The Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

Grand is really an understatement. Bangkok’s Grand Palace is straight out of a Thai fairytale and is everything Magic Kingdom wishes it could be. Although, there are some things to keep in mind before venturing out to Bangkok's main attraction!
We touched down in Bangkok in the wee hours of the morning only to zip to our hotel to catch some zzz’s. Jet lag has this weird effect where it enables you to watch hours of Thai soap-operas while emptying out the mini fridge.  And even though we slept for 11 minutes, The Grand Palace was something we were more than happy to drag our dysfunctional jet-lagged bodies to.
So, before you go off and hitch that tuc-tuc ride to the grand palace here is some pivotal information that will help you glide right along through the entrance gates, no complications, no misunderstandings.  

Getting There: 

The Grand Palace is located in the old Rattanakosin area of Bangkok, but every taxi driver knows its location, don’t let them tell you otherwise. The exact address is: Thanon Na Phra Lan, Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok.
One thing to note: taxis aren’t allowed to drive down the main road to the walking entrance of The Grand Palace, so they will most likely drop you off right next to Wat Pho, the temple of the 46-meter reclining Buddha. From there, simply follow the crowd around the brick wall of The Grand Palace to the entrance.

Hours:

Opening hours are daily from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm. The Palace is very rarely closed, so if someone tells you it’s closed, it’s most likely not.
As the day goes on, crowds grow fast, lines get longer and the sun beats down harder (especially when you’re wearing dress code), so take my advice and get there as early as possible. This is especially important if you want to get some great photos and it also leaves you lots of time to visit Wat Pho, down the street, all before lunch! 

Cost: 

The entrance fee is 500 Thai Baht per person. Plain and simple.

Dress Code: 

A good rule of thumb to remember for temple hopping in Thailand is shoulders and knees need to be covered. If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, they’ll simply turn you away. And that means finding proper clothes and heading to the back of the line. Apparently there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes to cover you up properly (a deposit of 200 Baht is required), but I don’t recall seeing this. There are however, endless shops selling overpriced elephant pants and long sleeve linen shirts across from The Grand Palace.
Men must wear: long pants, no ripped jeans, shirts with sleeves, no tank tops and if you're wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks (no bare feet) 
Women must be similarly modestly dressed: no see-through clothing, covered shoulders (shalls are not always accepted as appropriate clothing), long pants, knees covered. I wore sandals and had no issues. 

Inside The Grand Palace:

The Grand Palace is unquestionably Bangkok’s most famous landmark. Built in 1782 it was the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government for more than 150 years. Its stunning architecture and sophisticated detail remain the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. Unless you've booked a guided tour in advance, I recommend taking a look at this map and wistfully wandering at your own pace! 
The Outer Court, near the entrance was once home to the governmental departments and in this Outer Court you can find the small and very famous Emerald Buddha. Be prepared, it’s super small.
The Central Court, is where the residence of the King was to be found. Now, only two of the throne halls are open to the public, but you'll still be able to marvel at the exquisite detail and impressive structures! 
The Inner Court, is where the King's royal partners and daughters lived. Think, small city entirely populated by women and boys under the age of puberty and even though no royalty reside in the inner court any longer, it is still completely closed off to the public. 

Sailing the Coast of Mallorca with IN Adventures


If someone said, wanna come sail the Mallorcan coast of the Mediterranean and devour an endless supply of masterly crafted food while bathing in the Spanish sun? Would you? I know, life supplies an endless amount of hard decisions.

Needless to say, I spent 4 absolutely breathtaking days soaking up the sun with IN Adventures sailing along the coast of Mallorca, Spain.

Not only did we kayak into the Spanish sunset, but we I lived my most adventurous life which involved jumping off (a-not-that-high) cliff into crystal clear turquoise waters, commando crawling into hidden caves dating back hundreds of years and repelling down large rock formations. Talk about living that work-life balance. And when I say work, I mean working on my tan.

If this trip of a lifetime tickles your nautical fancy, there are only a few spots available for the September trip, so you can book your spot here for 72 hours with no commitments using this code: 'ALYSHIATURCHYN' for 5% off!


A Day on the Mediterranean  


Who knew I’d enjoy being rocked to sleep by the waves every evening? That has to be one of the greatest feelings out there. Another one of the greatest feelings has to be waking up to a different view of the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean while enjoying your avo toast every morning.

I loved that there was absolutely no pressure as to when wake up was. You definitely set your own pace, so whether that’s sleeping in or starting your day with an invigorating morning yoga sesh, that’s totally your call. Sometimes my version of Savasana takes place best in my bed with my eye-mask.

Each day was more beautiful than the next. The IN Adventures team definitely made sure that I was constantly soaking up all the beauty of Mallorca and its surrounding islands. And as I said before there was no shortness of adventure; kayaking and paddle boarding, swimming and cannon balling, cliff jumping and repelling, cave diving and exploring, hiking and sailing. What. A. Rush!

There was also plenty of time to enjoy every last bit of those Spanish rays. Whether that was sailing off into paradise or sizzling under the sun at the beach, all I really needed to worry about was what bikini gave me the worst tan lines. It was complete and total relaxation. Something that I find hard to achieve on 'vacation'.

See IN Adventure's the full itinerary here.


Photo by: @mytraveltricks
Photo by: @tramontanetravel

Yoga


As you know, I am by no means a yoga person. I mean, I’ve mastered Child’s Pose, I think. And on the Richter Scale of what’s-cat-cow to severe-yogi, I’m nowhere to be found. But, that being said, when you’re placed in stunning locations surrounded by the Mediterranean it helps get you in that zen. I was definitely feeling deep ocean connections and moments of bliss, plus my back got its full range of motion back. Who knew yoga everyday would be good for you? That was sarcasm, but really for someone who has next to no experience in yoga, I felt confident that I appeared somewhat normal and even had a good time doing it!

At first I was quite nervous we'd be doing yoga all day long. Initially, I expected to be doing 4 hours of downward dog before having a glass of orange juice, but I was pleasantly surprised. And yes, we did wake up to an hour's morning session and perhaps and afternoon meditation, but everything was dependent on what we felt like doing. The classes were fabulous, so naturally we had all hands on deck.

Photo by: @mytraveltricks

Food


All day drool. No words necessary here, the pictures explain it all.

I could not believe my eye, our breakfast was being delivered by dingy to a private beach after an exhilarating morning yoga session. We certainly tasted the true flavours of Spain here with freshly toasted tortilla chips, guacamole and charred tomato salsa; an enormous mouth watering seafood paella; incredible ensaimadas (Spain's answer to the croissant); watermelon infused gazpacho and artistically assorted tapas for days.  There is no better way to enjoy Mediterranean cuisine than sailing the coast of Mallorca and having these two: @cakebyytheocean  and @umamimallorca aesthetically placing every ounce of food for all of your insta-worthy dreams. My phone really did eat first.

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and allergy sensitive diets are all catered to individually, so no one ever goes hungry. It’s so hard for me to be healthy on holiday so it was absolutely amazing to eat a balanced, nutrient filled, organic diet while on board!


The Boat & Crew


My home for the last week (I'm still shook) was on the luxurious modern Hanse 575s.  Fully equipped and bigger than all three of my previous apartments put together, it was glorious to say the least.

Each boat housed 11 of us, so sleeping arrangement were definitely confined, but that's boat life. What better way to bond with someone than bunking with them! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was absolutely hilarious trying to change with two girls, a tight space and a rocking boat. If you're worried about sharing such a small space, really the only time you spend in your designated room is to sleep and as soon as your head hits the pillow you're out like a light! Trust me.


The crew. I can't even begin to express how easily we all blended together and that is in big part due to our hosts. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable, especially on a boat when there's no escaping in the middle of the ocean. Fortunately not the case here. I've been on my fair share of tour-guide-guided, hosts-hosting, leaders-leading, excursion, but Pau and his team really took it to the next level. Such down-to-earth, personable, real people (I could go on and on) that they made it easy to sink in, relax and enjoy their company. Warning: they make you want to stay.

Photo by: @flipabroad

The Verdict


Wow. This holiday was exactly what I was craving. A little bit of adventure, a little bit of sun, a lot of laughs and a ton of great food. I felt so rejuvenated by the time the last day came to an end. And I really couldn’t believe how fast time had gone. It really does fly when you’re having fun eh? I must say, I am the absolute luckiest to have been on board with IN Adventures and to have met such amazing and talented people. Not only was I constantly surrounded by one of the most gorgeous places on this earth, but I couldn’t have asked to have met more amazing people. No question, I would absolutely 100000% do it all over again in a heartbeat!


Essential Information


CompanyIN Adventures at www.inadventurestravel.com

Pick-Up Point: La Lonja Marina Charter, Palma de Mallorca

Drop-off Point: La Lonja Marina Charter, Palma de Mallorca

Cost: From €1350 enjoy 3 nights 4 days of eco-adventure. Explore the island while sailing on board a luxury sailboat. Includes all meals and drinks, activities and pick up and drop off.

What to Bring: A soft bag to store in your cabin, flip-flops, tons of sunscreen, lots of swimsuits, active gear, a good book, hat, sunnies, waterproof cameras and bags and a power bar to charge your gear.


Remember you can book your spot here for 72 hours with no commitments using this code: 'ALYSHIATURCHYN' for 5% off!


If you have any questions please reach out, there's nothing more I'd love to do than help you plan your adventure!

Finding an Apartment in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam: A Complete How-To

Three months ago I made the biggest move of my quarter-of-a-century life. I packed up two suitcases (when I could have packed 7) and flew 8,648 miles to Saigon, Vietnam, with no place to call my own. Best decision I ever made.

Needless to say, apartment hunting may be a bit easier in Vietnam than it is back home, but it can still be tricky if you're going in blind. So, let's get this show on the road and dive into some helpful tips to make your move over here as graceful as a gazelle.

If you're interested in an apartment tour video to see what my place looks like, I will link it at the end!

1. Don't Look for an Apartment Before Moving to Vietnam 


Not only will this completely stress you out, but because the market for renting apartments moves so fast you'd be wasting your time trying to set up appointments in advance. Trust me, I tried.

What you can do is go online look at different apartments, different areas, different districts and start familiarising yourself with where you think you'd want to live.

2. Book a Hotel for Your First Week


Book a hotel in the city's center a.k.a. District 1.  This way you have walking access to all the touristy places you'll want to hit as soon as you get here. And it's a good way to get to know the madness of the city! Having a temporary home base in D1 also means easy access to all the other districts when apartment hunting.

Tip: Only book your hotel for 1 week, you can always extend your stay if you haven't found an apartment yet. This let's you save money as well.

3. Venture Out to Different Districts


But first, get a sim card. Download Grab (Vietnam's version of Uber, which is totally safe, I use it everyday). This gives you the ability to venture out to all of the surrounding districts and explore where you'd want to live. You'd be surprised by the cute and cozy pockets you can find in D3, D7 and D2.

4. Join the Facebook Groups and Book an Agent


The more apartments you see, the more likely you are to get one that you'll end up liking. Joining the Facebook groups is what landed me in the place I'm in today. Legitimately, all you need to do is conger up a post of what you're looking for, where you want to live and what price you're willing to pay and you'll get direct messages for days! The littlest amount of effort I've put into finding an apartment, ever.

Facebook Groups to Join for Apartment Hunting:

     

Facebook Groups to Join for Expats:


If Facebook groups aren't your thing you can always book an agent through Hoozing.com. They will take you around the city and show you different apartments based on what you're looking for.

5. Don't Say Yes Until You Barter


If you plan on staying long term, 6 months to 1 year, you can try your hand at bartering the price of rent down. Bartering is common, so don't feel you're being rude. If it's a no, it's a no, but it doesn't hurt to try!

Also, if you prefer to pay month to month you can try to sway the contract in that direction. This will allow you to see if you like the district and the rental you're living in.

6. What You Can Expect to Pay


Once you sign your contract you'll pay first months rent as well as the security deposit, which is typically another month's rent.

My 1 bedroom fully furnished, serviced apartment in D2 is $450 USD per month. And yes, there are many cheaper options out there, it just depends what you are looking for. This includes laundry once a week, cleaning twice a week, bed sheets changed once a week, internet, cable and drinking water.

This doesn't include water or electricity which is standard in Vietnam and you're going to have a hard time trying to find an apartment where this is included. But, for reference this is what I typically pay a month for both: water: $3-5 USD and electricity $20-30 (that's with using minimal AC).

10 Photos to Fuel Your Icelandic Horse Obsession

These beauties are every reason you should pull over your rental car and relish in their fearlessness of foreigners! Now, I'm not a horse person, per say, but I am an Icelandic horse person, it's hard not to be. Fun fact: Icelandic horses, contrary to popular belief, are not actually wild. Each and every one of them has an owner who takes care and looks after them. They just have a lot of space to run free!
When you stop off at the Bonus Grocery Store to pick up a few goodies for your ringroad roadtrip, grab some extra carrots and apples. Your new friends will definitely thank you in kisses. 


Going to Iceland? Have questions? Let me know, I'm always happy to help!