Category Archives: Travel Feature

My TOP 3 places in Australia

I’ve been thinking (and writing) about Australia quite a lot lately. That’s why I want to present you my top 3 favourite places in Australia in this post.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is a 7km long beach and is considered the whitest beach in the world. I believe it’s true, because I visited this beautiful place. It is accessible by boat aswell by seaplanes.

Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach
Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach

 

 

 

 

Sydney

Some people would say it’s a big city like many another big cities.
I my opinion Sydney is so much more. You have  the amazing Opera House, the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden next door including the St. George Open Air Cinema. You can take a ride on the iconic Sydney ferries to Manly Beach. Sydney also offers a wide variately of food and dining options. And the famous Bondi Beach is only a few minutes away. Watch the Surfers or enjoy some quality time at the beach. There’s even free WiFi!

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about Sydney

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park. In my opinion one of the most beautiful national parks on our planet.  It is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia, about 170 km southeast of Darwin. So it’s best to plan a long drive or even stay at a hotel near the park area.

Kakadu National Park, Australia
Kakadu National Park, Australia

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: Kakadu National Park

Katherine Northern Territory, Australia

Katherine Gorge, Australia
Katherine Gorge, Australia

Katherine is a small town in Northern Territory, Australia. It’s about 320km south of Darwin.

In this post I want to highlight the Katherine Gorge which is the main attraction at the Nitmiluk National Park. The gorges can be explored by canoe and flat bottomed boat. We opted for the latter and did a 3 hours long cruise a long several parts of Katherine Gorge. In the middle we had to do a bit of a walk to get to the second boat. Between them we could see ancient aboriginal arts and learn something about their history.

Katherine Gorge, Australia
Katherine Gorge, Australia

See series of sandstone gorges carved over millions of years which stretch along the Katherine River. This is definitely one of my hights of my Australia 2013 tour.

My tip: If you want a relaxed afternoon on a boat while you’re in Australia, then spend some time in Katherine and do a cruise. Or do a canoe tour along the Katherine river.

More info: Australia’s Outback

Kakadu National Park, Australia

Me at Kakadu National Park, Australia
Me at Kakadu National Park, Australia

Welcome to Kakadu National Park. In my opinion one of the most beautiful national parks on our planet.  It is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia, about 170 km southeast of Darwin. So it’s best to plan a long drive or even stay at a hotel near the park area.

I took the opportunity and did a short scenic flight over the park area with Kakadu Air. The whole park has covers an area of 19,804 km2 (7,646 sq mi), so it’s a convient way of seeing at least a part of it.

Kakadu National Park, Australia
Kakadu National Park, Australia

The best time to visit Kakadu is end of October or later, because then all the waterfalls should be filled with enough water to create an amazing landscape.

We were at beginning of the wet season when we visited the place. Therefore most waterfalls didn’t had enough water to flow, but it is still one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen.

If you plan to visit the Northern Territory, make sure you visit Kakadu. The photos don’t show the whole beauty, because it’s hard to take vivid photos while flying at speeds of several hundred kilometers an hour.

More info: Kakadu Air

 

Kakadu National Park, Australia
Kakadu National Park, Australia

Darwin, Australia – Capital of the North

Welcome to my new series of posts about Australia.

This time I travelled from Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory in Australia to the centre “Alice Springs” and Uluru/Ayers Rock. Plus bonus: 2 days in Sydney.

To start off my new series: An article about Darwin.

Darwin, named after the naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin is a “small” city of approx. 129,000 people. It’s only about 4 hours flight time from Singapore and many other major Asian cities. So head out into the Territory!

Attractions

Darwin has a a lot to offer. Period. Here are some examples.

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

This amazing museum and gallery features collections of different animals of the past, aboriginal art collections, paintings from Arnhem Land and dot paintings from the desert.
Also they give the opportunity to learn more about Cyclone Tracy , in a multi-room display with movies, pictures from the life before and the recovery phase and also features replica homes from the time before Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin.

admission: free

Crocosaurus Cove

The Crocosaurus Cove is located in the heart of Darwin city, allows visitors to view Australia’s iconic Saltwater Crocodiles. And more the extra brave there’s an opportunity to Swim with the Crocs or to holding a baby Saltwater Crocodile. Many of y travel mate spent some time there and enjoyed it!.

admission: $26 AUD – $160 AUD (depends on package you choose)

Florence Falls

Go swimming at Florence Falls, just a 2 hours ride from Darwin
Go swimming at Florence Falls, just a 2 hours ride from Darwin

How about a relaxed afternoon by a water fall. Then head out to Litchfield’s Florence Falls. A place where you can swim under a waterfall and enjoy the sun or the shade under the trees.It’s a 2 hours ride from Darwin’s city centre.

admission: free

 

Food tips

You like pizza? Try “il lido“, a Spanish restaurant, at the Darwin Waterfront. Their pizzas are amazing! Trust me.

more info: www.illidodarwin.com.au

You’re a bit in party mood? Try Monsoons Restaurant & Party Bar. We enjoyed their interpretation of the Oktoberfest to kick-off our tour through the Northern Territory.

They have a massive list of food and beverage options. And I am pretty sure the massive bar area will serve your needs.

more info: www.monsoons.net.au

Hotels

The hotel prices are a little bit above Australian average (I searched for hotels in several places in Australia). You can find accommodation from hostels, 1 star little motels up to 5 star luxury hotels with bay view. I stayed at the 3/4 star hotel/motel “Travelodge Mirambeena Resort Darwin”. They have both so called “motel rooms” and hotel rooms. A had the opportunity to stay at a “budget motel room” and at a “motel room”. My tip: Definitely spend a bit more of your bucks and upgrade to the motel room. More details in one of my upcoming reviews.

Most hotels in downtown Darwin are in the walking distance of restaurants and Woolworth or other grocery stores. If you stay at the Travelodge Mirambeena Resort Darwin, Woolworth is just across the street.

Climate

Darwin is situated in in the tropical area of Australia. This means Darwin has a wet and a dry season. The wet season begins in early October which is also the beginning of Spring.

During my stay end of September/early October I had temperatures of up to 33°C during day time. In the summer you can expect temperatures of 40°C+. Keep in mind that you can exspect more rain during the wet season. The wet season begins in October.

 

Stay tuned for more about the Northern Territory in the coming days!

 

Urbana Langsuan Hotel, Bangkok – Review

I stayed at 2 different hotels during my first trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
I really enjoyed both hotels. Today, I write about the Urbana Langsuan in the Lumpini district of Bangkok.

Location

Urbana Langsuan - My view
Urbana Langsuan – My view

The Urbana Langsuan is located in Langsuan Rd., which is a business district road. There’s a BTS sky train station “Chit Lom” at the intersection with Sukhumvit Rd. (about 10 minutes walking).

You’ll find a few restaurants and lots of other hotels in Langsuan Rd. One of the “entertainment districts” is one stop with the BTS train away. All the famous shopping malls like Central World Plaza and Siam Paragon are about 15-25 minutes walking time away.
There’s a 7/11 store and a shopping mall between the BTS station and the hotel. Even at late hours you’re still able to buy some cool drinks or a snack.

The reception staff speaks good english. They even got me a room on a high floor as I requested.

Room

Urbana Langsuan - Studio room
Urbana Langsuan – Studio room

I had a studio room during my 2 nights stay at this hotel. The room features a king size bed, flat screen, a coach and a small pantry with microwave. The enclosed bathroom has a shower cabin with rain shower feature. The room also has a balcony to enjoy the urban views of Bangkok.

The whole room has a friendly and warm interior. The room was clean. It was very quiet thanks to the high floor. Free WiFi was included in the rate, because I booked online. I had a stable and fast connection.

I haven’t tried the breakfast, because it’s only open until 10am. There’s also a pool, a spa and a gym on the higher floors.

Can I recommend this hotel? Yes, it is a great option for your stay in Bangkok.

Grand President Hotel, Bangkok – Review

I stayed to 2 different hotels during my first trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
I really enjoyed both hotels. I start my series of reviews with the Grand President Hotel in the Sukhumvit district of Bangkok.

Location

Grand President - Deluxe room
Grand President – Deluxe room

The Grand President is located in Soi Sukhumvit 11, which is a quiet (for Bangkok) side street of the Sukhumvit Rd. There’s a BTS sky train station “Nana” right at the intersection.

You’ll find a few bars and restaurants and a “German beer garden” near the hotel. One of the “entertainment districts” is about 10 minutes walking distance away. Another one is one stop with the BTS train away. All the famous shopping malls like Central World Plaza and Siam Paragon are about 10 minutes/3 BTS train stops away. Terminal 21 is only one stop away. Get off at “Asok”.
There’s a 7/11 store between the BTS station and the hotel. Even at late hours you’re still able to buy some cool drinks or a snack.

The reception staff speaks good english. They even upgraded me to a better category.

Room

Grand President - Deluxe room
Grand President – Deluxe room

A had a deluxe room during my 4 nights stay at this hotel. The room features a king size bed, flat screen, a coach and a fridge. The enclosed bathroom has a bath tub with integrated shower.

The whole room has a very dark (black/dark brown) interior. The room was clean. It was a bit noisy during 1 of the 4 nights, because I had a room on one of the lower floors. But this was due to a parade on the street. Free WiFi was included in the rate, because I booked online. I had a stable and fast connection.

The international breakfast buffet was okay. Lots of hot and cold food options. Coffee and juice were on offer, but nothing special.

Can I recommend this hotel? Yes, it is great option for a short stop over.

Here’s the official promotion video from the Grand President Bangkok

Mobile Internet in Australia – How to

More and more visitors come to my blog, because they want to know how mobile internet works in Australia.

Index
Part 1: General/network operators
Part 2: Travelling with your smartphone in Australia
Part 3: Mobile Internet in Australia – How to

 

Netbook/tablet with integrated 3G

If you own a netbook or tablet with integrated 3G, it’s very easy. Get a Sim starter kit from an Australian network operator (e.g. purchase at Australian Post store). Activate your data Sim and book a data option. How does this work? Staff from the stores can help you. Also, often there’s a manual included with the starter kits, explainig how you can activate it by yourself either online or by phone. Just insert your Sim card into your device and start the software.

USB modems / Mobile WiFi

If you don’t have a netbook with integrated 3G, there’s an alternative. Use an 3G USB Modem. All 3 major Australian mobile network operators offer them for a plus on top of the Sim starter kit.

The network operator Telstra offers e.g. a 3G USB-modem + 2GB data allowance for just $59 AUD (as of writing). After you purchased and activated your USB modem, you just have to connect it to your computer and follow the instructions on the screen.

Smartphone WiFi Hotspot

Another cost effective way is that you use your smartphone. This method is known as WiFi-Tethering. With this method your data connection on your smartphone will be shared via WiFi with devices like netbooks or tablets. Naturally this makes only sense if you have booked a data option with your tariff. E.g. the network operator Telstra offers the BROWSEPLUS49 Pack with 3GB data allowance included for just $49 AUD (as of writing).

Most Android smartphones have  built-in feature known as “WiFi-Hotspot/Mobile Hotspot”. Just enable Mobile Hotspot and connect your Netbook via WiFi, like you would do at a coffee shop.

The following video shows, how it works on a HTC Smartphone.

 

Travelling with your smartphone in Australia

More and more visitors come to my blog, because they want to know if their smartphone works in Australia.

Index
Part 1: General/network operators
Part 2: Travelling with your smartphone in Australia
Part 3: Mobile Internet in Australia – How to

Which network operators are available in Australia, has been answered in part 1 Mobile Internet in Australia – General.

In this article I want to tell you, which smartphones should work in Australia.

The following information bases on different sources: Either on my own experience or external information about the phones hardware specs combined with my knowledge about the network technologies used in Australia.
The following smartphones (EU models) should work in Australia.

Smartphone Telstra Optus Vodafone Source Online shops
HTC Desire + +* my own experience
HTC Desire X + +* Official website
HTC One X/X+ + + + Official website
HTC One ? + + Official website
Confirmation from HTC Sales Team
Samsung Galaxy S2 + + + Official website
Samsung Galaxy S3 + + + Official website
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini + +* Wikipedia
Google Nexus 4 + + + Official website

*Vodafone Australia’s Extended Coverage 850 MHz 3G network not available.
This is just a selection. There are more manufactures/models that support Australian mobile networks.
All information provided “as-is” and without warranty. This table based on the supported frequency bands listed on the source websites.

Web links to online shops will follow later.

Generally speaking, if your smartphone supports UMTS (“3G”)  on 2100 and 900 MHz, that it should work with Optus and Vodafone. Does it also support UMTS 850 Mhz? Then you can get more coverage on Vodafone and also connect to Telstra. The mobile operator Telstra is according to their own statements the biggest network operator in Australia. Telstra’s 3G network works exclusively on UMTS 850 Mhz. All operators also have GSM networks, but these are much slower than 3G and not recommended for smartphones. If GSM or 2G is enough, than look for a smartphone with “Quadband” GSM.

Update: I am working on a list of models from Asia and the US.

Weblinks:

Mobile Internet in Australia – General

Telstra Sim Starter Kit
Telstra Sim Starter Kit

I get a lot of emails about mobile internet in Australia. How does it work? Which carrier to choose?

Because I use mobile internet in Australia and New Zealand, here’s a guide to this popular travel related topic.

Index
Part 1: General/network operators
Part 2: Travelling with your smartphone in Australia
Part 3: Mobile Internet in Australia – How to

In this part I will talk about the different network carriers and their networks.

Network carriers

In Australia all major carriers offer prepaid tariffs, like in Europe and Asia. Unlike in Europe, they use different networks. Which means that you should look for a provider that matches with your smartphone, netbook or internet stick specs. More on that later.

Telstra is Australia’s largest network provider and has a mobile network that reaches even partially into the outback.
Telstra uses 3G/UMTS 850 MHz as their main network technologyy. There is also a 2G network based on GSM, but this is only available in larger cities.

There is also the provider Vodafone Australia, which has a GSM network. Just like Telstra, Vodafone Australia also has a 3G network based on UMTS. It uses the in Europe common 2100 Mhz frequencies in major cities and 900 Mhz in “regional areas” (rural roads, small towns). Additionally Vodafone also builds a network on 850 MHz to increase existing capacity.

The third major player there is Optus, which also offers a 2G network based on GSM and a 3G network based on UMTS. Optus also uses 2100 Mhz in major cities and 900 Mhz in “regional areas”.

Telstra

Did you choose for Telstra, it’s very easy to get a sim card. You can get Sim Starter Kits for $ 2 AUD in the branches of Australia Post. It must be charged with a balance, because it comes without talk time/sms/data allowance. Alternatively, you can go in one of the Telstra stores.
To activate a Telstra sim, you have to call the phone number listed in the starter kit. At my first activation I was asked for my passport number and an Australian address. I said that I’m a tourist and therefore can only provide a hotel address.
She immediately replied that it is no problem. Then I was asked if I want to activate the sim as a data sim (ie for netbooks, UMTS Sticks, ..) or for a mobile phone.

A few minutes later I was able to go online, recharge my pre-paid sim and booked a data package.

Please ensure that your device (smartphone, netbook, …) supports UMTS 850 MHz, as Telstra uses it for most parts of the network.

Vodafone Australia

My advice: Buy on arrival at the airport. E.g. there’s a Vodafone booth in the Arrival Hall of the Sydney International Airport where they’re already specialised in tourists. They have prepared appropriate forms and brochures. Vodafone uses for most of its network UMTS 2100 Mhz (same as in Europe) and 900 Mhz.
I.e. Most European smartphones work in Australia with Vodafone Australia.

Optus

My advice: Purchase a sim card at the airport. There is an “Optus! Yes” store in the Arrival Hall of Sydney International Airport. Optus uses for most parts of its network UMTS 2100 Mhz and 900 Mhz.
I.e. Most European smartphones work in Australia at Optus.

More on device compatibility in the next part of this series.

KrisFlyer Gold Lounge – Singapore Changi Airport T2

Welcome to my review of the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge at terminal 2 of Changi Airport. It is a Star Alliance Gold lounge at the dedicated lounge area of terminal 2.

Singapore Changi T2 - KrisFlyer Gold Lounge
Singapore Changi T2 – KrisFlyer Gold Lounge

After presenting your boarding pass and Star Alliance Gold member card to the lounge agent. You find yourself at a not so well lit room with with lounge chairs and a buffet selection. You can find here an intensive selection of hot and cold food.

The hot food are typical Asian dishes. A selection of different cereals and yogurt or milk is available. Fresh fruits like bananas and apples can also be found.

A selection of non alcohol drinks like bottled orange juice and soft drinks are available in the fridge.

There’s also a coffee machine which makes espresso, cappuccino, latte macchiatto and other.

If you go further you will find a more silent area of the lounge with a selection of news papers and a huge TV screen.

Overall this lounge is a good place to spend some time before your next flight. The lighting setup should be improved, it’s a bit dark.