The Ultimate Travel Guide to Jaipur, India

Jaipur is my favourite city in India. Welcome to the ‘pink city’. I’m so thrilled that you are here to join me for a sun-soaked, salmon-pink adventure. 

As the last stop on the golden triangle tour, Jaipur is one of the greatest cities in the world to shop. Alongside an abundance of luxurious hotels, it’s a real-life Aladdin’s cave. Go on a hunt for gemstones and tribal textiles; this is where insiders buy handmade, traditional crafts and design. 

Right, let’s plan your itinerary!

1. Amber Fort (Amer Fort)

Out of all of the attractions in Jaipur, I urge you to see this fort. Okay, it is a drive away, but the devil is in the detail; it’s an architectural goldmine. Prepare for your best pics yet, with intricate detail on the walls and views across the city and countryside. The king lived here with 12 of his wives – and 350 mistresses. Bet he was busy!

2. Hawal Mahal

Fun fact: this is a building with a law to stay pink, and I’m here for it. It’s a honeycomb-shaped ‘palace of the winds’ dotted in peekaboo windows. Architectured for the royal women who would watch the street parades from above, the king had many anonymous wives. It’s next door to City Palace so pop over to the following location once you’ve got your Hawal fix.

3. City Palace

The royal family once ruled their terra-cotta homeland by painting all of their sandstone buildings. Today, it’s an artistic masterpiece built in the form of courtyards, gardens, gateways and buildings. A striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, this palace represents the richness of Indian history. It’s built right in the centre of the old city, so the journey should be easy-peasy. 

4. Jantar Mantar

This one is a bit random, myself and my travel buddy were wondering why they built this here. But, don’t rule it off just yet. It’s the world’s largest stone sundial — I highly recommend a visit for the science, space and astrology enthusiasts. A good one for the kids, I would describe it as an interactive outdoor museum. Nineteen instruments allow you to see planetary positions and how they were used to calculate date and time by the sun’s positioning. There is a craved monument for each star sign. I loved seeing the symbol for Scorpio: intense and romantic. Hmm, that’s almost accurate.

5. The Iconic Stepwells

I didn’t manage to fit this one, but I Instastalked other travel bloggers piccies, and they’re beautiful. I luckily managed to find similar steps in Rajasthan, but the Jaipur ones are incredibly popular and a photographer’s dream. It’s a chance to see authentic India, and the surrounding areas, filled with friendly curious locals.

The places I didn’t get to go but would add to your list: Galta Monkey Temple and Nahargarh Fort. Oh and don’t miss the beautiful palace floating in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake: half of the building is still hovering, but the bottom half is submerged. They’re currently restoring it so you can’t go inside, but you won’t miss the viewing spots filled with tourists. 

Transportation

You’ll be pleased to hear that Uber is in Jaipur and it’s safe! There is also a similar service called Ola. All drivers are, of course, tracked. Jaipur has developed well over the years and is incredibly modern. If you want a full day of sightseeing, I would recommend hiring a private driver (the preferred mode of transport for many Westerners). For cheaper options, book a tour here

Accommodation

Three – five days is enough to see all of the beautiful Jaipur. 

Backpackers – I haven’t stayed in a hostel in India, but I will always recommend hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com. I used both of these when I went backpacking.

Vacay-ers – Jaipur has many Western hotel chains like Marriot and Holiday Inn etc. I stayed in Hilton Jaipur, which as a global hotel, is a great all-rounder and is very accommodating to all cultures. Honestly, you have to check out their breakfast & dinner buffet — I’ve never seen so many world foods stations under one roof. There is also a rooftop pool which I didn’t get to use, but it looks incredible! The most ‘Instagrammable’ luxurious (pricey) hotel is Jai Mahal Palace, which I went for dinner. Otherwise, ITC Rajputana is a great budget option that all of the essential amenities at an affordable price. 

Food

I highly recommend booking a reservation at Jai Mahal Palace for an I’m-on-holiday-so-might-aswell dinner because the palace itself is truly magical. The restaurant at the Hilton Jaipur is decently priced and well-known for its famous Rajasthani speciality dishes. 

*Subject to affordability, food may be a tad pricey.

Closing

I hope you found my guide to Jaipur useful. India has been on my bucket list since I was a little girl, and I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. Jaipur well exceeded my expectations. I’m always keen to answer any travel questions so don’t hesitate to fling me a comment!

Jaipur, India

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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Agra, India

Welcome to my guide to Agra, the city after Delhi on the golden triangle tour. Agra is home to arguably one of the most beautiful attractions in the world and architectural hotspot to lots of other charms bequeathed by the legacy of the Mughal empire. With lots of tombs and mausoleums, there isn’t a dull moment in this hustling, dusty, boisterous, intense and entertaining city.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to see the Taj Mahal. I’ve always been fascinated by India’s history. I arrived, and overheard a tourist‚ “he built this palace for his wife, and I can’t even get a text back”. If you’re this funny traveller or have this sense of humour, I’d like to be your friend.

Right, let’s fly to Agra, together!

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Agra, India

Taj Mahal – this world wonder is more breathtaking than I anticipated. It’s utterly magical. I’ve been to my fair share of overhyped tourist attractions — this isn’t one of them. Located on the picturesque Yamuna River, it’s a snap-happy wonderland! Wear bright colours; the backdrop is a lush white marble. Prepare to be hassled like a celebrity, it’s flattering at first, but if you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to decline (politely!). Top tip, If you want: A) a decent photo without random body parts B) not to be elbowed, I would advise arriving super early! I appeared in the afternoon, and as a bizarre punishment, I got crushed. Don’t be me!

Mehtab Bagh – this is where you can get the best views of the Taj Mahal from across the Yamuna River. If you like your viewpoints, I thoroughly recommend a sunset visit. Perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank; these gardens were where the black Taj was supposed to be. I’m fascinated by the story of Mehtab Bagh, but I won’t give too much away – as a tour guide will be bursting to tell you. Get your archaeology hat on as you can still see the remains. Want a memorable photo? Hire a boat in the day during the non-monsoon season.

Musamman Burj – you have to see this place, it’s where Shah Jahan lived out his last years before he died. Our jaws dropped when we got there as it’s so beautiful. It’s an octagonal tower with poignant views to the Taj and Agra: an architectural goldmine, the lattices are carved in delicate, white and bright marble. There are heaps of snap-opportunities at this glorious monument.

Sikandra Fort – a hidden gem which is located about 13km away from Agra Fort. The disadvantaged locals are newly benefitting from this tourist attraction. It isn’t as popular as the more prominent attractions, yet so worth it. It’s the last resting place of Mughal emperor Akbar. His beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb is set amidst a lush garden and pays tribute to his love of arts, literature, philosophy and science.

Agra Fort – I wasn’t as impressed with this monument as the others, but it’s worth a visit. This strong Mughal red sandstone fortress manifests many fairytale-like palaces and mosques. High walls surround the area designed to keep invaders out. Beware of the cheeky monkeys running around!

Transportation

India can be a bumpy experience when it comes to hopping between attractions. There will be hordes of keen rickshaw-wallahs, souvenir peddlers and unofficial touts & guides outside most attractions, whose persistence can be bothersome. A tour will make your journey a smoother experience, and they will pick you up from your hotel or hostel and take you back. If you’re a backpacker, I recommend here. For day tours hop over to here and here. For all-inclusive golden triangle tours which are hassle-free click here.

Accommodation

Around two to three nights in Agra is all you need. There’s not much to see in the city.

Backpackers – I haven’t stayed in a hostel in India so that I won’t recommend one, but I will always recommend my hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com, I used both of these when I went backpacking.

Vacay-ers – the best hotels will have a view of the Taj. Want five stars? This one is for you. Otherwise, this one is decently priced and has everything you need with a view. We stayed here, which has fun Indian craft activities and entertainment during peak season.

Food

My friend did some research on best places to eat in Agra, and we saw good reviews for Pinch of Spice. It’s not the best for decor, but it’s cheap and ideal if you like your Indian food accompanied with other cuisines. I had a paneer curry with fried rice and prawn toast, which felt like a blessing as I had been eating only Indian food that week. The Thali at our hotel (Taj view) is tasty too; we ate on the roof terrace with a picturesque view of the Taj.

Closing

I hope you found this post useful. India has been on my bucket list since I was a little girl, and I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. Remember to come back for my ultimate guides to the beautiful Rajasthan and Jaipur! I’m always keen to hear about your travels so fling me a comment if you have anything to share or any Q’s!

Agra, India

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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Delhi, India

India is fascinating. At every turn: whether shocking, enlightening or confusing, there is a scene to captivate you — that’s the beauty of going to a country with an extraordinary, culture-rich and fascinating history.

Delhi is a character: manic, unpredictable and not for the faint-hearted. With great tourist attractions and markets, Delhi’s economic development is seriously booming.

I have to be honest with you; I don’t recommend spending a lot of time in the capital as there are more breathtaking places in India. Delhi is a stop shop which will facilitate you to your next ventures, like Agra, Rajasthan and Jaipur. I highly recommend going on a tour from Delhi. If you’re a backpacker, I recommend this and this. If you’re going on holiday, I booked this package. Otherwise, this, this and this are all reputable.

This is the ultimate guide for Delhi though, so go to the places I recommend and you’ll have a wonderful time. I’ll be doing guides for Agra and Jaipur too so look out for those.

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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Delhi, India

Jama Masjid – Built by Shah Jahan (the emperor behind Taj Mahal), this holy mosque is truly remarkably beautiful. It is a place of worship so please dress conservatively (cover up your shoulders, chest and legs) and take off your shoes at the door, put them in your bag or leave them at the door for a cheerful 100 rupees (£1). Attire is available for hire at the entrance. I received mine as complimentary with my tour; below is a pic of me sporting the yellow trend.

Humayun’s Tomb – this UNESCO heritage site is the perfect introduction into India’s architecture and an opportunity to learn about the history of the Mughals. The Tomb rests through a walkway of lush gardens, I highly recommend it as your first trip of the day, we went early, and it was empty! Insta-yay!

Chandni Chowk Market – This market is an experience and a half, keep your wits about you. A maze of streets, with local sellers encouraging you to buy their goods, spilling out from every stall. It’s a long, narrow road. Walk on the left of the street, or you’ll risk a thump by a passing rickshaw. If you’re not planning to buy anything, hail a ride instead. Known as Aladdin’s cave, buy your spices, fashion to jewellery here. Remember never to accept the first price and come equipped with haggling skills. Don’t feel pressured to buy if you don’t want to. Just say “no, thank you” and walk away.

Red Fort – I became way too invested in the history of this monument. I even Googled more information at dinner to get the full scoop. If you are heading to the Taj Mahal, you need to come here. I won’t give the story away, but it’s a red sandstone fort designed to keep invaders out and houses many museums.

Qutub Minar – A sun-soaked, tall, red sandstone minaret; It’s one of the most popular attractions in Delhi. An archaeological minefield, roam around ancient ruins and tombs decorated in detailed Arabic inscriptions.

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Transportation

We flew via Virgin Airlines as we found a bargain on the Secret Escapes Golden Triangle package, otherwise I recommend shopping around on Skyscanner, Sta Travel and Holiday Pirates.

Local city transportation is cheap, but be careful. To be on the safe side, get an Uber instead of a taxi. If you’re going a reasonably short distance, you can hail a rickshaw ride but remember to bargain! Most Westerners hire private drivers as the norm in India; your hotel will have a travel desk where you can seek advice. We booked a mix of both Ubers and private drivers.

Accommodation

Backpackers – If you’re backpacking (first of all, I’m very jealous because that was me four years ago and I hope you’re having a wonderful time), I recommend booking through HostelWorld and HostelBookers. As it’s India, please do your research thoroughly. Grab a cuppa and get yourself ready for a big review-checking sesh.

Vacay – For safety reasons, I recommend five-star hotels in India. I was sceptical, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Our local tour guide warned us about makeshift hotels in the city. There have been horror stories including dodgy cameras in the rooms (I know, wtf?!). Hotel prices are decent. We stayed at The Suryaa New Delhi, it’s located a touch further away from central but was handy for our driver to get us to our next destination: Rajasthan. If you’re willing to splurge, the most ‘Instagrammable’ hotel is the luxury Taj Mahal Hotel or any of the Taj Group owned hotels. Top tip: book a hotel with a well-rated restaurant as you do not want to wander around Delhi in the evening.

Food

Food is very cheap in India. But be careful! You’ll be so lucky to miss out on Delhi belly. I would love to tell you that it’s easy to avoid, ahem, stomach issues due to poor food hygiene. But this is just one of those risks with eating foods that are unfamiliar in your usual diet. As a general rule, hotels are fine.

The places I recommend are The Varq at the Taj Mahal hotel. I will never forget the mouthwatering Varqui crab dish. I’ve decided I won’t be eating curry in the UK anymore because it does not compare, ha! Dhaba at Claridge’s does a tasty Thali (seven different mini dishes of curries, dal and rice), the interior is set up as a very cool ‘dine on a truck’ theme. Otherwise, to save you a trip running around Trip Advisor restaurant reviews, Delhi’s version of OpenTable is called Eazy Diner, scroll through reviews written by Delhi locals!

The Varq

Wifi

Wifi is like gold and is expensive in India. Even the five-star hotels charge for Wifi! I recommend buying a sim card (which is cheap) and using the data from that; it’s also useful for emergency calls. As always, check out what your network provider charges for calls in India, O2 provides free local to local calls in India as part of my monthly contract.

Departure

I know what you’re thinking, you’re debating whether to add India to your bucket list?

I would tell you to go in a heartbeat. Keep your wits about you, be smart & open-minded and you’ll be fine.

I hope you found this post useful. Remember to come back for my ultimate guides to the beautiful Rajasthan and Jaipur!

Dhaba

Location: Delhi, India
Secret Escapes Golden Triangle

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Your hub of travel guides

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I have a confession to make. I’m the world’s slowest travel blogger.

I set sail on my backpacking adventure late 2014, covering South East Asia (excluding Thailand), Singapore and New Zealand. When my journey of cosmic wanderlust ended in 2015, I quickly ran into full-time work and found it impossible to publish every incredible place I visited. Well, better late than never. As a newbie freelancer, who has more time to dedicate to a little space on the net, I will finalise my ‘ProjectM’ series which will start in Australia and end in Thailand.

Err, Mon, what is this ‘ProjectM’? Good question. I like you already.

In 2014, I decided to quit my job to live my dream of travelling around the world, which I can wholeheartedly say was the best decision of my life. Subsequently, throughout my blog, I encourage you to run for your dreams. My blog originally launched as a style diary. During my backpacking adventure, I released a travel category. I named my experience ‘ProjectM’. In 2016, I changed my blog name to The Wong Blog, but I kept the name of my travels.

I want you guys to be able to have travel guides ready for when you visit, so I have added sub-tabs to my travel section. It’s at the top of this page, is super swishy and looks like this:

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Each country will have a digestible travel guide. The cities within those countries will have my more detailed experience.

Oh, and if you’re on Instagram, my backpacking adventures are tagged: #ProjectMCambodia, #ProjectMThailand, #ProjectMLaos, #ProjectMVietnam, #ProjectMSingapore, #ProjectMNewZealand & #ProjectMOZ.

I’m looking forward to being with you throughout our travels. If you have any questions or need recommendations, you can comment on my blog below, Instagram or Tweet me.

Location: Zi world

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Why New Zealand Is The Most Beautiful Place On Earth

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate; I quit my job to live the dream of travelling the world.

For my last stop, I couldn’t have wandered further from home, but I have zero regrets: New Zealand is without a doubt, the most beautiful country I have ever visited.

You’ll want to spend every second outdoors. Spend Summer soaking in the white sands and crystal clear waters. Winter is for skiing down mountains, which tower over still lakes.

By the way, doesn’t this image remind you of a Microsoft desktop wallpaper?

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Anyway, New Zealand has two parts: North and South. In this post, I’ll split them up into two.

North

My top three must-see places are: Waikato, Rotorua and Wellington. (Bay of Islands looks beautiful if you want to venture further North).

Auckland?

I didn’t feel that Auckland was the best city to visit in New Zealand (unless you go further out into the countryside). I felt it was gloomy and rundown. It’s more of a transfer stop. If you do visit, climb under, around or above the Auckland Bridge. The town centre is decent & I heard the nightlife is good too.

Maori Experience

Learn about Maori history because it’s important and fascinating. Explore the culture & traditions of the Native population. Maoris are friendly and proud people, and I was lucky to of met one person of Maori origin. The most recommended experiences are in Rotorua.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Excuse the pun, but this was a trip highLIGHT. Explore these caves in darkness with nothing but the illumination of glowworms as a guide. The ‘starry sky’ is a serene experience; I highly recommend a visit. You can book it here.

Polynesian Spa

I didn’t make it to any of the spas as I was too busy patting sheep and alpacas, but one of the travellers in my group highly recommended it. There are a few hot baths in the North, but the Polynesian Spa is the most popular one. What better way to relax than inside a sulphurous spring?

Hobbiton

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, oh little one, you must not skip this one. It’s magical. The film set is huge; I loved hovering around the miniature hobbit-sized door. Don’t miss out on the faux tree! The day I arrived, the staff were ready to quit as I took a picture of everything. Prepare your best Hobbit impression and book here.

Why-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-TravelWhy-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-TravelWhy-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-Travel

South

My top three must-see places are: Queenstown, Wanaka & Nelson.

Queenstown

If you plan on visiting New Zealand, please, pretty please go to Queenstown (and surrounding areas). Everyone loves Queenstown. Everyone. It’s the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited. I can’t you how amazing it is to wake up to the view of mountains, lakes, great food and friendly people in one town.

Wanaka

My best friend took me here because it rhymes with my name. True story. If you love Queenstown, you’ll fall in love with Wanaka. Expect wilderness of glaciers, crystal clear waters, beech forests and alpine lakes. There’s loads to do: hiking, skiing, wine tasting and golfing.

Arrowtown

The well-preserved Arrowtown is a former gold-mining town which historically attracted miners from around the world in pursuit of their fortune. Charming in character; it looks like an old American cowboy town. Go, if you fancy a day out of food, shopping and attractions.

Kiwi Birdlife Park

Being a nature and conservation enthusiast, it was a tweet (ha, I mean treat) that my friend worked at a wildlife sanctuary at the time of visit; I couldn’t leave New Zealand without meeting a Kiwi bird. There are different species of native flora and fauna in this park. Don’t miss feeding time. Book it here.

Fergburger

It’s Queenstown tradition to eat a Fergburger. Now, I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my time, and we have a great range in London. But I can see why tourists and locals go crazy for it. It’s gigantic, juicy & delicious. There’s always a queue, but it’s worth it. There’s a vegan burger too for those of you who don’t eat meat.

Helicopter flight

I didn’t opt for this one as I’m saving this experience for the Grand Canyon. Though, Queenstown is against a backdrop of The Remarkables mountain range; so there’s no reason not to enjoy the view from above over secluded alpine lakes and active green rainforest. Book here.

Jump

The following activities that I’m going to list are not for the faint-hearted. The first being a Skydive – it’s the experience of a lifetime. I’ve never been so scared in my life, but honestly, as soon as you start flying, it’s not scary at all. Take a leap of faith with a Bungy Jump; New Zealand is the home of Bungy. For the view, I would recommend the top of the Nevis. Or, if you’re a proper Daredevil, fly through the air on a thrilling Cayon Swing.

Why-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-Travel

New Zealand is far from every other country, but it’s difficult not to fall in love with its natural beauty.

If you have a bucket list of filled with adrenaline, then tick it off in New Zealand. Skydiving, caving, bungy-jumping, skiing — it’s the adventure capital of the world.

New Zealand is worth any journey. This list above only scratches the surface of what there is to see and do in New Zealand. In a country filled with adventure and wildlife, everyone will find something to do.

Location: New Zealand
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