A Budgeting Guide For Dubai

Having heard the rumours and panicking about last minute currency exchanges my trip to Dubai was finally here!

Having tried to research the trip and a spending guide I noticed how lacking the internet was of one, So below I've helped list a compilation of things you may need to budget for on your trip!

Dinning Out

Breakfast at a hotel if not included – 16-25aed

Lunch or dinner at a hotel – ranging from special offers of 39 – to 150aed

McDonalds meal – 23-30aed

Meal with soft drinks in a mid range restaurant- 100aed

Coffee at coffee house – 20aed

 

Out and about

Metro from the airport to the city centre – 10.50aed

Unlimited day ticket for metro (all zones) -20aed

5 Mile journey in a taxi – 26aed

Day entry to a water-park – 310aed

Soft drink from a supermarket – 9-13aed

Bottle of water from a supermarket – 1aed

Can of beer from a supermarket – 9aed

Crisps – 10aed

Cigarettes –  10aed

 

Hope this helps some towards your budgeting plans for a trip to Dubai, I averaged £100 spending a day while I was there and that covered eating out for lunch and dinner mid-range, visiting a water-park and travelling using a mixture of taxis and metro.

Has anyone else been to Dubai, Did you manage to spend less than me a day? Was there anything I may need to add onto the list?

 

At the time of travel the exchange rate was 4.41 Dirham to the Great British Pound, please check the current exchange rates before travel.

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My Top Dinning Spots In Pantai Cenang, Langkawi 

If you're anything like me food is a massive part of the day, I've been known to be planning my lunch and dinner while eating breakfast!

Finding places to eat and recommend is my favourite part of a trip and often is the first thing I start to research once I've booked flights, So here you have it, My recommendations for your trip to Langkawi.

 

The Kasbah - Lorong HJ Salleh Lot 1301, Kampung Bohor Tempoyak 

Located off the beach front and hidden within the houses of Pantai Cenang this awesome reggae shack is a great hideaway from the midday's sun. With a selected menu full of summer cravings, unusual salads and burgers with fresh juices, smoothies & milkshakes it is the kinda place you should take a pack of cards and spend the afternoon.

Prices are really decent with my meal coming to 30RM (Burger with chips and milkshake)

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Indian Palace -  2, Jalan Pantai Chenang, Kampung Lubok Buaya

Down on the main stretch this upstairs no frills Indian is a great showcase of the multitude of cuisines on offer in Malaysia. The menu has a wide range of choice with lots of curries I'd not heard of before, best kind of menu!

With reasonable prices we were able to order a medley of dishes to try out with an average meal price of 40RM (1 Curry, rice and nan)

 

Red Skys - No. 6, Casa Fina Avenue, Persiaran Panthai Cenang

Wanting different dining tonight we needed somewhere that had a mixture of choices, Western & Malay and redskys fitted the bill.

Hidden from the street by metal cladding, plants and twinkly lights it certainly met the Instagram requirements… With the western menu it did mean prices were slightly higher than we'd been used to but our dinner choices did not disappoint.

With freshly cooked pizzas and Nasi Gorang (My favourite Malay dish if I must chose) value for money was fair with my meal coming to approx 30RM

 

Kalut Cafe & Bar - Mali Mali Beach Resort, Cenang Beach

Located on the beach this place is hard to miss. With rent-able loungers during the day you can get a bed and a parasol for less than 20RM for 2. Although they have no food/drink service during the day once they switch up for the evening set up you'll be first in line for the bean bags and silk umbrellas they bring out.

With a prime spot for the sunset you can settle in with a few beers and a early dinner with the summer vibes year round!

 

Other places we dinned and enjoyed are Red Tomato, The Telaga Walk & Indian Palace be sure to check these out too! Has anyone been to Langkawi before? Any other places I've missed out?

 

SkyCab Langkawi 

Heading to Langkawi and looking for things to do? Look no further!

Float over the jungles and head for the clouds with Skycab’s famous cable car, The longest free span Mono Cable car takes you to the tip of Machincang mountain over 700 meters above sea level.

Located in the west of the island you’ll only ever be a maximum of 45 mins drive from the ground base and with Uber and fixed rate taxis you’ll find access is super easy!

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Reaching these heights is dizzying with a steep climb to overcome the ride is pretty exhilarating but gives you some beautiful views like the one above!

We purchased tickets on a combo B package which within the 120 RM price included the cable car return with express lane queue jump, the 3D art museum and the Skydome and  we also added on the sky bridge once we got to the top station for only an extra 5RM each.

The skybridge is the longest free span curved bridge in the world, It makes for a pretty interesting photo. With glass panels it’s pretty scary seeing down against how high you are!

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For a great half day trip out it’s well worth the money no matter the weather, With release from the sun in the breeze or if the weathers bad you can easily wait for the clouds/rain to pass by using all the indoor inclusions within the ticket, Be sure to check out the 3D museum for a laugh and some fantastically funny shots to send those back home!

Batu Caves, Malaysia 

Having missed out on the batu caves last time I visited Kuala Lumpur I knew I didn’t want to miss out this time round and spent some time studying the map and from talking to the locals I wanted to share the quickest and most cost effective way of visiting yourself.

Located approx 40 minutes by train from Kuala Lumpur central in the area of Gombak, the limestone cliffs are home to a series of caves and cave temples which are a must see while in the city.

The caves are the most popular Hindu shine outside of India and is dedicated to the Lord Murugan who guards the entrance to the entrance to the caves and the worlds tallest statute of the god.

Getting to Batu Caves

As I mentioned getting to the caves are pretty simple, once you’ve arrived at KL Sentral station you can hop onto the KTM Komuter line and head to the Batu Caves station. Tickets are simple to purchase and can be done from the ticket machines as they have an English option. For a return ticket you are looking at an approx cost of 7RM.

Tickets now come as plastic coins which you tap into the screen of the barriers and save to exit on the other side, heading to the platforms all are listed and have signage in English again and you can know you’re in the right place thanks to the signage above the tracks.

For ladies also travelling on their own you’ll be pleased to know there are women and children’s carriages only if you prefer this choice, just make sure you keep your eye out for the floor and door markings, and those travelling I a larger group beware you aren’t getting in the carriage unless you fit the criteria.

The station is the last on the line and all stops are announced in English and a handy lit map of the stops show where you are headed next. Once you’ve arrived and exited the station the caves will be rig in front of you and with free access there are no queues to join and you are then able to explore the area.

Arriving at the caves you will find yourself at the bottom of the towering staircase to take you to the cave system at the top, If you do want to see it for yourself you must climb all 272 steps. Be sure to stop along the way (foot traffic allowing) as you’ll be able to get some beautiful views and see just how far you’ve gone! The entrance to climb and into the cave is free of charge, however if you’d like to go into the dark cave with a guide this is an additional cost and must be booked on arrival for an allotted time.

Top tips

* Be careful of those pesky monkeys, they love they love to take ahold of anything your carrying. Hold onto phone and camera tightly and do not try to touch or feed them.

* Remember to be respectful of where you are visiting. Local cultures have different beliefs and arriving to the caves in short shorts or short skirts may be frowned upon and don’t be surprised when you are advised you must pay for a Sarong or cover up due to this. Smoking is not permitted within the grounds.

Great Ocean Roading

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Imagine 243 kilometres of coastal road with the big blue on one side and the other dramatic cliff-side and green rain-forests while you drive one of the most popular drives in the world.

Stretching from Torquay in the East, Only 97 kms from Melbourne to Warrnambool in the West this drive is made of so famous thanks to the passing of the surfside resorts, and scenic landscapes along its stretch and the important history it plays for the Australians.

Built in memorial of those who fought and dies within the first world war, the servicemen who returned were given reemployment in building this roadway to help the coastal towns in their struggle with their isolation from the larger ports and cities.

Here’s my low down on the Great Ocean Road and my tips on where to stay and see along the way!

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*Torquay

Heading only few hours drive from Melbourne this coastal town is one of the most famous along the route as it is home to the surfing mecca of Bells Beach. Home to the Rip Curl competitions every Easter this is the longest running surfing competition and means you are sure to be able to spend some time watching the pros do there best practising even outside of the summer season! We ended up spending three hours in the rain mesmerised by the swells of the water and the elegance of those riding.

There are tons of discount stores in Torquay should the surfer chic take hold and you are desperate for some new gear. For those looking for professional gear these outlet stores will offer better discounts than you can get in the larger cities.

If you are new to surfing personally I prefer Torquay to have your first experience rather than in Byron as everyone is keen to. The beaches in the area have taught Kelly Slater and that’s a good enough excuse as any, Lessons for beginners, intermediate and advance can be picked up locally and keep your eye in the store windows for local instructors rather than the larger group sessions!

If you are the sporty type or are pushed for time have wander at the Australian National Surfing Museum to learn more, or try your hand at some sunbathing and surf watching from the shore!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the Bells Beach Backpackers for an affordable and comfortable stop.

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*Lorne

Heading further west Lorne is another cute seaside town, Although for us we used this as the gateway into the the Great Otway National Park. With hundreds of walks, hikes and sights we wanted to spend a couple of days away from the beaches discovering the more interesting in land area. With lush tropical plants and ferns its hard to remember you haven’t just entered Jurassic Park. Take in an evening tour with your torches looking for the elusive glow worms that live within the tropical fauna

For those wanting to learn more history surrounding the great ocean road head to the heritage centre in the visitor centre in town.

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*Apollo Bay

Heading further south Apollo Bay is a popular stop way on the route, and a nice place to rest for a night or two. With a lovely long beach right on the roadside it is easy to spend a day or two soaking up the sun in the summer months and enjoy the small town charm.

We also used Apollo Bay for the Otway national park as we were again closer to some of the hikes in the area and took in a couple of waterfall hikes the hostel reception staff recommended.

We also headed out to the Otway National Park from here to Lake Elizabeth for canoeing at dusk to see if we could spot the magical platypus. Only a 50 min drive each way this was an amazing experience and can be booked before you arrive here. Advance booking is highly recommended and if you don’t spot a platypus then you will receive a 20% discount on your next trip. If you chose the dusk rather than the dawn you may also spot those glow worms I told you about!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the surfside Backpackers located just opposite the beach, this popular hostel has lots of common areas and chances to meet new people.

 

*Twelve Apostles 

Heading north again towards our final stop now, over 227 kms from Melbourne is the twelve apostles off the coast of port cambell national park. Formed from the erroision of the harsh southern sea there are now fewer than 10 remaining so no better excuse than to pull over before they completely disappear.

dsc00716As you can see from my picture even a day in the middle of summer doesn’t mean the weather will play nice!

These limestone stacks are the most famous structure along your trip and one of the busiest spots you will come to along your journey with day trippers desperate to get a selfie with the Apostles in the background.

There are tons of spots to pull over on your way to Warrnambool, including any of the beaches along the shipwrek coastline, the Loch Ard Gorge or the London Arch.

 

 

*Warrnambool

Saving the best for last (If travelling from Melbourne) Warrnambool was my favourite town on my journey along the great ocean road and my starting point as we drove from Adelaide.

As we were out of season it was unfortunate we couldn’t take advantage of the local whale watching tours, although we did head to the look out point over the waters to see if there was anything else we could spot!

Be sure to head back to the Tower Hill area for Kangaroo, Emu and Koala spotting as they are both native to the area, take in some of the short nature trails or complete some of the longer hikes. Be sure to enquire about the tours surrounding the local Aboriginal culture!

Dining at Cactus Jam was a highlight and having some flavoured margaritas to toast our journey was brilliant. The food was incredibly tasty and good value, a great find and I highly recommend it to anyone who makes it this far!

 

Now I know there are some who are visiting with a short window to explore the area and with day trips from Melbourne on offer you have no excuse not to see the wonders along the route, However if you have the opportunity to spend longer make sure you do! Hire a camper/car and spend at least 3 nights travelling along the GOR, I’m positive you wont regret it… Hopefully after reading my post you’ll know there is so much more to see than the Twelve Apostles. 

 

Travel agent top tip, be very mindful of the ever changing speed limits if you are hiring a car… Thanks to this i received my first ever driving offence. Although there are no cameras in place there are plenty of speed traps and police waiting, drive with extreme caution around and during public holidays.  

A Photo Post Of My South African Safari

Having safaried in Kenya before I was better prepared with my trusty bridge camera this time and I wanted to share some of the amazing snaps I captured on my trip.

I apologise in advance for those who are squeamish, one of the greatest experiences of my safari was witnessing a cheetah feasting on its lunch.

These pictures were taken at The Garden Route Safari Lodge.

Blackpool Illuminations 

Only living a few hours away I am embarrassed to admit in my 27 years I still hadn’t made it to Blackpool for the annual Illuminations festival. 
Once a year the whole of the beach promenade is lit up with the lights from the Blackpool Tower and festive Street lights, from late September until the Christmas lights switch on people flock to the seaside town to see the lights in the glory of winter…. Personally I think people want to start the festivities early and get into the Christmas spirit! 


We visited early October and were surprised as to how busy it actually was, car parks were filled, the roads were blocked and the streets filled. Make sure to arrive early and be preapred to leave the car, we parked at the football ground only a short walk from the south of the promenade and the Blackpool Tower.

I love the British seaside, penny machines, fish and chips and no matter the weather a 99 cone.

With more displays and projections than ever before you can easily spend a weekend enjoying the lights and the local attractions during the days.

Check out 2016’s illuminations, and check up online for a trail map to follow to see them all! Click here.

Constantia Wine Route, Cape Town

Dating back to 1685, Constantia is home to the oldest producing vineyard in South Africa. Often overshadowed by the neighbouring regions of Stellenbosh and Franschhoek, Constantia is actually also the closest region to Cape Town; Only 15km (20 mins) from the city centre, Nestled below in the green of Table Mountain.

Perfect for those looking to sample the local wine without having to sacrifice time travelling, there are 9 estates to discover each with their own samples and specialities. I wanted to give you the low down on my favourite properties in the region and more about the cellar tours and wine tasting on offer so you can plan your day out in Constantia.

 

 

 

Klein Constantia

Dating back to the original Constantia formed in 1685, The property was established by the first governor of the cape, Simon Van Der Stel. Although rumoured to have been chosen for its beautiful location in the valley of the Table Mountain National Park it also benefits from the soils from the slopes and the ocean breeze brought in from the Atlantic Ocean.

Know your in good taste when Klein favoured by many a royal and celebrity including authors and poets from the 18th & 19th century, Jane Austin and Charles Dickens.

Good value wine tasting is on offer at Klein with prices from 50 Rand per person which includes a try of all estate wines.

*No need to pre book here, Just arrive on the day and join onto a tasting tour. Although please check online for opening hours before planning your visit.

 

Constantia Glen

Relativity new to the game, Constantia Glen only planting it’s first grapes in 1999, and producing their first Sauvignon Blanc in 2005, still are an award winning producer in the area. Ranked as a boutique wine estate I would suggest visiting the Glen over lunch time and ordering a cheese platter to accompany your wine tasting, Trust me when I say it is one of the nicest I’ve enjoyed. Wine tastings can be pre booked online starting from 55 Rand per person and you can have a choice of 3 different seating areas all with their own setting and views.

Book your packages online here.

 

Groot Constantia

Officially the oldest wine producer in the region, Groot offer something different with their cape dutch architecture and desert wines. Located right on the City Sightseeing bus route this stop off within the Constantia means you wont need to worry about who is driving and arranging a taxi, the bus will take you from the city to the estate.

‘Groot’ in dutch translates to Great, Meaning then basically named themselves ‘Great Wine.’ Arrive with high expectations and you will not be disappointed, With cellar tours (60 Rand each) and wine tastings (45 Rand each, or combine them both for 70 Rand each) you can also expect an expert to talk you through the selection of wines and to tell you a little more history of the estate and owners.

*No pre-booking needed at Groot for the wine tasting or cellar tours, However the tours only run on the hour from 10:00 and the last tour departing at 16:00.

 

Eagles Nest

Located high in the slopes of Constantia, Eagles nest is another relativity newcomer to the game. This family owned boutique vineyard has a huge following thanks to its reasonably priced picnic baskets you are able to enjoy in the grounds of the property (£25 for 2 people, plus the purchase cost of a bottle of wine) Sat so high up in the route it gives a beautiful lookout over the valley and vineyards.

Wine tastings start from 50 Rand per person, and should you like to have a wine tasting before purchasing your bottle to accompany your picnic you will need to pre book before your arrival.

Book your visit online here.

 

* At the time of posting 50 South African Rand = £2.50 or $3.50 Us Dollars *

 

 

The Best Islands To Snorkel Or Dive In Fiji

Albeit known as one of the best places in the world to snorkel and dive, Knowing the islands and destinations to visit in Fiji to get the most out of your trip are key. I wanted to share my knowledge on where to visit for the best diving and snorkelling you can get while travelling in Fiji.

The main island in Fiji, Viti Levu does have diving opportunities however the Yasawas is a underwater haven of tropical fish and coral to you to explore.

 

 

 

Barefoot Kuata Resort

Located only 2 hours away from the Port on an island of the same name; Kuata. Located within a protected marine park you know the offerings at Barefoot Kuata are going to be good. With offering footsteps from the beach for snorkelling you can be transported into a world of diverse ecosystems, Including visiting the local family of white tipped reef sharks whom live within the islands closest reef.

For those interested you can take part in the Shark snorkelling trip to visit the local white tip reef sharks, However if you already own a dive liencse then taking part in the world famous shark dives ($299 per person) in the most popular activity on the island. With opportunities to dive with Bull Sharks (within season, Feb-Nov outside of mating season) but more often than not you can spot Hammerhead Sharks, Tiger Sharks and many more.

First time divers and more advance divers are catered for at the wonderfully run Crystal Blue Reef Safaris, With learn to dive packages and advance diving packages which you can purchase along side your stay on the resort. With promotions running to learn to dive starting from $873 FD per person, it isn’t as cheap as those South East Asian destinations but the reefs here are full of colour and life it would be an achievement to say you completed this somewhere like Fiji!

For those looking to do something different night diving is on offer at Barefoot with the local team to head out, or try your hand at sphere fishing to catch dinner for the island!

If you are looking for something a little different then Barefoot Kuata fits the bill, with accommodation ranging from dorms to private bures it can fit within anyone’s budget.

You can book online directly here, or book through Awesome Adventures here.

 

Mantaray Island Resort

Having stayed on Mantaray for some time I have already wrote it’s own separate blog post which you can check out here! My favourite thing about the resort is no matter how long your stay you pay only once for the rental of your snorkel equipment and is a fixed fee of $10 FD, with over 40 dive sights to visit they really are geared up to those water babies!

You can book directly online here, or through Awesome Adventures here.

 

Barefoot Manta Resort

Yep that’s right, there are two Barefoot resorts within the Yasawa chain, And the third property to make it onto the list is located further north towards the famous blue lagoon diving sight and still within easy access to the Mantaray channel that passes through the Yasawa’s.

For certified divers you will be in your element with more than 20 dive sights to chose from within easy access. If you fancied taking your diving further you are able to work towards you advance dive packages and beyond with the dive masters here. If you are new to diving you can take introductory lessons or complete your dive license here.

Snorkelling and diving with the Manta-rays in the local area can be arranged during the months of May-Aug and to ensure sightings they will head out early morning and wait for the first to be spotted before taking guests,. Meaning if the chances are low you can prepare for a day of sunbathing or another sight rather than wasting time in the channel with no reef and strong currants waiting for something not coming!

The island is rather large and has 3 beaches for guests to chose from, Sunrise, Sunset and Manta Ray giving everyone a little more privacy although you can guess which is busy when!

You can book directly with Barefoot online here or through Awesome Adventures here.

 

South Sea Island

Having stayed at the South Sea Island before I can vouch for the amazing snorkelling in the area, However I did not dive! You can read all about South Sea Island on my seperate review here!

You can book online through Awesome Adventures here but you are not able to book directly with the resort.

 

Botaira Beach Resort

This little exclusive resort only hosts 11 rooms keeping things more personal, and is only 3 hours away from Nadi on the largest island in the Yasawa’s, Naviti Island. With a western setting you can be assured you are going to be spoilt when it comes to sunset views!

Sitting firmly in the centre of the chain of islands means it gives Boraira easy access to a handful of reefs for snorkelling and diving, One of the most famous is the Manta-ray channel that passes close by which house guests are taken over to during the dry season May-Aug.

Reef Safaris are responsible for the diving and snorkelling activities that happen on the island and can cater to any sized group and any ability. If you are new to diving you can take part in introductory dives or complete your dive licence, However if snorkelling is more your bag the team at Reef Safaris operate snorkelling trips out on to the many reefs in the area, or you can hire the equipment and spend the day off the house reef footsteps off the beach! If you already dive and have a licence the team will take you to to visit all the glory spots in the area, that prove the claim of diving is the best in Fiji.

You can book directly online here, or through Awesome Adventures here.

 

Coral View Resort

Another island I’ve spent more than some time on, I have wrote a whole post on my experience on Coral View Resort. Check out the post here!

Book direct online here or book through Awesome Adventures here.

 

Nanuya Island Resort

For those looking to spoil themselves on land and below then Nanuya is perfect for those not looking for something a little more lux.

For those looking for some claim to fame this is where the movie ‘Blue Lagoon’ was actually filmed! The beaches are beaut and being in the blue reef from the movie ensures you’ll be able to spot some awesome sights on your trip.

Possibly better suited to a couple than groups or families things are set up for twos, From the dining setting to the message tables those without a partner might feel a little left out! With some of the most vibrant and dramatic sunsets I have witness Nanuya is a little gem.

With diving packages to the blue lagoon and beyond again the dive team are able to arrange an array of activities to suit all requirements dependant on the level of skill.

You are able to book online directly with the resort here or book online through Awesome Adventures here.

 

 

If booking through Awesome Adventure check out the pre packaged island stays if you are planning on spending longer in Fiji and fancy seeing more than one island! The packages offer accommodation on a varity of the islands and include all your transportation between on the Yasawa flyer.

 

 

Monkey Forest, Ubud Bali

Located on its name sake’s road, Nestled in the town of Ubud The Sacred Monkey Forest sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction in the inland resort.

The sanctuary was built to conserve the area which is based on the concept of Tri Hita Karana which translates to ‘three ways to reach spiritual & physical well being.’

There are 3 temples that date back to the 14th century that unfortunaely to help preservation you are no longer able to enter. Although you are able to admire there beauty from a distance.

The monkeys that live within the area are Macques or as they are locally known as ‘long tailed Balinese monkeys. There are around 600 to spot while you are there that live within 5 groups. It is quite interesting to watch the different groups as they interact, you certainly can tell when they are within their own groups and when an outsider approaches.

For a small entry fee of 20,000 (£1.50) you are able to freely wander within the grounds of the sanctuary. With some of the most beautiful art and sculptures in the area we took hours to walk around and capture all the photos I wanted.

Here are some of my favourite snaps from my visit to the monkey forest.

 

 

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