Top tips

We’re travelling the world offending people, messing things up and getting lost so you don’t have to. Welcome to The Travelling Mallory’s top tips! We’re constantly updating this page as we make more mistakes, piss more people off and find awesome stuff not in the guide books.

We’ve highlighted our Tippety Top Tips. These are the things we really enjoyed or would do again.

If anyone out there finds these travelling tips useful, please let us know by adding a comment at the bottom of the page. Likewise if you want to ask us something just leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.

General tips

  • Tippety Top Tip > Erin is putting reviews on Trip Advisor of all the places we stay.
  • We left the address and directions to a place we were staying in our rucksacks, which the airline then lost. It meant we didn’t know where we were going or where they should send the bags once they turned up. After that we always had the address, phone number and map in our hand luggage, as well as our insurance stuff.
  • Tippety Top Tip > We have a CaxtonFX card and it’s brilliant. We really recommend it.
  • Tippety Top Tip > If you’re paying back a student loan you have to contact them before you leave and prove you have enough cash to be away (i.e. prove you’re not working) otherwise they send you letters threatening to charge £150.
  • The Man in Seat61 is the best train travel site for anywhere in the world. It looks a bit old school, but the information is bang up to date.
  • Tippety Top Tip > Bring a bottle opener
  • When you get back laden with credit card debt, transfer your balance to avoid the interest payments. Money Supermarket has a list of the best deals.
  • Don’t forget to have a look at Worthing versus the World.

Malaysia

  • We stayed at the Rainforest BnB in Kuala Lumpur a few times and we recommend it to you.
  • Tippety Top Tip > We also recommend the Old Town Guesthouse in Melaka. Lovely place.
  • In the Cameron Highlands we stayed at Fathers Guesthouse which was nice but we went in high season so it was a bit pricey. Great breakfasts though.
  • In Kota Bharu we stayed at Pad D Backpackers which is a small hostel with lovely staff. Perfect for a couple of nights but probably no more than that.
  • Tippety Top Tip > Hutton Lodge was our hostel of choice in Penang. Would definitely come back here. Actually, we did go back here with the Murrins who also loved it.
  • In beautiful Langkawi we stayed at Zachry’s which is in a great location if you want to be on the quieter beach (Pantai Tengah), but still close to the stuff.
  • In Langkawi it’s a good idea to hire a car. We got one for RM70 and put RM20 of petrol in it and that lasted the whole way round the island.
  • In the Cameron Highlands we went on the countryside tour with Mr Singh and had a fantastic time. The guesthouse sorted it out for us.
  • Malaysia has English plugs! We were as shocking as you!
  • If you’re catching a bus over a long-ish distance from Kuala Lumpur, expect mayhem and you’ll be fine.
  • Nobody in Malaysia has ever heard of your hostel or the street it’s on, but they will try their best to help. It’s equally unlikely that they will be able to point to their own location on a map or that they’ll have heard of any local places of interest.
  • Nasi Lemak is lush.
  • If your hostel has given you directions they are probably wrong. If they’ve given you a map it’s probably inaccurate and even if it’s not, the bus will drop you somewhere different. Google Maps are the way forward.
  • Don’t deny yourself life’s most wonderful pleasures. Just because a beer costs twice as much as your dinner, it’s still half the price you would pay at home. Drink it and enjoy it!
  • Tippety Top Tip > If you like modern or contemporary art then a trip to the National Art Gallery is well worth it. This was real highlight of our time in Kuala Lumpur.
  • You will get bitten to buggery by mosquitos. Just accept it and rub on the savlon.
  • Aircon is bliss but a fan is good and much cheaper.
  • Street food is tasty. The best we had was at the Nagasari Curry House right opposite our hostel and at another place about halfway down the main hawker street on the left.
  • Lots of tabled areas are shared by a load of different food places, so you might get a bunch of menus and pay for stuff as it turns up. It’s a bit random, and you probably won’t get what you ordered but it’s (mostly) all good.
  • If you want tickets to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur a) don’t go on a Monday because it’s shut and b) get up earlier than we did on the Tuesday!
  • Our Malaysia photos.
  • Posts filed under Malaysia.
  • Worthing versus Malaysia (the first time).
  • Worthing versus Malaysia (the rematch).

Singapore

  • We stayed at The Travellers Inn, and it was great!
  • The public transport is really easy and cheap so no need to kill yourself walking around.
  • Tippety Top Tip > Some stuff is expensive (like Universal Studios which was ace!), but there’s a load of free things like the Botanical Gardens (which we loved) and cheap things like the National Museum (which was great) so you don’t have to cane money all day every day.
  • English plugs again – result.
  • If you do want to go to Universal Studios you have to book a ticket in advance. It sells out most days.
  • Our Singapore photos.
  • Posts filed under Singapore.
  • Worthing versus Singapore.

Bali

  • Wear suncream, or risk looking like this!
  • Tippety Top Tip > If you can avoid coming via Jakarta you will save yourself so much hassle it will be worth the extra money your ticket costs to fly direct.
  • In Sanur we stayed at The Semawang Beach Hotel. We wouldn’t go back.
  • In Ubud we stayed at Teba Guesthouse and we loved it. One of the best places we’ve stayed so far.
  • Tippety Top Tip > At Jakarta airport we had to pay a surprise IRP40,000 departure tax
  • Tippety Top Tip > Leaving Bali at the international terminal it was IRP150,00 per person
  • Tippety Top Tip > You need to have a decent amount of money on you when you arrive to pay for your visa on arrival. They take most currencies, but you need enough in the same currency to get it. You can’t pay by card and there didn’t seem to be any ATMs at Jakarta where we got ours.
  • Haggle your arse off. If they say 100, you say 5. That’s how it’s done.
  • If you can’t bothered with arguing about travel costs, a shuttle bus is a decent value alternative but if you’re going to the airport it’s best to book the one before the one you think you actually need. In our experience they were late to show up and the traffic was mega.
  • The place Erin got food poisoning was Bobby’s in Sanur.
  • Our Bali photos.
  • Posts filed under Bali.
  • Worthing versus Bali.

Thailand

  • We arrived by ferry which meant we only got a 15-day visa. For 30-day visas you have to fly in. Apparently it’s pretty easy to extend it, or you can do what we’re doing and leave the country then come back to get a new one.
  • We met some people that had bought an all-in ticket from Malaysia to Thailand, but it worked out slightly cheaper to do it as you go along (i.e. buy the ferry ticket at the ferry terminal, the bus ticket at the bus terminal etc).
  • We stayed at the Thai Hotel in Krabi. Nothing special, but they gave us a half-price room which was nice. Some people we met were at Chan-Cha-Lay and loved it, so you’re probably better off trying there.
  • In Ko Phi Phi we stayed at JJ’s Bungalows, which was lovely. We’d go there again (but we probably wouldn’t go back to Ko Phi Phi).
  • Tippety Top Tip > If you’re going to Phuket you have to stay at Sansuko Ville. It might be a little bit more than you’ll pay for a dosshouse in town, but this place is lovely and worth every baht of the 700/night (low season). It’s in a small village with no tourists other than people at the villas and the staff will drive you to beautiful, secluded beaches. They’ll also sort out a taxi into town for you. Cannot recommend this place highly enough. And it has a pool!
  • In Chumphon we stayed at Fame Guesthouse. It was cheap and good for the price. The bar does excellent food, but that’s the best thing about Chumphon!
  • We got the night train to Bangkok. Trains get booked up well in advance (we had a choice of one train in the next four days) so if you can plan ahead it’s worth it. You can get them online at www.thairailwayticket.com. See Seat61 – Thailand for all the details.
  • Buses (even long-distance ones) don’t have reserved seats so get there early. People that turn up late end up standing for hours.
  • In Bangkok we stayed at Cozy Bangkok Place. Lovely.
  • Tippety Top Tip > Prom Tong Mansion in Ayutthaya is the place to go.
  • In Chiang Mai for happiness on a budget go to Green Tulip, but get the a/c room with breakfast included. If you get the fan room and buy breakfast it’s basically the same price.
  • Tippety Top Tip > In Chiang Mai for happiness on a bigger (but well worth it) budget goto Richard Katze and his lovely apartments.
  • Get a third class train if you haven’t got far to go – it’s really good fun.
  • In Ayutthaya we had a lovely lunch at this place (directions with photo on Flickr).
  • Our Southern Thailand photos and our Northern Thailand photos.
  • Posts filed under Thailand.
  • Worthing versus Thailand.

Cambodia

Vietnam

  • Tippety Top Tip > We cruised for three days along the Mekong to get into Vietnam and it was a highlight. Delta Adventure Tours ran the trip for $40 each.
  • Tippety Top Tip > It was cheaper to pay someone in Cambodia to get our visa for us than it was to go there yourself and spend half a day filling in forms.
  • We didn’t feel that we needed long in each place – 2 to 3 days would have been plenty, but we stayed more and were scratching around for things to do.
  • Vietnam is set up so you have to take tours. This can work out expensive so choose wisely.
  • If you’re in a restaurant and need the toilet there’s no need to ask the waiter, just head for the kitchen. They’re always next to each other – sometimes you need to walk through the kitchen to get to them.
  • Bring earplugs!
  • Our Vietnam photos.
  • Posts filed under Vietnam.
  • Worthing versus Vietnam.

Laos

  • In Vientiane we stayed at the excellently-named Souphaphone Guesthouse which was in the heart of town. Recommended.
  • In Luang Prabang we stayed at Manichan’s Guesthouse which was not a lot cheaper than Souphaphone, but had much less in the way of facilities, friendliness and fun but was in a good location.
  • Tippety Top Tip > When we booked flights it was considerably cheaper (like, half-price) to do it in a travel agent rather than the internet. The internet was much more expensive for Laos Airlines.
  • In Vientiane it’s well worth visiting the COPE centre, and you can combine it with a trip to the waterpark if you’re that way inclined as they’re on the same street.
  • The whole of Vientiane is walkable even the far off major temple but you will deserve a rest at the Scandinavian Bakery on the way back (and maybe the way there too!).
  • The food in Vientiane was all really good apart from a couple of ‘just OK’ dishes we had in Sticky Fingers. Via Via isn’t in many guidebooks, but they did us an amazing pizza so go there. Everywhere else we found is all obvious and easy to find so we won’t write it here, apart from to say Vista has the biggest breakfasts for the same price as other places will charge for a croissant.
  • Try Laap on the riverfront (or in a restaurant if you prefer) – it is delicious.
  • In Luang Prabang the restaurants were more of a mix quality-wise. It’s worth ignoring the cheaper ones on the main street. Our recommendations are the Arthouse cafe on the river, Big Tree on the other side of the river, and Bat Van Sang.
  • Tippety Top Tip > If you want to go on a boat trip to the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas, don’t buy your ticket from an agent. Just get it from the dock for 50,000kip (all the agents do is walk you there, hand over 50,000kip and keep the rest of the cash you gave them).
  • On your first day in Luang Prabang, our advice would be to have a massive walk around the whole place and maybe not go into any of the sites. This is because there are a few different areas to the town and getting a sense of the whole picture will make it easier to plan your time, and to suss out where the touristy bits are and where it’s a bit nicer.
  • Posts about Laos.
  • Photos from Laos.
  • Worthing versus Laos.

Borneo

Japan

  • Everyone will tell you Japan is super expensive. That’s true, but at the time of writing (late 2010) it’s about the same as Australia, and nobody avoids Australia because it’s too expensive so don’t write Japan off on cost alone. That said, it’s not a cheap place to go, hence our next tip.
  • We taught in Japan a few years ago, and would recommend this as a really good way to see the country, as well as to live there and experience it properly. Gavin worked at Terakoya in Iida, Nagano. Erin worked for the local Board of Education. This also means you can make loads of friends and go visit them in a few years!
  • Tippety Top Tip > Coffee shops and bars don’t have wi-fi like most other countries (except for Japanese phones on specific providers, but it won’t work on your laptop), and internet cafes often make you go through a long-winded registration process. The best place to go is a Wired cafe. There’s a few of them around Tokyo.
  • Google Translate will translate web pages for you. Very handy!
  • No Japanese person understands what paracetamol is, but pain killer or ibuprofen gets the message across.
  • Public transport is clean, on time and good but it is pricey. You can get a foreigner railpass (only available from outside the country) that will save you money if you are planning on travelling around a lot.
  • In all other countries we visited our mobile phones worked. In Japan they didn’t and the SIM cards are totally different.
  • Definitely go to Tokyo Disney and Disney Sea. We stayed at the Sunroute Plaza, which was the cheapest partner hotel. Excellent service and a nice room. Recommended.
  • When you’re at Disney, avoid the characters and get straight on the rides. Japanese people will queue for hours to have lunch with Pooh, so you get on all the good stuff.
  • All posts from Japan.
  • Our Japan photos on Flickr.
  • Worthing versus Japan.

Australia

  • Most places make you pay for wi-fi, which is tight. Libraries all seem to offer it free, even to scummy backpackers, so get yourself in there.
  • In Cairns we stayed at Dreamtime, which was so-so and we wouldn’t go back.
  • Apart from the trips out, Cairns is a bit of a craphole, so be prepared.
  • Still in Cairns, the Kuranda Railway is nice and we took an ace trip to Green Island with Big Cat.
  • In Brisbane we stayed at Somewhere To Stay, which was pretty alright even if it’s a bit old and knackered (like Gavin). It’s well worth paying the extra for a double with balcony so you get a fridge and TV in the room. Even better if you get on on the corner becuase your balcony is about 4 times bigger than the other rooms.
  • Tippety Top Tip >We got a great camper van relocation deal from Stand By Relocations. Give them a ring – they’re really helpful. Do ask why the van is being relocated though (ours had no mattresses!)
  • People will tell you Canberra is a craphole with nothing to do, but don’t listen. It’s the capital, so it has the best of everything – a massive library, great art museums, top pub The Wig and Pen, etc and so on.
  • In Sydney, Icebergs in Bondi is a top tip. There’s a restaurant for posho’s (where Oprah ate) but normal people can sign into the bistro as foreigners (free) to enjoy the same amazing view with a burger and pint.
  • Near Sydney the Royal National Park is lovely. We loved Wattamolla beach.
  • In most places you can’t buy booze in supermarkets – you have to go to a bottle shop.
  • If you fly into Melbourne, the SkyBus is grrrrrreat but the top tip is that they also do a free drop-off to places in town to save you walking with all your stuff.
  • Posts from Australia.
  • Australia photos.

New Zealand – South Island

  • Make sure you have onward travel documents when you get here, else they’ll send you home. We used a quote from a travel agent that looked like an invoice with all our flight details on it, but it would have been safer to have an actual ticket.
  • In the first supermarket you visit get a free Onecard. Most of the supermarkets take them. It’s like a Tesco clubcard, except about 25% of the offers are only for Onecard holders, so it’s worth having. They give you a temporary card that you can use straight away, and then keep using.
  • In Christchurch we used Gumtree to find Chris and Judy’s’ place. They rent out their spare rooms to nice people. They also live near a Monteiths (see next tip).
  • Monteiths pubs all serve ace beer and we had excellent food at the ones in Merrin Street and on the Avon in town.
  • Tippety Top Tip > In Kaikoura go to Cellar Tastings on the high street. Ally in there is lovely and you can try loads of lush wines, spending as little or as much as you want to.
  • In Kaikoura we stayed at the Fish Tank Lodge which was a bit more expensive than some of the other hostels in town, but extremely clean with a friendly manager.
  • If you’re going to Kaikoura, give yourself a few days and get booked onto the whale watching as early as possible so that if it gets cancelled due to rough seas you still have a chance to go on another day.
  • We’re doing Help Exchange some of the time that we are here. You work 4 hours a day (cleaning, painting, weeding etc) in exchange for food and board.
  • In Dunedin at the Otago Peninsula you don’t need to pay to see albatrosses, just go to viewing are down behind the car park and wait. We saw 5 0r 6 in a 20 minute watch, but then it dried up a bit. Patience is the name of the game if you don’t want to hand over all your dollars to the man.
  • Tippety Top Tip > We booked our Milford Sound trip solely based on who was cheapest. The answer? Naked Bus.
  • Tippety Top Tip > In Wanaka we stayed at the YHA Purple Cow which is the best hostel we’ve found in New Zealand.
  • Whilst in Wanaka definitely go to Puzzling World. It’s fintistuc!
  • Avoid Greymouth at all costs. It is fully rubbish. If you have to go there (for the train or an overnight stop) get there late and leave early.
  • In Nelson we stayed at The Bug. Nice place, lovely owners and free internet but a bit of a trek to the supermarket if you haven’t got wheels.
  • Tippety Top Tip > In Blenheim we had a great day out with Highlight Wine Tours. Thoroughly recommend their full day tour – well worth the extra dollars over the shorter options.
  • Posts from New Zealand
  • Worthing versus New Zealand’s South Island
  • Our NZ photos

New Zealand – North Island

  • We went to millions of brilliant and free museums and galleries in Wellington listed here and here.
  • We stayed with Colleen and Phil just outside of Wellington. One week with them is less than three nights at the YHA in town. Found them on Gumtree.
  • Napier is an amazing place to visit if you like art deco architecture, and pretty cool even if you aren’t all that into architecture.
  • Like on the south island, we used Gumtree to find places to stay. Usually nicer and cheaper than being in a hostel.
  • We used Find a Camper to sort out our camper van. Ask for Patrick Broadbent – he’s a dude.
  • Tippety Top Tip > In Taupo, stay at Anglers Lodge with Gavin and Pru. One of our favourite places we stayed in the whole time we were away.
  • Posts from New Zealand
  • Worthing versus New Zealand’s North Island
  • Our NZ photos

Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, USA

  • Tippety Top Tip > We stayed at the Hotel Continental Plaza which was really cheap and, for the money, very nice with a free shuttle to and from the parks. Recommended for travellers on a budget.
  • At Universal they sell the Express Pass. We bought it, but we wished we’d waited until we were there and seen how long the queues were then made a more informed decision.
  • If you buy your Universal tickets online in advance you get a discount.
  • It’s fine to bring snacks and water into the parks, though we didn’t think the food was crazy expensive and was always pretty nice (if you like American junk food!)
  • At Disney you can use your fastpasses after the time it says (but not before) and you can sometimes get another before the one in your hand runs out. Check the bottom of the ticket.
  • At Universal, go on all the water rides at once – “you get soaked to your pants” is how our friend accurately described it.
  • Simon and Erin have a whole page of in-depth tips and things on Never Ending Voyage, so give them a click if you want the detail.
  • Posts from the USA
  • Our Disney and Universal photos

That’s it for now as our trip is finished, but if you want to ask us something, or share a tip of your own, just leave a comment on this page and it’ll e-mail us, then we’ll e-mail you. Magic.

Responses

  1. Hi Erin and Gavin

    Cool to see your blog site and it does seem that you are finding your way around -even if the maps are hopeless !!

    People are ultimately good – do no harm and all will be fine- trust me !

    Enjoy the next 11 months !!

    George, Natallia, Master Hugo and Master William!!

  2. […] The Travelling Mallorys Top Tips page I wrote Despite what the Lonely Planet would have you believe, not everyone is out to scam you. […]


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