Volunteering Abroad: how to travel the world for free!

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!


Have you ever dreamed to travel the world for free? Volunteering abroad with Worldpackers makes this dream a reality!

So, what is Worldpackers?

Worldpackers.com is a website that allows you to exchange your time for food and accommodation while travelling.

From working in a surf camp in Portugal to helping bartend in Costa Rica or volunteering to teach children in Kenya, there is a host for everyone! You offer your time (usually 20-24h/week) in exchange for food and accommodation.

The duration of the stay varies from host to host and usually lasts anywhere between a few days to a few months. Not only that, but you usually get 1 to 3 days off per week as well.

Signing up only costs $50 USD and you have access to all the volunteer positions you want for a whole year!

But here is the good news, you can save $20 USD and cut down that membership fee to $30 USD just by using our code!


SAVE $20 USD on your Worldpackers Yearly Membership!

promo code: BACKPACKERSINTHEWORLD


Is volunteering abroad the right way of travelling for everyone?

Of course not. If you are not willing to travel slowly, to get out of your comfort zone and to meet with locals, Worldpackers is not for you.

However, if you dream about exploring the real side of a country through the eyes of a local, or just to save some money while having fun working with other travellers, then Worldpackers is the way to go.

To try to understand a bit better the pros and cons of Worldpackers, we interviewed 3 people who have recently used the platform:

Follow them on Instagram:


Why do you like the concept of Worldpackers? What are the advantages of using this platform over regular travelling?

Janaina

I love that Worldpackers believes travel is a universal right. Travel has not always been accessible to youth, to women, to the budget-conscious, and the Worldpackers platform strives to make travel accessible to more and more people. One of the biggest advantages of using Worldpackers is getting to spend as much time as you want in your dream destinations.

Adam

I’ve done ‘regular travelling’ since I was 18, from weekends away to living abroad for years. While I got a good feel for lots of places, it’s not until you live with locals that you truly experience the real culture. Worldpackers offers this experience in a safe and dependable environment, whilst allowing you to give back to these same communities with a work exchange.

Gabby

Worldpackers helps me keep my travel expenses low, which is amazing since I don’t have a stable career with a consistent income. Aside from making travel affordable, work exchanges allow me to live and work with locals, which is much more immersive and interesting than just staying in hotels and resorts.

What volunteering experiences did you have with Worldpackers and how did they turn out?

Janaina

I’ve worked with Worldpackers in Mexico and Israel. Both experiences were with top-rated hostels, and couldn’t have been better. In addition to making lifelong friends, I felt that I truly got to experience the local culture of both countries.

Adam

I’ve completed 2 experiences so far – once teaching English to adults and the second in a hostel. The English classes were so much fun. It was a friendly, relaxed environment where we all shared stories and practised English through games, videos and social events.

I learnt so much about the city too, as everyone was eager to give me hints, tips and advice. Add that you are on your way to the third one that looks awesome for the unique opportunity to do some that otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to do it.

Gabby

I worked on a family-run lodge in a small village outside Quito, Ecuador, which helped me improve my Spanish a lot since I was living with the family and working in remote areas. I also worked as a blog article writer for a lodge in the cloud forest of Ecuador, which allowed me to exercise my writing skills and explore the surrounding nature.

My third work exchange was bartending in a fun, party hostel in Cusco, Peru. Here I made so many amazing friends from different countries and had some epic adventures like hiking Rainbow Mountain and Machu Picchu.

Credits: worldpackers.com

Was it hard to get accepted? Do you have any tips to improve the chances of getting in at the best positions available?

Janaina

It was not hard to get accepted. Clear communication, transparency, and a positive attitude are musts!

Adam

The English school was my first application, so I thought it was really easy. After that, I applied for 4 or 5 before being accepted for my second placement. My advice would be not to think “me me me”. The projects you’re applying to are businesses so you’re going there to work.

Think about what you can offer them. Study the projects individually and think about what skills and talents you can bring to make their project even better.

Gabby

It’s hard to give advice on getting accepted because everything just needs to work out, and some of it is just luck. Your time frame has to match with the availability of the host, and your skills have to match what the host needs.

I think if you apply to all the hosts that fit you best, and you can describe well why you would be a good fit, the rest will work itself out and you’ll find work easily. Also, don’t get your heart set on just one job; apply to lots just in case one doesn’t work out.

What does a typical workday as a volunteer look like?

Janaina

At both of my work exchanges, I worked an average of 15-20 hours per week. I’m an early riser, and my hosts were happy to let me take the earlier shifts! They were also super flexible and accommodating about making sure I had several days off in a row to be able to travel and explore local places. I left both my volunteering abroad experieces having seen, done, and experienced all that I dreamt of when I first arrived if not much more.

Adam

The school only required 10 hours a week while the hostel was 24. Working at the hostel was much harder due to the rota of 4×6 hour shifts. In one week you could work two-morning shifts, then a night shift, then a late. The days off were rarely together so the weeks felt quite disjointed.

The work wasn’t physically hard, but the constant demands and challenges of life in a busy hostel was certainly eye-opening. Clean and change rooms, keep the bathrooms spotless, ensure breakfast was ready for guests, clean up afterwards, and all the while making sure people checking out had fully paid, checking people in, answering email queries and buzzing people in and out of the front door. All that for one person felt a little excessive. By the end of the shift you didn’t feel like going out exploring, but I definitely had time to wander around and get to know the city.

Gabby

My work hours were very different for all three work exchanges. I’ll describe them in a brief list:

  • Lodge near Quito, Ecuador: I worked only on the weekends, cleaning the rooms and preparing/serving meals all through the day with breaks here and there. I had Monday-Thursday off, and I stayed in Quito with different family members and friends and got to explore the city and surrounding areas.
  • Cloud Forest of Mindo, Ecuador: I wrote one article each day, whenever I wanted. So I explored the forest all day, then wrote my article in the evening after dinner, which took me an hour or two.
  • Bartending in Cusco, Peru: Worked 4 days per week, 7-hour shifts that rotated between morning, afternoon, and night shifts. I was able to ask for certain days off or coordinate days off with my fellow volunteers if we wanted to take a trip somewhere.

Credits: worldpackers.com

How much have you been able to save while volunteering abroad instead of regular travelling?

Janaina

Doing work exchanges while traveling cut my travel expenses up to 70%, and sometimes more!

Adam

Aside from being able to practice a foreign language in a friendly environment, the money-saving was the biggest bonus.

Free breakfast is always fun, but because you’re mixing with similar minded people you often share other meals. My weekly shopping bill was tiny as everyone chipped in to buy a little something. Throw in some local knowledge and money-saving tips and I saved a huge amount.

Gabby

I can’t really give an exact number for how much I’ve saved doing work exchanges, but I know it’s a lot. Accommodation is my biggest expense when traveling, and this can usually cost between $5-$20 per night depending on the country.

When work exchanges provide meals, I save even more. In Ecuador, I spent barely any money at all the whole trip because I had all meals and housing covered by volunteering abroad. I only bought cheap bus tickets and a few souvenirs/activities here and there, so I probably only spent about $50 in one whole month of travelling in Ecuador.


Q: We know volunteering abroad is a great way to save some money on the road, but it might also limit the exploring side of travelling a little bit.

Talking about convenience, when would you recommend volunteering abroad and when would you not?

Janaina

I’d recommend volunteering abroad to anyone who wants to have a profound cultural experience, slow down a bit and really immerse into the local side of a destination. If you want to plan a trip jam-packed with tours and sightseeing, you’re better off just paying for accommodation since you won’t have the extra time and energy to work anyways.

Adam

If time is your friend, I absolutely recommend volunteering abroad.

If you have the time to spend 2 or 3 weeks in one location, do it. While it does take away the spontaneity it also helps to focus your visits. If you have 2 or 3 days off per week, you learn to make the absolute most of these days. All the time you’re learning about the area, so when you’re free you’ll know exactly where and when to go (and the cheapest, safest way).

It takes time to get stuck into the projects, so if you’re just spending 1 week in each, I don’t think you’d get the same benefit. It’s also easy to get burnt out. After the hostel, I needed time away from the constant noise and questions and spent a few weeks alone. If you enjoy your privacy then choose your projects carefully. Some offer private rooms, tents, mixed dorms or staff quarters.

Gabby

I would recommend volunteering abroad when you have more time to spend in a place. If you have at least three weeks, definitely volunteer because you can use the money you save for exploring on your days off.

Volunteering abroad you can always rely on a couple of days off, and usually, your hosts want to help you explore as well; they want you to experience the beauty of their home country and will sometimes even take you to their own secret local places. If you only have a short time to spend somewhere, skip the volunteering so you can see everything you want to see.

Credits: worldpackers.com

Have you ever had any bad experiences while volunteering abroad or with the platform itself?

Janaina

Solo travelling — especially for the first time — can be intimidating. One of the best ways to feel safe and secure and ease into the travel experience is by doing a work exchange. I personally haven’t had any bad experiences while volunteering abroad or using Worldpackers, and always felt that the safety of the other volunteers and hostelers was a top priority for both my hosts.

Adam

I’ve had nothing but great experiences. Whenever I’ve needed to contact them, the team are super-efficient at responding (and it’s never just a copy and paste answer). I think their customer support team is one of their best selling features.

Gabby

I went to South America at age 19 completely by myself and had no problems at all. I had one little scare, but it was easily cleared up. With my first Workaway near Quito, I was supposed to take a taxi from the airport to the house of the people who ran the lodge, and we would drive to the lodge the next day. It was 11 pm at night, and I arrived in the taxi at the gate to the neighbourhood but no one was there. I was just sitting in a taxi in the dark in a random suburb, and I had no idea where my hosts were.

Luckily, I had their phone number and the taxi driver called them on his phone since I didn’t have a local sim card. They had forgotten to stay home and meet me, so they gave the driver the address to their parents’ house. It was a small mix-up but I was super nervous at the time. Once we arrived at the parents’ house, they welcomed me in and everything was fine. Other than this tiny misunderstanding, I had no problems travelling as a solo female in South America.

SEE ALSO: 10 Safety Tips for visiting South America

Do you have any tips to find the best volunteer opportunities?

Janaina

Look no further than the incredible Worldpackers blog for inspiration on the best work exchange opportunities, where to go, how to travel on a budget, and more!

My best advice is to choose an experience that suits your personality and needs. If you’re an introvert, look into a homestay, permaculture project, or family-run hostel. If you love meeting new people and want more of a social, party vibe, consider working reception at a city hostel.

Adam

Don’t just find something to pass the time. Find a project that genuinely inspires you as it will make your (and their) experience so much more rewarding. I originally approached it thinking fewer hours was better, although now I’m looking for personal fulfilment over just a shorter workday. I probably wouldn’t choose another hostel again, but that’s just me personally. I’d go for something outdoors and hands-on.

Gabby

I think every job opportunity on Worldpackers is beneficial to someone out there, in some way. Everyone looks for different things when travelling, so I don’t really have any tips for job searching on the website because it’s super straightforward and everyone will search for what suits them best.

Again, the best job positions depend on the preferences of the person applying, but I will recommend hostels for those who want a social experience.

Working with families or small businesses allows a more local experience and you’ll probably learn the language much better, but it can be a bit isolating at times.

Working in a hostel, especially a big, party hostel, is better for those who want to hang out with people their own age and just be around more people in general.

Credits: worldpackers.com

Would you do anything differently?

Janaina

I only wish I knew about Worldpackers and work exchange earlier on!

Adam

Absolutely not. It’s all a learning curve and each project will be different from the next. I learnt so much about the local area, culture and also about myself. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Gabby

The only thing I’d do differently is not to buy my return ticket home as far in advance! At the end of my trip, I just wanted to stay longer and go to more places that I’d learned about on my trip, but I already had my plane ticket home booked.

Would you recommend the platform after your experience?

Janaina

100%. My Worldpackers work exchange experiences changed my life, and are a huge reason I’m now traveling the world full-time as a digital nomad.

Adam

If I had more than two thumbs, I’d put them all up. The team are friendly, knowledgeable and all travel addicts themselves. The projects they offer are diverse and cover a huge range of activities, so you’re guaranteed to find something that inspires you. I’ve already signed up for my next two projects!

Gabby

I always recommend Worldpackers to people. Lots of people my age want to travel but also want to save money for cars and houses and such. I always tell people that work exchanges allow you to travel without spending much money, which is such a game-changer!

Credits: worldpackers.com

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.

10 Safety Travel Tips for visiting South America

Guest post by @teresaribas

If you are planning to visit South America, here is a list of 10 travel safety tips to keep safe!

Let’s start with the most common question:

Is South America safe?

Latin America always tends to drop under the “cons” column when making that “where to next” decision regarding safety; and although the Safety weight should always be high when it comes to travelling, violence and danger are generally overrated in certain countries.

We won’t lie or sugar coat, crime levels in Latin American countries are higher than what we’re probably used to, but that should never be an impediment to travel. One should, however, be aware that special safety measures and precautions should be taken.

The people, history, culture and nature in these countries have been some of the most inspiring and soul-filling we’ve been to and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to live this experience out of fear.

We’d even risk guaranteeing your integrity, phone, money and passport will all be safe if you follow these 10 very easy safety tips and recommendations that we’ve strictly followed ourselves when travelling in South America.


South America Travel Safety Tips

1 – Prevention

Prevent, prevent, prevent. Prevention is the best investment.

You should see prevention as something extra to pack in your backpack, not as a burden.
Do your homework, learn how to get from A to B before you go.

Understand the safety measures you so should take in each specific country and write down emergency contacts, just in case. Preventing will always be better than having a bad experience that could ruin your trip.

South America view

2 – Avoid walking around at night

“The night is dark and full of terrors”.

Avoid walking around at night, especially in lonely streets and big cities. It’s not like vampires jump out as soon as the sun goes down, but maybe those late night strolls in the park should probably be avoided.

There is another very important thing to keep in mind: always avoid public transport at night, it’s better to spend a couple euros/dollars extra on a taxi (or Uber) than to lose all your belongings and get your trip ruined from one single bad experience.

 Safety tips for Mexico and South America
Oaxaca, Mexico

3 – Always be up to date on local news

Given the majority of these countries are historically politically unstable; geographically located where there is always (even if just a slight) risk of natural disasters and socially restless; you should always pay attention to local news before and during your trip.

Things here can change very quickly and you should always be able to adapt your plan to these unexpected and unpredictable situations when travelling in South America.

4 – Ask the locals

Always ask and follow local recommendations.

This is one of the most important travel safety tips in South America, and also the one that has helped us the most. Ask locals for their opinions on your plans.

Do this only when they have no interest in selling you anything, don’t blindly trust anyone who tries to take you to a bus when you get into a station or show you the way, or give you a “free sample” of something, have criteria and know who to trust.

Some people here live off commissions to attract tourists, so you might get ripped off.

Obviously, that’s not always the case and you’ll meet a lot of locals who earn nothing from your existence, who can help you understand if a neighbourhood should be avoided, if there’s any unsafe region for whatever reasons or if you should get Ubers instead of Taxis or Taxis instead of Ubers.

Strictly follow their recommendations once you ask for their tips, most people here don’t want you as a tourist to be hurt, that would negatively affect business and economy in places that live off visitors.

Safety tips for Villade Leyva, Colombia
Villade Leyva, Colombia

5 – Keep a low profile

This is not just a Latin America recommendation, and you’ve probably read this off every travel guide, but avoid taking your best jewellery and sneakers out for a walk.

You’ll stand out and that’s something you don’t want, especially if criminals are around, they’ll go for the people who look like they have something valuable (even if they don’t).

Know where to take your fancy camera and/or phone out, understand that sometimes it’s better to lose that story opportunity, instead of losing your phone.

6 – Protect your belongings

At. All. Times.

Keep an eye on them, one tiny distraction and you can lose them all.

Scatter your money, don’t carry it all in one place; don’t put your phone in your pant’s back pocket, or your wallet for that matter.

Grab on to your backpack in crowded places and watch out for your stuff in public transport.

 Bogotá, Colombia, travel tips
Bogotá, Colombia

7 – Look confident

Look like you know where you’re going (even if you don’t).

In fact, one of the best ways to avoid problems is to look confident. Don’t walk around looking at your phone or your maps, don’t look lost, people might take advantage of that.

Look for a shop whenever you feel lost, whether it’s a business, a restaurant, and ask for directions.

8 – Follow your gut

Be smart, follow your gut.

Many times, while looking for the museum, the park, the street, you’ll go through some dodgy streets.

Turn around. Always turn around if something feels weird.

Take a different path, walk down a different street, chances are your bad gut feeling is actually real.

Big cities can be tricky, and big cities one is not familiar with can be hell, keep yourself safe and follow your gut every time that one street, that one person, that one taxi, that one bus looks bad.

Barranquilla, Colombia, South America
Barranquilla, Colombia

9 – Learn Spanish basics

You don’t have to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez to travel through Latin America, but knowing some basics can get you out of some frustrating situations.

The English level in some countries is surprisingly low and, although miming sometimes does the trick, it won’t if you need something more complicated like “I need something to help with sandflea bite itching” (which you’ll need.. I’d bet you on that).

Learn the basics, it will help.

10 – Beware of Tinder traps

That’s right, dating.

Something that has become rather common in some countries is trapping tourists through tinder or dating websites. We’ve heard some stories first hand, and they are not pleasant.

Again, be smart, learn who and who not to trust, protect your belongings and follow your gut.

San Pedro Atitlàn, Guatemala

As a conclusion, I’d like to invite you to not obsess over safety in these countries, if you take care, prevent, prepare and take some precautions to avoid finding yourself in a complicated situation, you’ll be able to enjoy an inspiring, enriching and soulful experience.

Just like you would anywhere else, understand you’re a visitor, and you should adapt to the local culture and habits, not the other way around – respect the people around you, be polite and thankful, and don’t do anything a local wouldn’t.

Don’t get yourself in trouble, needless to say, you should avoid getting in the drug or prostitution scenes and accept the cultural differences.

Enjoy, there’s so much to learn & see!

Tikal, Flores, Guatemala

Author Bio:

Native Portuguese, bilingual in English, trilingual in Spanish. I speak Catalan when people promise not to laugh, I’ll understand Italian or French. I still believe I should’ve listened to my mother when she told me to learn Mandarin.

Born in Oporto, Portugal, lived in Italy and England before settling for Barcelona, Spain. Where I lived for the past 9 years before quitting my job as a corporate branding consultant and leaving my house, my life and my friends to follow one of my biggest dreams: to travel the world indefinitely.

Not a blogger, I share all my trips and tips on my travel diary at @teresaribas

Montenegro Bucket List: 16 Places You Must Visit | Travel Guide

When you think of Europe, you’ll probably mention every country but Montenegro.
In this Montenegro bucket list, we have listed 16 must-visit places that will blow your mind!

This small country in the Balkan region is still a bit hidden from the eyes of the tourist’s crowds. It’s not part of the European Union, but it’s very easy to get there from every European country.

Montenegro is the land of epic landscapes, undiscovered roads, medieval fortresses, unique national parks, lakes, rivers, and adventures.

The locals are kind, pastry and the drinks are delicious, not to mention that backpacking or road tripping in the Balkans is also affordable for every traveler on a budget!

Here is a Montenegro travel bucket list with the best 16 things to do and see in Montenegro.


– by @deertraveler


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!


1 – Hike to the top of the Kotor Fortress

We couldn’t avoid mentioning Kotor in this Montenegro bucket list.
The city of Kotor, in fact, is the most popular destination in Montenegro.

Most people take here a day trip from Dubrovnik, but we’d recommend spending more time exploring this pretty town, as it has so much to offer!

One of the best things to do here is exploring the medieval old town and hiking to the top of the fortress to admire the view of Kotor Bay.
It’s actually called the Castle of San Giovanni, and you have to climb 1400 stairs to get to the top.

It took us approximately 1 hour to do this, with long breaks for breathing. It was one of the most exhausting hikes of our lives. Don’t forget to bring enough water with you, as there aren’t any restaurants or cafeterias on the top. Just the pure, magnificent view. It’s absolutely worth it! 

TIP: We also found the most delicious burek – Montenegrin pastry – in Kotor, so don’t forget to check out one of the bakeries in town.

Best hostels in Kotor:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Old Town HostelTop 10 Hostels in Europe9.7/10from $10Book now
Pupa HostelRecently renovated9.5/10from $12Book now
Montenegro Hostel B&BPerfectly located9.1/10from $9Book now

2 – Walk around the cute little seaside town, Perast

Perast is only a 15-minute car drive from Kotor, and you can’t miss it! This charming, sleepy and photogenic town is like the Venice of Kotor Bay.

It only has about 200 inhabitants. You can stroll around the town and watch the sun going down behind the mountains.

3 – Take a little boat trip to the floating church  “Our Lady of the Rocks” in Perast

When you arrive in Perast, the locals will immediately offer you to take you to the artificial island of “Our Lady in the Rocks”. Why is this islet called like that?

“Our Lady in the Rocks” is an artificial island created by bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks. This place is a unique photo spot with its church and with the beautiful view of the mountains in the background.

TIP: When the local tour guides take you back to Perast, don’t miss to sip a cup of coffee or try the local food in one of the restaurants.

4 – Explore Budva, the Montenegrin Miami

Any Montenegro bucket list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the city of Budva.

Budva is the nightlife capital and the Budva Riviera is also called the “Montenegrin Miami”. This town, however, is not just a perfect destination for the ones who wish for an affordable vacation at the sea or want to party, but it is also rich in cultural heritage.

You can walk for hours in the charming old town of Budva, which is behind the walls of a Medieval fortification that originates from the 15th century.

The streets of the old town are also full of cats, so if you like them, don’t forget to pet them.

The Budva Rivera is also famous for its beautiful beaches – like the Mogren beach -, they are perfect for swimming in the peak season, and the beaches aren’t so crowded neither.

Near Mogren Beach, you will find the famous Dancing girl statue as well.

Best hostel in Budva:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Freedom HostelMontenegrin atmosphere9.4/10from $9Book now

5 – Watch the sun going down behind the castle of Sveti Stefani

Sveti Stefan is the most perfect place in Montenegro to watch the sunset at the end of a long day.

It’s a very small islet with a luxury resort on it, which actually was a fortress before.

It takes approx. 15 minutes by car from Budva, you just have to drive right next to the sea on the highway.

The fortress was opened in 1960 as a hotel called Aman Sveti Stefan, and film stars and celebrities went to stay there, like Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Margaret and many others.

6 – Drive up to the Lovcen National Park and survive the 25 sharp curves

The highway that connects Kotor with Lovcen is one of the most challenging that we have faced!

The first part of the road is pretty similar to all the highways in Montenegro, but at some point, you will face a section with 25 sharp curves and incredible views!

On the top, you will find the Mausoleum of Njegoš, the resting place of the Montenegrin hero and poet, Petar Petrovic Njegoš.

7 – Visit the beaches and bars of the less-known Ulcinj

Ulcinj is one of them off the beaten path destinations of our Montenegro bucket list. Most visitors don’t make it all the way there as it’s is on the very south-eastern tip of Montenegro

However, if you take a road trip through the Balkans and you visit Albania as well, you will probably drive through Ulcinj too. If you do, don’t miss it, this cute Montenegrin town is well worth a visit!

The Castle of Ulcinj is one of the oldest castles on the Adriatic Sea. In fact, it’s 2500 years old. The Old Town is has a Medieval-style, characterized by many narrow and curved streets. You can’t miss the castle because of its big Illyrian walls and the citadel.

Now the castle is full of restaurants and bars, and you can spend some time here walking around. Ulcinj is also famous for its beaches, especially for its nudist beach, which is very popular in Montenegro.

8 – Explore the old town and watch the sunset at Bar

The town of Bar is right next to Ulcinj.

The city is split into two parts, New Bar and Old Bar.

The Old Bar is beautiful, with magical medieval buildings, walls, and beautiful views. The port of Bar is also very photogenic, especially at sunset when the sky turns orange and pink, and the floating ships on the sea make the view look like a painting.

9 – Get amazed by the stunning views at Lake Skadar National Park and take a boat tour

Lake Skadar National Park is named after the Lake Skadar and it’s one of the best natural spots on this Montenegro bucket list.

This Lake is famous for its diverse flora and fauna. In fact, it’s home to almost 300 bird species, so it’s a perfect place for bird watchers.

Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkan peninsula, and also one of the largest national parks in Montenegro. Two-thirds of the lake is in Montenegro, the rest is in Albania.

The national park is perfect for taking boat tours, cruising, taking a hiking excursion and of course for bird watching. If you just want to watch the lake from above, you definitely have to drive around it and visit viewpoints like the “Pavlova Strana”.

10 – Drive around the Piva Canyon and visit the hydroelectric power plant

The Piva Lake is an artificial lake, created after the construction of a dam on the Piva river, who now serves a hydroelectric power plant.

The Piva Canyon is going to unveil epic landscapes, views you did probably not expect to see in Montenegro!

Your base should be Pluzine, from there you can drive on the road E762 that will take you to the Mratinje Dam, the water plant.
You can visit the power plant and watch the construction of the dam and how the level of the water changes the landscape on both sides.

You can also go rafting, take a boat trip, swim in the Piva river. Or, like us, you can just drive around and stop at every curve to take photos of the stunning views.

11 – See the old stone bridge in Rijeka Crnojevića

Rijeka Crnojevića is a small town right next to the lake Skadar.
The name of the town means the Crnojević river, and indeed, this river is crossing the town.

Don’t miss to cross the old stone bridge! It was built by Prince Danilo at the end of the 19th century.

The bridge connected Rijeka Crnojevića with the medieval town of Obod, located on a hilltop across the river, which was the location of a first Southern Slavic printing house.

On the left bank of the river, adjacent to the bridge, Danilo also built a one-story house, popularly called Mostina.

12 – Drive on the road P14 from Pluzine to Zabljak and enjoy the view

Sadly, the north part of Montenegro isn’t as accessible as the south.
This is mainly due to the bad roads, but if you can deal with that, then you will be rewarded with the most epic views!

The road P14 is for sure one of the most challenging roads in the country, and it’s a place you won’t see on many Montenegro guides. The road is narrow and it’s full of sharp curves. But the views of the Piva canyon, the mountains are stunning!

So when you go from Pluzine (the base of exploring the Piva river) to the Zabljak (the base for exploring the Tara canyon), you can choose to drive through this road.

TIP: Don’t forget to check out the weather first because in the spring the roads can be still covered in snow.

13 – Whitewater rafting on the Tara River

The best base to explore the Durmitor National Park and Tara river is Zabljak town. All the tours and rafting experiences start there.

If you are interested in going rafting on the Tara river, you may consider spending two or three days in this area.

If the roads are not covered in snow and you can reach the Tara river, don’t miss the opportunity: rafting here is awesome!



14 – Hike in the Durmitor National Park

An awesome experience for nature-lovers and one of the highlights of our Montenegro bucket list.

Hiking in the Durmitor National Parks is going to be one of the most beautiful experiences in Montenegro!

The Durmitor is carved out by glaciers, full of glittering glacial lakes and it’s the biggest national park in Montenegro.

Here you can hike the Bobotov Kuk, the highest peak in the country, a majestic mountain 2,523m in the air.

15 – Visit the magical Black Lake

The National Park is home to 18 glacial lakes. The most famous is the Black Lake (Crno jezero), known for its incredibly beautiful reflection.

The name comes from the shadow created by the huge Međed Peak. Don’t miss the opportunity to take stunning photos here and enjoy the magic of the place.

Source: Ilija Peric, riders.me

16 – Try rakija

Rakija is an alcoholic drink made from the distillation of fermented fruit.
You can find the same drink in Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, but of course, they all call it in a different way.

Rakija can be made of almost any fruit and it can be very strong as well, with the percentage of alcohol up to 65%.


We hope that we gave you an idea of how stunning this small country is! Hopefully, you will consider visiting Montenegro the next time you’re planning your vacation.

If you need more help for planning your Montenegrin adventures, don’t forget to check out our detailed travel guides on our blog deertraveler.com

Zsuzsi and Dante from DeerTraveler


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.

Saturnia Hot Springs: a backpacker guide

Welcome to Saturnia Hot Springs, one of the best places you can visit in Southern Tuscany.

Saturnia is well known in Italy for its thermal baths and the various Spa and Wellness centres you can find in this area, however, in “Cascate del Mulino” you can get the same treatments of the luxury spa for FREE!

In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about this amazing place!

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 Saturnia Hot Springs

First of all, you should know that the actual name of the place you are looking for is “Cascate del Mulino”.

Saturnia is the town nearby it, and it has several hot springs, spas and wellness centres.

BY CAR:

The best option to get to this place is to drive there by car. Saturnia Hot Springs is located in Tuscany’s countryside and having your own car can definitely save you some time.

Visiting the Saturnia Hot Springs is a perfect day trip from Grosseto, Rome, Florence, Pisa, and many other places.

TIP: Consider renting a car for the day – or even for a few days – to get the most out of Southern Tuscany. There are many other little villages you’ll want to visit around after the Hot Springs so having your own car is definitely the way to go.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:

Saturnia Hot Springs is also reachable by bus. Like many places in southern Tuscany, public transport is available but it is not very convenient to use, especially for remote places like Saturnia. However, it is not impossible!

For example, these are the busses you need to take to get there from Grosseto.

  1. Grosseto – Albinia: 33m by bus, every 3 hours (41P; 39O; 40O; 1FP | 3 – 5€) or by train.
  2. Albinia – Manciano: 39m by bus, 5 times a day (41P; 11P; PT5 | 3 – 5€)
  3. Manciano – Saturnia: 24m by bus, every 4 hours (1 – 3€)

Check the following map for the exact route!

Where to stay

Luxury: Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort. A five-star resort which features an 18-hole golf course and is 5 km from the medieval village of Saturnia. Built out of Travertine marble, its elegant thermal spa features Roman baths and natural swimming pools. (From 310€/night)

Mid-budget: Agriturismo Le Cascatelle. Located only 500 metres away, this place is the best option for those who want to visit the Mill Waterfalls. It offers rustic-style rooms and apartments with wood-beamed ceilings and hand-painted furniture. (From 87€/night)

Budget: Casale Fontani. The Fontani farmhouse is located in a unique position immersed in the uncontaminated nature of the Tuscan Maremma, it is an ideal base for hiking in the Albegna valley, but also to visit the many archaeological and cultural sites nearby, such as Sovana, Pitigliano and Sorana. It’s about 30 minutes by car from the Mill Falls. (14€/night)

Entrance fee

There is NO entrance fee.

Yes, Saturnia Hot Springs remain completely free.
However, we have heard some rumours about an upcoming entrance ticket fee starting from April 2020.

Parking

Parking is free but limited, so keep in mind that it could be challenging to find a parking spot during high-season if you come late during the day. Being there early in the morning is always a good idea.

Just keep in mind that the parking is for cars and bikes only. Campervans are not allowed (maximum height: 2.20m).

For those travelling in a van or that are just interested in camping in the area, you can find a camping site available located just about 800m from the hot springs. Click here for the location: Camping

It is not allowed to camp at the hot springs.

Best Time to visit Saturnia Hot Springs

The best time of the year to visit Saturnia Hot Springs is during Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November). The pools are not so crowded during these seasons and the air temperature is not too warm, which is best to enjoy the relaxing hot water of Saturnia.

Summer is probably the worst time to visit it. This place isn’t a secret anymore and it will be packed with tourists.

We visited it in February and we can say winter is also a great time of the year to be there. The water is warm all year round so, if you can deal with a little thermal shock while entering and exiting the water, you will be fine. The only downside of visiting the hot springs in winter is that bad weather is behind the corner and you never know what you can get.

This is what the Hot Springs looked like in November 2019 after a thunderstorm:

Best time of the day to go

The best time of the day to visit the Hot Springs in Saturnia is probably early in the morning. Not only you will have the place for yourself, but you will be also welcomed by the incredible amount of steam that is generated by the thermal differential, especially in winter.

TIP: Mid-day is also a great time to visit it, because whenever the sun is high in the sky the water becomes turquoise, and it’s so, so beautiful. At the same time, you may have to deal with lots of people.

We have been there from 7 AM to 10.30 AM and we enjoyed both scenarios.

NOTE: There were quite a lot of tourists at 10 AM also in low season.

A huge amount of steam, on an early and cold winter morning.

More about Saturnia Hot Springs

The thermal waters of Saturnia hot springs have been flowing for millennia from a natural crater, at a constant temperature of 37.5°C, all year round.

The water comes from the foothills of Mount Amiata, some 30 kilometres away. It’s believed it takes around 40 YEARS to get here. In facts, the water descends to a depth of 700 meters during its journey, which is the only way it could reach its temperature.

The pools are about a half meter deep, which make this place perfect and safe for families with kids as well.

Next to the building, which used to be a mill, there is a waterfall. This is why this place is called “Cascate del Mulino” in Italian, which translates to Mill Waterfalls.

Facilities

Do not expect to find much else besides the hot springs. There are no lockers, no changing rooms, no showers at the Mill Falls.

Most people leave their belongings on the ground near the pools. You can do the same, just keep a close eye on them.

There is also a bar next to it which we believe is open in high season (not in a weekday of February tho) and offers these services. The bar is convenient thanks to its position, but it appears to be a little overpriced.

What to pack

All you need is a swimsuit, a towel and eventually flip flops. If you are going in summertime, you want to pack also sunscreen as the sun can be quite strong.

Consider to bring also your own drinks and snacks to save some money; the on-site bar is not the best representation of the yummy Tuscan cuisine.

Photography tips

As we mentioned before, there are 2 times of the day which are just perfect for photography: sunrise and mid-day.

The water gets an incredible colour when the sun is high in the sky, and the whole place is just magical and empty at sunrise.

All the photos you see in this article are taken by drone. Flying didn’t seem to be prohibited, but it might be a problem in high season.

There is also a viewpoint in front of the Mill Falls, location here.

What to do in the area

If you want to include something else after visiting Saturnia Hot Springs, we’d highly recommend to check out this itinerary.

The next stop should definitely be “Borghi del Tufo”, 3 medieval villages (Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana) located about 1 hour far from the Hot Springs.

Not far from there you will also find Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio, which are definitely must-visit places in this area.

Don’t forget about Val d’Orcia, one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Here you should visit Monticchiello, Pienza, Torrenieri, and all of the other little villages and spots you can find on the infographic below.

Specific articles about these places are coming soon.

Spa & Wellness Centres

For those looking for a more secluded and relaxing experience, we must mention that there are many Spas and Wellness Centres in Saturnia.

There are obviously many different spas and packages, but a basic entrance to the pools will be around 23-27€ (Source: https://www.termedisaturnia.it/en).

San Miguel de Allende: the Best City in the World

Guest post by: @motiontoroam

For two years in a row, San Miguel de Allende was voted the Best City in the World by Travel + Leisure, and it’s no wonder why! With its cobblestone streets, famous pink church, thriving arts and rich cultural festivities, you’ll be charmed by this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site city in central Mexico.

Find out more on how to get here, why you should visit San Miguel de Allende, and what to see and do when you visit!

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!

Why You Should Visit San Miguel de Allende

With Travel + Leisure voting SMA the Best City in the World two years in a row, in 2017 and 2018, more and more tourists are heading here so go visit SMA now while it still has its small-town feel!

Helpful Tip: if you’re looking for a place to go in the fall, consider SMA! Every year on September 29, SMA celebrates its largest festivity of the year, celebrating SMA’s patron saint, the Archangel Michael throughout the entire week. Locals celebrate the Fiestas de San Miguel de Allende with parades, dances, private house parties, sporting and cultural events and more. Of course, fireworks are always a part of the festivities.

Where to stay in San Miguel de Allende

If you are looking for a place to stay in San Miguel de Allende, here is a list of the best hostels in town:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Lool Beh Hostal4-bed dorms9.3/10 from $11Book now
La Catrina HostelRoof terrace9.1/10from $10Book now
Casa LoteriaPerfect location9.1/10 from $10 Book now

What to See and Do

There are tons of things to explore around SMA! Here are a couple of our top favourites that you cannot miss while you’re there. And get your cameras ready because you’ll want to get lost in the streets and take pictures around every corner.

1. La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the Iconic Pink Church

  • This incredibly beautiful church is in “el centro”, the centre of San Miguel de Allende. To find it, just head towards the centre of the town. Look up, you can’t miss it!
  • Helpful Tip: Hang out in the plaza area in front of the church! There’s always something going on here, and you might be able to catch the church bells ringing! The church bells ring at all different times throughout the day and there is no set schedule, so we suggest you hang out in the plaza to try to capture the bells ringing. And check out the tons of restaurants and shops around this square.
  • Address: Plaza Principal S/N, Centro, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
San Miguel de Allende

2. Josephine’s Smoothies

  • We came here every day! These cold smoothies will keep you cool and refreshed while walking around warm SMA.
  • Helpful Tip: The owner, Lindsay is so friendly and can give you all of her secret tips for where the best food is, and how to make the most of your time in SMA. When you go, please tell her we said hi! And take a fun pic outside of her adorably painted smoothie store! Check them out on Insta, @josephines.mx
  • Address: Calle Maria, Grever 5, Guadalupe, San Miguel de Allende

3. Calle Aldama, Back of the famous pink church, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel

  • This is one of the most photographed places in SMA. When you’re here, it’s a must-see!
  • Helpful Tip: If you have time, head over to Parque Juarez, the town park, before or after you see this! It’s a fun area with basketball courts, playgrounds for kids, and a place where locals come to hang out, play, exercise, and walk their dogs.
  • Address: The entire street, Calle Aldama, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico (you can just put it in your GPS- it’s close to Parque Juarez, the city’s beautiful park)
San Miguel de Allende church

4. Escondido Place

  • Spend the day relaxing at Escondido Place, swimming in the natural hot springs, mini cave area, and in the multiple pools available. There is a restaurant area, or picnic tables if you want to bring in your own food.
  • Helpful Tip: It’s 150 pesos ($7.80) to enter for the entire day, from 8 a.m. to 5:30: p.m. There is also a spa area if you want to get a massage while there! You can take an uber or taxi here for around 120-180 pesos ($6-$9 USD). To get back to town, the front desk can call a taxi for you.
  • Address: San Miguel de Allende – Dolores Hidalgo Km 10, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

How to Get to San Miguel de Allende

The closest airport to San Miguel de Allende (SMA) is located about 1.5-3 hours away in Leon, Guanajuato. The airport is called Del Bajío International Airport, Aeropuerto Internacional de Guanajuato, and its code is BJX.

San Miguel de Allende street

But don’t worry! We’ll make it super easy for you on how to get to this charming town so that when you go, you’ll know exactly what to do and the best way to get here for your budget and time schedule!

1. Public bus transport

This is the cheapest way but could take longer than an Uber or taxi. But, if you’re not in a rush, this option could save you at least $40.

  • Go to the Right after you leave the airport, and you’ll see the Unebus bus bench. On the glass wall of the bench is a large painting of the Unebus bus schedule. So it’s easier for you, we’ve included the Unebus bus schedule here as well, which we were given when we went in March 2019.
  • Depending on the time your plane lands and the bus schedule, here are 3 options for you:

(a) Go straight to SMA on Unebus (best option- do this if your timing is right!); or

(b) Go to Guanajuato on the Unebus for approx. 50 pesos ($2.58 USD). At the Guanajuato bus terminal, go to the small booth near the bus parking and ask when the next buses are to San Miguel de Allende. We went on ETN, and highly recommend! ETN offers “Regular” or “VIP” buses. The “Regular” bus to SMA costs 117 pesos per person ($6 USD) and the “VIP” bus is direct, costs 170 pesos per person, ($8.80 USD). It’s 2 hours shorter to take the “VIP” bus, which is direct; or

(c) take Unebus to Silao for 25 pesos ($1.30 USD). At the station in Silao, take the bus to Guanajuato for 29 pesos ($1.50 USD). In Guanajuato, take the ETN bus to SMA.

Because of the time our flight arrived, we went to Silao first.

Helpful Tip: The time zone in Guanajuato is Mountain Time, so if you want to plan your options before you arrive, keep this in mind.

2. Uber (Lyft is still not used in Guanajuato)

  • Ubers from the airport to SMA cost around upwards of 580 MX pesos, $30 USD. It could be much more, depending on the time of day. Uber drivers can’t pick up riders inside the airport, so just go outside of the parking lot area to meet with your Uber driver.
  • Helpful Tip: The airport provides free unlimited wifi, so if you don’t have a cell phone plan for Mexico you can still do this using wifi.

3. Taxi (most expensive)

  • Although it’s the most expensive, this way is direct and maybe the shortest. Inside the airport, look for the Taxis Autorizados sign and tell them you want to go to SMA. They’ll give you a ticket, which you’ll give your taxi driver outside. It’s about 1.5 hours directly to SMA and may cost upwards of around 1,000 MX pesos, $51 USD.
  • You can also take a taxi to the Central de Autobuses de Guanajuato for around 500 pesos ($26). At the Guanajuato bus terminal, take the ETN bus to SMA.
San Miguel de Allende sunset

Let us know if you have any questions about SMA, where to stay, or other places to see. We’re always happy to share our Travel Tips with others who want to explore the world, and can’t wait to see your pics from your time in SMA! Enjoy visiting the best city in the world : )


Author Bio

Hi there! We’re Christina and Eric, two attorneys from San Diego, California who sold our home and everything we owned, quit our jobs at law firms and left the 9-5 “cage life” to travel the world and pursue a more fulfilling life for ourselves.

Together, we’ve travelled to 18 countries around the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, North America, and Africa.

Our goal is to inspire and empower you to redefine what is possible in life, to show that world travel is available for EVERYONE, and help others identify and eliminate the barriers that prevent you from truly living life to the fullest, and living life on your own terms.

For Travel Tips and secrets on every post, check Eric and Christina out on their: