Can I just start by saying how much I love Finland? It honestly wasn’t somewhere that I was dying to go to before since I am not the biggest fan of cold weather. But after spending a total of 5 days in the northern region of Lapland, I fell in complete love with the country. Now I absolutely crave a winter wonderland vacation at least once a year. Finland is incredible!
Thanks Finland, I’m hooked for life!
Where to Stay in Levi, Finland
The town of Levi is located in the heart of Finnish Lapland, the northernmost region in Finland. Lapland is a great spot to view the northern lights and participate in many awesome outdoor activities unique to this region. More on that later…
Located in the absolute center of the sleepy ski village of Levi, Break Sokos Hotel Levi is for those wanting quality accommodation at a reasonable price. Set across 3 buildings, Break Sokos has more of a homey boutique feel than a large chain hotel.
A cute little log cabin behind the hotel. I wonder who lives here?
The hotel is stylish, spacious, and cozy, and totally walkable to anywhere you needed to go in the city. PS. Levi is such an adorable little ski town.
My favorite parts of the hotel were the onsite coffee house and the in-room sauna. Have you stayed in a hotel with a sauna in your bedroom? It’s. So. Freakin. Cool.
My Cute & Cozy Room (with my own SAUNA!)
My room was located on the 3rd floor with a view directly facing the ski slopes. The room was large for European standards with a distinct feature of a SAUNA in the bathroom. Yes, you have your own sauna!
I can’t tell you how nice it was to get back from a day in the frigid Lapland air and relax my tense muscles in the soothing sauna.
And I didn’t have to worry about bringing a swimsuit because it was my own private sauna! All nudity welcome. 🙂
The room was decorated with local Finnish touches reflective of the area. It had 2 single beds, soft down comforters, a flatscreen TV, mini bar, safe, toiletries, and a hot water maker with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate ready to make. Oh, and there was a bobcat on the curtain. It’s like they knew I was obsessed with cats! #meow
The room also had a heater, which I didn’t need because it was warm inside. Actually a bit too warm at night (I found myself sweating even with a fan I travel with (yes, I’m crazy).
When I saw black out curtains I was super thrilled because light wakes me up instantly. But then I noticed there is a gap in the right side where light seeps through so it wasn’t totally dark.
Wide Variety of Brekkie Choices
Breakfast was served from 7-10:30am and I appreciated the later service. I hate when breakfasts end at 9am, I’m so not an early morning person. The variety was large and included the typical hotel breakfast of cured meats and cheeses, bacon, eggs, bread and butter, cereal, yogurt, granola, and a do-it-yourself waffle maker. All allergens were listed in the dishes which was great. They even had a gluten free section, which I highly appreciated.
Overall, the food was good, but not great (which seems to be the case in a lot of hotel buffet breakfasts). The variety was a plus, and trumped other hotels in that aspect.
The only thing I was disappointed with was the service. There was one attendant clearing dishes and it was really busy in the morning. I sat at a table with a whole bunch of dirty dishes and in 40 minutes of me sitting there, they weren’t cleared. Not a huge deal, but eating breakfast with dirty dishes all around you is not what I expected.
Like I mentioned above, the hotel was smack right in the center of the city of Levi with easy and quick access to everything you could need. Within a 5 minute walk, you could get to the gondola ski lift , a big market, several restaurants and shops, the tourist office, and the bus stop. You do not need a car when visiting Levi.
I’m always hesitant to stay right in the center because it’s usually noisy and I’m the world’s lightest sleeper (seriously, I am), but this was probably the most quiet hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Noise is not a problem at all. Maybe the snow absorbs the sounds? I’m not sure but I’m going with it since I didn’t hear a peep from outside.
What to Do In Levi
Levi is a great city to explore the many unique activities Lapland, Finland has to offer. If you like skiing, this town is perfect for you! In less than a 3 minute walk from the hotel, you are at the ski slopes! Super convenient if you want to come back to rest or heat up between ski sessions.
Just a few minutes from the hotel is the base of the ski lift
Amongst my favorite activities in Levi were a sauna + ice dip in a frozen lake (crazy fun) and a husky safari!
Oh, and Finnish Lapland is one of the best places to view the northern lights. In fact, I happen to see them in the city of Levi on my way to a restaurant. I had my tripod so ran behind the building to snap a couple shots. I never thought I would see the northern lights in the middle of the city! I felt like I was dreaming.
Break Sokos Hotel Levi has an on-site coffee house, a huge plus for coffee lovers like me. I really liked the vibe of this cozy place and went there every day.
They had a bunch of tempting pastries to choose from (and a good variety of gluten free as well!). It was a good chill out spot to take a break from the frigid outside temps. They also had a bunch of board games to play with which I thought was a fun idea.
They also had an onsite restaurant called Kiisa, which serves traditional Finnish dishes, however I didn’t have time to eat here (and also because it was a bit more pricy than other restaurants in the area). But hey, most hotel restaurants are.
Fitness Center and Spa
There was a fitness center right next to the hotel, which offered free access to hotel guests. It was a small but nice gym which I definitely utilized during my time there!
There was also a day spa which I didn’t have time for unfortunately. If you didn’t get a room with a sauna, don’t fret. Break Sokos has a public sauna and jacuzzi complex in the hotel.
Final Impressions of Break Sokos Hotel Levi
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at Break Sokos Hotel. The hotel was immaculately clean, stylish, located in the perfect spot, and had everything you could need for a fun and relaxing time in Levi. The staff was warm and welcoming and offered great recommendations on what so do around the area, all you have to do is ask!
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*I was hosted by Break Sokos Hotel Levi during my stay. My opinions however remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I wouldn’t sell out like that! ♥
Bali is a dream destination, partly because it’s so damn cheap! Oh yeah, and the other part because it’s so damn gorgeous! The great part about Bali is that you can ball it up in luxury, without the luxury price tags. So sit back and let yourself live like a queen (or king) while you’re there. You deserve it. ♥
On my recent trip to Bali, I was determined to find cute and comfy accommodation that wouldn’t burn a hole in my pockets. I ended up finding a few amazing places all with nice views, pools, and yummy food, for under $40! I used a combination of Airbnb, Booking.com, and Hotels.com and found the perfect places, which I highlighted below.
I included Lombok since that’s a popular nearby island that many add onto their Bali trip, although it’s not technically Bali. I also included 2 splurge resorts if you wanna go all out. But it’s still not that expensive as you’ll see ($103 for a 5-star resort. What??)
Oh, and before I begin, I may have a few coupons you can use! If you’re new to Airbnb, you can get $40 OFF your first rental. Airbnb is my accommodation of choice and I use them for 80% of my accommodations. If you’re new to Booking.com, you can get $20 OFF your first booking. Booking.com is great because they have the “pay later” option where you pay upon arrival.
Cute Places to Stay in Bali
♥D’mas Huts♥ | Cute Places to Stay in Bali | Nusa Lembongan
This family run place was absolutely fantastic. It’s composed of only 5 private huts and has spectacular views over Nusa Ceningan and the gorgeous blue water in between.
The owner Nyoman was the best host and catered to just about anything I needed. He always had a smile on his face and really made my stay more enjoyable.
They also have a nice restaurant which serves a big variety of foods at a super reasonable price. Plus the views over the pool and landscape below is fantastic! The food was super delicious as well!
I got a special deal on hotels.com and paid only $18/night. It was half off, but even at full price it’s super affordable. The value for money is incomparable and I cannot recommend this place enough!
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Another perk is onsite scooter rentals for 50k/day. Breakfast was not included in the price, but like I mentioned above, the prices were super reasonable.
The location was excellent to explore all 3 Nusas, about 15 minutes from Lembongen town and less than 10 minutes to Nusa Ceningan. The yellow bridge is also where you can catch the public boat to Nusa Penida!
*also make sure to check the listing on Booking.com as it’s listed there as well and they have the option to pay later!
♥The Inn Possible♥ | Cute Places to Stay in Bali | Uluwatu
Getting to this secluded paradise is no easy task, but it’s half the fun! It takes about a 15 minute walk down steep steps and passing through some houses. It sits on Bingin beach, one of the more secluded and beautiful beaches on the island. The hotel is literally right smack on the sand and it doesn’t get more secluded than this.
The pathway to the secluded Inn Possible
The views from the main hangout area/lobby are stunning. You can order food from their restaurant and eat it at the bar overlooking the ocean and it’s really incredible.
The vibe is super chill and laid back and the owner is super friendly and helpful with any info you need.
It takes about a 10-12 minute scooter ride to get to Uluwatu temple, perched high up on the plunging cliff side. While the temple itself is nothing spectacular, the dramatic setting makes up for it!
The rooms are huge and come with either an AC or fan (make sure to book the room with the AC because it’s very hot!)
As resources are limited in this secluded spot, there is no hot water. But you won’t even care, trust me! The Inn Possible is one of those places where you go to relax and enjoy the serenity. I didn’t ever wanna leave (also because of those evil stairs haha). Tip: I wouldn’t even think about taking a large suitcase down there!
How I booked: Booking.com and paid in cash at the resort (they don’t take credit cards).
♥Coconut Boutique Resort♥ | Cute Places to Stay in Bali | Senggigi, Lombok
This hotel was very visually stunning with private bungalows all with pool views. The pool had a swim-up bar and illuminated blue LED lights. The bungalows were huge with a comfy bed, cable TV, mini fridge, and a beautiful outdoor bathroom.
There was an onsite restaurant and room service available that I took advantage of several times. The food was great and the prices were reasonable.
My favorite part about the hotel was the onsite spa services out by the pool. You also had the choice of spa services in your room at no extra cost. I got 1-2 services each day, including a foot massage, shiatsu back massage, and a facial. The prices were really low, even at the inflated hotel prices, so that was an extra plus!
Onsite scooter rentals were 70k/day (~$5.25). Or it took about 10 minutes to get to Senggigi port, but I loved the peace and quiet of seclusion.
♥Airbnb Bungalow w/ Lush Pool♥ | Cute Places to Stay in Bali | (just North of Ubud)
This was the most secluded place I stayed and it’s exactly what I wanted! Comprised of only 5 private villas overlooking the lush pool area, this Airbnb was a total steal! Breakfast is included and can be served by the pool or on your patio.
A free shuttle service 4 times a day to Ubud was included. And if you stay 3 or more days, a free motorbike rental is included. It took about 10 minutes to get to the center, but the tranquility is exactly what I asked for.
The bungalow is equipped with a coffee maker, Cable TV, AC, a huge comfy bed, and multiple charging plugs. Even though I was solo, it’s a romantic place away from the busy and noisy center of Ubud. I even met a couple on their honeymoon staying right next door to me.
How I Booked: You can find the Airbnb listing here. Also, don’t forget the $40 OFF coupon if you’re new to Airbnb.
Where to Stay if you Want to “Splurge” a Little Bit in Ubud
♥Alaya Resort Ubud♥ | Cute Places to Stay in Bali | Ubud
Alaya Resort Ubud is a quiet oasis right in the middle of the city, literally. This elegantly designed 5-star resort is the perfect place to feel pampered and taken care of.
Alaya Resort Ubud has 2 pools, 2 restaurants, a fitness center, and a world class spa.
The rooms had a California king size bed with plush comforters and pillows. A little detail that I thought was awesome was the built-in outlet converters in the rooms so you don’t even need to bring any!
Turn down service was provided nightly with a robe and slippers. All rooms come with a patio and sitting area outside. You will either have a view of the pool or the rice fields. My room with the rice field view was incredible. There is something just so peaceful about the rice fields that you forget you’re right in the middle of the city where all the action is. But don’t worry, you’re tucked away from all the sound so you’ll get a good night’s rest.
The staff was incredibly helpful and kind and the breakfast was fresh and delicious. There were several choices on the menu and not your typical buffet style breakfast. I really appreciate when you actually have choices from a menu!
The location is great and just a few minutes from the famous Monkey Forest. It is also right next door to the popular Yoga Barn, where you can take a yoga class or eat at the cafe (which has amazing healthy juices and vegan/gluten free choices).
Fun fact: Alaya Resort Ubud was voted Eco-Hotel/Resort of the Year in 2016!
Pricing: prices are as low as $112 night (for a 5 stat hotel! Gotta love Bali).
How to Book: You can check the listing here on Booking.com
♥Alaya Jembawan♥ | Cute Places to Stay in Bali | Ubud
Fifteen minutes away from Alaya Ubud is their sister resort Alaya Jembawan, a boutique wellness center. It’s also in the center but a little more serene and secluded. Alaya Jembawan has 2 infinity pools overlooking lush tropical scenery. It is a bit smaller than Alaya Ubud, but also a bit cozier.
This location made you feel a little more like you were out in the jungle and completely distant from the city. Yet it was conveniently located and a great base to walk around the city and enjoy great nearby cafes.
Alaya Jembawan is more focused on wellness and healing and provides the perfect serene setting. In addition to the wellness spa offerings, there is an Ayurvedic doctor and yoga instructor on site to help encourage a more slow paced lifestyle.
Breakfast was served at the cutest little restaurant called Herb Library decorated in earthy pastels. They implement local seasonal and organic ingredients and serve raw or living food. They had many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options on the menu and everything tasted so fresh.
I really appreciated that they adopt an eat anytime policy where you are not bound to time constraints and can have your breakfast literally whenever you want (starts from 7am). Why can’t they have this everywhere?
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Pricing: prices as low as $103 (how is that possible for a 5-star resort? It still baffles me).
How to Book: Check the listing here on Booking.com
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Disclaimer: Some links in this article may include affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission if you book through these links, at NO extra cost to you. It’s what keeps this site ad free (I hate ads!). Also, I was a guest at Alaya Ubud and Alaya Jembawan. However, all opinions are my own and I am in no way obligated to leave positive feedback. I had an amazing time in the beautiful properties and I highly recommend staying at either one. Plus, they are super affordable for 5-star resorts!
Do You Have Any More Cute and Affordable Places You Recommend in Bali? Please Comment Below!
So you finally decided to take the leap and venture over to The Lost City of Petra, Jordan. Yay! It’s pretty safe to say you will not be disappointed. I recently visited Petra and it was one of my favorite places I have seen on my travels. Ever. Blown away is an understatement.
There are a few things I wish I knew before visiting Petra and which I think may be helpful in planning your trip. So I have put together this wee little blogpost with some practical tips for visiting Petra.
Practical Tips for Visiting Petra
The Visa Situation
First things first: to get into Jordan as a US citizen, you must purchase a visa on arrival. The cost is 40 JD ($56). You can purchase the visa right at the passport check counter. They do accept credit card or Jordanian dinars (JD).
1JD = ~1.41 $USD (ouch).
How to Get to Petra
Take the JETT bus from Amman to Petra for 10 JD one-way. The journey takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes including a 20minute rest stop. The bus is clean and comfortable.
There is no online purchase system as of yet so you either need to call them within a week of your journey or show up early and try to get a ticket the day of. During peak season, it’s likely to sell out. There is only one bus a day.
The bus from Amman to Petra is at 6:30am and the bus from Petra to Amman is at 5pm. The bus leaves from Abdali Bus Station in Amman. The JETT office opens at 6am so make sure you are first in line if you are buying the morning of. (I would recommend buying a day or 2 before if you happen to be in Amman already).
Note: the online “booking system” does not reserve you a seat. They sent me an email saying I needed to call them within a week of the journey to confirm. I was traveling and couldn’t call so my seat was not reserved. I had to show up at 5:50am before they opened and hoped they weren’t sold out. It wasn’t peak season so I got lucky and got a seat.
Buying Tickets to Petra
Ticket Prices to Petra:
1 day non-accommodated visitor: 90 JD (i.e. if you come as a day trip without accommodations in Petra)
1-day ticket: 50 JD (with proof of overnight stay)
2-day ticket: 55 JD
3-day ticket: 60 JD
I have a feeling they are discouraging day trips and want you to stay longer based on those prices. What do you think?
The Royal Tombs of Petra
You will need to bring your passport with you to purchase tickets at the visitors center. However, they did not ask for my passport for Petra by Night. They do accept credit cards, but not so much for Petra by Night. They sell the tickets right at the entrance, so you need to bring cash. (I’m honestly not sure if the visitor’s center is open at this time of night. So ya, cash is king).
How Long Do You Need in Petra?
I recommend at LEAST 2 days in Petra. At least! I was there 2 days (+Petra by Night) and it wasn’t enough. There is a lot of walking and hiking up hills so you gotta break it up and pace yourself.
Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. Don’t try to conquer Petra in a day. The main trail alone from the entrance to the Monastery is 8km! That’s 5 freaking miles.
Take a look at this map below. You will see the entry on the bottom right and the Monastery on the top left. Do you see how far away they are? Freakin far!
It takes about 1.5-2 hours to reach the Monastery from the entrance. That’s 3-4 hours just to do the main trail so keep that in mind. That doesn’t even account for all the millions of photos you are going to stop for.
Get there bright and early when it opens at 6am. You will have the Treasury to yourself for the first 10-15 minutes.
I recommend breaking up the main trail into 2 days. The first day explore the Treasury, Royal Tombs, Great Temple, and at least one of the 2 hikes to the top of the Treasury or the High Sacrifice. Then on day 2 take the long route to the Monastery, and all the other sites you missed on the main trail on the first day, plus the other hike.
I’m sure you’ve seen the many awesome photos of Petra by Night. Some say it’s overrated, but I disagree. It was incredible and the highlight of my trip! There is something special about being there at night with just the lanterns lighting your path. It was magical, that’s the best way to explain it.
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Petra by Night is only 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday) and I made sure I planned my trip around that because I did not want to miss it. It starts at 8:30pm but keep in mind it takes about 30 minutes to walk to the Treasury from the entrance! The cost is 12 JD ($17).
Safety in Petra
The world isn’t a safe place these days, but we shouldn’t stay at home because of it. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma tide to Middle Eastern countries, one very hard to shake.Yes, it borders Syria and Saudi Arabia. But Jordan is generally a safe place, minus a few areas here and there.
I was in Amman at night, rode the bus to Petra myself, and walked around the streets by myself. I went to Petra alone as a female and I felt completely 100% safe.
I never once felt uncomfortable, like I was in dangerous, or harassed by men. In fact, it is one of the few countries in the world where I never got catcalled. Not once! The Jordanian people were some of the kindest, most hospital people I have ever met and I felt super welcome and safe in their country.
Riding Horses/Donkeys/Mules in Petra
You may get exhausted from all the hiking and walking you will be doing in Petra and need a little lift. In fact, you will get hassled 20+ times a day for a “taxi” ride on a donkey/mule. They can be persistent so learn to politely, but firmly decline if you’re not interested.
If you do decide to take a ride, make sure to negotiate the price beforehand or they will for sure overcharge you. A horse ride from the entrance to the Siq is included in the ticket price. However, they do indeed expect a tip.
How to Dress in Petra
Make sure to dress like you’re going hiking all day, because well, whether you like it or not, you will be doing a LOT of hiking. Especially if you want the best views. Absolutely no flip-flops.
If you must get that shot in a cute dress, bring a change of clothesor wear them underneath. There are 3 bathrooms throughout where you can change. Or if you hike first thing in the morning, you can change on the mountaintop because no one is there!
I would recommend dressing in layers as it’s freezing in the mornings and evenings and scorching hot in the day. You are in the desert after all.
I would avoid wearing black as it picks up ALL the dust. I learned the hard way.
Note: while it is a super touristy area of Jordan and the dress code is not as strict, you still want to respect the Jordanian culture. (I.e. don’t dress like hoochie).
What to Bring With You to Petra
Bring small bills to buy water, coffee, snacks. I brought a 50 JD bill and not one person had change so I had to buy an expensive necklace to break change. The necklace sure is pretty though.
Bring sunscreen and lots of water. Also, bring some snacks as you’re going to be there all day and food is not cheap inside. There is also limited options.
Bring hand sanitizer as your hands will get super dusty throughout the day. You’re gonna be hiking in sand, dirt so if you’re a clean freak like me, don’t forget it!
Where to Eat/Drink/Snack inside Petra
There are 2 restaurants inside Petra. One is a fancier buffet that charges 17 JD (~$24) and another right across from it that looks like a rundown shack. This “shack” also serve a buffet which was actually pretty good for only 10 JD ($14). I ate at the shack and I was satisfied.
There are also many little cafes with coffee/tea and packaged snacks along the way. I stopped at so many because they had a nice views and I needed a break from walking in the heat. My favorite was the one right smack in front of the Monastery. They even accepted credit cards! (with a minimum 5JD purchase). Tip: order the coffee with cardamon, so yum!
Where to Stay in Petra
Technically there are no hotels in Petra. The town called Wadi Musa is where you will be staying, located right next to Petra.
For a budget hotel under $30, stay at Rocky Mountain Hotel. The hotel is located on top of a hill in Wadi Musa, a 5 minute taxi ride from the Petra entrance or a 30 minute walk down a very steep hill. The view at the top of the restaurant is worth it alone. The sunsets there are epic and the buffet food was actually very good. To check out current prices and pictures, check here.
View from the cafe at the top of the Rocky Mountain Hotel
The Sun will Make the Sites Look Different at Different times of Day
Wait, what? Depending on where the sun is in the sky, the red rock will appear a different color. When the sun is shining directly onto the rock, it turns a deep red color. In the shade it’s noticeably lighter so it’s a good idea to come back to certain sites and photograph them at different times of the day.
As you will see in the photo below, this is the difference of the colors of the Treasury at 6am (left) and 4pm (right). A HUGE difference, right?
I was told the sunlight at the Monastery is best around 1pm.
A Word on Travel Insurance
Make sure to get travel insurance in case something happens. You’re pretty much out in nowhere so getting to the hospital may cost you a fortune if you are uninsured. Most US plans will not cover you overseas so make sure to check in advance.
My go to travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims and have been reimbursed without any hassle. I highly recommend them. This is an affiliate link, btw :).
♥For more inspiring travel photos, make sure to find me on Instagram @CrazyTravelista.
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‘The rose-red city half as old as time’, the words used to describe the ancient city of Petra by poet John William Burgon.
Petra comes from the Greek word for rock. Quite fitting for an entire city carved into the red sandstone cliffs. Petra has a fascinating and mysterious history and is on many bucketlists rightfully so.
Petra is also known as the “Lost City” as it was abandoned for centuries after a devastating earthquake. It was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and is known as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.
Today, it is estimated that less than 2% of the sites are excavated in Petra, yet you could spend several days discovering all the remains and hiking trails of the monumental city.
I recently spent a few days in Jordan and was determined to find the most epic views in Petra, and I think I found most of them! I honestly wish I had one more day as I just scratched the surface of this amazing place.
Below I have highlighted the most epic views in Petra, as well as how to find them (some are kinda hidden so hopefully this guide will help you find them easily).
The Most Epic Views in Petra
Beyond the High Sacrifice
The high sacrifice is a holy place that was used for animal sacrifices and is located on the summit of the Attuf Ridge high above the Royal Tombs and main trail. The peak rests at around 550+ feet. From here, you can see most of Petra, excluding the Monastery and Treasury.
You will look right down to the royal tombs across from you. There is a little shack with coffee/tea and trinkets at the top and it’s hard to resist sitting at the very edge of the cliff sipping coffee with the epic view.
How long it takes to reach the top:
About 40-ish minutes, depending on your fitness level. I have read articles that says 1 hour but only if you go at a snail’s pace.
How to Get There:
Look for the sign that says: High Sacrifice (Jabal Almadbah)
About 5 minutes after the Treasury, it will be on the left side. When you see the shop called “Why Not Shop” , look for the steps on the left. You’ll see a brown sign. If you see the amphitheater, you’ve gone too far.
Looking down onto the Treasury
This might be the most epic view you can get in Petra and takes a steep hike to get to with many stairs. The walk takes about 45+ minutes to get to the top. I would definitely go first thing in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. I went around 6:45am, at the top around 7:30am and absolutely no one was there. It was awesome to have the place to myself.
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Trail Name: Al-Khubtha Trail
How to Get There:
About 5-7 minutes past the Treasury, you will pass the Street of Facades and public bathrooms on the right. Right after the bathrooms, you should see some little steps and a brown sign saying Al-Khubtha Trail. Take the steps up and you should pass the Royal Tombs on the right side.
You will then reach the bigger/steeper steps. Follow that up and you will see a few more signs saying saying “Come and Sit and Enjoy The Spectacular View of the Treasury From Above”.
View from the Bedouin tent thingy
There is a sign at the top pointing with an arrow to the rocks saying “Best View” where you will get a side view of the Treasury. But in my opinion, the best view is actually from the Bedouin type tent thingy about 2 minutes past this. You can see the Treasury straight down from there!
The Monastery and Petra Mountains in the Distance
The Monastery is arguably the most epic site in all of Petra, bigger and more badass than the Treasury. It takes a strenuous 45 minute hike to the top. But the best views aren’t from there. The best views are from above.
How to Get There:
Walk past the Monastery and cafe and you’ll see a hill. Climb up the hill and on the left you’ll see a sign that says Do “Not Miss This Spectacular View”, another one that says “View Wadi Araba Water Spring”, and “Grand Canyon View, Best in Jordan”.
Climb to the first platform and that’s where you will get the best view. You can go higher to a little cafe, but the views aren’t as good as from here in my opinion. You get the Monastery from the distance as well as the vast Petra landscape framing it.
Cafe with the “Best View in Jordan”
One of the best views over Petra where you can relax and sip on some very yummy tea is at a cafe located 10 minutes past the Monastery.The cafe is decorated Bedouinstyle with the colorful floor pillows and tables. Have a mint tea and enjoy the views. There is a cute and super friendly kitty that lives there too! A bonus if you ask me.
How to get there:
If you come down from the Monastery view and keep waking up the hill, you will see signs that says “Grand Canyon View, Best in Jordan”(btw, if you haven’t yet noticed from this article, there are tons of signs in Petra that will claim the “best view”, that’s for you to decide!). Walk to the top to the cafe for a panoramic view of the mountains.
Petra By Night
This is a definite a MUST if you’re visiting Petra. It only occurs 3 nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday) so make sure to plan accordingly. This was the highlight of my Petra trip and the only way I can describe it is MAGICAL.
The Siq opens right up to the Treasury at the end and that first sneak peak through the narrow gorge is EPIC. It brought me to tears seeing the Treasury and all the candlelights surrounding it. What a great introduction to Pera!
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How to Get There:
You really can’t miss it as it’s on the main trail. After you get your tickets at the visitor’s center, proceed to the walk through the Siq. It takes about 30 minutes from the entrance to get the the Treasury, but half the excitement is walking through the narrow path illuminated by candlelights.
Inside the Caves of Petra
I must admit I have never seen photos of the caves of Petra, as they are overshadowed by the Treasury and Monastery. The caves are made of swirly marble patterns and were so beautiful. They also provided a cool escape from the heat!
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How to Get There:
Walk past the Street of Facades and they will be on your right before the Royal Tombs (if you see the Amphitheatre, you went too far). You can climb up into them and it gives you a nice alternate view of Petra that’s pretty damn impressive.
Walking through the Siq
The Siq is the gateway to the city of Petra and is a long narrow gorge with twists and turns that ends with a dramatic opening right smack in front of The Treasury.
The Siq is around 1.2km long and is anywhere between 3 and 12 meters wide. The cliffs are as high as almost 600 feet in some parts and the walk alone through the Siq is filled with many photo ops.
How to Get There:
You have to go through the Siq to enter Petra so you literally can’t miss it!
Have you Been to Petra? Do You Have Any Other EPIC Viewpoints you Would Recommend? Please Share Below!
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Honestly, I never had any desire to go to Finland before, let alone to the very north in Lapland. But as usual, I was enticed by some awesome snowy pics of this beautiful country and I knew I had to experience it for myself. Plus, I really wanted to see Santa! Can you blame me?
I had no idea there were so many awesome and unique things to do in Lapland, Finland. I was overwhelmed by all the choices as I was deciding which ones to choose! My wish list included seeing the northern lights, doing an animal safari (aka sleigh rides), and something super traditional and completely out of my comfort zone (you’ll see).
So if you’re heading that way and need help deciding, let me highlight all the kick-ass things to do in Lapland, Finland below:
Most Unique Things to Do in Lapland, Finland
Go On a Photo Expedition
Take an all day photo expedition that includes some trekking through the nature and photographing some epic views over the land. This is a must do for photography lovers. No professional experience is needed! They basically take you to all the best photo spots in a winter wonderland and help you take some awesome photos. It was really better than I expected.
I wrote a separate post on this so I won’t get into too much detail here. But honestly, this was one of my favorite things I did in Finland! You can read about my tour in more detail here.
Santa Claus Village
If you’re in Rovaniemi you kinda have to go see Santa! Ok honestly, the village won’t wow you or anything but it’s one of those things that’s cool to say you did. Where else can you visit the city Santa is from?
In Santa’s Village, you can send a postcard postmarked from Santa’s Village and get an official stamp on your passport. They also offer shorter reindeer and husky rides. Although it’s more commercial here, it’s still an option of you don’t want to fork out a huge lump of cash for the longer animal safaris.
Cross the Arctic Circle
While at Santa’s Village you can actually cross the arctic circle! How cool is that? This is one of the few places in the world where you can actually stand with one foot on each sides of the arctic circle. If you want, you can even get an official certificate proving you actually did it!
I couldn’t go to Lapland and NOT ride a reindeer! I mean, how many other places can you do that? Not many. The ride was very slow and kinda “kiddie” so definitely something for small children to enjoy, but still kinda cool to do as an adult.
The ride itself is about 25-30 minutes through the snowy forest. It’s a great opportunity for photos. We then visited the reindeer farm and got to see all the cared for reindeer, even some cute baby ones! To get warm, we huddled by the fire and roasted sausages and sipped on berry juice.
It was a nice and quick tour and the company was great, but honestly for the price I don’t think it was worth it. I say this because they off reindeer rides at Santa’s Village for a small fraction of the price. Unless you really love reindeers and want to spend a little extra time with them, I would do the ride at Santa’s Village instead!
(Disclaimer: I received a small media discount for this tour. While I greatly appreciate this, I need to be completely honest with my readers and tell it like it is).
Snowmobile to the Northern Lights
I’ts always a smart idea to book a northern lights tour that also combines another activity, just in case you don’t get to see them. Seeing the northern lights is never guaranteed and they are very unpredictable.
The perfect example of this is the Snowmobile Safari/Northern lights tour I did with Wild Nordic. The snowmobiling really got my adrenaline pumping riding out to a frozen lake to chase the lights. The ride was a bit bumpy with all the ice, so you probably shouldn’t do this is you have any spine issues or recent injuries.
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After about 45 minutes of zipping through the snow, we ended up on a frozen lake far from the city lights. Our awesome guide Raivis made a small fire and cooked us Finnish sausages and poured us the most amazing hot berry juice.
Unfortunately the conditions didn’t allow us to see the lights; however, bonding with the fellow travelers around the open fire is something I’ll never forget!
The snowmobiling experience was so fun we didn’t even care about seeing the lights (I had seen them a few days earlier in Tromsø so I was content). It was an awesome tour and something you shouldn’t miss!
This might have been the most crazy thing I did in Finland. However, it’s something very popular with the locals, mostly for the health benefits. Going from extreme hot to cold is good for your circulation and makes you feel refreshed (although caution is advised in those with a history of heart issues).
The setting at Immelkartano was absolutely perfect. It’s a small family run company (which you know I love) which operates 2 sauna houses set on a beautiful snowy frozen lake.
Set up my tripod and caught the Northern Lights faintly in the distance. This was not visible with the naked eye so an added bonus!
I was told by the attendant that going in the frozen lake up to your next cleanses you of your sins from the neck down. All sinners welcome 🙂
The ice dip was super invigorating to say the least! You start by heating up in a traditional Finnish smoke sauna in a private setting and then jump into an ice hole. You end the dip by drinking a shot of straight up Finnish vodka (trust me, you’ll need it!).
View the Northern Lights from Levi
Levi is an adorable little ski town that I had the pleasure of staying in for 2 days while in Lapland. Although I didn’t get to see the northern lights on my snowmobile safari, I was fortunate enough to catch them in the back of a restaurant I was walking to in Levi. I happened to have my tripod on me from before, so I ran behind the restaurant to catch this incredible display of Mother Nature. There is something special about seeing them when you’re least expecting them. It’s pure magic.
Visit a Snow Hotel
The Snow Village is located about a 30-40 minute drive from Levi but is worth the trip. I learned so much about ice hotels and the design and details blew me away. I didn’t know that they rebuild the ice hotel every year, and it never looks the same twice! I really wish I would have stayed one night. The place was amazing! We were able to go inside all the rooms and see what they were like. Every room has a different design with intricate carvings. The artwork is really incredible. There is also an ice bar, ice restaurant, and ice slide! It’s only for children, but I saw some adults breaking the rules (ahem, including me).
Every year, the hotel has a contest for the best designed room. Applicants submit their design online and the winner will have their room brought to life with their design! They even get to come stay in the hotel in their room! How cool?! If only I could draw past stick figures…
One of the most popular activists in Lapland is to go on a husky ride safari. This activity is a lot faster and more exciting than a reindeer ride. The adrenaline kick plus the frigid air smacking you in the face will really wake you up!
You will also have time to meet all the huskies and play with them afterwards. I’m a cat person honestly, but these cuddly creatures are so hyper and loveable that I fell in love with them. I’m not going to lie though, in the beginning when they get them all hyped up to ride, they were a bit scary and aggressive!
Look at those gorgeous blue eyes!
It wouldn’t be a true Finish activity without ending the day inside a hut roasting sausages over an open fire. God I love Finland!
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The company was called Tundra Huskies and it costs €75 for the tour. You get to visit husky farm and pet the dogs and then do a 25-30 minute ride. You can also visit some reindeer on the farm. The whole tour takes about 2-3 hours.
Other Awesome Things to Do in Lapland, Finland
Get a panorama view from a fell (a fell is basically an epic lookout point over the land).
Stay in a hotel with your own sauna (I’ll get to that in the next post).
Other cool things to do in Lapland that I didn’t get a chance to try:
Scenic flight to chase the northern lights
Stay in a glass igloo hotel (my dream)
*This post was in collaboration with Visit Levi & Wild Nordic; however, my opinions are my own and I had a kick-ass time in Lapland, as you can see!♥
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Have I Convinced You To Want to Visit Lapland? What Activities Would You Like to Do?
Palawan has been voted the most beautiful island in the world, and for good reason. With its plethora of crystal clear turquoise waters, stunning lagoons, and plunging cliff lines, its not hard to see why. Palawan is the epitome of the word paradise.
There’s a lot you can do and see on Palawan even with a limited timeframe. I spent a week in Palawan, split between El Nido and Coron and it was the perfect introduction to the Philippines.
To make it simple, it’s going to take a long time! There are no direct international flights to El Nido so you will have to fly to Manila first, and then either fly to Puerto Princesa and take a 6-8 hour van ride up to El Nido.
Or there is the more direct (and more expensive) option of flying nonstop to El Nido. I flew with Air Swift on a short flight from Manila and it cost me $130. To me the direct flight was worth it to get there quicker.
You’ll be greeted at El Nido airport with a serenade from the local Filipino women, a unique welcome to the Philippines! Air Swift passengers are also given free coffee, juice and snacks upon arrival.
To get to your accommodation, you’ll most likely have to take a tricycle, which reminds me of a mini tuk tuk. It costs 300 PHP to get to town (around $6) and takes around 15-20 minutes.
El Nido Tours
People flock to El Nido for the famous island hopping tours. There are 4 main tours leaving from El Nido: Tour A,B, C, and D. Creative, huh? They also offer combined tours if you’re super short on time (but some of the stops are cut out obviously).
Tour A & C are the most popular and most the pictures you’ve seen from El Nido are most likely from those tours. If you had to pick just one, hands down I would choose Tour A!
All the tours are a fixed price by the government so don’t bother trying to negotiate. There are dozens upon dozens of tour companies in town and they pretty much all offer the same tour with the same stops so no need to be extra picky on this one. I am one for good reviews so booking online beforehand wouldn’t be a bad option either.
Day 1: Nacpan Beach
Rent a motorbike for 300-500 PHP and drive 45 minutes North to Nacpan Beach. The last 20 minutes is super bumpy and rocky and it’s uncomfortable but not dangerous. There’s a little restaurant that serves fresh seafood and drinks on the beach.
Unfortunately, Twin Beach was closed due to a court case involving squatter activity until further notice so it’s impossible to get that infamous view of Twin Beach. This was the best I could do from the bottom of the hill. You can kinda see both beaches, but not so epically. Meh.
Sunset at Las Cabanas Beach
Take a tricycle to Las Cabanas. It will cost 150 PHP from town and takes less than 10 minutes.
Las Cabanas is a great place to relax and unwind from the day, and have a drink if you’d like. There are a few cafes right on the beach and it’s a very popular place to catch the sunset. Meremgmeg Beach Bar was really cool and had swings at the bar instead of seats.
Day 2: Tour A
Take Tour A, the post popular (and my favorite) of the tours. The tour will take you on 5 stops including: Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Simizu Beach (lunch stop), Secret Lagoon, and 7 Commandos Beach.
Cost: 1400 PHP (~$27)
I will highlight my favorite spots below:
You can’t swim in this gorgeous lagoon. The boat takes you in and you just sit back and enjoy turquoise waters like you have never seen before.
You can rent a kayak (Depending on availability) or snorkel and explore the big lagoon, which was so much fun!
The Secret Lagoon was unreal in terms of beauty. We had to jump off the boat and swim here from a distance where we could explore the hidden lagoons and caves. This is exactly what I imagined the Philippines to be.
7 Commandos Beach
The last stop of the day is on this long white sand beach. They have a bar and souvenir shop, as well as comfort rooms (what they call restrooms in the Philippines). There is also a fun rope swing that you can play with!
Day 3: Tour C
I booked Tour C with Art Cafe. The buffet BBQ lunch they served was really good! The tour leaves at 9am and comes back around 5pm.
Cost: 1400 PHP plus 100 PHP to rent fins (snorkel masks are already included).
5 stops are included on this tour including: Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Starfish Beach, Miniloc Shrine, and Helicopter Beach.
I found absolute paradise in Hidden Beach. I kinda wanted them to leave me there “accidentally”. The Miniloc Shrine had the best viewpoint over the islands (cost is 100 PHP to go here). There are very pointy rocks at the top so please be careful.
This is guaranteed to be one of the most risky hikes you will ever do. Do NOT attempt to do this hike without a guide, it’s quite dangerous (and I don’t say this often).
You’ll be stepping on jagged, pointy, super sharp rocks and at some points you will be climbing up a 90 degree angle! It’s honestly more like rock climbing than a hike. Except that you will have NO harness or protective ear. But the 180 degree panoramic view at the top is worth all the fright and agony getting up there, trust me!
You can go in a group or hire a private guide. The whole trip takes about 2.5 to 3hrs. It costs 500 PHP for one person and can be as low as 300 PHP if you get a few people to go.
Tips for Hiking Mt. Taraw:
Take a sweat rag. I was dripping sweat and was all slippery. Not cool when my guide reached for my arm to pull me up in some places.
Start as early in the morning as possible to beat the heat.
I really wish I had brought gloves because the rocks I had to pull myself up on were super sharp.
Make sure to bring sturdy shoes (they won’t even let you hike without closed-toe shoes), water, and snacks.
Don’t bring many items with you. You do not want a big backpack on your back when you’re doing this climb. My guide actually didn’t let me carry a bag and put my stuff in his backpack.
Make sure to grab the rocks with your hands before moving with your feet.
On the way down go backwards, it’s easier and safer.
Rent a Kayak
Rent a kayak for 400 PHP and paddle over to Bikal Beach on Cadlao Island. There is a small and secluded crescent shaped beach which takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to. You’ll most likely have the beach to yourself. Unless you go in the morning because I believe tour D makes its first stop here.
Wouldn’t you love to have a whole stunning beach to yourself?
Get a Massage
Get a massage to end your trip in El Nido. It costs about 500-600 PHP per hour for a full body massage and you can find these massage shops all over the city. I got a head and food massage to end my day and it was just perfect after all that hiking and kayaking I had done.
Best Way to Get between El Nido and Coron
There’s a newer fast boat option by Montenegro Lines that leaves daily from El Nido at 6am and from Coron at 12pm. The journey supposedly takes 3.5 hours (it took about 4 hours and 45 minutes) and is pretty comfortable in a clean and air conditioned boat. They play a movie on the flat screen during the trip. I booked my ticket online through Naturalis.
Make sure to arrive to the port 30 minutes early to check-in and pay your port fee (20 PHP) before you can board. You can pick your seat when you check in so if you’re prone to sea sickness, make sure to pick a seat in the back of the boat.
Cost: 1848 PHP + 20 PHP port fee (about $36 USD).
If you want to save a few dollars there is a slower ferry option on a freight ship that takes 7+ hours. I heard it’s extremely uncomfortable and the boats are older and less clean. Just google it if you want to make your decision easier. It’s literally less than a $10 difference so why put yourself through that hell? Take the fast boat!
Day 5-7: Coron, Palawan
Day 5: Ferry to Coron
There isn’t much to do in Coron town honestly. It was a stark contrast to the lively El Nido, so just take the afternoon to relax before the evening activities.
Head to Coffee Kong, for some good coffee. It’s a cute little coffee hangout and the only place I found with soy milk! They also serve breakfast and have really good Air Con.
Hike Mt. Tapyas before Sunset
You have to walk 700 steps to get to the top of Mt. Tapyas, but it’s well worth it. It will take you about 25-30 minutes to walk to the top. How it works is you hire a tricycle to take you there, they wait for you, and then they take you to Maquinit Springs (which is 20 minutes away). The entire ride only costs 300 PHP (~$5) and I was with my driver for about 4 hours.
iPhone pic from the top of Mt. Tapyas
End the Night at Maquinit Springs
Maquinit Springs is a huge natural saltwater hot spring surrounded by mangroves in the jungle. It’s a super unique setting and although it’s quite busy, it’s still very relaxing.
I must say these were the hottest hot springs I have ever experienced. Have you ever noticed that most hot springs are warm, but not very hot? Not this one! It’s super hot and exactly what your body needs after that hike up Mt. Tapyas.
Cost: 200 PHP for adults
Day 6: Island Escapade Tour
I booked with with JY Tours as it was recommended by my Airbnb host.
Cost: 1200 PHP (~$23).
Stops included: Malcapula Beach, CYC Beach, and Waling Waling Island.
A heavenly white sand beach and crystal blue waters. It’s one of the prettiest beaches I saw in the Philippines.
Hiked up the little hill for this secret view.
CYC is the only remaining public beach in Coron. Compared to all the other beauty I saw in the Philippines, this beach was pretty run down, crowded, and dirty. Our group was wondering why they even had this stop on the tour. No pictures here because there wasn’t much to see.
Waling Waling Island (aka “Mini Maldives”)
Locals refer to this beach as the mini Maldives due to the crystal waters. It was my favorite stop of the day!
During low tide, a sand bar appears and you can walk out onto it. It is breathtaking.
Completely unedited iPhone shot of the gorgeous Waling Waling island.
There was another stop on our itinerary but our guide chose to go here instead…which none of us were complaining about!
Accommodations in Palawan were more expensive than I imagined they would be in the Philippines. I spent about $30 per night. When I travel I usually spend on average $25 per night to rent a room (more if I rent out a whole apartment). But the value for the price in Palawan was not that good and the standards were a lot lower than I expected for that price.
That being said, go in knowing what to expect! I stayed in Airbnbs in both Coron and El Nido. While I cannot recommend the place I stayed in El Nido, the room I rented in Coron was very large, clean, and had good Air Con. The host is from California and was really laid back and helpful. It was in a convenient location and was pretty comfortable. You can check out the listing here.
If you’re new to Airbnb, you can use my $40 OFF Coupon. Or even if you are not, you can sign up with a different email and use the coupon as well! ♥
Travel Insurance for the Philippines
I would never travel without travel insurance anymore. I learned my lesson. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).
My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 3 without any hassle. I highly recommend them.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Have You Been to Palawan? Is there Anywhere Else you Would Recommend to Visit that I Missed?
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