Phuket Travel Diary

Living in Singapore, long weekends would typically consist of a quick trip to paradise, Phuket. Going about once a year for a while, it’s become one of our home away from homes. After our last trip, I decided it was finally time to sit down and share all the things I love about Phuket with all of you. I will leave all the links down below and hope you venture out to this little gem of an island in South East Asia!

Hotel:

After staying at a bunch of different hotels and resorts, we finally found our favorite and go-to place to stay: Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. While it is about an hour drive from the airport, the resort sits only ten minutes away from the downtown area (Patong and Karon) making it super easy to get around. The resort is sprawled out over a huge piece of property with it’s own private beach, tennis courts, an amazing spa, two tropical pool, multiple eateries/bars and stunning, comfortable rooms. While the rooms may be a little older than others, they’ve been kept really well and feel modern with a vintage twist. The private beach is only a few steps away from the pool area and are lined with lounge chairs and bean bags, while crystal blue water and really clean sand. They offer a range of water activities from jet skiing to kayaking and surfing. In the middle of the day when you’re looking for a quick bite, you can just head over to Ton Son out by the pool to order anything from Thai to Italian and American. You can also head over there for before-dinner drinks where they offer classic cocktails as well as tropical/Thai cocktails. One of my favorite things at the hotel was the energizing shots they had at breakfast. Every morning they had a couple different kinds to really get your body working and wake you up. My favorite was the watermelon-chili shot which was just to die for. And what’s a trip to the beach without some relaxing time at the spa? Le Spa offers different treatments from massages to scrubs and facials, all beach and tropical themed. Our time at Le Meridien is always made even better by the super friendly and helpful staff. We absolutely LOVE staying at Le Meridien and cannot wait to spend more nights there.

Food:

Like I mentioned above, the food at the hotel is not like any others. It’s very different and authentic, but still really good. However, I love spending time around Patong and Karon exploring other places to have meals. One of our all time favorites is Eat. Bar & Grill in Karon. Priding themselves on incredible service and hearty, rustic food, the little bar/restaurant serves burgers, steaks and other unique dishes. After going there four times over our past two trips, I’ve had some of my favorite dishes there. Some that I would recommend are the burger and fries, the chateaubriand (steak), the beef tartare, the lobster cappuccino, and most importantly the mojito bucket (5 servings of a mojito in one big bucket, photo below). This year we also went to Baan Rim Pa, which is one of the only “fine dining” restaurants in Phuket serving authentic Thai food. We had the chicken and crab Thai dumplings, grilled eggplant salad, minced pork with noodle crackers, green curry with chicken and stir-fried morning glory, and a really good passion fruit mojito. The food was all really good and some of the best Thai food I’d ever had (and I’ve had a lot of Thai food). Other than those two places, we also love going to different seafood restaurants along the water front and trying different dishes. As most of you know, my family LOVES food and one reason we love going back to Phuket so often is because of the huge variety of amazing restaurants to chose from.

Getting Around:

While you can have your hotel arrange a car/transport for you, one way I love to get around is by taking a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk is motorcycle powered vehicle with seating for passengers attached to it. They’re commonly found around South East Asia and are open air. I love driving back to our hotel at night after dinner with the wind blowing through my hair and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore in the background. Depending on where you flag one down, a 10-15 minute drive can be anywhere from 10-12 SGD, which may seem a bit pricy but is normally much less than having your hotel arrange transport for you. If you are around Patong or Kata beach, it’s really easy to walk around. Whether you’re beach hopping or looking around the market, I always say that walking around is one of the best ways to explore a new destination. And the excitement of Phuket nightlife makes the evening a lot more fun and interesting.

What I Wore:

When I go to the beach, my absolute must-have is a ton of bikinis. I love mixing solids with solids and solids with prints from different brands. Some of my favorites for bikinis are Cotton On, Victoria’s Secret (now Pink), She In and Hollister (and Jolyn for suits that won’t budge). I don’t like wearing the same suit more than once a trip (I know, I’m a snob), so I love having variety in my suitcase. In addition to suits, I wear all different kinds of cover-ups and summery rompers and dresses that work at both the beach and a casual meal out. For sunglasses, I personally don’t love wearing nice/high-end glasses at the beach because I love spending time in the water and body surfing waves so I’m always paranoid that I’m going to lose a nice pair. I typically have a couple cheap pairs of Cotton On sunglasses that are perfect for the setting and look bomb in all those insta photos. For a more in-depth look, check out my summer beauty post (linked below)!

I always love a good beach getaway, and Phuket is the perfect destination for a stress-free and relaxing weekend away. Have you been to Phuket? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do there? If you haven’t what’s your favorite beach getaway destination? Comment down below!

I hope you all enjoyed this post, and I will talk to you soon!

Hotel:

Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort

Restaurants:

Eat. Bar & Grill

Baan Rim Pa

Airline:

Scoot

Other:

My Summer Beauty Post

Top 10 Travel Tips: Part 2

About a year ago I posted my first Top 10 Travel Tips blog filled with lots of little hacks and tips to make traveling just a little bit easier. Today, in honor of summer and vacation season coming up, I’m going to do part 2 of my travel tips!

I hope you find these useful useful for your next trip:) Comment down below where your next adventure is taking you!

1. HYDRATE! This is mainly for actual plane ride, but of course hydration is always key. When you’re flying, the oxygen is being recirculated throughout the cabin, and the moisture in the air is extremely limited. Be sure to carry around a water bottle (make sure it’s empty when you go through security!!) to make it easy to continuously drink water. Hydrating your body is great, but don’t forget about your skin. Take the time on the plan to stick on a hydrating mask (my favorites are linked below) and load up on lotion. You’ll walk off the plane feeling fresh and hydrated.

2. Make good use of document holders and passport cases. I used to think it was so dorky when my parents used cases to hold all their travel documents in, but as I began to travel more and more on my own I realized how useful it is to have everything together and in one place. I also love using passport covers (maybe it’s because I have the absolute CUTEST Kate Spade one:) because it makes it so easy to find in your bag, and I’ve found that it reduces the risk of misplacing it (or the fear of losing it).

3. Learn a few basic phrases in the other language. You say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” to the people in your life at home, so why not spend 5 minutes learning the phrases to show appreciation to all the people who make your trip easy and comfortable (“where is the bathroom” may come in handy too:).

4. Relax. Vacations can be a bit of a stressful time, but don’t forget to take some time to just sit there and enjoy the beauty around you. There’s nothing wrong with jam-packing your days with activities, but there’s also nothing wrong with just sitting on the balcony of your room or lounging by the pool and doing absolutely nothing, it is a vacation after all.

5. Use a travel website. Companies like Hopper are great for finding and tracking low-price tickets to your desired destination. I haven’t personally used it yet, but two of my friends used Hopper to find their tickets to come visit me in Singapore and it worked great. Super user-friendly and definitely gets you the best deal in town.

6. Carry around cash. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to rely on your credit card for everything, but remember that not every place you will go will accept cards. Make sure to convert some money at the airport to carry around just in case. It’s nice to be able to pay for small purchases or tip the people that help you with cash.

7. I had this one in my first post, but I’m going to say it again: PICTURES! I’ve heard a lot of people speak out against taking tons of pictures on trips because you should be “in the moment”, but I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to capture as many moment as possible. Not only can you share it with your friends and family, but it’s also a memory for you. You can look back on the photos 5, 10, 20 years from then and remember all about your trip.

8. Take public transportation. Not only will you save heaps of money, but you’ll also get your body moving and get to explore local life. Hopping in an Uber may be easy, but your missing out on so much. Taking public transportation forces you to walk around (move your body everyday, right?) and see so many things and places that you may have missed out on if you just hailed a cab.

9. Talk to locals. Getting to know the people is the best way to learn more about the place. Ask them what their favorite thing to do it or where their favorite place to eat is. You will find so many hidden gems that no travel website would lead you to. We have found some amazing little spots and eateries that the locals have led us to. Don’t be afraid to ask around and to step out of your comfort zone, that’s what traveling is all about!

10. Watch the sunrise. Get up early and watch the sun come up. Early mornings may sound grueling, but they don’t have to be. Grab a cup of coffee and appreciate the morning. No matter where you are in the world, the sun will always rise. Appreciate the beauty of that.

“Top 10 Travel Tips” Post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/03/18/top-10-travel-tips/

Links:

Hydrating Face Mask (perfect for the plane): https://www.sephora.com/product/sleeping-mask-P398102?skuId=1668615&icid2=products%20grid:p398102

Kate Spade Passport Cases: https://www.katespade.com/accessories/travel-accessories/

Basic Phrases in Other Languages (website with many languages): https://www.infoplease.com/common-english-phrases-translated-other-languages

Hopper: https://www.hopper.com/

Life Through A Lens #23- Spring Has Sprung

Travel Must-Haves

It’s getting to the time of year where a lot of us are getting ready to jet off on another adventure. Whether it’s to the beach or to explore a new city, traveling can be excited, but also a bit stressful. Today I thought I would share my travel “must-haves” for vacations. I hope you find some of these things helpful, and let me know if I’ve missed anything that you have on your list. I’ll also link my “top 10 travel tips” post down below. Happy traveling!

Beach Getaway:

1. The first thing I always have to have for a beach trip is an array of cute bikinis. I love my suits and can’t stand to wear the same suit two days in a row (that’s just me though, haha!). One our beach vacations, we spend almost the whole day laying out by the pool or the beach, which means that we’re in our bikinis for a majority of the day. If you are going to be in the ocean, make sure the suits you bring stay on well and don’t fall off. The absolute WORST thing is having to spend the whole day hiking your bikini top up because it keeps slipping down.

2. Another must for a vacation in the sun is sun screen. I used to hate sun screen because I thought it kept me from getting tan, but I quickly learned that using sun screen isn’t only protective for your skin and health, but it actually helps you get a nice even tan that lasts. In addition to sun protection, make sure to pack some aloe vera or coconut oil to use as after sun care.

3. Bring sunglasses and hats! If you’re going to be out in the heat all day, you’re going to want to have different ways to keep your body cool (you do not want to deal with heat stroke on a vacation…not fun!). Look for cute hats and visors to slip on when you need to cool down, and make sure you have sunglasses on anytime you’re in the sun. Sun damage to you eyes is a real thing.

4. If you’re going to be lying on the beach all day, bring some entertainment. Whether it’s a coloring book, a fun group game app or a ball, we love having things to do when we want to get up and moving or just use our minds a little bit.

5. In addition to bikinis, I always have to have cute cover ups with me. I usually wear my bikini around all day (literally put it on right after I wake up), so having a cover up is easy to slip on whenever I need it.

 

City Exploration:

1. Outfits that fit the city. One thing you have to be careful about is making sure that what you wear is respectful of the culture or religion of the place you’re visiting. Some places don’t like women in shorts or showing your shoulders. Be aware and respectful. Dressing modest doesn’t have to be boring!

2. When I’m on a city vacation, I typically do A LOT of walking, so I always make sure I have comfy shoes on. They don’t always have to be sneakers or closed shoes, there are plenty of sandals that are super comfy to walk in. Find what works for you.

3. I’m a blogger and instagrammer, so this one is obvious for me: a camera. Some people think that it’s better to enjoy the views than to be behind the lens, but I say do both! It’s so fun for me to capture moments to share with others and as memories for me. I love going back through photos from old trips to remember all the beauty of the world.

Any trip!:

1. One thing I always have to make sure I pack for a trip is my workout clothes and shoes. I used to go on trips all the time without workout clothes, and used it as an excuse to not workout. Now, I always always always have my stuff ready to go so that I don’t have an excuse to skip a day of sweating. Even though you may not have a lot of time or space to get a workout in, you have to make it a priority. I’ll link my post about staying fit on the road if you need some inspiration!

2. A map (or virtual map) of the country or city you’re visiting. I love taking a little bit of time to look at the area I’m going to be visiting on a map, and also looking at a close up map to see all the places I wanna go/visit while I’m there. It gives me a better understanding of the kind of place I’m going to be in, and helps me plan out the activities for each day.

3. Toiletries! No matter how far away I’m going or how long I’m staying anywhere, if I’m going to be overnight anywhere in the world, I have to have all of my toiletries. This includes my skin care, my toothbrush/paste and floss, and everything else. It gives me piece of mind to know that I won’t be changing anything about my routines just because I’m away.

 

‘Top 10 Travel Tips’ Post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/03/18/top-10-travel-tips/

‘Staying Fit on the Road’ Post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/07/12/fitgirllife-staying-fit-on-the-road/

Dallas Cafe & Bar

If you read my last post on ‘Top 10 Places to Eat in Singapore’ (linked down below, make sure to check it out!), you know that one of my newest restaurant finds is Dallas Restaurant and Bar, located at the Marina Bay Sands along the waterfront. I stumbled upon this place one day while walking around MBS with my family, and ended up going that evening for a night out with my girlfriends. The bar right on the edge of MBS, so it’s half indoors and half outdoors. We sat at a high table outside, and it was beautiful to see the Central Business District all lit up and reflecting on the water. We also had front row seats to the nightly light/laser show. Their drink menu had a huge variety with 21 cocktails and lots of wines, beers and other spirits.

As far as drinks go, they were super reasonable ($14 per drink) and big sizes. On Tuesday’s from 6pm-9pm (MBS happy hour), their Yuzu Mojito, Mimosa and Dark ‘n’ Stormy are all 50% off ($7). I had the Singapore Sling and the Salted Caramel White Russian, and they were both super yummy. One of my friends ordered a standard Margarita and said it was one of the best she’d ever had. We didn’t have any food, but it looked really good (I will go back and try it and update this). They do have a brunch/lunch and dinner menu (looked so good!), but they also had a bar food section with fries, calamari and fish tacos, which seemed perfect for a light dinner.

If you’re looking for a place to go for drinks on a night out in Singapore, highly suggest checking out this place for inexpensive drinks with a priceless view!

Website: http://www.dallas.sg/

Address: 2 Bayfront Ave, #01-85, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018972

‘Mega Guide to Singapore’ post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/11/16/top-10-things-to-do-in-singapore/

‘Top 10 Places to Eat in Singapore’ post: https://swimeatlove.com/2018/04/08/top-10-places-to-eat-in-singapore/

TOKYO Travel Guide

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! Today’s post is going to be all of my favorite/recommended things to do in Tokyo. I grew up visiting Tokyo at least once a year (sometimes twice), and it has quickly become my home away from home. When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate all the amazing city had to offer, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more and more in love. There’s so much to do, so much to eat and so many places to go, but this is my little guide to spending time in Tokyo!

Food:

  • Crepes at Takeshita-dori, Harajuku- This first one is pretty basic, but it’s always a must for me when I’m in Tokyo. Walking down the chaotic Takeshita street, there are tons of little creperies selling crepes of all kinds. In the summer when it’s hot and I’m ready for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, I love getting a crepe to share with my family as a sweet treat.
  • Kohmen, Shibuya/Harajuku- I don’t think many people have ever visited Tokyo without having an amazing bowl of Ramen, it’s a staple. But with so many options, it can be hard to settle on one place to go. One of my family’s favorites is Kohmen, located in a small alley in the backstreets of Harajuku. My favorite ramen to get there is the ‘tan-tan men’ (ramen in a spicy peanut sauce). During the summers, they have a ‘hiyashi’ (cold) tan-tan men, which is everything I want on a hot summer day. In the winter, the hot tan-tan men is the best way to warm myself up.
  • Tiger Gyoza, Shibuya- My parents have been going to Tiger Gyoza for a long time, and we all just love it. While they do have regular sized gyoza, they also have giant gyozas (just like the name). And along with the normal gyozas, they also have funky fillings like lamb served with an amazing coriander sauce.
  • Tenkaippin, Meguro- Another one of my new ramen favorites is Tenkaippin in Meguro. It opened just about a year ago, and is SO good. They have loads of condiments and choices for your ramen, but nothing too fancy. Sometimes just a simple, heart bowl of ramen is all you really need.
  • Aponte, Ebisu/Meguro- My dad discovered Aponte a few years ago, and it’s quickly become one of our Tokyo favorites. Right by the Ebisu train station, it’s a tiny little place run by just a few young guys (they run the bar, kitchen and front of house). The kitchen is open and creates a really cool space for the chefs to talk with the customers. The place only has a few tables, and the rest are counter seats. They specialize in seasonal pastas, pizzas and mains, and have incredible desserts. HIGHLY recommend checking this place out next time you’re in Tokyo.
  • Anmitsu at Azabusado or Tatsutano- I’ve never been one to have much of a sweet tooth, but I love Japanese sweets/desserts because they tend to not be too sweet. Anmitsu is shaved ice with matcha syrup, anko (red bean) and shiratama (small mochi balls), just a whole lot of deliciousness.

Kohmen website: https://www.kohmen.com/

Kohmen TripAdvisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066456-d1688885-Reviews-Komen_Harajuku-Shibuya_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Tiger Gyoza Trip Advisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066456-d8024519-Reviews-Tiger_Gyoza_Hall_Udagawacho-Shibuya_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Tenkaippin websitehttp://www.tenkaippin.co.jp/

Tenkaippin TripAdvisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066854-d1660242-Reviews-Tenkaippin_Meguroten-Shinagawa_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Aponte TripAdvisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066450-d4674051-Reviews-Aponte-Meguro_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Shopping:

  • Backstreets of Shibuya- My absolute favorite place to shop in Tokyo is the backstreets of Shibuya. While a lot of people are drawn to the famous crossing (so am I, as you’ll read later), I love exploring the areas behind it. There’s Seibu, a huge Forever 21 and H&M, a Donquijote, and lot’s of little, small boutique stores. You’ll still get the crowds and the chaos, but a little more relaxed.
  • Karuizawa- Just a 60 minute bullet train ride from Tokyo Station, Karuizawa is a small town with a huge outlet mall right next to the station. From Kate Spade to Coach to Le Creuset, there are over 100 stores to shop at. Just on the other side of the station, you’ll find a quaint little neighborhood filled with vintage stores and onsens (bath houses). At the end of the day, there’s a whole strip of restaurants to eat at before heading back to Tokyo. If you want to spend the night, there are tons of little ryokans and hotels around the area. We stayed at the Karuizawa Prince Hotel for a few nights, and it was beautiful!
  • Takeshita-dori, Harajuku- I know this is pretty much on every list of things to do in Tokyo, but I couldn’t help but put it on here. As touristy as it may be, I just love the chaos and excitement of this street. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been here, but every time I go I find a new store or eatery that I end up falling in love with. If you want to see the peak of the craziness, go on a Sunday afternoon. If you want it to be a little more chill, try to go on Monday-Thursday mornings.
  • Roppongi Hills- Roppongi Hills is a huge shopping area/mall filled with tons of eateries and higher end stores. While I prefer the Shibuya-type shopping, I know my family loves spending time here (and I like going for the food:). It’s a really pretty half indoor, half outdoor area that we could easily spend half a day at.

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza (Outlets): http://www.karuizawa-psp.jp/en

Karuizawa Prince Hotelhttp://www.princehotels.com/karuizawa-east/

Landmarks:

  • Shibuya Crossing- As mentioned above, I love the Shibuya Crossing. No matter how many times I go, I am always so amazed at what I like to call the “organized chaos”. The mix of local businessmen and tourists is always so cool to see, and the giant billboards and loud sounds always takes my breath away. If you are ever in Tokyo, going to the crossing is an absolute MUST DO.
  • Asakusa, Senso-ji temple- The huge red temple in the middle of Asakusa is stunning and beautiful, but the areas ans streets around it are just as amazing. A perfect morning is walking through the temple, and them strolling around the back streets before heading back into the city for the day.
  • Meiji-Jingu, Harajuku- If you aren’t able to make it out to Asakusa to see the Senso-ji temple, just hop over to Meiji-Jingu in Harajuku and walk around the area. The rock-lined walkway to the temple is a peaceful and beautiful walk, and is the perfect weekend afternoon activity.

 

 

SEOUL Travel Guide

Looking for a fun getaway for the summer? Can’t decide where to go? I got the chance to spend a few days in Seoul last summer, and I absolutely loved it! Seoul was never a place that I thought much of and I never really had a strong desire to visit, but I am so thankful that I did. I tagged along with my mom on her business trip, so we didn’t have too much time to explore the city as a whole, but we were able to do some fun things and explore a couple cool places. I just wanted to write this to share all the things we did, and hopefully give you some inspiration to visit this really awesome city!

We stayed at the Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam, located in the Seocho-gu district. While it’s not walking distance from downtown, it’s only about a 10 minute drive (and a 30 minute drive from the airport). It’s also caddy corner from the Shinsegae department store as well as the Goto Mall, which is the underground shopping mall connected to the Gangnam subway station (super useful to help get around). The department store and the mall combined has enough to keep you occupied for at least a whole day. The mall has tons of sit-down restaurants ranging from Italian to Chinese to Korean, and the basement of the department store has a huge supermarket as well as lot’s of little eateries.

There’s an office building right next to the hotel with a bingsu shop (forgot the name of it, but you can find bingsu everywhere), which was a perfect little afternoon snack for my mom and I after a day of shopping.

On the second night, we went to the Myeongdong district which is a large outdoor shopping area. The only thing I can relate it to is Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo. It was crazy, chaotic and super fun. The streets were absolutely filled with beauty stores, clothing shops, and food vendors. We spent a couple hours walking around and buying some fun Korean beauty products, and then walked over to Ziu Spa, where we spent 3 hours getting pampered. It was a traditional Korean spa, so they had two big thermal baths as well as two sauna’s (one rock and one salt), where we spent the first 20 minutes before we got famous Korean body scrubs, massages, face masks and body masks. The session ended with cupping (this was the first time I tried it and it was so cool!). After feeling totally blissed out, we walked over to a Korean BBQ restaurant where we had lot’s of meat, beer and soju:)

On our last full day, we were lucky enough to have lunch at an Imperial Korean Restaurant, where we were served lots of traditional Korean foods including kimchi, bulgogi beef, japchae, buchimgae and lots of other dishes in a private (really fancy room). The restaurant was in an old traditional house with a huge Korean garden out back. We spent half an hour walking around and soaking in all the beauty after our delicious meal.

That night, we decided to stay close to the hotel and had another Korean BBQ dinner at one of the restaurants at Goto Mall. We found out that the restaurant did both BBQ and hot pot, so we decided to do both (because it was our last night and why not?). There was so much amazing meat, vegetables, kimchi, and of course ice cold beer. It was the perfect way to end our little getaway.

 

While there is so much more I would have loved to do and see, I am so glad I got a chance to visit this vibrant city, and I hope to go back again soon. Below I have attached some links to some of the places/things I talked about, and also have some photos to share. Enjoy, and happy traveling!

 

Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=4542&language=en_US

Shinsegae Department Store Gangnam: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SHP/SH_EN_7_2.jsp?cid=273804

Goto Mall/Gangnam Terminal Shopping Center: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SHP/SH_EN_7_2.jsp?cid=2021659

Ziu Spa: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ziu-Spa/441988689201849

Seoul on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g294197-Seoul-Vacations.html