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

Snake Print Dress |Blue Dress | White Trainers| Bag | Sunglasses

For delayed and cancelled flight compensation go here. *AFF

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The Wong Christmas Gift Guide 2017

Okay, so, first of all, I’m very sorry. My 2017 Christmas gift guide is so Wong-ly & fashionably late (hehe). But, in all honesty, this pretty much suits my personality.

Last year, you would have found me panicking in the middle of London’s Oxford Circus with the rest of London screaming, “what do they f*cking want…?!”.

In the hope that you’ll find it useful, I’ve designed this post to give you inspiration on what to gift your loved ones. With the help of my friends & family, I’ve tried to cover the very best.

Merry Christmas! Eat lots of yummy foods, spend and relish time with loved ones & enjoy the festivities. xxx

The Tech-Savvy

 

The Foodie

 

The Homeowner

 

 

The Traveller

 

 

The Fitness Addict

 

 
 

 

The Fashionista

 

The Beauty Babes

 

The Mini’s

 

 

Mummy Wong’s Favourites

 

Sister Wong’s Favourites

 

Brother Wong’s Favourites

Daddy Wong’s Favourites

 

 

Don’t forget, many of us are fortunate to be able to give and receive gifts. Why not give back this Christmas? It’s been a cold winter for everyone but frightful for those with nowhere to go. Here’s how you can do your bit:

  • Donate to Shelter, as they help our homeless find somewhere to live and get back on their feet.
  • You can buy a gift at Save The Children who will give food, shelter & love to refugee children in Syria.
  • Why not support your local Present Appeal and donate new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children. Click here to find your nearest Salvation Army Centre.
  • Donate/buy dry food at your local food bank at your local supermarket.
  • Age UK needs volunteers to talk our elderly. Call in Time is a free telephone befriending service for matching volunteers with older people.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you thought of my last-minute Christmas Gift Guide! Did I miss anything?

Location: North Pole

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

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The best 2017 Christmas Advent Calendars

It’s nearly that time of year.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING! *Ahem*, yes as you can tell, I cannot nearly contain my excitement.

As a kid, one of my favourite things about Christmas was counting down the days with a daily sweet treat. But, as an adult, who can resist opening doors to gifts from your favourite brands which are relevant to your interests like luxury beauty, alcohol, and fitness?

Lounge by the fire in your cosiest knitwear, with mince pies & hot chocolate at arms’ reach, I’ve got a cracking advent calendar roundup for you.

Loccitane Classic Beauty Advent Calendar

Spoil a loved one, or *ahem* treat yourself to a sumptuous pre-Christmas gift with the L’OCCITANE Christmas Beauty Advent Calendar which is filled with shampoos, soaps & eau de toilette. Illustrated by the renowned French artist Kanako, this set is a beautiful way to get excited about Christmas. Also check out their full range of Christmas gifts for women.

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2017

Housed in a decadent and decorated case complete with a mirror inside, I love this because you can reuse as vanity unit to store your beloved beauty treats and essentials.

Charlotte Tilbury Advent Calendar 

Calling all beauty babes, if you haven’t indulged in a Charlotte Tilbury goodie yet, then you’re missing out. A mix of full-sized and mini’s this one houses the best sellers wrapped up in a glamorous, gorgeous box.

The Mankind Advent Calendar

The only male grooming calendar that’s got you covered. Packed with 25 full-size products, this luxury men’s advent calendar will leave you feeling fresh for the festive season.

CIATÉ Mini Month 2017 

A must-have gift for any manicure-addict, 19 carefully packaged mini nail polish paint pots and one full-size beauty.

The Beer Hawk Advent Calendar

You have to get this for your beer fan friend. The Beer Hawk Advent Calendar is filled with Belgian classics, crafty cans, German brilliance and British beauties.

Carluccio’s Advent Calendar

This one is for my fellow foodies. Discover the flavours of Italy with this limited edition advent calendar.

BlueBird Tea Advent Calendar 

Tea lovers! Open the doors to festive limited edition tea bags like ‘Mrs Claus’ Raspberry Prosecco,’ Mince Pie + Spiced Clementine.

Drinks by the Dram

Proudly crafted and distributed by Maverick Drinks, Drinks By The Dram explores various alcoholic spirits from around the globe, all in dram size containers.

That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar

I’m laughing at the thought of drinking gin every day. Developed by some of the finest distillers, this gin is housed within a charming box.

My Protein Advent Calendar

This one is for the gym fanatics, enjoy Christmas & retain your fitness game. Get your protein fix with cocoa butter and whey protein. It’s suitable for vegetarians.

Holland and Barret Advent

Brands included in this beauty bonanza are Dr Organic, Dead Sea Spa Magik, Pure Potions, Naturint, Weleda, Faith In Nature, Facetox, Sukin, Yes To, Trilogy and Beauty Kitchen.

 

Make your own

Hate surprises? Buy a real advent calendar and fill them up with goodies that you know you will love. I’ve picked the best ones at my funky widget below.

 

Do keep checking this page as I will be adding more over the weekend and let me know if you recommend any others!

Happy shopping from The Wong Blog x

Location: Christmas Calendar Central

Photo: Big thank you to Not On The High Street for lovely your Christmas press day invite.

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Best Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals

 

 

Is it just me or does Black Friday start earlier & earlier, each year?

To mark this joyous occasion, I’m wearing all black err-thang coat and boots. Well, it’s my excuse for being fashionably late for this blog post, (hehe get it?).

Last year, I gave you a roundup of the best deals here. The sales are similar this year; Selfridges is using the same code.

Avoid the Olly Murs scrum party, stick the kettle on and get comfy. We’re going to bag to best deals in our PJ’s (if you need some new ones, use code FLASH20UK at Victoria Secret, you also get a free pair of fluffy slippers!).

The big all-rounders

Amazon | eBay (worth checking out the big brand outlets on these sites too)

Selfridges up to 20% off with code: SELFCCE

ASOS up to 20% off. Code: WIN20

Debenhams up to 20% off

John Lewis Price Match

Very (up to 50% off!)

Currys Black Tag Event

Argos Black Friday

Fashion

Topshop | Topman

Mark’s & Spencer (3 for 2 offers)

New Look (up to 25% off)

French Connection

Whistles

Urban Outfitters

TM Lewin (20% off)

Office (Code: SHINE)

Clarks (BLACK20)

Dune

Aldo

Beauty

Look Fantastic – save 20% on code LFCW20

Boots (best fragrance deals)

Superdrug (up to 60% off)

The Body Shop (40% off code: 19806)

Sephora (gift & receive)

Cult Beauty (25% off Huda)

Travel, Home & Experience Days

Heals (for 10% off use code: BLACK10)

Anthropologie (use code: itsyours for 20% off!)

Homebase (price match)

Etsy (I got a great chunky yarn from here)

Paperchase (20% off)

WHSmith (use code BLACK17 for 10% off)

Kikki K (20% off)

Groupon

EasyHotel (3000 rooms for £9.99) | RyanAir Black Friday Sale

TUI Holidays (various deals)

Thomas Cook (use code BF200)

Virgin Trains Seat Sale & get £5 off RailCard (code: BFDAY711)

 

I need to roam around Old Bond Street more often. #London

A post shared by Monica Wong (@thewongblog) on

 

I know you’re desperate to run away from all this Black Friday madness, luckily there’s up to 25% off flights from British Airways.

I’ll be posting and updating this page throughout the rest of the Cyber weekend.

If you’ve got any deals to share, please comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Location: Black Friday Madness Land

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

Dungarees| Top | Shoes | Bracelet | Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara |

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