Heaven on Earth – Munduk Moding PlantationKollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

You’ve probably seen Munduk Moding Plantation’s award-winning infinity pool many times on social media, but there’s more to this resort than just its pool. Three days at MMP was the perfect end to our Bali adventures- except we wish we allocated more time here because there’s still so much we haven’t done!

ABOUT MUNDUK MODING PLANTATION

Escape the crowds of South Bali and enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of North Bali. With Lovina Beach in the north and Menjangan in the northwest, Munduk Moding Plantation is surrounded by jungles, rice fields, and hidden waterfalls. It’s just a short drive to the Twin Lakes of Tamblingan and Buyan. Bedugul, where Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is located, is also close by.

MMP is not just a luxury resort- it’s an organic coffee plantation too. It is the only place in Bali offering luwak coffee harvested from the wild, unlike other plantations that inhumanely cage these animals. 

Apart from ethical farming practices, MMP gives back to the community by offering job opportunities to the local population. Most of their staff are recruited from the Gobleg and Munduk villages. In addition, MMP works with schools to get children involved in traditional dance, music, and crafts.

THE MUNDUK MODING PLANTATION EXPERIENCE

A chrysanthemum wreath, cold towel, and welcome drink await you in the lobby as you make your way through the garden path. After a swift check-in, you’re whisked away to your suite or villa in a golf cart. Make yourself at home and munch on fresh fruits while flipping through the MMP activity book.

Note: Every unit has a mobile phone for guests to call the front desk and to take on their adventures.

DAILY ACTIVITIES

Every evening, you’ll find a box of chocolates and a scroll in your villa. It contains a Balinese folklore (kind of like a bed time story!) along with a schedule of activities for the upcoming three days. These include yoga, bird watching, coffee roasting and cupping, kite making and flying, bamboo straw making, traditional Balinese dance performance, and traditional Balinese martial arts. You can even learn how to make towel animals and how to wear Balinese attire!

There’s an activity room on top of MiMPi Restaurant with a small gym, table tennis, and pool table. Still looking for more things to do? You can go riding around the plantation on one of four handsome horses.

SPA

We tried both the hot bamboo and hot stone Balinese massage. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to write home about in terms of the actual treatments- they felt a bit rushed. Nevertheless, it was still nice unwinding after a long day.

COMPLIMENTARY SHUTTLE

Munduk Moding Plantation offers free shuttle services to Munduk Waterfall and the Twin Lakes every morning at 9:30am. Shuttles to Bedugul leave at 12:30pm.

You can also request a driver for the day. Pricing is quite fair; it depends on the duration of your trip. For instance, a day tour (8hrs) costs 79USD.

Tip: Do not miss Banyumala Twin Falls!

DINING

A strong believer in sustainable agriculture, MMP grows their own fruits and veggies. MiMPi Restaurant serves Indonesian and fusion dishes, using organic, homegrown produce whenever possible.

Breakfast is served in the restaurant or in your own villa. Choose from Indonesian, Balinese, American, or Continental. Swing by at 4pm for afternoon tea- you can smell the freshly baked cookies from miles away!

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POOL

And finally, the incredibly IG-worthy 18m award-winning infinity pool. We were graced by the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets every day. If you’ve seen ‘Passengers’, remember that gorgeous scene where JLaw was swimming towards stars in that gravity-defying pool? Go for a swim at dawn- it’ll feel reminiscent of that scene as you glide towards the moon.

Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Sunset at MMP’s infinity pool

VILLAS AND SUITES

With only a handful of villas and suites (Garden Suite, 1-Bedroom Villa, 1-Bedroom Pool Villa, 2-Bedroom Coffee Villa, and 2-Bedroom Pool Villa) on 5 acres of land, guests have absolute peace and privacy. The only time when we saw other guests was at the pool and MiMPi Restaurant.

Note: There aren’t many rooms so book in advance!

Our beautiful 1-Bedroom Villa had huge glass panel doors on all sides, letting in lots of natural light. The warm interior is finished with hardwood floors and furniture, as well as marble floors in the bathroom. We could see rolling hills of lush vegetation from our king-size poster bed. On a clear day, the views extend out to the Java and Bali seas.

The bathroom is complete with a hand finished terrazzo bathtub and shower stall. A separate outdoor rainshower is steps away in a private garden. We even had his and hers sinks!

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Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $170USD+ for Garden Suites, $200USD+ for 1-Bedroom Villas, $290USD+ for 1-Bedroom Pool Villas, and $480USD+ for 2-Bedroom Pool Villas.
  • There’s also one 4-Bedroom Pool Villa for large groups or families.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • Because of the high altitude it can get chilly at night- bring layers!
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation Disclaimer: Many thanks to Munduk Moding Plantation for hosting our incredible stay. As always, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Luxury meets nature in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali + Jungle FishWhere to stay in Ubud - Chapung Se Bali + Jungle Fish

With so many resorts to choose from, “where to stay in Ubud?” can be a tough question to answer… until you feast your eyes on Chapung Se Bali, that is! It’s one of those resorts where once you’re there, you won’t want (and don’t need) to leave. You may have already heard of its famous infinity pool and open-air restaurant: Jungle Fish, also known as the beach-less beach club in the middle of a jungle.

Where to stay in Ubud: Chapung Se Bali + Jungle Fish

Location & Space

Sitting high above the Osh Valley you’ll find Chapung Se Bali tucked away in a lush jungle. It’s hard to believe this secluded paradise is only 10 minutes away from the hectic Ubud Centre, and steps away from the scenic Campuhan Ridge Walk. This makes it the perfect home base for exploring Bali as you’re in the center of it all.

Tip: The resort offers complimentary shuttles to Ubud Centre upon request. Pickup/drop-offs are at Ubud Palace.

Over the years, the resort has evolved with new facilities and finer aesthetics. On top of the famed Jungle Fish, Chapung Se Bali has its own fine-dining restaurant, amenities room with a pool table and bar, and spa facilities. It even has its own mini rice terrace! The whole property screams luxury with an emphasis on natural wood and dark tones.

Note: The resort is undergoing construction in some areas as they continue with their improvements. (i.e. new gym with TRX training and a new pool)

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali’s own rice terrace

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali’s own rice terrace

Villas & Suites

Chapung Se Bali offers four kinds of villas and suites: Deluxe Suites, Deluxe Pool Suites, 1-Bedroom Pool Villas, and 2-Bedroom Pool Villas. After touring all of them, we can safely conclude that you can’t go wrong with any room category. While the villas are more intimate, the suites offer an incredible jungle view.

We stayed in one of the brand new Deluxe Pool Suites and fell head over heels for the open floor plan and luxurious decor. The gigantic sliding doors let in plenty of natural sunlight during the day. Complete with a private plunge pool and day bed, contemporary furnishings, spacious living area, walk-through closet, and king-size bed, these suites are probably bigger than our apartment back home!

Where to stay in Ubud – Deluxe Pool Suite at Chapung Se Bali

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud
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Where to stay in Ubud – Deluxe Pool Suite’s private plunge pool

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud 1

Chapung Spa

Pamper yourself with a rejuvenating treatment (or two) at Chapung Spa. Many of the products used are natural and homemade. We were blown away by our 60min Balinese Massage with Suda and Dewa. I was a little iffy about having a male therapist but Suda’s massage was ah-mazing. Our treatment ended with a fruit salad and warm cinnamon tea.

Highly trained therapists aside, the setting is breathtaking! Birds chirping. River flowing. The treatment room looks into endless greens, letting in a refreshing breeze.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Spa at Chapung Se Bali

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Di Abing Restaurant

Candle-lit tables fill this open-air restaurant with an incredible jungle view. From the moment we entered we knew it was going to be a fabulous meal. Picture an upscale restaurant in your home city with a 5* rating  on Yelp that’s in the $$$$ price range. That’s Di Abing- quality, romantic fine-dining except it’s at an affordable price.

Budi was extremely attentive- perhaps the most professional server we’ve encountered in Bali. The mister and I shared the pulled beef rendang, crispy pork belly, rib-eye steak, and chocolate lava cake. Every bite was better than the last!

It’s a shame this restaurant is not more frequented since it’s not in Ubud Centre. The quality of food and service here is definitely one of the best we’ve had in Bali.

Tip: The restaurant opens at 6pm; go early to enjoy the view before night falls.

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Jungle Fish Restaurant

Breakfast is served in your room (à la carte) or at Jungle Fish Restaurant (buffet style). Do both! Like Di Abing, diners can swoon over spectacular views while they indulge in delicious food.

Jungle Fish

This jungle beach club is a “must-do” when you’re in Ubud. Guests of Chapung Se Bali can avoid the afternoon rush and get first dibs on seating. Grab a daybed, order some food, slather on sunscreen, and soak up the sun at this breathtaking infinity pool.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Jungle Fish Pool Bar serves delicious pasta and burgers! Dont miss the chocolate milkshake

Where to stay in Ubud - Jungle Fish at Chapung Se Bali

Where to stay in Ubud – Jungle Fish at Chapung Se Bali

Where to stay in Ubud - Jungle Fish at Chapung Se Bali

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali + Jungle Fish

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $350CAD+ for Deluxe Suites, $420CAD+ for Deluxe Pool Suites, $600CAD+ for 1-Bedroom Villas, and $700CAD+ for 2-Bedroom Villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • Call the front desk in advance to book the complimentary shuttle service to/from Ubud Centre.
  • Entry to Jungle Fish is free for guests, or 150,000IDR for visitors.
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Where to stay in Ubud - Chapung Se Bali + Jungle FishDisclaimer: Many thanks to Chapung Se Bali for hosting our amazing stay. As always, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Perfect base to explore Nusa Penida and Nusa LembonganKollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Just a short ferry ride from Sanur are the Nusa Islands. We missed out on this part of Bali last year so we were eager to cross it off our list this time! Deciding on where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Penida was easy- a quick search using any hotel booking engine will show you Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa sitting pretty at #1. It became clear to us that this ranking is no joke from the moment we landed in Denpasar.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

4:30pm. Our driver, , had waited over an hour for us but we were still in the immigrations line. Worried we weren’t going to make our 5:30pm boat ride from Sanur we called Luca, the bar manager, who got in touch with Putu and Rocky Fast Boat. By the time we hopped on the car it was already 5pm. It was a bad day for traffic at DPS- it took us an hour just to get out of the airport!

6pm. Putu had spent the last hour driving as fast as he could through that crazy Bali traffic and begging the boat to wait for us. We were still on the road when the last boat sailed. Our hearts sank. The general manager called and said we’d have to stay in Sanur for the night before catching the earliest boat over to Lembongan the following day.

Then a miracle happened. “Lembongan! Lembongan!” Bursting with joy, Putu put the pedal to the metal and told us to get ready to run- a boat was waiting for us at Sanur! It was 6:11pm and we were the only 2 passengers on the way to Nusa Lembongan. By 7pm we were sipping on our welcome drinks at Batu Karang!

Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida

Location & Space

Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa is footsteps away from the speedboat harbour, where Rocky and Scoot dock. The famous yellow bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan lies on the other side of the resort, just a short ride away. You can reach Nusa Penida within 15 minutes by speedboat from the yellow bridge. This makes Batu Karang the perfect home base for exploring the Nusa Islands.

Because the property sits on a slope, all villas and common grounds have a breathtaking view of crystal clear turquoise waters. Golf carts are available to transport guests who have rooms up the hill and those requiring mobility assistance.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Villas at Batu Karang

Facilities & Amenities

Get pampered at the Lulur Spa after a long day of exploring the Nusa Islands, or chill by the pool. Two is better than one, but what about 3 pools, including one with a swim-up bar? Those looking to stay in shape on vacation can take advantage of the gym and steam room. A day lounge is also available to facilitate early arrivals and late departures. There’s even a mini movie theatre!

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Villas & Suites

Whether it’s a double room or a 3-bedroom villa, all 6 different room categories capture the essence of being home away from home. The villas and suites are luxurious and spacious; designs reflect traditional Balinese architecture with a modern flair.

We stayed in the air-conditioned 1 bedroom villa, furnished with a comfy king size bed with mosquito net, personal safe, workstation, and plush robes. The large balcony was perfect for yoga morning sessions and relaxation on the daybed. On top of a fully stocked mini bar and coffee/tea-maker, complimentary bottles of drinking water are replenished daily. Our favourite part was the private outdoor shower and beautifully hand carved bathtub.

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Drink & Eat

Muntigs Bar & Restaurant, The Deck Cafe & Bar, The Howff, The Balcony- all of Batu Karang’s on-site bars and restaurants offer a stunning view of the beach and Mount Agung in the distance. Grab a seat and enjoy a beautiful sunset over delicious food and drinks. Luca and his staff will take care of your dining experience; Wiran and Ray really stood out as fantastic servers.

Breakfast is complimentary at Muntigs or The Deck- the Islander Bowl was so good that I had it every morning! Muntigs also offers fine dining in a gorgeous setting. The seafood laksa and beef rendang set the standards high for the rest of our trip.

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Muntigs Restaurant at Batu Karang

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Our personal favourite were the drinks and tapas at The Howff Whisky, Gin, & Wine Bar, a romantic speakeasy tucked away from the island bustle.

For a more laidback meal head to The Deck; their burgers are finger-lickin’ good! Happy Hour is from 5 – 6:30pm every day with 25% off selected cocktails and beers. There’s also live music with DJ’s spinning from 5-8pm at Sunday Sunset Sessions.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $260CAD+ for Twin Rooms, $290CAD+ for Double Rooms, and $325CAD+ for 1 Bedroom Villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • WiFi signal is strong throughout the whole resort!
  • Rocky Fast Boat is the recommended boat service from Sanur; 500,000IDR for a round-trip transfer. The resort can arrange this for you.
  • Pickup/drop-off in mainland Bali is available for a fee.
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa for hosting us. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido in Palawan

Hurricane Hagupit swept across the Philippines days before our flight to El Nido in 2014. We shrugged off the sunk costs and tried our luck again in 2016. When we arrived at Mactan-Cebu Airport to check in for our flight, we were told our flight was canceled. Dammit, what does it freaking take to visit this place?! We eventually made it there the following day and realized it was all worth it! Here are 20 photos to inspire you to visit El Nido in Palawan, Philippines.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the Philippines

20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Island hopping is a must!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Town proper from the sea

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Marvel at the countless islands and rock formations

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The ocean has never been so inviting!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Have breakfast with views overlooking the Corong Corong Bay

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Indulge in views like this from the Taraw Peak

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

And this

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Sun tan on this soft white sand beach

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

…as long as you bring sunscreen!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Go island hopping on your own private banca and avoid crowds

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Explore this natural aquarium

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Enjoy sunsets while swinging in a hammock on your balcony

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Dive into crystal clear turquoise waters

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The snorkeling conditions here are pristine!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Live among trees in a cottage with an infinity pool

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Motorbike to the famous twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The Twin Beaches of El Nido: Nacpan and Calitang

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Go kayaking in the Big and Small Lagoons

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Get your hair fried and skin burnt…. worth it!

Still not convinced? Check out our Youtube video:

Stay tuned for our guide to visiting El Nido comfortably and efficiently without breaking your bank!

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Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

24 hours in Hualien and Taroko National Park in TaiwanKollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Oh, Taiwan. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! Taiwan is known for its mouthwatering food and unparalleled hospitality. Visitors rush to see the iconic Taipei 101, but there’s more to Taiwan than just Taipei. The true beauty of this island country lies on the east coast, where plains are forever green and where mountains meet the sea. 24 hours in Hualien and Taroko National Park doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it’s totally doable (without being rushed) if you plan carefully.

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

24 hours in Hualien – How do I even get there?

Chances are, you’re heading to Hualien from Taipei. Cities and counties in Taiwan are connected by the Taiwan Railways Administration, with the fastest being the Tze-Chiang Limited Express trains. Taroko Express and Puyuma Express are both reservation-only Tze-Chiang Limited Express trains that run from Taipei to Hualien. Duration and fares are the same- they’re just owned by different companies.

Tip: Buy your tickets ahead of time; you can do so up to 2 weeks in advance. The Puyuma line is very popular and sells out quickly, especially on weekends and national holidays. You can pick up your tickets at a post office or at any convenience store (7-Eleven, Family Mart, Hi-Life, OK Mart); make sure you have your passport with you.

Read more: Social responsibility at its best – Horizon Inn Taipei

How do I get around in Hualien?

If you’re only interested in checking out Taroko National Park, there are tours and hop-on hop-off buses that do just that. However, I strongly advise against them because let’s be honest- ain’t nobody got time for that! Rent a moped instead and explore the gorge on your own. You’ll be able to go at your own pace and stop whenever, wherever you want.

If you’re in a group of 2-4, aren’t comfortable with scootering around, or are pressed for time… just hire a private driver! We’re all about efficiency here so I highly recommend this option. This allowed us to customize our own itinerary and visit sites outside of Taroko.

Tip: Our driver no longer offers services but there are plenty of recommendations on Tripadvisor. The rate for an English-speaking driver is fairly standard at around $3,000NTD/day (around $100USD).

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

What can I see and do within 24 hours in Hualien?

Qixing Beach

QiXing means ‘seven stars’ in Mandarin. Once a thriving fishing village, this area is now home to Qixing Beach and the Hualien Air Force Base. If you visit at night you can even star-gaze! Visitors are able to see all seven stars of the Big Dipper (hence the name).

You won’t find any sand here- this pebble beach is considered one of the most beautiful in Taiwan. The waves and currents are too strong for a swim but the bike trail is perfect for a beach-side cruise. We spent half an hour here and watched in awe as an F-16 figher jet took off.

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Qingshui Cliff

20 minutes away from QiXing Beach is the QingShui Cliff, arguably one of the most stunning sights in Taiwan. Dropping vertically into the Pacific Ocean, the cliff is over 3,000 feet high and stretches more than 12 miles along the Suao-Hualien highway.

Tip: There’s an observation deck once you exit the Chongde Tunnel. Here’s your chance to snap that IG-worthy shot!

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Shakadang trail

Also known as the ‘Mystery Valley’, this was once a narrow path used only by aboriginals- the Taroko people. When Taiwan was under Japanese rule in the 1940’s, the Japanese broadened the trail to transport equipment in order to build the Liwu Power Plant. Marvel at the marble stones and Shakadang River as you explore the past of the Taroko tribe.

Tip: This is by no means a strenuous hike; it’s more of a stroll stretching more than 4km that’ll take you 3-4hrs round-trip. You won’t miss out on much even if you turn back before you reach the end.

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Lushui and Baiyang Trail

If you’re interested in more easy hikes check out the Lushui and Baiyang Trails. The scenery is more or less the same as Shakadang Trail.

Eternal Spring Shrine

Modeled after a famous temple from the Tang Dynasty, this shrine commemorates 225 veterans who lost their lives constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway. Visitors can’t enter the shrine; you can only view this picturesque landmark from afar.

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Swallow’s Grotto

Weaving in and out of a mountain, this trail overlooks a deep gorge and powerful stream. Your driver will drop you off at the entrance while you make your way to the other end on foot. A safety helmet is not required but just put it on anyway. It’s free! This area is prone to falling rocks; better safe than sorry!

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Dongdamen Night Market

This humongous night market will probably be the highlight of your 24 hours in Hualien. Come hungry! The food scene in Taiwan is like no other and I wrote about this in another post. You’ll be able to cross some dishes off that list at this night market.

Dongdamen Night Market has a section dedicated to traditional Taiwanese snacks, another featuring aboriginal cuisines, and a third with foods from mainland China. There’s even another smaller night market within Dongdamen… nightmarketception is a thing.

Tip: Listen to your Taiwanese homegirl and try these 3 stands: stinky tofu sticks, deep fried egg scallion pancake, and a variety of barbeque skewers- all pictured below because none of it is in English. If you see anything with signs in English, assume it’s a tourist trap.

Read more: The Ultimate Food Guide to Taiwan

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Where should I stay in Hualien?

Echo Villa is where it’s at! You’ll see what I mean by Taiwanese hospitality once you meet the host. Situated right next to a forest, this glass house is the perfect hideaway. I wish we spent more than 24 hours in Hualien because I adored our little B&B so much. There are only 5 rooms, each tastefully decorated with a style of its own.

Homemade breakfast is served in your room every morning. Echo Villa is 20 minutes from city center but trust me, once you’re here you won’t want to leave. There’s also a short trail (20-30min walk) leading you to a hidden waterfall.

Tip: We were in the Stellar Attic and loved it. It’s almost always sold out due to its popularity. Booking opens 2 months in advance so get on it!

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24 hours in Hualien – sample itinerary

7AM   –   train from Taipei to Hualien
9AM   –   arrive in Hualien, head to QiXing Beach (七星潭)
11AM  –   stop by the 7-ELEVEN before the Taroko National Park entrance for a quick lunch
Noon  –   QingShui Cliff (清水斷崖), Shakadang Trail (砂卡噹步道), Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠), Swallow Grotto (燕子口)
4PM   –   check in at your B&B, wash up and rest before dinner
6PM   –   pig out at Dongdaemun Night Market (花蓮東大門觀光夜市)

Don’t miss Mukumugi Valley and Sixty Rock Mountain if you’re able to spend more than 24 hours in Hualien. They’re a bit out of the way so you’ll need an extra day or two.

Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

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Kollecting Koordinates - 24 hours in Hualien

Planning your visit to the sacred island of Miyajima, JapanKollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

If you’re visiting the Kansai region of Japan, chances are you’re including at least one of Kobe, Nara, Hiroshima, and Miyajima in your itinerary. All of these can be easily accessed because Japan’s vast transit network is ridiculously efficient (much like everything else in Japan)! Why not escape from the hustle and bustle of city life with a Miyajima day trip?

Itsukushima, more commonly known as Miyajima, is said to be an island where gods lived. Considered one of the most scenic spots in Japan, Miyajima is not only romantic but also family-friendly. AS and I brought Mama Ko along on this journey and we had a fantastic famjam time. We connected on a whole ‘nother level as we stepped back in time on this sacred island; the whole place radiates tranquility! I assure you you’ll suffer from a serious case of FOMO if you don’t make this Miyajima day trip a priority.

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima Ryokan

Getting to Miyajima

Tip: Because we only visited Kyoto, Osaka, and Miyajima on this trip, the JR-West Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass was enough. Find out which JR Pass best suits your needs depending on where else you’ll be visiting in Japan.

From KIX – Kansai International Airport

Take the JR Haruka Limited Express train from KIX to Shin-Osaka station (50min).

From Osaka

From Shin-Osaka station, take the Sanyo Shinkansen to Hiroshima station. This 90-minute journey will fly by because the Shinkansen is so darn fast and comfortable.

From Kyoto

If you’re making the Miyajima day trip from Kyoto, keep in mind that it’s close to 3 hours, one way. From Kyoto station, take the direct Hikari train to Hiroshima station.

Read more: How to see Kyoto in 2 days

FROM Hiroshima

Take the JR Sanyo Line, in the Iwakuni direction, to Miyajima-guchi station (30min). Follow the signs to the ferry and hop on for a 10 minute ride over to the island.

Tip: While it’s not okay to eat on most trains in Japan, you can on the Shinkansen. Shin-Osaka station has tons of mouthwatering food stalls; grab a bento (and a giant Pablo cheesecake) and enjoy on the ride.

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

What to do and see on your Miyajima day trip

O-torii (The Great Gate) and Itsukushima Shrine

This giant vermilion gate, or torii, is the icon of Miyajima. The one we see today has withstood many typhoons and earthquakes since 1875, and is the eighth generation since the first was erected in 1547. Depending on the tide, you’ll either be able to walk to the pillars of the o-torii or see it floating in the sea from afar.

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

A stone’s throw away from the o-torii is the Itsukushimajinja.  Numerous buildings and possessions from this Shinto shrine complex have been designated as National Treasures by the Japanese government. At high tide, this UNESCO World Heritage Site appears to be floating on water. The current structure was built in 1571; however, the shrine dates back to 593. Due to fires and typhoons, many restorations and constructions have taken place since the first buildings were constructed.

Tip: You can’t enter the shrine after sunset but both the o-torii and Itsukushima-jinja are illuminated every night until 11pm. The two vermilion structures paint the perfect backdrop, so put on your yukata and go for an evening stroll.

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Goju-no-to (Five-storied Pagoda) and Senjokaku (Hall of 1000 Tatami Mats)

Constructed more than 500 years ago, these are both at the entrance of the Itsukushima Shrine. At nearly 28 meters high, this pagoda once enshrined the Buddha of Medicine. Visitors can’t enter the pavilion but this fusion of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles is stunning from any angle, any time of day.

Senjokaku originally served as a Buddhist library to hold sutra chants. The interior is decorated with countless ema, or Japanese wooden tablets with votive images. It’s the largest structure in Miyajima but it was actually never completed.

DSC05479

Mount Misen Ropeway

Indulge in aerial views of the Seto Inland Sea and Miyajima’s ancient forests as you glide through the sky in a ropeway gondola. You’ll have to hike another 1km or so to get to the summit, Mount Misen Observatory, where you can enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of the surrounding islands and sea.  Alternatively, Shishiiwa Observatory (right next to the ropeway station) also offers a great view.

Daisho-inn

Located at the foot of Mount Misen is one of the most significant temples of Shingon Buddhism. There are no crowds here, which makes the already spiritual experience even more spellbinding. You don’t have to understand much of the religious aspects to appreciate Daisho-in. Maybe it’s the serenity and stillness of the forest or maybe it’s the cute jizo statues watching over us, but we’ve never felt more at peace.

Tip: You’ll see a row of spinning wheels with sutra inscriptions on the steps. Turn them as you walk up; it is said that you can benefit from the blessings!

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

Tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs)

A small, white and fluffy mammal strolled by as we were walking back to our ryokan late at night. We’ve never seen anything like it so we kept our distance until it sniffed and wiggled its way back into the forest. It wasn’t until we asked our host that we realized we had encountered a tanuki, or Japanese raccoon dogs. They’re usually dark brown in colour, but we were lucky seeing an extremely rare white tanuki! How rare? Think 1st Edition Charizard Pokemon Card.

Native to Japan, tanuki look like a cross between a big Pomeranian and tiny baby polar bear. Adorable, right? Wait ’til you hear about their gigantic ballsacks! In legends and folklore, tanuki are masters of shape-shifting and have huge scrotums symbolizing prosperity. If you’re a Studio Ghibli fan, you probably remember the movie Pom Poko where tanuki use their enormous scrotums to protect their community. Don’t worry, their balls are quite proportional in real life.

Sika deer

Hundreds of wild deer roam freely on the streets of Miyajima. Thought to be messengers of the Shinto gods, they’re considered sacred and killing one was once punishable by death. Ironically, many of them now suffer from malnutrition and starvation. In 2008 city officials prohibited the feeding of these deer as a form of population control. I’m not sure if the ban was lifted but we did see this dude feeding them crackers.

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima day trip

What to eat on your Miyajima day trip

Miyajima is famous for its fresh oysters and conger eels caught from the Seto Inland Sea (different from the eel in unagi-don). You’ll find the best anago-meshi (grilled conger eel on rice) at Ueno, which is a restaurant in betwen the Miyajimaguchi JR Station and ferry terminal. Want oysters? Head to Kakiya for fresh-to-death bihalves, prepared any way you like, over a glass of wine.

Don’t leave the island without trying some momiji-manjuThese are freshly baked maple-leaf shaped castella with a sweet filling. You can choose from matcha, custard, chestnut, or red bean paste. They’re the perfect souvenior as they’re tasty and packaged in beautiful boxes.

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima Ryokan

If you’re staying at a ryokan you’ll also get to feast on Kaiseki-ryori (traditional multi-course Japanese meal). This is one of the reasons why you should stay overnight!

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima Ryokan

Staying overnight in Miyajima

I know, I know. This is a post on a Miyajima day trip but I urge you to spend at least 1 night in a ryokan! Not only will you truly experience Japanese hospitality, but you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the island in the quiet mornings and evenings, without the daytrip crowds. We highly recommend Watanabe-inn!

READ MORE: Our first ryokan experience in Japan

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12 Must-Do’s for first-timers in Bali, IndonesiaKollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Kintamani

Some people say Bali is overrated and that it’s lost its magic over the years. I say those people must be on something 😛 The list of things to do in Bali for first-timers can go on forever, you’ll never run out of things to do! We spent a week in Bali and only scratched the surface of this paradise- there’s still so much left to be explored.

Bali’s one of those places that made us go “Okay, we’re definitely coming back”… and we are! We loved it so much that we just booked our flights to revisit this fall. There’s still so much we want to accomplish but first, here are 12 of many, many things to do in Bali for first-timers.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Kintamani

12 things to do in Bali for first-timers

1. DON’T try the Kopi Luwak, or cat poo coffee

Known to be the most expensive coffee in the world, it’s actually brewed from the feces of an Indonesian cat-like animal called the civet. They feed on coffee cherries, magic happens in their digestive system, and out comes these ridiculously priced coffee beans. However, most coffee plantations in Bali force feed these animals and cage them up in appalling conditions. Perhaps it’s not as intense as the making of foie gras but still pretty damn inhumane.

2. Visit rice terraces and rice fields

One of the main things to do in Bali for first-timers is to visit rice paddies, and Tegalalang is the obvious choice. If you want to avoid the crowds, head to Jatiluwih instead. But really, there are rice fields everywhere! We saw so many driving through the rural areas of Bali.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Rice Fields

Tegalallang Rice Terraces

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Rice Fields

rice fields outside Karsa Spa Ubud

3. Stay at a villa, live like a king

You can live like a king for the price of a 3-star hotel in metropolitan cities (i.e. Vancouver, New York). Ours at The Amala came with a private plunge pool, outdoor jacuzzi tub, and a steam room- all within our own suite! You can easily spend a day just relaxing, doing absolutely nothing.

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

breakfast at our private pool at The Amala

4. Make friends with monkeys

Or not, they might have rabies and most likely carry other diseases. Remembering what our travel doctor said, we tried our best to keep our distance. It was awesome seeing so many monkeys monkeying around because they’re so smart. A baby monkey tried to steal my clutch while another little dude tried to pickpocket AS!

We only visited the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, but our driver said that the ones at Uluwatu Temple are a lot more feisty. Regardless, keep your hands to yourself and your personal belongings close or hidden.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Monkey Forest

little thief

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Monkey Forest

5. Chill out at infinity pools

Do you like infinity pools overlooking the jungle or do you prefer listening to the ocean while you sip on a tropical drink? The choice is yours depending on where you stay. You can still find stunning infinity pools at reasonably priced resorts even if you don’t have a fat wallet to afford the Hanging Gardens. If your resort or villa doesn’t come with an infinity pool, you can simply spend a day at Jungle Fish.

Kollecting Koordinates - Puri Gangga Resort

infinity pool at Puri Gangga Resort Bali

infinity pool at Bisma Eight Ubud

6. Go temple hopping

Visiting temples is one of the top things to do in Bali for first-timers. While Indonesia has a Muslim-majority population, the predominant religion in Bali is Balinese Hinduism, which is a fusion of Buddhism and Shivaism. Pura, or Balinese temples, integrate core beliefs of Hinduism and Indian spiritual ideas.

Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Tirta Gangga, Goa Gajah, Ulun Danu Beratan, and Besakih are some of the most popular ones. Because these temples are scattered throughout Bali, you’ll have to group them by region and plan your itinerary accordingly so you’re not wasting the whole day on the road. 

Pura Lempuyang is by far our favourite one. It’s waaay out in the east but the scenery at the ‘Gateway to Heaven’ is second to none.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Pura Lempuyang

Gateway to Heaven at Pura Lempuyang

7. Pig out on healthy delicious food

Using a variety of spices, fresh veggies, and meats, there’s a hint of Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian flair in Balinese food. Our favourite dish is probably the glass noodles at Bambu Restaurant in Seminyak.

Because it’s a tropical island, Bali is loaded with tons of fresh fruits and veggies. Lots of restaurants serve organic cuisine using only fresh local ingredients, making healthy eating very easy. Earth Cafe and Kafe Ubud are perfect examples!

8. Always chase waterfalls

Home to many stunning waterfalls, Bali is the place to prove those TLC girls wrong. Some waterfalls you can swim in, some you can slide down, and others you can only watch from afar. Just look at how many there are!

Our favourite is the Nungnung Waterfall. We had to descend down around 500 steps to reach this oasis, which means it was a strenuous hike back up. It was totally worth it though, because we had this all to ourselves!

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Nungnung Waterfall

9. Take a cooking class

Learn how to make local cuisines from scratch! We learned how to cook a 3-course Balinese meal at The Amala: lawar salad, tum ikan, and dadar gulung.

10. Get pampered, treat yoself

Massages are dirt cheap here- without losing quality! Most resorts have an on-site spa. Many also offer a complimentary 30min massage when you book a stay with them.

Our favourite is Karsa Spa in Ubud. Surrounded by rice fields, its idyllic location is perfect for some R&R. The best part? A 60min massage is only 160,000IDR, which is around $15CAD! A flower bath can be added for an additional 160,000IDR.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Spa

flower bath at Karsa Spa in Ubud

11. Go scuba diving

I legit thought I was going to drown when I went diving the first time in Oahu but I’m so glad I gave it another shot in Bali. We got PADI certified last spring with Bali Aqua and it was one of the most surreal experiences ever. I’d have to say that diving is one of the best things to do in Bali for first-timers.

We checked out the USS Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben, swam with manta rays in Nusa Penida, and were carried by the currents through a giant aquarium while drift diving in Nusa Lembongan.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Manta Point

mantas in Nusa Penida

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Shipwreck

shipwreck dive in Tulamben

12. Catch the Mount Batur sunrise

If you can wake up at 2am for a hike, you’ll be rewarded with a majestic 360-degree view of the sunrise on the summit of Mount Batur. Or if you’re lazy like us, just ask a driver to take you to Kintamani. The sunrise seen from here is still gorgeous, no?

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Sunrise

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Sunrise

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8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the PhilippinesKollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Cebu - Sunset

Ahhh, the Philippines… Where the sun’s so hot that it hurts and the water’s so clear it looks like the pool. The first choice that comes to mind when people are picking a destination in the Philippines is usually Boracay or Palawan. While Cebu doesn’t have the white sandy beaches of Boracay nor the limestone cliffs and islands of Palawan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this amazing island. With so many things to do in Cebu, you’ll never want to leave once you get there.

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Lantern Festival in My Motherland – Taiwan!Kollecting Koordinates - Lantern Festival

This post about the Taiwan Lantern Festival is sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

If you didn’t know already, I was born in Taiwan and I can’t praise my motherland enough. The food is to die for and the people are one of the friendliest in the world! What better way to experience authentic Taiwanese culture and hospitality than to visit the Taiwan Lantern Festival?

Also known as 元宵節 (Yuan Xiao Jie), it’s considered one of the most significant festivals in Taiwan. The first full moon of the Chinese New Year shines on the 15th day of the first lunar month- this is exactly when the Lantern Festival takes place. You can say that it’s the grand finale of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival!

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

Image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

History and Background of the Taiwan Lantern Festival

元 (yuan) refers to the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and 宵 (xiao) refers to ‘night’. In a nutshell, the Lantern Festival symbolizes unity, prosperity, and new beginnings. The whole idea is to celebrate the coming of spring and a fresh start to the year ahead.

So how did the Lantern Festival come about in the first place? There are tons of legends and myths surrounding the origin of this festival. Some say the celebrations are to ward off evil, others say these festivities welcome deities. One legend talks about pleasing the Gods, another explains that firecrackers and red lanterns are to distract an angry emperor.

Whichever story you believe, this important event is where the Taiwanese gather with their loved ones to welcome a brand new year filled with happiness and good fortune.

Festivities include making lanterns, solving riddles, and eating 湯圓 (tangyuan), which are glutinous rice balls with sweet or savoury fillings. Growing up in Taiwan, it was a yearly tradition for my family to gather at my grandparents’ house in ChiaYi to make sesame flavoured tangyuan from scratch. The kids would run around with decorative lanterns and play with firecrackers, under adult supervision of course!

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

One of my favourite desserts: tang yuan! It’s usually served hot in a sweet soup but you can find this cool twist at Tong Hua night market!

Taiwan Lantern Festival

The first Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in 1990. Since 2001, the official national Taiwan Lantern Festival has been hosted in different cities every year, with each year being bigger and better.

This annual event features dazzling laser and light displays, parades, live music, and various performances. If you’ve been wanting to watch lion and dragon dances, acrobatic acts, fireworks, and folk art skits all in one place, this is the place to do it! Visitors can also check out booths selling traditional handicrafts and snacks.

YunLin County in the mid-western part of Taiwan has been selected as the host of the 2017 festival, which marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. The venue will be decked out with lanterns, lights, and art installations, including a gigantic rooster lantern installation at the exhibit!

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

The giant zodiac installation last year- Year of the Monkey! Image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Sky Lantern Festival in Ping Xi

Running concurrently is the Sky Lantern Festival in Ping Xi, a small village in New Taipei City in northern Taiwan. People from all over the world visit Ping Xi and Shi Fen year-round to release sky lanterns with their wishes written on them.

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival - Sky Lanterns

My friend and her hubby at Shi Fen station. Photo cred: Angel at Also There’s This

During the actual Lantern Festival, thousands attend this one-of-a-kind Sky Lantern Festival after dark to launch lanterns into the night. Imagine countless glowing lanterns slowly rising and lighting up the black sky with everyone’s hopes and dreams!

2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival – Event Info

Event Page:  Taiwan Lantern Festival
Dates: February 11 – 19, 2017
Location of the 2 exhibits:

  • Between the HSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) YunLin Station and the Agricultural Ecological Park (Map)
  • BeiGang township – surrounding areas of ZhongShan Rd and the Tourist Bridge (Map)

For more information, please visit Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s official website or check out their Facebook page.

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

Image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Heading to Taiwan? Make sure you try these must-eat dishes while you’re there!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

How to See Kyoto in 2 DaysKollecting Koordinates - Kyoto

This little blog of mine is all about making the most out of limited travel time. Now, you obviously won’t be able to explore every little corner of Kyoto, but you’ll be able to hit up most of the must-see’s in just under 48 hours. Impossible? Nah. Ambitious? Just slightly. But if Mama Ko can do it, you can too! Here’s our comprehensive Kyoto 2 day itinerary.

This ain’t Mama Ko’s first rodeo in the Kansai region of Japan- having been here many times before, she told us Kyoto is even more breathtaking when it’s cherry blossom season or when it’s decked out in fall foliage. What a show off. Don’t mind her- Kyoto is beautiful regardless of the season.

 

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Fushimi Inari

 

What you need for this Kyoto 2 day itinerary:

  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Bus map of Kyoto – you should be able to grab one of these from the reception desk at your hotel or any info booth, or you can download the PDF here. This baby is gold- so listen to Gandalf and keep it secret, keep it safe
  • Base yourself at a hotel/Airbnb/cardboard box within walkable distance to both a major bus hub and Keihan Railway stop. We stayed at Piece Hostel Sanjo which is close by Shijo Karasuma and Sanjo Station.
  • Transportation:  ¥500‎ for a 1-day bus pass (enter through the rear door and exit through the front door; pay upon exit) and ¥210 for train fare (fares vary depending on where you stay)
  • Optional: Travel buddies with a good sense of humour (brownie points for taking your parents)

— Day 1 of Kyoto 2 day itinerary—

Arashiyama

Get your butt on a bus and make your way towards Arashiyama (left side of this trusty map). Get off at Arashiyama Tenryuji-mae, which literally means “in front of Tenryu-ji“. You’ll eventually end up in the bamboo grove after you make your way through the gardens.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Arashiyama bamboo

If you’re down to check out more temples and shrine compounds, there are a few you can choose from after you exit through the bamboo path. (i.e. Jojakko-jiNison-inGio-Ji ) If you’re ready to kick it (or if you’re traveling with your mum who doesn’t give a shit about temples and shrines), just follow the signs which will lead you back to the main road where the bus stop is.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Arashiyama bamboo

Read more: Our first ryokan experience in Japan

Kinkaku-ji

The easiest way to get to Kinkaku-ji from Arashiyama by bus is to take the 11 and transfer at Yamagoe Nakacho for the 59. Get off at Kinkakuji-mae and ta-da, you’re there!

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Kinkakuji

The grounds are gorgeous but this was by far the most crowded place we’ve visited in Kansai. Watch out for the hordes of Japanese students on school field trips and (some very classless) tourists. Some ajumma shoved me, quite hard actually, just so she could get a closer look at the Golden Pavilion. Ruuuuude.

Kiyomizu-dera

There are a couple of different ways to get from Kinkaku-ji to Kiyomizu-dera. We got on the 205 and transferred at Shijo Kawaramachi for the 207. Hop off at Kiyomizu-michi and follow the signs.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Kiyomizudera

If you wanna get fancy for photo opps you can head to a kimono rental store where they’ll do your hair and dress you up. If you’re peasants like us, just continue uphill in your peasant clothes. You might not be as kawaii but your photos will turn out just fine.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Kiyomizudera

The Main Hall and Kiyomizu Stage were built using a traditional Japanese method of construction, with wooden pillars and without a single nail! But don’t worry, it’s hella sturdy- it has withstood hundreds of disasters over centuries like a champ.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Kiyomizudera

Don’t forget to visit the Jishu Jinja Shrine to make a love wish! Given we were only 1 year into this supposedly lifelong marriage, I had to jump on the prayer bandwagon.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Kiyomizudera

Am I doing this right?

Legends say if you’re able to walk from one of these stone to the other that’s 10m away with your eyes closed, your wishes will come true. Tons of Japanese students cheered each other on as they made their way across. Awww young love is so cute.

Gion

Take the bus back to Gion and have dinner there. If you’re lucky you might even see a geisha!  There are hundreds of restaurants and pubs in this area but don’t get too wasted (easy, tiger). You’ll want to wake up early the next morning to beat the crowds.

 

— Day 2 of Kyoto 2 day itinerary —

Fushimi-inari Taisha

We left our hotel at around 7am and arrived at Fushimi Inari station via the Keihan Railway by 7:30am. It was dope because we had the whole place to ourselves.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Fushimi Inari

It takes around 2-3hrs to hike (stroll, really, the stairs aren’t bad at all) through over 10,000 of these red gates. By the time we made it back down the mountain the whole plaza was packed. A complete 180 from what we saw early in the morning. You’ll thank yourself for not drinking that extra shot the night before.

Read more: Planning your visit to the sacred island of Miyajima, Japan

Nishiki Market

Feast your eyes (and stomach) on this 400-yr old strip of shops and restaurants. You’ll find anything and everything food-related in this buzzing market. Mama Ko had a blast eating her way through these five blocks. This octopus with a quail egg in its head was her favourite.

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Nishiki Market

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Nishiki Market

AS and I spent no less than 4 hours (srs, no joke) at Daikoku Drug. This is the perfect place to stock up if you’re obsessed with Japanese products like we are. It’s also duty free for foreigners who spend more than ¥5000, which is easy to do considering we dropped close to 4 bills at this store. Oops!

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Nishiki Market

Pontocho

To wrap up this Kyoto 2 day itinerary, spend your evening in Pontocho, one of Kyoto’s most atmospheric areas to grab a bite. Most establishments offer a view of the Kamogawa River. Now’s your chance to load up on all that beer and sake you’ve been deprived of the previous night!

Kollecting Koordinates - Kyoto 2 day itinerary - Pontocho

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