Skincare & Cosmetics – 11 Japanese Must-Buys

Not writing beauty posts often, actually I have only done it once before, but I couldn’t not write this one.

Asia is known to have some of the best skincare and cosmetic products. Japan in particular is renowned among beauty-lovers (yours, truly) for it’s very high-quality, yet affordable, cosmetics. For a beauty product addict like me, it was heaven! I visited the drugstores about 4 times. The first 2 times I found it really intimidating and rushed out – with mountains of products, their drugstores are overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for. A few moons later and after watching about 10 YouTube videos and reading a plethora of articles, I had a list and I was ready! Japanese drugstores here I come!

Once in and armed with a list and a credit card, I faced another issue – packaging! Bloggers and vloggers will talk a lot about Asian beauty products but they will often show you the actual product, not the box which contains it, and some time the difference is huge.

So in this post you will find a list of skincare and cosmetic products I recommend buying in Japan, with a picture of the packaging when needed. I also tried to find a link to the products when I could find it.

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Another tip, you can buy all cosmetics tax-free as long as you don’t open the bags before leaving the country. Great way to spend more!… I mean save more!

1 – Sunscreens, sunscreens, sunscreens

Japanese women look ridiculously young, I know it is mainly thanks to genetics but they do wear sunscreen religiously. The minimum SPF available is 50+ in most shops!

I myself wear sunscreen as a day cream everyday, so I thought I would try some that are not available in Europe. I went for the Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence which is a bestseller there and came highly recommended by Gothamista, who I adore. I also got a couple of the Biore mists which will be useful to have at my desk for lunch breaks this summer. My future self will thank me in 20 years.

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Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++

2 – Eye-makeup

One thing Japanese are good at is eye makeup. Japanese love a very thin eyeliner and very long lashes, a look right up my street!

I have hooded eyelids which means my makeup constantly crease or smudge, and with the promise of smudge-proof everything I had to get a few products. So I went for the Dolly Wink eyeliner which is SO GOOD I bought a second one on my last day in Japan. I also got a Avance lash serum (because who doesn’t like long lashes?) and a Shiseido lash curler (Shiseido is a lot cheaper in Japan)

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Koji Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner Deep Black New
Avance EyeLash Renewal Re growth Serum EX 7ml
Shiseido Eyelash Curler + Refill Set

3 – Masks

An obvious one! Like in South Korea, Japan has a lot of sheet-masks on offer. I got the pink LuLuLun which has excellent reviews and is a bestseller. I also got some Kose ones with the ‘top 1 bestseller’ logo.

I also saw the Black GelPack Materic mask and had to have it! It’s black, sticky and promise to leave your pores squeaky clean.

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Lululun JAPAN NEW face mask Rururun 7 pieces (balance moisture type)
Kose Clear Turn Vitamin C Whitening Mask—5pc

4 – Nail clippers

Wait, did she just said nail clippers? Yep!

For some reason nail clippers are excellent quality in Japan so I bought a few. I have to say, they feel very sturdy and the blades are really sharp, it doesn’t break the nails instead of cutting them.

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Takuminowaza High Quality Nail Clippers L Size

5 – Eye drops

If it’s good enough for Lily Aldridge it’s good enough for me! I heard about the notorious ‘minty’ Japanese eye drops. People describe the feeling they give as a third-degree burn followed by the clearest vision.

I can attest that the third degree burn feeling is a massive exaggeration. Yes it feels very cooling, yes you will tear-up for 30 seconds, but it really isn’t that painful. I got two types, a normal one and a contact lenses friendly one (did I tell you that I am completely blind?). After the first 30 seconds, the relief feeling kicks off and it is amazing! Your eyes feel fresh and moist and they look whiter than usual. My new best friend to deal with a sleepless night!

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Rohto Lycee Contact Eye Drops 8ml for contact lens users (Japan Import)

6 – AHA

AHA is great to gently exfoliate the skin. As an alternative to an aggressive physical scrub, I bought the BC AHA soap and the Rosette AHA face mask/scrub. They should be perfect to peel off my winter skin!

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B C Cleansing Research Bar Soap with AHA – 100 g

7 – Kose Medicated Sekkisei

I heard very good things about that serum, a best seller in Japan. With summer around the corner, I thought I could do with a light serum/moisturiser which is supposed to make me look flawless.

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Medicated Sekkisei 200ml/6.7oz

8 – Lip stains

A big trend in Japan is the ‘lollipop lip stain’ effect. Young women have a little hint of colour on their lips just like after sucking on a lollipop. It’s a cute (‘kawaii’) and natural look, I liked it and I bought it!

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Visee Richer Lip & Cheek Cream – PK-2 (Green Tea Set)

9 – Camellia oil

A best seller in Japan and supposed to be great for hair. I hope it will tame my frizzy hair.

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Oshima Tsubaki Oil 60ml

10 – Oily skin little helpers

Combination skin means mid-day greasy shine, a problem Japanese people are familiar with. To help tame my mid-day ‘glow’ I bought some Shiseido blotting papers (once again, MUCH cheaper there) and a nose primer, you read that right, a primer dedicated to the nose area.

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Shiseido Pureness Oil Control Blotting Paper Sheets – Pack of 100

11 – Very random things

Japanese drugstores are full of very random surprises! You can find detox masks for the bottom of your feet for instance (yep). My feet being fine, I went for a warming lavender eye mask, because why not?

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Kao Megurhythm Steam Hot Eye Mask 5 Sheet – Lavender

I wanted to buy many more things but my bank account didn’t let me, so for now, here are my 11 Japanese must-buys! Until next time Japan!

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A weekend in Rome – part 2

On the second day of a long weekend in Rome, head to the Vatican. A true architectural wonder and a place filled with masterpieces.

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The Vatican’s queue is notoriously long and bad, so make sure to beat it by ordering your tickets online. I got ours there and we walked pass the 500-meters long queue and went straight in there with very little wait at security.

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The place is huge and filled with pieces you probably first saw in your history books at school.

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‘Ohhhhh’ and ‘Ahhhh’ in the Sistine chapel (but don’t take any pictures, you’ll be told off! Trust me, I tried!).

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Wander for a couple of hours and end your visit in the huge Basilica St Pietro.

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Once out, head toward Piazza del Popolo, on the way you will find plenty of delis and bakeries where you can find delicious sandwiches.

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On Piazza del Popolo grab a gelato and people watch.

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Rome is a very lively city and Piazza del Popolo a great place to see it happen.

Done with your gelato? Good! Now let’s walk it off! Head uphill to the Villa Borghese park, wander along the cypress trees alleys and enjoy the views of Rome’s roofs.

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Have a siesta on the grass and when it gets closer to ‘Aperol o’clock’ head down back into the city via the Spanish Steps and take a sit at a terrace for an aperitivo and more people watching.

End the day with a dish of pasta or a delicious pizza and go to bed for some sun filled dreams.

Part 1 of our weekend in Rome is here!

Back from Japan!

I am back beautiful people!

Landed yesterday evening in London after 2 amazing weeks in the land of the Rising Sun.

Japan was beautiful! I loved every minute of it and I am having a serious case of holiday blues as I type this post at 5 am (jet lag!) on this rainy morning day in London.

I will share all my addresses and recommendations on the blog, and maybe a video or two! I have so much content though, it may take me a little while to go through it all, so in the meantime here are some Japan highlights taken on my good old iPhone 6s.

Glad to be back and see you very soon for more!

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Tokyo – Shinjuku
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Tokyo – shrine
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Tokyo – tea house
Japan-Tokyo-Park-Hyatt-iphone
Tokyo – Park Hyatt view
Japan-Tokyo-wagyu-beef-iphone
Tokyo – Wagyu beef
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Tokyo – bento box
Japan-Nara-kimono-iphone
Nara – kimonos
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Kyoto – Fushimi
Japan-Kyoto-Bamboo-forest-iphone
Kyoto – bamboo forest
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Osaka – by night
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Hiroshima
Japan-Hakone-Mount-Fuji-iphone
Hakone – Mount Fuji

 

A weekend in Rome – part 1

Rome… Ahhhhhh, Rome… I love you so much! You are like a summer flirt – seducing, warm, interesting and beautiful. I have been to Rome several time and I just fall in love more and more each time. It always delivers!

The great thing with Rome is that it is only a short flight away from almost everywhere in Europe so going for a long weekend is fairly easy!

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A quick flight across the Alps and you will be there for dinner on a Friday. Find a nice little restaurant not far from where you’re staying and unwind to the sound of Italian voices.

On the Saturday, head to the Colosseum.

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Yes, it is cliché, but it really worth visiting. You will feel like Russell Crowe in Gladiator for a couple of hours. Note that it is important to buy your tickets in advance to beat the queue.

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Rome offers also plenty of touristy photo opportunities. So go on, be a tourist and proud of it!

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Now is a good time to grab a late lunch. All places around there will be quite touristy so don’t desperately look for something special, just pick between panini and pasta. Or even better, pack a sandwich, from a local baker, so you can enjoy it at our next stop, the Roman Forum!

From the Colosseum, just head to the other side of the street and enter the Roman Forum. The site is mainly in ruin, but it really give you a great idea of how the Antic Rome must have looked like. You can imagine the little food markets, the shops, the temples and all the activity in the very old streets.

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From the Forum, head uphill to what used to be the ‘posh’ neighbourhood of the antic Rome. The Palatine Hill is were the emperors and the cool-kids lived. I did Latin for 2 years, I don’t remember any of the derivatives but I do remember this! My parents would be proud…

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The views of Rome’s roofs are wonderful from there.

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At the top of the hill you will find Emperor Augustus palace. You will also see on the other side of the hill what remains from the Circus Maximus (drop movie reference here: Ben-Hur)

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After the Palatine hill, head toward the Piazza del Campidoglio, where you will find the famous Capitoline wolf statue. You can then head downhill to the Piazza Venezia and the high street area.

By now it should be late afternoon, perfect time for a gelato or an Aperol spritz! When in Rome…

Part 2 of our weekend in Rome is here!

 

 

Out Of the Office

Hi guys,

Heading to Japan tomorrow! So I apologise in advance if I am a little less active for the next 2 weeks. Follow my Instagram stories for some Japan videos!

See you in 2 weeks!

Claire

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Cul de Sac, Rome, Italy

Looking for a nice little spot for a refreshing glass of wine in Rome, away from the touristy crowd? Follow me!

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There is that little spot I know, right off Piazza Navona.

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Head south of the Piazza. Walk past the touristy restaurants and head to the tiny Piazza di Pasquino. This is where you will find Cul de Sac (‘dead-end’ in French). The name may be French but the products are very Italian!

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The wine bar is not huge but it has a lovely terrace. We decided to grab a bite inside as it was pretty hot on that day and we could do with an hour in the shade.

Grab a sit a choose from the thousands of bottles of wine surrounding you! We went for rose (of course!).

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Once the beverage of your choice on the table, order as many sharing platters as your belly can handle! Everything is delicious!

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Nothing fancy there, just very high quality products.

Where to eat in Puglia?

Food is delicious everywhere in Italy! In Puglia you have the added bonus of the extremely good value for money, hello 2.5 euro prosecco glass!

If you are planning to spend a little bit of time there this summer and are looking for tasty seafood and filling lunches, look no further and keep reading.

In Gallipoli, I highly recommend Al De Pace, their speciality is seafood. You enter the place and the theme is set with a very simple interior decor yet very sophisticated.

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The dishes reflect the overall atmosphere, simple plates and sophisticated flavours. Everything was delicious.

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My favourite, favourite, FAVOURITE dish was the il polpo, la sua acqua, il limone… It was to die for! Some sort of octopus version of spaghetti carbonara, as delicious and as comforting. I am still drooling looking at the picture.SONY DSC

It was difficult to top the pasta dish but the ‘secondi’ dishes didn’t disappointed and we ended with a safe Tiramisu.SONY DSC

Another great place for delicious Puglia food and completely off the beaten track is Sciamu Moi. The place was empty when we arrived but Italians eat late and we were off-season so don’t be deceived by the empty dinning room.SONY DSC

They use only local ingredients and everything was a discovery! Pick the thing you are the least familiar with on the menu and enjoy!SONY DSC

Pugliese food involves a lot of seafood, with the Mediterranean sea a couple of kilometres away, it will never disappoint.
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We were less adventurous with desserts and pick some classics, yet the presentation surprised us in all the right ways!
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Finally if this is a lunch spot you are looking for? And if you happen to be in Lecce, I just know the place!

L’Angolino di Via Matteotti serves one of the best puccia in the whole of Lecce, and probably in the whole of Puglia.

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Pick your toppings and take a sit on the comfy terrace. SONY DSC

Bite into the most delicious ‘sandwich’ ever!SONY DSC

The Mr went for the meat version with meatballs, I went for the vegetarian one. Both excellent.SONY DSC

I hope I gave you enough reasons to go to Puglia! Now book that flight, you know you want to!

Buon appetito!

A week in Puglia, Italy

Starting to plan your summer vacations and thinking about Italy? Want try something a little off the beaten touristic track?

Puglia may just be the place! The ‘heel of the boot’ is a real little rustic wonder. Excellent food, turquoise waters, look no further!

Now grab an Aperol Spritz or a glass of rose because it’s a long one! If reading isn’t your thing, check out our trip highlights video!

We landed around lunch time in Bari and headed straight South-West. We checked-in at Tenuta Yala, a wonderful agriturismo which I highly recommend!

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We relaxed for the rest of the day, enjoying a glass or two of wine and a filling dinner at the place.

We woke up bright and early the following day and headed South to Tricase Porto and Leuca. The drive by the coast was just fantastic!

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Tricase Porto is teeny tiny, so you will only need an hour there. We walked by the harbour and the seafront and took a minute to appreciate the turquoise water.

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Next stop was Leuca. It is not the prettiest city, people mainly come there for the beach. So we just walked around the town grabbed a bite to eat and a gelato.

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We then headed back and had dinner in Gallipoli at Al De Pace. It was one of our best meal there, the octopus pastas were to die for, and the tiramisu was just delicious! Well worth a visit! SONY DSC

The following day we headed West to Otranto. It was one of our favourite villages in Puglia, full of history and surrounded by turquoise water. A medieval gem in a paradise setting!

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We then thought it would be a good idea to head to Galatina for lunch… It is good to note that on Mondays most restaurants are closed in Italy. The town is beautiful but it was completely dead! It may worth going on another day as we ended up having a very unsatisfying sandwich from a local shop.

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We ended the day enjoying the sunset at Baia Verde with a glass of Aperol and a new friend! A glorious sunset on the Mediterranean sea followed by a delicious dinner at Sciamu Moi.

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On our third day  we headed to Porto Cesareo, a very rustic village with a beautiful beach.

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After a quick lunch we headed to Gallipoli old town and got lost in the little cobbled streets. The city is very charming and extremely lively in the evenings!

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The following day we started our exploration of the central and east parts of Puglia, starting with Lecce. It is called the ‘Florence of the South’ and you can really see why. The town is beautiful and very grand!

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When you are there, make sure to grab lunch at L’Angolino di Via Matteotti for the most delicious puccia, a traditional sandwich people have for lunch.

We then headed to Brindisi, which to be honest, didn’t really worth a stop. The town is pretty but there really isn’t much to do.

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Thursday was one of our favourite day! We headed to Ostuni, Cisternino and Alberobello which were all beautiful!

Ostuni is a true vision! Rising from the top of the hill like a white gem.

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Cisternino is a smaller version of Ostuni but still worth a visit!

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Alberobello is magical with its streets of trullos, the traditional Puglian houses.

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We ended the day at a once in a lifetime restaurant. Grotta Palazzese in Polignano A Mare. The venue is insane, but the food wasn’t the best we had. Also it is EXPENSIVE so only go there if you really want to tick it off your bucket list.

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Looking familiar? Probably because its pictures are all over Pinterest!

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Our second to last day was dedicated to relaxation (finally!). We went for a little walk around Martina Franca and Locorontodo followed by an afternoon on the beach in Monopoli.

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For our last day we went to explore Monopoli, Polignano A Mare and Bari. All beautiful! All very Pinterest-able and Instagram-able!

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Hope you enjoyed this very long but summery post!

Thailand – Part 2 – Chiang Mai

For the second leg of our trip in Thailand we head north to Chiang Mai.

On our first evening and after dropping our bags at The Grand Napat (great value for money!) we headed to the night bazaar for some refreshing beers and tasty street food. We liked the night bazaar so much that it is where we had dinner every night during our stay in Chiang Mai.

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The following day we woke up bright and early for a full day with elephants!

I did a lot of research  as I wanted to avoid the awful touristy places where you see drugged tigers and ride on sits attached to the back of abused elephants. After hours on the internet I finally found Baan Chang Elephant Park, their main objective is to rescue and protect the local elephants. They also make sure that the experience they organise for tourists are authentic. No comfy sits there, you will experience the real mahout life for 6 hours. The cost of our experience was a little less than 100 GBP, it included transport, lunch and clothing so overall pretty good value for money.

They came and picked us up at our hotel in the morning and it was honestly the most magical experience! We fed elephants, ride them, kiss them and bath them!

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The bath part was my favourite. After hours in the blazing sun, you cannot wait to jump in the water with them, and you can truly see the joy in their eyes when they are finally in the refreshing water.

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Baan Chang Elephant Park offers various experiences, so if you are not too confident riding you can also spend the day caring for them instead. You will be given a set of clothes there so you only have to come with a towel and a swimsuit. Showers are available on site so you will drive back to your hotel as fresh as a daisy.

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On our second day in Ching Mai, we explored the city. We dedicated most of the day to the city centre, going from temples to temples.

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Of course a mandatory mango and sticky rice was in order! (I lived on this while there! Sooooo good!)
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We then headed toward the Ping River for a walk by the bank before heading back to our hotel for a quick shower and then back out for a delicious dinner at the night bazaar.
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I can honestly say that Chiang Mai was the favourite part of our trip to Thailand! I know, controversial, but the city is buzzing with energy, the food is amazing, you can go on millions of adventures in the jungle and it is extremely good value for money!

Planning a trip to Thailand?

Check my other guides on Bangkok, Phuket and the islands!

Thailand – Part 1 – Bangkok

After an eleven-hours flight from London we landed in Bangkok at mid-day.

We headed straight to the Hilton Millennium where we were staying for the next 3 nights. It isn’t in the most charming area but the view from the bedrooms is insane and well worth it!

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To celebrate our first night in the land of smiles we headed to the rooftop for some cocktails (Thailand is heaven for cocktails aficionados). We then went to The Never Ending Summer, which is walking distance to the hotel, for the most delicious dinner!

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Still euphoric to be in Thailand and completely jet lagged, our final stop that night was at Maggie Choo for some jazz and more cocktails! The place is surreal and well worth the trip if you like a little bit of partying.

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On day two of our trip in Bangkok, we headed by boat to Wat Pho.

It is good to note that boats are a very efficient way to travel to the most touristic sites in Bangkok. You avoid the dreadful Bangkok traffic, it is cheap as chips and it stops about 100 meters from all the main sites!

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Wat Pho is just beautiful, it is a gigantic temple complex in the centre of Bangkok. The architecture is breathtaking and the Reclining Buddha is the biggest statue I have ever seen.

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Get lost in the parks and people watch while sipping on A LOT of water.

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Know that there is a strict dress code when visiting temples and official sites in Thailand, not too much legs or shoulders. The Thais are very organised and tourist-friendly and all sites will provide appropriate clothing if needed. It makes for very interesting outfits of the day!

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After wandering in the Buddhist sanctuary, we headed out to get lost in the little streets of Chinatown.

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A lot of people warned me about Bangkok’s smell. I was told it was very strong and quite fishy. Well… During the 3 days we spent there, I can only remember of once where there was a very bad street smell. Yes it smells of food, yes it is very warm and humid, but no you won’t faint or gag when walking around the less touristy streets. So go ahead, don’t be scared and explore!

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After checking a few landmarks off the list like the Giant Swing and some beautiful squares, we headed to Wat Arun (by boat) for another beautiful wander.

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On our third and final day, we visited the Grand Palace which is grand to say the least. Rooms after rooms of wonders, manicured gardens, everything shine and sparkle in this place. It also really highlight the importance of the Royal Family for Thais, they have so much love and respect for them.

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Going from luxurious estates to rougher surroundings, we headed to Khaosan Road for a little bit of shopping and some food.10900009_10152969799185090_2333088027602327895_o10924214_10152969799040090_1590788645738493730_o1622411_10152969799695090_6872950983001824442_o

It was a wonderful 3 days in Bangkok and I would absolutely recommend visiting the city. One regret for us was not to have enough time to visit the floating markets

Planning a trip to Thailand?

Check my other guides on Chiang Mai, Phuket and the islands!