Home Blog Page 9

One Day in Narita, Japan Itinerary

Our time in Narita is that of a story of ups and downs, lefts and rights, good and bad. It is the story of something terrible happening followed by something that saved our whole trip. Our completely unexpected and short-lived trip to the airport city outside of Tokyo was one we will remember forever for several reasons. Little did we know, there were a lot of things to do in Narita, Japan that we would enjoy.

Things to Do in Narita, Japan in Less Than 24 Hours

Things to Do in Narita, Japan


  1. Day One:

Our Experience in Narita

Narita is more than just an airport city outside of Tokyo. There is a lot to offer in this significantly less populated city. It emits a more relaxed feel. From what we saw of it, it offers cultural experiences for tourists, a specialty cuisine of eel, and a quaint temple. It is worth the time spent here, before or after moving on to Tokyo. It would provide a nice way to ease you into the Japanese culture before moving on to Tokyo or relieve you of the continuity of action within Tokyo.

The visit to Narita was completely unexpected. It began with a flight from Seoul to Sapporo where we transferred to another flight from Sapporo to Honolulu. It was on this flight that the incident occurred. We wont dive into the incident in detail here, but if you want to read about it in detail then check out our post sleeping overnight in an airport. Basically, there was a hydraulic fluid leak about two hours into our flight that caused the plane to turn around and land in Narita. Due to the high volume of tourists in the area at the time, there were literally no hotel rooms available. None. Zero. I even tried to call our go to hotel website, hotels.com, and asked them to find us a hotel. After remaining patiently on the phone for 15 minutes, we were told the unfortunate news that no hotel was available. We slept in the airport overnight with the seventy others that could not find hotels that night.

So, how does one recover from such a horrible start to a vacation? Optimism. And lots of it. I must thank Natalie for taking the situation and making the most out of it. After a three hour sleep, we were up and moving around the now opened airport. We got some breakfast and did some souvenir shopping. Our next decision was should we spend our remaining four hours to take a taxi into Tokyo or should we take a train into Narita. Fortunately for us, after talking to a couple of different information desks, we were told of a free tour program in the airport and directed to the Narita Transit Program desk.

It was here that we found the solution to our problem and a way to improve our horrible 12 hours since our departure. They offered three free tours, leaving us only to pay for the expenses from the trip including the train tickets and lunch. We chose a tour that suited what we wanted to see in Narita, and waited for our tour guides. Less than ten minutes later, two English-speaking tour guides arrived and we began our tour.

We left for Kensei-Narita Station, just two stops from Narita airport. First on our agenda was to try on traditional Japanese clothing and going to a tea ceremony.

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment worn during formal events, such as the Japanese tea ceremony that we went to afterwards. Our tour guides took us to a small building that housed the volunteers that fitted us with the kimono. For us, it was an enjoyable experience to try on the kimono. For the volunteers that had to deal with my stench from a full day of traveling and having to sleep in my clothing in an airport without a shower, it was probably not so enjoyable.

The Japanese tea ceremony that followed was an informative ceremony of a cultural aspect within Japan. It taught us about the distinctive tea drinking culture within the country and the hundreds of years of tradition behind such an intricate ceremony. After being directed through the many movements that are incorporated within the ceremony, it was time to take our kimono back and move onto the temple at the end of the road.

The Naritasan Shinshoji Temple provided us with a calming environment to unwind from a hectic 24 hours. The Japanese architecture combined with the nature-friendly aspects of the surrounding environment creates a relaxing place to ease yourself and forget about where you are at the moment. The walk around the temple grounds lasted less than an hour and we did not get to see all of it. However, anytime wandering the temple grounds is a beautiful experience.

Our three hour tour with the Narita Transit Program concluded with lunch. We got to see the chefs prepare the eel from scratch. After finding a restaurant, the four of us sat down for one last talk and a nice meal of eel. Food is always an excellent way of wrapping up a day of travel, especially with the company of two amazing tour guides. Our discussion was primarily about Narita and their experiences living within the airport city all of their lives. Though overshadowed by Tokyo in regards to tourism, this city has so much to offer culturally for anyone visiting.

Looking back at our situation in Narita, Japan, we could have easily sat back and watched the minutes tick off the clock while sitting in an airport chair. The time would be gone forever, never to be reclaimed again. Fortunately for me, Natalie saw an opportunity to make something out of our misfortune. If it was not for her, our time in Narita would have been spent much differently. Not only that, but also our perception would have been negatively affected because of our negative experience. Thankfully both of these aspects of our trip was saved, and we made many memories in the process. This is the thing about travel: it never happens exactly the way you want it, but make sure you take advantage of every opportunity before it slips through your grasp. It also helps to have a travel partner that possesses the qualities you may lack. Thanks Natalie!

Should you be staying in Japan for longer than we did, you should check out this 14 day Japan itinerary for places to visit and things to do.


Narita Travel Guide

Attractions in Narita

What We Did

  • Tried on Kimonos and Joined in a Tea Ceremony

  • We visited the Narita Tourist Pavilion to start our tour and tried on some traditional Kimonos. From there we walked with our guides and joined in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It was a lovely glance at the traditional culture.

  • Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

  • It is always nice to see a temple in each country you visit. This one was extremely peaceful. It is definitely one of our favorite temples we have visited for its serene grounds and gardens and lovely architecture. Nature intertwined with spiritual.

  • Walked the Shops and Restaurants

  • Probably the most interesting part was just walking the streets and seeing what was going on. We were able to see an eel get served up from being grabbed live out of a bucket to coming off of the grill. There were various shops and restaurants on the street leading up to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple that we enjoyed strolling by and walking in and out of.

What We Missed

  • Sakuranoyama Park

  • After going through what we went through with the emergency landing and having to sleep in an airport, it may have been nice to visit a park and watched the planes come and go.

  • Shimosa Ichinomiya Katori Shrine

  • We got to see a wonderful temple. The next thing that could have followed that up would have been a shrine, and this would be the one to see while in Narita.

  • Naritasan Museum of Calligraphy, Shibayama Kofun Haniwa Museum, and Museum of Aeronautical Science

  • There are a few museums to choose from in Narita. The calligraphy museum caught my eye as I find that skill to be visually appealing and would love to see a museum dedicated to it. The Shibayama Kofun Haniwa Museum is dedicated to artifacts and archaelogical excavations of tombs which would be nice for any history buffs out there. It just makes sense that an airport city like Narita would have its own museum dedicated to aeronautical science. This seems to be the most visited museum including flight simulators and more. Unfortunately we are not museum people unless something really strikes our fancy, so we did not mind missing these.

Restaurants in Narita

What We Did

  • A Restaurant that Served Eel

  • We do not quite recall the name of the restaurant that we ate at. But the street leading up to the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is lined with shops and restaurants that serve eel. Being that eel is the food that Narita is known for, it only makes sense to indulge in this while you are there.


Our tour was free with the Narita Transit Program. The train cost us 500 Yen each round trip, renting the kimono cost us 500 Yen each, and lunch cost us 1500 Yen each. In total, our trip cost us each 2500 Yen (the equivalent to $25 USD).

Getting Around Narita

  • Subway

  • Is there a more efficient and cost-effective way to get around Japan? The subway is the best way to get around by far. It cost us the equivalent to $5 USD for a round trip to and from the airport. You just cannot beat the price, especially when you are in a city for such a short amount of time.

    We took the subway right from the airport and walked no more than one kilometer to get to the temple and various attractions we saw while in Narita.

Where to Stay in Narita


  • We stayed in the airport. On the floor. Underneath the check-in counter. But we would not recommend this. When we arrived late at night we tried to find a place to stay, but they were all booked up. There was one place right near the airport where there was one room, or more so a pod, available for the night, but the air conditioning was not working at the time so we opted against it.


Sometimes your stay at a destination has less to do about the destination itself and more about the city. We found more than enough things to do in Narita, Japan, but it was more so about talking with our local tour guides that made our trip so memorable.

Going on a tour is not normally our thing to do when traveling, but the Narita Transit Program made it so easy and made it very personal for us as we were the only two on the tour with our two tour guides. We could not have asked for anything more from the program and our guides.

Traditions are an interesting part of a country’s culture. A strong enough tradition can become ingrained into the life of those it touches. With the help of the younger generations that follow, the hope is that these traditions will remain a piece of unforgotten history that gives the country its identity. During our impromptu trip to Narita, Japan, we were fortunate enough to partake in one of these traditions of Japanese culture. We learned proper Japanese tea ceremony etiquette.

Japanese Tea Ceremony Etiquette

Experience: Japanese Tea Ceremony
Where: Narita, Japan
Type: Traditional / Cultural
How: We were in Narita International Airport when we found Narita Transit Program, a free tour of certain areas in Narita. One of the options included a traditional tea ceremony.
Cost: The tea ceremony was free through the Narita Transit Program.
Duration: The tea ceremony itself lasted roughly 15 minutes.
Summary: While in Narita, Japan, we were fortunate enough to be able to be involved in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

The Japanese tea ceremony (‘Sado’ or ‘Canoyu’) is a particular way of drinking tea. The ceremony was first introduced to Japan by China. The tea ceremony first involved Buddhist priests, then Samurai, and finally spread to others around the country. Since its establishment in the sixteenth ceremony, the art of the tea ceremony has remained unchanged.

There is proper Japanese tea ceremony etiquette that must be learned and performed throughout the ceremony. Every motion is carefully completed. The number of steps, bringing out each piece one at a time, folding of the handkerchief, scooping of the hot water, pouring the water on the tea and stirring, handing out the tea, drinking, everything is a small piece to the tea ceremony.

We walked in to the small room where there were red mats on the ground where we should sit. Wearing our kimonos that we had just been fitted with, we were ready for the tea ceremony. However, I got told by the hostesses that my sword that was given to my by the people who fitted the kimono onto me was not allowed in the tea house. The tea house, I was told, is a place of peace. Off of the main room was a smaller room where the hostesses waited for us to sit. One hostess sat across from us, while our two tour guides sat next to us. The hostess explained what would happen as we watched the tea ceremony begin. The other two hostesses were moving around in the back room.

Out came one of them with a small cube of something red. It was explained to us as a small concentrated piece of bean paste that was meant to give us some sweetened taste in our mouths before having the bland taste of the green tea.

Japanese tea ceremony etiquette

While slowly eating this cube, the hostess that was described as the teacher began bringing out each piece required to serve the tea, one at a time. Each foot step from the back room to the water being heated is counted, making sure the hostess only takes six steps. With all the required parts to serve the tea, the hostess begins her ceremony. She folds the handkerchief neatly in her hand and begins to ladle the hot water into the teacup or bowl (chawan) with the powdered green tea. She takes two ladles of the hot water and whips the ladle with the handkerchief. She then stirs the water and tea together, at which time the second hostess hands the tea cup or bowl to each guest.

Japanese tea ceremony etiquette

When the bowl is handed, it is then important for the guest to know to bow to the hostess and how to properly drink the tea. The bow begins with your two hands making a triangle shape and bowing to the person giving you the drink. You then need to accept the teacup with your right hand and place it in the palm of your left hand. The teacup should then be rotated to show the design of the cup away from yourself, after which time you may begin to drink the tea. After drinking the tea, you then must whip the part of the teacup that your lips touched with the right hand and place it on the ground for the hostess.

From this point, you can inspect the cup without touching it to see the design. This is done by not touching the teacup because generally these are valuable cups and should be handled delicately. After the hostess takes the cup from you, you bow and the tea ceremony has been completed. Proper Japanese tea ceremony etiquette has been taught to us.

Our guides told us that in the past, the tea ceremony was not a place for a woman. Especially during the times when the Samurai warriors dominated the ceremony. Over time, the host became more common to be hostesses as it was the duty of a woman to serve the tea. In fact, being able to properly be a hostess in the tea ceremony is regarded as necessary in preparation for marriage. The tea house, as previously states, is a place of peace.

It is up to the new generation to hold on to the traditions of the previous generation. Hopefully these traditions, that are what we have come from and is a part of who we are, will never disappear from existence. We should hold on to them so we do not let them escape us. They are part of our culture and a sliver of history that can be kept alive, so long as we are willing to. The tea ceremony in Narita, Japan that we were fortunate enough to participate in is one of those traditions that have not disappeared. A short insight into the history and culture of Japan and learning proper Japanese tea ceremony etiquette was a great way to spend our short trip to the city.

To be able to participate in another people’s culture is very humbling. To be accepted as one in the same and to allow you to show you their customs is one of the main reasons we travel. We love to see the lives of others around the world, how they live, and to get to understand their ways of life. When we unexpectedly landed in Narita, Japan, our goal was to use the time we had to see as much of the city as we could. This led us to wearing a kimono, a traditional Japanese garment, while in Narita.

Wearing a Kimono

Experience: Wearing a Kimono in Narita, Japan
Where: Narita, Japan
Type: Cultural
How: We were in Narita International Airport when we found Narita Transit Program, a free tour of certain areas in Narita. One of the options included was wearing a kimono.
Cost: The cost of this was 500 Yen (approximately $5 USD) to donate towards the cleaning of the kimonos after being worn.
Duration: The tour lasted approximately 4 hours. Trying on the kimono and going to the Japanese tea ceremony took about 1.5 hours.
Summary: While in Narita, Japan, we took the opportunity to try on traditional Japanese outfits and enjoy a Japanese tea ceremony.

We were fortunate enough to find the perfect tour with a small group of volunteers that operated out of the airport. We chose a tour out of three options and within minutes, we set out with our two tour guides. The guided tour was free, though you are required to pay for the subway fare and lunch.

The first stop on our tour was a place where we could try on a Japanese kimono for a donation of 500 Yen (equivalent to about $5 USD). Unwilling to pass at an opportunity to really immerse ourselves in a culture, we accepted the offer to try on the kimono.

What is a kimono?

A kimono is a formal garment in Japan. They are long robes that fall to the ankles and are secured by a belt that is tied at the back. Kimono are worn to formal events including weddings and tea ceremonies.

Wearing a Kimono in Narita, Japan

We were led to the fitting room together where there were several different styles of kimono hanging up for us to choose from. After browsing through the different colors, we ultimately settled on the ones in the pictures. Having been forced to sleep in the airport the night before, it was evident that I was extremely smelly. The putrid smell of body odor from a full day and night’s sleep overwhelmed even me as I changed into the kimono. I was pleased with the ladies that fitted me and tied the belt around my waist that they were able to keep a smile on their face.

My belt was tied and I was handed a fake samurai sword to go with my outfit. Natalie was nearly prepared with two other ladies helping her get ready. When the process was complete, she was handed an umbrella to complete the look. We were ready for our photo shoot. While we had our tour guides snapping photos of us, many other people came by and complimented our look. We were thrilled with the way the kimonos fit and were ready to take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

If you are ever in Narita, Japan for some time, check out the Narita Transit Program booth in the airport for a free tour of the city. Spend some time and immerse yourself in the culture of Japan. Try wearing a kimono. This is what traveling is all about. Take your time to appreciate the little things and enjoy the moments while they last. Do not turn down an opportunity or let something slip through your hands.

Attraction: Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Where: Narita, Japan
Type: Culture / Architecture
How: We went on a tour through the Narita Transit Program which is in the Narita airport. You can take a subway from the Narita train station to Keisei-Narita station. From there it is about a 5-10 minute walk.
Cost: Free entry onto the grounds of the temple.
Hours: 8AM – 4PM
Duration: Walking the grounds of the temple can easily consume 2 to 4 hours of your day depending on how many pictures you take and how long you look at things.
Summary: Our tour of Narita was concluded with a short walk through the grounds of the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. The marvelous architecture of the structures throughout the temple grounds, and the natural feel of the temple, provide both a calming and relaxing environment.

Our tour of Narita, Japan had been highlighted by some unique experiences including sleeping overnight in an airport, trying on a kimono and going to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Our unplanned trip to the city began with an unexpected turn around mid-flight to Hawaii. It ended with us participating in a personal tour of a small section of the city and understanding what it is like to live within it. From great food to wonderful architecture, we were honored to be apart of something so special. Our tour was a culmination of Japanese culture which concluded with a tour of the temple grounds of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple.

So-mon, The Main Gate to Naritisan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

After returning our kimono to the rental place, we walked further down the road past all of the souvenir and food vendors that line the street. We came to So-mon, The Main Gate. From here we entered the temple grounds. After the gate, we continued down a long rock path lined with sculpted pillars and lots of people. We came to a small man-made stream of water where people cleanse themselves using scoops of the water. The process included take a scoop of water using the ladle, pouring some of the water on your hands one at a time, and then tilting the ladle upright so it falls down the handle and back into the fountain.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Continuing to the stairs that brought us to the main temple, we realized a recurring theme with these temple grounds. The combination of Japanese architecture and nature was apparent throughout the grounds. From the small pools of water littered with turtles to the gardens behind the temple, there was no lack of nature throughout our time there. This nature friendly aspect creating a calming environment for visitors and locals alike. The presence of these creates a balance between building structures in an urban environment and preserving the land and natural life.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

The ascent led us to a bridge where the small pools of water with the turtles were, as well as several shrines and tombstone-like stones protruded from the ground leading up the hills on either side of the next staircase. These, we were told, were dedicated to the people who helped build the temple. Finally after climbing the last and most steep set of stairs, we were met with the main temple grounds. With the temple in the background, we saw the three-storied pagoda, the burning incense, and all of the different Japanese temple structures.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Three-Storied Pagoda in Naritisan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Three-Storied Pagoda in Naritisan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

After an uncertain and less than amusing beginning to our day, the temple grounds provided us with the relaxing environment that we needed to calm our nerves and prepare us for our continuing journey to the next country. The beautiful, complex, nature-friendly area was a genuinely nice place to ease our minds. It did help that after the entrance gate, there were much less people roaming the grounds. We followed our tour guides through the maze of buildings and to the entrance of the garden behind the temple. However, with a lack of time and needing to eat lunch before we left for the airport, we needed to move on from the temple. Still, we did not leave without having felt like we saw everything we needed to see.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

The Temple Gardens in Naritisan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

The Naritisan Shinshoji Temple wrapped up our tour with the Narita Transit Program. After lunch in the city, we took the train back to the airport to catch our flight to Hawaii. We said our goodbyes to our incredibly warm and welcoming tour guides and resumed our next adventure on the Big Island.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Japan

Sleeping in an Airport

Have you ever been on an airplane, two hours into a nine hour flight, watching a movie, enjoying a drink, and being told by the captain through the intercom that there is a maintenance issue with the plane. That is exactly what happened on our flight from Sapporo, Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii. We were told that we were thirty minutes from landing in Narita, Japan. The captain expected no difficulty with the landing and cautioned us that there would be emergency vehicles following us on the runway. Little did we know at that time that we would be sleeping in an airport overnight. Truly one of the most unique experiences of our travels so far.

Sleeping in an Airport

Experience: Sleeping in an Airport
Where: Narita International Airport
Type: Unique
How: This was a difficult thing to have happen and not planned whatsoever. Continue reading to understand what happened.
Cost: Free!
Duration: We slept in the airport overnight.
Summary: The most unique experience while traveling is having our plane turned around mid-flight due to a leak and having to sleep the night in the airport.

After landing, we waited for thirty minutes for them to reopen the airport for us as it was 1 AM and the airport was closed. Customs had to be reopened, they needed staff to unload our luggage, and staff to help us through the airport. It was a very interesting experience, one that had never occurred at this airport before.

Being that it was peak season in Japan, and that we were stand-by passengers, the airline was not able to secure enough rooms for all of the passengers. After calling relentlessly to several hotels in the area and resorting to spending the money to call Hotels.com to have them call around for us to find a hotel, we were unable to find any rooms available for the night. It became apparent around 3 AM that we would be sleeping in the airport.

Sleeping in an Airport

By 2 AM we had our luggage in hand and were trying to find where we would potentially be staying the night. We found a place in front of a help desk (which was obviously closed at this time) where there were some outlets for us to recharge our phones and cameras. At this time, we were calling hotels while the airport staff was handing out sleeping bags and inflatable mats for us to sleep on. The staff worked extremely hard to make sure more than 70 people were comfortable enough during the night.

Police officers were on duty and there was a convenience store open in the floor below of the airport. By 4 AM we were ready to fall asleep in front of the help desk. Just three and a half hours later we woke up to customers coming for their early morning flights asking questions to the help desk. In retrospect it was not the best place to sleep for the night, but it did have lots of outlets for us. We packed our sleeping bags back up, left our mats, and looked for breakfast.

Our time sleeping in an airport was unique to any situation I have ever been in when traveling. The flight was rescheduled for 4 PM. Though it took a day away from our trip to Hawaii, it provided us with an opportunity to take a free tour of Narita, meet two amazing people, eat eel, see a temple, try on a Kimono, see a tea ceremony, and all around have an enjoyable trip in Narita for four hours.

I guess we can’t say this situation was all that bad.


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


See more Worldwide Travel Experience articles by To the Nations Worldwide.


Before you plan your trip, look for inspiration with us at To the Nations Worldwide. After your trip, share your travel photography, videos, and blogs using a personal interactive travel map. Promote your travel content throughout the website.

Happy travels!

To the Nations Worldwide
Travel . Capture . Share
Subscribe to our newsletter

To the Nations Worldwide Travel Logo

Perfect 3 Days in Kauai, Hawaii Itinerary

Destination Name: Kauai
Country: Hawaii
Destination Type: For hikers and lovers of nature.
How to Get There: Kauai has its own airport, but it is necessary you rent a car once you are on the island.
Cost: The island is similar in expense to the rest of Hawaii. A rental car will cost about $100 a day with insurance and a GPS. Meals will cost anywhere from $10 to $20 per person. Enjoying the beaches and beauty of the island is free.
Duration: We stayed for only one full day, so we did not get to see much. We chose to drive around the island to see as much as we could in one condensed day.
Summary: Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Isle” for its natural beauty. With so many different landscapes packed into one small island, it has something for every nature lover.

Everyone has their own reasons for traveling. When you choose a destination, you have in mind what you expect to see from visiting the country and what you want to do. One look at Kauai Island, Hawaii and you know exactly why someone might go there. Nicknamed “The Garden Isle”, Kauai has been the set of many movies, including Jurassic Park, because of its natural beauty. With landscapes ranging from canyons to forests and beaches to mountains, this is an island for nature lovers, hikers, and beach-goers alike.

Deciding to go to Kauai, we knew we would have only one full day on the island (with two half days). What we did with that day would have to be a condensed version of the island itself. We wanted to see as much of the island as we could, and we decided the best way to do that would be to drive around the island for the day and get off wherever we felt to see what we could see. A fairly good plan we thought.

We arrived on a Friday around 4 PM, picked up our rental car (a necessity when on Kauai), and went off to check into our hotel in Wailua. By the time we were ready to go out, it was nearing sunset. It was time to find food, so we asked the concierge where a good place to eat was. Failing to find the recommended restaurant, we found a local spot and ordered a seafood platter that included fish, scallops, and shrimp for $9.50 USD. We came back to the hotel and enjoyed some drinks at the bar for the remainder of the night.

Saturday was our one full day, and we wanted to make the most of it. After waking up, we immediately set out for breakfast. Kountry Kitchen is a local restaurant that was very popular during breakfast time. We ordered the special pancakes for the day and a garden benedict. After fueling up our bodies, we were prepared for our day of driving. Being in the middle point of the main highway that wraps around three-quarters of the island, we decided to first travel to the south-west corner of the island. The drive was beautiful which included two stops at waterfalls (Wailua Falls and Opeakaa Falls), many scenic viewpoints of the canyons and landscape, and beaches. We stopped at Waimea for lunch, grabbing a burrito and tacos, shaved ice, and a smoothie to beat the heat. Also, we shopped for some souvenirs. After Waimea, we came to a dirt road that had a sign claiming the road floods when it rains. Because it was raining, we decided we had come far enough and turned back.

Scenic Viewpoint of a River in Kauai, Hawaii

Scenic Viewpoint of Opaekaa Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

The Road to Opeakaa Falls in Kauai, Hawaii

Scenic Viewpoint of Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyons in Kauai, Hawaii

Fruit Vendor on Kauai Island, Hawaii

White Sand Beach near Waimea in Kauai, Hawaii

Polihale State Park in Kauai, Hawaii

By this time it was close to 2 PM, so we made our way back to our hotel and continued on to the north side of the island. This side of the island was covered with hills and dense forest, windy and narrow roads, and beaches. It was a beautiful ride to Ke’e Beach and the trail head to the Kalalau Trail. We turned around after this and got coconut shrimp and fish for dinner in Princeville. Our day of driving had finally come to an end. Exhausted, we went back to the hotel to catch a quick sleep around 7 PM. You can read more about our day of driving around Kauai, Island in detail here.

Leaving Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

Leaving Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

Scenic Viewpoint in Kauai, Hawaii

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This is when things got really interesting for us. About an hour after laying down, I felt a dripping coming from my ear. Now, since I had landed in Kauai my left ear had not popped. Throughout the day, pressure had built up so much in my ear that it finally exploded when I laid down on the bed. My ear drum had ruptured. The pain was indescribable. There is nothing like pain coming from within your head. We went to the hospital to see the doctor, only to be told that there is nothing to be done and I just need to let it heal. A very expensive trip to the hospital considering we did not get travelers insurance. Read more about that story and why you should always get travelers insurance.

Coconut Shrimp in Hawaii

After a long and painful night, we were ready to leave Kauai the next day. We woke up late and grabbed a lunch which included coconut shrimp and fries. We dropped the car off, and caught our flight to Honolulu. Despite the hospital visit, we were left with nothing but amazing memories from Kauai. We were privileged enough to see an island so naturally beautiful, yet we wished we could see so much more of it. Maybe for the next time we visit.

Sunset Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset Kauai, Hawaii

Experience: Driving
Where: Kauai Island, Hawaii
Type: Adventure / Nature
How: We rented a car, which is a necessity when visiting Kauai, and drove around the island for a full day. Though you cannot drive around the entire island, we went from one end to the other.
Cost: Renting the car with gas, insurance, and a GPS navigator costs about $100 USD per day.
Duration: We took a full day, driving from the middle point of the island to one end and back, and later we drove to the other end of the island.
Summary: Seeing the different landscapes, viewpoints, and waterfalls was well worth renting a car and driving it around Kauai Island for the day.

For some, seeing the natural surroundings of a destination does not impress them when traveling. Some travelers need adventure and adrenaline mixed in with the beauty of nature to fulfill their travels. Kauai Island in Hawaii offers just that to travelers, if you are willing to pay for it. From hiking through the magnificent green foliage of the island, to tubing and off-roading, to helicopter rides to the islands unreachable areas, the island has something for every type of traveler.

Our first trip together to “The Garden Isle”, as Kauai Island has been nicknamed for its beautiful green color throughout the island, was filled with ups and downs. It marked my first time visiting the hospital while traveling, as well as riding in an ambulance. However, there were many other experiences that shadowed over the previous one. One of which was driving around the island for the day.

It is not possible to drive around the entire island of Kauai, but just about three-quarters of it. The island is covered with lush green jungle, canyons, cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and hills. Kauai has so many different landscapes in such a small area.

We were staying in Wailua, the mid-way point on the main highway that wraps around the island. So, when we left at 10 AM we had a choice of which direction to travel to first: the north or south. We chose the later of the two. Our plan was simple: drive around the island to see as much as we could by car including waterfalls and scenic viewpoints.

Scenic Viewpoint of a River in Kauai, Hawaii

Immediately, we went off onto the 580 to see Opaekaa Falls from the road. It was easily marked as a scenic viewpoint and there was a small parking lot for visitors. Just a few steps from the parking lot, we could get a good view of the falls in the distance as they drained into the green foliage below. It was beautiful and a good indicator of what we had in store for us today.

The Road to Opeakaa Falls in Kauai, Hawaii

Opeakka Falls, Kauai Waterfall, Kauai, Hawaii

Following Opaekaa Falls, we traveled further down south and took another street that read “Wailua Falls”. Excited for another view of a waterfall, we drove for 10 minutes on a road through flat land and forested areas until we reached a dead end and a small parking lot for visitors. It was from here that there was a lookout to Wailua Falls which were much closer and larger than Opaekaa Falls.

Scenic Viewpoint of Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

We continued on south-west towards Waimea. On our way we stopped at another scenic viewpoint that displayed the amazing canyons that are famous in this area of Kauai. Waimea was a good town to stop for souvenir shopping and lunch which included a burrito, shaved ice, and a smoothie. Along the road after Waimea is an immaculate white sand beach that stretches the coast. We finally reached the end of the road as we reached dirt road which leads to Polihale State Park. We decided not to continue on as it was close to 2 PM at this point, so we turned back to regroup at our hotel.

Waimea Canyons in Kauai, Hawaii

White Sand Beach near Waimea in Kauai, Hawaii

Polihale State Park in Kauai, Hawaii

After getting back to our hotel around 4 PM, we set out yet again for the north side of the island. We traveled along the roads, stopping off at a scenic viewpoint every once in a while to snap some photos, and continuing on. It was a lovely excursion. We drove through Princeville with the intention of stopping on the way back for a meal. After this town, the roads begin to curve around the landscape and they become much more narrow. We passed one lane bridges and even streams that we were told that sometimes you are not able to cross them after a heavy rainfall (not uncommon in Hawaii). After this drive, we reached a parking lot that took us to Ke’e Beach and the trail head to the Kalalau Trail.

Leaving Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

Scenic Viewpoint in Kauai, Hawaii

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

We did not stay for long, as the sun was beginning to set. As previously mentioned, we stopped in Princeville for a dinner of coconut shrimp and continued on to our hotel. By the time we completed this trip, it was 8 PM. Time well spent for one day in Kauai.

Leaving Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Kunming, China

In the Worldwide Travel Itinerary section of To the Nations Worldwide, we explore our itineraries from previous trips. Here we will explain what we did in each day very briefly. This section of our blog does not intend to be detailed with our events, but to provide a basic outline of what you can do given a certain time period in a location we have visited and how much it costs. For more detailed events, you can visit the links we provide within the days of the things we did.

A few notes for this section…
Cost is shown in United States Dollar (USD) and are approximate costs as currency is always fluctuating and prices can change. Prices are shown per person. However, things like accommodation and rental cars are not considered per person as they can include more than one person in the cost. Use these prices to estimate your costs while traveling. These are just things that we did during our time at this location, our itinerary. If you have suggestions for alternative things, please leave them in the comments below!


Place: Kunming, China
Duration: 2 Days
Type: Nature / Sightseeing / Culture

Though it was short-lived and unplanned, our two day trip to Kunming showed us the beauty of the Yunnan province and opened our eyes to a part of China that is not one of the more popular tourist spot. Kunming offers culture and natural beauty for travelers.
During our two days in Kunming, this is what we did:

Day One

Arrival in Kunming Airport: 12 AM – 2 AM
We arrived in Kunming Airport late at night and tried to negotiate a ride with one of the taxi drivers. Their prices were fairly too expensive for our liking, so we took a bus into the city.

Street food and check-in to hostel: 2 AM – 4 AM
When the bus dropped us off in Kunming, we needed to find a taxi to take us to our hostel. With our luggage in tow, we came across a street lined with street food vendors. At 3 AM in the morning we enjoyed some street food.

Street Food in Kunming, China

Green Lake Park and Lunch: 12 PM – 3 PM
We got to sleep late, and we woke up late. Beginning our day with a peaceful walk around Green Lake Park, we found a nice place to enjoy noodles for lunch in the same area.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Exploring the city: 3 PM – 5 PM
After our meal, we explored the city some more. The best parts of walking around is you can do it at your own pace and it is free!

Yunnan Ethnic Village: 5 PM – 7 PM
With a couple hours of daylight left, we took a taxi to the Yunnan Ethnic Village. There is a substantial area for tourists to shop, eat, and have tea. After this area, there is an entrance fee required to see more of the various ethnic groups and their culture. We did not have the time to venture further into this part of the village and were content with seeing the first part.

Entrance Gate to Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

Dinner: 8 PM – 10 PM
We enjoyed a quiet evening and ate dinner at our hostel.

Day One Costs:

  • Bus – $8
  • Taxi – $7
  • Hotel one night – $30
  • Food – $15
  • Green Lake Park – $0
  • Walking around Kunming – $0
  • Yunnan Ethnic Village – $0

Day Two

Breakfast and Bus to East Bus Terminal: 9 AM – 11 AM
We woke up, ate breakfast in our hostel, and left for the Stone Forest.

Bus to the Stone Forest: 12 PM – 1 PM
After the city bus took us to the East Bus Terminal, we purchased tickets for a bus directly to the Stone Forest.

Painting in Kunming, Yunnan, China

Seeing the Stone Forest: 1 PM – 5:30 PM
The Stone Forest is an incredible site that requires at least 3 hours of touring to see the whole thing. The landscape is gorgeous and it is a true representation of the beautiful Yunnan province. Be careful, the last bus leaves around 5:30 PM from the Stone Forest.

The Stone Forest, Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

Bus back to East Bus Terminal and dinner: 5:30 PM – 9 PM
We took the last bus to the East Bus Terminal, took another bus back into the city, got dinner around the Green Lake Park area again, and fell back asleep in our hostel at the end of the day.

Day Two Costs:

  • Hotel one night – $30
  • Food – $15
  • Bus – $12
  • The Stone Forest – $25

Total Costs
Day One: $55
Day Two: $82
Total for two days = $137

Our trip to Kunming, China was an unplanned, 3-day reroute from Seoul, South Korea to Kathmandu, Nepal. Though we were initially disappointed that our trip to Nepal would be shortened by three days, we quickly found a few interesting attractions to see in Kunming and the surrounding area, including the beautiful natural attractions that the province of Yunnan was well-known for. The number one thing on our itinerary was to see the Stone Forest. It did not disappoint.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest

Attraction Name: The Stone Forest
Where: Kunming, Yunnan, China
Attraction Type: Natural Attractions
How to Get There: The Stone Forest is accessible by bus or car. From Kunming, find a bus to the Eastern Bus Terminal and purchase tickets (25 CNY or a little less than $5 USD) to the Stone Forest. The bus will take you directly there.
Cost: The price of admission is 175 CNY (approximately $25 USD).
Hours: It is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.
Duration: Walking around the entire area will take 3 hours or more.
Summary: The Stone Forest is an awe-inspiring area of what nature can do in time. The erosion of the rock in the area has created a beautiful park that is rich with photo shooting opportunities.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

The limestone structures throughout the Stone Forest are the result of countless years of erosion from the elements. Millions of years ago, the area was covered in sea. Some time later, the seas receded and the erosion of the limestone began. The Stone Forest shows us how powerful nature is, and the beauty it can make for us. It is an incredible landscape to witness. Today, the Stone Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

When you get there, grab a map and get away from the groups of tourists. Upon entering the park, you will be amazed by the massive structures, but it only gets better. There are several viewpoints and points of interest marked on your map. Make it your mission to find them all. We arrived there early in the afternoon and almost ran out of time before we had to catch the last bus.

When we first entered the park, we were fascinated with what we saw. Little did we know how much more beauty there was to see later in the park. Our advice: Don’t get caught up with the beginning of the park. There is always better things to see in this vast area. Start walking, get away from the groups of people, and don’t stop moving because there is so much to see.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

The above photo is where we stopped to catch our breath and enjoy the incredible view of this beautiful natural attraction. Minus the hazy day, we found the scenery to be unbeatable with anything we had seen so far in the Yunnan province. I could not fully describe the majestic wonder of nature, so we have these photos to supplement my loss of words.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

The area provides photographers with many incredible photo shooting opportunities. It is a wonderful opportunity to marvel at the structures and have a relaxing walk around the area. At the end of your trekking, take a cart tour around the track that travels throughout the park. Unfortunately my camera died at this point in our journey, but we did walk on most of the track when we first entered the park.

From Kunming, we took a bus to the Eastern Bus Terminal. From there, we bought bus tickets for 25 CNY, or a little less than $5 (USD), each to the Stone Forest. The direct bus ride from the bus terminal to the Stone Forest lasted about 1.5 hours. The cost of admission is 175 CNY (a little more than $26 USD). The Stone Forest is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

The Stone Forest is one of the must-see natural attractions of China. The Yunnan province of China is famous for its natural beauty. The photographs and videos do not do any justice to being their in person and witnessing it for yourself. If you ever find yourself in Yunnan, China, you need to add this place to your itinerary.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

Destination Name: Kunming
Country: China
Destination Type: A city in a province full of natural beauty.
How to Get There: Kunming has it’s own airport.
Cost: Transportation within the city via taxis and buses is inexpensive. Meals cost us anywhere from approximately $5 USD to $15 USD per person. Meals for any price range are easily found. The biggest cost for us was the price of admission to sites like the Stone Forest.
Duration: We spent nearly three days in Kunming, though we wish we had a day or two more to really take our time and take another day excursion to the caves. There is a lot you can do in the city and outside of it to keep you busy.
Summary: Kunming is a great city to explore and enjoy while taking day excursions to various surrounding areas to see the natural beauty that the Yunnan province of China has to offer.

Our trip to the Yunnan province of China came as a change in flight schedule. The original plan was for a short layover in Kunming before continuing on to Nepal for our 10 day vacation. However, the flight change just a couple of weeks prior to our departure changed our plans to spending three days in Kunming before moving on to Nepal. We were left with the decision of continuing on with this change, or find a new destination to travel to during our break. We opted to visit two countries in the span of ten days, so we got the paperwork ready fast and applied for our Chinese visas.

Before this trip, neither of us had ever visited China. Kunming is not necessarily the first place in China that people imagine themselves going to, but we were ready for the natural wonders that the Yunnan province has on display. The number one on our list prior to leaving was the Stone Forest.

After landing late at night in Kunming, we went on the mission to find a way into the city. There are several taxi drivers who will try to get your business, but none of them were willing to drop their prices to where we were willing to pay. Instead we chose the cheaper route of busing into the city. It was a 45 minute bus ride that dropped us off at a hotel where we were then left to try and find our way to our hostel just past midnight. We carried our backpacks and luggage to what seemed like the main street of the area to find a taxi, only to find that it was lined with street vendors selling late night food. Noodles, chicken feet, turtle, it seemed like they were selling everything. Considering how hungry we were, we figured it was the right time to get some noodles cooked for us to enjoy before moving on.

Street Food in Kunming, China

We chose one of the many street vendors serving noodles, picked our ingredients and they fried it up on the spot. The very oily broth with vegetables and noodles was delicious and just what we needed to fill our stomachs at this hour. Considering we were carrying all of our luggage to a place where all the locals come to have a late night snack, we must have stood out very well. It was past 1 AM by the time we finished. We located a taxi, gave him directions, drove around, asked for directions, waited more, and finally came to our hostel where we checked in and fell asleep right away.

The next morning we woke up late around 11 AM. We prepared ourselves for a more relaxing day that wouldn’t strain us too much after a day of traveling and a long night. We left our hostel for Green Lake Park, just a five minute walk away. The day was chilly, but it was a nice time to absorb some of the nature of Yunnan. The lake was crowded with seagulls that had migrated from Siberia for the winter. We walked through and around the lake just enjoying the atmosphere. After wandering around, we found a place along the lake that served some noodles. Our plan afterwards was to do more of the same: wander the streets of Kunming.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

The streets were crowded with scooters and motorbikes, cars, and buses with people trying to cross in between the chaos of all of this. However, on the more quiet streets of Kunming it was peaceful. Another thing on our list to see while in Kunming was the Yunnan Ethnic Village. We got a taxi and negotiated a rate for 15 Yuan, clearly using our hands to only show 15. Unfortunately, the taxi driver misinterpreted this amount for 50 Yuan and once we arrived at our destination we got into a little argument over the rate. The meter had been running the whole time and the price was half what he was claiming we negotiated at. We settled for what was on his meter as this would have been a fair rate. Whether he was trying to scam us or this was just a misunderstanding, we did not know. Bringing a piece of paper and pen with you to negotiate rates would be recommendable to avoid any situations like this.

The Yunnan Ethnic Village was an interesting spot on the water with mountains in the background and traditional Chinese architecture throughout the village. Though we only did tour through the shops of the village, we were intrigued with the souvenirs they had for sale. We purchased some gifts for family and some things for ourselves. Some of these included old badges from years ago to commemorate Mao. Whether or not these are real, we do not know. They were interesting enough to make the purchase anyways. There is a fee to go further into the village and see more of what the area has to offer. We were a little bit short on funds at this point and felt we had seen enough. The entrance fee is 90 Yuan (less than $15 USD). If you went further into the Yunnan Ethnic Village, please leave us a comment below and let us know what it was like.

Entrance Gate to Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

The following day, we were ready to finally see the Stone Forest. We grabbed a bus to the Eastern Bus Terminal in Kunming, purchased tickets that took us directly to the Stone Forest, and we were on our way. The bus from the terminal to the forest was about an hour long. The views at the Stone Forest was worth the admission. Plan for a full day when you go here. Walking around the whole park can easily consume four hours of your time. See more of our experiences through photos and videos at the Stone Forest here.

The Stone Forest, Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

After coming back from the amazing day at the Stone Forest, we were prepared to grab dinner and catch some sleep before our flight the next morning. Kunming was a beautiful place to stay for three days. Looking back at our time in the city, we have nothing but good memories to reflect on. We were happy that our plans changed to allow us to see such beautiful places. Often times when thinking about traveling to China, people over look cities like Kunming for cities like Beijing and Shanghai. China is a massive country and it offers more than just what these major cities have to offer. See the less visited places and see the natural beauty of the Yunnan province.

The Stone Forest, Yunnan, China

Attraction: Yunnan Ethnic Village
Where: Kunming, China
Type: Village / Architecture / Culture
How: We took a taxi from Green Lake Park to the village, costing us 25 Yuan (less than $4 USD).
Cost: There is no admission into the first part of the village where you can find tea shops, restaurants, and souvenir shops. To go further into the village it will cost 90 Yuan (less than $15 USD).
Hours: 8:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Duration: We walked around the area, enjoyed a coconut, and did some shopping for 1-2 hours. If you plan on going further into the village, this area can easily consume 2-4 hours of your traveling time.
Summary: We took the opportunity to see more of the culture and architecture of the Yunnan province by visiting the Yunnan Ethnic Village in Kunming, China.

It was our first day in Kunming, China. We had landed around midnight, made our way into the city by a 45 minute bus ride, and had street food at three in the morning. We finally got to our hostel and laid down by five in the morning. Knowing we would only have half a day to explore Kunming after waking up, we already had the idea to walk around the Green Lake Park area.

After walking around the park, we found a taxi that would take us to the Yunnan Ethnic Village. We negotiated a rate of 15 Yuan to go to the village, using our fingers to show the rate we were willing to pay. It was agreed upon, so we hopped into the back of the taxi. The driver kept the meter running anyways, and when we arrived at our destination the meter read 25 Yuan. This is when the driver parked the car, turned around to us, and asked for 50 Yuan. It took about five minutes of explaining that the agreed upon rate was in fact 15 Yuan. We don’t know whether or not this was a misunderstanding or if the driver was trying to scam us. We ended up giving him 25 Yuan, what his meter showed for the fair rate to the village. Be careful when negotiating prices, and maybe bring a pen and paper to help show the rate you are willing to pay.

Yunnan Ethnic Village Cocunut, Kunming, China

The area of the village was beautiful. Mountains were in the background, with lakes surrounding the village, and palm trees in the parking lot. Before going through the gate, we bought a coconut to quench our thirst. Afterwards, we walked into the village to see more. There are 25 ethnic groups that make up this area. The village celebrates these groups and displays their different cultures. The opening through the gate takes visitors through traditional Chinese architecture and pathways. Gifts and souvenirs can be purchased at this point in the village, as well as tea shops and food. We purchased some interesting items, including old badges that commemorate Mao and other historical events of communist China. Not knowing if these were real or not, they were still incredibly interesting. If you have any information on these badges, please leave us a comment below.

Entrance Gate to Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

Further into the village is the entrance to see the various ethnic villages that comprise this area. It shows the architecture and culture of the peoples that make up the Yunnan province in China. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived it was nearing the closing time. The amount we would have to spend for the amount of time we had left did not seem worth it to us. We decided not to spend the 90 Yuan to enter the village further. The village is open from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM.

The Yunnan Ethnic Village is an interesting place to visit and to get a feel for the different cultures that live in this area of China. If you made it further than we did into the village, please leave us a comment below. We would have loved to have seen more of the village and got a first-hand look at these different cultures.

Experience: Late night eating in China
Where: Kunming, China
Type: Food
How: Find any street food vendors late at night in Kunming. We were lucky to have found a street of vendors shortly after being dropped off by the bus from the airport.
Cost: The cost of the noodles we purchased was less than $5 USD.
Duration: We looked around the different food vendors, ordered our noodles, and ate. This took us about an hour.
Summary: Shortly after getting off our 45 minute bus ride from Kunming airport, we found a street full of street food vendors at 3 A.M. and ordered a cup of noodles.

Our trip to Kunming began late at night, or very early in the morning, when we landed around midnight. After grabbing our checked-in luggage, our next challenge was finding a way to get from the airport to the hostel. There are no shortage of people offering taxis as soon as you exit through customs. We did try to negotiate rates with a couple of taxi drivers, but neither of them would move on their prices and they wanted us to go down to the underground parking garage to get to the taxis, whereas the other taxi drivers were parked outside the doors of the airport. That made up our decision for us to grab a bus into Kunming and get a taxi from there.

The bus ride lasted 45 minutes and it dropped us off in front of a hotel in the city. Our next challenge was to find a taxi to our hostel. We grabbed our luggage and began to walk towards the sounds we heard in the distance with the thinking that where there was sound, there were people, and where there are people, there are most likely taxis. It was a short five minute walk that took us to a street lined with street vendors.

Street Food in Kunming, China

We walked along the street, hungry and luggage still in our hands, looking for something to eat. At this time it was past 2 in the morning. The street had stalls selling everything from noodle dishes to chicken feet and turtle! It was the first time seeing a turtle offered as food, but I could not bring myself to try it especially since it was living at the moment of seeing it.

We were both not quite ready to be adventurous eaters having just landed, being tired, and just wanting to eat and find our hostel. So, we settled on noodles. Of the many noodle vendors, we chose one, placed our order, and watched as the lady prepared our food before our eyes.

Noodle Street Food in Kunming, China

She prepared the large pan with water, noodles, vegetables, oil, and began frying. During the cooking process she added more ingredients that I wished I had known what they were, salt, and more oil. The whole process lasted about five minutes and at the end of it we had a nice bowl of hot noodles.

We took our bowl to the sitting area in behind the vendors. The sitting area was filled with plastic tables and stools. The ground and tables were greasy and sticky, suggesting heavy traffic in this area recently. We grabbed a table, parked our luggage, and enjoyed our noodles. The noodles were very oily, but very filling.

Our experience eating street food at three in the morning in Kunming was a positive one. We found the right food to keep us going for the remainder of the night before we found our taxi to our hostel. We got very lucky getting dropped off by this street, especially late at night and being able to find food. Our taxi took us another twenty minutes to get to our hostel because we could not find it. It was a difficult place to find at night, but in the morning it was easier to understand where we were in the city. Our trip in Kunming was just beginning.

Attraction: Green Lake Park
Where: Kunming, China
Type: Park
How: When we were in Kunming, we were lucky enough to be staying just a five minute walk to the park. Easier ways of transport are finding a bus or take a taxi to the park.
Cost: There is no admission into the park.
Hours: Anytime
Duration: We walked into the park, watched the seagulls and people, took pictures, and got lunch all within a three hour time period. Choose to do what you want at the pace you want.
Summary: Green Lake Park in Kunming, China offers visitors an enjoyable and affordable place to have a glimpse at the nature and architecture of Chinese society.

It was the day after we landed late at night in Kunming. We had landed, arrived in Kunming by bus, found some street food at 1 AM, got a taxi to our hostel, and were finally asleep by 3 AM. After a long day, we slept in until 11 PM. With plans the next day to go to The Stone Forest, we decided to spend the day wandering around the streets of Kunming to see what we could see.

Before arriving in Kunming, I knew that the Green Lake Park was not far from our hostel. So, we chose this as our first stop of the day. It was a slightly chilly December day with no sun. It was not ideal for a walk in any park, but we needed food and it seemed like a good place to find that. We arrived at the West Gate to the park in just five minutes. At the gate, there were people selling food and others dressed up in mascot costumes to pose for pictures with tourists.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Our first instinct was to get photos with these mascots, however, after further review of the situation we saw that they demanded money from the people that took their pictures afterwards. We second guessed getting a picture with them, and within minutes we saw a group of police chase them and the food vendors off the property. It was our excitement of the day, and if this was the first thing we saw after reaching the park we had high expectations for more fun.

Green Lake Park, Kunming, China

Unfortunately there was no more excitement in that respect, but much more enjoyment came from the nature of the park and looking at the Chinese architecture of the various gates that allow entrance into the park and surrounding structures. It was our first look in the daytime at the architecture. Also, during the winter the seagulls from Siberia migrate to Kunming where they gather at this park. The flocks of seagulls covered patches of the waters and skies and added to the environment of this lake. The trees, bridges, and inner network of the lake was beautiful to walk along and take pictures of. It was an enjoyable walk throughout the park.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Afterwards, we explored the streets along the park and found a nice place to eat. Noodles and chicken made for a nice lunch meal. There are lots of places to eat and shop along the park. Green Lake Park is a peaceful and beautiful place to walk within Kunming. If you find yourself in the area, it is definitely worth wandering around for an hour or two.

Best Things to Do in Geoje Island: Busan to Geoje

It was summer vacation in 2015. It was hot. Really hot. July in South Korea gets extremely humid and temperatures raise above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). So, we decided it was time to leave the big city of Seoul to cool down at the beaches down south. After a little bit of searching various destinations, it was decided where we would travel to for three days. Geojedo, or Geoje Island.

Geoje Island

Destination Name: Geoje Island
Country: South Korea
Destination Type: Island / Beach / Nature
How to Get There: The best way to get to Geoje Island and to get around while on Geoje Island is to rent a car. There are buses to get to Geoje, but while there you will be reliant on the taxi service which are fairly sparse throughout the island. They are available, but at times you will be waiting for a while to catch one.
Cost: Since we are talking about the island as a whole, the cost of your trip depends on how long you will spend on the island. A bus from Busan to Geoje costs a little more than 6,000 KRW (approximately $6 USD). Beaches on Geoje Island are free, getting transportation around the island will cost you money, and there are various attractions that the island offers, such as boat tours of smaller neighboring islands, that will cost you more money. The cost of your trip is what you make it. See more about our costs in the article.
Duration: Spending three days on the island was a nice escape from the major cities of South Korea. However, we did miss some things we wanted to do. There are smaller neighboring islands that would be interesting to take a look at if we ever found ourselves there again.
Summary: Geoje Island is a wonderful destination for beach-goers that do not want to visit the crowded beaches of Busan, South Korea. Look into the various activities you can do while on the island, but we recommend adding the Oedo and Haegeumgang boat tour, in addition to whatever beaches you wish to visit, to your itinerary.

Geoje Island is South Korea’s second largest island, the first being Jeju Island, and rests on the south end of the country. It is conveniently connected to the country by a bridge, making it easily accessible by bus, car, or taxi. This makes it an inexpensive alternative to flying to Jeju Island, especially during the peak season. Geoje Island has a large shipbuilding industry near Okpo-dong. When traveling there, you will come across several expats that live there, as well as foreigner only bars.

On our first day, we began our travels from Seoul, South Korea. We hoped on the KTX from Seoul to Busan. We left at 8:22 AM and arrived at 11:47 AM, lasting three hours and twenty-five minutes. It cost us 47,800 KRW each (a little less than $45 USD). After arriving in Busan, we caught a bus outside the train station that took us to a bus terminal where we purchased bus tickets to Okpo-dong, Geojedo, where we were staying. These tickets cost 6,800 KRW (approximately $6 USD) and the bus ride lasted a little less than two hours. The views from the bridge crossing were beautiful, as the bridges hope from island to island towards Geojedo. After arriving at our hotel, we took advantage of what little daylight we had left and left to the first of three beaches we visited on this trip. Deokpo beach is a small uncrowded beach with white sand. It was a nice place to spend the evening, but the beach was a little bit dirty and filled with trash. Unless you are in the area, you could skip this beach and look towards better beaches that are in the area.

Geoje Island, South Korea
Sitting on Deokpo beach on Geoje Island, South Korea

On the second day, after breakfast, we went straight to Jangseungpo Port that offered boat tours to Oedo and Haegeumgang. See more from our boat tour here. I wont go into detail about this boat tour as we have covered it in our Worldwide Travel Attractions category on our blog. I will say that this is a nice three hour tour of the rock formation islands of Haegeumgang and the more exciting one and a half hour tour of the botanical gardens of Oedo. Definitely worth adding this to your itinerary if you find yourself on Geoje Island. The tour cost us 19,000 KRW each (approximately $18 USD).

Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Island, off of Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Island, off of Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Botanical Garden, Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Botanical Garden, Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Island, Geoje Island, South Korea

After the boat tour finished, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant that served fresh seafood soup. Following the lunch, we traveled by taxi to two nearby beaches. The first of which was Gojura beach. This is a more popular and fairly crowded beach on Geojedo, but it is beautiful and there is a lot to enjoy while on the beach. The second beach was Wahyeon, which was much less crowded and a more relaxing area. It did seem like Wahyeon would be fairly crowded during peak hours of the day, but we made it there just before sunset and enjoyed the beach almost to ourselves. The beach sand there is not as white as it was on Gojura. After seeing the locals set off fireworks, we made our way to the street behind the beach, found some street food, and left for our hotel.

Geoje-do Beach, South Korea
Geoje-do Beach, South Korea

Finally, when the third day arrived, we were ready for our departure back to Busan where we would conclude our trip and leave the southern part of South Korea back to Seoul. It was difficult to say goodbye to the island as there were still things we felt we wanted to do. The return trip cost us 52,900 KRW each (a little less than $50 USD), lasting three hours and ten minutes, from 7:10 PM to 10:20 PM.

There are several other opportunities to do tours of other neighboring islands. Given more time, we would checked out Jisimdo. Take advantage of these while you are visiting. These islands a rich with history from past wars. Geoje Island has some amazing beaches that offer a great alternative to Busan’s busy beaches. It is a nice island that will provide you with lots to do. You could easily spend five days on the island and not be lacking in activities.

Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea

Geoje Island in South Korea is the country’s second largest island. Because of the bridge, it is accessible by car, bus, or taxi. The island is historically significant as it was the site of battles, a prisoner war camp, and defensive positions. It also is a beautiful island to visit for any traveler. Off the South East shore of Geoje Island rests Oedo Island. This island is available on a boat tour departing from the port nearest it. Included on this tour is also a tour of Haegeumgang, nearby rock islands.

Oedo Island, Korea

Attraction Name: Oedo and Haegeumgang Tour
Where: Geojedo, South Korea
Attraction Type: Island / Nature
How to Get There: Once on Geojedo, take a taxi to the port where the boats go to Oedo. Public transport is difficult on the island and it can sometimes be hard to find a taxi on the island. Renting a car is the best way of getting around the island.
Cost: The cost of the tour and admission onto Oedo is 19,000 KRW (approximately $17 USD).
Hours: The tours depart based on when the boat fills up, though we were told every 1 to 2 hours they depart with the last one leaving around 5 pm.
Duration: The entire tour lasts about 3 hours, with 1 hour to explore Oedo.
Summary: If you find yourself on the island of Geoje, it is definitely worth it to add the Oedo and Haegeumgang Tour to your itinerary. It is worth the money to visit these islands and to get out and see the flora of Oedo.

Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea

Haegeumngang is a set of rocky islands off the South East shore of Geoje Island. These rock formations are massive and impressive to see from up close. From afar, they make for good sunrise and sunset photos. This boat tour allows you to get as close as anyone can get to these rock formations. The boat will actually travel right into a small opening of the rock island and rest there for a moment before turning back. As you can witness from the video, it is an impressive site to see. We were a little bit disappointed though, as the brochures we read that highlighted this part of the trip read that the boat will actually pass right on through from one side of the island to another, indicating that it was like a separation in the islands that you could pass through. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Oedo Island, Korea: Touring the Botanical Gardens
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Haegeumgang Island, Geoje Island, South Korea

The next stop on the trip was Oedo Island. On the botanical garden island, we were dropped off for an hour and a half to explore. The island provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see the beautiful flora generally not native to these parts of the world. There are amazing seaside and coastal views from viewpoints throughout the island. The path from the port loops around a small portion of the island. It takes you through pathways lined with trees to lookouts surrounded by sculptures and columns. Along the way is a small building that offers small snacks and desserts. At this point, there is an amazing view from the balcony possibly unrivaled by any other point on the island. There is also a small gift shop and museum to show you a history of the island at the end of the walk. Given the time frame, we almost ran out of time taking pictures, sitting down for a small snack, and marveling at the vast ocean and flora of Oedo.

Oedo Island, Korea: Touring the Botanical Gardens
Oedo Botanical Garden, Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Island, Korea: Touring the Botanical Gardens
Oedo Island, Geoje Island, South Korea
Oedo Island, Korea: Touring the Botanical Gardens
Oedo Island, Geoje Island, South Korea

The tour costs 19,000 KRW (approximately $17 USD). This includes the boat fare and admission onto Oedo. The entire tour lasts about 3 hours, and you are given 1 to 1.5 hours to get off the boat and tour around Oedo. As previously mentioned, this gave us just enough time to tour the island, shop for touristy things, and get back to the boat.

When traveling to Geoje Island, you will be presented with many things to do. Unfortunately for us, we had to pick and choose what our trip would include as we only stayed for 3 days. Luckily enough, Haegeumgang and Oedo made it to that list. Especially the Oedo visit, this is something that should be added to your itinerary. In addition to this, we chose to tour the beaches of Geoje. This boat trip provided us with an enjoyable break on the water, a chance to see the rock formations of Haegeumgang from up close, and a beautiful walk around the botanical island of Oedo. Going to Geoje Island? Add Oedo Island to your itinerary . . . it is worth it.

Oedo Island, Korea: Touring the Botanical Gardens
Oedo Island, off of Geoje Island, South Korea

CN Tower at Night View: Best View in Toronto

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and is Canada’s largest city by population. It is home to an ethnically diverse population. There are several great attractions within the city to add to your itinerary when you visit. There is, however, one attraction in particular that is a symbol of the city itself. For many major cities, there is a structure that people can point to that represents the city. For Toronto, this structure is the CN Tower, the best view in Toronto. And we feel it is best to visit the CN Tower at night for the view.

CN Tower at Night View

Attraction Name: CN Tower
Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Attraction Type: Architecture / Viewpoint
How to Get There: The CN Tower is accessible by bus, taxi, subway, and car. See more here.
Cost: The price of general admission for an adult is $33 CDN. There are several other things you can do beside just the general admission. For more information click here. If you drive, parking costs anywhere from $10-$15 (CDN).
Hours: The CN Tower is only closed on Christmas Day (December 25). It is open from 9:00 am – 10:30 pm.
Duration: Going up the CN Tower and taking your time to view the city from the observatory can take about 1 hour.
Summary: View the entire city of Toronto from the top of CN Tower, take a walk outside of the tower, and enjoy your meal while the tower rotates.

Toronto City Skyline
Toronto City Skyline

About the CN Tower

The CN Tower, which reaches 553.33 meters (1,815 feet) high, was built in the 1970s. The tower is located in the downtown of Toronto between the Rogers Centre, where the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team plays, and the Ripley’s Aquarium, also just down the street from the Air Canada Centre where the Toronto Maple Leafs National Hockey League team plays.

At the base of the CN Tower, after paying for admission, is a marketplace to buy souvenirs of your visit to the tower. After ascending the glass elevator to the lookout of the tower which rests at 346 meters (1,136 feet) high. From there, you can see the famous glass floor that allows you to see through to the base of the tower. Also, there are two restaurants available for dining. The Horizons Restaurant offers incredible views and bistro dining, however the 360 Restaurant is worth a reservation for the food and revolving experience.

Further up the tower is the Skypod, which can be seen as the smaller dome above the larger one on the tower. It rests at 447 meters (1,465 feet) high. You can walk outside to the caged in area to get a commanding view of the city. In addition to these, you can also do an Edgewalk along the main dome, OUTSIDE on the tower. There are no railings, but you are strapped to the tower.

Toronto Night View from the CN Tower

Our Experience at the CN Tower at Night

After trying to adjust to the jet lag for two days, we were still going to sleep late and waking up at four or five in the morning, going out to get Tim Horton’s, and continuing on with our day. This meant we were tired by five in the afternoon. Exhausted is more the word for this feeling when your body goes numb and does not function the way you want it to.

On the day we went to the CN Tower, we woke up from a nap around 7:30 p.m. and immediately began a short 20 minute walk from our hotel to the tower. I had been up the CN Tower before when I was little, but never at night time. The Toronto night view from the CN Tower is truly something wonderful, especially for a photographer. You are able to setup your camera and take long exposure shots of the building lights and traffic from that high up.

Toronto Night View from the CN Tower
View from the CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

We went further up to the Skypod to experience the cold fall weather outside. Though it is less impressive for photography purposes because of the enclosed cage, it is still a beautiful view of the Toronto night view. A night trip up the CN Tower is highly recommended for any traveler, especially photographers.

Why Visit the CN Tower at Night

Visiting the CN Tower is a must-do while in Toronto. It is the iconic symbol of the city. The most prominent building on the skyline and seen from almost anywhere in the city. When visiting the city, you should at least visit the base of the tower. However, there are some great packages available by CityPass for the CN Tower, Casa Loma, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Toronto Zoo or Science Center for one low price. This makes your visit to the city much cheaper should you want to visit at least two of these places.

If you do decide to visit the CN Tower, we would recommend you see the view at night. It is one thing to see the city in the light of day and from the top of the tower and to make out each and ever condo building, but it is another to see the city lit up at night from thousands of different light sources and seeing the airport bringing in planes lit up. It is quite simply a beautiful spectacle to see the cars zooming by on the highway below and to see the city still moving at night.

It is also a great time for photographers to practice their long exposure photography from the top by capturing the streams of light from the cars from the best view of Toronto.


The CN Tower is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day (December 25). The tower is open from 9:00 am – 10:30 pm, but the restaurants have different operating times. It is located in the downtown area of Toronto and can be seen from nearly anywhere in the city. It is difficult to miss. For more information on how to get there, click here. Costs vary from age to the activity you want to do. General admission prices for adults are $33 CDN. Tickets can be purchased online with a small discount, but they must be purchased 24 hours in advance. Check out the prices here.

With so much to do at the tower, it allows for a great addition to any itinerary for Toronto. Have a fancy meal and slowly rotate around the city while you eat. Take a walk along the outside of the tower, hundreds of meters in the air. Or, just see the views of the city with a general admission ticket. The CN Tower is a main attraction and the perfect place to see a beautiful Toronto night view.

CN Tower From the Street, Toronto, Canada


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


Happy travels!

To the Nations Worldwide
Travel . Capture . Share
Subscribe to our newsletter

Seoul, South Korea Budget Travel Itinerary

Traveling can be expensive. Even before you begin your travels, you have already spent the largest portions of your budget for your trip. Between the flight and hotel expenses, the biggest expenses have been paid for. However, your trip can still cost you a lot more than you expected.

Planning is key to this part of your budgeting. Knowing what you will spend and where on your trip will be very important to remaining within your budget. Here we have compiled a list of five things to add to your Seoul, South Korea budget travel itinerary.

Admission prices to attractions, transportation costs, and food can add to your budget drastically. These can all add up and put you over budget fast. Knowing what you can do for free, or almost free, can be nice on your wallet. However, you also want to make sure that these activities and attractions are also interesting to you.

Seoul, South Korea Budget Travel Itinerary

We put together a handful of things that you can do when you are in Seoul, South Korea that will not break the bank. These are free or very inexpensive things to do to keep your budget down while visiting this beautiful city. If you are looking for a specific itinerary, here is a Seoul 5 day itinerary.

Seoul on a Budget

  1. Bike or Walk Along the Han River

  2. The city of Seoul is a very bike friendly place. There are designated bike paths on most sidewalks. The best place to take your bike for a scenic ride is along the Han River that flows through the middle of the capital city. Biking along the river allows you to see the different architecture of the city, the mountains that surround the city, and gives you a great exercise.

    Travel Photo Han River Bridge, Seoul, South Korea

    Also, along the river are convenience stores where you can enjoy a drink or food outside when you stop for a break. Many families make a day of their trip to the Han River, setting up a tent, having a barbecue, and playing sports in the grassy fields around the river. Some places allow you to rent paddle-boats or other water sports, although most people would choose to not go into the water. Walking along the Han River is completely free, biking will cost you a rental charge, and it is a great way to spend a day in the sun.

    Besides the Han River, Olympic Park is another great place to bike through as it is a massive green space in the city that you can tour around on a bike. There are various bike rental places in the city and along the Han River. The most convenient place to rent a bike is outside Heukseok Station on the metro. And once you are done with your hike or biking, you can get some work done at one of the many cafes the city has to offer.

    South Korea Budget Travel Itinerary

  3. See the Royal Palaces, Temples, or Parks

  4. Many of the palaces and temples can be free to see, or cost very little in admission costs. It is an excellent look into the history of the city, the traditional Korean architecture, and the culture of Korea. Sometimes traditional performances will occur around these attractions. The most famous of these royal palaces, Gyeongbokgung, is free to walk around the entrance gates and just 3,000 KRW (less than $3 USD). At such an inexpensive admission price, the royal palaces and temples are worth adding to your itinerary when in Seoul.

    South Korea Budget Travel Itinerary

    Olympic Park is a great place to visit for an afternoon. It is a massive park in the Songpa district. You can see the Olympic monument and eternal flame underneath it. Also, see the country’s flags that participated in the 1988 Olympics and their mark they left in Korea.

    1988 Olympic Monument, Olympic Park, Seoul, South Korea

    1988 Olympic Park Monument, Seoul, South Korea

  5. Go to the Museums

  6. There are numerous museums throughout Seoul, but the one we enjoyed the most was the War Memorial Museum. This was an amazing experience that illustrates the military history of South Korea and the Korean War. Beginning outside, there are various vehicles and weaponry on display, magnificent architecture, and monuments to remember the soldiers. On the inside is a detailed description of the war and many different items on display from the Korean side to the many different countries that came to the assistance of South Korea. It is a beautiful memorial to the war and the soldiers. This is a must-see attraction when in Seoul to understand more about the history of the country. Also, admission is free! Though do feel free to provide a donation at the entrance.

    War Memorial Museum of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

    War Memorial Museum of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

  7. Walk the Streets of Popular Neighborhoods

  8. There are many popular neighborhoods in Seoul that are worth walking through. From hanok (traditional Korean homes) neighborhoods to the popular streets of Gangnam, there is no lack of these areas to discover. Gangnam is the center of fashion in Seoul, and the subject of Psy’s song Gangnam Style. Itaewon is the foreigner district near the United States military base. Hongdae is a popular district among younger crowds and is near the famous universities. Bukchon, near Gyeongbokgung, has a concentration of hanoks (traditional Korean homes).
    Myeongdong is a popular shopping center with lots of street food. Insadong is a popular tourist shopping street. There are much more areas that are worth noting and exploring, but these are just a few worth checking out.

    Myeongdong Cathedral, Seoul, South Korea

    Insadong in Seoul, South Korea

    In addition to neighborhoods, markets are a great way to get a first-hand look at day-to-day life of someone involved in exchanging goods. Seafood markets are popular in Korea, and none is more popular than Noryangjin. It is a 24 hour seafood market that offers you insight into the life of people dealing with the seafood trade in Seoul. Walk around and take a look at the vast amounts of seafood, and how they are being sold and filleted. While your there, you can buy what you want and have a nearby restaurant cook it however you like. While you are there, try the sannakji or live octopus!

  9. Hiking

  10. A popular pastime among Koreans and visitors alike in Seoul is hiking. This makes it a must add to your South Korea budget travel itinerary. The city is surrounded by mountains, each worth hiking to the summit to get a commanding view of the city from different viewpoints, as long as it is not a hazy day. Not only is this absolutely free for you to do, besides transportation and footwear, it is also a great way to spend a day. Search the different mountains, see what each has to offer, and choose your trail accordingly. You wont be disappointed.

    Hiking Yongmasan in Seoul, South Korea

    Hiking Yongmasan in Seoul, South Korea


Using this list, we were able to find some pretty amazing things to fill our time when we were living in Seoul. It is such an amazing city and one that we were happy to live in for some time together. It definitely kept us entertained while we were living there.

There are always things you can do while traveling that are free, or close to it. With a little bit of research and planning ahead of time to include these things into your Seoul, South Korea budget travel itinerary. Your wallet will thank you, and it will allow you to spend your saved money elsewhere.


We would love to hear about your experience while in Seoul, South Korea or to answer any questions you may have about your future trip. Leave a comment below!

In the late 19th century, Seoul, South Korea found itself rapidly advancing towards the modern country that it is today. Buildings, railways, subway systems, everything was being constructed at a fast pace, and little was being done to preserve the green spaces within the city. Though Seoul became a modernized country fast, the city lost a lot of parks for apartment buildings. Fortunately, in recent years these spaces have come to the forefront of issues within the city. Several parks and green spaces are attractions throughout the city and offer an escape from the mind-numbing face-paced city for it’s residents and tourists alike. Among these green spaces is Seongjeongneung, a place where Korean royalty is buried.

Royal Korean Burial Mounds

Attraction Name: Seongjeongneung
Where: Seoul, South Korea
Attraction Type: Architecture / Historical / Korean Royalty
How to Get There: Take the subway to Seolleung Station on line #2, walk straight out exit 8 for 5 minutes until you reach Seongjeongneung. The entrance will be visible on the right.
Cost: The price of admission is 1,000 KRW for adults and 500 won for children ages 7-18.
Hours: Open Tuesday – Sunday, March to October 6:00am – 9:00pm and November to February 6:30am – 9:00pm with the last admissions at 8:00pm. Telephone number: +82 2 568 1291.
Duration: Walking around the grounds can take about 1 – 2 hours of your time.
Summary: The burial grounds of King Seongjong the 9th ruler (1457-1494), his third consort Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), and King Jungjong the 11th ruler (1488-1544).

Korean Royalty: Seongjeongneung Royal Burial Mounds

Seongjeongneung is the burial grounds of Korean royalty, including the 9th ruler King Seongjong (1457-1494) and his third consort Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), together titled Seolleung, and King Jungjong (1488-1544), titled Jeongneung, all from the Joseon Dynasty. Surrounding the tombs are stone objects of military and civil officials, and symbols of power.

Seongjeongneung is an inexpensive look into the past and a beautiful area that will make you feel as though you were no longer in Seoul. Walk around the area and see the burial mounds of King Seongjong, Queen Jeonghyeon, and King Jungjong. View the contrast between the traditional Korean architecture and the modern architecture of the buildings that surround it. Get a great view of the shrine and buildings surrounding Seongjeongneung below from the royal tomb of King Seongjong (1457-1494) that rests on a small hill.

Walk further into the area to find the tomb of Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), King Seongjong’s third consort. These two tombs are called Seolleung. On the other side of Seongjeongneung rests King Jungjong (1488-1544) in the single tomb called Jeongneung. Also resting on top of a small hill, it is not as accessible to the public. At the foot of the hill is another shrine. Surrounding each of the burial mounds are stone sculptures. Grab a pamphlet when you enter to see a map of the area and to get more information.

Korean Royalty: Seongjeongneung Royal Burial Mounds
Seongjeongnueng, Seoul, South Korea

To get to the park, take the subway to Seolleung Station on line #2. Coming out of exit 8, walk straight for 5 minutes until you reach Seongjeongneung with the entrance on your right. Exploring Seongjeongneung will last one or two hours depending on how much you look around and take photographs. The location is convenient, it does not take long to find, and for just 1,000 KRW (less than $1 USD), it is well worth exploring.

Seongjeongneung has so much to offer it’s visitors. It is an escape from the city outside it’s walls. It is a glance back at Korean history and Korean royalty. It is a contrast between the traditional Korea and the modern. It is worth it to add this lesser known attraction in Seoul to your itinerary when you visit.

Korean Royalty: Seongjeongneung Royal Burial Mounds
A view of Seongjeongnueng in Seoul, South Korea

Budget Your Trip

Preparing for your travels can be exciting. Researching online for all of the places you may see in the coming months. Seeing the experiences of others and thinking you are going to be doing that same thing shortly. It is a quick way to get your heart pounding and your feet to start itching to have your bags packed and ready to go. But how do you budget your trip?

You need to establish a travel budget for your trip. How much cash are you willing to part with? You do not want to overdo it and leave yourself with no money to pay the bills when you get back. Let’s get serious for a minute, bills, obligations, and other necessities come first. Though you may read everywhere online that you should quit your day job and go traveling, and this is the solution to all of your problems…It is not. Traveling isn’t exactly for everyone all of the time. It can be exhausting for some and you may need a home to give you roots and a good place to go when you get home-sick. Most people who travel have these bills to pay and that should always be remembered when making a travel budget.

To the Nations Worldwide has come up with some ways to help you budget your trip. Considering checking out our article about what you need to prepare for your next trip for additional information.

budget your trip

Budget Your Trip

  • Consider your bills and obligations.

  • You should have done this already with your personal finance to see how much money is leaving your pockets and how much money is accumulating in them on a monthly basis. If not, do it now. See how much money you have saved up for a trip, how much more money you will accumulate in the time to add to this savings for your trip, and how much you are going to need to pay at home while you are going on your trip. It is important to plan this out carefully so you don’t strain your wallet when you return. Just because you have savings doesn’t mean you have to use it all on your travels. You should have a safety net of money in your savings before you start your savings for traveling. I know this goes against what most people will tell you online, but it is true. Don’t forget about your life back home…eventually you need to return to it.

    Budget Your Trip

  • Flight

  • Booking your flight is going to be a major expense. Look at how much you have to spend and start searching areas that are within your budget to travel. Keep in mind the other expenses of traveling that we are going to discuss below. Also, some places in the world it is expensive to fly to, but once you are there all of your other expenses are incredibly cheap. Shop around on different websites to find the right flight for the right price. We like to use Sky Scanner to find our flights.

  • Accommodation

  • Depending on how much your flight cost, decide whether you are going to camp, stay in a hostel, or find yourself a nice cozy hotel. Camping sometimes requires permits, so be careful. Hostels can be good, but do your research on where you are staying. Hotels are the same, but if your looking for luxury and it is within the budget…why not go for it. We like booking with Hotels.com (Search Here for Hotels.com Best Hotel Deals!) because of the rewards program and discounts that they offer.

    Geoje Island, South Korea
    Geoje Island, South Korea

  • Transportation

  • How are you going to get around? Will you take public transportation? How much does it cost to take the metro or bus? Is it possible to taxi from destination to destination? How much are taxis in that area? Do you need to rent a car? Depending on where you are traveling to, you may need to rent a car. Some locations are just not reliable with public transportation or taxis. Having a car on-hand all of the time allows you to be flexible. In some locations, public transportation is amazing, efficient, AND cheap! Do your research and plan accordingly.

    Shabu Shabu in South Korea

  • Food and drink

  • Depending on how much you like to eat and drink, this one can get expensive. I like to budget for spending at least $30 (USD) per day wherever I am going as a rough number. This allows me $10 each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I will add more if I know the location I’m going to is more expensive, but I will generally not budget any less than that a day for food and drinks. Any extra money I don’t use in that budget can be used towards something else.

  • Entertainment

  • Getting to a national park or an attraction is covered in our transportation segment. However, it isn’t always free to get into that attraction. Make sure you add up all of the costs of entertainment that you plan and add them to the budget.

  • Souvenirs

  • An added bonus to this list are souvenirs. Everyone has something they may want to bring home. Some take pictures and video, while others bring back something to show off that they have traveled to that country. Have a little extra money ready for buying souvenirs. If you know you are a big spender when it comes time for souvenir shopping, plan accordingly. This is the last thing you can consider when you budget your trip.


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


Happy travels!

To the Nations Worldwide
Travel . Capture . Share
Subscribe to our newsletter

Why Do People Travel

Why do people travel? What is the importance of traveling? What do you get out of traveling? I get a lot of these questions from people who do not really get out there and travel like we do. There is no one answer for these questions either.

Every traveler will have their own unique answer to these questions. It is shaped by their own personal experiences and their interests. I believe that one travels to fulfills their own curiosity and their desire to learn more about the world around them.

This is a very interesting question to ask people who love to travel. Everyone has different goals when they travel. Some want to relax on the nicest beaches, while others want a trip filled with excitement and adventure. Some want to catch the perfect moment on their camera, while others want to pack as light as possible and live in the moment. Others want to experience something different when they leave to a new country, whether it is the food, culture, or people.

Why Do People Travel

My Story of Travel

For me, travel was not apart of my life until after university. I was not raised by a family that loved to travel. grew up in Canada and every summer for our family vacation we would travel up north to a cottage for a week. Other family trips included trips to Michigan and Florida. These were the only places I had been until my time in university.

Even in university I did not feel comfortable enough, with the student debt I already had, to travel. I went to university and worked a part-time job. In the summers I worked long weeks to help pay off my loans. One winter I went with a few friends to Quebec for a snowboarding trip. Another summer I went to Cuba for a week to relax on a resort.

importance of traveling

What my story shows is that it was not my first trip that made me catch the travel bug as it does for so many. I would say that I had a love of travel before I ever traveled. What started me on this path was my love for history.

When I was in elementary school, I would read books about the history other countries. Any book I could get my hands on. This was when the idea of traveling got stuck in my head. It wasn’t until after university that I finally had the money saved up, the education, and an opportunity to work abroad and travel at the same time. I hopped at the chance and found myself teaching in South Korea.

I was able to put my financial troubles behind me and that was no longer a barrier to enter this world of travel. I could teach and see a whole new part of the world that I had yet to see before. I could also use the vacation time wisely to see surrounding countries that would cost me a fortune in flight tickets should I be traveling from Canada.

This was the perfect opportunity for me to explore more of the world of travel.

Why Do People Travel the World

For me it was about fulfilling my desire to learn more about history. It still is to this day and this reflects in my style of travel. I love to visit historical destinations and attractions to see it for myself. Before I leave on a trip, I try to read into that country’s history to understand more. It is a big part of why I travel.

Though this is not the same for everyone. Not everyone enjoys cracking open a history textbook like I do. Not everyone enjoys going somewhere to learn more about the history of the people.

I feel there are a few things that keep people wanting to travel more. They are not mutually exclusive, so some people may fall in to several categories of these.

  • History

  • Like me, I am sure there are other history nerds out there that just love to research the history of a destination before going so that you know more about the people and what they have been through. It effects so much about the way they are, the food they eat, and the culture that has been established there.

    Even just getting the summary of a country’s history can really provide that background information that can allow you to dive in deeper when you arrive at a destination. I really enjoy doing this and make this a priority when I travel somewhere.

    Not only is it interesting, but it really makes the trip more interesting when you see something that you have read about and know a little bit about beforehand. You can then see it and touch it in real life and get a better sense of the world that was created here.

  • Culture

  • This is a big one for the both of us as well. Culture envelops everything about the people including our favorite: food. Food is so important to us when traveling and we end up spending a good portion of our day-to-day budget on the food that we want to try.

    Food can tell you a lot about a country including the food that is readily available to them, the food that was created during difficult times, and so much more.

    Not only this, but most of the times it is delicious!

    Culture includes the daily lives, local shops, arts, and so much more about a country. It is really important to us to get a feel for the culture of a people when visiting their country. A lot of our trips include just wandering a city and enjoying the atmosphere. And food.

  • Adventure

  • This is a big one to some people. The sense of adventure that comes with travel can really set you free. Whether the adventure is simply visiting a place you have never been before or doing a challenging hike, adventure is everywhere in travel.

    To me, stepping out of your comfort zone is a really important step in life. It really sets you apart from others and makes some magical things happen. There is a good reason why doing something uncomfortable makes you a better person.

    In this sense, travel really makes you a better person. It challenges you to be better.

    We love the adventure aspect of traveling. More so the adventure of trying something new. We love hikes, but are not major thrill seekers trying to do some climbing or skydiving while we are somewhere. However, we are never going to turn down something like that on our travels.

  • Relaxation

  • A break from the normal routine is a big reason why others travel. Life at home can be extremely stressful. It can really make you feel suffocated if you let it get to you. Traveling can be that release. It can set you free and allow you to take that much needed breath of fresh air.

    Getting out and breaking your normal routine or getting away from it all can allow you to decompress. Travel is the best way to do that. Enjoy in your company, relax on a beach, or adventure into the culture of a people allows you to take a step back and understand what is most important in life.

    We really do enjoy this part of travel, though our travels are far from relaxing. We travel fast which means we need to make the most of our time in a particular city. That means early mornings and late nights and lots of travel in between destinations. Our relaxation comes when we get onto the airplane to come back home.

    Having said that, we feel at ease when we travel. We love the way we travel and enjoy every aspect of travel. In that sense, travel is extremely relaxing to us.


Travel fulfills my curiosity of the world around me, my desire to learn more about the places I visit, and the history. I travel because I know there is more to life than just what is in front of me at any given time. There is an entire world that I will not ever be able to explore in its entirety. Understanding that I wont ever be able to see everything the world has to offer in my lifetime makes me want to continue traveling forever.

Why do you travel? Leave us a comment below to let us know why you travel the world.


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


Happy travels!

To the Nations Worldwide
Travel . Capture . Share
Subscribe to our newsletter

The Travel Abroad Packing List

Have you ever used a travel packing checklist when traveling abroad? Me, I’m not organized enough to print one off and have it with me when I’m packing. However, I have found that if I made my own I am more likely to actually use it.

Every time, without fail, I leave for the airport I have the same negative thought running through my head. What did I forget this time? I check my pocket for the essentials like my wallet and passport multiple times before getting to the check-in counter. I run through a list in my head of the things I would definitely need for my trip. However, I always seem to forget something. Usually it is something small that I am okay without, but sooner or later it will be something big.

Therefore, I made it my goal to create a comprehensive travel packing checklist that will help me, and any traveler, while packing for the next trip. Having something in my hand that I can physically check of items one-by-one will help ease my mind.

The Travel Abroad Packing List

This is the packing list for traveling abroad that will help make your packing as enjoyable as possible. Is packing even supposed to be enjoyable? Anyways, press play on your favorite album and get your bag ready to be packed. Here is the list of travel items needed for any trip. Some things are listed in broad categories, but are there to make you think about what you may need for that category as it will vary from person to person.

Travel Abroad Packing List

  1. Clothes / Apparel

    • Travel Bags
    • Check with your airline to see how many you are allowed, as well as the size and weight restrictions. If you want to travel faster and cheaper on most airlines, travel with only carry-on luggage. That way you are not waiting for your luggage coming off of the airplane to pick up and you likely will be paying less for your tickets.

    • Clothing
    • How long are you traveling for? What is the weather like where you are going? Do you have access to a laundry machine while traveling? These are all questions you need to consider when packing your clothing. Roll up your clothes so they take the least amount of room possible in your bag. Or better yet…

    • Packing Cubes / Extra Bags
    • You never know when a bag is going to come in handy. Pack one for sure for the dirty or damp laundry that will be returning on the way back home. Or use packing cubes to separate dirty from clean and to compress your clothing and fit more into your luggage.

    • Towels
    • Maybe you need them, maybe you do not. But if you are going to a beach or swimming during your trip maybe you should pack your favorite beach towel.

    • Footwear
    • Will you be hiking? Will you be enjoying the beach? Will you be walking around town a lot and need the best walking shoes for travel? Pack your footwear accordingly.

    • Hat / Toque or Beanie
    • Cover your head from the sun or the cold.

    • Sunglasses
    • Not only stylish, but they also protect your eyes from the harsh UV rays of the sun.

    • Glasses / Contact Lenses – Case and Lens Solution
    • If this is you, do not forget these or you will have a tough time seeing the wonderful sights.

    • Jewelry
    • Do you bring it with you or leave it at home? Do not forget to pack or unpack these from yourself before leaving. You would not want something precious to go missing or be stolen while you are traveling.

  2. Toiletries

    • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
    • Do not let those teeth go rotting on you.

    • Q-Tips
    • I cannot go anywhere without these. Every time after I shower I need them to feel completely clean.

    • Soap and Shampoo
    • Be careful with liquids in bottles as sometimes they can leak all over your clothing and bags. Place them in a plastic bag and seal it tight to ensure you wont have this trouble.

    • Shaving Supplies
    • Are you traveling long enough to be needing your shaving kit?

    • Necessary Makeup
    • How much of your makeup do you need while you are out on the road?

    • Hair Styling Supplies and Products
    • Do you have room for your supplies and products that you use for your hair?

    • Sunscreen
    • Do not let your skin be exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Make sure you lather up.

    • Aloe Vera Lotion
    • Just in case you get a sunburn, this will help alleviate some of the pain.

    • Insect Repellent
    • Good to have especially for if you are going camping.

  3. Medicines

    • Ibuprofen
    • Ever had some swelling or been hungover when you need to go on a long hike the next day? This will help to have some of this with you at all times.

    • Prescribed Medicine
    • Whether it is for sleeping, anxiety, or any other prescribed medicines you may have. Just make sure to include the prescription when you pack these. That means no slipping them into plastic baggies or unmarked containers.

    • Diarrhea Medication
    • Whether you need some Pepto or you have some traveler’s diarrhea medication, you may want to bring that with you should you need it.

    • Vaccinations
    • Not to be packed, but you want to make sure you received all of the necessary vaccinations to go traveling to your specific destination.

  4. Personal Entertainment

    • Phone
    • Cannot go anywhere without your trusty smartphone.

    • Laptop / Tablet
    • If you are like us and want to do some work while on the road or transfer photos right away.

    • Camera / Camcorder and Accessories
    • This is a major one for us, which includes a bag dedicated to this stuff.

    • Necessary Chargers
    • Do not forget your chargers otherwise you will be out of luck once those batteries die.

    • Universal Power Adapter
    • If you are going somewhere else with different style outlets and energy sources you will need a power adapter.

  5. Travel Documents

    • Wallet / Purse
    • Do not forget your wallet or purse with some cash on hand in your home currency and the currency of where you are traveling to, a credit card, and your personal identification if necessary.

    • Converted Currency
    • It is good to have some converted currency in advance if possible. Converting at the airport is always more expensive.

    • International Driver’s License
    • If required, make sure you have received your international driver’s license beforehand and that you have it packed with you.

    • Passport
    • Scan your passport and other forms of government ID. Send yourself an email with these photos attached. This will help you in the rare case that you lose your passport while traveling. Do not leave anywhere without doing this!

    • Visa
    • Visas are necessary for citizens to get from certain countries in order to travel to other countries. Make sure to do your research well in advance so that you have your visa ready.

    • Other Necessary Travel Documents
    • If you have any other necessary travel documents that you need to travel with.

    • Itinerary / Any Necessary Travel Printouts
    • We always have a physical copy of our itinerary just in case we lose our phone or it is broken.

    • Flight Ticket Receipt
    • We also print this out to have a physical copy when checking in to our flight.

Now, take your bag to your scale. Step on your scale without the bag, note your weight, and step on the scale with your bag. Take the difference of the weights and that is how much your bag weighs. Does it go over the weight restrictions of the airline you are flying with? I hope not, but if so at least you found out now and not at the airport. Or to be more precise, you can use a luggage scale that you can get for cheap.


Hopefully this travel packing checklist takes some stress off of your mind the next time you are preparing for your next trip. We know that having something handy has really helped us to go through what we have packed and to know that we have everything necessary to enjoy our travels without worrying that we forgot something.

We would love to hear from you if you feel that we left something out! Please leave a comment below.


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


Untitled design


Happy travels!

To the Nations Worldwide
Travel . Capture . Share
Subscribe to our newsletter