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Asia Guides Insider Tips

Top 20 Places to Visit in Tokyo in 2020

I have a feeling that by the end of 2020 Tokyo is going to be the “it” city to visit in the world. Why is that? Well, if you haven’t heard, the summer Olympics are coming to Tokyo. And after people see the sights and neon lights of Tokyo on their TV sets or their computer or phone screens, they’re going to want to visit. So, you better beat everyone else to the hottest city of 2020 and book your ticket NOW!

Tokyo is a great place to explore the two sides to Japanese culture: the traditional side of temples and history and the modern side of manga and robots. Here are my top 20 places to visit where can experience both sides of Tokyo in 2020:

Where to see the best traditional Culture of Tokyo:

1. Senso-ji Temple

The oldest and one of the most important Buddhist temples in Tokyo is Senso-ji.

Originally built in 645, Sensoji is dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Compassion (a.k.a. Guanyin in Chinese culture). Senso-ji was destroyed during World War II, so the current one that you’re seeing was built in the twentieth century.

Pro Tip:  Make sure to get a omikuji, a paper fortune. Just follow the instructions (written in English). Don’t worry, if you get a bad fortune, just tie the paper around a nearby rack to stop the bad luck from happening.

2. Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is one of Japan’s most popular shrines. This shrine is the one Tokyoites visit at the beginning of every year in order to pray for good fortune.

Built in 1920, the shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of the Meiji Emperor and his wife, the Empress Shokun.

What to do at Meiji Shrine: Write your wish on an ema, a votive tablet, and place it under the big camphor tree to the right of the main hall.

3. Tokyo National Museum

This museum is the best place to visit in Tokyo to get a sense of the overall history of Japanese art.

The Tokyo National Museum is made up of 5 buildings. It would take you a few days to visit all of them. However, you don’t need to do that. Just head to the one in the center, the Honkan Gallery. Here you’ll see an overview of Japanese art from the Jomon to the Edo periods.

Pro Tip: I love the paintings by Hakusai. His most famous one, “Great Wave of Kanagawa,” was located on the first floor when I visited.

4. Edo Tokyo Museum

This spectacular museum in Sumida covers the fascinating history of Tokyo.

The Edo Tokyo Museum takes you through the history of Tokyo when it was called Edo to the present day. It’s filled with reproductions such as the Nihon Bashi Bridge (considered the center of Edo), a Kabuki Theater, and a Japanese apartment from the 1960s.

Pro Tip: The Edo Tokyo Museum is huge! To see it all, you’ll want to schedule three or four hours. Be sure to arrive early because most museums in Japan close at 5:00 pm. Also, make sure you have enough time for the post World War II section of the museum.

5. Ukiyo-e Ota Museum of Art

If you’re looking for a break from the teeny boppers crowds of Harajuku, head to this small, gem of a museum, the Ukiyo-e Museum of Art.

This museum focuses on Japanese woodblock prints of the Floating World in the Edo and Meiji periods. The Floating World was the term used to describe the pleasure world where Japanese went to watch kabuki, drink, gamble, and visit geishas and prostitutes.

Pro Tip: It’s small, so you need just an hour to visit. You could go back to this museum every month as the prints change monthly.

6. Kabuki-za Theater

Watching a kabuki performance at Tokyo’s Kabuki-za Theater is a must for anyone wanting to explore Japanese traditional culture more deeply.

Kabuki is traditional Japanese drama. The stories usually feature tales of romance and heroism. It was traditionally performed by all female casts, but the Japanese people felt this was too risqué, so female actors were banned and replaced by an all-male cast.

Pro Tip: The Kabuki-za theater has four to five performances every day from morning to evening. You can buy single act tickets on the day of the performance from 600 yen to 1,500 yen. I highly recommend renting an electronic translator at the theater to get a translation of the play.

7. Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium

Seeing a sumo match is not just for the sports enthusiast, but also for those wanting to experience one aspect of Japan’s unique culture. You can do that at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium in Samida.

Official Sumo tournaments only take place in January, March, May, July, September, and November. If you’re not in Tokyo in those months, you can also watch a morning practice session.

Pro Tip: You can buy tickets on Voyagin or Viator websites. You can also buy cheap same day tickets at 8:00 am. However, they sell out very quickly, so get in line really early in the morning.

8. Oedo Onsen Monogatari

Another cultural experience you must try before leaving Japan is a visit to a hot springs (called onsen in Japanese). An easy way to visit one in Tokyo is at a hot spring entertainment park called Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba.

At Monogatari, you’ll find an outdoor foot bathing area, a food court, and a gender-separated bathing area with several different kinds of baths. The other unique aspect about this experience is that you’ll wander around the park in a traditional Japanese robe called a yukata.

Pro Tip: Japanese hot springs can be an intimidating experience for the first-timer. Before your visit, watch some videos to learn how to tie a yukata and read up on Japanese bathing etiquette.

9. Tsukiji Outer Market

You can’t leave Japan without experiencing its world-famous food. One of the most fun ways to do it is to visit Tsukiji Outer Market. Here you’ll get to sample Japanese street food like tamagoyaki, sea urchin, and oysters. There are also lots of delicious restaurants for a sit-down meal of sashimi or seafood rice bowls.

Tsukiji Market used to be divided into 2 parts: the outer market for tourists and the inner wholesale market. The wholesale market moved in 2018 to modern facilities in Toyosu. You can also visit, but it’s far away and it lacks the character that Tsukiji has.

Pro Tip: Shops are open from 9:00 to 14:00. All are closed on Sundays and some are closed on Wednesdays.

10. Staying in a Ryokan

You should at least experience staying in a traditional Japanese inn, called a ryokan, at least once during your trip to Japan. Tokyo is a great place to experience this only-in-Japan style of accommodations.

Ryokans have several features that are uniquely Japanese. They’ll have their own hot spring bath for their guests. Some of them will also serve a multi-course breakfast and/or dinner consisting of seasonal dishes.

Pro Tip: Asakusa and Yanasen areas have some affordable ryokans for around (and sometimes under) US$100 a night.

11. Visiting traditional pre-war neighborhoods

If you want to see what Tokyo was like before World War II, the neon lights and shiny skyscrapers, then wander through the streets of Yanasen. 

Yanasen consists of three areas: Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi. Here you’ll find pre-war wooden buildings, lots of old temples and cemeteries, and shops selling traditional sweets and home goods.

Pro Tip: Try to have lunch or dinner at Hantei or Kamachiku.

Modern Japanese Culture

12. Visiting Shinjuku

If you have time for only one place to visit in Tokyo, make it the district of Shinjuku. Here is where you’ll see the Tokyo from the movies: the neon lights, unique bars, the crazy pachinko parlors, modern skyscrapers, and crowds of hip Tokyoites.

When visiting Shinjuku, there are three modern places to visit: Kabukicho, Omoido Yokocho (a narrow alley filled with tiny bars and yakitori restaurants), and Golden Gai (a series of small lanes filled with more tiny bars).

Pro Tip: Join a food tour of Shinjuku to get the inside scoop on where to go. You can sign up with tours through Get Your Guide.

13. Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing is THE famous crosswalk where you see a mess of people coming from all directions at one time to cross one intersection. To add to the experience, you’re surrounded by bright neon lights, huge television screens, and slick skyscrapers.

Don’t feel embarrassed if you do the crosswalk numerous times. I think all tourists do it! After doing Shibuya Crossing, check out the surrounding neighborhood. I found it to be a great place for street photography.

Pro Tip: Find a place from above to watch the crossing. An easy place to watch is from Starbucks. Sometimes it’s hard to find the exit from the station for Shibuya Crossing. Be patient. Look for the Hachiko Exit. This also leads to the statue of the famous dog called Hachiko.

14. Takeshita Dori Street

Takeshita Dori is a fun street to visit in Harajuku. It’s where Japanese teens go to shop, to eat, and to strut their stuff in the latest fashions.

Takeshita Dori is the perfect place to do both your people watching and shopping. You’ll see Japanese teens showing off their latest hairstyles and clothes. There are lots of trendy boutiques, inexpensive shops selling things you really don’t need, cat cafes, hedgehog cafes, and cafes serving crepes, cotton candy, and whatever the latest snack fad is.

Pro Tip: Stand at the beginning of the street to take a photo of the sea of people bobbing their heads as they parade down the street.

15. Fluffy Pancakes

The Japanese like to take foreign dishes and put their own spin on them. One dish that the Japanese have made their own version of is the pancake called the fluffy pancake. You can find restaurants all over Harajuku selling this delicious it.

You can find fluffy pancake restaurants in Harajuku. Here are some popular ones: A Happy Pancake, Burn Side Street Cafe, Flippers and Rainbow Pancake.

Pro Tip: Expect to wait in line to get in. I arrived at A Happy Pancake before it opened at 9:00 am, put my name on a list, and went off to wander the streets of Harajuku.

16. Akihabara

Another teen hangout that epitomizes modern Japanese culture is Akihabara.

You’ll find lots of stores for electronics, manga, anime, and video games. Looking for a Maid Cafe? Look no further than Akihabara.

Akihabara is named after Akiba, a local shrine. On Sundays, the main street, Chuo Dori, becomes a pedestrian only zone from 1:00 to 6:00 pm.

Pro Tip: You’ll see “maids” standing outside maid cafes getting customers to come inside. Please ask first before taking photos of them. They hate it when you snap one without asking.

17. Robot Restaurant

Some may say that the Robo Restaurant is a tourist trap, but it’s a fun and only-in-Japan tourist trap that keeps people coming. 

The Robot Restaurant isn’t a restaurant per se. You can order food, but you don’t have to and you probably don’t want to since the food isn’t all that good. The main focus of the “restaurant” is the robot show.

Pro Tip: Buy tickets for the show through Klook to get a discount.

18. teamLab Borderless

MORI Building Digital Art Museum: teamlab Borderless is the newest tourist sensation in Tokyo. It’s a museum devoted to interactive digital art. The digital art is projected onto the walls, floors, and ceilings. It’s constantly changing so that you can enter a room twice and experience different works of art.

There are actually two of these museums in Tokyo: teamLab Borderless and teamlab Planets. The teamLab Borderless in Odaiba is a permanent museum, while another one is temporary.

Pro Tip: Buy your tickets ahead of time because they sometimes sell out AND arrive before the museum opens to be the first ones in the museum. You’ll avoid crazy long lines.

19. Tokyo Sky Tree

The Tokyo Sky Tree is the best place to see 360 degree panoramic views of Tokyo. It towers over the city at 634 meters. 

Tokyo Sky Tree was finished in 2011 in Sumida district of Tokyo. It has one of those glass floors that you can walk on and see the world below you.

Pro Tip: Some people suggest skipping the tree and going to the Tokyo Government Building in Shinjuku. It’s free, while Tokyo Sky Tree isn’t. I felt the views were better from the Sky Tree, and you can actually take photos without the glass causing a glare on your camera.

20. Studio Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum is the animation museum of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. The studio made many famous Japanese anime movies such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke.

You’ll find exhibits on the process of making an animation movie and an opportunity to watch a movie that can only be seen at the museum.

Pro Tip: You need to buy the tickets online and in advance. You can’t buy tickets at the museum. Online tickets go on sale 3 months before the date of the visit. They sell out quickly, so as soon as your ticket date is being sold, buy it. Don’t even wait a day.


To read more about what to see and do in Tokyo click here!

 

Advice Middle East Travel Planning

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This Year

There is something very refreshing about choosing to visit a destination you know nothing about and therefore have very few, if any expectations of. Most recently this happened to me when I chose to go to Oman for my honeymoon, not the conventional choice, I know!

I didn’t know anyone that had been there, in fact most people looked at me completely blankly when I told them where I was going. It isn’t the kind of location that pops up on your Instagram feed on the regular either!

When you think of the Middle East, it is hard not to imagine glitzy high rise skyscrapers and attractions that regularly hold the title of “biggest in the world”. Oman is the complete opposite. Stoically understated in design, you will not find a single skyscraper here, in fact, no building is allowed to be higher than fourteen stories in order to preserve the stunning natural beauty of this Gulf country.

Visitors only really started coming here in the 1970s when Sultan Qaboos took over from his father, began to build some infrastructure and set about modernizing the country, before then flinging their doors open to the outside world. The country is now switching gears again in order to increase tourism; a new hassle-free visa process has been introduced for many countries and a huge new airport opened in Muscat in 2018.

A City Break in Muscat

Start your journey in the country’s capital, which will prove beyond a doubt that you don’t need height to have beautiful architecture; just visit the Royal Opera House, Al Alam Palace and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a gift from the Sultan to the people to mark his thirty years of reign. Don’t miss exploring Muttrah Souq as well, thought to be one of the world’s oldest Arabian market places.

The real beauty of Oman comes when you leave the city though. It has some of the most diverse landscape of any country I have ever visited; dramatic mountain ranges, deserted white sand beaches and magical Arabian desert, all within a couple of hours drive of the Muscat.

Jabal Akhdar Mountains

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This Year Take a road trip to Jabal Akhdar, part of the Al Hajar mountain range, for some respite from the heat; up here roses, apricots and pomegranates flourish on the mountainside, where the temperature is around 15°C cooler. It is the views that really take your breath away here though; deep ravines, wadis with abandoned villages clinging to the sides and more greenery than you would have ever thought possible for somewhere in the Middle East (it’s no coincidence that Jabal Akhdar roughly translates to “Green Mountain”).

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This YearYou can visit in a day trip, but watching the sun set here is nothing short of surreal; the total silence around you only accentuating the experience, until all you can see are the glittering lights of the ancient city of Nizwa sparkling in the distance.

There are two knockout hotels up here, the Alila Jabal Akhdar and the Anantara; the latter is built around Diana’s Point where you can take in the views from the same spot as the late princess once did in 1986.

Wahiba Sands Desert

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This YearGetting to Wahiba Sands from Muscat is a very scenic journey in itself, the coastline is stunning and there are miles and miles of deserted and immaculate beaches.

Actually entering the desert is bit of a surprise; one minute you are bouncing along through a village and the next you take a turn and move immediately from road to sand (not sure what I was expecting?!).

Driving through the desert a very freeing and peaceful experience, until you started dune bashing. Here you can visit communities descended from the Bedouins (nomads who lived in deserts of the Middle East and North Africa) and learn about their lives and culture.

There are a few places to spend the night here. Wahiba Desert Nights Camp is on the more luxe side; your accommodation is an individual Bedouin inspired blend of tent and permanent structure, with hot water in the shower and air conditioning!

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This YearYou can occupy yourself with desert safaris, camel riding or star gazing, but honestly, the best thing is just to ride up to the top of the highest dune to watch the sun fall in the sky and the sand change from reddish-orange to a dark yellow. The temperature drops quickly, so return to your camp for a communal dining experience with live music and a barbecue.

Final Thoughts

Oman is a stunningly diverse country with a more understated vibe, which is probably one of the reasons it has flown under the radar for so long. Now is the time to come though; Oman’s continuing efforts to increase tourism means it is an easy country to visit and get around, but it is still so much quieter in terms of visitors. I went in October (shoulder season) and outside of the hotels, didn’t come across many non-locals at all.

Bonus: Top Tips for Visiting Oman

  • A visa is needed for most other countries and is easy to apply for on their e-visa site online. It is only valid for entry within a month of application though, so don’t get ahead of yourself and apply too soon (as I did).
  • As with other Middle Eastern countries, conservative dressing is required. This means shoulders and knees covered as a minimum and you are required to cover your hair when entering any of the mosques.
  • Oman is the safest country to visit in the Middle East with a very low crime rate and a very friendly and hospitable culture, so is great for female travelers.
  • Public transport is not commonplace in Oman and if you are looking to leave the capital, I would recommend getting a driver. You can hire your own car, but driving through mountains and deserts should only be reserved for the most competent and confident drivers.
  • As with other Middle Eastern countries, try not to visit between June and August where the temperature renders it difficult to step outside and many of the tour operators shut down for the season.

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This Year

Advice Travel Planning What to Pack

7 Things You Must Not Bring in Your Carry On to Have a Hassle-Free Travel

Airport security can be pretty strict about their set of rules and regulations. For safety and security of all travelers, these rules are intentionally made for passengers to follow. They important reminders to make all plane travel safer. So, if you don’t want to be the talk of the town for making a scene at the airport or inside the plane… just remember these seven items that you should not bring in your carry on baggage!

Liquids Over 3.4 ounces or 100ml

Travelers are permitted to bring one quart sized bag filled with liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in their carry ons…  it’s a universal rule that everyone is pretty much aware of. Any liquid that is more than 3.4 ounces or 100ml is not allowed in a carry on – only with a checked bag. Airports are straightforward about bringing liquids on the plane.

So if you’re a really heavy water drinker, you may just bring your container following the required size. If it’s still not enough yet, you can always purchase a bottle of water on the plane.

As for your toiletries like shampoo and conditioner, opt for the travel-sized bottle. Or you can just ditch them altogether since most hotels would probably provide you with these essential.

Sporting Equipment

If you really must bring your sporting equipment, check your items, put them inside your checked-in baggage or be sure they fit in a bin during security check. However, balls and smaller equipment are allowed (given that they fit inside a carry on-sized bag).

Self-Defense Items

If you feel the need to bring your self-defense items (like pepper spray) for your own peace of mind, it’s important to note that they are not allowed in your carry on luggage. ​​​​​​​Most major airlines will allow you to pack up to 4 oz of pepper spray in a checked bag only.

Offensive Shirts

Remember that you are visiting a foreign land. You should be respectful of other people’s feelings… especially if it is offensive. Your shirts are no exception! Shirts printed with offensive statements is highly discouraged. In fact, flight attendants have the right to ask you to change into something more appropriate according to your destination.

Flammable Items

This is a no brainer! Anything that can cause alarm inside the plane is strictly prohibited. Some examples are fireworks, bleach, paint thinner or anything that can cause a fire inside the plane.

Heating Pads

Heating pads can be helpful when enduring long-haul flights. But then again, heating pads have a gel inside which is technically liquid. So it’s not allowed inside the plane no matter how tempting it is to be cozied up with the warmth of this pad during your flight.

Soup

Even if this is your favorite thing to eat before boarding a flight, just don’t bring it inside the plane! You can always just eat it while waiting for your boarding time. 

Advice Asia Guides Insider Tips

What Not To Miss In Singapore Your First Time

For me, Singapore is my home away from home.  The things I adore about Singapore are often the things that tourists miss out on when they visit.  As it turns out, Singapore is so much more than just shopping on Orchard Road. 

Follow this list of things you won’t want to miss your first time visiting Singapore and you’ll get to experience everything Singapore has to offer.

1. Eat at the Hawker Centres

You will find hawker centres all throughout Singapore.  These are essentially government-regulated food courts where the locals go to eat. Here you’ll experience some of the best and most authentic dishes in all of Singapore.  

We would highly recommend you eat most of your meals at hawker centres and do your best to try different dishes each time!  Some local favorites include char kway teow, laksa, wantan mee, and roti prata.

2. Shop on Orchard Road

When most people think about what to do in Singapore, the first thing that comes to mind is shopping…  and Orchard Road is the quintessential spot in Singapore to do it! You’ll get the opportunity to shop at countless high-end shopping malls (with air-conditioning thankfully) and every brand you can think of.  In fact, most big brands have numerous shops on Orchard Road.

If you are a big shopper, then Orchard Road is an absolute must.  Even if you aren’t, it’s still well worth taking a few hours out of your day.

3. Visit Gardens by the Bay

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is a stunning feat of architecture found right in the heart of Singapore.  A handful of giant supertrees tower over the park. A sky bridge extends through the grove connecting two supertrees and allowing you to walk amongst the treetops.

Two massive conservatories contain two separate ecosystems – one filled with tropical plants and another packed with flowers.  It’s absolutely worth visiting and spending the S$28, but if you are limited on time consider skipping the Flower Dome.  

The Cloud Forest is by far the more impressive of the two structures, containing the second tallest indoor waterfall in the world (after the Jewel at Changi Airport, also in Singapore).

4. Shop & Eat at Chinatown

Make sure to visit and explore Chinatown.  It’s home to some of the best Chinese hawker stalls in Singapore, plus it’s a great opportunity to get some shopping done and find some souvenirs to take back home.

Make sure to check out Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.  Making it here during a Chinese festival, such as the Chinese New Year, can be absolutely stunning.  The streets will be decorated with lanterns and you can expect the locals to be festive.

5. Explore Clarke Quay and Visit the Merlion

Clarke Quay is a great spot to explore for a few hours on a nice evening.  There are plenty of upscale eateries and bars here and a river with boat rides and bridges.

A short walk will offer spectacular views over the bay towards the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Singapore Flyer.  You also won’t want to miss a photo of the iconic Merlion which was relocated here in 2002.  

6. Stroll Through Macritchie Reservoir Park

The Macritchie Reservoir is Singapore’s oldest reservoir and is a giant park found in the middle of the island.  Consider hiking the Macritchie Nature Trail, where you will find eleven kilometers of trails, with a full loop taking around four hours. 

Along the way, expect to encounter some cheeky, long-tailed macaques (yes, monkeys) that want nothing more than the food in your bags.  Make sure not to feed them – and be especially careful not to corner them. They are cute to look at, but they can be aggressive.

You may also come across a treetop walkway suspended 25 meters above the ground.  It’s a great way to experience the park from the sky, but consider avoiding it if you’re afraid of heights.

Advice Budget Insider Tips Travel Planning

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

A new year is approaching, and with the new calendar date comes new excitement and (if you’re like me) new bucket list destinations. As 2020 creeps closer each day, there are some absolutely stunning cultural cities that I’m dreaming of visiting in the new year. Luckily, many of these places are affordable destinations too!

For those of us who have a budget in mind… good news! With the increased demand for affordable transportation, It’s a pretty incredible time to be a budget traveler. Here are four affordable destinations I’m adding to my 2020 travel plans …and you should to)!​​​​​​​

Mexico City, Mexico

With affordable, direct flights connecting it to many popular US cities, Mexico City has quickly become a cultural hub for budget travelers! Flying from New York is a grand total of five hours, making it an excellent choice for a long weekend or over a holiday break. 

Mexico City is a perfect affordable destination for cultural travelers. So, if you happen to be a traveler who longs for meaningful, historical, authentic experiences – look no further. As one of America’s earliest cities, Mexico City is stocked with many artifacts of the ancient world, museums, art exhibits and more. 

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Be sure to check out Mexico City’s Coyoacán neighborhood, dotted with beautifully aged architecture, as well bright and vivid colored homes and foliage. Mexico City’s culinary scene is also top notch! Foodie travelers will love its traditional, family-owned restaurants and appreciation for authentic flavors. Some of my personal eatery favorites? El Moro’s churros, Azul Historico’s one of a kind gaucamole with crickets and Cafe Don Porfirio for one of the best views in the whole city!

Johannesburg, South Africa

After just returning from a whirlwind trip to Johannesburg, I can confirm that the city is truly one that will​​​​​​​ always have me coming back for more. Johannesburg city is rapidly changing… making it a joy to rediscover time and time again. Johannesburg was my first solo trip I ever took, and it has a nostalgic and meaningful place in my heart. That said – I think the city is one of the most contrasting and intriguing environments out there.

Jo’burg’s friendly, chilled out vibe is incredibly welcoming to outsiders. Check out the city’s Apartheid Museum to learn about its troubled past and gain and understand of the context in which the city views its future. It’s a seriously moving experience. Also be sure to explore its up and coming neighborhood, Maboneng… its hipster feel will have you questioning where in the world you are! Feeling a bit more adventurous? The city’s relativity to some of South Africa’s most amazing wildlife reserve and game lands makes it a very special location for safari departures.

Budget travelers, something to keep in mind – your flight will perhaps be your biggest purchase for this trip! However, I’ve found that after landing, costs are very cheap (when exchanging the US dollar)… making it a relatively affordable destination all things considered.

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Cairo, Egypt

Real adventure seekers, 2020 is your year to discover the mystery of Cairo! Egypt is so much more than just ancient pyramids and camel rides through the desert. Trust me on this. Cairo is rich with wonder and adventurous excursions galore. Better yet, the country of Egypt is a relatively affordable destination for the adventurous soul with an innate curiosity for our ancient human history.

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Egypt’s large and expansive capital, Cairo, set on the Nile River, is filled with some of the world’s most prized and studied relics. After visiting the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx At Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Djoser At Saqqara – be sure to take a jaunt over to the city’s Antiquities Museum & Mummy Room. I truly believe that traveling responsibly means also investing in educating ourselves about other cultures – so I absolutely recommend taking an Islamic tour of the area to gain a greater sense of Cairo’s history and perspectives.

Cairo’s flights are extremely affordable if departing from parts of Europe! So, if you just so happen to be on holiday exploring – see if you can add an extra leg to Egypt at a cheaper price. Quite like Johannesburg, I’ve found that the exchange rate makes Cairo an incredibly affordable destination options based on day-to-day expenses.

Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal has stolen the hearts of international travelers in the past few years. And I have to say, after experiencing the magic of Lisbon, I can’t believe it’s taken this long for many of us to discover it! With its Western location along the Atlantic and many low budget airlines that connect in the city’s airport, there are many affordable flights popping up these days. (P.S. Lisbon is another hub of connecting flights to greater Europe – making it an excellent “long layover” choice!)

Lisbon is truly the hub of goodness – from its slow approach to living, delicious eateries, fresh, natural wines, and a serious appreciation for architecture and tile work. Lisbon’s laid back vibe is the perfect affordable destination for any traveler who wants to soak in the good life while also discovering one of Europe’s hidden gems.

Some of my favorites? A lunch at the Time Out Market, a breezy walking tour of the Alfama district’s homes, an excursion to Tower Belem (with a pit stop at the original pasteis de nata bakery), and a delicious, traditional Portugese dinner by the water! Imagine yourself exploring the hilly cobble stoned streets, popping into antique markets, eating delicious pastries and espresso and finishing the day off with port wine by the city’s waterfront area. Sound like your dream? Add Lisbon to your 2020 bucket list stat!


I don’t know about you, but my bucket list is ever-evolving and changing. But, there’s one aspect that I always find myself valuing – and that’s price! No matter what type of traveler you are, a budget-conscious destination is the best.

Do any of these affordable destinations make your 2020 bucket list? Did you ever consider these four destinations to be affordable options? Or are there other cheaper cities that have you drooling?

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