Travel Reviews

A big part of our time traveling is spent researching where we are heading next , how we are getting there, where we will stay once we arrive, and what we will be doing.  A large part of how we figure this out is by reading other travelers blogs and seeing what they did.

Since our blog posts don’t focus much on this we have created this page that we will continue to update to hopefully help current and future travelers.  If you have any questions about any place, just leave us a comment below!

Argentina
Australia
Belize
Bolivia
Costa Rica
Egypt
Guatemala
India
Israel
Italy
Mexico
Nepal
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Panama
Peru
Singapore
South Africa
Thailand
Turkey


Mexico

  • Cancun / Playa del Carmen
    • Transportation – ADO Bus, $37 per person, 4 out of 5 stars


Belize

  • Caye Caulker
    • Hotel – The Tropic Hotel, $25 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, no wifi in room but on balcony
    • Tours – Star Tours Snorkeling, $23 per person, 4 out of 5 stars
    • Transportation – San Juan Travel bus from Belize to Flores, $24 per person, 3 out 5 stars, Was a small van not a bus


Guatemala

  • Flores
    • Hotel – Los Amigos Hostel, $15 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, wifi worked intermittent
    • Tours – San Juan Travel transportation to Tikal, $8 per person, 4 out of 5 stars
    • Transportation – San Juan Travel from Flores to Antigua on Rapido del Sur, $29 per person, 1 out 5 stars, Sold as a 1st class bus and it was a 2nd class bus, forum post on TripAdvisor
  • Antigua
    • Hotel – Black Cat Inn Hostel, $20 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, Excellent Free Breakfast!, no wifi in room
    • Tours – Finca Filadelfia Coffee Tour, $18 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, A little expensive but still worth it
    • Transportation – from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, $11 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, Only regret not buying a direct bus to San Pedro
  • San Pedro
    • Hotel – Villa del Lago, $10 a night, 2 out of 5 stars, We loved the hotel keeper Gladys, the views, and the place but have to rate it low because our phones were stolen from the room by someone with a key, wifi in room
    • Tours – San Pedro Volcano Tour, $6 for the guide, 2 out of 5 stars, Our guide was very nice but his pace ran us into the ground 🙂 and we learned we prefer to go solo on hikes
    • Tours – Spanish Class at IXIM ACHI, $4 per hour, 4 out 5 stars, We liked our teachers and it was some of the cheapest classes we could find
    • Transportation – Chicken Bus from San Pedro to Guatemala City, $3 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, It was the most packed bus we rode but Cheap
    • Transportation – Transporte del Sol from Guatemala to Nicaragua, $75 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, Comfortable seats for 17 hours and plenty of food plus warmer than most A/C cold buses


Nicaragua

  • Granada
    • Hotel – Oasis Hostel, $28 per night, 3 out of 5 stars, Free Breakfast but up charge if you want A/C in the room and some bugs :), no wifi in room
    • Transportation – Camioneta from Antigua to San Juan, $2 per person, 3 out of 5 stars
  • San Juan del Sur
    • Hotel – Rosita’s Hotel, $28 a night, 5 out of 5 stars, A/C Apartment with all amenities, wifi in room
    • Tours – Casa Oro Surfing and Transportation to Beach, $17 for 1 board and 2 people, 4 out 5 stars, good board and cheapest in town
    • Transportation – Camioneta from San Juan to Costa Rica border, $1.50 per person, 3 out of 5 stars


Costa Rica

  • Quepos
    • Transportation – Tranbasa, Reina del Campo, & local bus from Costa Rica border to Quepos, $11.30 per person, 3 out of 5 stars
    •  Hotel – Wide Mount Frog, $35 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, Expensive for shared bathroom no A/C but had free breakfast no wifi in room
  • Manual Antonio
    • Transportation – City bus to Manual Antonio, $0.50 per person, 4 out of 5 stars
    • Tours – Manual Antonio Park, $10 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, plenty of monkeys and sloths to see and nice beach to swim at
    • Hotel – Villa Prats, $40 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, large nice room with A/C, TV, and private bath wifi in room
    • Tours – Quepoa Expeditions Rafting, $90 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, Trip Advisor Review
    • Hotel – Vella Bar Hotel, $44 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, small room with weak A/C and no TV or wifi in room
    • Transportation – Tica Bus to Panama City, $45 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, bus was freezing but comfortable don’t travel back to San Jose to catch the bus, catch it right outside of Manual Antonio in Paquita by taking a city bus from Quepos for $0.50 per person


Panama

  • Panama City
    • Transportation – Metro Bus from Albrook to Downtown, $1 per person
    • Hotel – Sorry can’t help here we stayed for free at a friends house
  • San Blas, Chichima
    • Tours – LAM Tours,  $50 per person, 3 out of 5 Stars, Land Rover 4×4 drive you the 3 hours from PC to San Blas and also organize the island / boat you are going to
    • Hotel – Chichima island only one family, $20 per person per night, 3 out of 5 stars, includes room and food the boat road is another $30 per person round trip


Peru

  • Lima
    • Transportation – Avianca Airlines from Panama city to Lima, $180 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, to get the low price we had to book round trip and the price only reflects one-way, our bags did not make our connecting flight but they gave us $80 cash for the trouble and delivered the bags to our hostel, free wine and beer plus meal service
    • Transportation – Taxi from airport to Miraflores, $13, 2 out of 5 stars, we actually paid $20 but we later found out you should pay less
    • Hotel – Flying Dog Hostel, $28 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, clean but shared bathroom and no wifi in room
    • Transportation – Metropolitan City Bus to get around city, $0.50, 3 out of 5 stars, safe and clean
  • Huaraz
    • Transportation – Cruz del Sur Bus from Lima to Huaraz, $22 per person, 3 out of 5 stars supposed to be the nicest but found leg room cramped on 2nd level
    • Hotel – Caroline Lodging Annex, $19 a night, 4 out of 5 Stars, TripAdvisor Review just a little pricey in comparison
    • Tours – Caroline Tours transportation to Laguna 69, $18 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, the people at Caroline lodging are great
    • Tours – Sierra Andina Brewery Tour, $0, 5 out of 5 stars, it’s the first craft brewery we have found and Matt hooked us up with 2 free beers!  Full blog post on them
    • Transportation – Linea Bus from Huaraz to Lima, $15, 3 out of 5 stars, cheaper than Cruz del Sur and more leg room on the 2nd floor than before, we did have to stop and change a tire in the night but not sure I can fault them for that
  • Cusco
    • Transportation – Peruvian Air flight from Lima to Cusco, $85, 3 out of 5 stars, taking a cheap flight versus the 22 hour bus ride was only $25 more so we splurged and happy to not sit on a bus that long
    • Transportation – Taxi from airport to San Blas neighborhood, $3, 2 out of 5 stars, low rating because we actually paid $8 and found out later we got taken
    • Hotel – Hostel Samblina, $15 a night, 2 out 5 stars, it was nice and cheap but the bathroom was bad and the hot water was never hot enough, also every night the water would go out, slow wifi in room
    • Hotel – Hospedaje Jhuno, $19 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, very nice people and room was great for sleeping (a cave), the hot water was finicky and they would shut all water off every night from 9pm to 4am, breakfast included (coffee & bread / jelly), fast wifi but barely reachable in room, review on TripAdvisor
  • Aguas Calientes
    • Transportation – Taxi from Cusco to Poroy, $11, 3 out of 5 stars, the train doesn’t come to Cusco so you have to go out of town to catch it
    • Transportation – PeruRail Train from Poroy to Machu Picchu, $124 round trip per person, it’s expensive and you can find cheaper Machu Picchu tours by guided bus but they take all day to get there versus 3 hours
    • Hotel – Hostal Sinchiroca, $15 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, nice clean large rooms, no wifi in room, hot showers, better price than in Cusco
    • Tours – Machu Picchu, $48 entry fee plus $9 permit to hike Huayna Picchu, even as touristic as it is, it is still a must see
  • Puno
    • Transportation – see Copacabana transportation
    • Hotel – Hostal Vylena, $15 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, clean room, wifi in room, hot water could of been hotter


Bolivia

      • Copacabana
        • Transportation – Continente Internacional Huayruro Tour Bus from Cusco Peru to Copacabana Bolivia, $26 per person, 1 out of 5 stars, our first experience to be in the upgraded first class 1st floor, sadly this company let our expectations down; no onboard service as most buses offer (pillows / blankets / snacks & drinks) and to top it off they didn’t get us to our destination on the day promised.  When the rest of the tour buses decided not to drive on the day we went due to known protests in Puno our company went anyway leaving us stuck on the side of the road 4 miles outside of Puno.  Most on the bus walked but we decided to wait and in an hour or so the protest ended and they drove us into Puno Peru (not Copacabana Bolivia) and told us that they couldn’t take us any further.  They gave us vouchers for the next day, but we were out the cost for food and hostel for the day.  Come the next day we no longer had a first class bus but a standard one and they wouldn’t refund any sort of the difference for the downgraded seats (it would have only been about $3-5 per person).  Given the chance again we would use the Tour Peru Bus instead as it was the same price and it seemed to be a more legitimate business.
        • Hotel – Estelar del Titicaca, $20 a night, 5 out of 5 stars, it’s a real hotel and not a hostel!!!, views right on the lake, wifi in room, continental breakfast, hot showers, we felt like we were staying in a 5 star hotel other than the fact that it’s mostly empty of guests and only 2 employees so it feels a bit like The Shining :), it can’t be found in TripAdvisor or online but we loved it!
      • La Paz
        • Transportation – City Tourismo Bus, $2.75 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, catch in the main city square every hour on the hour to head to La Paz.  Only thing that caught us off guard with the ferry crossing where you need to pay $0.25 to ride in the side boat.
        • Hotel – Hotel Nuevo Sol, $23 a night, new nice clean hotel with WiFi in room, tv, free breakfast, and hot water showers (after they warm up); only complaint is that their pillows are really hard (but found this to be true for all of Bolivia).
        • Transportation – City Mini & Micro Buses, $0.35 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, They are the city mini-van’s and short buses that run all over town, flag one down on the street and yell when  you need to get off.  We took it to get to and from Valle de la Luna; only negative is that they get stuffed packed (watch your belongings).
        • Tours – Valle de la Luna,  $2 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, No tour company needed just show up at the door and pay the entry fee; worth the money.
        • Tours – Vertigo Bike Tours (Mountain Bike Ride the Death Road), $71 per person, 4 out of 5, Almost half the price of of Gravity tours and I felt the equipment and attention to safety before and during the ride was very good.  Our tour guide Cello was great and fun to be around, my issue with the company came on the ride back to La Paz.  Our driver of the mini-van on the way there drove excellent, but by the end of the day he was either extremely tired or drunk and his driving made us feel so unsafe that we insisted he pull over and another driver take his place (one of the two bike tour guides).  After some resistance and whining he relinquished control and threw a small temper tamperer but passed out shortly afterwards.  Lesson here is if you feel your life is in danger SPEAK-UP don’t be a passenger to your own death.
      • Uyuni
        • Transportation – City Bus from La Paz to Oruro (Aroma Bus), $3 per person, 2 out of 5 stars, it was a slow and stopped to pick up / drop off people every other minute, literary smelly (no pun intended), and had no on-board bathroom which was a disaster after a breakfast with free coffee, water, and juice.
        • Transportation – FCA Train from Oruro to Uyuni, $16 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, we paid for the 1st class which on this train had A/C and Heat, TV w/movies, cheap good food service.  Only negative is that the trains runs at a maximum 30 mph which is why it takes for ever to cover the 160 miles; it also rocks back and forth a lot, but we hear it’s still better than the bus ride on the dirt road to Uyuni
        • Hotel – Hostal Oro Blanco, $12 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, just north of the train station and was a good deal in comparison to the other hostals.  We believe it was new as we couldn’t find it on Trip Advisor or any websites.  Had hot showers and a few stations on the TV, but most importantly in Uyuni the beds and building was warm and we weren’t freezing overnight (it’s an actual hotel shaped building versus the courtyard style which tends to get a bit colder).
        • Tours – Huracan Tours of Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats), $24 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, despite a quiet tour guide driver that went missing for a little while on the Island, he was very nice and always happy to answer questions and most importantly (after the death road driver) he was a very safe calm driver.  The tour lasted all day from 10:30am – 5:50pm and hit all the day highlights plus included lunch in a salt building.
        • Tours – Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats), $4.50, 4 out of 5 stars, Just the entry fee for the National Park, it’s great and a must see!
        • Transportation – FCA Train from Uyuni to Villazon (Bolivia border town with Argentina), $16 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, same as the train review above but this one didn’t have A/C for when it got hot during the day so some people opened windows which made the cabin a bit dusty.

Argentina
    • Salta
      • Transportation – Arco Iris Bus from La Quicaca to San Salvador de Jujuy, $13 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, it is a basic older local bus versus the big bus lines but it actually had more leg room than the buses we have rode on in the past.  The A/C wasn’t quite cold enough which led to some more smells in the air and the locals appear to use these buses to transport cheap goods from Bolivia to Argentina.
      • Transportation – Flecha Bus (operated by Brown) from San Salvador de Jujuy to Salta, $11 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, other than not realizing that Flecha outsources their buses to other companies the short ride was nice and comfortable; semi-coma.
      • Transportation – Taxi from Bus station to Main Square, $3, 3 out 5 stars, just posting so you know what the price may be
      • Hotel – Hostal Condor Pass, $43 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, after all the cheap hotels Argentina prices were a surprise, the place is close to the main square, clean and quiet (good for non-partyers , free breakfast, very hot showers, no tv in room, and WiFi is only on when the owner wishes to share it (normally from 7am – 1am).
      • Transportation – City Bus to Airport, $2, 3 out of 5 stars, skip the more expensive taxi ride and hop on Bus 8A
    • Puerto Iguazu
      • Transportation – Aerolineas flight from Salta, $196 per person, 4 out 5 stars, the bus ride would of cost $155 per person in seats that only partially lay back and the ride takes 25 hours from start to finish.  We were happy to pay the extra $40 to fly and get there in 2 hours.  Argentina airline security compared to the States is incredibly low and you can show up literally minutes before your flight; plus they flew with a plane that was only an 1/8 full.
      • Transportation – Taxi Airport to town, $6.50 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, we split a cab with two other guys but you can also take the bus for the same price.
      • Hotel – Hotel Casa Blanca, $43 per night, 4 out of 5 stars, we did the usual walk around to all the hostels and found the cheapest at $17 a night but the cheapest we were willing to stay in was $38 a night; so back to splurging we upgraded to a this full hotel that includes breakfast, WiFi in room, cable tv, a/c, and a swimming pool.
      • Transportation – Shuttle Bus to Airport, 3 out 5 stars, $6.50 per person, call and schedule it the morning of your departure and they pick you up at your hotel.
    • Buenos Aires
      • Transportation – Aerolineas flight from Iguazu, $196 per person, 4 out 5 stars, the bus ride would of cost $178 per person for a first class seat that lays all the way down, but again it’s a 22 hour bus ride so we were happy to fly.  Funny story learned about how you can’t fly through a country you don’t have a Visa for, blog post on it here.
      • Transportation – City Bus # 8 from Airport EZE to BA, $0.90 per person, 3 out 5 stars, took about 2 hours to get to the city
      • Hotel – La Argentina Hotel, $38 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, no wifi but basic clean simple room in a last minute pinch
      • Hotel – Airbnb Private Apartment, $45 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, nice big studio apartment with kitchen and wifi, in the Monserrat neighborhood near the city center, David is a good host that is informative and willing to help.  Only negatives are there is no TV and since the owners are smokers you can smell it from time to time.
      • Transportation  – City Bus #45 from downtown to Airport AEP, $0.30,  Tell you tomorrow after we take it!
    • Mendoza
      • Transportation – Aerolineas flight from Buenos Aires, $196 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, the ride would of cost $106 per person and 14 hours, but since we got a package deal for the flights we continued to fly around.
      • Hotel – Hostel Independencia, $39 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, private room shared bath, great breakfast that included eggs, wifi in room, free 7-8pm wine happy hour, the staff makes the place! Trip Advisor Review
      • Transportation – City Bus to Maipu (wineries), $0.50 per person, 3 out 5 stars, bumpy ride but cheapest way to get there
      • Tours – Mr. Hugo’s Bike Rental, $6.50 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, includes bike, helmet, bottled water, wifi at office, complimentary juice; we rented a tandem for the same price as two bikes; they are simple plain bikes but worked great
    • Bariloche
      • Transportation – Andesmar Bus from Mendoza, $113 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, the Semi-Coma seats 18 hour bus ride were great, large comfy seats, they served us a huge dinner with two servings of wine, plus breakfast and lunch, I finally slept great on a bus :).
      • Transportation – City bus from bus station to town, $1.50 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, it’s a city bus but cheaper than the $6 cab ride
      • Hotel – Hostel Penthouse 1004, $43 a night, 5 out of 5 stars, recommended by our friend Lynn and we loved it!  Even though the bathrooms were private-shared I could easily see staying here on a nice vacation, see the full review and pics on Trip Advisor.
      • Tours – Llao Llao & Cerro Campanario, $0.00 Free, 4 out of 5 stars, you can take the city bus round trip $3 per person and the hikes are free.  The view from the Llao Llao lookout is our favorite with it’s privacy but National Geographic named the Campanario lookout one of the top in the world so we had to see both.
      • Transportation – A Open Rent a Car, $60 a day w/250km + $11 to refill gas, 3 out of 5 stars, our first rental car for the trip I was hesitant and to be honest worried they would charge me more when I turned the car in, but all went well.  The car itself was a cheap Chevy Corso that was the most basic and pretty much what a cheap car is (cheap), but it got us where we wanted to go and back.
      • Tours – Mount Tronador National Park, $11 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, the park views were great but the drive was 1 hr 45mins with 1hr 15mins being on a rough dirt road, well worth it to take your own rental car as the tours were packed with people and we were able to avoid them by having our own car plus make our own schedule.  The food in the park is over priced so pack a lunch.  We went early in the season so weren’t able to see a lot of the waterfalls running yet but the black glacier and views of Tronador were spectacular.  We also did a 3 hr 3o min hike to Glaciar Castano Overo, but sadly the vista wasn’t worth the pay-off of the hike; judge for yourself in the blog post.
    • Puerto Madryn
      • Transportation – Don Otto Bus, $95 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, typical cramped seats and the meal service was late at night; we still prefer AndesMar more
      • Hotel – La Tosca, $39 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, Private room with bunk-beds and shared bath with the room next to you, seemed like a good setup but the bath uses a tricky key and makes a ton of noise in the night when opening and closing the door so it helps not to be a light sleeper
      • Tours – Na Pria Bike Rentals, $11 a bike per day, 2 out of 5 stars, we rented the cheapest bikes to save money but we paid for it in that they were crap, but the tires held air and the rolled so there is that.  Normal bike rental prices are double this for better bikes, ride the bikes to see the Whales & Sea Lions
      • Transportation – AndesMar Bus to Buenos Aires, $145 a person, 3 out of 5 stars, 20 hour bus ride and wasn’t as nice as our first AndesMar experience but still well above the other buses we have taken


South Africa

    • Cape Town
      • Transportation – South African Airways from Buenos Aires, $1362 per person, 4 out 5 stars, We ended up booking round trip flights to get the cheapest deals and this was the cheapest flight we could find at the time, but we did see on other folks blogs they had flown for much less across ($700), loads of free wine and large meal servings, way better than anything in the states, leg room could of been more but it wasn’t too bad
      • Transportation – Budget Car Rental, $30 a day, 4 out 5 stars, They gave us a brand new car (Toyota Etios, 4 door, 5 speed manual, with A/C) with only 12 miles on it, funny to drive on the other side of the car and road, you can get cheaper rentals for $20 a day if you return it to the same city but we rented this as a one way car to Johannesburg, unlimited mileage and basic insurance included
      • Hotel – The B.I.G. (Backpackers in Green Point), $34 a night for dorm beds shared bath, we were lucky to find this place as it just reopened 3 weeks after a total remodeling, great CLEAN place that makes you feel like your in a boutique hotel, free wifi, hot showers, comfy beds, and breakfast with eggs included!  See our trip advisor review for pictures and more details
      • Tours – Boulders Beach Penguin Preserve, $6 entry fee per person, we decided just to walk the free boardwalk and  you could still see them right up close
      • Tours – Cape Point Nature Park, $10 entry fee per person, make sure you take the side trail hike from the Cape Point to see sheer cliffs and drop-offs around the Point and Cape of Good Hope
    • Hermanus
      • Hotel – Zoete Inval Travelers Lodge, $37 a night for a private dorm room, 2 out of 5 stars, their staff and breakfast was great and almost made up for the thin walls and sub-par dorm bathrooms, plus nickled and dimed for any extra service ($15 rand for wifi, $30 rand per person to open a wine bottle that we brought, etc…)
      • Tours – Whale Watching & Wine Tours, $0 – $3, Just great things to do in the town on a budget
    • Knysna
      • Hotel – Jembjos Knysna Lodge, $15 a night for dorms per person, 4 out 5 stars, Kyle and Mandy who own and run the place are great, they saw that even though we were in the dorms that they moved people around to give us and other travelers the most privacy, comfortable beds, wifi, free breakfast with eggs
      • Tours – Knysna Cyclery, $21, 4 out 5 stars, Cameron at the bike shop was great making sure I knew where to hit the good trails and set me up with a decent Giant mountain bike for rental
    • East London
      • Hotel – Buffalo Backpackers, $25 for private room shared bath, 2 out of 5 stars, it was cheap but that was about all that was good, they had secured parking in a bad neighborhood and wifi, but the staff seemed to not want you there and we have seen porta potties with cleaner bathrooms (though water was really hot).
    • Hilton
      • Hotel – Knoll Backpackers, $16 for Dorms per person, 4 out of 5 stars, a new backpackers situated on a large farm, will post a Trip Advisor post soon with all the pics of the place because we loved it, only thing that could make it better would be to have consistent wifi access but at the same time being disconnected was a gift in hindsight
    • Howick
      • Hotel – Country Lane B&B, $47 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, Richard, Lynn, and Caroline became like a second family to us, read all about it in the blog post
      • Tours – Adrenaline Cycles, $0, 5 out of 5 stars, Grant, Judy, & Steve have to be my favorite people in South Africa.  Howick is the mountain bike capitol of South Africa and Grant made sure I experienced every minute of it.  To see the full story checkout the blog post here.
    • Drakensberg (Kestell)
      • Hotel – Amphitheater Backpackers, $42 a night, 1 out of 5 stars, we ended up leaving before staying the night.  Ran by a creepy host Adrian the whole place is setup to isolate travelers and force you into buying their services at higher rates.  Probably the most disturbing is that they frequently lie about hikes and self available tour options to continue to pressure sell you into their tours; avoid like the plague.  Charges for wifi and pretty much everything else
      • Hotel – Karma Backpackers,  $15 per person for dorms, 3 out of 5 stars, Vira is a great host and a wonderful treat after leaving Amphitheater Backpackers she provides tons of helpful honest information on hiking the Drakensberg.  The biggest problem we had was that our shoes and rain jacket were stolen from our unlocked car (our fault) that was left in the gated backyard parking lot behind the house.  Another annoyance was the lack of internet as advertised, the backpackers shares the internet with a business ran by Vira’s partner and takes a backseat to any available use.  We would have rather just been told there is no internet available to backpackers than feel like 2nd class paying guests begging for what internet the business was willing to ration out.
      • Tour – Drakensberg Tugela Falls, $7 park entry fee, 4 out 5 stars, Absolutely a must see the 2nd highest waterfalls in the world from the top!
    • Nelspruit
      • Hotel – Old Vic’s Travelers Inn, $15 per person for dorms, 3 out 5 stars, free internet and clean facilities that backs to a nature preserve; that has one of the cleanest pools we seen.  Great price for a busy town like Nelspruit
    • Hazyview
      • Hotel – Loernie’s Guest Farm, $32 per private room, 3 out 5 stars, A huge complex that can sleep up to 85 people a night that we had all to ourselves (felt a bit like The Shining), No free internet but a good nights sleep and huge kitchen to prepare your own dinners; great proximity to Kruger National Park
    • Kruger National Park
      • Hotel – Tamboti Safari Tent, $47 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, Don’t let the tent name fool you this was a private room with electricity, fan, and large fridge; not your normal “camping”
      • Tours – Kruger National Park, $23 per person per day, 4 out 5 stars, Before arriving we feared the park would be too touristy to enjoy the animals in their natural environment; thankfully we were proved very wrong.  Within a 7 hour drive we saw all of the Big 5 plus more and the traffic from other cars was limited so it was always easy to feel like you had the place to yourself
      • Extortion & Bribes – Kruger National Park Security,  $47 per penalty, 1 out of 5 stars, Pulled over for speeding on the R531 in an area just outside the 1st Orpen park gate but still instead the 2nd gate two security men flagged us down and informed us that we owe $150 speeding fine, then suggested they could let us go for a small fee to be paid on the spot (with 2nd security guard 10 feet behind holding a AK-47).  After forking over the money our morality was in question, did we make the right choice to pay the bribe or should we have insisted that we will pay the full amount to the proper officials?  Very uncomfortable situation.
    • Graskop
      • Hotel – Sheri’s Backpacker Lodge, $26 a night, 3 out 5 stars, great bang for your buck as it lured us into staying for 4 days or so just to recoup and get back into gear.  For the money you get, wifi, tv, in room bathroom and mini-kitchen, plus access to a full kitchen
      • Tours – Blyde River Canyon Waterfalls, $0-$2 entry fee per falls, if you have the transportation these falls and canyon were a must see!
    • Johannesburg
      • Hotel – MoAfrika Lodge, $18 a person dorms per night, 4 out 5 stars, very close to the airport on a large lot of land or mini-farm.  Online it was actually out of our price range but we showed up anyone and asked for the cheapest rate which made it affordable.  Very nice clean place plus wifi or computers for use, only issue we had is we didn’t realize they had a daily internet cap and busted their bandwidth usage by ftp’ing a large 1gb+ file (sorry about that)


Italy

    • Rome
      • Transportation – Terravision Shuttle, $3.75 per person each way, 3 out 5, just outside of baggage claim you can find the buses to take you into the center of Rome to the central train station
      • Hotel – Hotel Capannelle, $66 a night, 3 out 5 stars, clean nice hotel just a bit outside of town so you had to take the metro and a bus to get to it, but considering the price was cheaper than two dorm beds we jumped on it
    • Naples
      • Transportation – Trenitalia Train, $14.50 a person, 2 out 5 stars, it’s a slow 3 hour ride (4 for us) that was packed with people but it’s the best price you will get on the only railways
      • Hotel – Hotel Zara, $61 a night, 3 out 5 stars, they were rated well on TripAdvisor but a bit pricier than we would of liked, had wifi and free continental breakfast.  Only downside was that about of the 3 employees we met staffed there only one was welcoming and helpful, the rest made us feel like an inconvenience to them
      • Tours – Mount Vesuvius, $25 per person, 3 out 5 stars, taking a local train to Ercolano ($2.75), then the Vesuvius Express ($18 per person but includes $8 entry fee ticket) located just outside the train station and goes almost every hour plus you get over an hour at the top.  There was a slightly cheaper route taking public bus, but it’s schedule isn’t that frequent and you only save a couple bucks.
      • Hotel – Hotel D’Anna, $47 a night, 3 out 5 stars, Antonio the owner and main front desk person made us feel very welcome and even though we had a private room with shared bath the room appeared to be recently refurbished and when the upstairs wifi was working it is very fast, when it’s not you just head downstairs.  Located right next to the train station so if city noise bothers you it may not be for you, but it was white noise for us.  The only downside, and this is a big one, is that EmSue ended up getting eating alive with bug bites in the night.  We aren’t sure if it was mosquito’s or flea’s (we did find one flea), but after that night we used bug spray in the room (go figure Italy would get us, but not South Africa).  For the price though it can’t be beat, even by hostels.
      • Tours – Vulcano Solfatara, $9 per person entry fee, 4 out 5 stars, the super volcano of Italy similar to Yellowstone in the states.  It’s off the beaten tourist path and a little pricey entry fee but if you enjoy that sort of thing it was well worth it.  You just take the Metro line 2 ($2.50) from Naples to Pozzuoli, they run about ever 20 minutes or so.


Turkey

    • Alanya
      • Transportation – Norwegian Cruise Line ship name Jade, $102 a night for both of us food included, 4 out of 5 stars, 11 night Holy Land cruise that left out of Rome.  It was a great and super cheap way to see and get around to areas that we didn’t either plan to see or were a little worried about visiting without a group
      • Tours – The Red Castle, $0, 4 out 5 stars, we opted out of going with any tours here the main attraction is just outside the ship and you can spend the day just exploring the city and castle


Israel

    • Haifa & Nazareth
      • Transportation – Norwegian Cruise Line ship name Jade, $102 a night for both of us food included, 4 out of 5 stars, 11 night Holy Land cruise that left out of Rome.  It was a great and super cheap way to see and get around to areas that we didn’t either plan to see or were a little worried about visiting without a group
      • Tours – Skip the tours, $7.50 round-trip per person, 3 out 5 stars, Just walk straight from the ship to the parking lot where you can catch bus number 331 for cheap.  Only gets 3 out of 5 stars because you can see the main highlights in Nazareth in just a couple hours or less; so the drive is almost as long as the tour
    • Ashdod & Jerusalem
      • Transportation – NCL the ship same as above
      • Tours – Skip the $$$ tours, $12 round-trip per person, 5 out of 5 stars, The port in Ashdod is busy so the boats have a free shuttle to take  you out to the main port entry station.  From the station you can either pay the $60 round-trip for a taxi to the Ashdod bus station or save yourself a whole lot of money and make an easy .5 mile walk on a sidewalk to the crossroads where you catch the bus to Jerusalem; Bus # 448 or 438 (448 is faster as it’s more direct with less stops).  Important step though is to check the bus schedule ahead of time so you can time your exit from the ship with the bus otherwise you might have to wait up to an hour.  Once you arrive in Jerusalem just walk outside the bus station and catch the #1 bus to the old town or you can take the metro as well ; Don’t let this scare you off it’s easier than you think and the payoff is well worth it!


Egypt

    • Cairo (Port Said & Port Alexander)
      • Transportation – Norwegian Cruise Line ship name Jade, $102 a night for both of us food included, 4 out of 5 stars, 11 night Holy Land cruise that left out of Rome.  It was a great and super cheap way to see and get around to areas that we didn’t either plan to see or were a little worried about visiting without a group
      • Tour – Moemen Aiad with Nile Blue Excursions Details, $56 per person, 4 out of 4 stars, having booked last minute we were lucky to find a tour group out of Port Said and Port Alexander.  For the price and level of detail this tour could not be beat; instead of being a 2 day with overnight tour (considering we had the boat and all we could eat for that) it was a 2 day tour starting from both ports.  Read more about it in the Egypt Loves You blog post.


India

    • Mumbai (Bombay)
      • Transportation – Saudi Airlines one way flight from Rome to Mumbai, $308 per person, 3 out 5 stars, hard to book with USA credit cards that made us take an early train from Naples to the Rome office to book in person, but they made up for it with a bunch of free swag of collapsible backpacks and duffle bags.
      • Hotel – P.A. Residency Hotel, $44 a night, 4 out of 5 stars, a/c, private bathroom, cable tv, wifi, comfortable beds, free breakfast buffet, and in the heart of the Fort district.  What gave them the extra star for me was when they delivered my credit card I left at the desk all the way across town to my friends house I was staying at.
    • Aurangabad
      • Transportation – City Train from Bombay, $3 per person, 2 out 5 stars, happy to have experienced it once but truly impressed on packed they can cram open general quota.  We tipped the train compartment manager an extra couple bucks to see that we had actual seats versus standing room only.
      • Hotel – Hotel Yuvraj, $37 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, a/c, private bath, cable tv, and wifi.  Fairly new hotel in the area and the best bang for the buck we found.
      • Tour – MTDC Tour to Ellora Caves, $6 a person, 2 out of 5 stars, for the price it’s great and beats the tour prices from the local touts.  The downfall was being crammed in the back of a 4 door SUV in the cargo area with 3 other stinky tourists while the locals took the actual seats in the first two rows.
    • New Delhi
      •  Transportation – SpiceJet Airlines, $121 a person, 3 out of 5 stars, a discount airline that charges for food and drinks but left and arrived on time so we were happy.  Only dislike is with the India airport system that requires you bring a printed physical piece of paper to the airport entrance to gain access (digital email proof won’t work and  you will have to pay $3 USD to print out a copy; pretty high considering you can ride a train for 10 hours for that same price).
      • Hotel – The Raj Hotel, $24 a night, 3 out of 5 stars,  a/c, private bath, wifi, and located just 4 blocks from the central train station.
    • Agra (Taj Mahal)
      • Transportation – Express 1st Class Train, $9 per person, 4 out of 5 stars, left on time, A/C Chair, and served breakfast on-board included.
      • Transportation – Slow 2nd Class no A/C Sleeper Train, $4 per person, 2 out of 5 stars, we decided to take this train because it left earlier in the day but after a 3 hour + daily to arrive it ended up arriving 1 hour after the express train got back; neat to experience the sleeper but always take the express


Nepal

    • Kathmandu
      • Transportation – SpiceJet Airlines, $106 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, same as our last experience with them reviewed above to New Delhi.
      • Hotel – Backyard Hotel, $22 a night, 5 out of 5 stars, I wrote an extensive review for how much we liked them here on Trip Advisor
    • Mount Everest
      • Tours – 16 Day Everest Base Camp Tour, $970 per person, 5 out of 5 stars, included one porter / guide from the Himalaya Glacier Trekking,  Tea House (hotel) accommodations each night, 3 meals a day with tea or coffee, and airfare to and from Lukla airport. What was not included was any additional food or drinks or tip for our porter /guide.  For details on the company we booked with checkout the same review linked from the Backyard Hotel above.  For more on the actual hike itself checkout the Nepal Blog Posts.
    • Pokhara
      • Transportation – The New Road tourist bus, $10 per person each way, 3 out 5 stars, included lunch and a bottle of water but on our return trip didn’t drop us off at the same location it packed us up near Thamel which was annoying if you don’t have GPS
      • Hotel – Unique Mountain Guest House, $14 a night, no A/C but not needed with the cool nights, private bathroom with hot water during the day from solar heaters, great location in Pokhara near the lake but not too close to the party areas.


Thailand

    • Bangkok
      • Transportation – Air India flight connecting through New Delhi, $272 per person, 2 out 5 stars, late to depart flight and luckily connecting flights and more body frisks x-rays and bag checks than any airlines we have experienced anywhere in the world (the airline does their own), but the on-board food and drinks were good and included.
      • Hotel – Astera Sathorn, $48 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, Here is our copy pasted review from booking.com  The good – Great location to Sky Train and Boat Metro. They just purchased two new cycling machines and one treadmill for the fitness center while we were there. The bad – The wifi barely reached to our room and internet speed was .2mbps at best when working. Used the fitness center a couple times, but would like to see them add more to the free weight section; perhaps a bench press.
    • Trang
      • Transportation – Air Asia X flight, $58 per person, 3 out of 5 stars, ultra budget airlines that charges for everything but also offered such a cheap flight.  Left and arrived on time, we would fly them again.
      • Hotel – Sritang Hotel, $22 per night, 4 out 5 stars, great little cozy hotel in a great town, a/c wifi private bathroom with hot water
    • Koh Mook
      • Transportation – Van and Ferry to/from island, $9 per person each way, 3 out 5 stars, choose the local ferry versus long tail private boat to same some money and worked out great.
      • Hotel – Sawadee Resort, $27 per night, 3 out of 5 stars, bungalow style right on the beach with private bath, fan only, but large and roomy with bug net
    • Phuket Airport Town
      • Transportation –  Local A/C Bus, $9 per person, 3 out 5 stars, caught from the bus station back in Trang just hop on the bus and pay there, they blared music videos the whole time, but made the drive in 3-4 hours and they left us right off at our stop to walk to the airport.
      • Hotel – Ruan Mai Bungalow, $31 a night, 2 out of 5 stars, smallest bungalows we ever stayed in and since they were crammed together and right on the beach sleep was out of the question.  Insult to injury I left my glasses case by accident and upon returning they let me know they had thrown them away.
    • Phuket North
      • Transportation –  Asian Car Rent (actual name scooter rental), $9 a day, 4 out of 5 stars, walking distance from the Phuket airport and easy going place that gave us two helmets and rain ponchos.  The scooter was a 5 year old Honda with high mileage and homemade spray paint job, but good tires working lights and ran great the whole time so no complaints
      • Hotel – Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa, $ Too much for us, but xmas present from the presents, 5 out 5 stars, reminded us of the Cancun style all inclusive resorts and we loved their beds!!!
    • Phang Nga
      • Hotel – Baan Phangnga Hotel, $22 a night, 4 out 5 stars, A/C room with private bath and hot shower, updated recently and a great place to stay, they even let us pull our scooter into the lobby overnight for security
      • Tours – Mr. Kean Tour, $27 a person, 4 out 5 stars, full day tour to the Phang Nga Bay and James Bond Island, compared to the prices from Phuket this is a steal, no kayak included at this price
    • Koh Phi Phi
      • Transportation – Ferry, $14 per person, 3 out 5 stars, you have to haggle some otherwise the price is $6 more
      • Hotel – Phi Phi Dream, $35 a night, 3 out of 5 stars, A/C and hot shower, but since we were there during peak season you had to pay more for the room
      • Tours – Koh Phi Phi Lei Tours – $12 per person, 3 out 5 stars, pretty much the same tour you can get from anyone.  It includes one small meal that consisted of an egg sandwhich and a water bottle
    • Rai Lei – Ton Sai
      • Transportation – Ferry, $10 per person, 3 out 5 stars, leaves once a day and gets you in late to Rai Lei.  Possibly a better option to get in earlier is take the ferry to Krabi then a long tail boat over; should cost you $6 more per person
      • Hotel – Chill Bar Bungalow, $12 a night, 3 out 5 stars, simple cheap bungalow, shared bathroom, and no fan
      • Hotel – Dream Resort, $62, 3 out 5 stars, most expensive hotel we had in Thailand or the trip for that fact, but during peak season they had us over the barrell.  Only thing fancy for the money was the nice pool.  Room was private bath with A/C but shouldn’t cost you more than $25 during the off season
    • Krabi
      • Transportation – Long Tail Boat and Pickup Truck Bus, $5 per person, 3 out 5 stars, simple cheap local way to get around
      • Hotel – Krabi Thai Hotel, $22 a night, 4 out 5 stars, compared to the overpriced stay on Rai Lei this place was a 5 star, large hotel room style, cable tv, a/c, etc…  Great bang for the buck
    •  Khao Lak
      • Transportation – Local City to City Bus, $7 per person, 4 out 5 stars, price per distance can’t be beat and you can hop off wherever you like along the route, required us to switch buses on the road in Khok Kloi to get there but pretty simple to figure out and the locals will guide you.  Also nice to have an Android GPS with offline google maps to help.
      • Hotel – Buppha Resort, $24 a night, 4 out 5 stars, has to be the nicest place you can get for the money in Khao Lak, it’s out of the way and not on the beach but for just $7 a day you can rent a scooter to go wherever.  Rooms were very nice with large bathrooms and overly strong A/C plus cable TV.  The place even had an over-sized jacuzzi cold tub / pool.


Singapore

    • Singapore
      • Transportation – Tiger Airlines, $77 per person, 3 out 5 stars, budget airlines and the flight was delayed but got us there safely, warning we did have an issue with Thailand shorting us a day on the visa
      • Transportation – MRT Metro, $1.65 per person, 4 out 5 stars, you can’t beat direct traffic free transportation to and from the airport.  Just be careful if you have a late flight as it’s closed overnight.
      • Hotel – Shophouse the Social Hostel, $20 per person in 16 bed mixed dorm, 2 out 5 stars, the hostel itself is great and the people are nice, plus free simple breakfast.  The downfall is that they have no rules like other hostels we have been to, an important one is quiet time at night so basically we had people turning on the lights and talking at full volume between the hours of 2:30-5:30am, it was ridiculous


Australia

    • Gold Cost, Airlie Beach, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne
      • Transportation – Scoot Airlines, $268 per person,12 out 5 stars, writing this as we wait for a 7 hour delay in the flight and it never got better from there
      • Transportation – Sixt Red Spot Car Rental – $1,000 for 30 days one way rental.  3 out 5 stars, They were the cheapest one way rental we could find and the car was a nice new little Holden (Chevrolet), only thing we didn’t like about them was their toll charge fees (on top of the toll charge you pay $5 per use, it was cheaper to buy their $50 toll plan for us).  Gas if expensive in Australia, if I had to do it again I would recommend just renting a car for between Sydney and Melbourne and just fly further north of Sydney to see the sights.
      • Hotel – Camping, $0 or Free!, 4 out 5 stars, We purchased a $30 tent with rain fly from Kmart and a couple of airup beds sleeping bags pump and pillows $55.  Then we headed down the road using Android or iPhone app resource WikiCamps ($3); for Australia the app was great and a life saver.  Well worth the money compared to the Camps6 and Camps 7 books ($70).
      • Tours – Wings Diving Adventures, $493 per person, 5 out 5 stars, We did a 3 night 2.5 day sailing tour out of to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands.  The crew was awesome (Sammy, Richi, Captain Mark, and Mel Gibson) and we had a good group of fellow passengers on the boat.  The snacks were light but the meals were plenty, plus they let you BYO alcohol on board.  We had a double wide bunk that was very comfortable and cool with the A/C at nights and our total number of snorkel dive locations were 4 on the Great Barrier Reef and a hike Whitehaven island to the beach.


New Zealand

    • Christchruch, Invercargill, Queenstown, Greymouth, Picton, Wellington, Lake Taupo, Roturua, Hawks Bay, Northland, Auckland
      • Transportation – Jetstar Airways, $285 per person, 3 out 5 stars, Normal good airline service, they charge per checked bag and very strict about forward proof of travel for New Zealand (to be fair so was the New Zealand customs)
      • Transportation – No Rental Car, We purchased a 1990 Toyota Corona Wagon, $1200 NZD, 3 out 5 stars, 335,000km, diesel, and no A/C but it did come with a tent, cookware, and stove.  We put 3,000km on it and sold it in Auckland for the same price that we bought it for.  Don’t be fooled into thinking Diesel’s are cheaper because the price at the pump is cheaper you still have to pay a Diesel tax that makes that price almost the same as petrol.
      • Hotel – Camped all across New Zealand but unlike Australia it’s not free, $12 – $20 NZD per night, 3 out 5 stars, by using the DOC Campsites and a few Holiday Parks you can work your way around the country.  The New Zealand WikiCamps app that we used for Australia wasn’t as useful here, just grab a free DOC booklet from one the information sights.
      • Tours – Self Guided, $0 or Free!, 4 out 5 stars, We hiked or tramped all over New Zealand seeing countless waterfalls, fiordlands, glaciers, volcano’s, and vista’s ~ this is what makes New Zealand awesome!

5 thoughts on “Travel Reviews

    1. Thanks Kathy, we want to share as much as we can in hopes to help at least one other traveler as we have relied on many other blogs to get our information.

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