Visit Istanbul This Summer For A Rand-Friendly Getaway

Want to escape the scorching SA sun (and the tourists!) and see somewhere new this summer? There’s always the tried and tested options; Thailand, Mauritius or the UK – but the Turkish city of Istanbul is something a little different. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that if you’re searching for a rand-friendly destination over South Africa’s summer, you absolutely have to visit Istanbul.

Turkish winter isn’t like German winter, or Russian winter. At least, not in Istanbul. You won’t find your boots slowly freezing to the pavement, nor will you realise when it’s already too late that you actually don’t want that cup of hot chocolate because that would mean taking your hands out of your pockets. In fact, Istanbul is positively balmy compared to much of Europe. In November for example, the average daily temperatures range between 10 and 15. Nice and fresh, but not so fresh that it’ll give you cardiac arrest the second you step foot out of the door.

What to see in Istanbul

As a destination, Istanbul is a fascinating city, a melting pot of cultures and influences which is only to be expected from a place which literally bridges Asia and Europe. Cross the Bosphorus river and you’re in a different continent. Cruise down it and you’re smack bang in between the two continents admiring Asia on one side and Europe on the other. Though Istanbul is a fairly affordable city year-round, if you visit during winter you’ll have your pick of hotels, restaurants and activities at ridiculously low prices.

On the European side is where you’ll find the most famous sites; The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, The Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern and all the other iconic landmarks. Almost all of them are worth a visit but if you’re on limited time, you can’t skip the Grand Bazaar or Hagia Sophia.

blue mosque Istanbul

Blue Mosque
Photo Credit: Sophie Baker

Tips For Buying At The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world and sees an astonishingly large amount of people pass through its doors every day. No visit to Istanbul is complete without a stop here. There’s almost everything under the sun from spices to glassware to clothes and bath products, and it’s a great place to buy authentic Turkish products as well as souvenirs and gifts. Who needs a mall when you have the bazaar?

If you do decide to buy something at the Grand Bazaar – and with so much beautiful stuff, it’s hard not to – then leave your inhibitions at home and haggle the price. It’s not rude in Turkish culture. In fact, it’s expected. Generally, sellers start out with a price way higher than what they’ll actually accept, especially when they spot that you’re not local. You can generally expect to get the price down by anything from 30% to 60%. The best tip is not to buy at the first store you see.

The shops at the Grand Bazaar tend to be grouped into areas of similar products, so get a rough price from one or two stores before negotiating with the one you’re most interested in. The nearer to the main entrance the prices will be higher! Even here, you can pick up some amazing bargains. Pure silk scarves, cashmere shawls, ceramic kitchenware and authentic spices are all far cheaper than they would be in South Africa.

grand bazaar istanbul

Shopping at the Grand Bazaar
Photo credit: Sophie Baker

Hagia Sophia

Visiting the Hagia Sophia is a humbling experience. Not only is it imposing in size, it’s also beautifully ornate and possesses huge cultural and historical significance. Initially built as a church in 537 during the Byzantine era, it was the largest building in the world for nearly a thousand years.

In 1453 when the Ottomans gained control of Istanbul, the famous Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful place to explore, with huge columns, stained glass windows, towering columns and the giant Quran verses suspended in the air and It has now been serving as a museum for over 80 years where it receives over three million visitors per year! The queues can be very long, so to avoid the queues either get there early, go with a tour guide, or invest in the Istanbul Museum Pass which allows you to skip the line and gives you access to the major attractions.

Istanbul Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Photo credit: Sophie Baker

Where to Stay

Istanbul certainly doesn’t lack hotels and accommodation, and it can be overwhelming sorting through so many accommodation options in so many different areas but for your first visit, you’re probably going to want to base yourself in the Old Town of Sultanahmet which is close to all of the main tourist sites.

Even with the prime real estate factor, you can still easily stay in a beautiful top-rated hotel for around R1000-1500 per night for two people, with breakfast included. A good option would be Hotel Amira which is located within walking distance of all the attractions and boasts a beautiful rooftop terrace where you can drink in the sights of Sultanahmet – or just drink in your cocktail! If for some reason you prefer to bypass local boutique hospitality and go with a bigger chain hotel, there’s plenty of choice in that department too from Marriott to Sofitel and more.

Indulge in the most delicious food of your life

It’s easy to see that Turkish food has gained popularity across the world, and for good reason; the things you’ve tried at home or on a night out in London really only scratch the surface of Turkish food.  When you visit Istanbul you’ll quickly realise that it is a foodie city of note, up there with Hong Kong, Berlin and Morocco.

Turkish Street Food

It’s hard to walk any street in Istanbul without coming across a food vendor of some kind every few hundred metres; whether they’re selling the famous doner kebabs or enticing you with sahlep, a hot drink made from crushed orchid root.

If you wander the streets in the morning, you’ll see locals munching on simit, something resembling a pretzel. It’s a gorgeous breakfast on-the-go made from freshly baked dough dipped in black sesame and molasses. Bagels, eat your heart out!

Delicious lamb, beef or fish sandwiches can come as cheap as R15, with wraps, kebabs and all manner of pastries ranging from R10 to R40 for a very hearty meal. Everything is freshly prepared in front of you, and you’ll be salivating just at the smell. For dessert, you can feast on hot halva encased inside cold Turkish ice-cream served from a street vendor outside the spice bazaar, the perfect sweet treat for any season.

doner istanbul

Doner
Photo credit: Sophie Baker

…and all the other food too

The street food is undeniably delicious, but even for the fine dining fans Istanbul doesn’t disappoint. In the recent World Restaurant Awards, the Istanbul-based Mikla came in at number 40. It’s by far the cheapest restaurant on the Top Fifty list, with the tasting menu starting from only R750. Not bad for one of the top fifty restaurants on the entire planet!

Another thing you absolutely cannot skip when in Turkey is, of course, Turkish delight. Visit Hafiz Mustafa for an elegant and reserved buying experience or brave the grand bazaar or spice bazaar for a more local one. It makes the perfect gift so do remember to pack a couple of boxes of the sweet treats to bring back home for those who weren’t lucky enough to make the trip with you.

The best thing about Turkish cuisine is that whether you want to eat off fine china and starched white linen or use your hands on a busy street corner, you’re guaranteed to be able to find something which is satisfying and delicious.

It’s true that money spent on travel is the only kind of spending that makes you richer; but a holiday in Istanbul is the best of both worlds. Culture, cuisine, and memories to last a lifetime without the big spending.

What are you waiting for? Book cheap flights to Istanbul now.

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

The post Visit Istanbul This Summer For A Rand-Friendly Getaway appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Hand Luggage Restrictions at South African Airports

[Updated: 7 December 2018]

When it comes to what you carry on to a plane, things have become stricter. ACSA has enforced new land luggage restrictions for domestic travel at airports across South Africa which came into effect 2 February 2015. Find out what you need to know for your next trip!

Economy Class passengers

At the crux of the new hand luggage regulations is that Economy Class passengers boarding a commercial aircraft are restricted to:

  • One bag + one slimline laptop bag per passenger.
  • No bag should exceed these dimensions: 36 x 23 x 56cm = total dimensions of 115cm, including handles and wheels.
  • Weight limit per bag: 7kg
  • In addition to your carry-on baggage, you may carry with you a handbag and overcoat.
  • Guests with infants seated on their laps are allowed to carry a small bag with the in-flight needs of the infant such as feeding bottles, nappies and medication.

Any hand luggage which exceeds the dimensions, piece and weight restrictions stipulated above will have to be checked-in. This could delay you, cause you to miss your flight, or incur extra charges so take heed of this announcement to avoid a frustrating domestic travel experience. The airlines are not accepting responsibility should you miss your flight due to incorrect hand baggage.

Hand Luggage Restrictions

Carry-on baggage restrictions for Business Class and First Class passengers

  • Two bags + one slimline laptop bag per business class/first class passenger.
  • No bag should exceed these dimensions: 36 x 23 x 56cm
  • Weight limit per bag: 7kg

How would you classify a slimline laptop?

A slimline laptop bag accommodates a laptop and a charger. It can be carried over the shoulder or in your hand. A slimline laptop bag does not have any wheels.

Are there exceptions?

Yes, if an airline has granted a passenger exception, a uniformed airline staff member will accompany the passenger to the security checkpoint. The airline staff member needs to confirm the exception to the security staff or any official manning the hand baggage control point. If a passenger wants to get approval for a greater baggage allowance, this can only be done by the airline.

In each of the cases above, a woman’s handbag and a man’s satchel / “man-bag” is considered part of dress code and is exempt from these regulations. Essentially what they are concerned with is people with large bags trying to pass these off as “hand luggage” in addition to bringing on regulation size hand luggage.

ACSA says

Airports Company South Africa will be supporting the airlines and the South African Civil Aviation Authority regulations with regards to hand luggage that is allowed within the cabin.

The principles of this campaign will be in the interest of ensuring compliance of the airline’s hand baggage policies and also in enhancing safety measures when flying.

The enforcement of this programme will be led by the airlines operating at Airports Company South Africa airports and supported by the airport authority.

Passengers who do not comply will be identified before the security checkpoints. In the event of hand baggage not being compliant, the passenger will be referred back to the check-in counters to check the baggage in as hold luggage.

hand luggage

Airlines say

Mango says it will not penalise travellers for additional bags that have to be checked in as a consequence of the new regulation as it does not charge per piece of baggage within its 20kg allowance.

Passengers using other low-cost airlines such as kulula and FlySafair need to be aware of the additional costs they could incur.

Kulula allows one free checked bag weighing up to 20kg and one piece of hand luggage weighing up to 7kg. Additional bags require passengers to pay between R320 (online – payable by credit card only) or R415 (at the airport). While FlySafair tickets include a hand luggage quota, checked baggage fees start at R155 (purchased online) and R250 (purchased at the airport). An extra bag will cost you R250.

Travelstart says

Always keep in mind peak travel seasons and longer queues over the holidays. Make sure you are well within the luggage restrictions to enable a seamless and hassle-free check-in experience for you and your fellow travellers.

Also check out:

Now that you’re equipped with the hand luggage restrictions start packing your bags and get ready for your next exciting trip. Sign up to Travelstart’s newsletter and get the best flight specials to incredible destinations!

What has your experience been with hand and check-in luggage at the airport? Let us know in the comments below.

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Exploring Thailand’s Islands: 11 of the Best

Known as the land of smiles, the beautiful islands of Thailand welcome you with a friendly “Sawasdee”. Choosing which of Thailand’s islands to explore can be overwhelming as each island offers something unique and special. Whether you want to party into the wee hours, learn to dive or escape on a romantic, secluded break, you’ll find the perfect island to suit your mood.

We reveal 11 of the best islands in Thailand – what to do, how to get there, and where you can stay.

11. Ko Mak

Ideal for: a quiet and remote escape

thailand islands

Photo credit: @007estefania via Instagram

One of Thailand’s lesser-known islands, Ko Mak is an undeveloped, hidden treasure. This coconut-scented island is located in the National Marine Park in eastern Thailand, filled with coconut and rubber plantations. Spend your days lazing on the beach, kayaking along the crystal-clear waters, windsurfing, snorkelling, jungle trekking, topping it all off with traditional Thai massages.

Nightlife on Ko Mak consists of swaying in your hammock, beer in hand, watching sunsets disappear from your bungalow.

How to get there: You can reach Ko Mak by speedboat from the Laem Ngop pier in Trat. There is a selection of accommodation, from simple beach huts to 4-star beach resorts right on the water.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @tj_rai via Instagram

10. Ko Samet

Ideal for: a quick city break

thailand islands

Photo credit: @veronika_brazdilova via Instagram

With its silky, dazzling-white beaches fringed with coconut palms, it is no surprise that Ko Samet is one of the best islands in Thailand. Just a stone’s throw from Bangkok, this 6km-long island is a firm favourite with locals, tourists and expats escaping here for a weekend break from Bangkok. Here you can swim, snorkel, windsurf and suntan to your heart’s content – with 14 beaches to choose from! Stroll around the centre of town perusing the souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. Haad Sai Kaew, Ao Hin Khok, and Ao Phai form the island’s most popular beaches with lively cocktail bars and restaurants dotting the coastline. For a romantic trip or quiet beach break, head to the secluded bay of Ao Phrao.

Baan Ploy Sea come highly recommended for a luxury stay, or you can find plenty of alternatives along the main beach of Haad Sai Kaew.

How to get there: Take a taxi or hop on a bus from Ekkamai bus terminal to Ban Phe pier, where you can ferry across to Ko Samet within 30-40 minutes.

9. Similan Islands

Ideal for: island-hopping and scuba diving

thailand islands

Photo credit: @alyzandra3 via Instagram

Nestled away from the more popular and busier of Thailand’s islands, the Similan Islands are unknown to most travellers island-hopping through Thailand – and that’s what makes them special. These 11 sand spits together form Mu Ko Similan National Park. These islands are a diver’s paradise with visibility up to 30 metres deep. The waters are brimming with tuna, manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, barracuda, red grouper, moray eels and whale sharks.

Accommodation on the islands is limited so you’ll need to book ahead of time if you’re visiting during peak diving season. Only three of the islands have accommodation – Ko Meang, Ko Similan and Ko Tachai. Your options are basic bungalows and tented campsites. If hotels and resorts are more your kind of thing, you’re better off staying on the Khao Lak mainland and going on day trips to the islands instead.

Alternatively, you can book liveaboard boat tours for 4-5 days, giving you the opportunity to wake up between the islands, surrounded by incredible scenery and wildlife.

How to get there: This diving hotspot is just two hours by boat from Khao Lak. Note that the islands are closed to tourists between May and October.

8. Ko Pha Ngan

Ideal for: party animals

thailand islands

Photo credit: @nataliekrzy via Instagram

Often referred to as Thailand’s hedonistic island of guilty pleasures, Ko Pha Ngan is where party animals and solo travellers go to let their hair down. Located between Ko Samui and Ko Tao, island hopping between these three islands is a popular choice. Ko Pha Ngan is synonymous with full moon parties and the best ones can be found on Haad Rin’s Sunrise Beach during August, December and January. Expect action-packed beach and cocktail bars every night of the week. By day you can rent a scooter or tour guide and explore the Buddhist temples, scenery and viewpoints around the island. Phaeng Waterfall, the hidden Chaloklum Beach and the herbal sauna at Wat Pho are a few highlights not to be missed. There is no shortage of much-needed luxury spas and meditation retreats around the island.

Le Divine Comedie is a stunning beach resort with all the trimmings 15 minutes away from the action. If you want to stay in the heart of full moon party atmosphere, Suncliff Resort offers dorms and private rooms overlooking the beach.

How to get there: You can easily reach Ko Pha Ngan via a short one-hour ferry ride from Ko Samui.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @ajavopickova via Instagram

7. Ko Lipe

Ideal for: a couple’s getaway

thailand islands

Photo credit: @adepasch via Instagram

Calling all romantics and honeymooners alike. With its apricot sunsets, lively cocktail bars and unspoilt beaches, Ko Lipe sets the tone for romance. The island is void of large beach resorts, giving you long stretches of unspoilt beaches all to yourself. Ko Lipe is home to three main beaches – Sunrise, Sunset and Pattaya beaches – all within a 15 -minute walk from each other. Pattaya Beach hums with restaurants and late-night beach bars, while Sunrise Beach is perfect for snorkelling, long romantic walks, catching a tan, and luxuriating in mostly high-end resorts.

Pop into any of the restaurants along ‘Walking Street’ before heading off on an island-hopping tour or kayaking to a few private beaches, ending off at Ko Adang for sunset.

You’ll find varied accommodation on Ko Lipe. Popular options include Salisa Resort and Bloom Café and Hostel.

How to get there: The quickest way is to fly into Hat Yai, and hop onto a shuttle down to Bak Para pier where a ferry will take you to Ko Lipe for around 650 Baht. The entire island is walkable, and you won’t find many motorised vehicles apart from a few motorbikes and motorbike taxis (with sidecars).

6. Ko Chang

Ideal for: families and adventure seekers

thailand islands

Photo credit: @sebhav via Instagram

The second-largest of Thailand’s islands, Ko Chang is all about the simple life. Touching borders with Cambodia, the island is clad with dense forests, waterfalls, rivers, and hiking trails aplenty. Kayak through the mangrove swamps and stop to admire the local fishing traditions in Salakkok Bay. Don’t leave Ko Chang without taking a cooking class – there are lots to choose from in Klong Prao village!

Escape to Had Sai Noi Beach for a drink at one of the bohemian beach bars. Try some fresh crab at White Sands Beach night market, and end off your night watching the flame-throwers and dancers along Lonely Beach.

Channel your inner ‘chi’ with yoga classes at The Mangrove Hideaway or enjoy the family villas at Serenity Resort.

How to get there: You can reach Ko Chang by flying to Trat Airport, catching a shuttle to the pier and hopping on a ferry straight to the island.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @oysterhotels via Instagram

5. Phuket

Ideal for: living it up

thailand islands

Photo credit: @yoga_anneoo via Instagram

Beach yoga? Check. Water parks? Check. Thrilling nightlife? Check. Celebrity-chefs and private butlers? Check. Yip, Phuket has it all. There is no whim or fantasy that Phuket can’t make true. This famous island caters to every traveller, whether you’re after a lowkey stay or plan to live it up in style. Just a short 90-minute flight from Bangkok, Phuket is home to an array of designer boutiques, world-class cuisine, golf courses, museums, aquariums and water parks, and endless beach resorts ranging from the basic to the lavish.

Phuket is especially busy between November and February, so if you’re after a quieter crowd, consider going between March and May just before the rainy season sets in. Kata Noi and Mai Khao beaches are perfect for a more laidback vibe; while Patong is notorious for its heaving nightlife and night markets. The drive to Patong beach alone boasts phenomenal views of the karst islands dotted around Phang Nga Bay.

Bang Tao Beach is a firm favourite with its big, swaying coconut palms and reggae beach bars. COMO Point Yamu is an idyllic honeymoon stay just 20 minutes away from the beach.

For a pampering retreat, Impiana Resort Patong comes highly recommended, while the modern Hugger Hostel in Phuket Old Town is a chic, budget-friendly alternative.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @maruska88888 via Instagram

Also see: The best time to visit Phuket

4. Ko Lanta

Ideal for: a little bit of everything

thailand islands

Photo credit: @keyifliyim via Instagram

Ko Lanta is your all-around island where you can experience a bit of everything. Less than an hour’s boat ride from Krabi, Ko Lanta is all about serenity, nature and fantastic seafood. The island is over 30km long and is navigable by scooter. By day you can explore the local fishing communities and sit down to a cold beer and seafood spread with the locals. Kayak through the mangrove swamps, explore the caves on Ghost Island, hike between the jungle teahouses, indulge in a mandatory beach massage, take a cooking class and perfect your golden tan – Ko Lanta is where you come to get away from it all and relax.

Backpacker lodges have recently given way to upscale, luxury resorts but you can still find affordable bungalows and guesthouses throughout the island. Klong Nin is a peaceful alternative to the tourist bustle of Long Beach, and Baan Pakgasri Hideaway offers a rustic beach break. For something more upscale, Twin Lotus Resort and Spa is an adults-only oasis.

How to get there: Ko Lanta is easily reachable via ferry or speedboat from the surrounding islands. If you’re coming from Krabi, travelling by shuttle and car ferry is the cheapest option.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @schestakowitsch via Instagram

3. Ko Samui

Ideal for: families, honeymooners, first-timers and yogis

thailand islands

Photo credit: @_michelleju_ via Instagram

Ko Samui needs little introduction. There is plenty to see and do on the island and there is something for everyone. Ko Samui best suits families and those looking to unwind and absorb island life. It is a firm favourite for holistic retreats and yoga sanctuaries – you can find classes almost anywhere. If you’re in search of a party scene, make your way to Chaweng. Home to more of a young crowd, Chaweng is packed with busy beaches, bars and restaurants. Further north of the island lies Bophut – the perfect location for those looking for a relaxing vibe with a bit of atmosphere. Fisherman’s Village is a great day or evening tour, bustling with street food, night markets, cute boutiques and the long beaches all to yourself. Ko Samui is home to some spectacular waterfall treks and mountain bike trails for a day off the beach.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @_only_summer_ via Instagram

To get around you can hire a scooter and easily make your way around the entire island in a day. There are also plenty of taxis available to transport you to and from the port. From cosy beach bungalows to exclusive private villas, Ko Samui has endless accommodation options. New Hut Bungalows offer simple beach huts, while Sea Dance Resort is great for couples.

How to get there: If you’re limited for time, you can fly straight to Ko Samui Airport. A cheaper option is to fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani and hop on a ferry to the island. You can add around three hours to your trip from Surat Thani Airport to Ko Samui.

thailand islands

Photo credit: Nadia Marth

2. Ko Tao (Turtle Island)

Ideal for: scuba divers and adventure seekers

thailand islands

Photo credit: @fallintravel via Instagram

You could describe Ko Tao as a blend of Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. What’s great is that you can visit all three of these islands within a week and have a very different experience on each of them. Ko Tao is perfect for outdoorsy types, so if rock climbing, hiking, cycling, wakeboarding, kitesurfing and scuba diving is your thing, Ko Tao is your island! You can also pick up some Muay Thai classes to test your fitness. Ko Tao is recognised as one of the best diving places in the world, and you can easily do your open water course or more advanced diving courses at any of the PADI centres on the island.

The longest and busiest beach on Ko Tao, Sairee Beach is a great spot to catch a tan, play some volleyball and watch the sunset, cocktail in hand. By night, the beach bars come alive with reggae beats and fire dancers.

You’ll find plenty of family-friendly accommodation in Ko Tao. Some favourites include Haadtien Beach Resort near Mae Haad Bay and Beach Club by Haadtien.

How to get there: Ko Tao is a two-hour ferry ride from Ko Samui.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @ihasia.kohtao via Instagram

1. Phi Phi Islands

Ideal for: solo travellers and adventure seekers

thailand islands

Photo credit: @networker.sabrinfit via Instagram

As any traveller to Phi Phi will tell you, the Phi Phi Islands are the poster-child for Thailand’s beaches. With its dramatic limestone cliffs, turquoise bays and silky-soft sands, it’s no wonder this iconic island group is on every traveller’s list. Unlike its wild sister island, Ko Pha Ngan, Phi Phi attracts more of a sophisticated young crowd looking to have a good time. The absence of frenetic scooters lends to the slow, chilled pace of Phi Phi’s atmosphere, and you can settle into quieter surroundings to the north of the island.

Phi Phi’s claim to fame is Maya Bay (along the smaller island of Ko Phi Phi Leh) where the film, The Beach, was filmed. Access to the beach is currently closed to allow the ecosystem and coral reefs to recover but you can hop on a sleep-aboard boat and tour the bay and surrounding islands. Tonsai and Loh Dalum beaches boast lively beach bars and fire dancing where you can party under the stars all night long.

Phi Phi Don is the bigger of the two islands that make up Phi Phi, and is home to some of the best beach resorts. For an extravagant splurge, spoil yourself at the 5-star Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort, featuring a dive centre, spa, infinity pool and private beach. Solo travellers might enjoy staying at Ibiza House Phi Phi, with its selection of dormitories, private rooms and villas, as well as live DJ sets and pool parties.

From rock climbing and snorkelling to pool parties, beach hangovers and Muay Thai fights, you definitely won’t be bored on Phi Phi Island.

How to get there: A short one-hour ferry ride from Phuket, or 90-minute ride from Krabi or Ko Lanta will get you to the Phi Phi Islands.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @wladimirolguin via Instagram

Tips to remember on the islands:

  1. Do not ride elephants or take photos with exotic animals – this fuels animal abuse.
  2. Respect the beaches and sea animals.
  3. Do not touch or walk on the corals.
  4. Keep enough cash on hand – not all islands have foreign exchange bureaus.
  5. Always wear a life jacket when taking a ferry or boat trip – you never know when you may need to swim ashore.
  6. Tuck into all the local dishes, and try a ‘special’ coconut – with rum!

The dry season runs from November to April. Peak season on Thailand’s islands falls between November and February, especially over weekends, so book your accommodation in advance.

Ready to explore Thailand’s islands with all their beauty, sun-kissed beaches and exciting activities? Whether it’s thrilling nightlife you’re after, or a more laidback holiday lazing under towering palm trees, you’ll find it difficult to return home once you’re living the island life. Make sure you add these 5 key ingredients for the perfect holiday in Thailand!

Book cheap flights to Thailand with Travelstart.co.za!

 

Tell us which of these islands in Thailand is your favourite in the comments below.

thailand islands

Photo credit: @scubachictravel via Instagram

Map of Thailand’s Islands

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Featured image credit: @billiemel via Instagram

The post Exploring Thailand’s Islands: 11 of the Best appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Your Best Time to Visit Turkey

Turkey is a magnificent destination that astounds visitors with its spectacular sights, wonderful cuisine and rich heritage. There is so much to do in this beautiful country, and you could easily spend a few weeks travelling from city to city, taking in the immense metropolitan cities, breathtaking countryside views, and of course, the magnificent coasts! The best time to visit Turkey may be a hard one to decide on, as the country has four seasons that are all equally magical in their own regard! Set your travel dates to which season suits you best, and embark on a journey of a lifetime. Depending on your season of choice, prepare to wander the alleyways of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, float hundreds of metres above ground in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, make your way through the culturally-infused streets of Ankara, or let the warm sea waters caress your toes in the coastal city of Izmir!

grand-bazaar-visit-turkey

Image courtesy of @septem_vita via Instagram.

Weather

The coast of Turkey, including popular cities such as Antalya, Bodrum and Izmir, has a wonderful Mediterranean climate with warm temperatures throughout the year and clear, summer days. Winters on the coast are rather mild, with slightly wet days in between. The inner regions of the country are much more continental than the coast and due to the mountainous areas, the climate of central Turkey has four distinct seasons – including a hot summer and icy, snowy winter! Summer in Turkey falls between the months of June and August, and winter falls between the months of November and January.

When looking for the best time to visit Turkey to get the best of it all, consider visiting during the shoulder season of the country. Visiting over the spring and autumn seasons is a wonderful idea as you’re bound to enjoy warm days and almost no rain. Also, crowds are much thinner during this time and you can explore at your own pace. Spring in Turkey falls between the end of March and May, whereas autumn can be enjoyed between September and early November.

Summer

izmir-beach-visit-turkey

Image courtesy of @travellingguggs via Instagram.

With its Mediterranean climate and hot temperatures, summer in Turkey is best spent soaking up the glorious sun in and around the coastal cities. Did someone say daytime highs of around 30°C? Expect only the most amazing beach vacation in Turkey! The country has some wonderful cities and towns to visit during the hot days of the year such as Patara City, with its longest beach strip in all of the country, the all-white Bodrum, with plenty of pristine beaches and Antalya, with its picture-perfect Mediterranean atmosphere and the amazing Konyaalti Beach. These are just a few of the top beaches in Turkey, with hundreds more to choose from during your summer vacation.

Spring and Autumn

visit-turkey-istanbul

Image courtesy of @gulernazarli via Instagram

Spring and autumn in Turkey are great alternatives to visit this beautiful country. The temperatures are pleasant and with thinner crowds than during summer, you’re bound to have a more relaxed and enjoyable time visiting. Spring time temperatures range between 15 and 23 °C. This is ideal for city sightseeing and visiting famous attractions in the capital city, Ankara and the heart of the country, Istanbul. You will have the time and space to take leisurely walks, visiting places such as the Blue Mosque and hike up a hill to see the famous Ankara Castle! For the leisurely traveler, this may be the best time to visit Turkey for sure.  Autumn in the coastal cities is quite a treat as though daytime highs are considerably lower; the sea temperatures tend to stay on the warmer side, so dips in the ocean are a great way to end off a busy day relaxing. Order a portion of baklava at a nearby restaurant to end off your day with a taste of this delicious dessert.

visit-turkey-tea-treats

Image courtesy of @sweetchrisbee via Instagram.

Winter

Winter can get pretty cold and icy in Turkey, making it the perfect location for a white festive season and a great option to indulge in some snow sport! The snowy hilltops of the north-eastern region of the country are the best place to be for this. The cities of Antalya and Bursa are great options when looking for ski spots with winters that can reach -10 degrees Celcius on a regular day in January! That said, whereas the coastal cities of Turkey are more or less shut down during winter except for the festive season, the big cities are alive and all-welcoming, making winter quite possibly the best time to visit Turkey. During your Turkish winter break in the city, enjoy wholesome Turkish dishes at any of the top restaurants across the country and after, have your fortune told after a steaming cup of brewed Turkish coffee.

Daytime temperatures

Summer: 05:00 – 20:30

Summer in Turkey guarantees warm, sunny days and 13 hours of daylight to enjoy. The sun rises early and this is ideal for early morning trips down to the ocean if you’re on the coast, or even just the famous Turkish breakfast to be enjoyed in cafes around the city centres.

Winter: 08:00 – 17:30

visit-turkey-hot-air-balloons

Image courtesy of @sarapepolibiasin via Instagram.

Winter in Turkey can be quite chilly with short days of 9 and a half hours. Don’t worry though as this is more than sufficient for days exploring the cities or better yet, skiing on the slopes of the Andalusian region in the north of the country.

How much are flights to Turkey?

Peak season: June to August

During the summer season, Turkey is a buzz of activity and flights to the country can be on the slightly pricier side. Book at least 3 months ahead of time to avoid hefty prices and budget to spend around 15% more for your flight tickets and accommodation than the rest of the year.

Festive season: December/January

Though Turkey is in the heart of its winter during this time, the appeal of a white Turkish festive season is certainly high! Flights and accommodation are known to be highest when booking last minute, and you can look at spending up to 50% more for flights than during summer!

Shoulder/off-peak season: March/April

Enjoy more affordable flights during the best time to visit Turkey at a fraction of the cost. Flights during this period of time are really well-priced, and you can look at securing your tickets to this beautiful destination for around 15% cheaper than during peak season.

Book your cheap flights to Turkey with Travelstart today!

 

Annual Events

Mesir Paste Festival, end of March

This festival has been around for more almost 500 years and celebrates the wonder of the miracle cure, mesir. Every year between the 21st and 24th of March, the paste is prepared by chefs and their apprentices and distributed amongst festival goers in the town of Manisa. Join in the fun of catching little portions of the paste thrown from the city’s minarets and enjoy the concerts after!

Victory Day, 30 August

visit-turkey-red-balloons

Image courtesy of @leeroy_martinez via Instagram.

A day to remember in Turkish history, Victory Day celebrates the Turkish War of Independence and this date, 30 August, is an annual public holiday. The country comes together to enjoy military parades, speeches and visiting monuments across the country, especially so in Ankara. Visitors can look forward to the parades, air force demonstrations and traditional sweets to enjoy.

Istanbul International Music Festival, end of May

This prestigious event takes place every year in the city of Istanbul and brings together classical music enthusiasts from across the world. The event is known to be creative and uplifting, with fresh ideas and takes on old classics. Look forward to performances across the country in concert halls, with free mini concerts across parks and gardens.

Oil Wrestling Festival, June

This festival is more than 600 years and is encourages men from all across the country to join in the fun! Participants are put into various groups, dependent on age and size, and are then oiled and set up to wrestle each other in the name of good ol’ fun. The winner then carries a gold belt, which is paraded through the city of Edirme.

Whirling Dervishes Festival, mid-December

Celebrating the life and works of Sufi poet, Rumi, this music and dance festival is one for the books. See the famous whirling dervishes and participate in the dancing, singing and poetry readings that take place during the event. The festival is a week-long and takes place in the city of Konya.

visit-turkey-whirling-dervishes

Image courtesy of @muniii_moonbean via Instagram.

Turkey is such a wonderful destination and is on many a bucket list! Have you been to this country or plan on visiting soon? Sign up to our newsletter for the best flight deals and holiday packages to Turkey and an endless list of magical destinations!

 

Featured image courtesy of @globe_today via Instagram.

 

The post Your Best Time to Visit Turkey appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

See Zagreb and Istanbul (On A South African Budget)

Combine the gorgeous cities of Zagreb and Istanbul for a whirlwind European experience. The magical Croatian capital is an underappreciated European wonderland, while the bustling east-meets-west metropolis of Istanbul will leave you enthralled and breathless.

You might have noticed that Turkish airlines is offering some insanely cheap flights to Istanbul and the rest of Europe lately. If you haven’t, you’ve been missing out on some amazing travel opportunities.

As South Africans, it can be hard to stomach the price of travelling through Europe, especially when you’re talking about cities like London, Vienna and Paris; they’re all beautiful, but not the most rand-friendly getaways. Luckily for us there’s now a way for you to travel to Europe and see not one but two cities, all while keeping to a tight budget, thanks to Turkish Airlines’ Touristanbul initiative,

Here’s how to do it!

Flights

Book with Travelstart to get Turkish airlines flights from Johannesburg to Croatia at R8,259 return for loads of dates in 2019. You’ll stop over in Istanbul, where you can take advantage of the TourIstanbul programme, which you can read about here. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to experience the impressive newly-opened Istanbul airport, set to be the biggest airport in the world upon completion. Yep, even bigger than JFK or Heathrow!

Depending on layover time, some economy passengers are entitled to a night in a four star hotel in the city. If you’re not there overnight but have a good few hours to kill, there’s the option of a layover tour where you can see the sights and sounds of Istanbul. If you qualify for the layover, you’ll likely be put up for the night in the area of Sultanahmet or Beyoglu, two of the best-located neighbourhoods of Istanbul. All of this is free and comes as part of your airfare. During the tour, for example, you’ll even get free entrance to the major sights such as Hagia Sophia as well as a free meal.

If you want longer in Istanbul, you can also opt to spend a night or two there on the inbound or outbound journey by purchasing a multi-city ticket, which Travelstart can help you with.

What to Do In Istanbul

Istanbul is a sightseer’s dream, and there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a short stay in the city. Here are some of the most popular places to visit. Most of the mosques and palaces are closed on Tuesdays, while the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.

The Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya

Probably Istanbul’s most famous sight. A huge, majestic temple set against the Istanbul skyline, it’s hard to miss the red walls of what was the world’s biggest church for nearly a thousand years before being converted into a mosque. Hagia Sophia is now a museum detailing the incredible history of the mosque, where you can still marvel at the original carvings and portraits, huge monuments and intricate golden ceilings.

Istanbul/Ayasofya at night

Istanbul at Night
Photo credit: @pencilandpolaroid via Instagram

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi palace was the home of generations of Ottoman Sultans and their wives for nearly four hundred years, and became a museum in 1924. Manicured green courtyards, a glittering treasury featuring the crown jewels of the empire, collections of art, ornate Turkish baths and intricately tiled rooms make it a must-see in Istanbul. Walk to the end and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the Sea of Marmara as well as the Bosphorus River and the Golden Horn. Eat your heart out, Buckingham Palace!

The Blue Mosque

One of the few sites that is free to visit. Similar in style to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque isn’t one of the biggest but it is one of the most detailed and beautiful. Currently, there’s a lot of restoration going on which for some people can detract from the experience, but it’s still worth visiting.  It’s worth noting that you need to bring a scarf if you’re a woman as it’s an active mosque and requires your hair to be covered.

Grand Bazaar

A visit to the Grand Bazaar is a must-do for bargain hunters in Istanbul. Contrary to popular belief, the Grand Bazaar isn’t just one big tourist trap. Plenty of locals do their shopping there buying everything from carpets and leather goods to everyday items like spices, cooking ware and a multitude of other things. There’s around five thousand shops under the roof of the grand bazaar, so it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything you couldn’t find here. If you want to bring home souvenirs, jewellery or even a gorgeous leather bag, the Grand Bazaar is the place to go. Be sure to take note of where you entered the Grand Bazaar – it’s a crowded maze of stalls, smells, and sounds; ‘organised chaos’ is a gentle way of describing it! Remember that negotiating on price is expected, so don’t be shy!

Where to stay – Istanbul

For first time visitors to Istanbul, Sultanahmet is the best area to base yourself. Though it quietens down at night, it’s close to all of the major attractions and means you can easily walk around between them. It’s also easy to navigate and has plenty of public transport options nearby including trams and metro stations.

If you’ve visited before or are visiting for a long period, you may want to consider Beyoglu, a more local neighbourhood with plenty of nightlife and restaurants. It’s across the river, meaning a tram ride is necessary to reach Sultanahmet for sightseeing. It’s R6 or so for a ride on the tram, but they can get crowded in peak times.

What To Do In Zagreb

Taste wine

Set in a 200 year old cellar near the Zagreb Cathedral is Bornstein, the city’s oldest wine bar. Inside it houses a small wine shop as well as a little bar; a tasting there is special experience thanks to the passionate and knowledgeable owners. Croatian wine is some of the best and cheapest on offer in Europe, and their red varietals are especially good. You can opt for ‘the usuals’ like merlot or a good cabernet sauvignon, or you can go for the local varieties…who knows, maybe you’ll discover the Croatian version of South Africa’s pinotage.

Take Photos From The Zagreb Skyscraper

Based just off the main square of Ban Jelacic, the Zagreb Skyscraper offers a bar and restaurant with 360 degree panoramic views from the city’s tallest building. Take the ride up to the top floor and walk around, taking in the sights of the business district to the bottom, the beautiful old town, the lower town and main square and the residential suburbs. From the Skyscraper you have unobstructed views of St Mark’s Square and the Zagreb Cathedral.

Visit a Museum

Zagreb has more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world; and they’re not just boring, stuffy museums either. There’s the world-famous museum of broken relationships, as well as the kid-friendly museum of illusions.

Day trip to Plitvice

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most beautiful places and – dare we say it – one of the most beautiful places in the world. A huge national park full of waterfalls, forests and wooden bridges linking bright turquoise and emerald lakes and streams, it’s stunning in every season. In winter, the water often freezes over to create waterfalls that are frozen in time, as if someone had simply wandered in and pressed the pause button. In autumn you’ll see the lakes contrasted against shades of red, yellow and orange hues and in spring and summer, there’s brilliant sunshine and gorgeously clear waters, making it beautiful for hiking. Plitvice is an absolute wonderland only two hours from Zagreb, and is definitely a one of Croatia’s must-do’s.

plitvicelakes

Plitvice Lakes, two hours outside Zagreb
Photo credit: @pencilandpolaroid via Instagram

Day Trip to Lake Bled, Slovenia

Yep, that’s right! If you’re feeling ambitious you can even fit in a third European country on your trip! The atmospheric capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is only a two-hour drive from Zagreb. It’s then a short drive on to Lake Bled, which is one of the most picturesque places you’ll ever see in your life, particularly when the mountains develop snowy peaks in the winter months.

Where to stay – Zagreb

The best area to stay in Zagreb is Donji Grad, or Lower Town. Bed and Breakfast or traditional guesthouses are more limited than apartments, but there are a few around such as Regal Residence, right in the pedestrian zone of Zagreb.

Otherwise, there are a selection of good three, four and five star hotels; Jagerhorn Hotel is a good three-star option in a convenient area, but Esplanade Hotel is a fantastic deal for the five-star luxury that it offers. Plus, the spread at breakfast is so enticing (think bottomless champagne, endless smoked salmon and freshly squeezed orange juice) that you’ll probably not need to eat again until dinner! Or if you prefer the comforts of home, you can choose one of the many apartments on offer in the centre. Some are tiny bachelor flats, others are huge and luxurious modern penthouses.

zagreb esplanade hotel

Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb
Photo credit: @pencilandpolaroid via Instagram

If you really want to cut costs or are travelling alone and fancy meeting new people there’s an abundance of hostels in Zagreb; a great option is Taban hostel which sits right at the top of the vibrant Tkalčićeva street.

Have you visited Turkey or Croatia recently? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

The post See Zagreb and Istanbul (On A South African Budget) appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Go Temple hopping in Cambodia and discover Angkor Wat!

Bordered by Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is a country rich in heritage. It has warm, friendly people and an untouched wild landscape. Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, a resort town in north western Cambodia. It’s located in the largest temple complex in Southeast Asia and the largest temple complex in the world!

Siem Reap is a town that offers a large variety of activities, a range of world-class restaurants and is very affordable which makes it an ideal destination for those who enjoy travelling on a budget. Besides exploring the attractive temples, you can also spend some time feasting at the food markets in town or try out a fish pedicure.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

About Angkor Wat

Many Cambodians describe Angkor Wat as a miniature replica of the universe in stone which represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The beautiful and extensive temple ruins at Angkor, a UNESCO Heritage site, represent the Khmer civilisation. In total, there are about 50 Buddhist and Hindu temples in Siem Reap for you to explore.

Angkor Wat is an architectural masterpiece. The well preserved Khmer monument is the most photographed in the world, and nothing is better than actually experiencing and exploring the temple in person. Building Angkor Wat was, of course, a very complex process.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple is famously known as the “temple with the many faces”. It is also very popular among travellers. There are approximately 200 smiling faces, each about 4 meters high, carved into stone towers. Bayon was built by Jayavarman VII, the former King of the Khmer Empire.

Ta Prohm

The well known Tomb Raider movie was filmed in Ta Prohm in 2012. Among locals, the temple is now also called the “Tomb Raider Temple”. You can visit the temple early in the morning; this is highly recommended because many tourists will be watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat during this time. Ta Prohm is nested in the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation and many of the trees have become one with the ruins that remain. Photographers can beautifully capture this amazing battle between nature and architecture. Fig and Bayon tree roots are intertwined with the buildings, creating an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Angkor Pass

Depending on how you would like to visit the Angkor Archaeological Park, there are three different types of passes to choose from. What’s awesome is that you don’t need to explore all the temples in one day.

  • 1-day pass – US$ 37 (about R500)
  • 3-day pass – US$ 62 (about R860)
  • 7-day pass – US$ 72 (about R1,000)

Please note: The 3-day pass is valid for 10 days from the issue date, the 7-day pass is valid for 1 month from the issue date. With both passes it’s not necessary to plan your visits on consecutive days.

Transport options

The majority of tourists who visit Angkor Wat specifically go there for the glorious sunrise. You should get to there early, especially if you are travelling during high season. It is wise to book your transport to Angkor Wat the day before you plan to visit. This will give you enough time to rest. You can wake up on time and be ready for the adventurous day ahead. An early start ensures you a good spot to watch the sunrise and take pictures from.

If you have not yet purchased your ticket on the day, ask your driver to start by taking you to the ticket office, which is about 5 km from the entrance of Angkor Wat. As long as you don’t stay too far outside the city there isn’t much difference in locations as it relates to getting there for sunrise. Make sure your driver knows what time you want to arrive at the gates of Angkor Wat for sunrise. The gates to the temple open at 5 am.

Tuk Tuk

Renting a tuk tuk for the day is a fun way to fully enjoy your temple hopping experience. Expect to pay about R200 for the driver to drive you around the whole day. You can arrange pick up times with your driver that best suits your needs.

Car

A more comfortable option compared to renting a tuk tuk is to rent a car. The Cambodian heat can be unbearable so cooling off with an A/C will definitely be refreshing. For a full day tour including sunrise and sunset, you’re looking at about R600. If you’re not concerned with seeing the sunrise or sunset, you can get a day tour for about R500 by car.

Minivan

Renting a minivan is suitable if you are travelling in a group as it may be an expensive option if you’re travelling alone. An A/C equipped minivan can typically fit 10-12 passengers and will usually cost around R900 in total for the day.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

When is the best time to visit Siem Reap?

The best time to go to Angkor Wat is from December to February.

Accommodation in Siem Reap

Stay at Siem Reap central area for convenient transport to the Angkor temples and the airport. It’s also within the prime nightlife & food district of the city. Grab rock-bottom rates and avoid fully-booked rooms by booking online as soon as you have booked your cheap flight to Cambodia. There are many different types of accommodation for all budgets. The cheapest can cost you about R150 per person, per night.

Visa Requirements

South Africans need to apply for a visa in order to visit Cambodia. Either a visa on arrival or e-visa which is valid for 30 days and costs about R500.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Useful Khmer Phrases

Khmer is the local language spoken in Cambodia and its constructed on a series of symbols. Here are a few key phrases in transliteration form for you to start practicing:
Hello – Chom Reap Sour
Yes – Bah (for males) and Jah (for females)
My name is… – Knyom Chhmua…
How much is this? – Bo man?

Have you visited Cambodia yet? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

The post Go Temple hopping in Cambodia and discover Angkor Wat! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

23 Budget-Friendly Family Activities in Cape Town

There’s no denying that Cape Town is a playground of beauty, adventure and activities. A hotspot for creativity, shopping, nature and gourmet food, you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy all that the city has to offer. We’re always on the prowl for interesting things to do on a budget. Take a look at these family activities in Cape Town that won’t break the bank. Some of them are even free!

1. Half-price cableway at sunset

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @r62eventsandtours via Instagram

Feel like a tourist but pay like a local, with the half-price sunset special during summer. Enjoy a drink or two on top, taking in the sweeping views of the city on a cool summer’s evening. Don’t forget to bring your camera and ID!

When: 18:00 daily, November-February

Price: R145 adults, R72.50 children (under 18 years). Free if you go on your birthday!

2. Hop aboard the Red Bus

family activities in cape town

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy a day out exploring Cape Town’s stunning attractions! Gather a group of friends or bring the family and spend the day sightseeing, while learning about the city’s history along the way. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to spend a birthday, or just have a fun day out. Choose between the Classic Red City or Blue Peninsula tours, Cape Point guided tour, Winelands tour, Township tours and Big 5 Safari tours. Buses depart from selected bus stops every 15-20 minutes.

Price: R200 online/ R220 at any ticket office for the Classic 1-day tour

When: First bus leaves the Waterfront @ 08:20, last bus leaves Greenpoint @ 19:40 returning to the Waterfront

3. Museum day

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @romildogrotajr via Instagram

Getting a bit of a culture fix can be a great way to get to know the city. Cape Town is chock full of museums and art galleries, so you can easily spend a day hopping from one to another. Even if you’re a Capetonian, you’ll be surprised at how much history you don’t know about your city!

Some museums and landmarks worth checking out:

  • District 6 Museum
  • National Gallery
  • Zeitz MOCAA
  • Slave Lodge
  • Iziko Museum
  • Castle of Good Hope
  • 18 Gangster Museum
  • Noon Gun

4. Stargaze at the Planetarium

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @rodmccall via Instagram

You don’t need to be a kid to go stargazing and appreciate the beauty of other galaxies far, far away. From interactive lectures and mapping out the solar system to educational film festivals, pop in for an hour-long show before or after lunch and learn something new about our stellar universe. A day at the Planetarium is one of the best family activities in Cape Town.

Price: R60 for adults/ R30 for children, SA students & pensioners

Show Times: Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00-16:00/ Evening shows on Wednesdays @ 19:00

25 Queen Victoria Street| 021 481 3900

5. Movie time at the Labia

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @kristieesp via Instagram

An iconic landmark in Cape Town’s art scene, the Labia’s laidback old-school charm makes it a great place to watch your favourite arthouse film or catch the latest blockbuster. The best part? You can enjoy an ice-cold beer, G-&-T slushy, or soft drink in the cinema. At just R50 a ticket, you can treat yourself to a drink and a bag of fresh popcorn all for under R100!

Price: R50 a ticket. Look out for their dinner and movie specials at selected restaurants around town.

68 Orange Street, Gardens | 021 424 5927

6. That’s so Darling

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @tales_of_nadia via Instagram

A small town blooming with wildflowers, festivals, theatre, wine farms, museums, hiking trails and cosy lodges – Darling will have you falling in love with its nostalgic charm in no time. Barely an hour’s drive from Cape Town, you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in the countryside as you walk through the town. Start your day with breakfast at one of the padstals along the route, watch a slice of comical satire at Evita se Perron, and be sure to pop in at Darling Brew for a late lunch and beer tasting – you won’t be disappointed!

Also read: Discover Epic West Coast Gems

7. Walk through Woodstock

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @jonathan_rtz via Instagram

A once flourishing seaside resort, it’s hard to imagine Woodstock as anything other than an industrialised area that is undergoing massive gentrification and urban renewal. Bustling with creativity on every corner, Woodstock is home to niche art studios, trendy coffee shops, furniture workshops and design agencies aplenty. Yet, under all this lies a prevalent and vibrant history that is coming alive on its walls and buildings. Spend a morning perusing the shops along Victoria Road, and into the narrow and colourful streets.

Take a street art tour with local tour guide, Juma, and learn about the history of the area behind these graffiti artworks. Tours cost R350 for 1.5 hours and start at the Woodstock Exchange. Grab some brunch at the Old Biscuit Mill on weekends and pick up some quirky vintage décor along Albert Road. If you’re an arty family or just love the city’s history, this is one tour you shouldn’t miss.

8. Explore the Constantia Valley

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @rosemarygiralt

While the beautiful Cape Winelands is our pride and glory, you don’t have to venture too far to enjoy the classic flavours and scenery of Cape Town’s best wine farms. The Constantia Valley is home to some formidable estates and you can easily spend an entire day visiting your favourites. Some of the nine farms along the Constantia route include Steenberg, Constantia Uitsig, Eagle’s Nest, Buitenverwagting and Silvermist. Ziplining, horse riding and bike trails are just some of the family-friendly activities on offer. Stay for lunch and wine tasting, surrounded by enviable views of the city. Groot Constantia and Buitenverwagting have beautiful lawns for you to enjoy a delicious picnic while the kids play on the jungle gyms.

Wine tastings in the area range between R50 – R150 per person.

Also Read: 6 Undiscovered Wine Farms around Cape Town

9. Mojo Market madness

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @themojomarket via Instagram

The perfect brunch spot, a stone’s throw from the Sea Point promenade! Pick up some hand-crafted jewellery, vintage clothing and home décor pieces as you wander between the buzzing food stalls. You’ll find everything from fresh smoothies and ice cream to sushi, gourmet breakfast plates and home-baked treats. Grab a table to watch a football game or bring a board game to relax for a few hours. Catch live music on stage every evening from 19:00 and weekends around lunchtime.

Open: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-22:00

30 Regent Rd, Sea Point | 087 940 7474

10. Mid-week dinner specials

We all love a good dinner special, especially at our favourite restaurants. Here are some irresistible ones to schedule in your weekly calendar:

Mondays:

  • Jazz up your Monday with half-price burgers and pizzas at Gardens Collectors Club. From the usual classics to gourmet toppings, you’ll definitely be back for more.

51 Kloof Street, Gardens, 021 422 5822

  • Enjoy a seafood platter for two at Blowfish Restaurant until 22:00. R99 gets you a platter of fresh fish, calamari, prawns, mussels, rice, veggies and chips.

Dolphin Beach Hotel, Marine Drive, Table View, 021 556 5464

Tuesdays:

  • From 18:00 onwards, The Twankey Bar serves up delicious grilled or battered linefish and chips with a 500ml draught or glass of wine for just R95. Pop in earlier for their happy hour special before tucking into dinner.

Next to the Taj Hotel, Cnr Wale Street & St. Georges Mall, 021 819 2000

  • It’s the battle of the buns at Devil’s Peak Taproom every Tuesday from 18:00. For R75 you get a gourmet cheeseburger and 340ml lager – the perfect combo deal.

150 Cecil Road, Salt River, 021 201 1401

  • Manga offers a two-for-one sushi special for lunch and dinner. Only available at their stores in Mouille Point and Church Square.

Beach Rd & Rothesay Place, Mouille Point | 32 Parliament St, CBD

Wednesdays:

  • Two-for-one pizzas at Hail Pizza just behind Clarke’s in Bree Street. Valid every Wednesday 18:00 – 20:00.

133A Bree St, Cape Town CBD, 021 424 7648

  • Arrive hungry for bottomless ribs at Beerhouse every Wednesday from 11:00 throughout the day. At only R99, booking is a must and strictly no sharing or takeaways – challenge accepted!

223 Long Street, CBD, 021 424 3370

  • Sotano in Sea Point serves up delicious two-for-one lamb burgers at just R110 from 17:00 onwards.

121 Beach Road, 021 433 1757

Thursdays:

  • Primal Eatery is one of the best steakhouses in town, and from Tuesday to Thursday they serve up 300g sirloin or rump with a side at just R145. We highly recommend booking a table!

50 New Church Street, Gardens

11. Get your game on at Big Box Café

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @thebigbox_boardgames_cafe via Instagram

Looking for a fun thing to do in Cape Town? Tucked away in the CBD is Cape Town’s only board game café where you can spend an entire afternoon or evening. Grab a table and choose anything from their vast collection of board games, while their cosy kitchen can whip up some tasty treats to keep you going. Whether you’re a strategic mastermind or looking for some wholesome family fun, the guys at Big Box cater to all kinds of players.

Price: games are free to play

Open: Monday-Wednesday, 08:00-17:00/ Thursday-Friday, 08:00-22:00/ Saturday, 10:00-22:00

18 Roeland Street, Gardens | 071 314 9134

12. Cape Town Science Centre

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @capetownsciencecentre via Instagram

Calling all science buffs and curious minds – discover a world of interactive displays, science shows, theatre, hands-on experiments and workshops to keep your hands and mind busy at the CTSC. Saturdays are filled with robotics workshops, topical discussions, chess tournaments, and lessons geared around exam preparation for scholars.

Open: Monday-Saturday, 09:00-16:30/ Sundays & Pub. Holidays, 10:00-16:30

370B Main Road, Observatory| 021 300 3200

13. Birthday freebies at the Aquarium

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @leschroeder via Instagram

Yip, you read right. The Two Oceans Aquarium has just announced you get free entrance on your birthday! If you can’t visit on your birthday, the offer is still valid for six days after. Simply bring your ID book or driver’s licence and collect your free pass from the ticket office.

Scuba diving, kelp forests, penguin interactions, shark feedings and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish displays are just some of the amazing things you can experience at the aquarium. A day at the Aquarium is definitely one of the most popular family activities in Cape Town!

Open: Every day, 09:30-18:00

Dock Road, V&A Waterfront | 021 418 3823

14. Make some furry friends

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @sidewalkspecials via Instagram

Animals are the greatest companions we could ask for, and what better way to help them than volunteering to make their world a little better? There are lots of local animal shelters and charities that would greatly appreciate your time. Make a donation, bring some supplies, or spare a few hours of your time to walk them, groom them and help clean their rooms. You’re guaranteed lots of licks, tail wags and kisses in return!

Check out some of these animal shelters in your area:

DARG: info@darg.org.za | Main Rd, Hout Bay

Uitsig Animal Rescue Centre: hello.uitsig@gmail.com | Thandanani Farm, just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

Sidewalk Specials: contact@sidewalkspecials.org  | Find them at the Granger Bay market on the 1st Saturday of each month

TEARS: volunteer@tears.org.za | 4 Lekkerwater Road, Sunnydale, Noordhoek

Fallen Angels: info@fallenangels.org.za | Just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

African Tails: manager@africantails.co.za | 56 Koeberg Rd, Brooklyn

Lucky Lucy: volunteer@luckylucy.org | N7, between Philadelphia and Malmesbury

15. Rainbow Puppet Theatre @ the Waldorf School

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @therainbow.puppettheatre via Instagram

Theatre is the rawest and most honest form of storytelling. Pry your little ones away from their screens and video games for a morning and watch their minds be transformed by the magical world of theatre. Using hand and rod puppets in a beautiful custom-made set, the shows are inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, each story carrying an uplifting message. Shows are recommended for age 4 years and up.

The venue is great for kiddie’s parties, and the troupe also has a mobile puppet theatre for home events.

Price: R20 per ticket

When: Saturday mornings, two shows @ 10:00 and 11:15

Where: Constantia Waldorf School, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia | 021 783 2063

16. Ice skating at Grand West

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @proactiveconcepts via Instagram

Practise your graceful (or wobbly) moves on the ice at the Ice Station at Grand West. The Olympic-size skating rink is open to all ages and abilities and is a hotspot for families over the holiday season. This is great fun in a group or even for a date night!

The rink hosts ice hockey championships and figure skating competitions throughout the year, and spectators are welcome to sit in and watch.

Price: R60 incl. skate hire/ R50 bring your own skates

Open Times:

Mon – Tues 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30
Wed – Thurs 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 20:00 – 22:30
Friday 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Saturday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Sunday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30

Grand West, 1 Vanguard Drive, Goodwood, | 021 535 2260

17. Get a Rush!

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @misshurlbatt via Instagram

Bouncing around on trampolines is not just for kids. You can work up quite a sweat and have great fun challenging your friends to a game of dodgeball or slam dunk basketball. When you’re not tumbling around the nets, you can enjoy some coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi on the side. Great for birthday parties and some weekend fun!

Price: From R115 per hour. See their online pricing guide

Open: Monday-Thursday, 13:00-21:00/ Friday-Saturday, 09:00-22:00/ Sunday, 09:00-19:00

5th Floor, 109 on Main, Claremont | 087 094 0178, 021 683 3841, 021 671 1489

18. SUP Boarding

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @supcapetown via Instagram

One of the best ways to get fit while you take in views of the city, SUP boarding is becoming a favourite summer pastime. There’s no better way to start your day than a refreshing dip in our sparkling ocean – this is a great family activity in Cape Town.

SUP Cape Town offers a 1-hour paddle along the Waterfront canals at R220 per person, or spend 1.5 hours paddling in the open ocean at R550 per person.

Let Ocean Riders take you out along the canals of Intaka Island, the CTICC and off Muizenberg and Clifton beaches. A 1-hour intro lesson and paddle ranges from R180-R350 per person.

If you’re looking for a full-day SUP experience, the guys at High Five can treat you to a sunrise paddle and brekkie or a sunset paddle and braai. Enjoy a 2-hour guided session off Blouberg beach at just R400 for an entire group of three!

For the yogis out there, you can even try SUP Yoga with SUP Yoga Cape Town at R300 per person for 1.5 hours in the Camps Bay tidal pool.

19. Hit the mountain bike trails

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @ashortchase via Instagram

Swap your Sunday drive for a Sunday ride instead. If you’re up for a little exercise, this is a fun thing to do in Cape Town. The city is full of exciting and scenic bike trails to explore. Here are nine of our top picks:

  • Meerendal Wine Farm: 21km, easy riding. Start point – wine farm
  • Deer Park, Table Mountain: 16-34km, intermediate riding. Start point – Chelmsford Rd, Vredehoek
  • Cape Point Reserve: up to 45km, easy riding. Start point – anywhere
  • Koeberg Reserve, Melkbosstrand: 7-25km, easy riding. Start point – Visitors Centre
  • Jonkershoek: 10-45km, intermediate to technical riding. Start point – Jonkershoek Reserve main gate
  • Tokai Forest: up to 40km, moderate to extreme riding. Start point – Arboretum
  • Dirtopia, Delvera Wine Estate: 7-18km, moderate riding. Start point – Dirtopia Trail Centre
  • Contermanskloof, Durbanville: up to 36km, intermediate riding. Start point – The Dairy Shed
  • Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch: 10-45km, easy riding. Start point – The Radish Restaurant

Note that park entry fees or trail fees may apply.

20. Green Point Park

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @guessential via Instagram

Looking for a space to bring the whole family, picnic, throw some frisbee and walk the dogs? Green Point Park is a recreational hub with lots to see and do. It features an amphitheatre, outdoor maze, exercise gym, wetlands garden, 25,000 indigenous plants, two child-friendly playparks, tea garden, nursery and loads of picnic areas. This is a great space to enjoy some fresh air and be active. If you’re planning to host a kiddies party or large gathering, come early to secure a good spot.

Note that swimming, skateboarding, alcohol, loud music and braais are not permitted.

Open: 07:00-19:00 daily

1 Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point | 021 417 0111

21. Swim at Silvermine

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @lieslhermanus via Instagram

A short trot from Ou Kaapse Weg leads you to the sparkling freshwater Silvermine Reservoir where you’re free to swim, hike, picnic and braai. Dogs are welcome, but owners must have a Level 1 My Activity permit. Gates open at 07:00 and close at 18:00 in summer.

Price: R50 for adults, R25 children (2-11 years), Free to SANParks Wild Card & My Green Card holders

Silvermine Reserve, off Ou Kaapse Weg | 021 712 0527

22. Have a picnic on Beta Beach

family activities in cape town

f Photo credit: @brendongrobler via Instagram

Beta Beach is one of Cape Town’s top beaches, and with its perfect positioning and big boulders to laze on, it’s easy to see why. It’s seclusion away from the bustle of Camps Bay and Clifton beaches make it a more peaceful spot to catch a tan, read your book and enjoy a picnic with your crew. And the water’s not far away for a refreshing dip. As the sun sets, watch everyone migrate to the big flat rocks to get the perfect view (and selfie)!

23. Pick roses at Chart Farm

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @stephaniemarthinus via Instagram

Summer is here and the roses are in full bloom! Spend the morning or afternoon filling a bucket with your favourite coloured roses and enjoy the beautiful views of the farm. You’re also welcome to pick table grapes, lemons and chestnuts – delicious seasonal essentials! Their dog-friendly coffee shop serves up very reasonably-priced breakfasts, lunches and freshly-baked cakes. A perfect family outing!

Please bring your own bucket and secateurs if possible.

Price: R6 per rose

Open: Monday-Sunday, 09:00-16:30

Klaassens Road, Wynberg| 021 762 0067, 066 100 8924

 

If Cape Town is your back garden, make sure you take advantage of all these great activities. If not, book your cheap flights to Cape Town and start exploring the Mother City!

Got any other budget-friendly ideas on family activities in Cape Town? Share them in the comments below.

You might also be interested in:

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Featured image courtesy of @supcapetown via Instagram

The post 23 Budget-Friendly Family Activities in Cape Town appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

25 Fun Things to Do in Cape Town on a Budget

There’s no denying that Cape Town is a playground of beauty, adventure and activities. A hotspot for creativity, fashion, nature and world-class cuisine, you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy all that the city has to offer. We’re always on the prowl for interesting things to do on a budget. Take a look at these fun things to do in Cape Town that won’t break the bank at R350 and under. Some of them are even free!

1. Half-price cableway at sunset

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @r62eventsandtours via Instagram

Feel like a tourist but pay like a local, with the half-price sunset special during summer. Enjoy a drink or two on top, taking in the sweeping views of the city on a cool summer’s evening. Don’t forget to bring your camera and ID!

When: 18:00 daily, November-February

Price: R145 adults, R72.50 children (under 18 years). Free if you go on your birthday!

2. Hop aboard the Red Bus

fun things to do in cape town

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy a day out exploring Cape Town’s stunning attractions! Gather a group of friends and spend the day sightseeing, while learning about the city’s history along the way. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to spend a birthday, or just have a fun day out. Choose between the Classic Red City or Blue Peninsula tours, Cape Point guided tour, Winelands tour, Township tours and Big 5 Safari tours. Buses depart from selected bus stops every 15-20 minutes.

Price: R200 online/ R220 at any ticket office for the Classic 1-day tour

When: First bus leaves the Waterfront @ 08:20, last bus leaves Greenpoint @ 19:40 returning to the Waterfront

3. Museum day

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @romildogrotajr via Instagram

Getting a bit of a culture fix can be a great way to get to know the city. Cape Town is chock full of museums and art galleries, so you can easily spend a day hopping from one to another. Even if you’re a Capetonian, you’ll be surprised at how much history you don’t know about your city!

Some museums and landmarks worth checking out:

  • District 6 Museum
  • National Gallery
  • Zeitz MOCAA
  • Slave Lodge
  • Iziko Museum
  • Castle of Good Hope
  • 18 Gangster Museum
  • Noon Gun

4. Stargaze at the Planetarium

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @rodmccall via Instagram

You don’t need to be a kid to go stargazing and appreciate the beauty of other galaxies far, far away. From interactive lectures and mapping out the solar system to educational film festivals, pop in for an hour-long show before or after lunch and learn something new about our stellar universe.

Price: R60 for adults/ R30 for children, SA students & pensioners

Show Times: Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00-16:00/ Evening shows on Wednesdays @ 19:00

25 Queen Victoria Street| 021 481 3900

5. Armchair Sundays comedy night

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @armchaircomedy via Instagram

Buckle up for an evening of laughter as the Armchair’s local residents and guest comedians make for an entertaining end to the weekend. Nestled in the quirky, bohemian neighbourhood of Obs, you can expect all sorts of weird and wonderful characters on stage at this beloved theatre, which has been the starting ground for many of South Africa’s top comedians. Grab a beer and a front row seat to some of the best Cape Town comedy.

Price: R40 at the door

When: Sundays @ 20:30

Obviouzly Armchair, 135 Lower Main Rd, Observatory, Cape Town | 021 460 0458

6. Movie time at the Labia

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @kristieesp via Instagram

An iconic landmark in Cape Town’s art scene, the Labia’s laidback old-school charm makes it a great place to watch your favourite arthouse film or catch the latest blockbuster. The best part? You can enjoy an ice-cold beer, G-&-T slushy, or glass of wine in the cinema. At just R50 a ticket, you can treat yourself to a drink and a bag of fresh popcorn all for under R100!

Price: R50 a ticket. Look out for their dinner and movie specials at selected restaurants around town.

68 Orange Street, Gardens | 021 424 5927

7. That’s so Darling

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @tales_of_nadia via Instagram

A small town blooming with wildflowers, festivals, theatre, wine farms, museums, hiking trails and cosy lodges – Darling will have you falling in love with its nostalgic charm in no time. Barely an hour’s drive from Cape Town, you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in the countryside as you walk through the town. Start your day with breakfast at one of the padstals along the route, watch a slice of comical satire at Evita se Perron, and be sure to pop in at Darling Brew for a late lunch and beer tasting – you won’t be disappointed!

Also read: Discover Epic West Coast Gems

8. Salsa on the Promenade

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @lyndacoop via Instagram

Strap on your dancing shoes and salsa down to the Sea Point promenade every Sunday from 15:30 where beginners and seasoned dancers swing their hips to Latino beats against the gorgeous ocean backdrop.

Price: free!

When: Sundays, 15:30-18:30

Where: Sea Point Pavilion

9. Walk through Woodstock

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @jonathan_rtz via Instagram

A once flourishing seaside resort, it’s hard to imagine Woodstock as anything other than an industrialised area that is undergoing massive gentrification and urban renewal. Bustling with creativity on every corner, Woodstock is home to niche art studios, trendy coffee shops, furniture workshops and design agencies aplenty. Yet, under all this lies a prevalent and vibrant history that is coming alive on its walls and buildings. Spend a morning perusing the shops along Victoria Road, and into the narrow and colourful streets.

Take a street art tour with local tour guide, Juma, and learn about the history of the area behind these graffiti artworks. Tours cost R350 for 1.5 hours and start at the Woodstock Exchange. Grab some brunch at the Old Biscuit Mill on weekends and pick up some quirky décor and vintage items along Albert Road.

10. Taste the wines of the Constantia Valley

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @rosemarygiralt

While the beautiful Cape Winelands is our pride and glory, you don’t have to venture too far to enjoy the classic flavours and scenery of Cape Town’s best wine farms. The Constantia Valley is home to some formidable estates and you can easily spend an entire day visiting your favourites. Some of the nine farms along the Constantia route include Steenberg, Constantia Uitsig, Eagle’s Nest, Buitenverwagting and Silvermist. Pop in for a wine tasting or stay for lunch, surrounded by enviable views of the city.

Wine tastings in the area range between R50 – R150 per person.

Also Read: 6 Undiscovered Wine Farms around Cape Town

11. Mojo Market madness

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @themojomarket via Instagram

The perfect brunch spot, a stone’s throw from the Sea Point promenade! Pick up some hand-crafted jewellery, vintage clothing and home décor pieces as you wander between the buzzing food stalls. You’ll find everything from fresh smoothies and ice cream to sushi, oysters, gourmet breakfast plates and home-baked treats. Catch live music on stage every evening from 19:00 and weekends around lunchtime.

Open: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-22:00

30 Regent Rd, Sea Point | 087 940 7474

12. Sundowners at The Vic

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @thomasshacks via Instagram

This stylish Victorian-inspired bar is the ideal spot to grab an after-work drink or spend a Friday night jamming to folk rock and indie vinyl. Cosy up on the velvet couches on a chilly night, or dine al fresco in the cute courtyard. The bar mixes up some great cocktails and classic G&Ts, while the kitchen serves simple and tasty food – try any of their pizzas and bar nachos and you’ll know what we mean!

Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00-01:00/ Sundays, 12:00-21:00

84 Kloof Street| 021 811 0292

13. Dinner specials throughout the week

We all love a good dinner special, especially at our favourite restaurants. Here are some irresistible ones to schedule in your weekly calendar:

Mondays:

  • Three-course dinner at Asoka for R195. Choose from a selection of delicious Asian plates from 17:00 onwards.

68 Kloof Street, 021 422 0909

  • Jazz up your Monday with half-price burgers and pizzas at Gardens Collectors Club. From the usual classics to gourmet toppings, you’ll definitely be back for more.

51 Kloof Street, Gardens, 021 422 5822

  • Enjoy a seafood platter for two at Blowfish Restaurant until 22:00. R99 gets you a platter of fresh fish, calamari, prawns, mussels, rice, veggies and chips.

Dolphin Beach Hotel, Marine Drive, Table View, 021 556 5464

Tuesdays:

  • From 18:00 onwards, The Twankey Bar serves up delicious grilled or battered linefish and chips with a 500ml draught or glass of wine for just R95. Pop in earlier for their happy hour special before tucking into dinner.

Next to the Taj Hotel, Cnr Wale Street & St. Georges Mall, 021 819 2000

  • It’s the battle of the buns at Devil’s Peak Taproom every Tuesday from 18:00. For R75 you get a gourmet cheeseburger and 340ml lager – the perfect combo deal.

150 Cecil Road, Salt River, 021 201 1401

  • Manga offers a two-for-one sushi special for lunch and dinner. Only available at their stores in Mouille Point and Church Square.

Beach Rd & Rothesay Place, Mouille Point | 32 Parliament St, CBD

Wednesdays:

  • Two-for-one pizzas at Hail Pizza just behind Clarke’s in Bree Street. Valid every Wednesday 18:00 – 20:00.

133A Bree St, Cape Town CBD, 021 424 7648

  • Arrive hungry for bottomless ribs at Beerhouse every Wednesday from 11:00 throughout the day. At only R99, booking is a must and strictly no sharing or takeaways – challenge accepted!

223 Long Street, CBD, 021 424 3370

  • Sotano in Sea Point serves up delicious two-for-one lamb burgers at just R110 from 17:00 onwards.

121 Beach Road, 021 433 1757

Thursdays:

  • Primal Eatery is one of the best steakhouses in town, and from Tuesday to Thursday they serve up 300g sirloin or rump with a side at just R145. We highly recommend booking a table!

50 New Church Street, Gardens

  • All you can eat sushi at Active Sushi for R199 from 17:30 onwards

32 Hudson St, CBD, 021 418 2604

Fridays:

  • Happy hour tapas and tipples at Harringtons. Choose any four tapas off their menu for R200, valid from 17:00 – 20:00. Enjoy their classic cocktails, beers and local bubbly at half price!

61 Harrington Street, 021 461 2276, 021 422 3232

14. Get your game on at Big Box Café

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @thebigbox_boardgames_cafe via Instagram

Looking for a fun thing to do in Cape Town? Tucked away in the CBD is Cape Town’s only board game café where you can spend an entire afternoon or evening. Grab a table and choose anything from their vast collection of boardgames, while their cosy kitchen can whip up some tasty treats to keep you going. Whether you’re a strategic mastermind or looking for some wholesome family fun, the guys at Big Box cater to all kinds of players.

Price: games are free to play

Open: Monday-Wednesday, 08:00-17:00/ Thursday-Friday, 08:00-22:00/ Saturday, 10:00-22:00

18 Roeland Street, Gardens | 071 314 9134

15. Cape Town Science Centre

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @capetownsciencecentre via Instagram

Calling all science buffs and curious minds – discover a world of interactive displays, science shows, theatre, hands-on experiments and workshops to keep your hands and mind busy at the CTSC. Saturdays are filled with robotics workshops, topical discussions, chess tournaments, and lessons geared around exam preparation for scholars.

Open: Monday-Saturday, 09:00-16:30/ Sundays & Pub. Holidays, 10:00-16:30

370B Main Road, Observatory| 021 300 3200

16. Birthday freebies at the Aquarium

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @leschroeder via Instagram

Yip, you read right. The Two Oceans Aquarium has just announced you get free entrance on your birthday! If you can’t visit on your birthday, the offer is still valid for six days after. Simply bring your ID book or driver’s licence and collect your free pass from the ticket office.

Scuba diving, kelp forests, penguin interactions, shark feedings and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish displays are just some of the amazing things you can experience at the aquarium. A day at the Aquarium is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Cape Town!

Open: Every day, 09:30-18:00

Dock Road, V&A Waterfront | 021 418 3823

17. Make some furry friends

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @sidewalkspecials via Instagram

Animals are the greatest companions we could ask for, and what better way to help them than volunteering to make their world a little better? There are lots of local animal shelters and charities that would greatly appreciate your time. Make a donation, bring some supplies, or spare a few hours of your time to walk them, groom them and help clean their rooms. You’re guaranteed lots of licks, tail wags and kisses in return!

Check out some of these animal shelters in your area:

DARG: info@darg.org.za | Main Rd, Hout Bay

Uitsig Animal Rescue Centre: hello.uitsig@gmail.com | Thandanani Farm, just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

Sidewalk Specials: contact@sidewalkspecials.org  | Find them at the Granger Bay market on the 1st Saturday of each month

TEARS: volunteer@tears.org.za | 4 Lekkerwater Road, Sunnydale, Noordhoek

Fallen Angels: info@fallenangels.org.za | Just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

African Tails: manager@africantails.co.za | 56 Koeberg Rd, Brooklyn

Lucky Lucy: volunteer@luckylucy.org | N7, between Philadelphia and Malmesbury

18. Rainbow Puppet Theatre @ the Waldorf School

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @therainbow.puppettheatre via Instagram

Theatre is the rawest and most honest form of storytelling. Pry your little ones away from their screens and video games for a morning and watch their minds be transformed by the magical world of theatre. Using hand and rod puppets in a beautiful custom-made set, the shows are inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, each story carrying an uplifting message. Shows are recommended for age 4 years and up.

The venue is great for kiddie’s parties, and the troupe also has a mobile puppet theatre for home events.

Price: R20 per ticket

When: Saturday mornings, two shows @ 10:00 and 11:15

Where: Constantia Waldorf School, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia | 021 783 2063

19. Ice skating at Grand West

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @proactiveconcepts via Instagram

Practise your graceful (or wobbly) moves on the ice at the Ice Station at Grand West. The Olympic-size skating rink is open to all ages and abilities and is a hotspot for families over the holiday season. This is great fun with a group of friends or for a date night!

The rink hosts ice hockey championships and figure skating competitions throughout the year, and spectators are welcome to sit in and watch.

Price: R60 incl. skate hire/ R50 bring your own skates

Open Times:

Mon – Tues 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30
Wed – Thurs 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 20:00 – 22:30
Friday 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Saturday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Sunday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30

Grand West, 1 Vanguard Drive, Goodwood, | 021 535 2260

20. Get a Rush!

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @misshurlbatt via Instagram

Bouncing around on trampolines is not just for kids. You can work up quite a sweat and have great fun challenging your friends to a game of dodgeball or slam dunk basketball. When you’re not tumbling around the nets, you can enjoy some coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi on the side. Great for birthday parties, team building or some weekend fun!

Price: From R115 per hour. See their online pricing guide

Open: Monday-Thursday, 13:00-21:00/ Friday-Saturday, 09:00-22:00/ Sunday, 09:00-19:00

5th Floor, 109 on Main, Claremont | 087 094 0178, 021 683 3841, 021 671 1489

21. SUP Boarding

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @supcapetown via Instagram

One of the best ways to work on your abs and take in views of the city, SUP boarding is becoming a favourite summer pastime. There’s no better way to start your day than a refreshing dip in our sparkling ocean – hands down the most fun thing to do in Cape Town.

SUP Cape Town offers a 1-hour paddle along the Waterfront canals at R220 per person, or spend 1.5 hours paddling in the open ocean at R550 per person.

Let Ocean Riders take you out along the canals of Intaka Island, the CTICC and off Muizenberg and Clifton beaches. A 1-hour intro lesson and paddle ranges from R180-R350 per person.

If you’re looking for a full-day SUP experience, the guys at High Five can treat you to a sunrise paddle and brekkie or a sunset paddle and braai. Enjoy a 2-hour guided session off Blouberg beach at just R400 for an entire group of three!

For the yogis out there, you can even try SUP Yoga with SUP Yoga Cape Town at R300 per person for 1.5 hours in the Camps Bay tidal pool.

22. Hit the mountain bike trails

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @ashortchase via Instagram

Swap your Sunday drive for a Sunday ride instead. If you’re up for a little exercise, this is a fun thing to do in Cape Town. The city is full of exciting and scenic bike trails to explore. Here are nine of our top picks:

  • Meerendal Wine Farm: 21km, easy riding. Start point – wine farm
  • Deer Park, Table Mountain: 16-34km, intermediate riding. Start point – Chelmsford Rd, Vredehoek
  • Cape Point Reserve: up to 45km, easy riding. Start point – anywhere
  • Koeberg Reserve, Melkbosstrand: 7-25km, easy riding. Start point – Visitors Centre
  • Jonkershoek: 10-45km, intermediate to technical riding. Start point – Jonkershoek Reserve main gate
  • Tokai Forest: up to 40km, moderate to extreme riding. Start point – Arboretum
  • Dirtopia, Delvera Wine Estate: 7-18km, moderate riding. Start point – Dirtopia Trail Centre
  • Contermanskloof, Durbanville: up to 36km, intermediate riding. Start point – The Dairy Shed
  • Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch: 10-45km, easy riding. Start point – The Radish Restaurant

Note that park entry fees or trail fees may apply.

23. Green Point Park

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @guessential via Instagram

Looking for a space to bring the whole family, picnic, throw some frisbee and walk the dogs? Green Point Park is a recreational hub with lots to see and do. It features an amphitheatre, outdoor maze, exercise gym, wetlands garden, 25,000 indigenous plants, two child-friendly playparks, tea garden, nursery and loads of picnic areas. This is a great space to enjoy some fresh air and be active. If you’re planning to host a kiddies party or large gathering, come early to secure a good spot.

Note that swimming, skateboarding, alcohol, loud music and braais are not permitted.

Open: 07:00-19:00 daily

1 Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point | 021 417 0111

24. Swim at Silvermine

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @lieslhermanus via Instagram

A short trot from Ou Kaapse Weg leads you to the sparkling freshwater Silvermine Reservoir where you’re free to swim, hike, picnic and braai. Dogs are welcome, but owners must have a Level 1 My Activity permit. Gates open at 07:00 and close at 18:00 in summer.

Price: R50 for adults, R25 children (2-11 years), Free to SANParks Wild Card & My Green Card holders

Silvermine Reserve, off Ou Kaapse Weg | 021 712 0527

25. Have a picnic on Beta Beach

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @brendongrobler via Instagram

Beta Beach is one of Cape Town’s top beaches, and with its perfect positioning and big boulders to laze on, it’s easy to see why. It’s seclusion away from the bustle of Camps Bay and Clifton beaches make it a more peaceful spot to catch a tan, read your book and enjoy a picnic with some friends. And the water’s not far away for a refreshing dip. As the sun sets, watch everyone migrate to the big flat rocks to get the perfect view (and selfie)!

26. Pick roses at Chart Farm

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @stephaniemarthinus via Instagram

Summer is here and the roses are in full bloom! Spend the morning or afternoon filling a bucket with your favourite coloured roses and enjoy the beautiful views of the farm. You’re also welcome to pick table grapes, lemons and chestnuts – delicious seasonal essentials! Their dog-friendly coffee shop serves up very reasonably-priced breakfasts, lunches and freshly-baked cakes.

Please bring your own bucket and secateurs if possible.

Price: R6 per rose

Open: Monday-Sunday, 09:00-16:30

Klaassens Road, Wynberg| 021 762 0067, 066 100 8924

 

If Cape Town is your back garden, make sure you take advantage of all these great activities. If not, book your cheap flights to Cape Town and start exploring the Mother City!

Got any other budget-friendly ideas on fun things to do in Cape Town? Share them in the comments below.

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Featured image courtesy of @supcapetown via Instagram

The post 25 Fun Things to Do in Cape Town on a Budget appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

The Low Down on What it’s Really Like Snorkelling in Bali

Bali is famous for many things – sacred temples, beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, delicious food, amazing surfing, and cute little island towns. But just below the waves, there is

another side to Bali that you absolutely need to explore if you want to make the most of your trip to Indonesia.

And although scuba diving in Bali is an unforgettable experience, if you would prefer something less technical, snorkelling in Bali is also a great experience and all you will need is a mask and fins.

Sounds like something you would love to do? Carry on reading and we will give you the low down on essential information such as visibility and sea temperatures and all the best snorkelling spots in and around Bali.

snorkelling bali

Photo credit: @manuelbergmann via Instagram

Best Time for Snorkelling in Bali

The rainy season in Bali is typically from October to March. The ocean can be quite rough and murky during these months and aren’t ideal for snorkelling. Although the weather can be unpredictable and go from lousy to fantastic within hours, so it might still be possible to get some snorkelling in if you are planning your holiday during this season.

The best time for snorkelling in Bali is definitely during the dry months from April to September. If you want to swim with the manta rays, the best time to visit is between April and May. And if you want to see the famous Mola Mola (oceanic sunfish), the best time to visit is between July and September.

Also see: Your Guide to the Best Time to Visit Bali

snorkel with turtles

Photo credit: @manuelbergmann via Instagram

Sea Conditions

The ocean temperature is quite consistent throughout the year, ranging between 24-29 degrees Celsius and visibility usually ranges from 10 to 50 metres.

The currents around Bali can be quite strong so it is important that you:

  • know how to handle getting caught in them
  • find out what the conditions are like where you plan to snorkel
  • go with someone else or a group (especially if you are a newbie)
  • try to plan a morning trip because the sea tends to get rough in the afternoon
wreck snorkel bali

Photo credit: @jeangrey6 via Instagram

The Best Snorkelling Spots in Bali

Northern Bali: Tulamben and Amed

USAT liberty shipwreck – Tulamben

The USAT Liberty Shipwreck is one of the most well known and popular snorkelling sites in Bali. The USAT Liberty was a World War II cargo ship that ran aground in 1942 after being hit by Japanese torpedoes. The ship remained intact on Tulamben beach until Mount Agung erupted in 1963 and the tremors caused the ship to break up and slip off the beach onto a sand slope. The ship is covered in colourful corals and home to hundreds of strange and wonderful reef fish and marine animals.

USAT liberty wreck

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

Coral Garden – Tulamben

The coral garden is a shallow reef situated just a few hundred metres from the USAT Liberty wreck site. It is close to the shore and has a depth of 2-15 metres, which is perfect if you are a beginner snorkeller or just want to take it easy. The Coral Garden is a vibrant kingdom of soft and hard corals, playful tropical fish, lazy moray eels, peculiar bumphead parrotfish, and graceful blacktip reef sharks.

coral garden tulamben

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

Japanese shipwreck – Amed

The Japanese wreck is a mysterious and magnificent snorkelling spot just off the beach in Lipah Bay, near Banyuning. How it ended up on the sandy seabed is a mystery, but its fate helped create a perfect landscape for marine animals and beautiful Gorgonian fans to flourish. Barracuda, blue spotted sting rays, scorpion fish, and octopus are just some of the creatures that you might find hanging around.

japanese wreck bali

Photo credit: @ringabiketour via Instagram

Jemeluk Bay – Amed

Famous for its Underwater Temple (a.k.a. Underwater Post Office) and rich marine life, Jemeluk Bay is one of the most popular snorkelling spots in the area. Underwater sculptures are scattered throughout the bay to support coral growth and have created a vibrant world that will excite all levels of snorkellers. You can expect to see corals, angelfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, and blue spotted rays.

snorkelling with manta rays

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

Bunutan Point – Amed

Less touristy than the other sites, snorkelling at Bunutan Point tends to be an easygoing affair. The reef begins in shallow water and gentle slopes into the ocean towards a coral garden alive with all kinds of colourful sea life. Triggerfish, boxfish, barracudas, and tropical reef fish are common sights at this snorkelling site. Curious blacktip reef sharks are also often spotted cruising around Bunutan Point.

bali snorkel

Photo credit: @chlmrin via Instagram

Menjangan Island

Situated next to West Bali National Park and surrounded by crystal blue water, Menjangan Island is a dreamscape for snorkellers. It was ranked 3rd on Discovery Channel’s list of The World’s 10 Best Spots for Snorkelling and has some of the loveliest corals in Bali. You will encounter clownfish, blue tangs, Moorish idols, starfish, yellow tangs, pufferfish, and if you are lucky, whale sharks, manta rays, and turtles.

menjangan island

Photo credit: @manuelbergmann via Instagram

Pemuteran Biorock

For something a little different, Pemutran Biorock is an artificial reef located off Pemuteran Beach. The reef is made up of steel structures that use low-level electricity to speed up coral growth as part of a restoration and conservation project that began in 2000. It is an interesting snorkelling spot and home to all the usual suspects, including yellow striped snappers, catfish, damsels, and humbugs.

biorock bali

Photo credit: @89feri via Instagram

Eastern Bali: Padangbai

Blue Lagoon – Padangbai

If you are a newbie snorkeller or just want to take it easy and float in luminous blue water with schools of tropical fish then Blue Lagoon is the spot for you. The water is usually very calm and the coral reefs rest on top of a sandy bottom in shallow water, so it is great for a leisurely snorkel. Some of the curious creatures you will encounter are emperor angelfish, trumpet fish, stargazers, octopus, and reef sharks.

coral garden bali

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

White Sand Beach (a.k.a. Pantai Pasir Putih) – Padangbai

Not only is White Sand Beach a great beach for lazing about beneath the Balinese sun, but it is also a fantastic spot for snorkelling. When you sink beneath the waves, corals invite you to look a little closer and meet some of the marine creatures that flutter and float around them. Cute tropical fish, curious moray eels, and even turtles hang out in the water surrounding White Sand Beach.

clownfish snorkel

Photo credit: @ringabiketour via Instagram

Southern Bali: Nusa Islands

Nusa Penida

This tiny island lies just off the south coast of mainland Bali and has some of the absolute best snorkelling experiences in Indonesia. Calm on the surface but teeming with life beneath the surface, Crystal Bay is a world-famous snorkelling spot. And if you want to swim with gentle manta rays and the famous Oceanic Sunfish (Mola Mola), head to Manta Point, which is considered a legendary snorkelling spot in Bali.

snorkel with mantas

Photo credit: @elli_beeee via Instagram

Nusa Lembongan

Lembongan Island is a small island next to Nusa Penida with some incredible snorkelling experiences if you can handle the strong current (getting snorkel guide for this island is recommended). The best snorkelling spots around Nusa Lembongan are Mangrove Point and Mushroom Bay. The water is crystal clear and home to creatures such as reef sharks, triggerfish, parrotfish, ocean sunfish, and barracudas.

buddha temple lembongan

Photo credit: @ringabiketour via Instagram

The Gili Islands

If you want to snorkel with green and hawksbill turtles, the Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air) just off Lombok are the Turtle Capital of the World. If you are up for the journey, a ferry ride will take you from Padang Bai to Lombok Island and then onto the Gili Islands.

Find and compare cheap flights to Bali on Travelstart.co.za!

snorkelling with turtles

Photo credit: @mathiasbanck via Instagram

And remember:

  • Do not touch the anything or stand on the reefs while snorkelling. Marine life and corals are extremely fragile and even a simple touch can damage them.
  • Support local businesses by using small local companies for snorkelling trips.

If we missed any great snorkelling spots in Bali, let us know in the comments section below!

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The post The Low Down on What it’s Really Like Snorkelling in Bali appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

New York: Cheap Things to Do & What’s Worth the Splurge

“New York, New York it’s a hell of a town’’ sang Leonard Bernstein – a hell of an expensive town you might be thinking to yourself! At Travelstart, New York represents a pipe dream for many of our travellers. They long to see the Big Apple, but the perception of New York as a staggeringly expensive city pushes it further down their holiday wish list.

Having just visited New York City with our partners at Virgin Atlantic, we can confirm that visiting New York can quickly become a costly exercise. However, there are many free things to do and affordable things to do to enjoy this city on a shoestring. Let’s explore where you can save money in New York, and what’s worth the splurge! As with any trip, it’s about prioritising.

Free and Cheap Things to Do in New York

Pound the Pavements

flat iron

The best way to experience New York is by walking its action-packed streets, and Manhattan is small enough to do just that. Pounding the pavements is a great way to see the most famous sites, from the Flatiron building to the Empire State Building, but also to discover the unexpected. We stumbled across talented street artists, a sex museum, incredible Halloween installations, designer pop-up sample sales, crazy characters and mind-boggling food on our walkabouts. If your feet get weary and you can’t go on, you can always abort your mission and jump on the subway.

Staten Island Ferry

staten island ferry

There are plenty of ferries that take you to or around the Statue of Liberty, but those in the know assured us that Lady Liberty is better seen from afar than ascended. So rather than forking out a few hundred Rand to go up the Statue of Liberty, we kept our cash and decided to take the Staten Island Ferry instead. This entirely free service runs 24/7 between Whitehall Terminal (located in Lower Manhattan) and Staten Island. The 20-minute trip is a fun way to get some fresh air, enjoy magnificent views of the New York skyline and get up close to the Statue of Liberty. We were worried at the volume of people wanting to board our ferry at first (it’s used by both commuters and tourists), but the ferries are enormous and there was plenty of seating inside and space outside to enjoy the views and take photos.

Times Square

times square

Bright lights and larger than life, a billboard advertising the new Grinch movie sarcastically and rather accurately describes Times Square as the place “where classy meets subtle.” Wandering around Times Square entails marvelling at the sheer volume as well as true creativity of the billboard displays, popping into the coolest shops (M&M’s store anybody?) and wowing over the arts and music. If you’re on a budget, be sure to avoid the cartoon characters walking about – take a photo with one and you’ll be expected to fork out up to $20 (About R300) for their troubles. Stand in front of the live streaming Street-Level Times Square Cam on the Visitors Centre on 46th Street and wave to your family and friends as well as thousands of strangers from anywhere around the world who happen to be watching the Times Square camera live.

Visit Central Park

central park

A sanctuary in the middle of Manhattan magic, Central Park, which is an unmissable New York attraction, is a great place to slow down and spend a few hours away from the hustle. This huge and beautifully maintained park boasts acres of grass that beg to be picnicked upon, playgrounds, ice-rinks, museums, yoga classes, running tracks and more. Kick off your shoes and play frisbee on the lawns, grab a coffee and wander around spotting your locations from your favourite movies or just read a book in the peace and quiet. Public vehicles have recently been banned on the few roads that run through Central Park, which makes it even more appealing!

Walk the Skyline

high line

With lofty views of the city from a different perspective, the High Line is a free public space built on a historic elevated freight line on the west side of Manhattan. This 2.3 km rail trail is a linear park where you can enjoy art, walk through gardens, experience a performance, and buy delicious food while enjoying a unique view of the city and its compelling portfolio of architecture and design. Saved from impending demolition, the High Line has become a world-renowned example of how cities can transform industrial infrastructure into beautiful public spaces. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have an hour or two to spare!

Visit Chelsea Market

chelsea market

Close to the High Line, the trending Meat Packing District plays host to fashion designers, galleries, museums and markets. Make your way towards the Chelsea Market for lunch and walk the halls perusing the cute speciality stores, the art on display and grab lunch at one of the dozens of eateries. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Chelsea Market has something to satisfy your stomach – from Italian fare and oyster bars to tacos and doughnut shops.

Chow Down on American Street Food

hot dogs

Eating on the go in New York is affordable. It’s also the best way to multi-task like a true Manhattan local. Just like they do in the movies, stop at a local vendor and grab yourself a steaming hot dog, a slice of the most incredible pizza or a fresh pretzel for $1-$3 (Between R15-R45). No one ever said New York would be good for the waistline, but all that walking will help ward off any extra kilos!

5th Avenue Window Shopping

saks 5th avenue

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, anyone? Remember that 5th Avenue is one of the top shopping destinations in the world, which means this is one place all the top brands are putting their best foot forward. Marvel at opulent, creative and crazy window displays and explore the hottest new releases and fashion ranges. The usual luxury designer brands aside, 5TH Avenue highlights include Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany & Co, Fao Schwatz (a magical toy store) and the Apple store. Even if you have no plans to shop, 5th Avenue should be on everyone’s New York to-do list!

Visit The National September 11 Memorial

sept 11 memorial

If you’re prepared for an emotional outing, visiting “Ground Zero” – the former site of the Twin Towers before the 9/11 attacks –is a very special thing to do while you are in New York. Once a devastating reminder of the horrific tragedy, this space has been transformed into a beautiful tribute to the 2977 victims who lost their lives in the terror attacks.

The Memorial’s staggering design features twin pools of water-the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Inscribed in bronze around the perimeter is the name of every victim, a powerful reminder of the incredible loss of life. Walk a little further to the fire station – the first responders on the day of the attack and take a minute to pay your respects to the brave firefighters who sacrificed their lives to help others.

Book your Virgin Atlantic flights to New York now!

What’s Worth the Splurge in New York

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

STARDUST

Everyone should visit a diner for breakfast in New York- it’s practically a right of passage- and if you can choose only one, you should choose Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway.

This fifties-themed diner is the ultimate way to start your day, because not only is the food amazing (think bacon and egg waffles) but the servers are the hottest up and coming Broadway stars, taking turns to perform your favourite songs with you sip on your morning coffee. One of our favourites was a hugely talented server singing La Bamba while wearing Edward Scissorhands talons that he would twirl as he danced and run through unsuspecting patron’s hair. It’s like a party with your pancakes and you’ll leave energised, ready for the day! Prepare to pay about $20 (R350-ish) for breakfast – but it comes with a free show!

Disclaimer! Don’t be put off by the queue, this is one famously popular spot, but the line moves quickly and it’s 100% worth the short wait.

Horse & Carriage Ride through Central Park

horse ride nyc

 

Fun, romantic, exhilarating or cheesy, no matter which way you spin it, riding in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park is the stuff that fairytales are made of! Truly a fun thing to do while in New York, a Horse and Carriage ride is a terrific way to get your bearings of the park, learn a little about the sites and famous movie settings from your guide and of course, it’s great for selfies!

Do your research and book online, you can expect to pay about $55 (About R800) for a 20-minute ride for 4 people.

Jekyll & Hyde Club

nyc restaurant

 

The world famous Jekyll and Hyde Restaurant and Bar is a one-of-a-kind place! In an intimate, eerie and bizarre setting enjoy live entertainment and spooky special effects throughout dinner.

Encounter bizarre characters such as Claw the Gargoyle who will sing customised songs to birthday guests, Tobias the Werewolf and prankster, or an authentic Egyptian mummy. The servers and staff perform magic tricks, introduce you to the oddest creatures and generally have fun freaking the patrons out. The food is pretty delicious and the portions are enormous, and you’ll pay about $39 (R600) for the Standard Service package which includes dinner, an appetiser or dessert, unlimited soft drinks and bewitching entertainment all night. There are many other options available too.

Grab a Drink at 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar

230bar

The rooftop bars of New York provide patrons with the perfect panoramic backdrop to enjoy sundowners high above the humming city streets. Drinks may be expensive, but treat yourself to even just one drink and savour the splurge as the sun sets on another day. After all, how can you visit Manhattan without a taste of the nightlife? 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar is the biggest in New York. Located on (you guessed it ) 5th Avenue, they’ve got plenty of seating, great music, gowns to borrow on chilly nights and an amazing view of the Empire State Building. We also loved Magic Hour- a rooftop bar located on the top of Moxy Hotel on Times Square, with its carousel of rotating tables and putt-putt course.

Your Visa

Travelling on the South African passport means procuring a visa for the majority of the most popular destinations in the world, which can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful. The plus side for the USA visa is that your hard work pays off! Not only is the USA visa processing time very quick when compared to Schengen and UK visas, but you will also be automatically given a 10-year multi-entry visa for the USA! Which means at the drop of a hat, you can buy your Virgin Atlantic flight on Travelstart and be in the USA in no time. Double bonus – if you fly to New York via London with Virgin Atlantic, your valid USA visa means you won’t need a transit visa for England.

A Central Hotel

moxy hotel

New York is all about walking and it’s pretty safe to even stroll the busy areas at night. Try book a hotel that’s close to the action if you can – we opted for the uber-cool Moxy Times Square which was ideal for sightseeing, shopping and restaurants. The rooms were spacious and modern, and the hotel was very funky. It has multiple restaurants and bars and also had free candy since it was Halloween and gave us ponchos when it rained. Be sure to book early because affordable hotels in Manhattan understandably fill up fast. If you need to stay a little further out for budget’s sake, never fear. One subway ride into central Manhattan is only $2.75 (About R40).

Book your New York hotel now.

Sample Sales

If you travel to New York during shoulder season, you may be fortunate enough to stumble across some sample or clearance sales as we did. Having arrived in New York with zero intention whatsoever to shop, we may have been swayed by a sample sale pop-up, where the Rebecca Minkhoff bags and shoes were about 80% off the original retail price. Great deals on designer brands were also to be found in Macy’s and other department stores, so seek carefully and ye shall find!

The post New York: Cheap Things to Do & What’s Worth the Splurge appeared first on Travelstart Blog.