD/day without flights, per person)

To this price you should add day trips and dive costs.

A day trip can cost anything from 100.000 IDR to 10.000.000 IDR per boat depending on where you are staying and where you are going. Usually, if you are planning to stay for a few nights on different islands and to do day trips nearby your homestay (10-15km), the average cost of a day trip would be about 400.000-600.000 IDR ($27 – $40 USD) per boat.

Diving in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is a divers haven.

There are so many spots it would require months to visit all. Check out the following map to have an idea about where they are located.

Diving spots, Raja Ampat Guide
Source: nomads-expeditions.com

Kri Island is one of the most popular places of Raja Ampat and it is so for a good reason! The reef in Cape Kri is just amazing and there are so many great spots nearby as well as a few dive centres on the island we would recommend.

The average price we have found for one dive was about 450.000 IDR ($30 USD) per dive including equipment rental, plus additional fuel if the dive site is far from the dive centre. The lowest price we have found was 350.000 IDR ($24 USD) including equipment rental per one dive in front of the dive centre.

Having so many diving spots, it’s hard to make a list of the best ones since probably not even local divers have explored all of them.

Snorkelling in Raja Ampat

Snorkelling is as great as diving in Raja Ampat. For a snorkelling trip, we have paid as low as 50.000 IDR ($4 USD) per person, so it’s just about trying to find the best deal and to share the boat with as many people as possible (don’t worry, they never get too crowded).

For both snorkelling and diving, remember those ocean currents are very strong in Raja Ampat. Do not go snorkelling by yourself if you don’t know the area very well.

What to expect?

COMFORTS

Raja Ampat is WILD. Most homestays have no 24-hours electricity. Electricity in most cases is produced from 6 PM to 11 PM with electric generators. The water usually comes from wells and it is then pumped and collected into big buckets. The shower is in the “bucket shower” type and the water might be salty.

Don’t expect to have Wi-fi. Wi-fi doesn’t exist unless you are staying in a luxury resort.

Raja Ampat Guide

GET AROUND

The only way to get around is by boat. Usually, the best way is by joining a snorkelling/diving tour Even to move around the same island you might need to hire a boat since roads are basically not existing.

The sea might be rough so make sure to cover your bags with a waterproof sheet.

Boat in Raja Ampat

LOCALS

Local people usually don’t live near homestays. Most of them live in villages located on different islands and come to their homestay only when they have reservations, so we’d recommend you to book your stay at least a couple of days in advance.

If you are willing to visit local villages, there are many of them in Raha Ampat and they are quite easy to visit and you will most likely be welcomed by the smiles of the kids playing near the jetty. Some we would recommend are Fam island village (location here), Arborek village, (location here), Sauwandarek village (location here) and Yenbuba village (location here).

FOOD

If you are staying in a homestay, your food will be whatever “mama” will cook you. As always, reading the reviews of the different accommodations before going can save your stomach. Remember, you will have no other options.

Food always (and we mean, always) include steamed rice and vegetables, with the addition of eggs or fish. Breakfast is what we have struggled the most with and it might be anything from fried bananas to white bread (with literally nothing else).

TIP: a jar of jam might save your breakfast!

Fam Island Raja Ampat Guide

Top tips for travelling to Raja Ampat

  • Phone & Internet: The best (and only) telephone company that works in Raja Ampat is Telkomsel. It’s not an ad, it’s just the only way to have calls and data while on the islands. Forget wifi unless you are staying in an expensive resort.
  • Most homestays charge you per person, not per room. For this reason, it might make sense to rent more than one bungalow if you want to be more comfortable, also considering that usually, most bungalows are empty and the price would be per person anyway.
  • Bring your own beers and drinks! There are almost no places where you can buy beer in Raja Ampat, so if you are a beer lover make sure to pack some before to leave Waisai.
  • Go with friends! Raja Ampat can be expensive but the best way to cut the costs down is to travel with friends. Transportation and day trips are the biggest expense, and if you share it among 5 or 6 people can make visiting Raja Ampat very cheap.
  • Check manta season before heading to manta points. The best time to see Black Mantas is between the end of the year (late October at the earliest) and April when they migrate to the area in large numbers. At this time of the year, they are attracted by a high concentration of nutrients and plankton. They are spotted year-round, but it’s not uncommon to see them leaping above the surface of the water when the plankton is in abundance.
  • Avoid sunburns! Even if you are used to the beach life, the sun is stronger in Raja Ampat. Cover yourself while snorkelling and wear sunscreen if you are not planning to enter the water. (Note: Sunscreen should not be used, as they are proven to cause damage to coral.)

BONUS TIP

Overwater bungalows! Overwater bungalows are awesome, but besides being just beautiful they have a couple of practical advantages. It’s more windy, which is a real uplift during hot days and nights, and mosquitoes don’t really come that far. Also, they usually come at almost the same price than regular ones.

Smiles, kids Raja Ampat

Health risks in Raja Ampat

Since this is a very important subject and we are not medical experts, we highly recommend you to ask your doctor for any questions you may have.

If you want to read a more in-depth guide about health risks and medical FAQ in Raja Ampat, we would also recommend the article you can find at www.stayrajaampat.com.

These guys made an awesome job about this topic.
However, if you are just looking for some overall info, remember that in Raja Ampat the following risks are present:

  • Malaria
  • Poisonous snakes and spiders
  • Sharks, saltwater crocodiles and sea snakes
  • Sandflies, ringed octopus, fire corals, jellyfish, insect bites
  • Dehydration, sunburn, ocean currents, gastrointestinal diseases, skin and wound infections, ear infections, Japanese Encephalitis and Dengue Fever, tuberculosis, tropical diseases.

From our personal point of view, after we have been there for ten days, the only problems we had were with sun and sand flies. Although all those risk factors are real, Raja Ampat is such a vast area and chances to encounter dangerous animals aren’t so high. Just be careful at any times, and you’ll be fine.

Packing list: what should you pack for Raja Ampat?

This is a list of things you definitely want to have with you once you are in such a remote place. Besides regular things such as swimming suits, flip flops and your personal belongings, make sure to pack also:

MUST-HAVE:

  • Mosquito repellent: Mosquitos, as well as many other insects, are present in Raja Ampat and the best way to avoid itchy bites is by using a repellent.
  • Reef-safe Sunscreen: Remember not to use sunscreens before entering the water since they are proven to cause damage to coral. However, if you are not planning to swim, by wearing sunscreen you will avoid getting a sunburn.
  • Headlight: You definitely need one. Some homestays turn off lights at night and even going to the toilet might be a challenge. You can always use your phone, but having a headlight is much more practical
  • Enough cash: Don’t expect to find ATMs in Raja Ampat. A few businesses like some diving centres or some luxury resorts may accept payments with a credit card, but most of the others do not. The only way to pay for homestays, transportations and any other thing you need during your stay will be cash, so remember to withdraw enough before to leave Waisai. You can find ATMs in the towns of Sorong and Waisai

OTHER USEFUL ITEMS

  • Snorkelling gear: Although you may be able to rent it from your homestay or from any diving centres, having your own snorkelling mask will save your day in many situations. Some places are so remote that even renting it might be a hard challenge.
  • Reusable water bottle: Every homestay in Raja Ampat provides drinking water through a water dispenser. Packing a reusable water bottle is essential, and eco-friendly.
  • Waterproof bag: If you need to carry any electronics during your day trips, such as cameras or any other electronic devices, you need a waterproof bag. You might get very wet during your boat rides, and you don’t want your devices to get wet too.
  • Drone & GoPro: Both of these are perfect in Raja Ampat and there are no limitations nor concerns when it comes to using them.

Buying a Bike in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

Guest post by @the2thattravel

Vietnam is notorious amongst travelers as an adventure-lovers haven, and buying a motorbike to explore this stunning country has been one of our favourite experiences while traveling so far.
With tons of information out there, and over 45 million registered motorbikes in Vietnam, here’s our guide for everything you need to know to easily buy your own bike in Vietnam.


SKIP AHEAD

Ha Giang Loop

Where to buy a bike in Vietnam?

Vietnam map

Depending on the route you want to take and where you want to explore, there are a lot of different options for buying a bike in Vietnam. Most travelers start in the south (Ho Chi Minh) and drive north (Hanoi) or vice versa, but there are plenty of motorbike shops in Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue) as well.

We bought our bikes in Hanoi, and ended up selling them in Central Vietnam (Da Nang & Hoi An).

You can buy motorbikes from local shops/resellers, or buy from an expat or fellow traveler.

At first, we went to a few motorbike shops in Hanoi (Style Motorbike, Tigit Motorbikes, and Phung Motorbike are 3 that we know and recommend) but in the end, we ended up buying them from expats in Hanoi because it was cheaper and we got more for our money.

For us, this was the better option. However, one of the best things about buying a bike from one of these shops in Vietnam is that they offer customer support during your travels so if you break down or need a mechanic anywhere, you can always call them for help.

Buying a bike in Vietnam

What bike do I buy in Vietnam?

With all the millions registered bikes around the country, your options for buying a bike in Vietnam are truly endless. There are automatic, semi-automatic, and manual motorbikes.

Charlie purchased a manual and Christine got an automatic, but semi-automatic bikes are the most popular and easiest to re-sell. If you are buying an automatic, we recommend at least a 125cc if you plan on exploring the mountains and more rugged roads.

The most popular brands are Yamaha, Suzuki, and Honda. Charlie bought a Lifan bike, which was an awesome bike but it gave us some trouble when re-selling it because it was a “Chinese bike” so be wary of this if you’re buying anything similar.

Vietnam motorbike

How much will I spend?

The greatest thing about buying a bike in Vietnam is how affordable it really is. You can find bikes for anywhere from US$200 to over US$2,000. Personally, we bought Christine’s Yamaha bike for $200, and bought Charlie’s 2019 Lifan new for  $800.

No matter your budget, you’ll be able to find something.

Just be careful of the quality if you are buying a cheaper bike in Vietnam, and make sure to ask when it was last looked at by a mechanic, when the oil was last changed, and how well the brakes are working. Be honest with them, and tell them that you’re planning on driving across the country, and hopefully they give you a more realistic idea of whether or not the particular bike is capable.

Most shops will put a bike rack on the back of your bike for you, to attach your bags. They should (or can if you ask them) attach a phone holder which is perfect to follow directions.

Whenever you buy a bike in Vietnam, always ask for a bike rack on the back of your bike, to attach your bags.

bike rack Vietnam motorbike

On the go: Filling your tank costs between 60,000-100,000 Vietnamese dong (about US$2.50 –  $4.50). You will probably fill up at least once/twice a day if you’re driving long distances.  Oil changes or flat tires are ridiculously cheap, they run you about US$1-2!

Police stops: Although it never happened to us, we have heard some stories from other travelers/bike shop owners about being stopped by police and having to pay bribes. We recommend keeping smaller notes in your pocket or wallet while you’re driving, and larger bills in your luggage in case it happens to you.

Vietnam road trip

Selling a bike in Vietnam

At the end of your journey, it’s time to sell the bike that you’ve probably become way too attached to, like us. The first step to sell a bike in Vietnam is to join Facebook Market Groups:

Here you can post an ad to sell your bike.
Attach photos, a brief description, the asking price (add at least 10-15% higher than what you want, because people will always negotiate) and a bit about your journey. Be honest about the condition, and any accidents – fellow travelers will appreciate this.

Also, throw in your helmet, bungee cords, and any other accessories that you bought for free to appeal to more buyers.

girl travelling Vietnam

How much time do I need to sell my bike?

If you’re selling your bike in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, a week in advance is enough time, because the demand there is much higher.
If you plan on selling it in Central Vietnam, we would recommend selling 2 weeks before your anticipated departure.

From our personal experience, Christine’s bike was sold 2 days after we posted about it on Facebook, and Charlie’s took about a week. If you’re wary about selling it, you can always post on Facebook 2-3 weeks before your final destination city, and then let any interested people know when you’ll be arriving.

Biking Vietnam

Where do I sell my bike?

The first choice would be Facebook Marketplace. You’re going to get the most money from other travelers/expats, the community is really big, and demand is always there.

Post as many ads in as many different groups as possible.

The second choice would be making flyers to advertise in local hostels. You could also stop by and ask the workers there if they know anyone that is looking for a motorbike, and if you could advertise there. Word of mouth spreads fast.

The last choice would be to sell to a motorbike shop/mechanic. You’re pretty much guaranteed to sell your bike here, but for 50-60% of what you paid for it.

Roads Vietnam Ha Giang Loop

How much will I get for my bike?

Expect to get 50-80% of what you bought the bike for, depending on condition and where you end up selling it. If you’ve had a few crashes, you’ll obviously get less money. Make sure to clean it up and have it looking in top condition.

Sell a bike

Our Top 5 Tips:

  1. Download maps.me and/or Google Maps (with downloaded Offline maps) so you always have access to the route you want to take. Also, buy a SIM card. Don’t be those  “We only use WiFi” travellers, because, in remote areas, you won’t find it.
  2. Plan your route the day before and figure out where you’re going to stop. The longest that we ever drove was six hours in one day with a stop for coffee and lunch. Definitely take breaks along the way because being alert and driving on the bike is more tiresome and stressful than you would think.
  3. Invest in your journey. I.e. buy a plastic cover or case for your phone (it will get really dirty and dusty while driving). consider buying a cheap ‘riding jacket’ (there’s tons of them, like fake North-face jackets sold everywhere in Vietnam) because you will be cold on the bike in the mountains, and you will also get incredibly dirty and dusty. With a cheap jacket, you can get rid of it when your adventures are over. Invest in a  good helmet, preferably full-faced for the dust/bugs (to save some money, buy them from Lazada – Vietnamese equivalent of Amazon) and bungee cables for all your bags.
  4. Buy a bike lock for $6/7. It will keep your mind at ease, and although we had no trouble with anyone trying to steal our bikes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Take photos of your bike along your journey that you can use when trying to re-sell it at the end of your trip.
Vietnam roads

Things to keep in mind:

  • When you first buy your motorbike, you will be given a ‘blue card’, which is essentially your registration. It’s also best to have an international driving license, although it’s never asked for in Vietnam as they are very relaxed about this.
    Christine drove her bike for 8 weeks without ever needing to show one. However, if you plan on keeping your bike and driving to Thailand, they are very strict about International Drivers Licenses and charge fines of about 500,000baht+/time (US$15) you get stopped.
  • Honking is super common amongst Vietnamese drivers. They’re not being rude, it’s basically their way of saying “hey, I’m here – don’t hit me”. After some time, you’ll catch on and be doing the same thing.
  • When traveling by motorbike, you have to be ready to go with the flow.
  • There’s no set time tables, and most of the time things won’t go according to plan. We’ve seen it all, from flat tires to the bike not starting, unexpected rainstorms, and probably the worst: crashes. In these periods, it’s better to plan short term or day by day. Things will go wrong, the best thing to do is be prepared.

Now you’re ready to buy your own motorbike in Vietnam –
let the adventure begin.

Ha Giang Loop, buy a bike in Vietnam

About Us:

buy a bike in vietnam

We are Charlie and Christine, a British boy and American girl who fell in love in Bali 4 years ago. Travel addicts from two different countries (with strict visa situations!), we were forced to work abroad so we could be together in the same country.

After getting our TEFL certificate, we taught English together in the Middle East. Now, the teaching days are over and we’re traveling the world full-time.

Currently exploring Southeast Asia, we’re slowly making our way around the world, one country at a time.

To see more of our adventures, check out our Instagram: @the2thattravel


Would you like to write a blog post for backpackersintheworld.com?
Send us an email at backpackersintheworld@gmail.com or send us a DM on Instagram.

Siquijor Island: a backpacker guide

For many Filipinos, Siquijor Island is seen as a mysterious other-world full of witchcraft and mountain-dwelling healers famous all over the country. This can make it making it a not-so-popular holiday destination for the locals.

However, for most of us, Siquijor is just another amazing Filipino island full of hidden treasures to explore!

Find everything you need to know in this detailed Siquijor guide!


Siquijor guide

Skip ahead

How to get to Siquijor:

Getting to Siquijor is very easy and cheap as there are many ways to reach the island depending on where you are.
Here is an in-depth “How to get to Siquijor” guide with everything you need to know:

From Cebu City:

If you are in Cebu City you have to take 2 ferries, the first one from Cebu City to Bohol and then the second from Bohol to Siquijor.

The first ferry leaves from Cebu Pier 1 every morning at 7 AM and arrives at Tagbilaran Pier, Bohol at 9 AM. Here you will have to wait until 10.20 AM for the next ferry, which will arrive at Larena Pier, Siquijor at 11.40 AM.

The first ferry costs 500 PHP while the second ferry costs 700 PHP. The joint ticket for both ferries costs 1200 PHP ($23 USD), you can book them directly on the website of the company (http://www.oceanjet.net/), which is the only company going from Cebu City.

From South Cebu:

If you are in Moalboal, Oslob, Alegria, Samboan or anywhere else in southern Cebu, it makes sense for you to leave from Liloan Port, at the very southern tip of Cebu island.
From any of these towns, you can hop on the local bus. There is only one road that goes around Southern Cebu so you can’t miss it (just make sure you are heading south.

In Liloan you can find a direct ferry that goes straight to Siquijor once a day. If you miss it, you can still make it to Siquijor on the same day but you will have to go through Dumaguete, as there is only one direct ferry per day that connects Cebu to Siquijor.

The direct ferry leaves from Liloan pier at 10AM and costs 200 PHP ($4 USD).

NOTE: What many other Siquijor guides do not mention is that the local bus from Moalboal will stop in Bato Ceres Bus Terminal instead than at the Liloan Pier.
From here you will have to take either another bus or a tricycle to reach the actual pier Liloan (which is about 5 km away)

From Dumaguete (Negros):

There are many ferries connecting Dumaguete and Siquijor, all day long. Expect to pay anything from 130 to 250 PHP ($3-5 USD).

Where to stay in Siquijor

The ferry will drop you either at Siquijor Port or Larena Port (both on the North-West of the island), however, the best area to stay in is San Juan (South-West) as it’s where most of the restaurants, bars and accommodations are.

Some of our favourite accommodations under $11 USD/night in the San Juan area are:

HostelNote RatingPrice (USD)
Lazy Lizard HostelSmall & chill hostel8.9/10from $8 (dorm bed)Book now
Love Shack HostelBest location9.4/10from $9 (dorm bed)Book now
Travis Post HomestayPerfect for couples9.1/10from $11
(per double room)
Book now

Other interesting options we would recommend in the San Juan area are Glamping Siquijor by the Beach, which offers awesome sea view tents ($40 USD/ tent-night) and Bermuda Triangle Bungalows ($90 USD/night).

In conclusion, we wouldn’t recommend you to stay anywhere else on the island, but there are also hotels and homestays in Lazi, Siquijor and in other places towns if you have to stay there for any reasons.

How to get around the island:

The best option to get around the island of Siquijor is by bike.

Rent a motorbike:

You can rent one right at the pier for as low as 320PHP (probably even less if you are ready to bargain a little more! – regular price is 350PHP/day – $7/USD). As soon as you exit the harbour you will be approached by many people offering you anything. Just look for the ones offering bikes for rent and bargain the price. Also, the longer you stay the easier will be to have a discount.

Unlike in other Southeast Asian countries, we had no problems with scratches, fake damages or documents, so we’d highly recommend it. We got our bikes at Larena Port.

By tricycle:

For those who don’t drive bikes, the best option is to get around by tricycle. You can get one to go from point A to point B pretty much anywhere on the island, or hire one for a full day if you want to go exploring.

Going by tricycle could be also good if you have no idea where to go, as locals know the good places way better than anybody else.

Sabas Beach, Siquijor

Cost of life

Here are some of the expenseswe have had during our stay there:

  • Ferry: 200 – 1200PHP ($4-23 USD)  
  • Bike rental: 320PHP/day ($6 USD/day) 
  • Lunch at a local restaurant: 100 – 250PHP ($2-5 USD) 
  • Lunch at a western restaurant 500 – 1000PHP ($9-19 USD) 
  • Dorm bed: < 500 PHP/night ($10 USD/night) 
  • Private room: from 750 PHP/night ($15 USD/night) 
  • Diving: 3000PHP/2 dives ($29 USD/dive)

What to do in Siquijor

Despite its small size, there is a lot to do in Siquijor, more than what most people think.

Cambugahay Falls:

The most famous spot is probably Cambugahay Falls. Have fun on the swings for as low as 50PHP ($1 USD) for the day.

The waterfall is beautiful but it’s quite crowded as well, even very early in the morning. Luckily there are several other waterfalls around the island and they are all pretty much unexplored as they are not as popular.

Diving & snorkeling:

If you like diving and snorkeling you got plenty of options in Siquijor. There are over 20 marine sanctuaries all around the island and many diving spots as well.

Beaches:

The beaches are pretty nice, with the most famous ones known as ‘Little Boracay’ and “Paliton Beach”- both near San Juan, and many others in different areas of Siquijor (especially in the south-eastern tip of the island).

However, we must mention that some of them (including the most remote ones) were so beautiful but very polluted. They were literally covered in plastic and it was a very sad scene to watch.

Cliff jumping:

Siquijor is also where you can find the “jumping platform” you’ve probably already seen on Instagram many times, a perfect place for some fun.

Check out our full blog posts about things to do in Siquijor! (coming soon)

What to expect

Siquijor is more a chill place than a party place. Don’t expect to find much going on after 10 PM, with the exception of a few bars in the San Juan area.
The island is also a very budget-friendly destination, especially if compared to El Nido Palawan or other places in the Philippines.

The roads are in very good conditions, especially along the main “Provincial Road” that goes all around the island. Minor roads are in worse conditions but still practicable.

The island is not too big, you can drive around the whole island in about 2 to 3 hours.

Mystic traditions:

Are you aware of the Mystic traditions of Siquijor?
Those who have been travelling in the Philippines for a while may have probably been forewarned not to visit this place. The island, in fact, is enveloped by mystic traditions which the growing tourism industry is capitalizing on. The mystical island of Siquijor is known to have magic potions, shamans, witches and sorcerers and for many Filipinos, it is never safe to wander at night.

Siquijor is also known as a haven for faith healers, herbal oils and “hilot” (local massage).

They love basketball:

If you like basketball Siquijor is your place.

To start with, we must mention that basketball is a big thing everywhere in the Philippines.
Fun fact, it’s even more popular in Siquijor and you can expect to see basketball courts everywhere on the island, just on the sides of the main road, or under a palm tree. The sport is a huge thing in Filipino’s culture and local kids are always playing, join them for a genuine experience.

Marine life

Sharks, barracudas, giant clams, sea turtles: all can be found in Siquijor, even on a single dive and on the same spot, or even when snorkeling. Get your mask ready and fins ready guys!

High expectations

Don’t expect much from some of the most famous attractions: the butterfly sanctuary, the old tree, and other spots included in many of the guides you find online are quite disappointing.

Instead, it’s way better to go off the beaten path, Siquijor has a lot more to offer.

Best time to visit Siquijor

The climate of Siquijor is tropical, warm all year round.

The months with most rain are October – December while the driest ones are February – April.

April is the driest month, but you should consider it is also when national holidays occur

Source: https://en.climate-data.org/asia/philippines/siquijor/siquijor-20988/

Our 6 best tips

  • Get a bike right at the pier: it’s easy, cheap, and it allows you to save money even on the first transportation. If you end up leaving Siquijor from a different town/pier and you think you can’t return the bike at the same place where you got it, you can easily arrange a bike pick-up via WhatsApp from anywhere in the island for a small fee.
  • Check out the southeastern tip of the island. It’s pretty much untouched and surprisingly beautiful. This area includes Sabas Beach, Secret Beach and others. To be very fair we must also mention that even though these beaches are completely off the beaten path, they are all heavily affected by plastic pollution. Locals seem not to care much about it and they keep throwing plastic anywhere on the beach which is very very sad.
  • Get a guide in ‘Tulapos Marine Sanctuary’: locals recommended us this spot for snorkelling and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Read more about it on our full blog posts about things to do in Siquijor! (coming soon)
  • Visit Cambugahay Falls at sunrise as it’s the only time of the day you can have the place for yourself. The waterfall officially opens at 7 AM and it’s free of charge, however, locals will tell you you need a guide if you want to go there before 7 AM. You definitely don’t need any guides, the path is very easy and it’s just a 5-minute walk maximum.
  • Try Roch Cuisine at the ‘San Juan Bridge’!
    Roch Cuisine at the San Juan bridge is easily one of the best places to eat in Siquijor. This local pop-up restaurant has great food at a fair price, with a stunning sunset view! Make sure to be there for sunset and eat straight away, as it’s always full and closes at around 8 PM.
    TIP: Don’t miss the mango cake!
  • If you drive near San Juan during the day there are several other restaurants right after the bridge. The food is good, very cheap and the sea view is just amazing.

Komodo National Park: a Complete Guide

Guest post by @swissvoyagers

Komodo National Park is known to be one of Indonesia’s most stunning, exciting and untouched places to visit. It is composed by the islands of Padar, Komodo, Rinca and an incredible number of other pieces of lands surrounded by water.
Find out everything you need to know about it in this in-depth Komodo National Park guide.


Komodo National Park: a complete guide

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What is Komodo National Park known for?

Located in East Nusa Tenggara, most specifically between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, Komodo National Park currently belongs to the new 7 world natural wonders, and since 1986 is declared both world heritage site and man & biosphere reserve by UNESCO.

The Komodo Dragon

The main goal of establishing this park back in 1980, was to keep the earth’s biggest living lizard, the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and its habitat safe. Nowadays the entire biodiversity (terrestrial and marine) is under protection.

This is the only place around the globe where you can spot in the wild the famous Komodo dragon.
Do you think it will be the only highlight worth the trip? Not at all.

Diving and snorkeling

In the area you will find some of the nicest beaches you could desire, you can even choose the color of the sand (white, black and pink). What about colorful corals, reefs, sea life including manta rays, rare dugongs, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, different sort of whales and an infinite number of colorful fishes? Yes, this is the ultimate snorkeling and scuba diving paradise, doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or a pro.

Komodo dragon, Komodo National Park

The stunning beaches

Are you instead the kind of traveler that prefers sunbathing, laying on the beach or taking nice pics and enjoying yourself in the low crystal clear water? Fine enough, you will love it. What makes this region incredible are its surroundings.

When you sail to the numerous islands (whose are of volcanic origin) during your adventure you just can’t get enough of their extremely rounded hills (reaching at some points 750meter of height), the savannah style vegetation covering almost all the surfaces and the impressive sizes. They look gigantic, in fact, Komodo national park’s area is around 1’733 km2 big, of which 603 km2 represented by land.

What kind of animals co-exist with the legendary Komodo dragon? The park is called home from Timor deers, water buffalos, wild boars, eagles, flying foxes, snakes and more.

Komodo Dragon, Komodo National Park

Where and how to start your journey

The nearest and most practical place to the park is Labuan Bajo, a port town located on the island of Flores. There you will arrive by flight, in most of the cases from Bali Denpasar. The duration is relatively short, only 1hour. Our suggestion is to get your tickets as soon as possible because depending on the season, it could be fully booked.

The round trip from Bali searched via the sky scanner app, costed us around 4’000’000 IDR. We had the pleasure to fly with Garuda Airlines and it was definitely worth the money. Please, before flying back to Bali, be careful while checking in your luggage at the Labuan Bajo airport; every single gram will be charged.

To get from the airport to the city/town centre once landed, we would recommend taking a cab/driver. You won’t struggle to find one, trust us (they will find you). Once checked in at your hotel, b&n, you can keep touring via driver or, if you’re on a budget, we would consider renting a scooter. It is cheap, gasoline costs are a joke and it adds that bit of adventure to your stay.

What we write now is something you absolutely need to know before arriving in Labuan Bajo. There is no way to access the park alone. A guided tour is mandatory. So be sure to get your guide/tour.


Komodo Park sailing trip – what should you pick?

The answer is simple, it all depends on the budget and the time at your disposal.

Since it is so big and offers way too many unbelievable things to see/experience, our pick would be the 3 days and 2 nights tour (longer trips of 5 or more days are also available). In our opinion, you will have enough time to discover Komodo National Park in all its beauty.

Don’t forget that tours usually start early in the morning at around 07:00-08:00 and finish at 17:00-18:00 in the evening. We would arrive in Labuan Bajo one day before the adventure takes place and quit the day after.

Who should go for a private tour

People not suffering from sea sickness. You will be on a large vessel for 3 days, cruising sometimes with a rough sea, just be sure you’re ok with that.

It is a true adventure (forget the words fancy and luxurious), back to basics, but think about having a crew all to yourself, think about the benefits: you can decide when to start, where to go, what to see, what to eat (vegetarian, vegan + personalized options available) and more. The guide will be all for you, so you will have both a personal photographer and walking encyclopaedia at your service, which comes handy especially when you are face to face with the Komodo dragon.

Think about extras in advance

Be aware that on board there aren’t alcohol, cigarettes or other items you would usually have with you. That’s why going to groceries for some tour shopping is highly recommended. Because the only shops you will see in 3 days are on Rinca/Komodo islands and yes, you are probably thinking about it. It is a legalized rip off, so think about it in advance.

Photography lovers

If you’re looking for taking unforgettable shots or recording breathtaking videos this is your tour (if you don’t own cameras, gopros, drones, etc search for rentals, there are plenty in town).

Cruising as a private gives you the opportunity to manage the time in the best way possible, all at your advantage. Nobody saying you have to leave after 10 minutes, forget about that. It’s all about the experience, the sea, the wildlife, the food and what about meeting a new couture? Indonesian locals are one of the friendliest folks ever met around the globe. You will surely have a great time.

Make sure you have a spare little boat

This is important guys: while booking your private trip be 150% sure that you will have a spare little boat to use during hopping on islands; why this? Because otherwise you will be forced to swim from the vessel to various beaches; and if you’re carrying cameras, phones and other electronic devices? You will have to take them with you, at your own risk.

Pricing

Now something interesting, we’re talking about the price. For a 3 days / 2 nights Komodo National Park tour calculate around 13’000’000 IDR ($920 USD) for two people, all included. We highly recommend getting in touch with a good number of agencies, in order to have an idea of the prices for similar activities/excursions.


Who should go for a one day trip

Suitable for those having limited time and money. If you lightly suffer from seasickness you should survive a day like this. A speedboat will be your hub for the day and it goes really fast. So fast that permits you to visit all the main attractions of the park in around 10-12 hours, including Padar, Rinca and Komodo Islands.

The low price doesn’t mean bad service, however, be prepared because you will be part of a group, with all the pros and cons. The price tag is without any doubt good news and, depending on the activities, can reach up to 700’000 IDR ($51 USD) per person.


What is the best time of the year to visit Komodo national park?

The following months are the best if you plan to visit this worldwide unique area: April, May, JuneSeptember, October and November. The first three months you will find the islands to look incredibly green and shiny. Of course, they are, the rainy season just finished, vegetation looks just superb and wildlife is active. It also represents the period before mating time, so you still have good chances to spot some Dragons in their natural environment.

Mating season

In July, due to the mating season, it is rather difficult to encounter the globe’s biggest living lizard. But who knows, maybe you could spot two males fighting against each other, trying to conquer a female Komodo dragon. This said, if from one side it is tourism’s peak season, meaning overall stellar prices, boats running everywhere, people hiking, snorkeling in all sights non stop, to the other one it is even worse considering that isn’t mantas, whale sharks and whales season, so a lack of gorgeous animal species.

The weather

What about the weather? Hot and humid, not the best if you could choose. If your goal is to spend an affordable price for a great tour, which will enable you to discover the magnificent park and all its beauties at their best, including all the most awaited species such as Komodo dragons, mantas, whale sharks and sea turtles, then you definitely have to come during the period of September, October or November.
October, to be honest, is the one to go, no regrets about it.


Top 10 things to see in Komodo National Park

Padar Island

Padar Island

Padar Island: once hiked the main hill to the top, you will enjoy one of the best views of your life; from there you can easily spot three different sandy beaches, white, black and pink. Pure magic. 

Pantai Merah

Pantai Merah: the pink beach close to Padar Island; on the top of our “favorite beaches” personal list. The sand color is incredibly intense, the uncontaminated transparent waters are so rich of marine life that you just can’t resist to it, it represents the ultimate snorkeling paradise. We spent hours swimming here, can’t wait to come back one day.

Rinca Island

Rinca Island: is the best island where to experience a face to face in the wild with the impressive Komodo dragon; on this piece of earth are estimated to live around 1’300 exemplars. A ranger will escort you through a path of your choice (short, medium, long) searching for these prehistorical looking creatures.

Flying Foxes Island Komodo

Flying Foxes Island

Flying foxes island at sunset; after a bunch of physical activities done during the day, finally something relaxing. You will witness an enormous number of fruit bats (from several hundred thousands to more than a million) flying from their home island to another close one, a show of nature to see at least once in a lifetime.

Kelor Island Komodo

Kelor Island

Kelor Island: once left the port of Labuan Bajo it is usually the first stop in the morning. Once you climb the rugged hill to the top you will be delighted by a 360° view over the surrounding area. Once down, white sanded beaches are waiting for you, here the snorkeling is top class, featuring beautiful colorful corals and fishes and also some baby sharks.

Taka Makassar Komodo

Taka Makassar Island

Taka Makassar: imagine a tongue of white/pink sand in the middle of the ocean, this is what it is. We truly believe this is probably the most Instagrammable sight on the list. To get the best shot we recommend to have a drone with you. Be sure that your tour vessel features a spare boat in order to hop directly by foot on the island; large boats can’t stop too close so they have to keep a certain distance (making a swim to the beach of the dreams a real nightmare, here currents are pretty strong).

Manta Point

Manta point near Taka Makassar; in September, October and November it is manta rays season, which means that you have the rare chance to spot these amazing creatures in important numbers and you can join them for one of the most exciting baths ever. Don’t forget to bring all the necessary gears with you to have a memory of it in the future (gopros, cameras, etc.). 

Komodo Island

Komodo Island is our second choice if looking for dragons; an estimation reports 1’700 exemplars living on the island (watch out that from January 2020 the island will be closed, however other islands will remain open to the public)

Kenawa Island Komodo

Kenawa Island

Kanawa Island: here you’re looking at a white sanded beach with crystal bright waters, an ideal place for swimming, snorkeling or just chilling under the sun. 

Turtle Point

Turtle point: unfortunately due to a lack of time and a problem with our boat’s engine we had to skip this awaited activity. Even though we couldn’t see it in person, a lot of people described it as an absolute must to see if doing a Komodo national park tour; so guys, what to say, don’t miss it.


The perfect day trip from Labuan Bajo

Looking for some rest? A day trip that we personally suggest, especially if you arrive one day before your Komodo tour starts, is represented by going on a private island taking a boat from Labuan Bajo and staying there from 10:00 am to 04:00 pm.

It is called “Le Pirate Island”; once you arrive you’ll be greeted by the crew and a fresh drink will be offered. Once finished the welcome speech you can take a place on the beach (open-air bungalows with sea view are only for hotel customers, just to let you know) and either starting chilling out, relaxing, sunbathing or trying some included activities, such as snorkeling (equipment included), kayaking, ping pong, beach volleyball and so on.

At 12:00am will be served a barbecue with sides buffet. The price of 650’000 IDR per person includes round trip transfer by boat from Labuan Bajo, barbecue lunch, activities and equipment rental. Alcoholic drinks and à la carte lunch are not included so you have to pay extra for them.

If you are interested in sleeping there, check out the hotel’s page: Le Pirate island

Where to sleep in Labuan Bajo

We usually book our overnight stays via Airbnb while traveling around the world; it is cheap, well organized and you end up meeting locals, discovering new cultures, foods and so on.

DISCOUNT CODE: Save $38 USD off your first trip with Airbnb!

If you are a backpacker, here is a list of the best hostels in Labuan Bajo:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Seasta Komodo HostelLuxury hostel9.5/10from $16Book now
Ciao HostelAmazing rooftop8.5/10from $11Book now
La Boheme BajoBudget hostel8.3/10from $6Book now

Also in this little town, we went for it and found a b&b named “Danke”. It cost us around 150’000 IDR for one night, two people, included a delicious yet simple breakfast.

What we found mega is that they offer an unlimited shuttle service from/to airport/city centre. What you need to do is just texting the driver and he will arrive at the soonest possible.

Check-in procedure was fast and easy, the guy on duty very gentle and welcoming. Just be aware that (especially for taking showers), as in every other place on this island, there is no hot water. They can exceptionally boil water for you and bring a bucket in your room. We asked for it and everything went well. We highly recommend this structure.

A more central option would be the “Pirate hotel”, looking very minimal and stylish. To know more about the prices you have to contact directly the structure.

Where to eat in Labuan Bajo

If you’re looking for something typical and local, we warmly suggest going to the fish market, an absolute must. We met a lot of travelers coming back after lunch/dinner and they all were super satisfied.

As in every touristic destination, there are a lot of dining options. Martina and I, after nearly 3 weeks of Indonesian food, wanted to get a good hamburger. What a piece of luck, surfing on TripAdvisor we found a perfectly rated restaurant offering what we desired.

The name is “Burger Time” and it says all. What a blast! We tried this kind of food almost everywhere in the world during our trips but didn’t expect to eat one of the best ever here in Indonesia.

All the ingredients were super fresh, the meat perfectly grilled and what about the service, everybody smiling at you and being attentive in every single detail. The price was very good, considering the location and the costs for similar meals. For two hamburgers with French fries, a large Bintang beer and a homemade iced tea we paid around 350’000 IDR.