Bicycle Tours of Sri Lanka – Galle

Let me start this article by asking you a couple of questions! Do you consider yourself relatively healthy? Do you like to travel to exotic places? And, have you ever thought about doing a bike tour?

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
Ride along the laneways of Galle

Since 2014 the operator and his excellent team have been offering some of the best bike tours available in stunning Sri Lanka. From 1-day sample rides to 12 day Sri Lanka package tours, you can experience the beauty and see the fabulous culture, country and wildlife from the saddle of a bicycle. Alternatively, if you and your friends would like to customise a tour just for you, the operator can make that happen also. So, what’s stopping you?

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We stopped off in Galle, where the operator organised a perfect 2 hour sampler ride along the paddy fields and countryside around Galle.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
Some of the beautiful green paddy fields around Galle, Sri Lanka.

Our day starts at 08:00 a.m as we make our way to our designated meeting point to meet our tour guides for the day. We stayed within a few minutes from the city centre and Galle Fort, and the tuk tuk ride to get to our meeting point was a quick 15 minute ride.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
A Tuk Tuk from Sri Lanka

Our meet up point is an off ramp just outside of Galle and we are greeted by our tour guide for the ride, Nuwan, his bike mechanic helper Kavindu and our support vehicle. Nuwan provides us Specialized mountain bikes, which Kavindu adjusts to make sure they are at the right height for us.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
The Specialized mountain bike used during our bike tour

Once everything is sorted, we commence what can only be called a fantastic ride. Nuwan takes us along country laneways through a rubber plantation and multiple rice fields.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
A rubber tree producing white rubber

The ride isn’t difficult, although there are a couple of gradual inclines that have you working a little harder. But the scenery and wildlife are spectacular. During our ride we came across an enormous water monitor walking through a family’s rice field and some beautiful birds like the colourful Kingfisher.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
This enormous water monitor lazily walks through a family’s rice field.
Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
A colourful Kingfisher stopped long enough for us to capture a photo.

The ride isn’t just single file riding. Nuwan would stop and point out local facts and things of cultural significance, to ensure we had a well-balanced tour.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
One of the Buddhist temple entrances during our ride in Galle

The whole riding tour took approximately 1.5 – 2 hours and was a nice casual workout. Cycling is a wonderful way to see the countryside and keep fit. srilankacyclingtour.com offers excellent bike tours throughout Sri Lanka and we’re sure you can find a bike tour to suit your needs.

Things to do in Galle | What to do in Galle | Cycling tours in Sri Lanka | Best tours in Galle
Riding through the countryside is one of the best things to do whilst travelling.

For those of you  booking in the future, Sri Lanka Cycling Tour are in the process of updating their bikes, so  you will have even better bikes than the ones we tried.

So, contact Sri Lanka Cycling Tour now and book your fantastic bike tour today, to see Sri Lanka like you’ve never seen it before and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

What to do in Galle | Bicycle tour
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Booking Information for Cycling Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 91 312 7744
Website: www.srilankacyclingtour.com

CYCLING TRAILS

  1. Wakwella Trail (Galle) 15-20km
  2. Unawatuna Trail 15-20km
  3. Baddegama Trail 18km
  4. Ahangama Trail 25km
  5. Mirissa Trail 32km
  6. Galle City Tour 10km

Rate per Person (Minimum 02 Pax)

  1. Wakwella Trail (Galle) 15-20km          $17 USD
  2. Unawatuna Trail 18-22km                      $17 USD
  3. Baddegama Trail 20km                             $25 USD
  4. Ahangama Trail 23-25km                        $25 USD
  5. Mirissa Trail 30-35km                               $40 USD
  6. Galle City Tour. 15km.                               $15 USD
  • INCLUSIONS
    • Bicycles in Excellent condition for appropriate height.
    • Service of an experience English speaking cycle guide.
    • Service of a support vehicle throughout the trail.
    • (Over 4 Pax) Spare Bikes (Over 4 Pax).
    • Spare tubes and other necessary parts.
    • High quality Helmets.
    • Mineral Water Bottles.
    • Light Refreshments.
    • First Aid Box and tool Box

Available accommodation in Galle

*This post contains affiliate links. Please help us maintain this site by booking through the links. Thank you.

Somedevi Residence – The place to stay in Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the gateway and home to the ancient Khmer kingdom of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site since 1992, and consists of 162 hectares of ancient structures and temples. The heavily touristic city of Siem Reap is the stepping stone and the home base for many tourists to this remarkable kingdom. But with so many hotels and accommodation options available, where do you stay? Let us help you out with that decision and tell you about the fabulous Somadevi Residence.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Good Hotel in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | 5 star hotels in Siem Reap
No introduction is really required. But this is Angkor Wat.

After searching through the different hotel booking sites we were stunned by the amount of accommodation options available. From hotels, hostels, guesthouses and homestays there are so many types to choose from. The fabulous 5 star and 52 roomed Somadevi Residence provides modern facilities to make your stay perfect and relaxing.

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Like many tourists we arrive into Siem Reap via the airport and take the $10 USD airport taxi to the hotel. It takes about 30 minutes depending on the traffic. Check-in is quick and efficient, although this was possibly the only time we were a little worried we were in the wrong place. This is due to the Somadevi Residence and the Somadevi  Angkor Boutique and Resort using the same reception desk. So, don’t panic, you are in the right place.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The reception desk for the Somadevi Residence and Somadevi Angkor Boutique and Resort

Our Executive Deluxe room for our stay is on the third floor and is spacious with a King sized bed, mini bar, television, coffee-making facilities and small balcony overlooking the next property. The bed is comfortable with complimentary water and tea and coffee.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
One of the fifty executive deluxe rooms at the Somadevi Residence

Each room has a spacious private bathroom with a shower area and a bath. The bathroom is clean and the room is serviced daily, with the hotel supplying fragrant toiletries and other amenities.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Each Somadevi Residence has a large serviced bathroom

All rooms overlook the large refreshing swimming pool, which we spent some time relaxing around. The swimming pool has comfortable day beds scattered around the edge and the Blue Bar offers food and beverages to be taken whilst relaxing.  The pool is open until 8pm and is popular for a majority of the guests.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The swimming pool is open until 8pm.

The Somadevi Residence can assist you with just about anything during your stay with them. From organising tours and transport to Angkor Wat and other fascinating sites close by. My favourite activities were the incredible cooking class and the invigorating beauty spa. The Somadevi cooking masterclass would be in my top 10 things to do whilst travelling, with Executive Chef Mr. Siep Bunna taking you on a journey to cooking perfection. The class includes a market tour, access to producing a four course menu and of course being able to eat what you produce all for $30 USD. Incredible value and incredible fun. Look out for our upcoming post on this sensational experience.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
A top 10 activity. A masterclass with Mr. Siep Bunna

After long days of walking and exploring Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, it is always good to come back to your hotel and be pampered. I recommend going to Somadevi’s, Aloe Spa and Fitness Centre. We let their trained masseuse massage away our tired muscles. With a range of beauty treatments, hair styling and massages available it is just what the doctor ordered.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Pamper yourself at the Aloe Spa and Fitness Centre

Alternatively, if you feel like you haven’t exercised enough you can head to their gym and run on the treadmill. The gym isn’t large and has no weights, but you can get that cardio workout going. Once you’ve exercised, spend some time in the steam room, spa or sauna.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The small gym at the Somadevi Residence

If you are starting to get hungry, don’t worry, because the Somadevi has some beautiful food options for you. You can head to the Palm Cafe for a light lunch, snacks by the pool or a fine dining experience in the Champagne dining room. All hotel guests receive a discounted price on food and drinks. In comparison to other 5 star major hotel brands the Somadevi Residence food prices are less expensive and the food served is excellent. Especially in the Champagne Dining Room.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Have a cocktail, health drink or snack whilst relaxing around the pool.

The Palm Cafe is situated in the front of the hotel and provides coffees, cakes, ice creams and light meals. We made sure we tried the homemade ice cream and the coffee is quite good for Cambodian standards. During our stay we also had one of their pizzas and although plain-looking the flavour was good.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
The Palm Cafe’s Banana Split
Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Three scoops of homemade coconut ice cream

After those warm humid days walking around Siem Reap, it was always great to cool off in the hotels swimming pool. Whilst relaxing try out the cocktails, health drinks and light snacks available.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
There’s nothing like relaxing with drinks by the pool

If you are looking for something more substantial than don’t miss the Champagne Dining Room. Executive Chef Mr. Siep Bunna has created an excellent seasonal menu. Choose from the Khmer degustation menu containing three courses or order from the a la carte menu. Having already experiencing the cooking masterclass we made sure we tried Mr. Siep Bunna’s degustation menu.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
Dine in the Champagne dining room for a superb choice from the a la carte or degustation menus

The three course degustation menu consisted of a Plear Trei, a Khor Joerng Chrouk and a Sangya L-Pov. A Plear Trei is a Khmer style fish ceviche with fresh crunchy vegetables and a mild chilli dressing. The dish was beautifully constructed, and the taste and texture was exquisite.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
First Course is Plear Trei a Khmer style fish ceviche with fresh crunchy vegetables and a mild chilli dressing.

Our second course was probably something I wouldn’t normally try. But in the spirit of providing an honest review the Khor Joerng Chrouk is braised pork trotters with bamboo shoots and lotus nuts, served with sauteed bok choy and steamed jasmine rice. The pork trotter was a little fatty for my liking, but beautifully cooked and the sweetness from the sauce was gorgeous.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Second Course. Khor Joerng Chrouk is braised pork trotters with bamboo shoots and lotus nuts, served with sauteed bok choy and steamed jasmine rice.

Finally, the Sangya L-Pov was steamed pumpkin with egg custard, served with Pandan sauce and seasonal fruit. Now, I must admit that pumpkin is my least favourite vegetable. Yet the balance of the pumpkin and the sweet egg custard made the whole dish work perfectly. And although I’m not too keen on pumpkin, I would happily eat the Sangya L-Pov again.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Third Course. Sangya L-Pov is steamed pumpkin with egg custard, served with Pandan sauce and seasonal fruit.

If you like to have a nightcap after dinner then head into the White Lounge and have a cocktail, beer or glass of wine. Sit and relax or mingle with other guests. Every night from 6 p.m the White Lounge plays a feature film on their big screen. So settle in, get comfortable, and watch a new release film.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
The White Lounge shows a feature film every day from 6 p.m. So have a drink, sit back and relax.

Breakfast is also served daily from 6 a.m – 10 a.m in the Champagne dining room or the outside courtyard. Select your breakfast from the buffet styled options or if you like something not available, order it and the chefs will make it especially for you.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Either select from the breakfast buffet or get the chefs to make something especially for you.

Somadevi Residence is an excellent hotel to stay at in Siem Reap and if you’d like a souvenir of your stay, they have a gift shop in the White Lounge to pick up that cherished memento.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Pick up a souvenir from the souvenir shop in the White Lounge

Siem Reap is a must see city in Cambodia, and the Somadevi Residence is a superb place to base your stay. No matter what your schedule is, the Somadevi Residence is the place to stay. The hotel staff are incredibly helpful, and will organise transport and tours for you and your family. If you decide to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat the hotel will provide you a take away breakfast to enjoy as the sun comes up.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat | Where to eat in Siem Reap
Are you keen to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat?

The Somadevi Residence enhanced our stay in Siem Reap. The care they show for their guests, from welcome fruit baskets, printing out travel reservations to ensuring you get to the airport on time. There is nothing that I can fault during this perfect stay. So, when you are booking that holiday to Cambodia, make sure you book a stay at the Somadevi Residence and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.

Where to stay in Siem Reap | Somadevi Residence | Where to stay in Angkor Wat
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Additional Information for the Somadevi Residence

Address: Oum Chhay St, Krong Siem Reap
Ph: +855 63 962 666
Website: www.somadeviangkorboutique.com

Book your stay at the Somadevi Residence with Ourworldinreview to help us maintain our site.

Prices of accommodation per night at the Somadevi Residence

Ranging from $92.50 USD (AUD$115)  – $110 USD (AUD$140)

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

Champagne Dining Room:

Main Dishes prices range from $5.00 USD (AUD$6.25) to $25.00  USD (AUD$31.00)

– The serving hours:  6:00 am till 10:00 pm.

The Palm Cafe

– The leisure coffee hours: 08:00 am to 08:00 pm.

The Blue Bar

– 08:00 am to 08:00 pm.

The White Lounge

– 11:30 am to 10:00 pm.

Book an Urban Adventure tour in Siem Reap

*This post contains affiliate links. Please help us maintain this site by booking through the links. Thank you.

Our Quick Bite: Sambol Coconut

Being Australian and an avid cricket fan, when I think about Galle I immediately think, of the international cricket ground. I can picture, Australia versus Sri Lanka trying to beat each other in a hotly contested cricket test match.  What I wasn’t expecting was the classic European architecture and history that can be found along the tight streets of Galle Fort.

Where to eat in Galle | Traditional food in Galle | Coconut Sambol | Inexpensive places to eat in Galle
I wouldn’t mind watching a test match here!

Galle Fort is the tourist heart of this city, with a variety of bars, restaurants, hotels, shops and cafes aligning the streets and laneways. After a day of solid exploring, we duck into Coconut Sambol restaurant for a quick, cheap meal.

Where to eat in Galle | Traditional food in Galle | Cheap food in Galle | Coconut Sambol
The fortress walls, architecture and Lighthouse of Galle Fort

Coconut Sambol is a small restaurant with seating for 10 people that offers an all you can eat buffet style dinners. The banquet consists of 6  traditional Sri Lankan curry dishes and steamed rice. Each dish is  refreshed during the dinner service providing plenty food for its patrons.  Table rotation is fairly quick, so hopefully you won’t have to wait long to get your fill.

Where to eat in Galle | Traditional food in Galle | Sri Lankan food | Cheap meals in Galle | Coconut Sambol
The small dining area inside Coconut Sambol.

The restaurant is thin, about 2 metres wide, so it can get a bit crowded in there if everyone is trying to get food at the same time.  Yet, it feels cosy and intimate. Being small it holds in a lot of heat and there are some oscillating fans above to cool you down. If this doesn’t help, cool refreshments are available from the menu. The cost for the all you can eat buffet is 800 LKR  (AUD$6.60 )per person and the range of curries is decent.

Where to eat in Galle | Where to eat traditional Sri Lankan food | Coconut Sambol |
Some of the curries on a woven reed plate covered with baking paper.

Some of the curries available are a Dal, curried chicken, curried banana, and curried mango served with plenty of steamed rice.

Where to eat in Galle | Traditional food in Galle | Restaurants in Galle | Coconut Sambol | Where can I eat good curry in Galle
The buffet consists of 6 curry dishes and steamed rice, which is replenished often.

Coconut Sambol serves traditional Sri Lankan food daily, which is flavoursome and delicious. The store opens from 1000hrs and offer food until 2200hrs. The food is served on authentic woven reed plates covered with baking paper. We had no trouble getting a table and there was enough food to feed an army. The staff are friendly and quick to assist in this strictly no smoking restaurant.

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Overall the Coconut Sambol was a good restaurant, which provides quality food. Having a small shop front means it is easy to walk past. Although, the restaurant decor doesn’t look that inviting, don’t be fooled and give them a try. Importantly, the food is abundant and delicious, and at that price, a real bargain. So, if you are in Galle for business or pleasure, head to the Coconut Sambol restaurant and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Place to eat in Galle | Best restaurants in Galle | Where should I eat in Galle Fort | Coconut Sambol
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Additional Information for Coconut Sambol

Address: 68 Church Street, Galle 80000
Ph: +94 77 797 1199

Trading Hours
Open Daily from 1000hrs – 2200hrs

Book accommodation at Galle with Booking.com

Coconut Sambol rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Decor =7
Atmosphere =7
Service =9
Price = 10
Food =8

Overall = 8.2

*This post contains affiliate links. Please help us maintain this site by booking through the links. Thank you.

Cosy Houseboats in Kerala

If you are going to spend some time in the south of India, you may have heard that it is quite popular to spend a day or two on a houseboat. After a busy two weeks travelling around India we decided to spend three nights cruising the backwaters of Kerala from Alappuzha near Alleppey, Southern India with Cosy Houseboats.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
A houseboat travelling along the backwaters in Kerala

After days or research, trying to select an affordable houseboat operator was becoming a painful task. To alleviate this we logged onto booking.com to check out what houseboats were available. This made the task a lot easier and in the end we choose to book a Cosy Houseboat cruise for three nights, departing from Alappuzha.

Prior to our cruise we stayed in Alleppey for a night in a little backpackers called Artpackers.life which turned out to be a godsend. They were so helpful that as Cosy Houseboats weren’t replying to any of our previous emails, the receptionist found the correct number (wrong on booking.com) for their offices and found out our check in time and meeting point.

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Thank god, we decided to spend a night in Alleppey before boarding our cruise, otherwise we would have had enormous issues trying to contact the operators. Once everything was settled and we left the backpackers it was a quick auto rickshaw ride (INR100) to the Cosy Regency Hotel, the meeting point for the houseboat cruise.

After check in, it was explained that although we booked for a shared three night cruise we would be following the same itinerary for the three days. This meant we had to check out off the boat each day and head back to the meeting point before boarding the next boat at check in time. This important information should have been communicated to us after booking and was a little frustrating to say the least.  Whilst at the office they did try to encourage us to pay extra for a private houseboat. Once price negotiations broke down, as we weren’t going to pay their optimum price, they advised that they didn’t have a boat available and we ended up staying on the shared boat.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in India | Cosy Houseboats
The initial mooring point for the Cosy Houseboat at Alappuzha

Our next issue was that we were unable to pay using a credit card as their EFTPOS machine was faulty. Cosy houseboat management then insisted we withdrawal the daily limit for international cards (INR10000) to make a down payment. Then they would try an EFTPOS payment the next day. The manager ended up transporting us to 6 ATM machines that all had no cash available. In the end they allowed us to board and try paying the next day.

With the wedding season fully underway in India, we spent our first shared night with three other couples. Two couples were newly weds and the third couple were on their one year anniversary. All were nice and we ended up chatting away with a couple from the North of India for most of the cruise.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats of Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The sunset in Kerala

The four berth houseboat was a little rundown and in need of a little maintenance. The room was small but thankfully the bed was comfortable. Being a wooden vessel, it does get extremely hot in the cabins during the day. There is a ceiling fan to circulate air, but the air conditioning only comes on between 7pm and 7am. My advice is to stay out of the cabins until evening when the air conditioning kicks in.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
Although the cabin a a little rundown, the bed was comfortable.

The bathroom was……”fit for use”, nothing special, a bit dirty with a shower that sprayed everywhere but on you and no hot water. If you are looking for hotel quality, than this is not the place for you.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The cabins private bathroom, is nothing to call home about.

The rest of the boat is “well used”. Our boat has a dining table, eight single seated lounge chairs and a small television mounted to the wall.

Things to do in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The main dining and lounge area on the four berth houseboat

The boat has three crew members aboard, the helmsman, a cook and a waiter, who keep to themselves so you can enjoy the slow cruise through the river system. All meals, water, and tea and coffee are included in the price and are quite good. The cruise itself is casual, calm and relaxing as we traverse along the waterways.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The tranquil waterways of Kerala

We stop for lunch, moored to a riverbank and are encouraged to leave the boat to visit some shops or massage parlours. Then it’s back onboard for a final cruise around before we moor up for the night alongside the Cosy Lake Villa. Although the advertising states free wi-fi for your time on the houseboat, you actually only get limited poor wi-fi access when you berth in the evening.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The houseboat moors up for the evening at the Cosy Lake Villa

It is here we have a candlelit evening meal, before heading to our cabins for an early night. The operators do allow you to have a shower in one of the villas hotels rooms, which is a little more pleasant. Unfortunately, yet again it is without hot water.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
Cosy Lake Villa is our mooring point for the night

The boat starts up again at 8:00am and heads back into Alleppey for a 9:00am check out. Once berthed you are picked up by car or auto rickshaw and taken back to the Cosy Regency Hotel. We then have until 12:00pm before we are required to board our next vessel. Since, the Cosy Regency Hotel has average wi-fi coverage we decide to stay to book ongoing travel arrangements. Then I do the whole payment thing again, this time the Internet connection is working and I’m able to pay the total amount.

Our second boat, ends up being the boat we remain on for the next two days. It’s a smaller two cabin boat, whom we share with two more newly weds on the different days. This boat has an upstairs viewing deck but again is in serious need of maintenance. Once again the cabin is small but the bed is comfortable. It has its ceiling fan and air conditioner, which again only comes on at 7:00pm.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
Cabin on the two berth houseboat is a lot like the four berth cabin.

The bathroom is awful, and in serious need of renovating. Plus we are lucky enough to have two large cockroaches, who I meet in the middle of the night and a small lizard living in the air conditioner. Additionally, the power point in the room doesn’t work so we end up charging phones etc. on the upstairs deck.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The two berth bathroom was awful.

Although, initially we were told we would follow the same route on each day, we ended up being around the same area but each day we went down different canals. Once again the actual cruising was relaxing, the company was nice and the food was very good.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseoats
Some of the food available onboard the houseboat

Overall, Cosy Houseboats offers a cheaper affordable cruise to experience the houseboats of Kerala. Is there better boats? Yes! Are they more expensive? Yes. So depending on your budget and if you don’t mind roughing it a little, than this could be the houseboat company for you.

Cosy Houseboats has a lot of work to do to improve their product. The boats are in need of a good overhaul. The bathrooms are awful, but the silver lining is they allow you to use the Cosy Lakeview Hotel if you’d like a better shower. Communication is a huge issue. We sent two or three emails to them and received no reply and if it wasn’t for the help of Artpackers.life hostel, we would have struggled to find out any information. The staff at the hotels and on board the boats are friendly but they do try to push you to write a good review on TripAdvisor. And although it is stated you have access to wi-fi, it is very limited and rarely works.

The cruise itself is peaceful, relaxing and nice. Travelling up and down the canals is pleasant with beautiful scenery for good photos. The waterways are at times full of houseboats, so you can see how popular these cruises are.

Things to do in Kerala | Houseboats in Kerala | Cosy Houseboats
The beautiful Indian countryside as seen from Cosy Houseboats

Look, I must admit, although the houseboat was a little rundown, I really enjoyed cruising along the Kerala waterways. And although Cosy Houseboats was a little disorganised, they ended up providing what we paid for, a fully catered, three-day cruise around Kerala. So, if you don’t mind roughing it, and can put up with a few minor disappointments and a couple of creepy crawlies, than Cosy Houseboats may have the cruise for you. If not, then book somewhere else, although I can’t guarantee it will be any better.

Things to do in Kerala
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Additional Information for Cosy Houseboats

Cosy Regency, Finishing Point, Alappuzha, Kerala 688013, India
Ph: +91 477 225 5555
Website: www.cosytours.com

Cost of our three day cruise as booked on booking.com

Total: INR25000 (AUD$500)

Check in: 1200hrs Check Out: 0900hrs

Other Accommodation available in Alleppey

*Post Contains Affiliate links

Shivas Place on Patnem Beach

During our time in India, we decided to spend five days indulging in the Goan lifestyle, by relaxing on Patnem Beach in Southern Goa. With a population of over a billion people in India, we expected Patnem Beach to be hectic and packed with people. Yet, to our surprise it was peacefully relaxing and a perfect place to slowly immerse ourselves in the Indian culture and cuisine. It was during this time that we discovered a lovely little restaurant on the beach called Shivas Place.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach? | Where to stay in South Goa?
A nearly deserted Patnem Beach. I wasn’t expecting that in India.

Our accommodation for this part of our journey was at the Fun-Tastic Beach Huts. Although the bed in the hut was comfortable, the remainder of the hut was a little worse for wear. Basically, you are roughing it for five days. No real shower, no hot water, no toilet paper and a toilet that doesn’t flush properly, without pouring water from a bucket into the bowl. Yet, it is not the worst place we’ve stayed in.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach | Where to stay in South Goa
Roughing it at the Fun-Tastic Beach Huts.

The Fun-Tastic Beach Huts don’t offer breakfast or any food options, so you must discover the various restaurants, cafes and bars along the short stretch of beach. With cows, dogs and few tourists wandering along the beach it’s not hard to relax. Additionally, you are not pestered by people trying to sell their knick knacks, souvenirs and services. Once you say no they move on, no questions asked and no harassment or begging.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach
Cows happily play on the beach in between tourists.

It wasn’t too hard to select Shivas Place as our preferred option for our meals. The food is good, the prices are cheap, and we suffered no ill effects from consuming their delicious food.

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Honestly, there is nothing fancy about Shivas Place. It is a beach hut restaurant. It’s not elegantly decorated, with stylish furniture. It is basically a place to relax with old wooden tables, with bamboo chairs.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach | Where to stay in South Goa | Shivas Place
Shivas Place by candlelight.

Shivas Place is run by a young family and a group of dedicated employees who spend their days talking to their customers and allowing guests to use their day beds free of charge. We spent many days relaxing in the sun, drinking cocktails and watching the sun go down.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach | Where to stay in Goa
The sunset over Patnem Beach

In the evening like many other restaurants along the beach Shivas Place sets up a fresh fish stand, where you can select your fish to be cooked the way you like it. Our first meal was a tandoori spiced Sea Bass, which was wonderful. This was great value at INR600 (AUD$12.00). The evening meal offers an extended happy hour with two for one cocktails, which turns out to be a good night.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach | Where to stay in South Goa | Shivas Place
Some of the fresh fish available during the evening. Prices depend on what you want and how much you want.

For our first morning we tried their breakfast menu which comes with fresh fruit juice and a cup of coffee or tea. I selected the traditional English breakfast with poached eggs, which went down a treat.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach
Morning juices whilst waiting for our Traditional English Breakfast

Over the next few days we swam, walked up and down the beach, sun bathed and ate to our hearts content. We had the privilege of trying many of Shivas’ Indian menu options, which included Chicken Tikka Masala, Dal Makhani and Rogan Josh to name a few. All were delicious, but I couldn’t go past the flavour of the Chicken Tikka Masala. Absolutely superb!

Where to eat of Patnem Beach | Where to stay in South Goa
Try Shivas’ Chicken Tikka Masala or Dal Makhani

On our final night we decided to splurge a little and paid INR600(AUD$30) for a seafood platter for two. The platter consisted of a whole Sea Bass, Calamari and Various Prawns served with salad and hot chips. The platter had a touch of Tandoori flavouring which was fantastic and well worth the money. Shivas Place can make up a platter just for you depending on how much you’d like to spend.

Where to eat on Patnem Beach | Where to stay in South Goa | Shivas Place
On our last night we splurged on this Seafood Platter for two and it was fantastic.

Patnem Beach was a pleasant surprise. Quieter than most Indian tourist beaches, it was a good relaxing stay. Shivas Place made us feel welcome and at home over the five days we stayed there. The food was excellent and with an extended two for one cocktail happy hour we had some good evenings. So, if you are heading to Patnem Beach in Southern Goa, than stop in at Shivas Place for a good meal and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to Eat on Patnem Beach?
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Additional Information for Shivas Place

Address: Patnem Beach, South Goa
Ph: N/A

Trading Hours
Open Sunrise – 2200/2300hrs

Book accommodation at Patnem Beach with Booking.com

Book an Urban Adventure tour in Goa

Shivas Place rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Decor =6
Atmosphere =8
Service =9
Price = 9
Food =10

Overall = 8.4

*This post contains affiliate links. Please help us maintain this site by booking through the links. Thank you.

Ecotourism in Jordan – Feynan Ecolodge

Jordan has proven to be a remarkable country. With an abundance of ancient history and natural wonder, it is a county full of surprises. There are some beautifully preserved nature reserves to be found in Jordan and during our stay we were able to visit two. After an inspiring stay at a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, then a couple of days relaxing in Aqaba, we make the journey to the Dana Nature Reserve for a chance to sample some of Jordan’s Ecotourism at the Feynan Ecolodge.

Where to stay in Dana Nature Reserve
The magnificence of Wadi Rum.

Now getting there was interesting activity. After searching online for information, we knew we had to get on bus at Aqaba Bus Station going to the Feynan Reception centre. The Ecolodge was helpful, giving us some information on how to get there from Aqaba. We knew the bus would be at the station at 9:00 a.m, so we made sure we were there on time. What we didn’t know was that finding the right bus could be an ordeal. Luckily, a helpful passenger who understood English on the first bus we were told to get on told us we were on the wrong bus.

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After a little bit of a debate with the driver and the helpful passenger, the bus driver called over a non uniformed attendant from the bus station and he directed us to the right bus. The second bus driver advised that he would drop us off at the reception but we would need to pay for 3 seats. This was because our luggage would take up a seat, stopping another passenger from being able to board. In the end, we found this to be only fair and at 5 JOD per seat it was definitely not a bank breaker.

The bus itself is only a 20 seat mini bus and the driver waits at the station until he has a full bus. So, make sure you’re not in a rush as you can wait a few hours before the bus leaves. We found it a good time to catch up on a good book. Our bus finally left a 1:00 p.m and we headed off to Feynan.

Where to stay at the Dana Nature Reserve
The bus from Aqaba leaves once it is full. Make sure you find the attendant who speaks English to locate your bus.

The full journey took about 2.5 to 3 hours, and was quite enjoyable. The bus was full of local townsfolk. They constantly offered us drinks and food along the journey. There were also a few children onboard testing out their English skills, so we helped them with a few Aussie phrases, to their delight.

Where to stay at Dana Nature Reserve
These two local boys were testing out their English skills on us.

Although arriving a little later than expected to the Feynan reception office a staff member was available to transport us to the Ecolodge by 4WD about thirty minutes away. Driving into the nature reserve we pass Bedouin tents and families herding sheep and goats until we reach the hotel.

Where to stay at Dana Nature Reserve
Some sheep trying to stay out of the sun.

The sandstone coloured hotel is located between two hills alongside an empty river bed. We are guided by our driver into the main hotel reception area where we are kindly greeted and given refreshing towels and a drink so ease our travels.

Where to stay at near Feynan
Feynan Ecolodge is located between two mountains alongside a river bed

The Ecolodge has all the comforts of a 4 star hotel except it relies on solar power to generate its electricity. The rest of the hotel is lit at night by romantic candlelight. During our check in we are advised that the only power available in the room is the bathroom. They ask us to ensure that the bathroom light is switched off when not required as the Ecolodge has limited battery life. The only other available power is in the reception which they allow guests to recharge their phones, cameras and laptops. Recharging points are limited, so you will need to be patient to obtain a free space.

Where to stay near Feynan
Feynan Ecolodge use candles for lighting

We are escorted into our room and it has two comfortable beds a desk, a cold filtered water jug with safe drinking water and a separate bathroom. Unfortunately, this room had an issue with its  hot water supply so we were moved so they worked out the problem.

Where to stay at in Dana Nature Reserve
Our first room at the Feynan Ecolodge.

Our second room was a lot like the first except it was little larger with and extra vanity setting. The rooms have candles strategically placed around the room to give ambient lighting at night.

Where to stay in Dana Nature Reserve
Our second room at the Feynan Ecolodge was a little bit larger than our first.

Feynan Ecolodge offers is guests a variety of hikes and cultural experiences throughout the day. Their program list is set, so depending on the day you arrive dictates what events are available. Subsequently, if you decided that you’d rather hike on your own, Feynan’s staff will point you in the right direction and give you advice on where to go. Make sure you fill up your water bottles from the water tanks available in the hotel or from your filtered jug in your room.

Where to stay at the Dana Nature Reserve
The Dana Nature Reserve has some picturesque hiking trails

As we arrived pretty late on the first day, we missed the first evenings sunset hike. We then made sure we scheduled it in for the next day because it is one not to miss.

The stay package includes all meals and drinks at set times during the day. The selection of food was excellent, and they ensured that any guests with food allergies are catered for. All meals are vegetarian as they don’t have sufficient cold rooms to keep any meat products.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Some of the amazing food selection at the ecolodge

After the main dinner break the staff provides a brief presentation about the Ecolodge. The presentation highlights what the lodge are trying to do and what activities are available the next day. Once the presentation is complete we are taken onto the roof leisure area and are shown the stars through an impressive telescope.

If you’d prefer to stay in, Feynan has a lounge area with board games and a range of books in various languages. I found that most people would of course congregate around the reception room as it is the only area that has access to Wi-fi and power.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Feynan Ecolodge ‘s lounge area has a bookshelf and board games

The next day it’s an early rise, with breakfast in the dining area then a guided sampler hike in the nature reserve. Our local guide for the day is Suleiman who ensures we experience the Bedouin lifestyle. He speaks excellent English and speaks about life in the nature reserve. As he walks, he talks about various plants and their benefits to the local Bedouin people. After a good hike we have sage tea and sit chatting about our travels.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Doing the Wadi Dana sampler hike

We return back to Feynan in time for lunch followed by a visit to a Bedouin tent for local coffee. Once again Suleiman is our guide for this experience. He introduces us to a local family who invite us in for some home-brewed coffee. Suleiman explains the significance of coffee, to the Bedouin culture. Coffee is only prepared when important matters need to be discussed between families or to welcome new people into the Bedouin village. It was fascinating to watch the head of the household grind the coffee beans in a metal mortar which chimed out to neighbours that coffee was being made. It isn’t long before a neighbour pops his head in to see the newcomers (us) and indulge in a cup of coffee.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Our friendly guide Suleiman, grinding coffee beans during our Bedouin experience

When we return to Feynan, it isn’t long before the start of the sunset hike. We all chat during our walk and when it came time to watch the sun go down, we were amazed by its pure beauty. Our guide  makes the group sage tea and we drink whilst enjoying the surrounding view.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
Don’t miss the evening hike to capture some beautiful sunsets

Once the sun disappears its back to the Ecolodge for another incredible dinner, with visits from local goats, camels, sheep, and donkeys. It is quite fun having your meals with a local animals wandering freely around.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
It’s amazing the animals you meet at Feynan Ecolodge

After a busy day we are exhausted and retire early. The next day we are convinced to take the longer canyon hike by ourselves. A local driver transports us to the canyon entrance and organises our pick-up time. Then we hike down the river bed taking in the freshness of the air and the constant flow of a small stream. We see frogs and lizards and a couple of Bedouin woman herding their family goats. The area is beautiful and after a few hours we head back to meet up with our driver to return to Feynan.

Where to stay in the Dana Nature Reserve
The early stages of the Wadi Ghwayr Hike

Feynan Ecolodge is a perfect place to visit when in Jordan. There is no pressure for you to do anything. If you want you could just relax the days away reading a good book. I recommend doing the activities available to you. Take some hikes, meet the local Bedouin people or learn to cook Middle Eastern cuisine. The staff are friendly and helpful, and speak many different languages, so communication shouldn’t be to much of a problem.

Therefore, visit the Dana Nature Reserve and the Feynan Ecolodge soon, Say hello to Suleiman for me and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.

Where to stay at Dana Nature Reserve
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Additional Information for the Feynan Ecolodge

Address:  Dana Nature Reserve
Ph: +962 6 464 5580
Website: www.ecohotels.me/feynan

Prices of accommodation per night at Feynan Ecolodge

Ranging from 160 JOD(AUD$300) – 195 JOD(AUD$365) 

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

*Post Contains Affiliate links

Our Quick Bite: Hashem Restaurant, Jordan

After a long day touring Jordan, we finally get back to Amman and it’s starting to get late. Our base for our stay in Amman is the Amman Pasha Hotel. All the information provided by the hotel is to ensure that if you do go out to eat, make sure that is listed on other review sites, and has a good rating. Why, you may ask? Our hotel tells us that it is common for travellers to get a tummy bug! Which I can tell you from experience, isn’t nice! One restaurant that they do recommend is Hashem Restaurant. This is reinforced a couple of times during our stay from other Amman locals, and not just the hotel.

Where to eat in Amman
The impressive Roman Amphitheatre in Amman, Jordan.

If you didn’t know any better, from the outside Hashem Restaurant isn’t the most attractive or inviting place to eat. But it is packed with locals and a scattering of apprehensive tourists. We ask the waiter for a table for two and are guided to the closest available table.

Where to eat in Amman
Hashem Restaurant is always busy, customers are in and out like clockwork.

Our waiter approaches and is ready to take our order, we ask for a menu. The menu is simple, there’s no menu. They offer falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, fresh bread and a salad. You dictate how much you want and what you want. We decided to try it all. Other staff occasionally walk by offering sage tea to customers. But we decline as we’ve just had some at the Amman Pasha Hotel.

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It isn’t long before the food is brought out to the table. Visually, the food is nothing special, a swirling of hummus and baba ghanoush in shallow bowls, warm fresh bread for dipping and small brown balls of falafel. When I break open the falafel and I’m greeted by a glorious green colour and once I taste it i know it is probably some of the best falafel I’ve ever had. The hummus has a smooth creamy texture and is sensational, and the baba ghanoush is superb. I immediately think, I’m definitely ordering more, but decide to wait until we’re finished before ordering again.

Where to eat in Amman
The lovely spread of food offered by Hashem Restaurant and it was absolutely superb!

In the end we didn’t end up ordering anymore, because it is quite filling. We go to pay and are astonished the price of all the food with two bottles of water comes to 4.50JOD (which is about AUD$8). For such a sensational meal you can’t go past this remarkable price.

So, when in Amman do yourself a favour and make a visit to Hashem Restaurant. Getting there was easy we just walked from our hotel using Google Maps, but I’m sure nearly everyone is Amman knows of Hashem Restaurant. Everyone we met did! Have a great meal and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to Eat in Amman, Jordan?
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Additional Information for Hashem Restaurant

Address: King Faisal Street, Amman, Jordan
Ph: +962 6 463 6440

Trading Hours
Open 24 hours 

Book accommodation in Amman with Booking.com

Hashem Restaurant rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Decor =5
Atmosphere =10
Service =8
Price = 10
Food =10

Overall = 8.5

Indulging at the the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Jordan has always held a little intrigue as a place to visit. I of course knew about the magnificence of historical Petra, seeing it a few times on travel shows and in blockbuster films. Yet, Jordan is so much more than that. There is some awesome protective reserves and it also boasts the lowest place on Earth. At 450 metres below sea level the Dead Sea is an attraction that in my mind must be visited. During our journey in Jordan, we couldn’t resist the temptation of taking a dip in the Dead Sea whilst staying at the brand-new Hilton Dead Sea Resort.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Looking out over the Dead Sea from the Hilton Dead Sea

The brand-new Hilton Dead Sea Resort is approximately 7 months old opening in early 2017. We travelled from Jordan’s capital city Amman via driver transfer for 50JOD (AUD$90). There are probably cheaper ways to travel to the Dead Sea, but we opted for door to door service and sat back and enjoyed the one and a half hour drive. Prices do vary so make sure you are happy paying the price before jumping in the taxi or private driver.

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Situated alongside the vast expanse that is the Dead Sea, the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is a well secured facility with guards only allowing listed guests through the checkpoint. Our car is checked we drive down into the hotel and are greeted by the Hilton’s helpful staff. Once you enter the lobby you are again greeted at a security checkpoint for a luggage scan (like at any airport). They take their security seriously at the Hilton!

Where to stay at the Dead Dea?
The large lobby area inside the Hilton Dead Sea Resort with its central water feature

The main lobby of the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is incredibly large, the reception desk is to the right with a cafe/bar to the left. You can’t help but stop and look at the spectacular view of the Dead Sea straight ahead of you.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Welcome to the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

We are greeted by the smart-looking staff, checked in and escorted to our room in the Marhaba section. The hotel is divided into sections like Marhaba and Petra, so guests can find their way back to their rooms easier.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
A King Guest room has a refreshing tropical feel about it.

The King guest room allocated to us is wonderfully decorated with a stunning view over the hotel pools and Dead Sea.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea?
Look at the stunning view from our King Guest Room at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

The room contains a safe, ironing board, television, table and chairs and King bed. After a short time, we were delivered a nice welcoming treat of fruits, nuts, macaroons, and chocolate.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
A welcome gift was delivered to our room. Yummy! Thank you.

There is a large bathroom area and separate toilet, for your added comfort. The only thing we could pick on was the only power point that the hairdryer could be plugged into near a mirror was next to the front door. Surprisingly, not in the bathroom area.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
The large bathroom is stylish, but there is no power point for a hair dryer.

The hotel oozes luxury with its pools and private white sanded beach leading to the slick salty water. Stylish restaurants, cafes and bars are positioned around the complex to eat, meet and greet other guests. So, you can easily stay within the resort for your entire stay and not be disappointed.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Located near the pools, Bacchus is a casual Italian Trattoria

The hotel has multiple pool areas. From the adult area with poolside bar to the family area and kids club. Towels for the pool are supplied by the hotel, with pool attendants available to take your food and drink orders. The family pools have lifeguards to ensure the safety of your family.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Lounging by the pool is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon

Most people come to the Dead Sea to float around and experience this remarkable phenomenon. The mud contains healing properties so there are mud basins and mirrors available for you to apply the thick rich mud. After fifteen minutes you then hop into the Dead Sea to wash off. Make sure you read the warning boards before you take a dip as the high salt content can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. Additionally, it can be uncomfortable if you have a cut or abrasion.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
For someone who normally can’t float. It’s a freaky feeling, like a bobbing cork.

Breakfast is served in the Spectrum Restaurant and Executive Lounge daily. They provide an extensive range for breakfast from a continental breakfast to individually ordered plates. It’s the ideal way to start a relaxing day.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Breakfast is available from the Spectrum Restaurant daily

The Hilton Dead Sea Resort, reminds me a lot like a cruise ship, everything you want to make your stay comfortable is right there. You really don’t have to leave the resort to have an enjoyable stay. Yet, saying that if you did want to adventure away from the resort, the concierge can help you to organise a tour. Subsequently, if you’d rather go it alone, the AVIS car rental booth has vehicles available.

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
Such a beautiful sunset over the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Overall the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is a beautiful place to stay. As active travellers, it was actually nice to rest and lounge by the sea for a day. It was also special to stand outside during the evening and watch the sun setting over the Sea. I do recommend taking a dip in the Dead Sea. The water feels oily and leaves a filmy residue on your skin, but the sense of just floating around is quite appealing. With plenty of food options and a Kids Club it is an ideal place for a family to base their Jordan stay. So, why not head there today and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Where to stay at the Dead Sea
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Additional Information for the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Address:  Dead Sea Road، Sweimeh 11953, Jordan
Ph: +962 5 349 3000
Website: www.hilton.com

Book your stay at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort now with Booking.com

Prices of accommodation per night at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort

Ranging from 111 JOD(AUD$205) – 449 JOD(AUD$830) 

Check in: 1400hrs Check Out: 1200hrs

*Post Contains Affiliate links

It’s a small world at Miniaturk. Well in Turkey anyway!

Once again Istanbul has been a great place to stay. The culture the atmosphere and the people have been kind and gracious. If you are considering a trip to Turkey, then I would say without any hesitation, “do it!”

What to do in Istanbul?
The Galata Bridge on the Golden Horn

As Australian’s, we’ve been to Turkey for the last couple of years. Last year, we experienced the pilgrimage to the Gallipoli peninsula, which is considered a rite of passage for many Australian’s. Here we paid our respect to the fallen heroes of WWI.

What to do in Istanbul
A monument in Eceabat Turkey, depicting trench warfare between Australian and Turkish troops

Then we visited Istanbul and had an incredible meal at Mehmet Gürs marvellous Mikla. Both times have come away with the same impression of Turkey. “What a remarkably friendly place!” Although the tensions of the regions have affected Turkey we have found it to be a safe place to go. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed in the amazing history, culture, markets and food.

What to do in Istanbul?
The amazing colours in the spice Bazaar

Therefore, why not dip your toes into Turkey? And if you only decide to visit Istanbul, there is a remarkable little place that showcases all of the major attractions within Turkey called Miniaturk.

What to do in Istanbul?
Miniaturk, is a miniature version of all the sights of Turkey.

Miniaturk, is park consisting of miniature models of the sights of Turkey. It’s located alongside a stretch of the Golden Horn and is a nice place for families and backpackers to discover what Turkey has to offer.  If you haven’t finalised your itinerary whilst backpacking in Turkey, stop by at Miniaturk and discover which cities contain some of Turkey exquisite architectural history.

What to do in Istanbul?
Miniaturk  is alongside the Golden Horn. It’s on the right in this picture, behind the white tent.

See places like the Galata Tower, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Green Tomb of Bursa, Cappadocia or the white terraces of Pamukkale all in the one park.

What to do in Istanbul?
Look at the detail they have put into the model of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia

The models contained are a remarkable re-creation of these attractions and you can’t help but marvel at all the places to available to see. During our visit, we constantly commented about going to see certain attractions.

What to do in Istanbul
It looks like I’m on the roof of a football stadium. Alas it’s only the Miniaturk Stadium model.

Spend some time walking up and down the walkways, it takes a good one and a half hours to traverse the entire site.

Urban Adventure Tours

There is also plenty of things to entertain you and your family. Miniaturk also has a large playground, games arcade and a small train that the kids can ride on. For the older kids and adults, you can also try the helicopter flight simulator. Who’s the best pilot in your family?

What to do in Istanbul?
How about testing your helicopter piloting skills at Flyride?

Additionally, Miniaturk has multiple food stalls scattered around the park and a nice restaurant if you prefer something more substantial.

What to do in Istanbul?
If you are starting to get hungry! Take a break at the Miniaturk restaurant before continuing.

To finish the day, stop into the souvenir store and take home a memento of your time in Turkey.

What to do in Istanbul?
On the way home, pick up a souvenir from the gift shop.

Overall Miniaturk is a fun and amazing place to visit. Get some inspiration of other attractions around Turkey. At an inexpensive cost, Miniaturk is an ideal place for a young family to experience some of Turkey’s attractions without actually having to visit them. Of course, it is always better to see them up close and personal. But if you don’t have the time, this is the next best thing. So, if you are in Istanbul visit Miniaturk and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

What to do in Istanbul?
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Additional Information for Miniaturk

Address: Sütlüce Mahallesi, İmrahor Cd. 7/1, 34445 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Ph: +90 212 222 28 82
Website: www.miniaturk.com.tr

Cost 15 TRY per person (AUD$5)

Trading Hours:
  • Monday 9am–7pm
    Tuesday 9am–7pm
    Wednesday 9am–7pm
    Thursday 9am–7pm
    Friday 9am–7pm
    Saturday 9am–7pm
    Sunday 9am–7pm

Available accommodation in Istanbul

Looking for something else to do in Istanbul, try these tours available through Urban Adventures!

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Sarajevo Scars and Smiles, an Urban Adventure

In all our travels, Sarajevo would be one of the top 10 cities that has intrigued me the most in the Balkans. A city still rebuilding. Trying to ensure their past mistakes don’t erupt again. When speaking to its residence you can see their frustration from their “scars and smiles”. Yet, those frustrations aren’t directed towards the different ethnic groups, they are directed towards their over-governed parliament. With unemployment rising, Sarajevo is becoming more reliant on tourists visiting and understanding the beauty, culture and pain of this remarkable city.

What to do in Sarajevo?
Miljacka River, Sarajevo from the Yellow Fortress

During our stay here, we base ourselves at two completely different accommodation options. For the first part of our visit, we stay outside of the city centre at the four-starred Hotel Emiran. Then for the remainder of our stay we head into the old town and experience what hostel living is like at Hostel Franz Ferdinand. It is here that we organise the Scars and Smiles, Urban Adventures tour online.Urban Adventure Tours
Urban Adventures offer two quality tours, the Story of Sarajevo and Scars and Smiles.

What to do in Sarajevo?
The Scars and Smiles Meeting point – City Hall & National Library

The Scars and Smiles tour starts at 9:00 a.m and our meeting point for the tour is the impressive city hall/ national library building. Our friendly helpful guide for the tour is Almedin, who you cannot miss due to his 205cm height. Almedin is the tallest tour guide we have ever had. No need for an umbrella or a sign, because if you can’t see him, then he’s not there!

What to do in Sarajevo
At 205cm, Almedin would possibly be the tallest tour guide. He’s holding a homemade weapon used during the Siege of Sarajevo.

Group sizes vary from day-to-day and on our tour, we only had one other guest. Almedin spoke excellent English and was a toddler during the Sarajevo siege, so has an honest family perspective of life during wartime.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
One of the many mortar and bullet riddled apartment buildings in Sarajevo

During our tour, Almedin speaks passionately about the scars and smiles of the Bosnian people. He talks about why the war occurred, how it ended and specific tragedies that had befallen its residents at the time.

What to do in Sarajevo?
Sarajevo has multiple cemeteries scattered throughout the city, highlighting the toll of the war.

We are taken on a 3 hour journey around the city of Sarajevo and visit important places like the Sarajevska brewery, the only source of fresh water in Sarajevo at the time. Almedin then speaks about the importance of the Sarajevo roses, shows us a memorial for the children and takes us for Bosnian coffee.

What to do in Sarajevo?
Sarajevska Brewery was the only source of fresh water in Sarajevo during the war, due to its underground spring.

An intriguing and at times moving tour, Almedin speaks about life after the conflict and finishes the tour at the Sarajevo National Theatre.

What to do in Sarajevo?
The end point for the tour is the National Theatre

Once the tour is completed, guests can either join Almedin for a drink at a local pub or state their farewells. I suggest having a drink with this kind gentleman and learning more about Bosnian and Herzegovinian hospitality.

What to do in Sarajevo
Trying a Sarajevska beer with Almedin after the tour.

Overall for the price, the Scars and Smiles tour is a fantastic way of getting to understand Sarajevo and its tragic history. So, book your Urban Adventure tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

What to do in Sarajevo?
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Additional Information for Urban Adventures: Scars and Smiles

Cost: Adult –  €24 (AUD$36.50) Child – €13 (AUD$20)

    • Tour Highlight
      • Learn how Sarajevo has rebuilt itself since the war
      • Experience the startling contrast of war times and peaceful times, and see how locals are honouring the past
      • See important sites such as the National Library and Central Bank, and hear about the history that haunts them
      • Visit the Sarajevo Brewery, which provided the city with drinking water during the siege
      • Visit the marketplace that was the site of the 1994 massacre, and see it as it is now, with locals going about their day-to-day

Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, entry fees to sites, food samples in the market, drink (glass of wine, beer, or soft drink) at the last stop.

Exclusions: Additional food and drinks, souvenirs and items of a personal nature, tips/gratuities for your guide.

  • Schedule details
    • Duration: 3 hours
    • Meeting point:City Hall/National Library (at the stairs), Obala Kulina bana, Sarajevo
    • Starting time: 9.00 AM
    • Ending point:Sarajevo National Theatre, Obala Kulina bana 9, Sarajevo

Book your accommodation in Sarajevo here!

Book another Urban Adventure tour here!

*Post Contains Affiliate Links, by booking via our link allows us to continue providing reviews for you.

Our world is an amazing place, so go out there and enjoy it!