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Where to Stay in Kathmandu, Nepal


When choosing where you are going to stay in a city, there are a few things that you need to consider. You will want to be staying in a safe area that is close in proximity to some of the places you want to visit in the city and that is comfortable for you to stay.

This can be difficult to narrow down a list of places that you can stay in some cities, and we found it especially difficult finding where to stay in Kathmandu, Nepal. This was a city that we did not have a lot of knowledge about before visiting in 2014 nor did we know many people that had traveled here.

Thankfully our trip to Kathmandu went wonderfully and you can learn more about what you can do with your time in Kathmandu here. In this post, we are going to discuss the best place to stay when you are in the city and what you should consider when booking a place to stay.


Where to Stay in Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu: Where to Stay

Accommodation is one of the most difficult things to book when we are traveling. It is difficult to find a balance between the things that we expect and are looking for in a place to stay. Especially when we are staying in a city that is not completely developed. This just complicates things even more so.

Do you want a place to just be able to lay your head at night? Are you wanting to have a place to stay that will offer you a little bit more than a roof over your head? What is the length of time you are planning to stay? Perhaps if you are staying longer than a week you are going to to want to stay somewhere that is more comfortable than just a shared room in a hostel.

There is a lot to consider when looking for the perfect place to stay, but when we are choosing where to stay in a city we consider three things:

  • Safety
  • This is the number one most important thing for us when booking a trip. We want to know that the place we booked is in a safe area of the city so that when we are leaving our accommodation in the morning and returning late at night that we are not questioning our safety. This is the number one thing we need to consider when booking a hotel and this comes down to knowing the best area or areas to stay within a city.

  • Proximity
  • Finding the best place to stay within a city also has to do with proximity to the places that you want to visit within that city. If you plan to do a lot of day trips, perhaps there is an area of the city that is nice and close to the bus terminal that will take you to these different locations. Maybe the city has a lot of attractions located in specific part of town and you know that you can stay in an area close to them. This will save you money in transportation costs, as well as time in getting lost or confusion on how to get from one point to another.

  • Comfortability
  • Last, but certainly not least in our search for the perfect place to stay, is finding a place that will be comfortable. You do not want to enter your room and find unsightly things that will haunt you during your stay there. We have heard too many horror stories from couples on our Travel Couple Podcast where they booked a place and it was nothing like they had imagined it to be. This forces them out looking for another place to stay last minute which causes many more headaches and pains during your travels. Finding the right place the first time is incredibly important in planning a successful trip.

We take all of these three factors into consideration in the following post to bring you a list of places you should consider when staying in Kathmandu, Nepal. First, we need to take a look at what area you should be looking for a place to stay.

 

Best Area to Stay in Kathmandu

When it comes to looking for the right area to stay when you are in Kathmandu, there is one such area that comes to mind and is the number one area for anyone traveling to the city. This is Thamel.


Thamel, Kathmandu Map

Thamel is the travelers district in Kathmandu known for the many backpackers that stay in the many hotels, hostels, and guest houses that this area has to offer. It is also known for many bars, restaurants, and the nightlife of Kathmandu all rolled into one. If you are looking to eat, drink, and explore local markets during your time in Kathmandu, then this offers it all within a one or two kilometer radius. You can even escape the noise and pollution of the city by visiting the Garden of Dreams, a walled area of the city with a beautiful green space, restaurant, and bar.

Thamel is also close to a few major attractions within the city and within walking distance to Durbar Square where you can find a palace, markets, and many more things to do. In addition to all of this, Thamel is also the area where you can catch buses to neighboring cities for your day trips or even to Pokhara.


Thamel, Kathmandu Map

 

Best Place to Stay in Kathmandu




Booking.com


When considering the best places to stay in Kathmandu, we stuck to the Thamel area. Though there are some other nice areas and places that you can stay in Kathmandu, Thamel trumps them all in our opinion. The following places have been reviewed with great performance in terms of what they offer guests, and of course safety and comfortability have already been taken into consideration as they are all in a great location.

  • Best Hotels in Thamel, Kathmandu

  • There is no shortage of hotels to stay at in Thamel. We broke this down into three different categories: 3, 4, and 5 star hotels. If you are looking for a less expensive place to stay during your time in Kathmandu, then the 3 star hotels will provide you a roof over your head and they are the highest reviewed hotels available. The 4 star hotels will provide a little bit more comfort for a slightly pricier stay. There is only one 5 star hotel available in the Thamel area as considered by Booking.

    1. 3 Star Hotels in Kathmandu

      • Kumari Boutique Hotel
      • This hotel has a terrace, concierge services, free private parking, a restaurant with a continental breakfast available daily, room service, free WiFi, and rooms with air conditioning, TV with satellite channels, fridge, electric tea pot, private bathroom, and some rooms that include a balcony and city view.

        Rooms start at around $50 USD and this hotel has a 3 Star rating and an impressive 9.6 rating from 1,076 reviews.

    2. 4 Star Hotels in Kathmandu

      • Apsara Boutique Hotel
      • It has a terrace with views of the mountains, free WiFi, and free private parking if you decide you want to drive while you are in Kathmandu (we would not recommend it). Rooms have TVs, private bathrooms (bath robes, slippers, and free toiletries included), free airport shuttle service, and an on-site restaurant and bar with room service and packed lunches available to guests.

        This hotel has a 4 Star rating and an 8.8 rating with 386 Reviews from guests. This hotel will cost about $80 USD per night depending on the season and availability.

    3. 5 Star Hotels in Kathmandu

      • Aloft Kathmandu Thamel
      • This hotel offers you the most during your stay in Kathmandu. With a bar, restaurant, fitness center, lounge, casino, pool, room service, and tour organization for guests, this hotel has a lot more comfort to provide for your stay. Rooms have air conditioning, a TV with satellite channels, private bathrooms with free toiletries, closet, coffee machine, and an electric teapot. There are continental and buffet breakfasts available daily. In addition, you can take advantage of the shuttle service from the airport that it offers its guests.

        This hotel holds a 5 Star rating and an 8.7 rating with a small amount of reviews currently. Rooms start at about $125 USD.

  • Best Hostel in Kathmandu

    • K Hostel
    • If hostel living interests you, you can save a significant amount of money by sharing a room with others. These hostels offer similar facilities with a 24 hour front desk, restaurant, tour desk and currency exchange, shared bathroom and shower, breakfast included, and a terrace.

      K Hostel holds an 8.8 rating with a small amount of reviews and beds starting as low as $5 USD per person.

    • 4 Seasons Hostel
    • The 4 Seasons Hostel does not have a currency exchange service but has an ATM Machine, while also having a private bathroom in the full room bookings. You can book from one to four people in these rooms which offer some savings if you are traveling with a group of people but want to have your own room. They also offer an airport shuttle.

      4 Seasons Hostel holds a 9.0 rating with 61 reviews and rooms beginning at just $20 USD.

  • Cheap Guest House in Kathmandu

    • Suitable Home in Kathmandu
    • Though not yet rated on Booking, this place has rooms with beautiful views of the mountains from the balconies, air conditioning, free WiFi, and a bar. Continental breakfast is available every morning here.

      This has yet to be reviewed and is not rated. Rooms start at $30 USD.

 

We definitely recommend that when you book your accommodation that you reach out to the host or owner and request an airport pick up. Double checking before you book that the place you are staying offers this we feel is important. When you arrive in Kathmandu airport for the first time, you will understand.

It was an overwhelming experience for us. As soon as you leave the airport you are mobbed by swarms of people wanting to take your luggage to your vehicle in order to get a tip. And they are more aggressive than anywhere we have ever been before. This was definitely the most negative aspect of our stay in Nepal.

We had scheduled an airport pick up through the place we were staying and they found us right away. Still, people were trying to grab our luggage to take it to the vehicle and I was constantly having to pull it away from people. When we got to the car, they were still trying to grab our luggage to pass it up to the people on the roof of the van to strap it down for our drive. They managed to take it away from us despite us telling them that it was not necessary, we could pass it up. After they demanded a tip for this, we got into the van and shut the door. At this point, somebody forcefully opened the door and aggressively demanded a tip.

Our driver told us it was better to give some money so that they stopped bugging us and we were able to leave the parking lot. With only large bills provided by the currency exchange, I had to give them a large tip for this service that was extremely negative. We tell you this story to prepare you for what you will experience at the airport. Kathmandu was a lovely city besides this and we had a great time here. However, it is best to prepare for the airport and have a vehicle ready there to take you to your accommodation. We could not even think about how difficult that experience could have been if we also needed to figure out where to grab a taxi and get to our place.

 

Have you ever been to Kathmandu? What was your experience like here? What area and place did you stay while you were there? If you have any questions about staying in Kathmandu, feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Best Area to Stay in Kathmandu, Nepal

Best Place to Stay in Kathmandu, Nepal

Canada Niagara Falls in the Winter: Activities and One Day Itinerary


I do not know what it is about waterfalls that make them so fascinating. The mass amounts of water swiftly moving towards a drop-off point that plummets into a pool several feet below, the calming sound of the water, or just the idea that nature has provided us with something so unbelievably beautiful to wonder at.

For these reasons, I have always been drawn to waterfalls while traveling. They provide for wonderful photo opportunities. The city of Niagara Falls, Canada is home to the magnificent Niagara Falls. It is truly a site to for the senses. The city offers more to tourists than just a wonderful view. With the surrounding attractions, it provides families, honeymooners, and many others with a few days of excitement. Though the falls separates Canada from the United States, be sure to see the falls from the Canadian side.

There is no doubt that this area is beautiful for a day out in the summer months. The warm weather mixed with the views and sounds of the falls and wandering around Clifton Hill is the perfect combination for a weekend away. However, do not miss out on Niagara Falls in the winter months. There are still many attractions open and activities that are planned during these months to keep you outside in the colder temperatures still enjoying your time. Not only that, but it is also much less busy during these colder periods which means you have more of the Falls to yourself.

In this post, we list the different activities and attractions that you can plan for your stay in Niagara Falls during the winter time, how you can get there, the best places to eat, and where you should be staying to make the most of your time in this wonderful city.


Canada Niagara Falls in the Winter

Reasons to Visit Niagara Falls



The Niagara Falls are about 12,000 years old. The Horseshoe Falls are 180 feet (57 meters) high, dropping 6 million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters) of water every minute. The area is an important piece of Canadian history as Europeans explored and began to settle the New World hundreds of years ago. It is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the War of 1812, Lundy’s Lane. Niagara Falls provides a little bit of everything to a tourist with it’s views, attractions, and entertainment.

When you get to Niagara Falls, relax and walk along the pathway that overlooks the falls. Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the falls. The best and most famous attraction in Niagara Falls is the falls itself. This is easy to comprehend. It is the landmark of the city and its free to see. Take a romantic walk at night time to see them lit up. The remainder of the attractions in the city cost money, but are well worth taking a look at while you are in town.

From the attractions and activities that the city has planned throughout the year to just being able to walk alongside the falls, there is a long list of reasons to visit Niagara Falls. However, in this post we are going to focus on the things that you can do in Niagara Falls in the winter time. Luckily in the winter time, unless there are major events planned like Christmas and New Years fireworks, it is much less crowded and you can really enjoy the falls to yourself.

 

Things to Do in Niagara Falls in Winter

There are some great attractions and activities to do during the summer months and though some of these are closed during the winter months, there are still many more additional attractions and activities in the winter months to keep you busy in Niagara Falls.

The only two notable closures during these winter months are the Niagara Speedway (outdoor GoKarting experience), WildPlay Zipline to the Falls, WildPlay Whirlpool Adventure Course, Whirlpool Aero Car, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, and the lower level observation deck of the Journey Behind the Falls due to the icy conditions, but you can still get in behind the falls at a reduced rate.

Niagara Falls Winter Attractions

  1. Seeing the Frozen Falls
  2. Open year round and 24/7, this is completely free. Walking around the area of the falls is the best thing to do while you are in Niagara Falls. Walking the full length and just enjoying the peace of the falls crashing against the rocks is a beautiful thing. If you get up nice and early, you can have the whole place to yourself. By around 9 a.m. people are beginning to show up, but in the winter time there are much less people than there are during the summer months.

    Not to mention the Falls are frozen during the winter! Add in some snow and it is a magical place to visit in these freezing months. Of course when it is less cold outside for a period of time then the Falls will be less frozen. But if you get a few weeks of below freezing temperatures along with some snowfall, you can get some incredible photos of these beautiful falls partially frozen or sometimes even completely frozen.


    Frozen Niagara Falls

    Frozen Niagara Falls

    Visit the Table Rock Visitor Center which is close to the Horseshoe Falls and get more information on the attractions that Niagara Falls has to offer, do some souvenir shopping, have a meal at the restaurant overlooking the falls, and even purchase your tickets to Journey Behind the Falls.

  3. Journey Behind the Falls
  4. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on Saturdays) with an admission price of $21.95 for adults and $14.00 for children 6-12 years of age with reduced pricing in the winter, the next thing that we recommend you try is getting in behind the falls. This was an experience that we did not think would be as exciting as it actually was. But seeing the underground tunnels in behind the falls and getting a glimpse of just how powerful that water is as you hear it and see it flowing right past the tunnels within mere feet of you. It was really an interesting 30 minutes to one hour of our time and something we would recommend anyone to try. It took us a few visits to finally try this out and we were so happy that we did.


    Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara Falls

    Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara Falls

    Though during the winter months the lower observation deck is closed, we would actually recommend you do this one during the winter. This is because you can get right up close to the lower deck and still take some nice photos of the falls in an enclosed space with open windows, the only difference is that you would be 50 feet closer to the falls and getting completely soaked from the water. Because of this, the tickets are also reduced in price. Also, in the summer months this attraction is full of people! It would take you more than an hour of waiting in line to get to the elevators to be bumping into people through the tunnels. In the winter time, we went during its opening hours and were among five other people in the whole place. This is the perfect winter attraction.

  5. Falls Incline Railway
  6. Take a short ride before or after your Journey Behind the Falls trip on the Incline Railway. It is open year-round with varying hours during the week open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Tuesdays open at 12 p.m.) and on the weekends open at 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with admission being $2.43 one way or $4.87 round trip with a full day pass costing $6.19. It offers a different view of the falls as you complete a trip up or down in a climate-controlled pod that is fully accessible.

  7. Niagara Skywheel
  8. Open 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Fridays and Saturdays until 1 a.m.) the Niagara Skywheel costs $10.99 and takes you around for three revolutions soaring 175 feet above the falls. The first couple of times that we visited Niagara Falls, we did not take this ride. We did not see it being an attraction that would interest us and thought it was too expensive if it was something that we would not enjoy. We were completely wrong. This is worth every penny. Especially in the winter time at night with all of the lights and the falls lit up.


    Niagara Skywheel, Niagara Falls

    Niagara Skywheel, Niagara Falls

    In the winter time, the falls are lit up at night and there are several Christmas lights around the parks surrounding the falls. If you take the Skywheel at night time, you can see these from 175 feet in the air with an incredible view of the whole area. However, the trade off is that the lines will be slightly busier. Still they are nothing compared to the summer months. If you do not want to wait in line, you can get on just before sunset and pretty much walk right on without any wait.


  9. Skylon Tower
  10. The Skylon Tower, reaching 775 feet above the falls, gives tourists an opportunity to have a commanding 360 degree view of the city. The view from the observation deck, though fairly expensive, is worth the price of admission. To go up the Skylon Tower to the observation deck costs $10.79 (CDN). You can also choose to eat at the top of the tower with the view of the falls from your table. Though it is an incredible place to view the falls from, if you had to choose between the Skylon Tower and the Skywheel, we would choose the Skywheel everytime.


    A view of the falls from the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

    Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls


  11. Fallsview Casino
  12. These days I am not much of a gambler, but whenever I want to lose some money we visit the casino in Niagara Falls to do so. It provides a great night out and some entertainment as any casino does in an area with some fancier eating opportunities if you want to plan a more romantic night out with some fun with your significant other.

  13. Clifton Hill
  14. This is the best place to visit at night time with all of its flashing lights and attractions for people of all ages. This is where all of the shopping, attractions for the kids, and fun is to be had in Niagara Falls once you are finished visiting the Falls themselves. Take a stroll around here at night for the best effect and enjoy a Hershey’s hot chocolate while taking the kids into a wax museum or the Ripley’s Museum. Most of the attractions below are also located in the Clifton Hill area.

  15. Other Winter Attractions in Niagara Falls
  16. More kid-friendly attractions include Zombie Attack, Movieland Wax Museum, Wizards Golf Mini Putt, Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Wild West Coaster, Ghost Blasters, Strike Rock N’ Bowl and Great Canadian Midway, Bird Kingdom Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara’s Fury, Mystery Maze, Ripley’s Museum, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, and many more exciting things to see all located in the Clifton Hill area of Niagara Falls. This area is the perfect place to walk around with your family at anytime during the day and at night to see everything that the city has to offer.


    If you are traveling with your significant other, maybe you would prefer to visit the Niagara region’s vineyards and taste some of the world class wines that this area has to offer. Especially trying some of the ice wines during this time really makes for the best pairing with the Falls.

 

Niagara Falls Winter Activities

With the winter months in full effect during the months of December, January, and February, Niagara Falls takes on a completely different look and includes many different activities to satisfy anybody visiting the city. Let’s take a look at what each of the months have to offer during your stay in Niagara Falls.

  • Niagara Falls in November
    1. Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
    2. This kicks off in the middle of November until the middle of January. It features an 8 kilometer stretch of surrounding parks and areas lit up with light displays transforming the area into the perfect winter wonderland. This also includes nightly Falls illumination and weekly firework shows. Check the website to find this year’s schedule for the Winter Festival of Lights. This is a free event.


      Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights

    3. Niagara Falls Santa’s Day Parade
    4. This parade is around the time of the launch of the Winter Festival of Lights so it is the perfect day trip time for anyone wanting to see both of these events. Make sure to check on the website listed above for this year’s schedule and to arrive early to get parking a good seat for the parade.

    5. Niagara Falls Fireworks
    6. Generally the fireworks shows are every Friday at 9 p.m. following the Winter Festival of Lights (sometimes starts one or two weeks after the launch of the festival) and continues to the end of this festival. During the last week to week and a half of December over Christmas and into the New Year there are nightly shows at 9 p.m. and on New Year’s Eve there are two shows, one at 9 p.m. and the other at midnight. Check the website here to find this year’s fireworks schedule.


      Niagara Falls Fireworks

    7. Niagara Falls Illumination
    8. Every night the Falls will be wonderfully illuminated, so even if you are going to miss a fireworks show you will still get a chance to see the Falls in all of their glory lit up in the night sky.


      Niagara Falls Illumination

  • Niagara Falls in December
    1. Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
    2. Ongoing during the month of December.


      Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights

    3. Niagara Falls Fireworks
    4. Ongoing during the month of December with extra shows at the end of December until January 1st.

    5. Niagara Falls Illumination
    6. Ongoing every night.

  • Niagara Falls in January
  • Niagara Ice Wine Festival
  • A festival of ice wine. What else more do you want? This festival features the best ice wine from various vineyards across the region of Niagara kicking off with a Gala in January and then more than two weeks of the festival that you can visit. Visit the festival website here for more information on dates, times, and locations. This is a paid event.

  • Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
  • Ends in the middle of January.


    Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights

  • Niagara Falls Illumination
  • Ongoing every night.


    Niagara Falls Illumination

     

    Make sure to check in here with the Niagara Falls Tourism website for more events as wineries and other locations throw annual or one-off events, concerts, dinner theater shows, or other events that may interest you.

 

Where to Eat in Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls has some excellent places to eat. From fancy feasts to family-friendly atmospheres, there are no shortage of places to visit for a nice meal with family or on a romantic date with your significant other. Here are some of our favorite places:

  • Family Friendly Restaurants in Niagara Falls
    1. Rainforest Cafe
    2. This wonderful restaurant in Clifton Hill features a rainforest full of animatronic animals that come to life a few times during your meal. They feature an excellent menu of burgers, pastas, and typical Western food. It is a lovely place to bring your little ones to.

    3. Hard Rock Cafe
    4. You are likely familiar with this famous franchise. It is a great choice to please both the adults and children in your family offering various Western dishes in its menu.

  • Romantic Restaurants in Niagara Falls
    1. Views of the Falls
    2. The Skylon Tower Revolving Restaurant or the Table Rock House Restaurant both feature excellent views of the falls if you are looking for this when dining with your significant other. The Table Rock House Restaurant features better reviews online and is likely your best choice and slightly cheaper.

    3. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
    4. This is the top choice if you are looking for a good steakhouse while in Niagara Falls. The perfect restaurant if you are also looking to get to the Fallsview Casino before or after this meal.

  • Other Choices
    1. Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse
    2. This is our number one choice when visiting Niagara Falls. It features a buffet of meat brought right to your table and taken off a skewer. You choose which ones you want and you are welcome to a salad bar to go along with whatever choice of meats you make at any given time. There are also Brazilian dance shows during the night to entertain you as well.

    3. Niagara Brewing Company
    4. Check out some craft beer by the Skywheel and taste some of Canada’s best beer that their is to offer. You can also get some finger food and pub food while you are here.

    5. Beaver Tails
    6. Not a restaurant, but the perfect Canadian snack to go along with dessert. It is a deep fried piece of dough shaped like a beaver’s tail with your choice of plain cinnamon sugar or toppings that range from chocolate spread, peanut butter, cookies and cream, and so much more.

    7. Hershey’s Store
    8. If the Beaver Tails do not do it for you, the Hershey’s Store is likely going to satisfy your sweet tooth with everything Hershey’s that they have to offer from their large packaged Hershey’s favorites to other sweets that they bake and sell, as well as hot chocolate.

    9. Franchises
    10. There are several various famous franchise locations that you may be more familiar with in Niagara Falls that you would prefer to visit. Just know that the prices for these meals are likely much more expensive than you may be used to anywhere else.


Niagara Falls Illumination

 

Best Area to Stay in Niagara Falls, Canada




Booking.com


The best areas to stay in Niagara Falls is as close to Clifton Hill to the Table Rock Visitor Center near the Horseshoe Falls as possible. Staying close to these areas ensures that you will not need to drive closer into Niagara Falls to get to where you want to go as you will be able to walk to almost any of these attractions on our list above if you stay close to these areas.

 

Getting to Niagara Falls, Canada

Most people visiting Niagara Falls are coming from Toronto or surrounding areas, unless you are from the States. However, for those traveling from Toronto to Niagara Falls or surrounding areas, the best way to get there are:

  • Drive
  • Whether you need to rent a car or you have your own car, this beats any other type of travel to Niagara Falls. Especially in the winter, as long as the road conditions are good, there are going to be less people visiting which means you will have an easier time finding parking and have much more flexibility when considering when you want to leave. Alternatively, if you are staying in a hotel then you will already have parking right at the hotel at an additional cost. For us, nothing beats driving ourselves if we can whenever we are traveling. Driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls takes usually about 1.5 hours with varying degrees of traffic along your route. It is best to leave before 8 a.m. during the weekend and before 7 a.m. during the weekdays to take advantage of the minimal traffic.

  • Train and/or Bus
  • There is a GO Train that departs from Toronto to Niagara Falls starting at $30 that includes a hop-on hop-off WEGO bus ticket for two days in Niagara Falls. This train starts at Union Station and makes stops at Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catherines, and finally at Niagara Falls. This is the best bang for your buck if you are wanting to not drive there yourself. There are also chartered buses available of varying companies and prices that you can search for online if you use the keywords “Toronto to Niagara Falls Bus”.


 

Parking in Niagara Falls, Canada

If you are staying in a hotel overnight in Niagara Falls, make sure to double check with your hotel that there is parking available. Most places will charge an extra $10 to $20 for overnight parking.

If you are not staying at a hotel, parking in Niagara Falls is a little bit tricky especially when it is extremely busy. Luckily, unless there is a major event planned like fireworks, finding parking in the winter months is a little bit easier. Another reason why visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is the best time to visit.

There are various parking lots throughout the city with some street parking, though it is difficult to find. Most lots will charge anywhere from $5 for an hour to $20 for half or full day passes. See the attached map for places where you can find the best parking if you are just visiting for a full day or part of a day.


Niagara Falls Illumination

 

One Day in Niagara Falls, Canada Itinerary

If you are only going to be spending one day in Niagara Falls and you want to make the most of your time, here is what you should do, assuming that you arrive in the city by 9 a.m.


Niagara Falls Map

  1. 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  2. Park your vehicle and head straight to the Table Rock Visitor Center near Horseshoe Falls. This is the best viewing platform of the Falls and the best place to start your tour of the area. Once you have seen as much of this viewing platform as you can, it is time to get up close and personal with the Falls. Head into the visitor center and get your tickets for Journey Behind the Falls and move on down to get in behind the crashing water.

  3. 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  4. Depending on if you ate before you left or not, this may be the perfect time to get some lunch. If having dinner with a view of the Falls is something you are looking for, then you are in the perfect place at the Table Rock Visitor Center with a restaurant right inside with the perfect view. If you have already had enough of this area of Niagara Falls, then walk about ten minutes towards Clifton Hill to the Skylon Tower. It is not hard to miss, just follow the biggest tower in the sky. Pay for your admission and head on to the top where you can also grab a meal with an even better view of the Falls.

    If neither of these options for a meal interest you, then move on right into Clifton Hill for your meal at any of the restaurants that we listed above. Perhaps you may want to visit the Skylon Tower before moving into Clifton Hill so that you do not miss it.

  5. 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  6. While your food is digesting and you want to burn some calories, it is the best time to get some walking done. Clifton Hill has many different attractions to fill your time from shopping to visiting some family-friendly fun. Take your pick or just wander the area to get to be more familiar with it and add things to your list that you want to visit later in the day.

  7. 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  8. If getting a view of the Falls at night time from the Skywheel is important to you, just know that you will likely be waiting up to 30 minutes to get onto the Skywheel after sunset. This may be your best time to get on before the lines get busy. However, if you prefer to have the night view then you should grab a bite to eat before the night time activities.

  9. 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  10. The Festival of Lights is likely in full swing at this point in the night. Take a walk once again along the Falls and in the surrounding parks to see all of the different Christmas light attractions that are decorated. At this point the Falls are also likely lit up and it is a perfect time to get some of those incredible Niagara Falls shots as they light up.

  11. 8:00 p.m. – Late
  12. Check the firework schedule and see if today is the day that you can stay a little bit later to see the fireworks. Or you can visit Clifton Hill once more to cross anything else off of your list that you made earlier. By this time, it has already been a long day so maybe you want to call it and head back home. Or, visit Fallsview Casino on your way out to see if you can get lucky before leaving the city.


Niagara Falls Illumination

This is a jam packed day that will leave you tired and feeling that you have accomplished Niagara Falls in the winter. Perhaps this would be better spreading over 2 days in Niagara Falls, but if you are up for the challenge then this is the perfect one day itinerary in Niagara Falls to allow you to leave the city feeling you have accomplished something and seen most of what the city has to offer.

We love this place and we visit at least once a year, specifically in the winter time. It is our favorite time to visit the area and it is much more peaceful which is what we are looking for. It has become tradition for us to visit each year as we are currently located in Toronto which makes for an easy drive to Niagara Falls.


A view of the falls from the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

 

Have you visited Niagara Falls in the winter months? What was your experience like? What did you do while you were there? We would love to hear more about your experience or answer any questions that you may have. Leave a comment below!


Things to Do in Niagara Falls in Winter (1)

Things to Do in Niagara Falls in Winter

One Day in Niagara Falls, Canada Itinerary

Perfect 3 Days in Pokhara Itinerary

12


The we enjoyed our time in the capital, we escaped the noisy and crowded streets of our one day stay in Kathmandu, Nepal to visit a city that had a much different atmosphere to offer its visitors. Pokhara is a beautiful lake-side city situated to the East of Kathmandu in the Annapurna Mountain Range.

It is a lengthy seven hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara through some extremely sharp turning and narrow roads that wrap around mountain sides while at some points passing through lovely small towns. The bus ride itself is part of the adventure that Pokhara offers its guests.

Yet there is still so much more that this lovely town can provide any visitor from canoeing the lake to enjoying the sunrise at the top of the mountain. We fell in love with this city and it left a lasting impression on the two of us. We have nothing but fond memories of Pokhara and we want to share with you the perfect 3 days in Pokhara itinerary with you.


Perfect 3 Days in Pokhara, Nepal

How to Get to Pokhara from Kathmandu

There are a few options to choose from when getting to Pokhara from Kathmandu. Some more expensive than others but allow you to skip the journey of winding through mountain sides with a wheel almost hanging over an edge. However, this is part of the adventure of getting to this magical town.

  1. Fly
  2. This is the most expensive of the options costing around $100 USD and up depending on the season. This is a short 30 minute flight and saves you the worry and stress of having to experience the drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, so if you prefer flying this is definitely the choice that we would recommend.

  3. Hire a Driver
  4. This is the next option to get to Pokhara from Kathmandu and it can either be more expensive than flying if you are just a single person taking the ride or less expensive if you have one or more people with you. Hiring a driver allows you a little bit less of a worry wrapping around the mountain cliffs as the vehicles are smaller. You also have a little bit more control of where you want to stop than you would if you were to take a bus. This is a good choice if you want to be able to have the comfort and control of being around people that you know.


  5. Bus
  6. This is the option that we chose when getting to Pokhara and we do not regret it. The tickets cost us approximately $8 USD each and on the way to Pokhara we enjoyed a less fancy and crammed tourist bus, while on the way back we got on a much nicer and less crowded tourist bus.



The cost of our tickets was approximately $8 USD each for a one way from Kathmandu to Pokhara leaving at 7 a.m. in Thamel just a few minute walk from our accommodation. Our bags were strapped to the roof and the bus was completely packed with other travelers and locals alike.


Kathmandu to Pokhara: Seven Hour Bus Ride

When the bus reached the outskirts of the city the winding road through the mountains began. Thus began the journey of lanes only big enough to barely allow two cars to drive on, and in some spots just one. Whenever the bus approached a bend, the unique horn of the bus would sound to warn any approaching vehicles on the other end that it was coming. If we looked out our window to the ground, we could see the wheel just barely on the road. Another inch and it would be hanging off the road with a large drop to the bottom of the mountain. The skill of these drivers is incredible, to be able to maneuver the bus around these bends, keeping the wheels on the road, and passing by oncoming vehicles with just enough room.


Kathmandu to Pokhara: Seven Hour Bus Ride

Our first stop came quickly after leaving Kathmandu. The bus pulled over to the side of the road for approximately 15 minutes, and we were able to buy items from a small shop and to get tea and a hot snack from a vendor on the road where we bought Nepalese tea and curry potatoes. Before boarding the bus, we bought water and some chocolates from someone selling them on the street. We were prepared for the remainder of our ride.

A few hours later, we stopped for approximately 30 minutes at a small town where we took the opportunity to wander and interact with the locals. Here, we purchased some of the juiciest oranges I have ever eaten at a small market, and walked the streets of the city to see the everyday life. We walked into a store and bought some drinks, interacted with some children after their day at school, and slowly made our way back to the bus.


Kathmandu to Pokhara: Seven Hour Bus Ride

The bus ride saw amazing views of the mountains, settlements along the highways, the infrastructure of the country, and the rope bridges that extend across the Seti River. It offered us a short opportunity to get a glimpse of everyday life during our 7 hour journey as we glared out the window throughout the day. Though it is not the best way to see a country, it sure is an added bonus to be able to see these aspects of a country when traveling from city to city. Finally, when the Annapurna Mountain Range came into sight it was evident that after seven hours of driving, we had arrived in Pokhara.


Kathmandu to Pokhara: Seven Hour Bus Ride

 

Things to Do and Places to See in Pokhara, Nepal

Our three days in Pokhara, Nepal flew by. From the time we arrived until the time we left, we were constantly doing something or finding something to do. It was not hard to find something to do. Three days was a good amount of time to stay in the city, but we would recommend to stay a couple of more days if you have the time. During our three days in Pokhara, this is what we did:



  • Canoe Fewa Lake


  • To rent a canoe for an hour is less than $3 USD. You can also hire someone to do the paddling for you for a little more money, but we opted to rent a canoe for an hour. We did not tour the entire lake, but we saw some beautiful views of the Annapurna Mountain Range that we would not be able to see from within the city, we circled the middle island, and went back to return the canoe.


    Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

    Walking throughout Pokhara provides you with many views of the Annapurna mountain range and allows for some great photos of the mountains from within the city. However, some of the mountains are hidden by Sarangkot mountain. To get the full effect of the massive mountain range, take a canoe out on Fewa Lake and get the perfect photos of the mountain range from the lake.


    Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal with the Annapurna Mountain Range in the Background

    Besides sitting back and enjoying environment and views that Phewa Tal has to offer, you can also choose to hike to the top of the World Peace Pagoda. It is on the other side of the lake from where you can rent canoes, and it just a 30-45 minute hike to the top from there (refer to the map to find the starting point). You can ask for directions or just follow the boats to the other side of the lake that drop off hikers. Another thing you can do is dock your canoe and get off on the island in the middle of the lake to see the small Barahi Temple. It is small, but a nice place to get off while on the lake if you want to stretch out those legs. Continue canoeing the lake to see Pokhara and the mountains in the background from different angles.


    Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

    Though it is not the highlight of Pokhara, Fewa Lake is definitely a place worth relaxing on in a canoe. Sitting in a canoe on the calm lake, with the incredible views of the city, Sarangkot Mountain, and Annapurna mountain range is a worthwhile experience for anyone in Pokhara.


    Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal with the Annapurna Mountain Range in the Background

  • Sunrise at Sarangkot


  • When getting to the top of Sarangkot Mountain to see the sunrise, you can either choose to hike to the top or take a taxi to the top, or even a combination of the two. We chose to book a tour that was a day trek and the very beginning of the day trek was seeing the sunrise. But we did not trek. We took a taxi. If you are prepared to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to see the sunrise then trekking it would be worthwhile. It will take you 2+ hours to hike there on foot.

    The journey for us began bright and early at 5:00 AM when we woke up, packed our bags, and met our guide in the lobby of our accommodation at 5:30 AM. So, we loaded up into a taxi and drove up the mountain to catch the sunrise. I know, driving up a mountain isn’t any ones idea of hiking, but the guide assured us that we would not miss much and the true beauty laid after the sunrise on the journey we would set out on. Fair enough, I prefer driving up mountains anyways.


    Mountain Sunrise: Sarangkot in Pokhara, Nepal

    We got up to the top of the mountain around 6:00 AM and prepared for the sunrise around 6:30 AM. I set up my cameras, we took some pictures together, and we awaited the sun to illuminate the Annapurna mountain range. It…was…breathtaking. I know it has been said many times before, but it was.

    The clouds surrounded Sarangkot to the east, and as the sun rose above them it set ablaze the Annapurna mountain range to the west. The view of the sun rising above the clouds to the east and the mountains turning a bright orange to the west made it a difficult decision where to look. However, it was a fairly crowded area where we were standing which took away from the moment. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in Pokhara, Nepal, you must catch the mountain sunrise view from the top of Sarangkot mountain.



    There were areas to sit and relax while the sun rose and a place to order tea or coffee with a server coming around for orders. We ordered Nepalese tea and sat back to enjoy the sunrise together. Also, there was a shop that sold pashmina (a fine type of cashmere wool) woven products like shawls and rugs. It was interesting to see the precision and details that are added to every thread that is added to the pashmina products. We decided to pick up a rug and a couple of pashmina shawls for family back home. The rug cost us approximately $20 USD and the shawls were a little cheaper.


    Nepali Tradition: Weaving Pashmina in Pokhara, Nepal

    Following the sunrise and pashmina shopping, we continued our day trek through the mountainous areas that surround Pokhara, into small hill-side villages, and up to the Australian Base Camp. It was a beautiful sunny day trek that will be outlined in a future post. Enjoy the footage and pictures of the sunrise from on top of Sarangkot mountain, and let us know if you have been there and send us the pictures you took. If you have not yet seen the mountain sunrise view from Sarangkot, and you have a trip planned to Pokhara, Nepal, then you need to go see it for yourself.

  • Hiking Pokhara
  • Though it would have been quite the experience to trek the Annapurna circuit, we were short on time. The next time we return to Nepal, it will purely be for a hiking adventure in the mountains to add to our travel checklist. We had just one more full day in Pokhara. It had already been decided that we would use that day solely for hiking. And it was well worth it.



    To hire someone to take us on our hike cost us approximately $120 USD. This was a full day hike from before the sunrise at 5:30 AM – close to the sunset at 7:00 PM.

    We began our day bright and early, at 5:00 AM, to get to the top of Sarangkot mountain to see the sunrise as we had mentioned before. Afterwards we hopped back in the taxi and were taken about 15 minutes away to the starting point of our day trek where we would be hiking to the Australian Base Camp.

    Unfortunately, something was not sitting right with me from the previous night’s dinner. I felt it in my stomach after the sunrise, and I had to go to the bathroom. I knew I would not make it to the base camp without going. Luckily, the guide said he knew a place where I could go. Surrounded by small homes of a village at the base of a mountain, he took me into the backyard of somebody’s home by unlatching the gate and pointed towards the outhouse with a hole in the ground. At that point, I was just glad it had a door to hide me from the outside world. Traveling is not always as beautiful as sunrises and sunsets. I finished my business and we were on our way, but not after meeting the lovely old lady that shooed me away with her hand when I exited the outhouse with her nice big dog at her side. What a start to our one day trek in Pokhara, Nepal.


    One Day Trek in Pokhara, Nepal

    The walk up the green mountain was a lovely ascent with some steep steps along the way. We were greeted at various points to small farming communities waking up and slowly preparing for the day. Along the way we saw a large cow in the middle of the path, goats soaking in the rising sun, and a small puppy and child, all the while looking around at the increasingly magnificent view with every step upwards.


    One Day Trek in Pokhara, Nepal

    Finally, just before noon we arrived at the Australian Base Camp. From here we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Annapurna Mountain Range and brunch. As with every meal in Nepal, we had some Nepali tea. A perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea. We also ordered banana pancakes and eggs from the small restaurant. We rested there for about an hour, staring at the mountains and sitting back in the chairs. After the lovely brunch, we began our descent down the other side of the mountain. Our one day trek in Pokhara, Nepal seemed as though it was coming to an end.


    One Day Trek in Pokhara, Nepal

    With the Annapurna Mountain Range to our left, we descended the mountain through forested areas and open fields. Along the way, we heard music in the distance that became increasingly audible as we continued moving down the mountain. Finally, we looked over a small cliff to a party in the hills that was being held for the little kids. Equipped with a large speaker, the kids were dancing and having fun in the mountains above the clouds. We joined in for some fun and photos with the kids before making our way further down the hill.

    Shortly after, we found ourselves passing through a small village in the hills. Our guide passed by a house, talked to the lady and brought us into their outdoor living area. This is where we would have our dinner with a great view of the Annapurna Mountain Range, a look into their everyday lives, and a great experience.


    Wasp in Pokhara, Nepal

    Following the meal, we continued on our trek through forested areas and made a steep descent before finally arrived at the base of the mountain. Our guide had his driver waiting for us, and our amazing day trek came to an abrupt end as we made our way towards our hostel in Pokhara.

  • Paragliding in Pokhara


  • A small bus arrived in the morning to pick us up and take us to the top of Sarangkot, a mountain overlooking Pokhara. We drove up the winding roads to the top of the mountain and passed the different roadside homes that live along the mountainside. Students were making their long walk to their schools bright and early in the morning. It was an interesting drive to the top and we got to see what we would miss hiking to the top of Sarangkot as the next day we did get to see the sunrise at the top of the mountain, but chose not to hike it to save time.

    When we arrived at the top, several others were already in the sky and we were just two of many who had signed up on this beautiful morning to take the leap. There are several companies in Pokhara that you can sign up with and they all seem to fly from the same grassy plain at some point on Sarangkot mountain that has a nice clearing to allow for take off.

    At this point, we were teamed up with our paragliders as we would be riding tandem. They talked to us about what we needed to do on take off and landing to ensure a safe takeoff and a safe landing. Basically on takeoff they will direct you to help them by walking to get the parachute up and then to run as fast as you can to get the forward momentum needed to get off the ledge. Once you are getting close to landing they ask that you keep your feet tucked in and up so that they can take care of the landing until they are ready for you to put your feet down. It was a simple process you just need to listen to their instructions.


    Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal

    Once you take off you are at the mercy of your pilot. I brought my camera along and shot as many videos and photos as you could. Of course I gripped that camera as tight as I could and was terrified of dropping it. However, that terrified feeling was easily replaced by the feeling of flying hundred of feet in the air over Pokhara.

    We never flew over the actual city itself or the lake, but over the mountain side forests and homesteads from Sarangkot down to Fewa Lake. The experience was over all too soon, but the feeling remained long after landing. The landing went smoothly on an opening right by the lake and we were dropped off back in the city of Pokhara where we then went to a local restaurant to enjoy a victory meal.

    Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal was an incredible experience, and one that we will not soon forget. The weather could not have been better. The views of the beautiful Nepalese villages along the hillsides and off in the distance, Pokhara and the lake below my feet, the birds and other paragliders in the skies, the looming Annapurna mountain range in the distance, it all culminated into a magnificent 30 minute ride that included lots of wow’s and photos. It was too quickly concluded.

    Expect the price for paragliding from Sarangkot to be about 8,500 Nepalese Rupees. This includes approximately 30 minutes worth of flight time from the ledge of Sarangkot to the lakeside where there is a landing zone.

    The flight zigzags along the mountain side and over the surrounding trees and hills, providing an incredible view of the city, rural homesteads in the mountains, and the lake itself. At no point did we ever go directly above the city of Pokhara or Phewa Lake. There are other flight options that include cross-country flights and longer flights as well that you can book if you are willing to spend more money on this. We were more than happy spending what we did for what we received in return.

    On this flight you can take your camera along with you, but you are warned that if it is broken or if you drop it, it is your loss and not the companies responsibility. You can also opt to have them film and take photos with a GoPro for an added cost. It was approximately another 1,500 – 2,500 Nepalese Rupees for this service and they provide you with a CD with all they filmed once you arrive back in their office in Pokhara.

    If you are looking for a company to book your paragliding tour through, simply walk along the main drag of Pokhara and you will be introduced to more than a handful of tour companies that offer this service. It is not difficult to find things to do in Pokhara. If you do not want to go through the hassle of searching for the right company, simply talk to your host or accommodation owner and they would likely be happy to book it for you as we did. Alternatively you can book your paragliding adventure before leaving while online without any worries or hassle.

    Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal is highly recommended. Visiting Pokhara is a must when you are in Nepal. Make your time worth while there and book a flight. Get a view of the area that cannot be matched by anything else. Bring your camera with you (you are liable if you drop it) and get some shots of the countryside.


    Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal

 

Pokhara Sightseeing Tour

There are a lot of things that you can do when in Pokhara. If you have a limited amount of time, perhaps it may be better to book yourself a tour. Especially if you want to go hiking in Pokhara and you do not know where to go and what to see. This is what we did when we were in Pokhara and we never regretted it.

There are several tours that you can book in advance before leaving for Pokhara. It is a city that is extremely popular for its hiking trails. From the short ones to the long ones, there are treks to satisfy anybody who wants to get out there and see more of the mountains.

Alternatively you can book tours of the city and surrounding areas based on what we have discussed in this itinerary. Having a local show you the way is sometimes the best way to travel a place you had never seen before.


 

Where to Eat in Pokhara

Pokhara is not a big town by any stretch of the imagination. It is a backpacker town where those who visit are mostly passing through and are either starting or finishing their trek. The best places to visit for a bite to eat are along the road of the lakeside. There are various restaurants of all types that will satisfy your taste buds while also having various roadside stalls with fresh fruit and drinks at various spots throughout the stretch of road that extends closer to the lake. This stretch of road is also where you are going to find the nightlife in Pokhara including bars and restaurants that are open late.

 

Best Place to Stay in Pokhara




Booking.com


When choosing a place to stay in Pokhara, you should be looking for a place as close to the lakeside as possible. This is where the best restaurants and nightlife in Pokhara is. It is where all of the action is when you are visiting the city and the best area to stay.

These lakeside hotels in Pokhara are the perfect places to choose when you are looking for accommodation. Those hotels, hostels, or guest houses that offer the perfect location.

  • Lakeside Hotel in Pokhara
  • If you are looking for a great place to stay in Pokhara that will provide more than just a roof over your head during your time in this beautiful town, there are several options for you to choose from. You can sink your teeth into resorts and spa hotels along the lakeside and really enjoy every moment of your time in Pokhara. Here are a few that will not fall in the budget hotel range, but will definitely pamper you beyond what other hotels in Pokhara will.

    Temple Tree Resort and Spa
    Glacier Hotel and Spa

  • Cheap Hotels in Pokhara
  • If you are just looking for a place that provides a roof over your head with prime location, there are a few places that will provide you just that. Fortunately Pokhara has a wide range of places for you to stay that match any budget range. Here are a few of the best choices with prime location along the lake.

    Pailahostellakeside
    Hotel Angel

 

Best Time to Visit Pokhara, Nepal

The best time of year to visit Pokhara is between the end of October to the beginning of June. This is when there is minimal precipitation, it is comfortable to warm weather, and mostly clear skies. Between June and October, the weather is hot to warm, overcast, and the most rain falls on the city during this time.

In April to the beginning of June you will experience the most comfortable weather getting up to slightly above 30 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas October to March it will be fairly cool falling to slightly below 20 degrees Celsius or below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

We visited at the beginning of December and it was the perfect weather for us to wander around the city in pants and a shirt without having to worry about getting to cold or too hot. When we went hiking, we wore extra layers especially for the mornings. However, during the day it got way too hot for those layers.


Travel Photo The Annapurna Mountain Range with Nepalese Tea

Our time in Pokhara was incredible. Some of the best travel memories that we have ever had together were experienced in this beautiful lake-side town. It was where our first adventures began together as a couple. It helped us fall in love with each other and fall in love with travel together.

We would definitely recommend that you visit Pokhara. Get out of Kathmandu and away from the noise pollution to experience an oasis in Pokhara. You will not regret it.

 

Have you ever traveled to Pokhara? What was your experience like? We would love to hear more about your experience there or answer any questions you have. Leave a comment below.


How to Get to Pokhara from Kathmandu

Canoe Fewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal

Sunrise on Sarangkot Mountain in Pokhara, Nepal

Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal

One Day Trek in Pokhara, Nepal

Best One Day in Kathmandu Itinerary


Kathmandu, Nepal was a ride. It was the first trip that Natalie and myself ever went on. It was only the fifth country I had visited. It was an incredible introduction to that part of the world that I had never imagined myself in, but I was so happy I had a chance to visit.

Kathmandu will overwhelm your senses. Maybe not to the extent that cities in India will, but fairly similar. Honking, dusty roads throughout the city, animals, pedestrians, and smells and tastes to satisfy yourself for days, this city has so much to offer anyone. That is why it is with great regret that we only had one day in Kathmandu.

We had landed there and only spent the night before moving on almost immediately to Pokhara, another city in Nepal that we would highly recommend you visit especially to escape Kathmandu. We ended up returning to Kathmandu to leave the country at the end of our trip and spent an entire day in the city where we got to accomplish as much as we could while we were in the city.

In this post, we want to walk you through the perfect 1 day in Kathmandu and what you can do with your time.


Best One Day in Kathmandu Itinerary

1 Day in Kathmandu Itinerary

There are several famous places in Kathmandu that you need to visit. More places to travel in Kathmandu than the day that we had to fill. This made it incredibly difficult to pick and choose the places to fill our one day in Kathmandu, but we made it work. Here are the best things to do in Kathmandu in one day.

  • Swayambhunath Monkey Temple


  • The easiest way to get around Kathmandu is by taxi. They are relatively inexpensive and convenient. To get there, we caught a taxi and asked to go to the Monkey Temple or Swayambhunath and it took about 10 minutes to arrive from the Thamel district. They will know where to take you. You are able to tour around the area and walk up the stairs to the top of the temple for free. However, before reaching the top you must pay about $2 USD. Do not be surprised when you are walking to the top and somebody stops you to ask you for money. They are asking for the admission fee. Locals are not required to pay this admission.


    Monkeys at Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

    We did not stay long here. After walking around and beginning our ascent to the top, we were running short on time and money. Depending on how much you enjoy watching monkeys and seeing the view from the top, plan for about an hour of walking around the area.

    Swayambhunath Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is an interesting area to walk around and absorb the culture of the country. It is littered with monkeys, hence the name Monkey Temple, and it offers a commanding view of Kathmandu from the top. We arrived at the bottom of the temple. I was anticipating the spotting of monkeys. After paying the taxi, we began our walk up the stairs with my camera at the ready. It did not take long to spot the monkeys. They were EVERYWHERE! Monkeys with snacks in their hands, monkeys with babies on their backs, monkeys climbing around trees and statues, and monkeys doing things you would not want your kids to be seeing… It was monkey mayhem.

    As we ascended, the view of Kathmandu became increasingly beautiful, though there was lots of smog on that day. Also, there were many stray dogs that traveled in groups along our walk to the top and back down.

    View from Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

    Unfortunately, we never made it to the top. I had not known that there was an admission fee. We were stopped about 20 steps from the top, and were asked by a man for money. I brushed this off as someone asking for money, being ignorant of the admission fee. He became increasingly irritated with me when I tried to push past him, but it finally sunk in. We had only enough rupees for the taxi back to the hostel and had to go back to the bottom of the temple without seeing the view from the top. So, if you made it to the top and were better prepared for us, please post them! Post them on Instagram with the hashtag #TotheNationsWorldwide.

    The Top of Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

    Swayambhunath Monkey Temple was an interesting site to see, especially if you are not use to seeing monkeys concentrated around these cultural statues. Although there is some damage from the earthquake in 2015, it is definitely worth a visit. In fact, now is more important than ever to visit Nepal if you were ever considering it. Tourism, that does not take away from the country, will help the economy of the earthquake stricken country.

    This temple is a little bit further away from the other attractions on this list, but it was something that we definitely wanted to accomplish while we were in Kathmandu. The other religious structures that are popular tourist attractions in Kathmandu are Pashupatinath Temple and Boudha Stupa. They are the same distance in the opposite direction of the Monkey Temple from Thamel, the area where the remainder of the attractions are around. We suggest visiting the Monkey Temple over these other two due to the popularity and it being slightly closer to Thamel in Kathmandu than the other two.

  • Thamel Shopping, Eating, and Bars
  • Thamel is the tourist center of Kathmandu. It is the host to the main nightlife area in the city with bars and restaurants around every corner hosting backpackers and tourists alike. There are markets and shops lining the streets and more than enough things to occupy a full day of your time if you just want to hop from restaurant to restaurant and market to market to get that type of Kathmandu experience in your one day.

    It is also the perfect place to stay in Kathmandu so you can return to Thamel after your day tour and be able to explore the markets and restaurants at night when other attractions would otherwise be closed. This will help you make the most of your time while in Kathmandu.

  • Narayanhiti Palace

  • Located near Thamel, it is the best place to start your tour from where you are staying or to finish your tour on your way back to your accommodation. However, due to its hours of operation it may be difficult to fit it within your one day visit.

    The palace was the principle of the monarchy and was the setting of the 2001 massacre of the Royal Family. This makes this an unusually intriguing place to visit when you are staying in Kathmandu and a glimpse into modern history of the country.

    It is open every day 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For 500 Nepalese Rupees, you can enter without your electronic devices to see this incredible piece of history. These electronic devices can be left at the entrance in a controlled room.

  • Garden of Dreams



  • In the Thamel district of Kathmandu is a walled area, this is the Garden of Dreams. It is one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu for couples. It would not be hard to find if you were just asking for directions, but we got a taxi from the Monkey Temple to it. Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday, the Garden of Dreams has a 200 Nepalese Rupees per person or less than $2 USD entrance fee.

    We walked around the area for about half an hour, then sat down for dinner for close to an hour, and finally had a drink at the bar for another half an hour. We spent a total of nearly two hours in the garden. The Garden of Dreams is a beautiful oasis in the noise and dust polluted city of Kathmandu, Nepal. Once you enter this garden, you will feel as if you left the city.


    Courtyard in The Garden of Dreams, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

    Upon entering and paying admission, we walked to the courtyard where the neo-classical architecture was lit up with warm lighting and people were sitting in the grass. This was truly something I did not expect to see in Kathmandu. The noise pollution from outside the walls was drowning into the backs of our minds. Everything was peaceful all of a sudden. It was as if we had stepped outside of Kathmandu. Not to say that Kathmandu doesn’t have it’s hidden beauty throughout the culture-rich city, but you will feel a little bit overwhelmed by the dust filled air from the cars and motorbikes cruising through the dirt roads of the city, as well as the noise pollution, if you have not yet traveled to a similar place.


    The Courtyard at the Garden of Dreams, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

    The Garden of Dreams provided us with what Pokhara had a few days before. It was calming. It was peaceful. It was relaxing. We walked around the gardens and just enjoyed our newly found environment for a while. After exploring the grounds, we sat down at the restaurant within the walls of the garden and had a small meal of a hamburger, sandwich, and french fries. We ate outside with a nice view of the courtyard from our table. Following our dinner, we walked to the bar. Though there was nobody there when we first entered, including the bar staff, we sat at the bar and made ourselves at home. After a few minutes had passed, the bar staff had returned. We ordered our drinks and sat at the bar for the remainder of our time at The Garden of Dreams.

    Finally, our time had expired and the garden was soon closing. We made our way towards the exit, said our goodbyes to the garden, and passed through the gate. Our escape from Kathmandu had come to an end, but it supplied us with enough energy to continue on. It was truly an oasis. If you are ever in need of that recharge when in Kathmandu, seek out this place and relax for a moment.

    Bar in The Garden of Dreams, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

  • Freak Street, Hanuman Dhoka, and Durbar Square

  • All located near one another just a 20 minute walk away from the Thamel area of Kathmandu, this makes for the perfect finish to your one day trip in Kathmandu. Visiting these three during your one day tour of the city will help keep you within a small vicinity of the area without needing to take any transportation and allow you to see a lot of what the city has to offer.

    Freak Street is a small street near Durbar Square and refers to the hippie trail of the 1960s and 1970s. It is a little past its prime in the present day, but still worth while for a stroll when you are in the area. Nowadays it is a street filled with vendors, restaurants, and guesthouses similar to that of Thamel.

    Hanuman Dhoka is a series of structures with the Royal Palace of the Malla Kings and also of the Shah dynasty near Durbar Square. Though it was severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake, there has been an ongoing restoration project that has worked to get it back into top shape and there is still a lot to see in this beautiful area. It is well worth exploring this square while you are in the area.

    Durbar Square is the main square in this area and home to many beautiful structures including monuments and temples. It is great to book a guide or get somebody local to show you around to learn as much as you can about the area and the significance of the square itself. Alternatively, you can wander the area for yourself and visit the many restaurants and markets in the area at your own pace.


    Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

     

    Kathmandu City Tour


    With so much to do in Kathmandu and the surrounding area and little time to do it, we always recommend booking a tour to make the most of your time in a city that you are not spending a lot of time in. Whether you want to spend your time taking a Kathmandu walking tour or wanting to get out of the city to see some of the beautiful surrounding cities within a one day time frame, there are several for you to choose from.

    For first time visitors or people that have not traveled to too many countries may feel overwhelmed by Kathmandu when they first arrive. These tours are the perfect way to ease into the city when you first arrive and to get to know more about what the city has to offer and how to get around in the city. It is always nice to have a local take you around from place to place and to explain things that you would otherwise not really know.

    Booking a tour will also ensure that you are able to see exactly what you booked. No wrong turns or getting lost which causes your one day trip to Kathmandu to become a wasted trip. Instead, you are able to experience what you wanted to when you are in the city.

     

    Best Restaurants in Kathmandu

    The best restaurants in Kathmandu tend to be within the Thamel area of the city. These are the restaurants that cater towards tourists and travelers alike while offering traditional Nepalese dishes. You cannot go wrong just wandering the streets of Thamel and looking for a place serving incredible Nepalese cuisine or whatever it is that you are looking for. If you are wanting to know what to eat while in Nepal, visit our food tour of Nepal post.

    Bars and cafes are not hard to find within this area either and it is the perfect place to visit at night time to enjoy a cold beverage or in the morning to enjoy a coffee and wake up.


    Dal Baht in Pokhara, Nepal

    Get to the Newa Momo Restaurant to get your taste of momos or the Yela Cafe and Coffee Shop to enjoy the cafe atmosphere or enjoy a meal in peace and escape the city in the Garden of Dreams and enjoy a meal in tranquility. Either of these are excellent choices, but make sure you visit a restaurant that serves dal bhat to get a traditional Nepalese meal within the city.

     

    Best Area to Stay in Kathmandu

    When considering where to stay in Kathmandu, there is one area we always recommend to all travelers alike. Thamel is where we recommend first-time visitors to Kathmandu to stay. It is the tourist center of the city and it holds several hostels, hotels, and guesthouses of all sorts. Backpackers pass through here and all travelers alike to stay and enjoy a beer in one of the many bars or a meal in many of the fine restaurants that surround this area. It holds many souvenir shops lining the roads and is all around one of the best areas within the city of Kathmandu which makes it an easy suggestion of where you should stay when in the city.

     

    Best Place to Stay in Kathmandu




    Booking.com


    Finding a place to stay in Thamel is an easy task. There are several hostels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses for you to choose from. If you choose accommodation in this area of the city, you have a place with prime location to complete everything on our list. It is also the best place to return to at night and wander the surrounding area. It is safe and offers a lot of choices to enjoy a night out on the town as well.

    The Kathmandu Merry Hotel and Hotel Bihani offer a great place to stay that is well reviewed and in perfect location while also being incredibly affordable. If you are willing to spend a little bit more than what most places are worth in the area, then Hotel Roadhouse offers an excellent setting and atmosphere within the area and is a wonderful option. You can also find several hotels offer breakfast included in their stay. Make sure to also see whether or not you can schedule an airport pick up as this is valuable when arriving at Kathmandu airport.

    Getting Around Kathmandu

    If you follow our one day Kathmandu itinerary above you will not have to worry too much about transportation. When you book accommodation, you should be able to request airport pick up through your host. This will take the headache away from the airport which is a very hectic scene. You will have to tip somebody who handles your luggage as there are hoards of people outside of the airport trying to get your luggage to put it in the vehicle you are driving and then demanding a tip. Even though we gave our luggage to our driver, somebody in the crowd snatched it from him and passed it to somebody on the roof to tie it down to the vehicle. We were getting into the vehicle while he was demanding money. With the door shut, he opened it and demanded money. The travelers sharing the ride and the driver insisted I give him some money.

    Imagine this if you are trying to get a taxi at the same time while at the airport. Save yourself the hassle and schedule that airport pick up with your host. From there, if you are staying in Thamel as we suggested, you can walk to everywhere that you want to visit. Unless you want to visit the Monkey Temple, you can walk through Thamel and to Durbar Square without much difficulty.

    Taxis are everywhere in Kathmandu and not in the best condition, but still usable. Make sure that you are getting into an official looking taxi. One time we did not, but it was still fine and the gentleman offered us a good rate. It was a little bit weird when his friend hopped into the passenger seat though. You should always haggle with the drivers when discussing the rate or go by the meter if it is available.

    If you do not want to haggle or feel uncomfortable trying to get a taxi on the street, you can book a taxi through your host. We did this on our way to the Monkey Temple and also on our way back to the airport when we were leaving Kathmandu.

     

    We thoroughly enjoyed our very short stay in Kathmandu. There was still so much we wish we could have done and there is no way that we could have fit it in to our full day itinerary. The best way to get as much done as you can on your list is to book a guided tour. You will not have to worry about getting lost or having to figure out how to get from one place to the next. That will all be taken care of for you. These are the situations in which we enjoy being on a tour.

    Yet Kathmandu is the perfect place to get lost. An incredibly overwhelming city that will take control of you from the time you arrive in the airport to the time you leave the airport. It was a place in constant movement and we really were pleased with our one day in Kathmandu, Nepal.

     

    Have you ever been to Kathmandu? We would love to know what you did there and answer any questions you may have. Leave a comment below.

    Best Things to Do in Oudtshoorn, South Africa


    It is always great to find those lesser known towns when you are traveling. Places that do not necessarily land on your radar when researching places you should visit. South Africa has many of those towns and we stumbled on a few during our road trip from Cape Town to Durban.

    After spending three days in Cape Town and heading towards Port Elizabeth to visit the Addo Elephant Park for a safari, we needed to find a place to stay to break up this trip. After doing a little research on the best places to visit from Cape Town, we stumbled upon the town of Oudtshoorn. With so many great things to do in Oudtshoorn, it was difficult to fit it all in the time we had while we were there.

    In this post, we talk about everything you can do when you are in Oudtshoorn, where you can stay, and what you can eat. Everything you need to know to travel to this wonderful city.


    Best Things to Do in Oudtshoorn, South Africa

    Oudtshoorn Attractions

    1. Cango Wildlife Ranch


    2. The Cango Wildlife Ranch is a sanctuary for endangered species, most of which were rescued animals. The entrance fee includes the guided tour and costs about $15 USD for an adult. This includes a free tour of the grounds and afterwards you are free to walk around at your own pace.

      We entered the grounds and waited for our free tour to start. With about 15 minutes to spare, we went to the one place that would not be covered in the tour. The bird atrium. A tall caged in area filled with various birds. You open the first door and make sure it closes behind you, and then open the next door to expose yourself to the swooping birds in the atrium. I thought it would be a great opportunity to photograph some of these birds that I would not usually have the opportunity to do. Natalie clenched my backpack and stayed close. I got a few good shots off before a couple of birds came swooping down on us and Natalie went right back to the door to get out. Unfortunately, it seemed one of the birds had a good idea to wait until she opened the door to get out as well. We had to wait while there was a bird on my backpack, in Natalie’s hair, and it seemed like the whole cage was going crazy all around us.


      Finally the bird left from the doorway, we opened the first door quickly. Me being the gentleman I am let Natalie go first and then I closed the door to make sure no birds on my backpack would follow. Once I knew I was clear, I opened the door and spun around to shut it. No birds followed us out, and we were out in the clear and ready to wait peacefully for the tour to begin.

      We then took the tour that allowed us to see everything they had to offer and to learn more about each of the animals. It was sad to hear that for most of the animals at the ranch were endangered because of our effect on their natural habitats or poachers. From otters, to vultures, to hippos, many of these animals are becoming increasingly threatened because of our effects on the environment.

      On the positive side, being able to see the interaction of these animals in person was a wonderful experience. From the lemurs hoping around on their playground alongside flamingos to the swift movements of the otter in the water, our tour guide provided insightful information about each of the animals we encountered.

      The tour proceeded along a path on the ground and continued up onto a wooden walkways where 15 feet below us were lions, tigers, and cheetahs. Though the lion spends most of its time sleeping and most of the animals were not active in this leg of the tour, our tour guide was an excellent and knowledgeable host.

      Pay an extra $20 USD and you get an encounter with an animal. This is what sparked some interest to me. There was an opportunity to be placed in a cage and submerged in a pool filled with crocodiles! I highly recommend that you check this out if you ever go there. The ONLY reason I did not do this is that I was talked out of it by the tour guide. The reason being was that it was still morning and all of the crocodiles were not active at that time of the day and would not go in the water. I was let down.

      We were left with the choice of adult cheetahs, baby cheetahs, and lemurs. We thought about the lemurs for a minute, but understood that they would be hopping all over us and playing with us and decided we were not ready for that this early in the morning. Next was the baby cheetahs, but we were also told that they can get a little aggressive like a puppy that does not know what its teeth or claws can do yet. We were told that the adult cheetahs are extremely tame and that was our best option.

      Without hesitation, we went with the cheetah handlers and they discussed with us what to expect. We had a very thorough wash down of our hands and shoes so as to not contaminate anything or spread any germs to the cheetahs. We were told not to make any sudden movements and to get behind the trainer if anything was to happen out of the ordinary. This is when we started to second guess our decision…

      Both cheetahs were laying down in the shade at the very back of their enclosure. We slowly made our way with the two trainers and the photographer. I started by going in behind the cheetah on my right and squatting behind it. This is when its head popped up and looked back at me. At the corner of my eye, I saw the trainer react to the cheetah and thought something may go wrong. Still, I reached my hand out to the cheetah and stroked its wiry fur. Its head went back down and it was Natalie’s turn to come up to the cheetah on the left.

      Without hesitation, she strolled up and crouched in behind her cheetah. Fearless, she began petting the animal and we posed for the photos. It was an experience that we would not forget on this trip. It was amazing coming that close to an incredible animal that we hoped we would see on a safari in the near future, but were satisfied with this encounter.

      Tag somebody that would love to pet the cheetahs at Cango Wildlife Ranch! What an experience! Petting adult cheetahs in Outdshoorn at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in South Africa. See more from our travels throughout South Africa: https://tothenationsworldwide.com/category/africa/south-africa/ . . . . . #Travel #TravelBlogger #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #TravelLife #TravelPics #TravelAddict #DigitalNomad #TravelCouple #DigitalNomadCouple #creativetravelcouples #travelisthenewclub #travelawesome #wonderfulglobe #igshotz #exploretocreate #travelandlife #huntgram #worldplaces #ig_udog #udog_peopleandplaces #theworldshotz #travellershouts #passionpassport #marbltravel #TravelCouplesInspiration #travelustcouples #outdshoorn #cangowildliferanch #southafrica

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      I understand the controversy of keeping animals at a ranch. However, we were assured that these were animals that would not be alive if it were not for their rescue. Whether they were found in bad health or were infants left by their mother, they were all rescue animals from the wild. They cannot be released back into the wild or they would not know how to survive on their own. Hence why the Cango Wildlife Ranch is such a great opportunity to see these animals for yourself and pay to keep the facility operating for the animals there.

      Our cheetah experience came to a close, and we were on our way out, washing our hands and shoes one more time before heading to the souvenir shop and exit.

    3. Cango Ostrich Farm


    4. We would love it if you followed our page @tothenationsworldwide We highlight our travels, post regularly on our Travel Couple blog, interview couples living a travel lifestyle on our Travel Couple Podcast, and are always trying to connect with like-minded people. Check out our Travel Couple Podcast! (Link in profile) . . . . . #Travel #TravelBlogger #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #TravelAddict #DigitalNomad #TravelCouple #travelgram #traveler #traveling #traveller #travelbug #travelersnotebook #travels #ilovetravel #travellingthroughtheworld #travelogue #travelmore #travelbloggers #travelphoto #travellover #morocco #rabat #chellah #marbltravel #travelmorocco #travelgoals #travelstoke #travelholic #travelinspiration

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      We arrived at the farm, and did not have to wait long before we were already on our tour. The tour was about $9 USD per adult and lasted about 45 minutes.

      The tour commenced from the lobby and continued throughout the grounds of the farm. The tour guide discussed the emus in the one section of the farm and continued by talking about his favorite ostrich who gave Natalie a hug by wrapping it’s neck around hers.

      We then walked around to a sitting area where the workers showed us how putting a bag over the ostrich’s head will make it completely compliant. It is interesting that if their heads are covered, they feel safe and hidden, and thus making them maneouverable.

      We also held an ostrich egg, and discovered that the ostrich egg could hold 24 chicken eggs! We also could put our entire weight on any end of the ostrich egg and it would not break.

      Ostrich farms in Outdshoorn, South Africa! What an interesting tour of their farm that Cango Ostrich Farm offers. Fascinating animals. See more from our travels throughout South Africa: https://tothenationsworldwide.com/category/africa/south-africa/ . . . . . #Travel #TravelBlogger #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #TravelLife #TravelPics #TravelAddict #DigitalNomad #TravelCouple #DigitalNomadCouple #creativetravelcouples #travelisthenewclub #traveldudes #travelawesome #wonderfulglobe #igshotz #exploretocreate #travelandlife #huntgram #worldplaces #ig_udog #udog_peopleandplaces #bestvacations #theworldshotz #travellershouts #passionpassport #marbltravel #southafrica #outdshoorn #cangoostrichfarm

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      We finally came to the point where the tour guide chose me out everyone to come up to the fence where five to ten ostriches were gathered. He told me to put my back to them, hold a bucket at my chest level, and feel the ostrich massage.

      At that point, he backed me up to the fence and watched as the horde of ostriches attacked the bucket in my hands, wrapping their necks around my face, neck, and arms to get to the bucket.

      It was an interesting feeling and experience being at the Cango Ostrich Farm. And with that, the tour was finished. There was a meal that you could partake in for a price that we did not inquire about because we were already behind schedule to get to Port Elizabeth. It was around 1 p.m. and the drive would take 5 hours, just enough time to get us there before sunset.

      Visiting an ostrich farm was nowhere near the top of our bucket list. However, having visited and learned more about the farm and the animal was a great experience. There really was no better way to spend our time before venturing off to the next city. We really wish we had time to visit those caves though.


      Attacked by an Ostrich at the Cango Ostrich Farm, Outdshoorn, South Africa

    5. Cango Caves

    6. This is the place that we were disappointed we could not make it to. Cango Caves is located 29 kilometers from Oudtshoorn and is situated by the Swartberg Mountains with vast caverns and halls of limestone caves. They offer easy and more adventurous tours for those that are interested.

      Be sure to book your tours in advance as they do book up fast. The Heritage Tour is the easier tour of the two. It lasts 60 minutes and costs 150 Rand per adult. This includes entrance into a chamber with a guide and continuing to Van Zyl’s Hall, progressing to Botha’s Hall, into the Rainbow Chamber, to the Bridal Chamber, on to the Fairyland Chamber, and finally the Drum Room. Each of these rooms offer incredible sites from vast open areas to incredible stalagmites. It is the perfect tour for a family or those who are not wanting to challenge themselves in claustrophobic conditions.

      The Adventure Tour is a 90 minute tour and costs 220 Rand per adult. This tour is not for those who are pregnant or suffer from claustrophobia. It will challenge you. This tour includes much of what the previous tour includes, but it dives deeper into the cave. This includes 200 steps down Jacob’s Ladder into the Grand Hall, through Lumbago Alley where the height of the area is about four feet, into King Solomon’s Mines, on to the Devil’s Chimney which includes a passageway that is 74 centimeters to 30 centimeters in height forcing you to squeeze through, into the Coffin, through the Devil’s Kitchen which involves a steep shaft up about 10 feet that is 45 centimeters high, and finally on to the Devil’s Post Box which will challenge you to squeeze through a 27 centimeter to reach the end.

    7. Oudtshoorn Safari


    8. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is the a short 15 minute drive from Oudtshoorn and a great place to get your safari fix while in this town. On the way to Cango Caves, it makes for the perfect addition to complete a full day in the town. It is complete with a spa, restaurant, accommodation, and a safari.

      During the game drive, there are a wide range of animals that you can encounter from hippos, giraffe, eland, zebra, buffalo, and more. These game drives are around two hours in length and include refreshments at scenic lookout points. Being situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, this makes for the perfect scenery. Bush safaris start from 585 Rand per person.

      Night drives are available only to those who have book accommodation at the lodge and allows you a chance to see caracal, genet, porcupine, aardvark, and aardwolf using a spotlight from the vehicle with so many more animals to spot at night. At the midway point you will enjoy a refreshment break and enjoy the beautiful night skies. Night drives start from 585 Rand per person.

      In addition to these drives, you can book an elephant feeding, walking, or brushing. These are interactions with three elephants that were orphaned when their parents were poached. The park now tries to provide them with the best possible love and care. The elephant feeding is a 30 minute activity that costs 355 Rand per person and involves a feeding and interaction with one of the three elephants. This allows you to feed, touch, and take photos with one of these giants. The elephant walking is a one hour activity that costs 920 Rand per person and allows you to go for an early morning or late afternoon walk around the waterhole. The elephant brush and feed is a 45 minute activity for 535 Rand per person that involves brushing the three elephants and feeding them.

      There are meerkat safaris which allow you to get close to these wonderful creatures and their burrows. You can also book a lion experience where you can view three young lions and their feeding in an enclosure that lasts between one and two hours and costs 565 Rand per person. These lions were relocated from a Namibian Conservation and Buffels Drift was chosen for its size of space for them to live. They were born in captivity and therefore would not be released into the wild.

      Stargazing is also a popular activity while at this game lodge and well worth it if you are staying there overnight. You can also book time at the spa starting at 280 Rand for 30 minute treatments.

     

    Cape Town to Oudtshoorn

    Oudtshoorn is a 4.5 hour and 420 kilometer drive East from Cape Town. Using this route to Oudtshoorn, you will miss the Garden Route which is a gorgeous stretch of coastline. Add a few more hours to your drive or plan an extra stop to L’Agulhas and you can plan a much more scenic route towards Oudtshoorn. We chose to rent a vehicle while we were in South Africa during our road trip from Cape Town to Durban. It was the best decision we made and we would definitely recommend this to you during your stay in South Africa, especially if you plan to travel lengthy distances. Alternatively, you could fly domestically to Oudtshoorn from Cape Town or other airports in South Africa.

     

    Best Restaurants in Oudtshoorn

    Finding places to eat in Oudtshoorn is not a difficult task. With the town being so well known for its ostrich, there is the perfect place we can recommend you to go try some of the meat and various other dishes to satisfy your taste buds.

    1. Jemima’s

    2. This is a lovely place for a night meal and well worth the small indulgence into local cuisine in Oudtshoorn. While we were here, we ordered the Jemima’s Meat Sampler which included ostrich, venison, and beef for 240 Rand. We also ordered a salad and some local wine with a pudding dessert to finish off our meal. This restaurant is highly recommended.

    3. Winery in Oudtshoorn

    4. If you are looking for a winery near Oudtshoorn, the Karusa Vineyard is right near the Cango Ostrich Farm and a great place to taste local wines, beer, and grab a bite to eat while you are at it. There are wine tastings available as well as lunch menus that change with the season and what fresh ingredients are available locally.

    5. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge Restaurant

    6. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge also includes an a la carte authentic Karoo cuisine restaurant. This restaurant overlooks the waterhole and you can spot some of the animals right from the wooden deck area. You will be able to experience local cuisine and fresh produce along with some of the best wines that South Africa has to offer.

     

    Affordable Accommodation Oudtshoorn

    Looking for a budget accommodation in Oudtshoorn or maybe a bed and breakfast? The city has a variety of affordable accommodation for you to comfortably stay during your time in town that will provide you with excellent proximity to all that the city has to offer you during your stay.




    Booking.com


    1. Hotels in Oudtshoorn

    2. Finding the perfect lodge, guesthouse, or bed and breakfast in Oudtshoorn is not difficult. There are several reasonably priced and high reviewed places within the town that is in perfect proximity to many of the attractions that were included on this list.

      Check out some of these:

    3. Safari Accommodation

    4. If staying overnight at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is something you prefer to do, then it is best that you book in advance. There are several luxury tents available that include king or twin beds, en-suite bathrooms, private outdoor hot water showers, air-conditioning, free WiFi, and a digital safe. There are family tents and even a swimming pool available for those staying on the lodge.

      There are also a few units that are specifically situated in close proximity to the waterhole and are ideal spots for you to view the wild animals from. You are literally on the water’s edge from your doorstep (though currently because of the drought in the area, the water level is not at its full height).

      Rooms are available from 1595 Rand per person or 2355 Rand for a single room and up depending on the season. You can package these stays with various activities including game drives and feedings that were previously mentioned.

     

    Oudtshoorn was the perfect town for us to visit while we were on our way from Cape Town to Addo Elephant Park. It provided us a wonderful time to visit various attractions and to accomplish almost everything we wanted to do.

    There is more than enough things to do in Oudtshoorn that will satisfy a full day trip to the town up to a few days and longer. We spent a full 24 hours in the town and there were still things that we wanted to do while we were here. We wish we could have stayed longer in this lovely town.

     

    Have you ever visited Oudtshoorn? We would love to know your thoughts or answer any questions that you may have. Leave a comment below.

     

    Check out more from our experiences in South Africa here.

    Best Things to Do in Elora, Ontario: Perfect Day Trip Itinerary


    Ontario, Canada has many small towns to visit that will make you fall in love with day trips from whatever city you are from or are staying in. Elora is one such city that is definitely worth the trip.

    Founded in the mid 1800s, this town became a haven for agriculture and much later for craftspeople and artisans of all sorts who flocked to this beautiful area known for its massive gorge that has two rivers flowing through it. When the conservation area was established in the 1960s, this town quickly became a tourist town for Ontario.

    We took a day in the winter to visit this city to enjoy its quaint atmosphere and amazing natural beauty that it has to offer. Situated about 1.5 hours West of Toronto, it is the perfect place for a day trip from the city. Alternatively, it is a great place to stay for a couple of days to escape the big city life and get some hiking, camping, and shopping done.

    With so much to see in do in this beautiful city, there is more than enough to keep you busy for a couple of days or to just sit in one of its lovely cafes to get some work done. Either way, we have the best things to do in Elora, Ontario.


    Things to Do in Elora, Ontario

    What to Do in Elora, Ontario

    Though the city is just as beautiful in the winter time, if you want to visit the Elora Gorge or Elora Quarry to swim, hike, or camp then it is better to visit during the summer when these are open. There are still areas that you can visit to look into the gorge during winter time, just do not try to walk down past the fenced in areas as this is trespassing.

    The main street of the town is still a beautiful place to walk around in the winter time and it is extremely picturesque with its old buildings. We loved visiting the city in the winter time, but there is so much more to do in this town during the summer months.

    A perfect weekend getaway in Elora would include camping in the Elora Gorge campground, doing an early morning hike, canoeing and swimming during the day, and taking a stroll through the town in the evening. Here is everything that you can do while you are in Elora:

    Elora Gorge

    7400 Wellington County Road 21, Elora, Ontario
    Open Every Day May 1st to October 15th
    8 a.m. until Sunset
    Day Passes into the Park (Subject to Change):

    • Children 5 and Under are Free
    • 6-14 are $3
    • 15+ is $7 with a senior discount at $5.50 65+

    Phone Number: 519-846-9742

    The Elora Gorge is a conservation area in Elora. The gorge towers over the Grand River at 22 meters in height. It is the perfect place to hike, camp, canoe, kayak, tube, or fish.

    This is the perfect place to stay when you are in Elora from May 1st to October 15th while it is open. You can purchase day passes to get into the park while also taking advantage of the swimming spot at Elora Quarry with the same pass.

    However, if you are wanting to stay overnight then there is an option to camp here as well. This is the best way to make the most of your time while in Elora and to take advantage of all of the different activities that this park has to offer.

    There is a playground and two baseball diamonds with a large green spaces throughout the park for visitors to use. Dogs are welcome to the park, but must be kept on a leash and under supervision at all times. There is a concession stand available on most weekends and throughout the week in July and August. There are also washrooms with showers available.

    • Elora Gorge Camping

    • Camping at Elora gorge is quite possible the best way to experience the area. Not only is it the least expensive way to see the city and the nature aspects of it, but it is the most beautiful and efficient way to see everything.

      Being able to stay within the camp and wake up to go on an early morning hike right from your campsite is something that you cannot do if you do not book a campsite. If you stay outside of the conservation area, you will not be able to get back in until opening at 8 a.m.

      This saves you a lot of time if you want to take advantage of every last minute that you have available to you while you are in Elora. If camping is something you love to do, then you are definitely going to enjoy camping at Elora gorge.

      Camping costs $40 and up plus a $13 non-refundable reservation fee and $14 for any additional vehicles depending on the area and whether or not the site is serviced with electricity and water.

      There is a complete alcohol and cannabis ban in this area. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times and cannot be unattended. Quiet hours are between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Six people are allowed per campsite. Check-in is after 2 p.m. Check-out before noon.

    • Elora Gorge Hiking and Cycling

    • There is not a significant amount of hiking to do in this conservation area. With three kilometers of trails to hike, it is more about being able to see the incredible views of the gorge from within the park. It is recommended that you stay away from the edge of the gorge and behind any fences for your own safety. Maps of the hiking trails are available at the visitor center.

      If you are interested in seeing more hiking that is offered in Elora, then check out the 47 kilometer Elora Catarct Trailway on the east end of Elora. However, this is best enjoyed while cycling.

    • Elora Gorge Fishing

    • This particular area of the Grand River that includes the Elora Gorge has a reputation for being one of the best for brown trout. Most people will wade into the water and fly fish in this area. If you are an Ontario resident between 18 and 65, you will require a fishing license. However, there are exceptions on a weekend in February, Mother’s and Father’s Day weekends, and generally the first week in July that you do not need to have a fishing license for. You will need to bring your own equipment.

    • Elora Gorge Swimming

    • There is no swimming area at Elora Gorge Park, but the nearby Elora Quarry Park has a swimming area available free of admission upon showing your receipt of admission to the Elora Gorge Park.

      There is a splash pad that has features to keep the kids happy on any day from June to August 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    • Elora Gorge Tubing

    • Tubing is an incredible experience through the rapids of the Grand River within Elora Gorge. Unfortunately the shuttle bus for tubing is currently not in operation, so you will need to find a way back to the start or hike it with your tube.

      Still, it is a great activity to enjoy. Make sure that you call in advance to see if it is available as equipment is rented out on a first-come first-serve basis. On days where there is a high river flow, tubing can be cancelled.

      The complete tubing package costs $25 per person with a deposit of $75 and registration can be found at the concession.


    Elora Gorge, Elora, Ontario

    Elora Quarry

    June 1 – September 1
    Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    319 Wellington County Road 18, Elora, Ontario
    Day Passes into the Park (Subject to Change):

    • Children 5 and Under are Free
    • 6-14 are $3
    • 15+ is $7 with a senior discount at $5.50 65+

    Phone Number: 519-620-7596

    There is no Elora Gorge beach, but rather your chance to go swimming at a beach while in Elora comes at the Elora Quarry. This is a 5 minute drive, 45 minute walk through Elora, or a 15 minute bike ride from the Elora Gorge Conservation Area. Admission to this is included with the price of admission into the Elora Gorge Conservation Area.

    Surrounded by massive cliffs similar to that of the Gorge but not as high, the Elora Quarry is a gorgeous natural setting for families wanting to go for a swim while in Elora. The beach is the perfect sandy spot for you to relax and enjoy on any summer day. There is also a small one kilometer trail that loops around the quarry to hike around.

    There is a maximum capacity and it is recommended that you call ahead to check whether or not the capacity has been reached. There are two washrooms and a small change room on site. Please note that dogs, alcohol, and cannabis is not permitted while in the park. Visitors are not allowed to jump from the cliffs into the water. Watercraft are not permitted in the Elora Quarry. Life jackets are available for free with a refundable deposit. The beach is not patrolled, so you will need to look after your children.

    Walking Around Elora

    If you do not want to visit Elora Gorge Conservation Area, but you still want to see the Gorge it is still possible. There is a lookout that you can walk to that is circled on the map above and is accessible just a short walk from the main street in Elora. It allows you to see parts of the Gorge, including the Tooth of Time seen below.


    Tooth of Time, Elora, Ontario

    West Mill Street is the place you want to visit while you are in Elora. It is a wonderful small stretch of shops and restaurants that run from the old Elora Mill to a bridge over the gorge. It is the home to all of the old buildings from many years past that make for the perfect setting for photos.

    It is best to wander this area for yourself and see what you can find, but we have a few places we would recommend that you check out while you are here:

    • Elora Gorge Zipline and Rock Climbing

    • There are other adrenaline filled options at Elora Gorge including ziplining and rock climbing. This does not require an Elora Gorge Conservation Area pass and you can book this through a third-party company to take you on this adventure. Other adventures that they offer are cave exploring and other fun challenges that you can book.

    • Elora Mill

    • This is the perfect place to stay, eat, and relax at the spa. Built in the mid-1850s as the town mill, the building has since be transformed on the existing foundation to create the perfect environment for your stay in the city. Take some time to visit this place and maybe even have a meal or relax at the spa that it has to offer. It is the perfect place to start your walking tour of the city, based at the bottom of Mill Street West and overlooking a portion of the gorge.


      Elora Mill, Elora, Ontario

    • The Gorge Cinema

    • This is a small cinema located along Mill Street West where you can enjoy a movie while enjoying your stay in this area of Elora.

    • Shopping in Elora

    • There are so many great shops along Mill Street West. From antique shops to leather and boot shops, this town has some incredible things that you will not find anywhere else. We particularly liked the reFind Salvage shop which has a lot of crafts and antiques for you to peruse through. If you want more shopping than what this area has to offer, turn left onto Metcalfe Street from Mill Street West (opposite direction of the bridge) and continue shopping all the way until you get to the Elora Brewing Company. Another shop here that stood out to us was the lavender store.


      Elora Shopping, Elora, Ontario

    • Cox Creek Winery

    • If you are interested in visiting a winery while in the area, just a 15 minute drive from the Elora Gorge Conservation Area is this unique winery that offers fruit wines. Black currant, cranberry, blackberry, apple, and raspberry are just some of the wines that are offered at this winery. Tours are only available at 2 p.m. on Sundays for $7 that includes 4 samples and a tour of the facility.

    • Grand River Raceway

    • If you are in the gambling mood while you are in Elora, located just a couple minute drive from the Elora Gorge Conservation Area is the Grand River Raceway. There are horse races scheduled from June and on at this raceway, as well as games and slots to entertain you. There is also a dining option and other events that you can check out here year round. This is a good option for adults to visit while in Elora.

    Where to Stay in Elora, Ontario




    Booking.com


    As we stated before, the best way to experience Elora is to go camping at the gorge. Nothing beats getting back in touch with nature like going camping in a conservation area with the sound of a river below. It is the best feeling to be able to get up bright and early and start your hike immediately without having to get in your car and drive somewhere. Being able to do everything you want to and be within walking distance to where you will be sleeping is an unbeatable feeling to have and why we would recommend camping whenever you are in Elora as long as it is still camping season.

    However, we do understand that not everyone is up for a camping trip or have the equipment handy to go camping. This is where the few places to stay in Elora provide a wonderful place to escape from the outdoors.

    If you are looking for the number one place to stay in Elora, then it is simply the Elora Mill. This was once the mill from the mid-1850s that has since been redeveloped and created into a hotel, restaurant, and spa. It overlooks a portion of the gorge and is at the foot of the Mill Street West. The perfect location matched with the perfect environment for your stay in Elora. It is also the best place to have your wedding.

    The Cellar Restaurant and Suite is the number one choice for a place to stay while you are in Elora. It is located right on Mill Street East, right by Mill Street West where all of our favorite storefronts are located. It has all of the amenities you would need, the room looks lovely, and it holds a strong rating.

    Though maybe a quaint bed and breakfast in a quaint little town is more your style. If that is the case then The Cheshire Cat Bed and Breakfast is perhaps what you are after. It is located a little bit further away from Mill Street West being across the bridge and down a side street, but it is still within walking distance. Also, breakfast is included!

    If you are looking for a budget place to lay your head because you know you will be out and enjoying everything that Elora has to offer you, then The Village Inn is your best option. It is located a little bit further away from Mill Street West than the bed and breakfast, but still within walking distance.

    You cannot go wrong with any of these choices, but they are in order of what we would choose. We do understand that each of these choices serve their purpose as well. Camping is only for certain types of people and not everyone is interested in being outside while they are sleeping. For some, location and being comfortable is most important and others just want a place to lay their heads with an inexpensive option. Regardless, you have a lovely area where you will be staying.

    Best Elora Restaurants

    There are a lot of great choices when deciding where to eat in Elora. From a brewery to a high-scale restaurant, this small city really packs a punch with these restaurants:

    • Elora Brewing Company

    • With a great selection of beers brewed and bottled on site and a farm-to-table food offering, this is the great choice for those looking for a pub setting. There is also free live music on Fridays and events put on by the restaurant to entertain you. This is the number one choice for any beer lover in Elora.

    • Elora Mill

    • If fine dining is what you prefer, then look no other place than the Elora Mill. We have already talked about this place in detail in the previous two sections, but it really is the best place to stay, relax, and eat if you are looking to spend a little money on yourself while in Elora.

    • Cafes and Other Stores

    • There are several dessert and cafe shops to choose from along Mill Street West and onto Metcalfe Street heading north towards the Elora Brewing Company. They are all lovely places that offer a wonderful escape from outside and into an atmosphere that is warm and inviting. One cafe in particular that we suggest you visit is The Lost & Found Cafe right near the reFind Salvage shop we recommended earlier. This is in a little inlet just off of the main street, but a perfect setting to grab some coffee. Afterwards, visit the Cafe Creperie of Elora to satisfy your sweet tooth.


    Elora Shopping, Elora, Ontario

    Why You Should Visit Elora, Ontario

    Elora is a beautiful city that takes you away from the busyness of life and into the quaint backdrop of a city with old buildings and a massive gorge. It is the perfect place for a day trip or to get away for a weekend.

    Get away from it all by going camping at the Elora Gorge Conservation Park or enjoy the comfort of a bed and breakfast within the city. Regardless, the city is a great place to explore for a couple of days.

    It will not overwhelm you and you will not leave wishing you had more time here. It is the perfect balance of providing you with just enough. Or maybe it will blow you away and you will want to come back to do it all again.


    Things to do in Elora, Ontario

     

    Have you ever been to Elora? What was the highlight of your trip here? Let us know in the comment section below!

    Cancun to Chichen Itza: Is Chichen Itza Worth It


    After our week in Mexico City, we were off to Cancun for a few days. We are not the type of travelers that enjoy staying on a resort and Cancun being a resort city made for an interesting stay for us. We stayed in an AirBnB away from the resorts and the main reason why we came to Cancun was to visit Chichen Itza.

    Having seen places like Teotihuacan just outside of Mexico City, we had high hopes for Chichen Itza to blow us away. It had to be better. It is a New Wonder of the World. It took us over three hours to drive there from Cancun, involved us needing to rent a vehicle, and took an entire day out of our itinerary.

    The site itself was pretty impressive and we were definitely happy that we escaped Cancun for a day to be here and to marvel at the site. But, is Chichen Itza worth it? Here is our day from Cancun to Chichen Itza and everything you need to know to make sure your trip goes smoothly.


    Cancun to Chichen Itza Is Chichen Itza Worth It

    Our Experience in Cancun

    As soon as we landed in Cancun, we knew that it was going to be nothing like our time in Mexico City. Prices were astronomically more expensive for just getting a ride into the city. In Mexico City we used Uber to get everywhere we wanted to go. We found out when we landed in Cancun that Uber had been cancelled in the region in order to make sure that the taxis can overcharge you for these rides.

    It was the beginning of May and the air was extremely humid. We could not step outside without breaking into a sweat. Luckily the further you traveled inland like on our road trip to Chichen Itza it became less and less humid. However, it was still scorching hot.

    Beaches were overrun with seaweed that has proven to be a major problem for the tourism in the area. You could not get into the water without wading through the seaweed. Excess was heaped on the beaches and decomposing in the scorching hot sun providing us with an odor that stung the nostrils.


    Cancun, Mexico

    Cancun is an expensive city in comparison to Mexico City. We knew that this was going to be the case, but were blown away by how expensive things were. $500 pesos for a cab ride from the airport to the city. The driver was confused why we were not staying at a resort and did not know where to take us despite us providing him with the address.

    Markets will try to rip you off in any way possible. We went to Mercado 21 and there is a very popular scam throughout this market. Do not buy any jewelry here. It is not what they say it is. At least we cannot trust their word. To describe this briefly without getting into detail, they have a stone that they sell on rings here. They claim it is found in the cenotes and it changes color depending on the light. It is pretty cool to see and the story that they provide about it would make anyone consider purchasing such a beautiful ring. However, a quick Google search would show you that the only stone that has this property is found in Turkey. What scam artists will do is dye a piece of glass with a certain chemical to give it the same color changing properties.

    What is funny is they started at $2,000 USD for this ring. They made their way down to $500 with some haggling while I was searching on my phone. Then, when I pulled Natalie out of the store saying no we are absolutely not buying it, they offered it to us for $150. That is a major sale! What is even funnier is EVERY STORE has this same stone and same story, but they have a different names for the stone. Do not get ripped off by this.

    Regardless of our experience in Cancun, the main reason why we came here was to see Chichen Itza. So we put up with all of this silliness. When we had enough, we rented a car for $45 USD per day the night before and prepared for an early morning trip to Chichen Itza.

    Our Experience Visiting Chichen Itza: Day Trip from Cancun

    We woke up before 6 a.m. in order to leave at that time so we could get there right when the park opens at 8:00 a.m. If you travel often, you are likely used to these early mornings to get to where you need to be. This was just another day.

    I drove while Natalie caught some more sleep on the way there. Little did we know that our phone’s GPS was set to “Avoid Tolls” and we ended up going the longer route by almost an hour. This had us arriving there a little past 9:00 a.m.

    The route we took on the way there through the small towns would have been a better route to take on the way back. It would have been best to take the shorter route at 2.5 hours to Chichen Itza and pay the tolls to get there at opening rather than skip most of the tolls and spend more than 3 hours driving through small towns to arrive late.

    Regardless, the drive through the small towns and seeing people get their morning routine started made for an enjoyable ride that we would not have seen on the way back. It was a pleasant drive with lots of dogs walking on the roads and people getting their days started. Besides the unmarked speed bumps that you need to watch out for, the drive was completely safe.

    By the time we arrived, there was about a ten minute wait in line to get our tickets. When purchasing your tickets, you need to pay twice which was confusing. There is a state charge of $406 pesos and a federal charge of $75 pesos. This can be paid at once with cash or twice using your card.


    Cancun to Chichen Itza

    When you are inside there is a lot of walking, but less than half that of walking around Teotihuacan. The area is almost completely open and really hot, so make sure you prepare for a really sunny day. The first thing you see when you enter is the main structure that Chichen Itza is so famous for. And it is really impressive.

    These ancient Mayan ruins are incredibly constructed and kept for thousands of years. It is no wonder why it is one of the New Wonders of the World. The interesting thing that people do when they are there is clap at the front of the pyramid which causes an echo of your clap to return to you sounding like a bird or animal.

    Besides this main structure, there are many other ruins scattered throughout the site all with an interesting story to them and how they were significant in this once thriving area. There is also a cenote on site that was once the site for some sort of sacrifice. They have since found lots of bones from human remains in the cenote.

    There is really a lot to take in at this site and it is very impressive. We did not want to get too deep into the history and significance of Chichen Itza in this post, but if you want to learn more about this incredible site then visit here.

    If you are interested in souvenirs, there are many for you to choose from while you are here. They take up shop strategically in the shaded areas and they do not bother you as much as in other places we visited while in Mexico where they will come up to you and try to sell you something. Here, they stay at their table and try to get you in to seeing what they have to offer.


    Cancun to Chichen Itza

    How Far is Chichen Itza from Cancun

    Chichen Itza is a 2.5 hour drive from Cancun via toll highways. If you do not want to travel the highways, you can drive just over 3 hours through towns and pay a final toll on the last stretch to Chichen Itza.

    From the shorter drive to Chichen Itza on the highways, you will pay approximately $180 pesos one way. The longer drive will still have you paying approximately $78 pesos for a small stretch of highway before arriving at Chichen Itza.

    Is it Safe to Travel from Cancun to Chichen Itza

    Yes. Absolutely it is. There is not doubt that it is a road that is taken care of, and we drove both ways that you can get there. The highway on the way back to Cancun and through the towns on the way there.

    There are police stops along the road, and we were stopped twice by police that were checking every vehicle driving by. They will ask to see your drivers license. I only had an English drivers license from Canada, no international driving permit, and there was no problem with this.

    The only thing that was dangerous about our drive through the towns were the speed bumps. When you are driving 70+ kilometers per hour and there is a speed bump that you cannot really see and there are no signs warning you of a speed bump, it makes for a really bumpy ride. This happens a lot through these towns, so you need to be very diligent when you are driving.

    Chichen Itza Cost

    Chichen Itza Admission Fee: $481 pesos

    This entry fee includes a $406 pesos state charge and a $75 pesos federal charge.

    Other costs of traveling to Chichen Itza from Cancun include:

    • Tolls: $258 pesos
    • Rental Car + Gas: $1000 pesos
    • Parking: $30 pesos
    • Drinks, snacks, and souvenirs: Too Much

    Total Chichen Itza Cost: $1,769 pesos (one person admission)

    Best Time to Visit Chichen Itza

    Chichen Itza Opening Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Everyday

    The best time to visit Chichen Itza is as soon as it opens. Get there right at 8:00 a.m. There are two reasons for this:

    1. It gets hot here around mid-day. Like really hot. If you are not prepared for how hot it gets, you could suffer heat stroke like the couple of people we saw get carried off in an ambulance. Make sure you prepare for the heat and get there early to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.
    2. Tour buses arrive between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. This is when things get really busy here. This is what you want to avoid. Getting here before this time will allow you to get those photos in and enjoy the area before it becomes overcrowded with people.


    Cancun to Chichen Itza

    How Long to Spend at Chichen Itza

    We were at Chichen Itza from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This was enough time to walk around the entire grounds and do some souvenir shopping while we were there. We were not rushed at any point of this, so it is safe to say that you should budget 3+ hours for touring the grounds.

    What to Prepare for Chichen Itza

    If you want to pay cash for your tickets to avoid being charged twice, then bring $481 pesos per person. Also, bring enough cash for the tolls of approximately $180 pesos one way. In addition, bring pesos for drinks, food, and souvenirs, approximately another $300 to $500 pesos per person depending on your spending habits.

    Make sure that you bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and lots of water and snacks. We were here for four hours excluding the drive. That sun gets extremely hot in this area and we were scorched by it. Make sure that you prepare for a really hot day with lots of walking. While we were there, two people got heat stroke and had to have ambulances called.

    Check the weather on the day of, but be prepared for 30+ degrees Celsius feeling even hotter than that in that open area. There are some areas in Chichen Itza with tree shade, but for the most part it is an open area.

    You may also want to bring your swimming gear and a towel to enjoy some of the cenotes in the area on your way back from Chichen Itza to Cancun.

    How to Get to Chichen Itza from Cancun

    • Driving From Cancun to Chichen Itza

    • Driving in a foreign country is not without its headaches. I have driven in four or five different countries at this point in my travels. Still, it is not for everyone and there is a lot you need to consider when driving in a foreign country. You should definitely do your research on driving in Mexico if you plan to do this. There is not that much different compared to the rest of North America, but some helpful tips online for those that want to check it out.

      There were times in Cancun that I was nervous because of the lights and roundabouts. However, once we were out of the city it was smooth sailing. Other than those speed bumps that we mentioned earlier. Be careful with those. You will want to make sure you keep your eyes on the road looking out for these as you drive through small towns. They are not marked and caused us to bottom out our car while driving to Chichen Itza. There is more than enough parking at Chichen Itza and parking costs $30 pesos.


      Cancun to Chichen Itza

      We were stopped at a traffic checkpoint by police twice. Though a little intimidating, they were easy to deal with and just checked my drivers license. It was not a big deal and we moved on without any further questions. It would have been difficult if they had further questions because they did not speak English.

      Just because we are the type of traveler that likes to get behind a wheel does not mean that everyone is. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons and judge whether or not you could drive here. It may be better to consider these next two options instead.

    • Hire a Driver from Cancun to Chichen Itza and Back

    • This was one option that was presented to us by one of our taxi drivers that we seemed to enjoy while we were there. He was helpful and when we asked him the best way to get to Chichen Itza, he agreed that it may be better for us to rent a car to get there if we did not like tours. He also offered to drive us there and back and showed us his prices for that which were on a laminated card. His prices were obviously higher than what we spent on our rental car for the day including gas and tolls, but still a pretty good option if you want to go at your own pace in Chichen Itza without a tour group.

    • Chichen Itza Tours from Cancun

    • A more hands-off and stress-free way of getting to Chichen Itza from Cancun is to book a tour. This can be done through various websites and while you are in Cancun. However, we prefer to book a tour beforehand because it seems everything in Cancun is a rip-off. We did see how much it would cost for a tour while in a market, and though the price was fairly reasonable per person you can still negotiate them to a slightly cheaper price and even that does not compare to the price you can get online. Especially considering you are packed on a large bus rather than having a private tour or one that is a small group tour.

    Best Chichen Itza Tours from Cancun

    As we just mentioned, choosing a tour is a great alternative to having to drive there by yourself or hiring a driver. Definitely the cheapest option available considering the cost of hiring somebody or renting a car. It also is completely stress-free and avoids anything bad happening to you while you are driving which could easily ruin any trip.

    We do recommend booking a trip in advance if you do choose to go this route. There are tour providers everywhere in Cancun, but due to our lack of trust with people trying to sell you things in Cancun we feel it is best to book online with good reviews and have the satisfaction of knowing you are in good hands.

    However, booking something last minute is still an alternative. Most tours have the same things included: bus ride there and back, tickets, lunch or snacks, tour guide, visiting a cenote, and possibly another stop. Compare them and see which one appeals the most to you.


    Is Chichen Itza Worth It

    Ultimately our trip from Cancun to Chichen Itza was well worth it. It had to be. It was the main reason we came to the resort city. Other than visiting this place, Cancun was unbearable compared to our time in Mexico City. It was overpriced and the locals were just after every dollar from you. It was like we were in a completely different country.

    We would recommend that you stay in Merida instead. It is not a resort town, still fairly large, and will not give you the same vibes that Cancun gave. You can still visit many cenotes in the area and visit Chichen Itza at a comparable distance. Looking back on it, this is where we would have stayed.

    Regardless, we learned a lot about ourselves and what we look for in a city when we are traveling there. We now know to avoid the resort towns as much as possible and look for a city that is maybe a little less known to get to where you want to go.

    Chichen Itza is a must visit when you are in Cancun. It was a pretty incredible site and it was the perfect day trip from Cancun. Having said that, our time in Mexico City was much better than that of Cancun. And Teotihuacan is a comparable attraction to Chichen Itza and may have been a more enjoyable experience for us at less than half of the cost.


    Cancun to Chichen Itza

     

    Have you been to Chichen Itza before? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below!

    5 Days in Mexico City Itinerary


    Mexico City is an overlooked city to travel to. Growing up in Canada you hear a lot of Mexico in international news regarding its safety and the amount of attacks on tourists in resort towns and crime in general within the country. Yet, as so many other destinations that we have visited, we felt safe throughout the city

    Since we arrived back in Canada in 2017, Mexico was on the list of our next destinations to visit. Unfortunately we hear a lot of negative press against Mexico involving the safety of the country. There is a lot of talk about the murders, kidnappings, and petty theft that happens within the country. Even visiting Canada’s travel website, Mexico is listed as travel with extreme caution as of 2019.

    That has never deterred us from visiting a place and upon further researching about safety in Mexico you can find that the main areas you should avoid fall along the U.S. border and to the West of Mexico City. These places we avoided.

    Mexico City has so much to offer travelers that it would be a shame that the question of safety would deter anyone from visiting. First and foremost, the food is what gravitated us towards visiting Mexico. Along with the food we were looking forward to learning more about the Mexican culture and to visit some historical ruins while we were at it.

    Five days in Mexico City is just enough to get a taste for what this lively city has to offer. Here is what we did in five days.


    5 Days in Mexico City Itinerary

    Table of Contents


    1. Day One:

    2. Historical City Center Walking Tour

      • Palacio des Belles Arts
      • Museo Mural Diego Rivera
      • La Ciudadela
      • Templo Mayor
      • Zocalo
      • Torre Latinoamerica

    3. Day Two:

      Teotihuacan Day Trip

      • Teotihuacan
      • Lucha Libre

    4. Day Three:

      Coyoacan

      • Frida Kahlo House and Museum
      • Mercado de Coyoacan
      • Museo Anahuacalli

    5. Day Four:

      Puebla and Cholula Day Trip

      • Puebla Zocalo
      • Library and Cathedrals
      • Mercado
      • Estelle de Puebla
      • Our Lady of Remedies Shrine and Archaeological Zone

    6. Day Five:

      • Xochimilco
      • Chapultepec Castle

    7. Where to Eat in Mexico City


    8. How to Get Around Mexico City


    9. Where to Stay in Mexico City


    10. How to Get a SIM Card in Mexico City

     


     

    In each of these sections are links to separate blog posts that dive into each of these days much deeper if you want to learn more about them.

     

    Day One:

    Historical City Center Walking Tour


    One Day in Mexico City Historic Center_ Walking Tour


    There is so much to see in the Historical City Center of Mexico City that you could dedicate a few days to it and not be able to see it all. We had to pick and choose the attractions that we would enter, but we did make an effort to make it to each one to marvel at the architecture even if we did not choose to enter.

    We recommend this for your first day in the city because of how great of an introduction to the city it is. From the art to the buildings, the food to the markets, there is something here for everyone to enjoy and lots of things to fulfill your senses.

    There is a lot to do and if you only have a limited amount of time while you are there, you need to plan your route ahead of time. That is why we copied and pasted our route to help you from needing to do any further research. If you want more information on this, click the photo above.


    Walking Tour Mexico City

    • Palacio des Belles Arts

    • This was our starting point to our tour of Mexico City. From our accommodation straight to this gorgeous piece of architecture. There are various dance, music, opera, and other cultural events in this palace and would definitely be worthwhile to book something in advance or to take your chance and see what is there when you arrive. The day that we were there, they were hosting an art show. However, with the limited time we had to dedicate to the Historic Center of Mexico City, we decided to skip this due to the other art shows that we were going to see on this day and later in the trip.

      Whether you decide to enter the palace or not, take a stroll in the park right next to it to enjoy the statues and fountains on your way to this next one. It is a beautiful area and it takes you right to the next destination on our list.

    • Museo Mural Diego Rivera

    • This was the perfect thing to fit into our short itinerary because the entrance fee is inexpensive and it is simply a room with a mural in it created by Diego Rivera. We spent about half an hour here to really enjoy this piece of art by the famous painter. It is a great way to get to know a little bit more about the famous artist and his work, however all of the text is in Spanish. If you want to really know what you are looking at, do a little research on your phone while you are there or book a tour.

    • La Ciudadela

    • The perfect place to visit if you are a souvenir shopper. The prices are fair and there are lots of different things to see in this massive complex of alleyways that are lined with different vendors.

      The long list of souvenirs you can buy at this market include: Mexican wrestling masks, dolls, leather products, tequila, shot glasses, figurines, and many other Mexican handicrafts.

      We spent a couple of hours here and you can even eat at one of the restaurants in the market, but we had already planned to eat at our next area that we would visit.

    • Zocalo

    • The main square of the historical center is home to an ancient ruin and some incredible architecture. It is well worth it to eat at El Mayor with a view of Templo Mayor and a small portion of Zocalo. From there, you could choose to tour the Templo Mayor and the Zocalo area. There are even some buildings you can choose to enter like the Cathedral.

      From Zocalo, you can see the next attraction and you will continue walking for 10 minutes to get to it through a pedestrian only road full of a wonderful strip of shops.

    • Torre Latinoamerica

    • Continuing from the Zocalo area you can walk the shopping district towards the Torre Latinoamerica where you can move up to the top of the tower for the view of the area you conquered in your itinerary. The view is pretty incredible of the area you just walked from the Palace to Zocalo. It is the perfect place to wrap up the day and would look beautiful once the sun goes down or at sunset. We were too tired after this day to wait for that, so we went up during the day and enjoyed our time here, though it is pricey (as are most admission tickets up towers at any destination).

      From this tower, you can visit the El Moro Churreria to satisfy your sweet tooth at the end of your long day. It was a great way to wrap our day up with churros and sweets.

     

    Day Two:

    Teotihuacan Day Trip


    Visiting Teotihuacan_ The Best Mexico City Day Trip


    You are going to need to keep those legs moving for this next day trip to Teotihuacan. This is an archeaological area that includes two pyramids and a long stretch of ruins from a once thriving population North East of Mexico City. If you want some more detailed information about Teotihuacan, click the photo above.

    To get here, you will need to take an Uber to Gate 8 of Autobuses de Norte station and look for the booth with the blue pyramid that also has Teotihuacan on it. There you will buy tickets that cost $54 pesos each for one way on a bus that takes just over two hours to arrive.

    From there you will be dropped off right near the Entrance 1 for Teotihuacan where you will pay your entrance fee and continue walking for about five more minutes to get to the entrance gate where there are souvenir stands to buy hats, sunscreen, and other various souvenirs to commemorate your trip. Do not worry, there is a lot more souvenirs to buy throughout the ruins.

    From there you will walk straight through a long stretch with ruins on either side of you towards the direction of the Pyramid of the Moon straight ahead and the Pyramid of the Sun to your right slightly before the previous pyramid.

    You are free to walk up the top of the Pyramid of the Sun and to the midway point of the Pyramid of the Moon. Both have very steep stairs and are not made perfectly. Luckily there are ropes that you can hold on to for your way up. The views are well worth it. Along with exploring more of the ruins, you can also visit the museum on site.

    Before you leave, visit La Gruta restaurant which is just a five minute walk from the entrance by the museum. Here you can dine on Mexican food in a cave! It is a beautiful environment with some of the most delicious food we had while we were in Mexico and a great end to the meal with a ritual that they have every guest do.

    If we recommended one day trip for you to take while you are in Mexico City, this is the one. Do not miss out on Teotihuacan. Again, if you want more in depth information on this, click the photo at the top of this section.

    Lucha Libre


    Lucha Libre _ Wrestling in Mexico City


    We squeezed this event in after our day trip to Teotihuacan at 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at Arena Mexico. When in Mexico you need to treat yourself to a Mexican wrestling show. You will not be disappointed. You will need to plan this in advance and find the best day that you can visit a show. We searched online with the keyword Arena Mexico because we knew that this was the closest major arena to our accommodation. When we found the website that showed the events happening, we chose the day that would work best for us.

    Tickets cost 130 pesos each and it was a small price to pay for a great view of the entertainment. The stadium was half full as rows above ours were not sold. It was extremely crowded outside of the stadium with food vendors and souvenir vendors along with hundreds of people looking to purchase tickets and just enjoy the atmosphere. From the outside, you would never know that it was a stadium.

    You are not allowed to bring in bags or cameras into the arena. Once you have purchased tickets and made it past security, there will be several runners working for tips that will take you to your seat. You can also purchase snacks and beer from your seat. The show was just over two hours long and featured several different performances each going three rounds. The atmosphere in this stadium was incredible, and though it definitely was not a major match, everyone was into it. Click the image at the top of this section to learn more about Lucha Libre in Mexico City.

     

    Day Three:

    Coyoacan


    Things to Do in Coyoacan, Mexico City

    • Frida Kahlo House and Museum

    • It only made sense to visit the house of one of Mexico’s most famous painters, Frida Kahlo. This blue house has now turned in to a museum. Once you enter the house you are greeted to a gorgeous open courtyard with a souvenir shop, fountains, and walkways around various plants. You can sit down to a video, which we opted out of, and continue through the house to see the various rooms and learn more about the history of the house and Frida Kahlo.

      You can then continue on to an exhibition of her various clothing and jewelry that only recently was made available to the public and learn about why she dressedt he way she did. This was a great look at Frida Kahlo and to understand more about the figure. With this purchase also came entrance to the Museo Anahuacalli which is also worth a visit, though is not within walking distance.

    • Museo Anahuacalli

    • Take an Uber to this museum which is included in the price of admission to Frida Kahlo’s house. It is definitly worth the visit and should not be forgot.

      This was a museum that was built by Diego Rivera to display art and artifacts of the Mexican culture. He designed it to show off the architecture of Mexico and to display artifacts. There is a lot to wonder at here from the floors to the ceilings and the walls that house the incredible artifacts that tell a story of years past.

    • Mercado de Coyoacan

    • After Frida Kahlo’s house, walk ten minutes to this market to not only shop more souvenirs, but also take in the Mexican cuisine in this market setting. The foods are endless here and you can really get a look into the culture of the cuisine. We even tried some grasshopper and pig rinds here. But you can keep it safe and have some tacos and dessert. You can also walk a block from here to visit the Mercado Artesanal Mexicano for some more unique souvenir shopping.

     

    Day Four:

    Puebla and Cholula Day Trip


    From Mexico City to Puebla Day Trip Itinerary

    These side-by-side cities are a great way to spend a day trip outside of Mexico City. This is our next recommended day trip from Mexico City next to Teotihuacan. Puebla is a historic town where they celebrate Cinco de Mayo as it is the site where Mexico defeated the French army in an underdog battle.

    We arrived by bus from TAPO to CAPU during a three hour ride and went straight to the main square of the city where the historic center is to join in on the Cinco de Mayo festivities. Upon our arrival we had just missed the parade, but there were street vendors for miles in ever direction selling souvenirs and food. We visited:

    • Zocalo

    • This is the main city center and it is full of wonderful historic architecture along with a space for locals to relax in the main plaza. This is a great starting point for your walking tour of the area that can cover so many of the things on your to do list in Puebla.

    • Library and Cathedrals

    • The Biblioteca Palafoxiana is a historic library near Zocalo and the Puebla Cathedral. It may be worth it for a tour if you are willing to pay the price of admission, but we decided not to and got a photo from outside. Other great places to see in the area are religious buildings including the Catedral de Puebla, Capilla del Rosario, and Templo de Santo Domingo.

    • Mercado

    • El Parián is a popular market in Puebla full of souvenir shops and food stalls. It is the perfect place to go for a stroll and to enjoy the markets that the city has to offer.

    All of this took up three to four hours of our time and with our bus leaving at 6:30 p.m. we had to move on to Cholula to visit:

    • Estrella de Puebla

    • Though not in Cholula, it fits perfectly into your day if you visit on your way to Cholula or on your way from Cholula back to the bus stop to take you back to Mexico City. This is a massive ferris wheel that provides you with a great view of the surrounding area from the top.

    • Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies

    • This is an iconic shrine for the city of Cholula and is a must visit when you are in the area. The shrine is on top of a large hill which is the site of a pyramid. The shrine is colored yellow and overlooks the volcano in the distance, though the fog did not allow us to see it. Regardless, the shrine itself as well as the view of the city is beautiful enough to warrant a visit.

    • Zona Arqueológica de Cholula

    • This is the archaeological zone that sites at the base of the shrine. We did not have time to enter this area and had to get moving from here, but it is the next thing we would have done if we had the time. It is supposed to be one of the largest pyramids in the New World.

     

    Day Five:

    Xochimilco


    Visiting Xochimilco from Mexico City for a Boat Ride

    This is a canal that is inhabited by hundreds of colorful boats that you can cruise on for $500 pesos per hour per boat. You can choose to do this by yourself or with a group of people to make the cost lower per person. Either way, it is a party on the canal.

    We arrived on Monday at 10 a.m. at Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas and there were hardly any other people cruising the canal. It was extremely quiet and shop owners were just opening up. This gave us some bargaining power when booking our one hour cruise. However, if you want more of a party vibe then you should go on the weekend.

    Once you are on your boat and cruising the canal, smaller boats will approach you trying to sell flowers, food, beer, photographs, and mariachi bands that will board your boat to sing to you.

    You driver will make their way to a flower shop where you can get out and walk around before heading back to the docks where your cruise will end. We thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful cruise and on the way back many more boats were coming out and the canal was becoming much more busy with singing and drinks to be had.

    Bring your own drinks and food onto the boat when you go and think about joining a group before you get to the docks so that you can pool your money and spend more to get to the island of the dolls.

    Chapultepec

    This is a massive park that is home to an amusement park, several different museums, and a castle. This could be a full day itinerary in and of itself. The main attraction here is the castle, so do not miss out on that.

    Chapultepec Castle was built in the mid 19th century. It is now home to an incredibly informative historical tour of Mexico. With lovely views of the surrounding area and an amazing walk through the history of Mexico through paintings and artifacts, this attraction cannot be missed. You cannot bring bags in with you, but you are able to check them into the lockers before you enter for the small price of $10 pesos.

    Walking through the castle will take at least a few hours so budget your time accordingly. Unfortunately everything you will read will be in Spanish, so if you are interested in learning more beyond looking at the artifacts you may want to hire a guide at the entrance.

     

    Where to Eat in Mexico City

  • El Mayor

  • This was one of our favorite restaurants in Mexico City with a view of the Zocalo and Templo Mayor. It serves really good Mexican food in an incredible atmosphere at a reasonable price.

  • El Moro

  • Also in the Historic City Center like El Mayor, El Moro specializes in churros and serves other amazing desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth. Having been in business for decades, it makes sense why it is a popular spot.

  • Peltre

  • This is a lovely spot for lunch or dinner in La Condesa with a great area outside to eat or a great atmosphere inside. It was our first spot in Mexico that we got a taste of Mexican food.

  • El Farolito

  • This is a Mexican food chain in Mexico City that serves affordable food that tastes fairly good. It was our second place that we visited and though we were not thoroughly impressed, it was good for the price point.

  • Salon Rios

  • Just north of La Condesa is this stylish bar / restaurant where we tried Mescal for the first time. We also ordered some dessert and nachos. It was a great place to enjoy the night life of Mexico City.

  • Los Danzantes

  • Our second favorite food place on this list we found in Coyoacan. It is a lovely restaurant with a perfect outdoor eating area with excellent food that allows you to eat right next to a busy plaza area.

  • Churreria General de la Republica

  • Another churreria on the list, but this one in Coyoacan is a small establishment that serves one thing. Churros. And they are pretty good at it.

  • Cafes

  • Panaderia is a cafe in Juarez, El Beneficio in Coyoacan, and El Pujol and Cafe Del Dia in La Condesa all offer good coffee and pastries to get you started for any day.

     

    How to Get Around Mexico City

  • Uber

  • This was our preferred method of transportation in Mexico City. It was so affordable that we did not waste our time taking public transit and risk being pickpocketed as our AirBnB host even warned us about the potential of this happening.

    Using Uber, most trips throughout the city being anywhere from $40 to $70 pesos.

    Longer trips that lasted as long as 45 minutes due to traffic within the city cost about $100 pesos. Though our trip to Xochimilco from our AirBnB near Chapultepec cost $150 to get there and $200 pesos to get back as it is depending on the time of day and demand for drivers.

  • Taxi

  • We would not recommend the taxis in Mexico City as they all look run down. We did take a taxi from the airport to our AirBnB, but this was a registered taxi that we purchased a ticket for in the airport when our Uber account was not letting us login.

  • Bus and Subway

  • These are both very inexpensive ways of getting around the city, but you are trading off efficient use of your time. This is why we opted to use Uber throughout the city. If you have the time to spend and are cautious about your surroundings in closed and tight environments, then perhaps try using these methods of transportation around the city.

  • Rent a Car

  • No. Do not do it. At least with my comfortability of driving, Mexico City seemed like a free-for-all on the roads. I have driven in Canada, Hawaii, and South Africa, and later in this trip I drove throughout Cancun to Chichen Itza, but I would not have been able to drive in Mexico City.

    Not only for the chaos that were the roads, but also the amount of traffic throughout the city is enough to make your head spin.

     

    Best Area to Stay in Mexico City


    Where to Stay in Mexico City




    Booking.com


    We stayed in La Condesa and were really happy with how safe we felt when walking around throughout the day and into the evening. Around this area is where we would recommend you to stay in Mexico City. It is also a great base to get to anywhere from the airport, the historical city center, Xochimilco, and other bus stops. Alternatively you can stay in Roma Norte for a similar feel to La Condesa, just closer to the nightlife and restaurants.

    If you are interested in the specific area that we recommend and some hotels we suggest you book, check out our post on the best area to stay in Mexico City.

     

    How to Get a SIM Card in Mexico City

    Once you land in MEX airport, you will notice a few different wireless shops that are selling SIM cards. We went to the first one we saw which was an AT&T both where they were selling SIM cards with unlimited everything as it was explained to us for 10 days for $300 pesos. This seemed like a great deal and we only had troubles with our connection in one area of the city just north of Chapultepec. Other than that it was flawless.

    We carried on using this SIM card past the 10 days when we moved on to Cancun later in our trip and it was still working. On the tenth day when we walked into an AT&T store to see if we could get a few more days on the card before we left, they told us the card was good for 30 days.

     

    Conclusion

    We really felt as though we did everything we wanted to when visiting Mexico City. Five days was the perfect amount of time for us, though we are very busy travelers and are willing to spend more on transportation in order to fit more into a day. If you are slower travelers and want to move at a pace more suitable to you then perhaps you will want to add more days to your trip.

    Ultimately we find wherever we travel and for however long we are there for, it is never enough. There are always things that we wish we had more time to see and things we wish we had added to our itinerary. Regardless, we are always happy for the memories that we made and the things we accomplished while there.

    Mexico City was no different. The city really blew us away with how incredible it is for travelers. With day trips to satisfy any traveler and culture exploding throughout the city, it is the perfect place to book your next trip. Avoid the touristy resorts that the country is so well known for and get a dose of local life by staying in the big city. You will not regret it.

     

    Have you been to Mexico City before? What did we miss from this itinerary that you think travelers MUST visit? Leave a comment below!

    Things to Do in Coyoacan, Mexico City


    Mexico City has many incredible areas for you to explore. The city is full of history and culture with enough attractions to keep you busy for weeks. There is no doubt in our minds that Mexico City exceeded our expectations and we would recommend anybody to visit the city.

    One of the misconceptions of Mexico City is that it would be unsafe. However, what we experienced from the city is that it is a very safe place to wander. Of course whenever we travel, we are aware of where we are and our environment to stay safe. Still, our time in Mexico City kept us feeling at ease wherever we were.

    One particular area that we fell in love with was Coyoacan. It is an area that is full of culture most known for being the home of Frida Kahlo which you can now tour as a museum. This was the main attraction that we planned to see when traveling to the area. Little did we know how much the area has to offer.

    Our list of things to do in Coyoacan quickly began to pile up as we did more research into the area and what was meant to be a quick trip to the Frida Kahlo House became a one to two day trip to the area depending on how much we were able to accomplish. As soon as we arrived via Uber to the Frida Kahlo House, we fell in love with the area. It was like night and day compared to the hectic streets of Mexico City to the suburban streets of Cayoacan.

    With so many things to do in Coyoacan, we figured we would cover them all in this post. From the things we accomplished while we were touring the area for a couple of days to the things that we missed that we wish we could have fit in.


    Things to Do in Coyoacan, Mexico City

    What to Do in Coyoacan, Mexico City

    With so many things to do in Coyoacan, we have broken down what we did while we were in the area and what we wish we could have added if we had more time. This makes for the perfect itinerary for you to look at and decide which attractions stand out to you the most.

    The things we did in Coyoacan left great impressions on us and even looking back at the things that we missed, we would not have changed our itinerary in the area. This is not to say that we do not wish we had more time to go to these places, but given our limited time we would definitely recommend doing the same things that we did.

    Where is Coyoacan?


    Things to Do in Cayoacan, Mexico City

    Coyoacan is an area just south of Mexico City that is known for its culture, including museums and artists that have lived in the area. Think of it as the hipster area of Mexico City filled with a fresh vibe, cobblestone streets, restaurants with patios, gated houses, and really clean and open areas.

    This makes this part of the city the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. It is about a $100 peso Uber ride from the city center, it is worth it to be able to have a more intimate time with your significant other and get to experience more of Mexico City’s culture.

    Attractions in Cayoacan

    • Frida Kahlo House and Museum

    • This is where we began our Coyoacan day. Located at the very north end of Coyoacan is the Blue Hose. This is where Frida Kahlo was born and lived in eventually with Diego Rivera. It is where they hosted many important figures while they were in Mexico, including Leon Trotsky (who’s house and museum is just a short walk from here). Frida Kahlo passed away in one of the rooms and later Diego Rivera would donate the house and its contents to have it turned into a museum in her honor.

      The house is painted a beautiful blue and is filled with some impressive artworks. After purchasing your tickets just inside the gates, it opens up into a beautiful courtyard filled with lovely gardens and walkways. There is a building where souvenirs are sold, another that houses some of her wardrobe collection, and another that is a walking tour of the house. This tour includes artifacts and works of art from Frida Kahlo’s life.

      If you are a fan of Frida Kahlo, love art, or want to learn more about Mexican culture, then this is a must. Frida Kahlo was such an important figure culturally to Mexico and there is no better way to learn more about her and her impact on Mexico than seeing this place.

      Weekday admission is $230 pesos and weekend admission is $250 pesos. An additional $30 pesos is charged for photography. The museum is closed Mondays and open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the exception of Wednesdays it opens at 11:00 a.m. This cost of admission includes entrance into the Anahuacalli Museum, though it is an Uber ride away from this museum and would fit better into your schedule later in the day.

      We arrived on a Wednesday just before 11:00 a.m. At this point we had to wait about 45 minutes to an hour in line to get in. This is normal. We would definitely recommend booking your tickets online in advance to get in sooner. If you book your tickets in advance, you will still have to wait in line, but in a much smaller one.

    • Mercado de Coyoacan

    • A short five minute walk from the Frida Kahlo House, this market is primarily a food market. And there is nothing wrong with some food! Mostly around the outside of the market are stalls selling various Mexican souvenirs that you are likely to find in several different markets around Mexico City with some more unique crafts. There is also one smaller side of the market selling things like costumes and more handcrafted larger items.

      The other side of the market is home to a lot of different Mexican cuisine from pork rinds to mole. It was really interesting to see the interactions and the different food being sold. We had no idea what mole looked like. Nor did we think that we would be trying crickets. Yes, crickets.

      We purchased some smaller snacks like desserts and candied fruit to keep us fed while we wandered more of Coyoacan.

    • Mercado Artesanal Mexicano

    • Another five minute walk from the Mercado de Coyoacan is this market which is exclusively a souvenir market with some pretty unique items. It is a two story market with some items that you will be familiar with, but also some items that are pretty unique that may cause you to empty some of your pockets.

      At this point in our trip, we had already purchased the things we had wanted to buy while in Mexico City. However, we did enjoy walking through the stalls and seeing the different souvenirs that were on sale.

      This market is right near Jardin Hidalgo and Jardin Centenario which are two plazas that have several different restaurants lining the streets and a nice green area in the middle. This is where we visited our second restaurant of the day, Los Danzantes.

    • Anahuacalli Museum

    • This museum was built using black volcanic stone and was created by Diego Rivera. He decided to build it because of his interest in Mexican culture and to house the thousands of artifacts that he had found during his life. It is a pretty impressive collection.

      The artifacts are pre-Hispanic pieces that show a life through statues, sculptures, and works of art that had been preserved. Along with each display is an explanation of what you are looking at in English so it makes for a very interesting walk through. There are several floors in this museum and you can spend more than an hour just wandering around this building and reading everything that is there.

      There is some very beautiful works of art located in the building and along with the beauty of the building itself and the artifacts, this is a place that you will want to add to your itinerary possibly at the end of your day like we did. General admission is $90 pesos, but it is free if you purchase an admission ticket for the Frida Kahlo Museum.

    • What We Missed

    • Like we said, we would not have taken back anything that we did while in Coyoacan. What we wrote above is the perfect day that we had planned and executed while in the area. However, if we would have had more time in Coyoacan then we would have added these:

      • Leon Trotsky’s House and Museum

      • Located right near the Frida Kahlo Museum, learn more about the life and exile of Leon Trotsky.

      • Zoológico Los Coyotes

      • If you have kids and want to see a zoo while you are in Mexico City.

      • Aztec Stadium

      • If you are looking to catch a soccer match while you are in Mexico City, then this is the place to check it out while in Coyoacan.

      • Parroquia San Juan Bautista, Iglesia De Coyoacan,

      • There are several religious structures within Cayoacan that you can add to your list of places to visit, but these are exceptionally beautiful and worth a visit.

      • National Museum of Popular Culture

      • Looking for a more contemporary artwork museum? This is your place.

      • Tranvía Coyoacán

      • Hop on this tram tour of the area. It is hard to miss and is easily spotted passing by Jardin Centenario.

    Coyoacan Restaurants

    • El Beneficio

    • Located right near the Frida Kahlo Museum is this lovely little place for brunch. It is a small shop, but there is another one of the same name right across the street which is a little bit more busy with a larger interior. It was here that we ordered some pastry and a waffle with coffees. It was the perfect place to fuel up before walking a couple of minutes to the entrance of the Frida Kahlo Museum.

    • Los Danzantes

    • The perfect restaurant right near Jardin Hidalgo and Jardin Centenario by Mercado Artesanal Mexicano, it is the one that stood out to us as a place that we needed to try. Natalie is the one who does the restaurant researching and she usually nails it. This is no exception.

      We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table and we sat outside, still able to enjoy the busy atmosphere of the park right by. While we were here, we ordered tacos, octopus, and ice cream for dessert. Either of these plates are highly recommended, and as an octopus lover Natalie loved the dish.

    • Churreria General de la Republica

    • This is a small storefront that was recommended to us. A very simple shot that does one thing really well. Make churros. Here you enter the store right to where you order and have a very simple selection. Churros and a selection of chocolate or caramel sauce. We just ordered the plain churros for about $20 pesos.

    Hotels in Coyoacan

    Coyoacan is a beautiful area of Mexico City that is home to some wonderful cultural spots. There is enough here to easily keep you busy for a few days while you walk through the various museums and attractions that the area has to offer.

    When we stayed in Mexico City, we stayed in La Condesa which is closer to the main attractions within the city including Chapultepec and the Historic City Center. We still think that this is the perfect area to stay when in Mexico City, but this is dependent on whether or not the attractions on your list to see are situated in that area.

    We believe there are two main things you need to start with when looking for accommodation. Number one is safety. Number two is that it is close in proximity to the attractions you want to see. In our case, most of the places we wanted to see while in Mexico City were close to La Condesa and it was a safe area. However, if you have a lot of places at the top of your list to see in Coyoacan, then you will want to stay in close proximity to the Frida Kahlo Museum.

    This is because of the general safety of the area as well as the proximity to all of the main attractions that Coyoacan has to offer based on the list covered above. The area is well gated and is a beautiful area that is maintained and has some lovely restaurants to visit while you are here. While we were here for the day, we enjoyed the atmosphere it had to provide and thoroughly enjoyed walking the streets to see as much of the area as we could.

    If we were to return to Mexico City and wanted to stay in a different area than we did, we would definitely choose this area of Coyoacan.

    Here are two places that we would stay at:

    Villa Alfonsina

    • Top Quality and Reviewed Property
    • Steps from the Frida Kahlo Museum
    • Approximately $100 USD per night

    Casa Ayvar

    • Good Budget Accommodation and Well Reviewed Property
    • Five Minute Walk to the Frida Kahlo Museum
    • Approximately $40 USD per night

    Tour Coyoacan

    Whether you are running out of time or you are looking to have no worries about how to get from one place to the other, then booking a tour is the right path for you when visiting Coyoacan. There are a lot of things to do when you are in the area, so having somebody that is local and knows the area best can be beneficial to getting you around to the major attractions and also explaining things that you would not have known if you were touring for yourself.

    We generally do not book tours, but in Mexico City it may be worthwhile for some travelers to book a tour to get them around from place to place. When it comes to getting around the city, we always recommend using Uber. This is because the public transit is the perfect place for pick-pocketers to strike. Not that we ever had this happen to use while we were in the city or met somebody that had this happen, but our host did warn us about this. Also, taxis look very rundown and unreliable so we avoided taking these. Uber is extremely convenient in Mexico City, comfortable, and worth the minimal extra cost compared to public transit.

    The best way to get around from place to place beyond using Uber is to have a local transporting you around because they know where to go and how to get there. You do not have to worry about directions or getting on your phone to book your next Uber and making sure that you have a charged phone. Booking a tour is the best way to stay safe, it takes the headaches out of your travels, and it is the best way to see attractions and get the full experience while learning as much as you can from a local.

    If you are looking for the perfect tours to get you to the main attractions of Coyoacan, then you may want to check out these tours:


    What Else to Plan While in Coyoacan

    If you are looking for more to do while you are in Coyoacan, then you should definitely add a trip to Xochimilco. If you want to learn more about Xochimilco, click on the link.

    For now, the best way to describe it is a fiesta on a canal. Basically you pay for a one hour or more boat ride on the canal. The boats are intricately decorated and once your are on the canal, smaller boats will approach your boat selling you a mariachi band for a certain amount of time, snacks, drinks, photos, and more. Couple this with there being hundreds of boats on the canal all enjoying the atmosphere, it quickly becomes one big party.

    This is a must-do if you are in the area anyways or a trip on its own. Weekends are much more of a party and weekdays are a little bit more quieter. The area also has some souvenir stalls around its entrances.

    Conclusion

    Coyoacan is a beautiful area of Mexico City with a lot to offer travelers. It is evidently a culturally and historically important area of the city with the epicenter being the Frida Kahlo Museum. The streets are well taken care of and we felt very safe walking the streets on a sunny weekday.

    If we chose a different area of Mexico City to stay if we were to return, this would be the area. We were impressed with La Condesa, but Coyoacan is a much more livable area. It is much more quiet compared to the main areas of Mexico City. The streets are much smaller and there is less traffic.

    It is the perfect area for you to escape from the hectic chaos that is the streets of Mexico City. The restaurants are great places to relax at and provide great environments to sit down and relax for hours on end.

    Thinking back to our time here, it was the perfect break in our week in Mexico City where we were constantly on the go checking things off of our list. It was our next to last day that we visited Coyoacan and it was a complete change of pace. The next day we even returned to visit Xochimilco.

    If you are in Mexico City, make sure that you plan a day or two in Coyoacan to escape.

     

    Have you ever been to Coyoacan? What were your favorite attractions? Did you see anything else that was of interest to you? What restaurants would you recommend? Leave a comment below!

    Where to Stay in Fes, Morocco


    Fes, Morocco surprised us with how beautiful it was. We did not have many expectations of Morocco before we arrived. It was a country that one of us wanted to visit while it was a compromise for the other. However, we both left the country having fallen in love with it. It was Fes that blew us away with the culture wrapped up in the massive Medina.

    There is so much action and areas to explore within just the Medina itself, let alone the entire city of Fes itself. You could get lost for weeks wandering around the Medina and then spend much more time wandering the city itself to see more like the Royal Palace. That is why we also recommend booking a guided tour of Fes as soon as you arrive in the city to explore the Medina.

    Choosing where to stay in Fes is a major question that you will face when planning your trip to the city. Without any prior knowledge of the city itself, we wondered if it was best to stay in the action of the Medina or get a place outside of the Medina because we thought it might be safer. It turns out Morocco is an extremely safe place for couples to travel to, but that is a topic for another day.

    Let’s talk about the best place to stay in Fes, Morocco to make the most of your trip to this incredible city.


    Where to Stay in Fes, Morocco




    Booking.com


     

    Best Area to Stay in Fes

    When you are choosing an area to stay in any city, you need to consider a couple of things:

    1. Safety
    2. This is the number one priority whenever you are traveling. Making sure that you are safe ensures that you will have an enjoyable trip and will be able to look back on your trip with fond memories. That is why choosing the right place where you are going to be leaving in the mornings and returning at nights, as well as likely leaving your belongings in the room all day, is so important.

      You want to know that you can return after sunset to your accommodation without feeling threatened or leave early in the morning without worrying what will happen to your belongings left in the room.

    3. Proximity
    4. The next aspect of booking your accommodation is choosing a place that is not far from the major attractions within the city. Sure you can likely save a few dollars staying outside of a major city, but more often times than not this is not worth it if you are constantly making trips back into the city. You will waste a lot of your time and money on transportation costs.

      Choosing the right place within the city in respect to the attractions you want to visit is also very important. What we usually do is plot the attractions that interest us and that we want to see. We then look at the different areas that are closest to these points and look for hotels within there. This, in theory, should save us the most amount of time and money in transportation.


    There is one place in Fes that holds the most interesting things to see. The Medina. Not to say there are not more things to see in the city. But you are likely going to want to prioritize seeing the Medina when you are in the city.

    This made staying in the Medina a priority for us when we were booking our accommodation. Despite our worries before arriving in Morocco about safety, we knew once we were in the country that we did not need to worry as much as we did. However, o matter where you are traveling and how comfortable you become, you do need to remain diligent and be aware of your surroundings.

    Based on our experience staying in Fes, we would recommend staying in and around the Medina based on the proximity to the major attractions. When we were in the city, we stayed just within the Medina by the South Gate. This was perfect because we were not deep in the confusing Medina and it was easy to get to and from our accommodation.

    We recommend staying on the outskirts of the Medina because as soon as you get to the Medina, you are walking. There is only so far that a taxi can take you. From there you need to walk to your accommodation with all of your luggage in hand. It also allows you to escape the Medina with ease just in case you want to explore the city of Fes.

    If you do not want the action of the Medina, there are also great areas within the city that are close to the Medina. We still recommend staying within the Medina on the outskirts or as close to the Medina as possible.


     

    Best Places to Stay in Fes

    Based on choosing the right area, we have gone ahead and created a list of places that are the best to stay while you are in Fes. These are places that meet our criteria. This includes accommodation that is based on the border of the Medina, but within it. It also includes places that are outside of the Medina, but close to it. These places are on the south end of the Medina, keeping it closer to the train station and major gates of the Medina as well as the Royal Palace and lookout to the Medina. The accommodation meets or exceeds our standards based on reviews and the amenities that it has to offer.

    Having said this, here are the best places that you can stay when you are planning your trip to Fes:

     

    Best Hotels in Fes, Morocco

    • Inside of the Medina

    • There is a variety of places to stay within the Medina of Fes. Focusing on the accommodation that is located closer to the South Gate of the Medina for ease of access and transportation, as well as looking at accommodation that is worth the money spent, we have narrowed down our choices to this list:

        Budget Accommodation in Fes
      1. Dar El Mathaf
      2. Riad Ibn Battouta & Spa
      3. Hotel Blue Sky
      4. Dar Elinor
      5.  

        Luxury Accommodation in Fes
      6. Palais Faraj Suites & Spa

       

    • Outside of the Medina

    • Both of these options are closer to the budget range and within minutes of the Fes train station. This makes it the perfect place for those arriving and departing from Fes by train. It is still close enough to the Medina that you can get a short taxi to the South Gate.

      1. Barceló Fés Medina
      2. Ibis Fes


     

    Conclusion

    We know how important accommodation is when you are traveling to a city you have never been before. There is a lot to consider in your decision making and a lot that can go wrong. We have heard a lot of horror stories in the past about travel accommodation.

    Sometimes the cheapest price is not the most worthwhile. Getting the right hotel at the right price is difficult to find. Especially when you have a specific area that you want to stay in the city.

    Fortunately, Fes has quite a few beautiful places for you to stay in prime location when you are traveling. Not to mention that Moroccan hospitality is excellent and they will take care of you regardless of where you stay.

    We loved this city. If you are already sold on going here, just know that you will have an amazing time exploring the Medina. If you are still on the fence about going to Fes, make sure that you make this city a stop on your Moroccan trip. It is a place that you can absolutely not miss.

     

    Have you visited Fes, Morocco before? Where did you stay and what was your experience like? We would love to know in the comment section below.