7 Things You Have to Know before Travelling to Labuan Bajo, Flores (Our Version)

Now I knew why people who have been to Labuan Bajo will not stop talking about their experience and to post their favourite pictures on their social media.

Well, it actually happens to me.

I just can’t stop to post everything about our honeymoon in Labuan Bajo, Flores. With all those magic islands, sparkling and crystal waters with turquoise and deep blue shades were successfully hypnotized us. The first magic that I barely saw with my own eyes in my own country.

Located in the mainland of Flores island in East Nusa Tenggara province, Labuan Bajo is the main point if you want to do trips to Komodo and surrounding islands, the home of the famous Komodo dragons. Historically, Labuan Bajo was the territory of Portuguese in the 14th till the 15th century and made it as the main transaction region from the Portuguese, as they are very rich with coffee, coconut, cacao and hazelnut.

A lot of things you should know about Labuan Bajo, from its history, how to get there, the village, the culture, their ethnicities, to the Komodo dragons, before you will go to this island. Therefore, in this post, I would like to share some important things you need to know, for those of you who are planning to go on vacation in Labuan Bajo which I am sure you do not want to miss!

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Welcome in Labuan Bajo

1. Check the weather and the ‘right’ season.

I am sure you do not want to go to the beach while the weather is bad, the tide is high and the view looks more grey-ish than green or brownish. It is known that the best months to visit Labuan Bajo is in between June to September, during the summer months. Usually, in October until February or March, they will have a rainy season and the tide is higher than usual. But June – July admitted as the peak season in Labuan Bajo, while August – September which the least crowd.

I guess you prefer to take pictures with those kinds of natural beauty colour like this right?

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The view from Rinca island

 2. Book your ticket in advance.

This is one of the common important things that advised by other travellers as well. Wherever you want to go on vacation, it will be better if you book your flight ticket in advance. It will save more of your money and you definitely can use it for other expenses.

If you are Indonesian, better to book your flight ticket at the latest, 3 months prior departure and if you are foreigners, try to book 5-7 months in advance. The cost if you depart from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo (round trip) is around IDR 2.000.000/each (EUR 120; USD$ 138). There is some airline company which have a direct flight from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo, from the high class to medium class airlines. But if you depart from Bali to Labuan Bajo (round trip) it cost around IDR 1.850.000/each (EUR 111; USD$ 128).

For your notes, there are only a few Indonesian airline companies who have flight schedules and routes to Labuan Bajo, including Garuda Indonesia, NAM Air, Batik Air, Wings Air, Lion Air and Citilink.

3. Book your trip and accommodation a few months away and avoid weekend trips

There are a lot of travel agencies which have some optional trips that can adjust to your budget. From the fancy one with a phinisi boat to the budget trip ones with the wooden cabin boat. It depends on how many people will join with you on the trip, usually the more the cheaper (yet the merrier). If you will go on a vacation with your family or best friends and wants something luxury, you can go with the phinisi boat ones. But if you will go by backpack, the wooden cabin boat also good.

If you will arrive Labuan Bajo one day before your liveaboard trip start, better to book your one-night accommodation in advance, especially if you will go there on the peak season. There are plenty of choices of the hostel, homestay, hotel room and even, resorts. Most of the hostel and hotel also provide WiFi in their room. The range price for the hostel with a bunk bed per person IDR 70.000/night (EUR 4.50 or USD$ 4.80) – IDR 150.000/night (EUR 9 or USD$ 10.20), while a hotel room price starts from IDR 200.000/night/person (EUR 12 or USD$ 13.60) to IDR 2.000.000/night/person (EUR 120 or USD$ 136) which already luxurious one. Last time, we booked a hotel room in Beta Bajo Hotel for IDR 500.000/night/room incl. breakfast, the service and location are great!

Last but not least, usually the trip package will also include the entrance ticket to go to the Komodo National Park (Rinca, Padar and Komodo islands), but there is also travel agent which does not include the entrance ticket fee into their package. In this case, we definitely will recommend you to avoid weekend trips, moreover if you will go to the Komodo National Park areas. Because the price is even more expensive than the weekdays one.

Which again, its better to avoid and save the money maybe to explore another touristic place in Labuan Bajo right?

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4. Choose your local phone provider.

For those people who are working on their social media more often, even during your vacation in Labuan Bajo, to avoid bad connection, maybe because the area is still limited to receive a phone signal, there is no WiFi network, but your ‘job’ requires you to update your vacation every single minute (coz maybe you are a vlogger, travel blogger, celebgram, etc), you have to prepare for the worst worst case, that you have to buy the local phone provider called, Telkomsel. As they have extensive networks and a good internet connection. I used Indosat Ooredoo, but it was not working at all even I was in the road, the hotel and the airport. Well, I was not get paid by mention all of those companies, but it is indeed, based on my personal experience.

 

5. Hailed the sunscreen.

For people who have a very sensitive skin that easily gets burn from direct sunlight and heat, I highly highly recommend you to bring and use all of your sunscreen product! Even you really want to get tanned, but sunscreen is still the most important because it will protect your skin from the excessive sunlight and reduces the appearance of sun damage.

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6. Prepare your cash money!

Although you will find the ATM machine and the money changer easily in the downtown, it is better to prepare cash money in Labuan Bajo. In the hotel and medium-high class restaurant and cafe, they usually provide the EDC machine so you can pay either with your debit and credit card, but if you want to go to souvenir shop or market, buy some street food or small food shop, give some tips for your tour guide, ranger and boat crew, it is better to prepare your cash money.

 

7. Bring all your ‘travel gear’ with you (hint: camera and smartphone!)

If you kind of person who really loves to take pictures coz you really love photography, a blogger or vlogger or simply just because you only want to keep your memories with you, it is better to bring all your ‘travel gear’ to Labuan Bajo. Be prepared to charge all your camera, from an action camera, DSLR, mirrorless camera and smartphone. Oftentimes, they will have limited electricity and its socket in the boat.

Prepare all of your travel accessories with the waterproof one, as you might want to capture and record your best moments while swimming and diving with the shark, corals and all beautiful clownfishes. Oh, yes bring your drone to see and capture Labuan Bajo from above, if you have it too.

Trust me, every corner of Labuan Bajo and its surrounding islands is so pretty and very Instagrammable that you don’t want to miss it!

The rest, you can thank me later and be ready with the real adventure 😉

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Honeymoon Series #6 : Nge-Hitz di ‘Cafe In Hit Coffee Shop’, Labuan Bajo

Finally, here is another recommended place for you to hang out in Labuan Bajo, Flores!

Jadi, hari terakhir di Labuan Bajo, setelah 3 hari 2 malam living on board, kita (khususnya saya) pengennya cuma mau leha-leha aja deh! Jadilah, akhirnya ngopi adalah our top priority untuk berleha-leha di Labuan Bajo. Selain karena, sepengen itu minum kopi asli Flores, sejujurnya di otak saya waktu itu bawaannya pengen nulis dan nulis melulu. Karena banyaaak yang mau dibagi setelah liburan ke Yogyakarta dan Labuan Bajo bersama (ehem!) suami tercinta.

“I just really need an iced cappuccino and maybe bit writing on my laptop!” that was exactly my answer, when he asked what do you want to do today.

Emang ya, dasar orang INFJ, emang cuma paling bisa curhat lewat tulisan-tulisan. Siapa yang setuju?

Acung!!!

Untungnya suami juga sama-sama INFJ, walaupun dia sebenarnya lebih ke tipe more into adventures sih, jadi ya dia setuju aja kalau hari itu kita akan ngopi-ngopi di kafe tok!

Setelah Googling coffee shop atau tempat nongkrong apa yang cozy dan kopinya enak, juga lokasinya tidak terlalu jauh dari hotel. Akhirnya, jatuhlah pada pilihan ngopi di Cafe In Hit Coffee Shop. Tempatnya emang enak banget, cocok sih buat yang emang mau ngopi sekaligus hangout atau hanya sembari ‘kerja’ di depan laptop. Dekorasinya lebih menggunakan semen concrete dan industrial, which is emang kekinian dan sesuai namanya, hitz banget! (gimana gaes bahasanya udah anak Selatan banget belum?! Hahaha)

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Barista-nya ramah-ramah & bersedia sharing cerita soal kopi

Oh iya, kalau kalian beruntung, kalian juga bisa nemuin buku bacaan favorit kalian di kafe ini. Lihat aja koleksi buku disini, lumayan banyak kan? Mereka sengaja menyediakan buku-buku untuk bacaan para pengunjungnya, yang sengaja dikumpulkan dari hasil sumbangan para turis yang datang di kafe maupun yang memang gak sengaja ketinggalan di kafe.

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Koleksi buku-bukunya yang juga membuat dekorasinya menjadi lebih artsy. Mereka juga jual kopi asli Flores dan sekitarnya loh, baik yang sudah berbentuk powder maupun masih biji kopi
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Suami yang setia banget nungguin nulis sambil baca buku kesukaannya yang dia temukan di display. Laaavv ❤
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Area toilet tepat di atas tangga. The quotes pun ❤

Untuk soal minuman, variasi menu yang ditawarkan juga lumayan banyak, mulai dari black coffee hingga beragam pilihan minuman frappe. Selain minuman, mereka juga menjual light meal seperti; sandwich, banana cake, muesli, salad, dan sebagainya. Waktu itu saya dan suami sempat mencoba Ice Cappucinno, Ice Coffee Machiato, dan Ice Green Tea Frappe!

Ice cappucinno nya aja udah bedaaaa banget rasanya sama cappucinno yang biasa kita minum di Starbucks ataupun di coffee shop lain di Jakarta. Rasa kopinya…. DUH! Sampe gak bisa berkata-kata lagi deh.. pas ditanya, ternyata kopi yang dipakai kopi Flores dan Manggarai.

Untuk harga sih, relatif sama ya dengan harga kopi-kopi di Jakarta, sekitar 30.000-an keatas, tapi soal kualitas kopi? Gak diragukan lagi deh. No perez ya, ini honest review…

Kalau soal suasana, asik dan lagu-lagunya juga top 40s punya. Untuk area kafe terbagi 2, ada yang indoor area juga outdoor, sayangnya gak terlalu banyak kursi yang disediakan di dalam, karena lokasi baristanya aja udah lumayan memakan tempat. Walaupun tidak terlalu besar, sebenarnya lumayan banget untuk nongkrong sama teman, keluarga atau pasangan yang emang cuma mau sekadar ngopi sambil chit-chat!

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All you need is love and a good cup of coffee, indeed.
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Notes dan testimony yang dituliskan oleh pengunjung
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We are in a paradise, wifi is just a bonus

Jadilah, kita lumayan lama banget stay disana, bahkan sampai hampir sunset! Suami saya asik tenggelam dengan buku yang dia temukan di kafe tersebut, saya juga udah asik sendiri dengan laptop. Dari awalnya kita duduk-duduk di dalam, karena ber-AC dan lumayan untuk ngadem dari panasnya matahari di Labuan Bajo, sampai akhirnya sore-sore kita pindah keluar sekalian cari angin dan ganti suasana.

Oh ya, lokasinya pun berada tepat di sebelah Le Pirate Hotel dan Restaurant yang sudah sempat saya review juga.

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Baca juga: Honeymoon Series #2: Le Pirate Restaurant, Labuan Bajo, Flores – Indonesia (Review)

Address: Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Flores 86554 

Opening Hours: 6.30 AM – 10.00 PM

Estimated price: 20.000 – 70.000 IDR

Honeymoon Series #5 : Why you should choose your honeymoon destination in Labuan Bajo, Flores? (Day 3 – FIN)

Yaaay, finally the last day!

So, early in the morning, we sail our boat to Taka Makassar! Once we parked the boat, I was surprised when I saw another beautiful crystal water, white and pinkish beach sands, a lot of fishes and corals.

Look at this beauty…

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The real Vitamin Sea ❤
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Welcome to the island of sands

The name has no connection with Makassar region in Sulawesi, but Taka Makassar means the island of the sand. It has clear turquoise water and swallows water, which makes big boats aren’t able to get near to the island, that is why they usually ride a smaller boat either from Manta point or Komodo island.

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Who doesn’t love to be here?

Me and my husband had to swim from our boat to the small island, it is very small even smaller than basketball field. It was very good to swim in there because of the wave quite stable, compare to the pink beach yesterday. We were with Italian tourists when we were there and they found giant sea-turtle nearby Taka Makassar.

On this island, I met and got to know with another tour guide which originally coming from Flores. She was very nice and very informative! We shared a lot of things about Labuan Bajo and Flores, include what was happened that time in Labuan Bajo. She told me, she and her friends joined with a demonstration in the centre to fight the construction of big and luxury hotels on Rinca and Padar islands. She looked very stressful because she doesn’t want people ‘destroy’ the real beauty of Labuan Bajo and other islands. But people who have the power, only thinking about their business, how to build a luxurious hotel so they’ll gain more profit without thinking about the impact of it.

“Imagine, if Komodo dragons will lost their ‘comfort’ and origin habitat?” she said.

I nodded but suddenly my mind was full with her voice.

I just cannot imagine what if it really happens.

Deep sighs

Well anyway, after spent a few hours in Taka Makassar, we went back to the boat and went to Manta point which located quite close from Taka Makassar. We had to find a spot in a deep blue sea water to see Manta, and guessed… we found it! I was not brave enough to go to underwater anymore to see the Manta closer, but my husband who always curious to hunt all Mantas we found.

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Look at this big Manta ❤
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He tried to see the Manta closer

Finally, after we saw around 4-5 mantas, we went directly to our very last destination, before back to Labuan Bajo harbour, the Angel Island (Pulau Bidadari). This is a private island which located 20 minutes by boat from Labuan Bajo. It surrounded with beautiful white beach sand and one of a good place to do snorkelling and diving.

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Our Garuda boat, view from Angel Island, Labuan Bajo
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Angel Island, Labuan Bajo – Flores

Surprisingly, when I sat on the beach sands, I saw very clear there was a baby shark swim in the seashore. And after, my husband was curious, so he hunts the baby shark on the other side of the seashore and finally, he found it!

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Baby shark dudu~duu

It was not that big. And our tour guide told us, they also have many sharks on this beach, that is why no wonder if we found few baby sharks in there.

Finally… we went back to Labuan Bajo’s harbour and picked up by the driver, then they dropped us at the hotel.

Well, that could sum-up our honeymoon stories. It might not a romantic one like in a movie, but we really enjoy every moment that we spent together. Even our skin got burnt, 3-days with the smell of salty hair and all over our body, but we enjoyed a lot the beauty of Labuan Bajo and other islands has offered to us! For those who want to have a romantic, fancy and luxury honeymoon, maybe Bali and Lombok will be a better choice. But, for those who want a real life-adventure, full of challenges, build a ‘teamwork’, and lay down in the rooftop under the million stars… We definitely recommend Labuan Bajo is the best choice!

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There’s no sunset as beautiful as in Komodo island ❤

Additional information:

We booked our trips with PERAMA Tours and we chose “Explore Komodo National Park 3D2N” for a private boat, so last time only me, my husband, the tour guide and the boat crew on board. The price for each person IDR 4.000.000 (USD$ 280), so last time we paid for IDR 8.336.000 (USD$ 642, include the administration fee). It was not cheap for me, because actually there is a lot of tour and travel agency who offered a less expensive tour than the price we’ve got, (maybe) also with better facilities. But, we feel good with our tour guide, which we called Mas Goi! He is very nice, smiley, good French (even better than me), helpful and has the talent to take pictures, of course! Hahaha

The Garuda boat was very clean, the boat crew was very nice and helpful, our tour guide was very kind and very informative, oh yes, I almost forgot, the food was delicioussss and rich with Indonesian-taste! ❤

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Bon appétit

Honeymoon Series #4 : Why you should choose your honeymoon destination in Labuan Bajo, Flores? (Day 2)

Born in a big city like Jakarta, has shaped me into who I am today. Living well, went to a decent school and university, got a decent job with… ya, I could say, enough salary. I even don’t have to cross to another island by the boat or to hike another hill only for a living. I am not trying to underestimate people who are doing that way, I even really appreciate what they do.

At least, that’s what I thought last time when I was on Padar island, one of the big islands in Labuan Bajo, Flores. I really appreciate people who are starting to make money in there, that is why no wonder if the price in Labuan Bajo and surrounding island, not much different compared to Jakarta. In some things, the price even higher. As we know, it might not easy for them to get some of the food products in their area, because lack of accessibility and availability to get all of the food products.

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The first night we stayed in the small boat, with limited electricity, no AC or fan, no wifi, even worse no phone signal, makes me realize two things. First, how hard my life was if I have to do it for 7 days without those things. And the last, the positive sides, me and my husband tried to live with those limitations with our own way, we talked and laughed more, we shared stories.

He was the one who always gave me his spirit to support and cheers me up. For example, last time when we hike in long and high stairs in Padar island, he kept patiently support me. He always told me that I can do it to the summit, even I am the one who wasn’t feeling that way. For those who already went to Padar island, I am sure you know how it feels. The hills have a lot of stairs till the peak, some even only have stones step. Our tour guide even told us, a few years ago they even did not have the stairs, so people had to hike with little bit steep and slippery land.

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The struggle was real right?

As you can see, the island is mostly savanna-covered, surreal landscape fringed by bright green-capped mountains. It’s all surrounded by three turquoise bays and each one of the bay’s beaches has different coloured sands; one is more pearly white (the right one), the other is charcoal black and the third is a baby pink one. Which makes it a very rare combination, yet makes it a very unique island.

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Our journey is still long, but can we always hold on to each other hands, no matter what will happen in front of us?

The second day actually was my favourite day! Simply because I finally could see the Pink beach. The pink beach was already in our bucket list, even before we got married. And I can’t believe, after 2 years made the bucket list together, we finally made it there! I was speechless and happy at the same time, I feel like I don’t want to leave the beach. After snorkelling for 15 minutes, then I just sat on the beach, felt the pink sands and the sea water on my skin. That was very PINKISH! The wave was a bit strong at that time, which made me and my husband were carried by the waves a few times.

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Happiest kid on earth ❤
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Pink beach, salty hair, tanned skin
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Every August is my parents’ birthday months, so here we wrote birthday wishes for them ❤

Well, finally I had to face the reality that we had limited times to stay in the pink beach, so we went back to our boat and continued our journey to the Komodo island.

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The road which connects the Komodo harbour to the Komodo National Park entrance gate
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The Komodo National Park entrance gate

For me Rinca island looked wilder than in Komodo island itself, they also have a seashore, I don’t really know if its allowed and safe to swim in the seashore, but I saw there are few foreigners who swim in there in late afternoon. We can also easily found reindeer, monkey, wild boar, and beautiful birds on this island.

Actually, our tour guide already mentioned that we can’t expect to see Komodo dragons a lot in here, because many of foreigners complained that quite rare they could see Komodo dragons in this island.

Because last time it was already a bit late in the afternoon, like around 3 or 4 pm, we decided to take the short trek one. After 5 minutes walk, we found at least 3-4 Komodo dragons which were in the middle of the forest. Foreign tourists were gathered with their groups and exchange to take pictures with the Komodo.

So we did too!

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With a huge Komodo dragon

The sun slowly sets, after accompanying my husband to buy some Komodo souvenirs, then we back to the boat to enjoy our last night in our Garuda boat. We were so lucky that we had a brand new boat with 2 nice crew boat and a very good captain! When we parked our boat on the other side of Komodo island in which a place where the house of villagers lived in, all of sudden came two little kiddos who paddled their ‘boat’ which was only made of thick styrofoam, came close to our boat.

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Look at how they paddled their ‘boat’!

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Yes, they came to our boat to sell their souvenirs. They brought small Komodo dragons, pin and magnetic refrigerator. I was very amazed yet feel pity with them at the same time. After school, they have had to help their parents making money for their lives. With very limited English that they have, they tried to persuade my husband to buy their souvenirs.

When I looked at them, I suddenly had mixed feelings. I still feel so lucky, blessed, grateful with my life but at the same time, amazed by them. They really inspired me to live my life even we have to face many difficulties, obstacles and challenges. I really wish they will always be healthy, growing as smart kids and enjoy their childhood while they can.

Can I get some ‘amin’…?

(to be continued)

 

Honeymoon Series #3 : Why you should choose your honeymoon destination in Labuan Bajo, Flores? (Day 1)

Yaaay… finally, my motivation to write about our honeymoon experiences in Labuan Bajo has come! Actually, we went to Labuan Bajo on last August 2018, exactly the same day as the Opening Ceremony of Asian Games 2018. Well, just a week after our wedding day.

So we took a flight from Yogyakarta to Labuan Bajo by NAM Airlines, I still remember clearly it was very early in the morning like around 6 or 6.30 am and then we had transit in Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali for about 1-2 hours. The flight ticket price was around 2 million Rupiah each person. It was a little bit expensive because we bought the ticket probably like 2 weeks prior to departure.

Finally, after 45 minutes flight from Yogyakarta to Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali, then transit for an hour and continued our flight to Labuan Bajo for 45-60 minutes where I was one of few Indonesian among the seas of foreigners in the plane, we finally arrived in one of our dream islands to visit!

We were very excited as we arrived at the airport, moreover my husband! Because to visit Komodo Island is one of his biggest dreams since he was a kid, we really don’t know if its coincidence or fate, but seeing him looked so amazed only by the Komodo big sticker at the airport, I felt beyond happy too.

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My bubz’ happy face ❤

Once we arrived and got our baggage at the airport, we went directly outside to find transportation to the hotel we booked. You will easily find a lot of taxi drivers who will be waiting for either you want to go to your hotel, harbour, central and other spots in Labuan Bajo. The price will depend on your destination, but the driver will ask where do you want to go and the address. If you want to go to the hotel or cafe or harbour, it is located in the centre so the price will be around 50.000 Rupiah/one way.

We booked a hotel room in Soekarno-Hatta street, which still located in the central part of Labuan Bajo, named Beta Bajo Hotel. First, we booked for a night, because the next day in the morning we lived on board, which was my first experience. The first day in Labuan Bajo, we spent half-day at the hotel and in the afternoon we explore the centre and to see the sunset, had early dinner in Le Pirate cafe and after had our ‘dessert’ in one of Le Creperie in town! Yummmz

Read: Honeymoon Series #2: Le Pirate Restaurant, Labuan Bajo, Flores – Indonesia (Review)

The day after, at 09.00 in the morning our tourist guide picked up us at the hotel then we went directly to the harbour by car.

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Our ‘Garuda’ boat

So this is our private boat, that we booked through Perama tours. We had cabin bedroom with bunkbed. They also have one bathroom, other bunkbed room, deck bedroom, very small kitchen area and a dining place.

We were very happy and very enthusiast to explore some islands in Flores. At the first time, I felt a bit worried because I ever got nausea in a boat a long time ago when I went to the Thousand Islands. But surprisingly I did not really feel that way, but just because it was very windy and I still feel sleepy, so I decided to sleep in our bedroom.

Oh ya, we saw few dolphins swim on our way to Kanawa island before!

When we arrived at our first destination, Kanawa Island, I feel like “OMG, I never saw the sea which very clear, clean and full of beautiful corals and fishes!”. We spent a few hours on this island, that time was a bit crowd already, but more with foreigner tourists than Indonesian people. The waves were not that much, so it was easy to swim around the island. Last time, we found a lot of colourful starfishes, that’s why we have to be more careful to not step on those starfishes.

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Corals and crystal clear water

So far, Kanawa island is one of our favourite spots to do snorkelling in Indonesia!

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Kanawa island pier

After we prepared, they brought us to explore Loh Buaya or well-known as Rinca Island. It is the largest Komodo dragon habitat in Indonesia. Last time, it was a little bit confusing when I bought the ticket in the ticket office because they have 8 ticket papers, which for me such a waste and not effective at all. Here are the price lists we paid:

  • Entrance ticket at the Komodo National Park (weekend): IDR 7.500
  • Entrance ticket to Rinca island (foreigner on weekend): IDR 225.000
  • Entrance ticket to Rinca island (Indonesian on weekend): IDR 50.000 + IDR 20.000 = IDR 70.000
  • Ranger fee ticket in Rinca island: IDR 80.000
  • Activity ticket for trekking on Rinca island: IDR 5.000 x 2 person = IDR 10.000
  • Activity ticket for observation the wildlife: IDR 10.000 x 2 person = IDR 20.000

See? In total, we paid for IDR 412.500 for 2 person or equal to EUR 23. If you go there on the weekdays, the price could be cheaper than written above. The ticket price applies to both islands, Rinca and Komodo (in case you go to this two-island on the same day). You definitely can choose whether you want to try the short, the medium or the long track one which will take around 2 hours or more.

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Loh Buaya pier
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The entrance of Loh Buaya, Rinca island in the Komodo National Park. P.S: Don’t ever buy a coconut in there, the price was 2-3 times higher than the normal price. We deeply regretted, haha
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Hope my face explain everything, lolz

In this island, beside Komodo dragons, you also will see a beautiful scenery with big hills, dry grasses, trees, wild reindeer, monkeys and birds. This island located 3 hours by boat from Labuan Bajo. It is better to go there in the morning or afternoon around (3 – 4 pm) to avoid the strong sunny day. From our guide and the ranger information, Rinca island has a lot of Komodo dragons than in the real Komodo island itself. We found around 9 – 12 Komodo dragons in Rinca island. Last time, because it was already in the afternoon around 3 pm, so we chose the medium trek. I was almost lost my breath when we hike the hill because it was very high and steep at the same time. But we glad that we made it to the top of the hills!

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Preggo female komodo
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This wild reindeer waiting to be eaten by Komodo dragons
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Standing among high hills at Rinca island

After finished our trek in Rinca island, then we went directly to the boat to continue our final destination in Kalong island, where we stopped before evening to see flies kalong or bats above the sunset skies. We feel amazed by all the kalongs which flew above us but it was a wonderful experience to see such beautiful landscape during the sunset with all those flying bats!

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Peaceful yet beautiful sunset in Kalong island
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Hope this blurred picture will give you all the vision how we feel amazed by those flying bats

Do you want to know where we went on the second days?

The story will be uploaded next week, so stay tuned and ‘follow’ my blog to get the notification!

Honeymoon Series #2: Le Pirate Restaurant, Labuan Bajo, Flores – Indonesia (Review)

Rooftop bar with a view

Feels like we were in Bali, that’s what I thought when we visited this restaurant. Located in the central part of Labuan Bajo, Le Pirate restaurant has four floors which the Ground Floor is the hotel reception, 1st floor is the main restaurant, 2nd floor is the Le Pirate hotel and the 3rd floor is the rooftop bar. I also wanted to book their hotel during our stay in Labuan Bajo, but last time it was full-booked on the dates we were there.

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Le Pirate Restaurant was taken after dinner
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Le Pirate restaurant interior design

We went there to have our early-dinner time on our first day in Labuan Bajo. We ordered two pad thai, vegetable one for my husband and seafood one for me, Vietnam spring roll, and 2 lemon squash. It was around 4 or 5 pm in the afternoon, so it was less people.

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Food we ordered
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Seafood pad Thai

For me, the price quite pricey both for food and drinks, almost similar price in Jakarta and Bali, to be honest. For the taste of the pad thai itself, was quite good. I could say 7.5 out of 10. The Vietnam rolls were so-so, 7 out of 10.

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Vietnam Spring Rolls

We also went to the rooftop bar just to see the view of Labuan Bajo harbour from above. There were a small swimming pool and some places just to relax and lay down your body. You can also buy and enjoy cocktails drinks from the bar.

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Source: Le Pirate website

I will recommend you to visit Le Pirate restaurant if you want to feel fine dining with a good view also with your loved ones or if you just want to have some good drinks with friends on their rooftop bar. The sunset view was magical!

Location: Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Flores 86554 

Opening Hours: 7.30 AM – 10.30 PM

Estimated price: 30.000 – 100.000 IDR

Honeymoon Series #1: First Impression being a Vegan in Loving Hut, Yogyakarta (Review)

Well, I was in Yogyakarta last month during the familymoon with my husband and his French family. We basically visited some touristic places when we were there, some good cafe and restaurants, as well as did some adventure at Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta. That was 2nd times visit for me and my husband, the first one was just last year. And just last month we have seen quite a lot of changes in Yogyakarta, such as the big pedestrian walk that they built in Malioboro area as well as other new cafe and restaurant. Who does not love to walk in Malioboro? Many street foods, shopping places, souvenir shops, street art performance, etc.

This year, since we visited with his family, we tried to visit a vegan restaurant because they are a true-vegan! Well, I am not a vegetarian nor a vegan, but in this post, I will try to recommend you one of the best vegan restaurant in Yogyakarta (at least from my experience). This vegan restaurant was recommended by my mother-in-law.

The restaurant called, Loving Hut. It is a vegan restaurant, which absolutely not using any animal products. As a human who is basically eat everything (you can call me an omnivore, lol), that was my first time to eat in such kind of restaurant. We went to the Loving Hut Express, the place quite small not like any other restaurant in Yogyakarta, but the location was well located just in the central part of Yogyakarta.

A little bit about the history of this vegan restaurant, since the first restaurant has been established and founded in Taiwan in 2008, the restaurant has been successfully dominating the vegan restaurants in some of the European and Asian countries. Currently, the restaurant has the franchise which spread to 23 countries with more than 155 outlets, including in Indonesia. They also have its franchise in the United States, Canada, Panama, Germany, France, Spain, England, Czech, Austria, Australia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

I was thinking to be a vegetarian or vegan is the scariest and impossible thing to do. Because I just can’t imagine my life without egg, chicken, seafood, cheese, milk, and any animal product (BRB, CRYYY). But since my husband and his family is a vegetarian or even a vegan, so I gave a try to this resto.

WHICH WAS SOOOOOO DELICIEUX….

I have some preference for vegetables and fruits that I usually eat and only some of the vegetables that I can eat it raw, which the rest should be well cooked. And in here, we can choose both the raw or cooked. They even have a cabinet glass which there are so many foods that you can choose for yourself, which for me more like Nasi Campur or Nasi Rames, but still contain vegan products.

I was very curious about the Burger that they have in this restaurant so I ordered it. OMG, when I took the first bite, I feel like I was in a Burger King!

No, it wasn’t exaggerated feeling!

Because the size was quite big and surprisingly the “HAM” was almost exactly the same as in there. Look at this… Sooooo YUMMMMZ!

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Sorry I did not take a proper picture for this, coz its YUMMM

I can be a vegan every day if all the food I eat would be like this.

I was not tried a lot of food in here, but my mother-in-law also loved the salad and juice they have it there, it was all fresh and delicious, as she said! My husband loves the vegan kwetiau and the Seven Seas delight, which contain seitan kind of meat, vegetables and rice.

Here, you can definitely choose and order some kind of food like vegan meatballs, vegan satay, vegan kwetiau and basically almost everything, you name it, they sell the best vegan food with Indonesian taste.

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Image from Google

It was not more like a restaurant but more like a small cafe or warung, since the place is not really big so you have to come earlier or just after dining time or you will have to wait to get the table. The price also very affordable for a good quality and healthy food!

So, for those of you who will come to visit Yogyakarta, you should try to eat in Loving Hut Express!

Location
Loving Hut Express
Jl. Moses Gatotkaca No A18
Gejayan Mrican Yogyakarta
Telp. 0274-562959

Euphoria Asian Games 2018 and the next Asian Para Games 2018!

Baru saja Asian Games 2018 usai dan berlalu selama 2 hari, tapi rasanya udah kangen banget lihat euforia masyarakat Indonesia dari segala penjuru. Saya memang gak sempat untuk menonton pertandingan secara langsung di Asian Games 2018, tapi lihat dari televisi rasanya senang, haru dan tiba-tiba ngerasa ternyata Indonesia tuh bisa banget sekeren itu loh!

Despite of netizen yang sukanya hanya nyinyir bin julid ngomongin semua atlet-atletnya, stuntmen, joget dayung Pak Presiden, group hugs nya kedua kandidat presiden, tapi berkat Asian Games kita jadi bisa lebih dilihat dunia luar dengan prestasi dan hal yang baik-baik.

Sedikit flashback soal persiapan Asian Games 2018 yang udah dirasakan kira-kira sekitar 2 tahun belakangan. Ya, karena kebetulan kantor juga di daerah pusat, jadi saya setiap hari melihat ada aja perbedaannya berkendara di daerah Senayan, Sudirman dan Thamrin. Puncaknya, perbedaan mulai saya rasain sekitar bulan Juli 2018, seketika Jakarta seperti disulap seperti berada di Singapura. Mulai dari pelebaran jalur pejalan kaki yang ditanami pohon dan tanaman, patung Pemuda Bundaran Senayan yang sudah mulai rapih dan terbuka, pintu masuk dan keluar halte MRT, sampai dengan perobohan jembatan penyeberangan di Bundaran HI.

Kadang-kadang sampe mikir, ini cost nya berapa banyak ya untuk pembangunan MRT ditambah persiapan Asian Games 2018?

Yaudahlah ya, ngapain jadi ikutan mikirin begini.

Selain itu, sekitar sebulan sebelum Asian Games dimulai, beberapa lagu yang menjadi soundtrack pun juga mulai disosialisasikan dan diperdengarkan di radio-radio. Sumpah enak-enak bangeeeet lagunya, paling favorit sih Unbeatable-nya JFlow sama Dira Sugandi, Dance Tonight juga asik banget, kolaborasi Indonesian singers yang dikenal dengan Energy 18 dengan lagunya Bright of the Sun juga kece bangeeet dan surprisingly penyanyi dangdut Via Vallen yang menyanyikan lagu berjudul Meraih Bintang aja jadi TOP HITS hingga saat ini. Super LOOOOVE!

Nah, kebetulan sewaktu opening Asian Games 2018 lalu, saya baru aja tiba di Labuan Bajo untuk honeymoon trip kedua setelah sebelumnya ke Yogyakarta. Jadilah setiba di hotel, malamnya saya dan suami nonton opening Asian Games 2018. OMG, Tari Saman-nya impressive dan cantik banget, suami saya sampai melongo lihatnya!

“Wah, keren bangeeeeet… It doesn’t look like in Jakarta, isn’t it?” respon saya saat itu.

Selama 28 tahun tinggal dan hidup di Indonesia, salah satu momen paling membanggakan ya melihat Opening Asian Games 2018 dan melihat atlet-atlet Indonesia yang keren-keren banget, apalagi atlet perempuan-perempuannya.

Pasti semua setuju kan?

Terlepas dari itu semua, animo masyarakat yang seminggu terakhir sebelum penutupan Asian Games juga gak kalah luar biasanya. Mau pagi, siang, sore, malam, baru kali itu lihat stadion Gelora Bung Karno sebegitu rame dan megahnya. Kita bisa lupa sama yang namanya situasi politik, ekonomi, provokator Pilpres, apalagi situasi dapur di rumah (LOL)

Ruamenya dahsyat banget kan? Tapi lihat animonya yang luar biasa, kita juga senang, walaupun harus dempet-dempetan, antri panas-panasan, keringetan dan super gerah, tapi kita semua happy banget?!

Kapan lagi masyarakat Indonesia bisa jadi satu seperti saat ini? Saling dukung satu sama lain, gak peduli atlet kita dari etnis apa, kita tetap dengan bangganya meneriakkan nama-nama mereka. Gak peduli si atlet ini agama apa, kita tetap dengan bangganya kasih selamat.

Ini loh Indonesia yang dari dulu adem ayem, bebas dari para provokator yang kerjaannya cuma mau mecah-belah Indonesia, yang bilang agama A lebih baik dari agama B, yang bilang calon presiden A lebih kece dari calon presiden B.

Andaikan Asian Games lebih lama ya waktunya, pasti berita-berita aneh nan provokatif yang seliweran di media sosial jadi ketutup sama berita para atlet Indonesia yang super kece berat.

Terima kasih seluruh atlet-atlet Indonesia yang sudah berjuang demi mengharumkan nama Indonesia di dunia internasional. Berkat seluruh kerjasama dan semangat para atlet lah, Indonesia kini berada di peringkat ke-4 compares to more than 40s Asian countries. Suatu capaian terbesar buat Indonesia, berada di 5 besar bersama dengan Negara-negara hebat seperti Cina, Jepang, Korea dan Iran.

Terima kasih juga buat Wishnutama, the best CEO and Creative Director in Indonesia, yang sudah buat Indonesia luar biasa kece di mata dunia dan always out of the box, sampai-sampai Presiden Dewan Olimpiade Asia (OCA) dan Presiden Komite Olimpiade Internasional (IOC) aja sampai terkagum-kagum dengan arrangement acara Opening dan Closing, hingga pertandingan yang sportif dan keren banget.

Indonesia memang menunjukkan sebagaimana mestinya Energy of Asia should be like!

Nah, sekarang kita juga harus mendukung para atlet kita di Asian Para Games 2018, yakni perhelatan kompetisi olah raga bagi kelompok penyandang disabilitas se-Asia. Jangan lupakan teman-teman kita yang berusaha meraih prestasi even though mereka memiliki keterbatasan tidak seperti manusia pada umumnya.

Saya Indonesia dan saya dukung Indonesia di Asian Para Games 2018!

A Tale from Yogyakarta #1: The Sultanate Water Castle

I always love to visit Yogyakarta, both for pleasure or works. Not only because of the cheaper price for almost everything, but Yogyakarta always has its story or memories for their visitors. Usually, Jakartans always love to have a short escape to Yogyakarta, just to avoid a busy and ‘crowd life’ in there. I think some of Jakartans agreed of what I said. We are just in love with the weather, the street, the food, the atmosphere, the souvenir places, the cheap batik, the historical site and many more.

Yes, I love visiting the historical site in every cities or country I’ve visited. Taman Sari in Yogyakarta is one of the examples. I have visited the water castle once with my fiance during our trip to Yogyakarta. Been several times visiting Yogyakarta, I just went there once and it was last time with him. Taman Sari becomes an Instagrammable place that you should visit while you are in Yogyakarta.

Once upon a time— the Sultanate of Yogyakarta built the water castle as the royal garden of the Sultanate. It was built in the midst of 18th century and was very famous and commonly used as a bathing place. Built during the reign of Sultan Hamengkubuwono I (1755 – 1792), the first sultan of Yogyakarta and was completed by the time of Sultan Hamengkubuwono II. There are few version of this water castle histories, according to Kitab Mamana in Yogyakarta Kraton, the project leader for the construction of Taman Sari was Tumenggung Mangundipura. He had travelled twice to Batavia to learn all about European architecture, no wonder the architecture of this water castle has marks of European style. It was also built three years after the Giyanti Agreement—the agreement between Prince Mangkubumi, the Dutch East India company and Sunan Pakubuwono III which divided the eastern half of the Sultanate of Mataram in Java was given to Pakubuwono III with Surakarta as its capital, while the western half was given to Prince Mangkubumi with its capital in Yogyakarta—as a resting place of the First Sultan.

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Umbul Pasiraman or also known by Umbul Binangun, the main area of Sultanate’s Bathhouse

Maybe some of you have already visited Taman Sari while you were in Yogyakarta. As you all know, currently, the water castle has turned into one of must-visit touristic place in Yogyakarta. In some part of the castle is well-preserved by the local government and communities who live around the castle. A long time ago, it consisted of 59 buildings complex and some of them were fell out after an earthquake happened in 1867, which destroyed several buildings and drained the water features. And the only building which has restored is only the bathing complex.

Umbul Pasiraman or commonly referred to Umbul Binangunis—a sultan’s bathhouse for princesses and concubines are punctuated by high walls on each side. Umbul Pasiraman has 3 pools named Umbul Muncar, Blumbang Kuras and Umbul Binangun which is decorated with the fountain and can be accessed through two gates to enter the West and East part. In the North, there is a building used for the places of the sisters and daughters of the sultan, while in the South there is a tower used by the Sultan to clean the concubines and his daughter who was bathing below.

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Another part of the bathhouse

When you walk out from the main area of the site, you will see the underwater tunnel that used connected to the lake, but since the water had been drained it is now used for the community settlement. To get to the place, you have to pass the Tajug, the hallway which connects Taman Sari with the palace and also Pulo Kenongo. This wide underground passage is to secure the Keraton from a dangerous situation. There are many secret rooms in this area. When you exit from the Tajug, you will see the former Pulo Kenongo which was once overgrown with kenanga flowers.

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Tajug, the hallway
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Me in Sumur Gumuling, an Istagrammable spot in Taman Sari area
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Me posing in the hall connects to the place where the Sultan looking out the ladies’ shower in the water castle

We also went to Sumur Gumuling, the underground mosque as the place of worship for the royal family. To get to the centre of this mosque, we had to pass through the long and dark alleys. Arriving in the middle of the mosque in the form of a square-shaped place with 5 steps around.

I recommend you to visit Taman Sari during the morning because usually, they will close early in the afternoon around 3-4 pm. The location it’s easy to access by becak or motorcycle or private car. It’s close to Keraton and Alun-alun Utara.

 

Address: Komplek Wisata Taman Sari, Taman, Patehan, Kraton, Patehan, Kraton, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55133

#9th Review: The Pod (Boutique Capsule Hostel), Singapore

It’s always nice to welcoming weekend after long busy work-days!

Who’s agree with me now?

Still, about Singapore, this weekend I am going to give you another reference about one of boutique capsule hostel in there. Singapore is very well known for its expensive prices for everything, including for a hotel. Therefore, they have initiated to make and build a lot of capsule hostel in town. Most of the times, tourists who visit Singapore only for short times for holiday, they usually prefer to book a B&B (or bed and breakfast with a bunk bed) hostel.

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Bunk bed hostel in Singapore (Source by Pinterest)

That is why I am going to show you one of hostel recommendation that I ever stayed in Singapore for your holiday reference.

It’s The Pod, the boutique capsule hostel.

The location of this hostel is located in Beach Road area. It is the same area with one of the most well-known areas in Singapore, called Arab Village.

 

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The Entrance of The Pod Boutique Hostel
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Check-in Machine System

The entrance of the boutique hostel is just like any other hostels in Singapore, located in a small narrow building. The lobby of the hotel is located on the 3rd floor, where you can find the receptionist. That time, I arrived around 10pm, so I went to check-in directly with the receptionist, but the staff said that in here we can do self-check-in by utilized their machine system. We have to input our name, contact number, passport number, and even paid directly either by the card or cash. I paid by cash last time because I only stayed one night and it cost around SGD 91 or equal to IDR 900.000 or equal to EUR 56.

For Indonesian people, it still considers expensive. As I booked for the Deluxe Single Pod, but the price it’s already included a breakfast and tax.

Then after finished check-in, they prepared my room card also in the machine to activate it. After that, the staff was accompanied me to the room that I booked. It is the same floor as the lobby, and since they used half carpet and floor, so it’s an obligation for us to not using our shoes or sandals, and they even provide the locker to keep our shoes in the entrance.

Then I walked in the alley and my room is located in the same area with other Deluxe Single Pod areas. So this is how it looks…

 

So many doors in there and my room located in the right corner of the room. Don’t be surprised as you will see how small my room is in the next picture.

 

 

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The bunk bed

 

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They have a small cabinet under the bed and provide me with the towel and hanger

 

 

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This is how we access the bunk bed, by the stairs!

 

 

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The bed is in upper side and the small desk under 
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This is how we access the bunk bed, by the stairs!

 

Yes, this is how it looks for the Deluxe Single Pod in the boutique capsule hostel, The Pod. Actually, they have a very good and reliable service and very helpful staff!

Yes, it is very unique, right? Actually, I used to stay many times in the bunk bed or hostels like this during my stay in Singapore. Since it is a good option to avoid the expensive price and another way to mingle with another backpacker. I met by accident with tourists from around the world during my stay in the hostel or any bed and breakfast place. Only a few of them I still keep in touch until now.

It is one of good reason whether if you want to practice your language skills or just want to have so many friends during your travel.

This boutique capsule hostel is very good for people who just want to explore Singapore for very short times and wants to go for backpacker options.

Last time, I went to Singapore only for one-day business purposes, so I prefer to stay in the boutique hostel which located in the central area and of course close to the MRT green-line.

Beside very cute and small bedroom, their bathroom also very cute one! I really like the wall and its clean toilet and shower room.

 

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In the Deluxe Pod, they provide 4 bathrooms for us, but still, we have to patiently wait for the queue in the morning as people will go outside and enjoy Singapore!

Their breakfast is so so for me, well it’s a standard breakfast if you stay at the capsule hostel. They provide bread, croissant, instant noodle, orange juice, sausage, cookies, cappuccino machine, cereals, and milk. I met with travelers which came from another country in the breakfast area.

 

They usually start the breakfast from 06.30 until 09.30 am

The location of this boutique capsule hostel is only 700 meters from the MRT Station Bugis area. Which closed to one of the most famous shopping places where you can visit all day until around 10 pm. You can find almost anything in this area, from clothing, resto, cafe, bar, supermarket, souvenir place, etc.

 

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Souvenir’s heaven place on Earth

 

 

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Bugis Food Street where you can find street food and fresh drink

 

I will recommend to my lovely blog readers to try to stay in The Pod Boutique Capsule Hostel both for holiday and business. I give a score 8.5 out of 10!

The Pod, Boutique Capsule Hostel

289 Beach Rd, Singapore 199552

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Bonus features:

There are a little bit tips and trick an easier way and strategic place where you can stay in Singapore for those who want to enjoy the city to the fullest, but don’t want to take more time on the street to go and back to the airport! The best place to stay is close to the MRT green line because it goes the same line with the MRT to Changi Airport.

Basically, it’s very easy to understand the MRT line in Singapore and you can also easily move from another place to another, since its very small city/country.

But, it’s good if you try to find a place to stay which close to the famous landmark or at least, the shopping place. I’ve ever stayed in Little India, Chinatown, Arab village, and Lavender Street. Those are very close to the shopping places and very close to the MRT station.

Click ‘like’ if you enjoy my review and please write your comment down below if you want to know more about Singapore through my lens!

Best,

Astrid