The Grand Hyatt Shanghai was my luxurious home for the first leg of my unforgettable trip to China. This hotel is truly impressive from the lobby all the way to the rooms. All the comforts and techno needs are met by very professional staff so it really is worth it to stay in this fabulous hotel.
Day 1: Touring the Old City of Shanghai
Learning about a country’s culture is my first aim in traveling and visiting old districts is the best way to see it. I love roaming around this district in Shanghai! Just look at the pictures below of this building with its awesome roof that is very distinctly Chinese. I found out that this is Yu Garden Tourist Mart and the Huxinting Tea House. The Yu Garden Pond and its garden are simply amazing! Even the lanterns adorning the walkways of the shopping stores are really cute.
I was in a gorgeous boat ride along the Huangpu River that same night and it was a sight that made me say “wow”. I really love how the light played around the buildings and how it reflected happily in the river we were cruising on. Check out a short video I took below. You can clearly see the very distinctive Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower which for some time was China’s tallest structure from 1994–2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center.
Touring The Bund
The Bund or Wai Tan as it’s locally known , is Shanghai’s historical financial district. International banks have branches in this stretch of road which overlooks the Haungpu River. Historically, the buildings there used to be embassies of other nations so that’s where all the non-Asian architecture came from. It looks like a slice of Europe got transplanted here.
I highly recommend going to Shanghai in October as the weather was perfect for strolling. Tons of tourists were enjoying the place like I did. I read that like any other tourist area, there are unsavory people like scammers and thieves but I was thankfully spared that bad experience.
Shopping is something I enjoy everywhere and Shanghai’s Nanjing Road is perfect. And of course, when there are stores, there are fantastic restaurants and bars to go with it. We had a really nice dinner at Bund 18 and there were so many bars to choose from if you fancy a drink after dinner or stroll around The Bund at night with all the buildings lit up dramatically. Scroll through my pictures below and see some part of this amazing place.
On the first picture below, you can see me touching these red doors which believed to be very lucky. So I kept touching them. LOL! It couldn’t hurt, right? One thing that I learned while I was there was that Chinese women respect men more than they do other women because for them, it is the men who make money. Quite interesting and very different from what I know.
And of course, drinking tea is very important for them. It was an experience buying tea there! To be able to buy tea, I had to sit down in a chair and taste their tea before buying. I was surprised that the most popular kind is black tea. I’ve always thought it was green tea. I really learned a lot in this trip!
I loved the chance to travel to Shanghai and I sure wish to be able to visit it again. you might be interested on beinjing as well scroll around for more places to visit in china…
Hong Kong’s famous skyline boasts really tall buildings in the business district. This tiny city state is home to all the industries in the world. Their economy is stable enough to make them one of the world’s first class cosmopolitan centers.
Check out the breathtaking view from our hotel room in the luxurious Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed for three days.
As in any small state, housing seems to be answered by the tall condominiums that I saw everywhere. Some of them are as tall as 40 stories high from what I can estimate and the towers are so closely built together. You can imagine the amount of people inside this compound!
Always check a guide or a map wherever you visit especially in Hong Kong where the buildings are all tall in most places and the sidewalks are really crowded and narrow. You can easily get turned around and get lost in the side streets. Although English is fluently spoken in the business district and the high end shops, some of the smaller stores and restaurants as well as taxi drivers are still predominantly Chinese speaking so be sure to travel with a local for those out of the way areas or get your translations written by and ready.
One of the best things to do when visiting a country is to learn about its culture. Reading about it is good and being able to see it for yourself is even better. I make it a point to visit a temple or a church whenever I visit a new place to get a small glimpse of their history. In Hong Kong, I had the chance to visit the Big Buddha Statue or Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau Island. This is the view from the cable car ride in Ngong Ping that I took going there. From HK$135 to HK$213 round trip, you can experience a very scenic view for about 30 minutes till you get there.
The Big Buddha is really amazing! It’s almost 35 meters tall and it sits on a very green forest so walking up the stairs to see it up close is worth it. I took this perfect chance to pose in this circular stage/entry when no other tourists were around. I love that the statue is directly above me making it a perfect shot.
The long walk upwards is worth it to be able to see the ancient houses, the temple and light incense sticks for your wishes in the altars around the base. The Po Lin Monastery sits on the base of the enormous statue and its monks preserve the sanctity of the temple. I was fortunate enough to see the monks around and observed their activities while going through their prayer rituals.
Going up to the statue is free. Check the weather forecast even before going to Hong Kong. When it’s foggy and raining, going up to the Big Buddha is not worth it as you won’t be able to see the magnificent views going there and even the Buddha itself will be covered in fog. The best time to go to Hong Kong is from November to February when the sun is shining but the cold winds from China travels down to its small sister state. You can check accuweather’s website for this valuable info.
Hiking in Hong Kong
Hiking is a popular sport here in Hong Kong. Dragon’s Back Hike is one of the most famous trails here. It has one of the most scenic views around the island. Then you can swim or sunbathe in Big Wave Bay after a long mostly downhill trek afterwards. I hiked in Lantau Island and the trek and view was breathtaking in a really nice way.
Check the weather before going out hiking to avoid any accidents. Water bottles, towels and snacks are necessary for these treks so bring as much as you can. Insect repellents are also a good thing to have at all times just to be sure.
Disneyland Hong Kong
A visit to Hong Kong is not complete without visiting Disneyland. Smaller than its sibling in Tokyo, Hong Kong’s Disneyland is still a paradise to indulge the Disney princess in me. Walk around the park and join the various theme rides and booths. The theater shows are really at world class levels with professional performers on stage. I love the music and the songs, of course, are very nostalgic.
Disney shopping is a must
If you want to get gifts to take home, get it all inside Disneyland. The shops are all full of very nice high quality products for kids and also for adults. You can find not only souvenirs here but also really nice toys, clothes, household things and even jewelry to remember your stay. I love my Minnie Mouse ears and I’ve just got to pose in Main Street here!
Hong Kong Disneyland is a very popular tourist destination specially on weekends and holidays. Check their website for day passes you can purchase online to avoid the long que for tickets going into the theme park. Each day pass costs about HK$630 inclusive of a meal ticket. You can also get lots of savings if you stay in the Disney hotels of course. There’s Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney Explorer’s Lodge and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and all of them will steep you in all things magically Disney.
Hong Kong is a very memorable destination and really worth going to.
From Manila, there are around six airlines going to and from Hong Kong everyday. Philippine airlines has the most number of direct flights everyday followed by Cathay Pacific with three direct flights daily.
More than a marvel, Petra is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is also the most important tourist attraction in Jordan. Groups of tourists from all over the world visit this site every year. Located 240 km south of Amman and 120 km from the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea Bahar Al Mayet, Petra is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Once upon a time, it was the capital city of the Nabatean Arabs.
WHERE TO STAY IN PETRA
Wadi Musa or Betra has hotels by the block so you have nothing to worry about. Booking online is even easier so you’ll avoid the inconvenience in case it’s the peak season (from March to May or September to November) when hotels are fully booked.
HOW MUCH DID TICKETS COST ME AT PETRA?
For Jordanians 1JD – 1.4$
Children under 15 are free of charge.
WHAT IS THE OPENING AND CLOSING TIME TO VISIT PETRA?
6 am to 4 pm
Go there the earliest that you can. You can really enjoy the experience more. As everyone would be asked to leave the site when it gets dark.
WHAT TO WEAR?
Hiking shoes are the best kind. However, you can use running shoes if you’re more comfortable with them. Be prepared to walk around the site as there aren’t any motorized vehicles allowed inside.
Check out some travel tips on this site. Luckily, it lists some very good tips on safety and rules to remember when you visit Petra.
Dead sea Earth’s lowest elevation on land.
The Ancient City of Jerash
Jordan’s The Citadel is also another breathtaking place to visit. Can you see the middle picture above? That’s the remains of the Temple of Hercules. They are on a very high hill and is very visible around the town. You can see how small the people are compared to the column right? Imagine how the rest of the temple might have looked like when it was still in all its glory thousands of years ago. It must have been breathtaking!
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. This is a metropolis where the political and financial centers of the country are found. It is a melting pot where the richest families, business elites and ordinary workers come together. As of the latest data, Metro Manila is home to more than 12.8 million people. For the dedicated urbanite, Manila is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. From the best hotels to the best clubs to huge casinos, and onto world-class entertainment centers, all of it can be found here. Truly a cosmopolitan center, Manila boasts various restaurants serving food from all around the world. Can you believe that most of them are usually found inside a single shopping mall? And there are a lot of malls throughout the metro!
In the World Atlas listof the biggest shopping malls in Asia, four are found in the Philippines. Three of them are right here in Manila: SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. All of these malls are huge with more than 5 million square feet of space for the first two and over 4 million for the last. So, of course, you can literally find anything under the sun here: from groceries to clothes to toys to exercise gear to pet shops. Add in the travel agencies, medical clinics, spas, and even hotels. Name it and it’s most probably inside the mall’s compound.
Like any other bustling center of a country, Manila has its share of horrendous traffic, crazy habits and whatever makes a multi-cultural point simply exist and thrive. So if you need to decompress, it is easy to hop into any of the country’s 7,100 islands to go for a little R&R. Here are my best tourism spots in the Philippines.
Tourism in Manila will not be complete without looking at this historical site. A slice of Spain right in the midst of the bustling metropolis, Fort Santiago in Intramuros (Latin term meaning “within the walls” stands where the first fort of Manila stood. The Spaniards who conquered the country used this fort as the seat of their power.
The present fort is walled in adobe and houses not only the bunkers of the soldiers but also the Museo ni Jose Rizal to entice the visitors to look into the historical moments of the Philippines’ national hero.
facade of Fort Santiago
bust of famous Filipinas
panoramic view of the Fort’s Facade
Jose Rizal’s room at the Museo
bust of famous Filipinas
The view from outside the room where a lifesize and lifelike statue of Jose Rizal is featured gave me the chills. This room is where he spent his last night before being executed in the nearby park, Bagumbayan or Luneta Park. That night, he wrote his final poem “Mi Ultimo Adios” or “My Final Farewell”.
The bronze markers here depicts the final steps that Rizal took on his way to his execution. It is a really very solemn visual reminder of his heroism, don’t you think so?
IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES!
The country’s Department of Tourism has a great campaign promoting all the best places in the Philippines. Aptly titledIt’s More Fun in the Philippines, you can join in with your best photos and help promote the country with your own real-life travel shots in their Instagram page #itsmorefuninthephilippines. Get started and I guarantee you won’t run out of places to add on to your travel bucket. After all, there are more than seven thousand islands to choose from!
Conde Nast Traveller, the best authority on all travel-related matters, had always included the Philippines in its best destinations. The 2019 edition of their world’s best islands in the world included three islands – Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu – in the Top 5 in Asia. How cool is that?
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
The Philippines has two major seasons – wet and dry. Stormy months from around the end of June to around mid-October is not at all comfortable for travelers Coe country stands still whenever this happens. Now the dry season, starting in November and lasts until May, is the best time to travel to the Philippines.
From November to February is my favorite time to roam. The weather is cool and is perfect for traveling. You can easily appreciate the places you can go to like Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines and the Banawe Rice Terraces which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Baguio and Benguet are known for their flowers, fruits, vegetables, and their small but sweet strawberries. They celebrate the Panagbenga Festival — the local version of the California Rose Parade – and the Strawberry Festival in February to promote the province’s best products. Everyone loves the enchanting smell of all those flowers on their elaborately made floats!
March to May is the perfect beach season. Boracay, El Nido, or Batangas are some of the best places to get your tan and dive in the warm waters of the Philippines’ seascapes. The gorgeous beaches are hot with some sea breezes cooling the worst of it. Enjoy the beach with a tall glass of lemon iced tea, coconut juice locally known as ” buko”, or a tangily refreshing green or ripe mango juice. Trust me, the last one is absolutely worth it! Nothing so far can equal to the absolute delight of eating sweet Philippine mangoes. This girl can probably devote a whole article just lauding the joys of savoring this sumptuous fruit!
I am highly recommending everyone to wear casual shirts and shorts or pants while traveling. Most places, outside of the major hotels and some religious sites, do not have a strict dress code. You won’t have problems navigating on your own because English is widely spoken and written everywhere. So you won’t have problems navigating on your own and can easily get your questions answered promptly.
In Manila, the best way to travel is via Grab. Just download the app on your phone and you can easily book a trip around the Metro. Be prepared for a long wait during rush hour though. You can also use your hotel’s concierge car service to ferry you around.
Outside of Manila, it’s best to either go with a tour group or hire a personal tour company to take care of yours and your family’s itinerary. They are safe and would even suggest some other sites that may interest you.
MY SPECIAL PLACE
I am a young traveler and there’s still so much of the world that I want to see. I enjoy traveling and experiencing new places. Education is found in learning new cultures and being inspired by the developments of other nations. You can’t beat first-hand knowledge that traveling can teach you. There are just too many things left to explore around the world.
But you know what makes traveling worth it? It’s the peace that comes from knowing that you have a special place to go home to. The Philippines is that sweet anchor to me. It’s far from perfect, mind you. There’s too much traffic, too much politics, extreme economic scales, and all other negative points. But, it has a lot of good things as well. Good food, energetic work pace, and a lot of good people that you can get close to. I have family nearby and friends to be happy with. And to me, that’s the best definition of home.