After a short flight from Dubai (about 1 hour), we landed in Muscat, the capital of Oman, around 00:15. Our first adventure was to rent a car at the airport. At this time of year (March), on a Friday evening and without a credit card (credit) but a credit card (debit), no company wanted to accept us! Welcome! This credit card problem is very annoying and is clearly not adapted for all nationalities! We had already faced this problem in the United States. Be careful if you want to rent a car at the airport. If you don’t have a famous credit card, you will need to find a plan B, and I can assure you that it can take a long time.
Anyway after 2 long hours, we finally met a person who knew a person and so on…and we managed to rent a car for 6 days to a local company with a cash payment. We were not very comfortable but… The price was right, the car in good condition and we had a contract. We were tired, it was the middle of the night but we preferred to wait on the spot and find a solution rather than take a taxi and pay a scandalous price for a 13-minute ride ($100) to our hotel. With calm and patience, everything turned out well and we were able to return to our hotel.
The next day after a short night, we started our journey with the fort of Nakhal (1 hour from Muscat), a completely different environment since the beginning of our trip. We continued with the Mutrah souk, the most touristic spot in the capital located near the “corniche”. At night, the atmosphere is very local, you will find many incense shops, jewelry, and souvenirs… There is life, locals, tourists, all that gives a positive “vibe”. However, the restaurant offer is disappointing! Having tested several of them, the best one is the corniche restaurant located at the top of the stairs of the main entrance of the souk. This first day in this new country was positive. We felt a great change of scenery after our Asian getaway and that’s what we were looking for!
The rest of our road trip continued towards Nizwa about 1h45 by road southwest of Muscat. The trip allows you to go inland and discover beautiful mountains and an exotic scenery. For information, we only spent one day discovering this region because in the evening we had to return to Muscat where our accommodation was. Our first stop of the day was the discovery of the fort of the city of Bahla, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort is bigger than the one in Nakhal but it is neither better nor worse! Unless you are passionate about the subject, a visit to a single Omani fort is enough to immerse yourself in the local architecture and atmosphere. Then we headed back to the city of Nizwa (formerly the capital of Oman) and visited its historical part and souk. I had read on various blogs that it was a must-see place, but honestly, we didn’t find anything exceptional there.
For information between Bahla Fort and Nizwa, you will have the opportunity to make a stop to visit Jibreen Castle. We have decided to ignore it, but apparently this one is very beautiful. On the way back to Muscat, we stopped at Birkat Al Mawz, a mysterious and abandoned village built in the lower part of Jebel Akhdar Mountain, nicknamed the “Green Mountain”. Nearby (about 1 km), you will also find a sublime palm grove.
From memory, a 4 x 4 type adapted vehicle is necessary if you want to get lost in the mountains. If you are not equipped, don’t panic, some locals will be waiting for you to offer you a ride.
Back in Muscat to spend our last night there, we continued our discovery of the country the next day heading southeast towards the small coastal town of Sur. On the way, a swim break was imposed on the Bimmah Sinkhole, a 40-metre wide rocky basin filled with turquoise water. The spot is very nice and as a bonus you will be entitled to a “free fish pedicure”. We then took the car back for a lunch break in a very local atmosphere just a stone’s throw from the start of the Wadi Shab.
After a short boat trip, departure for a 45-minute sumptuous walk to reach the Wadi. Rock, palm trees, turquoise waters, the scenery is grandiose and exotic… Then, inevitably, there will be people at the Wadi for swimming but honestly the spot is nice! After this busy day we reached the city of Sur.
We finished our road trip to Sur where we spent 2 days to rest before flying to Europe and reach Amsterdam. The city of Sur does not offer many activities but the “corniche” is pleasant to walk and admire the fishermen at work. Depending on the season, you will have the opportunity to admire turtles at dawn on a nearby beach. The area also offers 4×4 outings in the desert with the possibility of spending the night there.
Oman sounds a bit like the new trendy destination! The country offers diverse landscapes: desert, mountain, wadi, sea… and this is clearly a major asset. On the other hand, exchanges with local people are not so simple. Having never travelled in this part of the world, the experience was exotic and interesting, especially after Asia, but I will not classify this trip as a favorite.
Hope this article will help to organize your next travel.
From the vibrant streets of Bangkok to the heavenly beaches of Koh Lanta, from historic cities such as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai to the prodigious temples of Phetchaboun and Chiang Rai, from the luxuriant jungle around Chiang Mai to the golden triangle, from “Pad Thai” to “Hot Pot”, from bus to hitch-hike, from city dweller to villager… Thailand was the first stage of our road trip and in all sincerity we spent a month full of emotions vagabonding with our backpacks from South to North. For us Thailand is a crush! Mythical capital, diversity of landscapes and consequently of activities, gastronomy, “easy” to travel, friendly locals, “safe country”, affordable prices, many positive points come to my mind when I think about this trip… One thing is certain, we recommend this country to any traveller.
In this article, you’ll find our itinerary, advice, good addresses and anecdotes to help you plan your future trip to Thailand.
You do not need a “tourist visa” for a stay of less than 30 days in Thailand.
To avoid any surprises, check carefully the suggested time to travel (it would be a waste to fall in the middle of the rainy season).
Download “Maps.me” application on your phone, then the maps you need. Once downloaded, you can consult them offline.
For those who want unlimited internet access (get a sim card at the airport; about $25 for 1 month).
For all visits to “sacred places” (temples, large palaces…) it is mandatory to have an appropriate outfit: legs covered for the bottom = minimum length below the knees; for the top the shoulders must be covered = at least a T-shirt, tank tops prohibited.
If you wish to travel “freely”, in other words without bookings, Thailand offers many possibilities of accommodation, means of transport and activities (you can book everything from one day to the next). That’s what we did in the high season (January) and we did not have any problems.
Thais are calm people, so be discreet.
The feet are characterized by “impure”, you should remove your shoes regularly and avoid exposing them.
A detail but there are no small savings: ) It is preferable to buy your sunscreen in your country of origin because the price charged on site is very expensive (about $20 for a “Nivea” spray).
For any trip, I advise to get an insurance before leaving in case of health problems. For years, I have subscribed to AVI International’s offers but I have never received a discount despite an overuse of their services : )
Below, via our interactive map, you will find our one-month itinerary in Thailand (from south to north), with a short description of each spot we discovered.
When we talk about Bangkok with other travelers, opinions are always very disparate. Some hate it and others love it, I am in the 2nd category, for me Bangkok is an absolutely mythical capital. I have heard the arguments “against” and I understand them, it is true that agitation, heat, traffic, pollution, the crowd, scooters etc. can be scary, annoying after a long flight and a “jet lag” still very present but… Bangkok is so exotic and offers so many possibilities of activities, authenticity, beauty that for me its little annoyances do not take over on its positive points. If you don’t want to “arrive” in the excitement of this great city, I advise you to discover Bangkok at the end of your stay, just before leaving for home.
After our 3 days of craziness in Bangkok, we flew to Krabi in the south to reach the city of Ao Nang where Morgan had booked a very nice hotel as my birthday gift. A little out of the center in a park full of flowers and perfectly maintained, the Fiore Resort was a very comfortable place, and obviously very different from a hostel. Even though I’m not a fan of this type of resort, it must be said that for a short time, the comfort is very appreciable.
Beyond the hotel, Ao Nang was a big disappointment. When we got off the tuk tuk in the middle of the city, we looked at each other and immediately said, “Oh, yeah, okay, we’re in Huntington Beach”, the city where we lived in the United States. Although we love our old American city, we didn’t expect to find ourselves in the same setting in southern Thailand. Mac Do, Starbucks, Pubs, KFC, all-purpose shops, restaurants… The city has no “soul” except its nightly food market. An important thing to know also is that the beach of Ao Nang is far from being paradisiac, the water troubled by the gas of the multiple “speed boat” and “long tail boat” clearly does not make you want to take a swim.
The only advantage of this city is its central position to access the many surrounding islands. You will also find a multitude of tourist agencies offering day trips. On our side, we opted for Hong Islands by speed boat! What a disappointment! The place is of course magnificent, but the incalculable number of boats and consequently of tourists deposited on “small beach benches” completely ruins the celebration. It’s “Disney Island”, with troubled water! If you are tempted to try a day trip, we recommend to choose a “private long tail boat or in a small group” as you will have the possibility to choose your stops.
After describing negative points, I will end on a positive note by telling you about Railay. We reached it by long tail boat from Ao Nang (only 15 min for 100 baths = $3.22 / person). Swimming, cave, hike, tour of the island, our early day was peaceful until we decided to head into the “viewpoint hike” and extend it to the lagoon by a prohibited access (subject to a fine). The lagoon is of course a great reward but I don’t encourage anyone (except climbers) to embark on this extremely dangerous adventure. This is completely irresponsible and the slightest mistake can have dramatic consequences. I can assure you that I will remember this hike for the rest of my life!
3. Koh Lanta
Bungalow on the beach, fresh coconut feet in the sand, fire show, palm trees, turquoise waters, “national park”… Koh Lanta is an island that we loved to explore for a few days. Its undeniable advantage is its size, you will not have the impression of suffocating in the middle of a crowd of tourists, you can even find almost desert beaches. Less known than Koh Samui, Koh Phi phi or Koh Tao…. we recommend this island to all travelers looking for “tranquility”.
From Koh Lanta, we reached Krabi Town by ferry (about 2h30). Krabi Town was a transit city for us, we spent only one day and one evening there waiting to catch our flight to Bangkok and then head north of Thailand. This little stop was relaxing, we stayed at Chanchalay Hip Hostel, a hotel with a very satisfying quality/price ratio. In the evening we ate a feast at the night market, the atmosphere between locals and tourists was very friendly. I don’t think Krabi Town offers many possibilities of activities for a long stay but this authentic city will satisfy you for a quick passage.
We flew from Krabi Town to “Bangkok Don Mueang Airport” (about 1 hour flight, $90 / person), then we reached the railway station by walk (about 10 min) to take a train to Ayutthaya (frequent departures, 1 hour trip, 11 baths / person = $0.35).
Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothaï. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. Its remains, characterized by prangs, or reticular towers, and by monasteries of gigantic proportions, give an idea of its past splendor. [unesco.org credit]
We recommend to stop and visit this ancient capital by bike, 1 day will be enough before continuing your journey to the North or South. We stayed 2 nights at the hostel 1301, a peaceful spot on the banks of the river. In the evening, you can eat at the night market or just across the street from the corner at Took Took and his friend restaurant.
After our 2 nights in Ayutthaya, we chose to travel by train to the northern city of Phitsanulok. On the way, we made a 3-hour stop in Lopburi,“the city of monkeys” (1 hour by train from Ayutthaya, 20 baths / person = $0.64). We don’t regret it, it’s amazing, it’s clearly an invasion! If you make a stop, be careful with your smartphone, camera, food… These little animals are of a disconcerting agility. For the record, it cost Morgan his coffee :). Our 3 hours in Lopburi were more than enough for us, especially since we didn’t want to visit the city’s museum. We preferred to take a walk and have a drink at the Nom Cup D, a coffee with a very neat and original décor. We then reached the station and took our train to Phitsanulok (3h trip, 480 baths / person = $15.32). In Thailand, different “classes” of trains are possible: “classic” and “top of the range”. For this trip we opted for the “top of the range” faster by 2 hours, and very comfortable (air conditioning, meal trays included, toilets), in short, happiness.
7. Phitsanulok – Phetchabun
Phitsanulok is not a popular city for travelers, the majority of them join Chiang Mai directly due to lack of time or simply knowledge about the possibilities offered by this city. What a pity! Phitsanulok is typical, ancient and deserted by tourists. The “streetfood”, “nights” and activities (cooking classes, yoga…) are at unbeatable prices, the cheapest so far on our road trip. And the most important point, Phitsanulok offers 1h30 bus access to the absolutely amazing temples of Petchabun: Wat Phan Sorn Kaew and Wat Phra That PhaSon (a Guell park Thai version). For the return to Phitsanulok, “hitch-hiking” is a very nice option. I may repeat myself, but the Thais are really incredibly kind.
We spent two nights at the “Karma Home Hostel“, where Mark the manager did everything possible to make sure we had a good stay.
From Phitsanulok, we reached Sukhothai by bus (1 hour trip, 48 baths / person = $1.53). Sukhothai looks a lot like Ayutthaya. There are not 50,000 activities except to discover its historical park and its countryside by bike. For sunset, we recommend that you stay inside the historic park, you will also find a small market where you can eat. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing. We had a very nice day in Sukhothai and we recommend the detour. Between Ayutthaya and Sukhothai for us is Sukhothai!
We spent two nights in a very comfortable guest house, the “old city guest house”, at the entrance of the historic park with bicycles at your disposal.
9. Chiang Mai
From Sukhotai, we reached the famous Chiang Mai by bus (5h30 trip, 207 baths / person = $6.61). You must book the bus one day in advance, and we advise you to cover yourself because the air conditioning is freezing. We were very lucky because we arrived in Chiang Mai on a Saturday for a night market day and during the flower festival, an annual event very important for the city. In Chiang Mai, you walk to discover the city and its temples, taste a Khao Soi, the local speciality and you will find many activities to do in the surroundings (cooking classes, yoga, meditation, jungle excursion with elephants…)
On our side, we booked 3 days of excursion with Chi Jungle Man company including a day of trekking, waterfalls and overnight stay in a Karen village (a tribe), a day with the elephants (food, walking and swimming with the pachyderms) and finally the last day with the elephants again and a trip on a bamboo rafting. We will remember these 3 days for life, the highlights of the stay were the second day with the elephants and our informative exchanges with our guide Saïan. For the night at the Karen village in the jungle, we think that the organization is not yet ready to receive tourists. There is a lack of “minimum comfort”, at least mattresses in the “cabins”, sleeping bags worthy of the name, pillows, an activity to do on site and above all a list of things to take with you because the nights are excessively cold and humid. As it is, I think that the experience is really not accessible to everyone (young children, the elderly, people with back problems…) What is certain is that you will remember your night! We stayed two nights and we’re still alive, lol! Beyond a more than basic comfort, we will remember many good moments: these good meals around the fire, this view on this sublime valley, this good bottle of “happy water”, our exceptional guide Saïan and of course the smiles of this Karen family. To conclude on this experience, not everything was perfect, it is an organization sometimes very disjointed in a Thai way but at the end the overall result remains very positive and above all memorable. One last extremely important point is also that we really felt that Chi Jungle Man elephants were treated “ethically” and not as circus animals. We met other companies on the way, especially at the river where elephants are fairy animals, making movements like robots, and surrounded by I don’t know how many tourists. A heartbreak.
Back to civilization in Chiang Mai and after recovering from our emotions, we decided to do a 1/2 day cooking class. There are many possible formulas! We chose the company “Smile Organic Farm Cooking School”, and honestly it was great (small group, organic farm, organization to perfection, a delight), we had a very good time with the chef “Nathalie”. Not sure we will be able to reproduce our recipes in France, but the experience was very positive from start to finish.
When you travel with a backpack from hostel to hostel, you meet a lot of people and it is very easy to share about the good tips and must-see things of everyone. Backpackers generally do the same routes and are looking for similar activities, they are mostly young, or even very young (under 25 years old). As an anecdote, the thought of a 19-year-old German girl telling me “it’s good that you still do that (a backpack trip) at your age hurt me! lol
All this to get to the fact that we didn’t like Paï! Most of the very young backpackers advised us to do so, but we didn’t appreciate this “ultra-tourist hippie” city located 3 hours drive from Chiang Mai. We had a remake of our feeling of Ao Nang Beach without the Americanized version, i. e. “Ah that’s it?”. For us Pai is an overrated city that the Thais have deserted. The countryside is pretty there, but the small town with its “all is allowed junkie” vibe clearly didn’t make us vibrate. Some will love it, others will have the same feeling as us. Go ahead if you want to make up your own mind, but for us it is clearly not a must-see spot.
11. Chiang Rai
4 hours by bus from Chiang Mai, we are in the city of Chiang Rai, our last Thai stop before reaching Laos. Chiang Rai is a pleasant city where you will find sumptuous temples (the white temple, the blue temple and the big buddha). For us, these are the most beautiful temples in Thailand, as well as those in Bangkok and Phetchabun. You will also have the possibility to access the golden triangle from where you can observe the Burmese and Laotian coasts (1h15 by scooter from the centre of Chiang Rai, the highway type road is not the most pleasant but it is doable). The Chiang Rai night market is also very attractive, you will find many shops and stands of Hot Pot, the local specialty which is once again a delight. We also enjoyed the Hill Tribe Museum. Our only failure was the visit to Singha Park on the first day of the balloon festival. Nothing was ready, no one was able to tell us what to do in the park or give us a plan. Honestly, apart from a very beautiful field of flowers, we found that the park was not exceptional.
So much for an overview of our road trip in Thailand, we then continued our adventures in Laos (article to come).
I hope this article will help you plan your trip, feel free to leave your comments.
You don’t know which island to choose between Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Railay or Koh Lanta? It is true that the possibilities are multiple in the south of Thailand and that it is difficult to make a choice with all these Koh… Everything depends on what you are looking for, (celebration, relaxation, diving, authenticity, comfort, isolation…) I advise to do some research well before making your selection.
On our side, after a 3-day stop in Aonang Beach, with trips to Railay Island and Hong Islands, our choice turned to Koh Lanta.The size of the island gave us a glimpse of a certain tranquility and a destination less “mass tourism” than the islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi or near Aonang Beach. The positive opinions of travellers’ blogs have also confirmed our choice.
In all honesty, we did not regret this decision for a moment and we even decided to extend our stay at the “Lanta Family Resort”, a small piece of paradise on Klong Khong Beach in the middle of the West Coast.
Tips and ideas for activities to enjoy your stay in Koh Lanta:
We recommend that you choose accommodation on the West Coast of the island(between Long Beach and the National Park located at the southern tip). On this section, the beaches are beautiful, clean and you will find many possibilities to eat, drink and have fun at nightfall (especially on Klong Khong beach).
Rent scooters to explore the island: the roads are in good condition and traffic is not too heavy.
East Coast: take a tour of Old Town (many small shops) and go down to Pirates Bay Point (a very friendly bar/hotel located next to an almost desert “rocky and wild” beach. However, beware of small jellyfish.
West Coast: go down to the National Park (200 baht / person = $6.35), don’t ask yourself any questions, it’s worth it! The view is magnificent, you also have access to two beaches (rocky and sandy) and a small trail of about 1.7 km (open your eyes to spot reptiles). Leaving the park, on the opposite path, you will have many stops to make to discover the most beautiful beaches of the island including Mai Thai (Bamboo) Beach and Aonoui Beach. Stop for a drink at the Phu Pha view Restaurant and enjoy the view! In the evening Klong Khong Beach offers many restaurants on the beach offering freshly caught fish, and lively bars (we loved Babylon and its very reggae atmosphere.)
Booked a day trip to explore a nearby island.
Don’t waste a minute of the sunset.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and mosquito repellent
Our itinerary in 4 nights / 5 days:
Our first day is called “relaxation”, we enjoyed the beauty of the place offered by the “Lanta Family Resort”, the beach and its breathtaking sunset. In the evening we leave with a French couple we met for dinner in one of the many restaurants on Klong Khong beach. Many options are possible, a very “reggae” atmosphere reigns on the beach, and fire shows take place.
The next two days were devoted to discovering the island by scooter, making stops mentioned in the list above. The evenings were dedicated to Klong Khong.
For the fourth day, we decided to book an excursion to the 4 Islands in a long tail boat. Snorkeling, swimming through a cave in the dark to discover a paradisiacal lagoon, a dream beach… We couldn’t see the 4th island because the sea was too rough. I won’t give you the details of this chaotic comeback. One thing for sure, we’ll remember that! In the evening again and again we were in Klong Khong.
We clearly loved our stay on the island of Koh Lanta and could have easily stayed a few more days. We hope you will like it as much as we did.
Sumptuous temples, street food, markets, crazy nightlife, friendly places, tuk tuk, Chao Phraya river, massages, Chinatown… Bangkok, the capital of Thailand is a vibrant city mixing authenticity and modernity. A real crush!
In this article you will find the must-see in Bangkok and some tips to help you make the most of your stay in this fabulous “royal” megalopolis.
ACCOMODATION: if you are in a “rush” situation, I suggest you to stay north of Bangkok near the touristic district of Kho San Road in order to be close to the main temples and the “Grand Palace”. For your information: we stayed at the Lub D Silomhostel(south of the city) where we had a very good stay in a private room (about 18 euros per night). Good atmosphere, nice design and impeccable common sanitary facilities.
TRANSPORT:tuk tuk for short distances (negotiable prices) and for longer distances, I recommend the “sky line” and boat shuttles on the Chao Phraya river to avoid hallucinating traffic and exhaust pipes. You can also opt for a taxi in “off-peak hours” (cheaper than a tuk tuk); ask to activate the “meter” to have a price corresponding to the distance covered and not to your kind tourist head.
FOOD: if you are a fan of street food, the streets of Bangkok are a paradise! Special mention for Chinatown (go there in the evening), Kho San Road and finally Silom with the typical restaurant “Mama Mia” in Silom Road street: Soi Silom 20, Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand +66 94 552 4226. The “boss” is a little woman who catches you on the street, makes you sit at one of her tables and makes sure that your experience is excellent.
NIGHT LIFE: very touristy and popular with backpackers but I have to admit that Kho San Road is crazy (don’t be afraid of crowds and decibels).
WHAT TO DO IN BANGKOK?
The “Royal Palace” and the “Wat Phra Kaew”
The “Wat Pho”: golden elongated Buddha over 40 meters long
The “Wat Arun”: at the end of the day to admire a mythical sunset
The “Royal barges” museum: located to the north of the city, you will discover these boats, more than 20 meters, meticulously prepared for special occasions.
Jim Thompson’s House: A collection of “Thai” statues and works of art owned by JT, an American entrepreneur and collector, expatriate and Thailand lover, who worked in the silk market and mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia in 1967.
The market of Chatuchak (weekends): clothes and objects of all kinds
Chinatown: very lively in the evening, perfect for all street food lovers
Kho San Road: the tourist district = street food, street shops, many bars, restaurants, massages…
Have a drink on a rooftop: Vertigo Bar, Skybar, Octave Rooftop Bar, Mode Sathorn Hotel).
Attend a Thai boxing match (all week long)
For all visits to “sacred places” (temples, large palaces…) it is mandatory to have an appropriate outfit: legs covered for the bottom = minimum length below the knees / for the top the shoulders must be covered = at least a T-shirt, tank tops prohibited.
Don’t let yourself be trapped by a “canal tour” excursion in the south of the Chao Phraya River with a so-called floating market, fish farm… It’s clearly a scam! Well, we’ve been screwed, so I’d rather warn you. On the other hand, some taxi drivers will try to convince you to make this type of excursion at 1h30 from Bangkok, don’t let yourself be fooled!
After living in Southern California for the past two years and passionate about travel, I took the opportunity to explore some mythical places of the American West. From its cities to its magnificent national parks, I can assure you that the American West is a breathtaking destination. The diversity of its landscapes, atmospheres, or activities will guarantee you an unforgettable trip whether you are alone, in couple, with family or friends.
Through this article, I will share with you some of my “favorite” spots and tips that may be useful for your trip organization.
TIPS: BEFORE THE DEPARTURE
First of all, I recommend to make a list of the “must-see” places that you want to visit before booking your round-trip flight tickets and car rental from the same airport. This precious list will help you plan your itinerary and choose the best means of transport between each step according to your “time and budget” constraints. Let me clarify this: because of the distances, it is not necessarily wise to make a “loop”. For example, you can arrive in San Francisco and leave from Los Angeles, or Las Vegas… Compare the car rental prices from a point A to A or a point A to B and keep in mind that it can be interesting to opt for a flight (depending on the period, Jet Blue offers attractive rates). In short, take the time to research and compare the different options before booking your round-trip tickets.
Before validating the reservation of a rental car company and if you do not have a credit card (credit), make sure that the selected company is able to accept a credit card (debit) on site. I also recommend to take the “insurance” service for all car rentals on site and not on the website as most of the time it is managed by a third-party company and you won’t be getting the same coverage as you would if you get it once you pick up your car.
Take an (international) health insurance for the duration of your stay in the US. If you are not covered, the smallest trouble will cost you a fortune (personally, I always travel with Avi International and I am satisfied with it).
Don’t forget to apply for your travel authorization (ESTA) online to be able to travel to the United States.
Learn about the main features of the American Highway Code and its parking rules to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Each entry into a national park is subject to a fee (between $25 and $35 per car and not per passenger), if you plan to visit more than three, I recommend to purchase the “annual pass” at ($80) directly at the entrance of the first park you will visit. Please note: depending on the time of year, some parks may be closed (check their openings before your arrival).
TIPS: ON SITE
I recommend to use the app Waze for your car trips.
Keep your ID with you in case you want to access a bar, restaurant and get an “alcoholic” drink.
Hotels are very expensive in the American West, so don’t hesitate to look at hostels,motels and Airbnb (I recommend Airbnb as you might meet locals that will give you great tips on where to go and what to do).
To help you with the planification of your itinerary, I have created an interactive map (see below) including the “mythical” spots of a part of the American West. I would have liked to introduce you to more of them, especially in the states of Montana, Wyoming, and Texas, but I haven’t had the chance to explore them yet. I hope so on a future trip:) One thing is for sure; the American West is full of amazing national parks. If you are a nature lover, I encourage you to visit as many of them as possible. Utah will remain my favorite place. Absolutely unavoidable and grandiose! There are no other words! I encourage everyone to make the detour from Las Vegas.
I hope you will enjoy this part of the world as much as I did. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Have a good trip.
Unlike the many favorites for New York City, opinions are still very disparate on Los Angeles, the city of angels. The city is very large, so is its traffic! Don’t worry, some areas are very cool and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay in this gigantic city where the sun shines all year round.
Moving from point A to point B by car can quickly take you time due to traffic (to be considered if you book activities).
I recommend using Uber for your travels.
If you rent a car, download the Waze app to navigate (or another GPS) it is a must in LA.
Keep your ID with you, you will need it to access bars, restaurants…
MUST SEE :
Venice Beach & Santa Monica (½ day) :
Santa Monica Pier
Stroll through Venice and soak up the Californian vibe. You will discover the excitement of its original inhabitants (green doctors, body builders of Muscle Beach and many others…)
Take a trip to the canals of Venice or the cool district of Abbott Kinney.
Rent a bike from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica pier (20 min) and walk down its pedestrian and shopping street. If you are slightly hungry, you will find many possibilities to eat on site.
Back on Venice beach by bike, a quick jump into the ocean and chill by the beach will really be enjoyable.
For your evening, direction Downtown LA, nothing beats a roof top in the heart of the city with a 360-degree view of the sparkling buildings. I recommend the Standard or the Perch.
If you want to continue the night and set the dancefloor on fire, the lively neighborhoods of West Hollywood, Hollywood and Downtown LA will offer you many options in terms of bars and nightclubs. I really enjoyed le Clifton’s for a friend’s birthday party. A huge club with a gigantic tree in the entrance hall, composed of several atmospheres (50’s, hip-hop, Latin…).
Orange County is a “chic” microcosm located in South Los Angeles where I have lived for 2 years. Composed of coastal cities, you will find what you are looking for if you want to spend a few relaxing days at the beach or if you are passionate about surfing. For each of the cities presented below, you will find ideas for activities and places to eat that will allow you to fully enjoy your stay.
Laguna beach: THE PRECIOUS
Laguna Beach is what Monaco is to France, a coastal city where you will find some “amazing” houses built in rocky hills with ocean views. The small-town center is very charming with its shops and art galleries, its beach a stone’s throw away but above all the best glacier in the area, Gelato paradisio. Be careful, the city is Smoke Free!
Crystal cove state park: ($15 parking per car for the day): depending on the length of the hike you want to do, you will have the choice to take different paths in the canyon with the possibility of finishing with a very beautiful view of the ocean.
1000 steps beach: my favorite beach in the region (don’t hesitate to walk along the beach to discover small isolated coves).
Take a brunch at the Rooftop Lounge, you will have a magnificent view of the ocean (no reservations, first come, first served).
If you like basketball, you will find a beachfront field right next to the city center (you can’t miss it).
For the French, if you are in a terrible need for a bakery, stop at Moulin for a butter ham sandwich or a pastry like at home.