Tag Archives: hotel

Travelling for less is more

23 Oct

I’m not ashamed to admit that travelling is all about quantity rather than quality for me. I’d share a dorm room with a sasquatch and eat nothing but haggis if it meant that I could afford to spend a few extra days on the road. That’s how much I love travelling.

Considering my success in exploring nearly 30 countries over just the past few years and with no more than an average salary, I’ve realised a number of good tricks to minimise costs. These are my top tips for getting the most bang out of your buck:

Liaise directly with service providers
Plan and manage your trip directly with service providers to avoid higher prices due to handling fees. I always book my own flights through airline websites, unless I need assistance coordinating a complicated stop-over involving more than one airline.

Shea enjoyed authentic Japanese accommodation. This bed 'n breakfast was attached to a temple at Takayama in the Japan Alps.

Swap Hilton for homely
Popular hotel chains are enjoyable but they’re generally expensive and don’t offer a real taste of the countries they are in. I use hostelworld.com to identify authentic guest houses or bed ‘n breakfasts that cost only a fraction of the price and usually come with hospitable local operators and cultural quirks.

Capsule hotel accommodation in Tokyo, Japan - it was affordable and fun to experience.

Take advantage of last minute deals
Depending on your destination, it’s sometimes possible to negotiate cheaper rates for accommodation on arrival. This is particularly true in Asia and it’s all part of the fun of bargaining within many Asian cultures. Similarly, tour operators sometimes offer lower prices to fill remaining seats.

Don’t buy a new “holiday wardrobe”
Is it really worth spending a few hundred dollars just so you can wear a couple of new outfits in your photographs? Unless you will be hiking above 3,000 metres or white water rafting for several days, I guarantee you already have appropriate clothes for your upcoming journey. If you insist on jazzing up your wardrobe, buy some accessories while you’re on the road.

Only invest in gifts that really matter
Too often I see tourists spending large sums on silly gadgets and items which they can buy at home anyway. Save your spending money for things that are unique to your destination or buy goods from locals in need to make a small difference in their lives.

By Marissa Toohey

Best and worst of Saigon’s night scene

12 Sep

BEST AND WORST OF SAIGON’S NIGHT SCENE  Ho Chi Minh City is estimated to have a greater population than New York City, so it should not be surprising then that it boasts dozens of nighttime venues that are trendy even by Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda’s standards.

I’ve sampled a number of the popular expat and local night spots during the past six weeks, including many of Lonely Planet’s top suggestions. Some are classy and some are just wild. Here are tastes of the best and the worst.

Yoko Bar – live music
Yoko is stylish, relaxing and comfortable. You can check out Yoko any night of the week and you’re guaranteed to stumble upon some great tunes. From classical to hard rock, this place has got it all. Oh, and the bar staff make sensational cocktails too! Try my favourite: Poison. Here is a taste of the very talented band that appears regularly on Friday nights.

Lush nightclub. One of the hottest night spots in Ho Chi Minh City.

Lush – nightclub
If you’re looking for the latest dance and r’nb hits, Lush is the place to be. You will shake it all night long on the dance floor and sometimes staff dance along too. This slick club also has a first class design, with floor-to-roof art, a second-tier dance floor and a huge bar (pictured right).

Apocolypse Now – nightclub
Warning: Do not go to Apocolypse “Apo” Now sober or before midnight. Apo is usually the first nightclub tourists experience, either because it’s the first venue listed in the Lonely Planet or they have heard of it’s reputation. It’s sleasy, greasy and definitely easy. However, it’s always a reliable option after midnight when many other venues shutdown.

My friend Rebecca and I on the dance floor at The Factory.

The Factory – nightclub
Unlike most nightclubs in Ho Chi Minh City, The Factory usually offers room to move on the dance floor. The DJs perform great sets too. The best thing about The Factory, however, is the quirky factory-like theme. Bar staff wear miners outfits, complete with hardhats and orange overalls, and the walls are lined with industrial fans. The only drawback on this venue are the pricey drinks.

Do you know a great venue to share with readers? Please comment in the box below (no sign-up required).

By Marissa Toohey

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