Vietnam – The Ultimate Guide

Vietnam- The Ultimate Guide

In 2014, I had my first visit to Vietnam. It was a business trip. I had always wanted to visit this country, but never had the chance until then. Since the, I have many encounters with the land and people. And I am so happy and grateful to write the Vietnam – The Ultimate Guide.

I really liked and enjoyed my stay in Vietnam. It is another really great country, and one of the Best Places to Visit in Asia!

In this ultimate guide, I will share as many details as possible about Vietnam. Details such as where it is located, who are the people there, the culture, the religions.

Also, I will share with you a few of the cities that are popular with tourists. I will cover topics such as what are the places of interest, what Vietnamese food to enjoy, and even recommend hotels to suit your needs.


About Vietnam

When I was a young man in my late teens, Vietnam was a country in transition. Today, the official name is the Socialist Replublic of Vietnam.

The capital city is Hanoi. And the city with more repute and commerce is Ho Chi Minh City. Heard of Saigon? That was Ho Chi Minh City’s former name.

Vietnam is a beautiful country with lush mountains and white sandy beaches. At the same time, there are vibrant cities built alongside ancient landmarks and colonial structures.

Rice terraces on hills call out to hikers. Massive Buddhist shrines invite those seeking peace and quiet. The country has it all.


Where is Vietnam?

Vietnam is one of the many countries on the Indochinese Peninsula. It sits on the eastern side of it. Her neighbors share borders with her, and they are China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west.

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Who Are The People In Vietnam?

There are over 95 million people in Vietnam. Arachaeological findings claim that the country was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic age.

Most of the people are Kinh, also known as the Viet. There are also ethnic minority groups such as the Hmong, Dao, Tay, thai, and Nung.


What Is The Culture In Vietnam?

The culture in Vietnam started with the indigenous ancient Dong Son culture. It has evolved since, with some influence from the Chinese culture. The influences are particularly from Confucianism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taosim.

Vietnames culture is steeped in traditions. And focuses on humanity and harmony. As such family and community values are highly regarded.

I can confirm firsthand of my exposure to the Vietnamese culture, particularly to the family values. My brother’s wife is Vietnamese. And I noticed how polite and respectful my sister-in-law is to my Mother and me.

I am the family’s oldest son. And she treats me with reverence. I am so honored.

Vietnamese has key cultural symbols that you will find immersed in their society. One of the symbols is the popular Vietnamese dragon. Another is the holy bird that represents Vietnam’s national Mother, Au Co.

Travel Tip: Please respect the Vietnamese culture.


What Are The Religions In Vietnam?

In Vietnam, all religions are treated equally, and with respect. Each place of worship is protected under the Vietnamese state law. The religions include Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Caodism, Muslims, and Hindus.


What Is The Common Language Spoken In Vietnam?

The national language of the country is Vietnamese. It is a tonal Austroasiatic language. Many Vietnamese speak French, too. Today, more and more of the younger generation can speak English. If you are comfortable with English, you should be able to travel around Vietnam with ease.


What Are The Festivals and Public Holidays In Vietnam?

What Are The Public Holidays In Vietnam?

January 1, New Year

Usually in January or February, Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnamese New Year)

Tet is the most important holiday in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year. And it falls on the first day of the first month of Lunar Calendar. It is the longest holiday in the country, lasting officially for five working days. And can sometimes last longer, when any one of the days falls on a weekend.

April 30, Liberation / Reunification Day

May 1, Labour Day

September 2, National Day


What Are The Festivals In Vietnam?

Gio to Hung Vuong Festival (Hung Kings’ Temple Festival)

This festival is the commemoration of Kinh Duong Vuong, Vietnam’s first king. During this celebration, lanterns are released to the sky, and there is a flower ceremony at the Upper Temple.

In addition, there is a long procession from the foot of the mountain to the Hung Temple. The event is attended by pilgrims. And there are also xoan classical song performances, and operas.

Hue Arts Festival

Hue has become the place to visit for culture experience. The Hue Arts Festival, a biannual event, is celebrated at the UNESCO-listed Hue City. During the festival there are cultural performances and games.

The purpose is to preserve traditional customs. Some of the activities include Dialogue of Drums and Percussion, Ao Dai Fashion Shows, kite flying, boat racing, street performances, film screenings, and art exhibitions.

Perfume Festival

The Perfume Festival. Such a lovely name, don’t you think? Pilgrims flock to the Perfume Pagoda, and pray for a year of prosperity. At the same time, they offer respects to Buddha. One of the highlights is the dragon dance at Den Trinh Pagoda.

The pilgrims travel by boat across the Yen Vi River, then on foot, they climb the hundreds of stone steps to Huong Tich Cave. At the destination, they submit food offerings and burning incense for the gods.

Mid Autumn Festival

This is a celebration that is held in many Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore. Each country celebrates in their own way. And yet, there are similarities. For example, the Vietnamese light up paper lanterns, eat moon cakes, sticky rice, fruits and sweets. The difference is they have lion dance during this time. Just like the other countries, this festival is also known as the harvest festival.

Wandering Souls Day

Another festival that has similar ones in Asia. In Singapore, this is called the 7th Month Ghost Festival. And just like in Singapore, it is held during the 7th lunar month in Vietnam. It is a time when it is believed that the dead return to this world. And the spirits of the ancestors would visit homes.

As such, the people offer prayers, flowers, sticky rice cakes, sugarcane, fruits, paper money, paper clothing, and many other things. The paper stuff are burned with the belief that they would be received by deceased ancestors in the afterlife.

Hoi An Lantern Festival

It is amazing that this festival is held monthly at Hoi An. So much effort to bring life to the city! The lanterns and candles light up this UNESCO World Heritage.

Everywhere, businesses switch off the electricity. And thousands of candles and lanterns illuminate the city. It is an awesome experience. Do not forget the chance to see holy candlelit ceremonies by monks at temples for free.

Buddha’s Birthday

This is celebrated by devotees all throughout Vietnam. Temples are beautifully decorated. Devotees come to offer fruits, flower garlands, and Vietnamese dishes. I realized that this is very similar to Vesak Day or Wesak Day celebrated around the world.

Phu Giay Festival

Every year, the believers pray for good fortune from the Goddes Lieu Hanh at Phu Giay Pagoda. They carry decorated bamboo relics, and wear traditional costumes. Festive fun includes games like capture the flag, lion dance, wrestling, fold dance, and classical songs. This is the time of the year when the town is filled with life and becomes vibrant.


What Is The Dress Code In Vietnam?

When I visited Vietnam for business, I would at least wear a short sleeved shirt, or a long sleeved shirt, or a polo t shirt for my top. And I would have long pants with leather shoes.

After work, when I travel around the country, I would still wear a polo t shirt and a comfortable long pants such as light cotton jeans, khaki pants or even jogger pants.

This is because I find that the Vietnamese are quite shy people, and they prefer visitors to dress at least with a decent top and pants. It is best not to wear revealing clothing such as the singlet or spaghetti string top.

When visiting a temple. holy or official site, please be aware of the dress code and dress accordingly. See the video below to learn how to dress appropriately.


What Is The National Dress In Vietnam?

This would be the ao dai, the Vietnamese formal dress. It is worn for special occasions such as wedding and religious festivals.

There are different styles of the ao dai in different regions of the country. You can see what it looks like below.


What Is The National Sport Of Vietnam?

The most popular sport in Vietnam is martial arts. There are the vovinam, kim ke, and binh dinh. The other popular sport is football, which is known as soccer in western countries. Other sports activities such as badminton, tennis, volleyball, ping pong and chess are also widely enjoyed by the people.


What Currency Can I Use In Vietnam?

The official currency is the Dong (VND). Many places where tourists frequent like cafes, retaurants, shops, malls and hotels accept the US dollar.


How Is The Weather In Vietnam?

The country’s climate varies from zone to zone. I have seen photos and videos of snow in the northern parts of Vietnam. I was surprised to learn they have quite a severe winter there. Spring is pleasant though. And summers and autumns can be hot and rainy.

The southern regions climate is mostly hot and sunny. The exception would be in June and July when there would be frequent rain. And from December to February, there is the dry and cool season.

Central regions of Vietnam have mostly hot and sunny weather all year round. The hottest months are during the middle of the year. And cooler days are from November to April.

Overall, Vietnam’s climate is mild tropical or subtropical. There are two distinct monsoon seasons. Just take note of the monsoon period for the city you are visiting, and bring an umbrella.


When Is The Best Time To Go Vietnam?

Due to the fact that different regions of Vietnam have different climate, there really is not a single overarching period that is best to visit Vietnam, as in the country itself. Consider where you are traveling to, and note the climate in that region. Then decide when is the best time to visit that particular city.

I will share the best time to travel for each city in future blog posts. To get updates, please join my I Love Travel Community.


How Is The Haze Situation In Vietnam?

Just like many of the countries in the ASEAN region are affected by the haze, so is Vietnam. Do take note of the period when the haze strikes. It is no fun traveling when that happens. Plus, the haze does obstruct views of places of interest.

Travel Tip: If you have chronic heart of lung conditions, or simply do not want to suffer unhealthy pollution situation, then avoid this period.


Where Are The Best Places To Visit in Vietnam?

The magnificent Mekong river flows through this country giving life to the natural wonders, from the green rice fields to the lush emerald mountains to the pristine sandy beaches. Vietnam is wondrous.

Hanoi

From what I have heard from friends, Hanoi is a less friendly city than Ho Chi Minh City. Perhaps it is because of the way people are reserved and have a no-nonsense attitude. Whichever it is, this French-colonial city is worth a visit.

It is known for its delectable cuisine, silks, handicrafts, fast and exciting nightlife. And if you need some fresh air, simply take a short drive to the tranquil countryside with greenery and traditional villages.

Some of the sights you might like to catch are the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Perfume Pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake (also known as Turtle Lake where the Ngoc Son Temple is found, Hanoi Opera House, and the Temple of Literature.

For you shopping pleasure, there are the markets and malls. Do not miss the Dong Xuan Market. And you must not miss the shows at the Thang Long Puppet Theatre.

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More travel posts about Hanoi coming soon. Join my I Love Travel community to get updates.


Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh city truly is the business and financial hub of Vietnam. When my partners decided to explore business opportunities in Vietnam, this was the city we first engaged.

As the commercial heart of the country, the city is metropolitan with tall buildings alongside classic French architecture. Many of the skyscrapers have popular rooftop bars to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the landscape. With its long history and culture, there are beautiful ornate temples and pagodas such as the Jade Emperor Pagoda and Cao Dai Temple.

Places of interest include the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, Cu Chi Tunnels, Central Post Office, and the Reunification Palace. There are many markets, shops and malls. One of the popular markests is the Binh Tay Market.

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More travel posts about Ho Chi Minh City coming soon. Join my I Love Travel community to get updates.


Da Nang

Travelers visit Da Nang to enjoy nature. There is the My Khe Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hoi An, My Son, Marble Mountains, and the Son Tra (Monkey Mountain. The lovely white sandy beaches tempts anyone with their cool and crystal clear waters. The mountains towers with magnificence and awe.

Aside from the natural beauty, the city itself has many sights to enjoy. Some of them are the famous Dragon Bridge, Phap Lam Pagoda, Cham Museum and Da Nang Cathedral.

Shopping is fun too with its many markets and malls.

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More travel posts about Da Nang coming soon. Join my I Love Travel community to get updates.


Hoi An

For authentic history of Vietname, Hoi An is the place to see. It showcases a well preserved Southeast Asian trading port that dates as far back as the 15th century. In addition, there are the Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An Riverside, Cua Dai Beach, Van Duc Pagoda, Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, An Bang Beach, and the Chuc Thanh Pagoda.

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More travel posts about Hoi An coming soon. Join my I Love Travel community to get updates.


Phu Quoc Island

There are numerous beaches and islands in Vietnam. All truly beautiful and worth a visit. Phu Quoc Island is one of the many I will mention here. It has idyllic beaches that promises romantic sunsets. It is an ideal holiday destination for travelers looking to relax and simply just enjoy all this island has to offer.

But if you seek a little adventure, explore the Phu Quoc National Park, Suoi Tranh Waterfall, Ham Ninh Fishing Village, and even the Phu Quoc Prison. For some spiritual experience, go to Dinh Cau Rock (Cau Temple), Sung Hung Pagoda, or Su Muon Pagoda.

Should your kids get bored, then bring them to the Vinpearl Land Amusement Park. The whole family can also get some memorable souvenirs at the Duong Dong Market.

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More travel posts about Phu Quoc Island coming soon. Join my I Love Travel community to get updates.


Halong Bay

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, Halong Bay is an awesome sight to behold. Close to the Chinese border, and located in Northern Vietnam, it is a magnificent natural wonder of the world. There are about 1,600 limestone island topped by forests. And the mystical golden Thien Mu Pagoda overlooking the land.

Do not forget to visit the other islets there such as Cat Ba Island, Dau Be Island, Dau Go Island. Also, do visit the floating villages, fish farms, and caves such as the Hung Sung Sot Cave, the Pelican Cave and the Virgin Cave.

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More travel posts about Ho Chi Minh City coming soon. Join my I Love Travel community to get updates.


Which Hotels To Stay At In Vietnam?

can find accommodation to suit your tastes, from budget hotels to luxury five star to hostels and lodges to beautiful resorts and beachfront villas, all known for exceptional service, complete facilities and amenities as well as rooms with breathtaking views

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What Are The Food And Drinks in Vietnam?

Vietnamese food is made with the philosophy of balance, balance of the elements, give good health to all who eat it. there is the spicy which is the metal element. Sour is the wood element. Bitter is fire. Salty is water. And sweet is the earth element.

Most dishes are cooked with these five elements in mind, combining them into a delectable delight. The common ingredients used are fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables.

The herbs often used are lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime and basil.

Street food culture is strong, and they are also served at restaurants. Some dishes include the salad roll, rice noodle roll, rice vermicelli soup, and pho. The latter is Vietnam’s national dish. It is a rice noodle soup served with beef or chicken.

Learn to make pho. Watch video below.

Vietnamese drinks are uniquely flavored. One drink that I particularly enjoyed was the Vietnamese iced coffee. Few places outside of Vietnam serve the coffee so well as in the country. When you are in Vietnam, you must try the Vietnamese coffee.

Other drinks that are delicious are the egg coffee, salted pickled lime juice, glutinous rice wine, sugarcane juice, and the Vietnamese lotus tea.


How To Get To Vietnam?

By Airplane

There are two international airports in Vietnam. There is the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi. And the Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Da Nang has an airport but it accepts mostly domestic flights, and only a few international flights. There are many more domestic airport all over Vietnam.

The airlines that now fly to Vietnam are plenty. There are the Vietnam Airlines (national carrier of Vietnam), Jetstar, Air Asia, Air China, Bangkok Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and more. When flying to Vietnam, check with the airlines available in your country that travel there.

By Train

You can choose to enter Vietnam by train from China. The train between Hanoi and Beijing corsses the Dong Dang border.

By Boat / Ferry

Take the scenic route via boat from Cambodia, down the Mekong Delta, and into Southern Vietnam. Along the way, you get to see the beautiful landscape of the country.

By Bus

It is recommended that you take the international bus service that runs from Savannakhet or Vientiane, Laos to Hanoi, Hue, Vinh or Da Nang, Vietnam. This is to avoid any issues that may arise with local bus agents.

Alternatively, if you are traveling from Cambodia, take the route from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. The buses are modern and fitted with air conditiong for comfort.

By Car

There does not seem to be rental cars available for tourists. Please do not use this option. This in case you get scammed.

By Foot

Not recommended.

Do You Need A Visa To Enter Thailand?

It depends on the country you are from. Citizens of ASEAN countries, like me, do not need a visa. If your country is not part of ASEAN, please do check with the Thai Immigration Bureau or the Thai Embassy or Consulate at your home country if you need a visa to Thailand.

If you do need one, you will need to apply before you travel there. Most visitors get a 30 day stay.

Another thing to note is that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months before you can enter Vietnam.


How To Get Around Vietnam?

By Airplane

With many domestic airports and flights, you can travel easily within Vietnam. Some of the airlines that fly domestic are the Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, and VietJet.

By Train

Travel within Vietnam by train is safe, comfortable and not too expensive. The rail network is extensive, and can bring you to most destinations of interest.

There are seven rail lines. There is the main north-south line that runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. For more on the other rail lines and all the train schedules, check with their official rail service.

The classes on the train are hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, and soft sleeper. The hard seat is like the cheapest of the class where you literally get a hard seat to sit on for your ride. The soft sleeper is the most expensive and most comfortable class. It gives you soft beds with or without air conditioning. This is the only class with a door, and that offers more security for you.

By Boat / Ferry

This is the choice when you decide to travel along the Mekong. There are tourist boats for short haul trips, and freighters for long ones. Do note that this mode of transport is slow. It can take two days to travel from My Tho to Chau Doc. The price can eventually be more costly among the choices here.

By MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)

This will be available in 2021, and only in Ho Chi Minh City.

By Bus

Not a good choice of transport. One reason is that the buses can be overloaded. Another is that when they know you are a foreigner, they may charge you more. In the end, might as well travel by train or flight.

By Car

There does not seem to be rental cars available for tourists. Please do not use this option. This in case you get scammed.

By Motorcycle

Travel around on a motorbike can be very convenient. In fact, when you are in Vietnam, you will see this is a very common mode of transpor. There are motorcycles being driven everywhere!

You can rent at a very cheap rate. But please do be careful. Wear a helmet, and ride safely.

Beside going about in your own motorbike, there is also the choice of getting a Xe Om. These are motorbike taxis. They are convenient, and can move about in places that buses and cars cannot. Negotiate and agree on price before getting on.

By Taxi

Taxis are relatively inexpensive, and very convenient in the popular towns and cities. The drivers may be reluctant to use the meter. Some even tamper the meter to rack up charges. Look for reliable taxi companies like Mai Linh.

By Grab

Grab is popular in Asia, and works like Uber. Many people prefer this transport service because it is convenient. Simply use the Grab app, state your destination, get a ride that will pick you up wherever you are.

By Cyclo

These are bicycle rickshaws, and are available in most cities and many towns. In some cities, it has been banned though. Negotiate for a reasonable price before you board.

Private Driver and Tour Guide

If you choose to explore Vietnam or any of her cities by car, then this is the best option. That is, rent a care with a private driver who will also be your tour guide. You can travel at your own pace. And spend as much time as you please at every stop.

Make sure your driver known enough English. And also, knowledgeable in many popular as well as off the track places.

By Foot

Only to nearby destinations. Mostly, best to travel by car. See above.


Going To Vietnam? Book Your Hotel Room With Our Best Partner And Get The Best Rates

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If you have ANY questions about Vietnam – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Thailand – The Ultimate Guide

Thailand - The Ultimate Guide

Since my first visit to Bangkok, I have deeply appreciated the warm and friendly smiles of the people. Relished the superb tasting food. Soaked in the fascinating culture and sights. She is truly one of the Best Places to Visit in Asia. And I share detailed information about her in this article titled Thailand – The Ultimate Guide.

I have been to many cities of Thailand, and I have visited each many times. So, I will be sharing much of my personal travel experience to this amazing country.

In this ultimate guide, I do my best to provide you as much information as you need to get here. You will learn more about Thailand. Where is this country? The people, the culture, the festivals they celebrate.

What are the interesting attractions? What food to enjoy? And which are the best hotels or resorts to stay at?


About Thailand

Thailand has been dubbed the Land of Smiles. And I found this to be so apt. The people are friendly. The ones I met, for business or leisure, were always warm, and with a ready smile.

Another name for Thailand is Siam. This is her former name. Actually, I like that name, and I notice many people still call her by that name with fondness.

My first travel to Thailand was to her capital, Bangkok. I was there for a business visit. I have returned many times, both for business, and as a tourist. And I must say I enjoyed the city every time.

I have als visited the other popuar cities in Thailand. They are Chiangmai, Pattaya and Phuket. I have heard of Chiangrai and Hua Hin, and I plan to visit these cities, and many others in Thailand soon.

The country is also an ideal getaway for those who love nature. There are magnificent mountains, plains, hills and lush forests to explore. And also pristine beaches at islands such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, Krabi and many more.


Where is Thailand?

Since the advent of the Internet, and the availability of online maps, I have enjoyed finding out where each country or city I visit is located. I find it fascinating to know which part of the world I am at when I arrive at a place.

It captivates me that Thailand is actually at the center of the Southeast Asian Indochinese Peninsula. And around her, there are Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Along a part of the west coast of Thailand, there are beaches that face the Andaman Sea. No wonder this place has such beautiful islands and seasides!

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Who Are The People In Thailand?

During my first business travel to Bangkok, I learned that the people of Thailand are called Thais. There are over 69 million people all over Thailand. The largest city is Bangkok, and there are at least 8 million people there.

Thais are diverse in ethnicity and race. There are Chinese, Malays, Mon, Khmer, Lao, Saoi or Kui, Karen, and Indian. There are also the hill tribes in the north.

Most of the population live in the rice growing areas of central, northeastern and northern regions. About 34% of them stay in urban cities.


What Is The Culture In Thailand?

The different races and religions of the people of Thailand created a diverse culture that is rich. I have observed that the Thais are generally easy going, laid back, tolerant of other cultures, and non-aggressive. I believe this is partly due to the heavy influence of Buddhist teachings.

Here are some videos that explain more about the Thai culture.

Here is a video advising you on what to do and what not to do in Thailand.

Travel Tip: Please respect their culture

The Thai culture can be a shock to some people. Here is a video by an American in Thailand about 10 things he found strange.

Travel Tip: Please respect the Thai culture.


What Are The Religions In Thailand?

When I was in Thailand, I could see many Buddhist temples. And I understand from my Thai colleagues and friends that 95% of the people in Thailand are Buddhists. They mostly practice Theravada Buddhism.

There is also the freedom to practice other religions. These are such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikh, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Animism.


What Is The Common Language Spoken In Thailand?

Since the first time I heard Thai, I loved listening to it. I find it so gentle and melodic. Thai would be one of the languages I would like to learn.

Besides the Thai language, many locals speak English, too. Especially those in the service industry such as those working in hotels, food and beverage, and retail. As a visitor, you can easily move about, and get things done.


What Are The Festivals and Public Holidays In Thailand?

While Thailand celebrates many international holidays, I do find that most of their public holidays revolve around Buddhism. It is the same for their festivals.

Here are some of the public holidays and festivals in Thailand:


What Are The Public Holidays In Thailand?

January 1, New Year

Usually in January or February, Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is one of the most famous holidays in Thailand. The best place to see is at Yaowarat, the Chinatown of Bangkok. There are lion and dragon dance performances as well as musical and dance performances too. Plus, the cacophony of firecrackers for a loud and exciting celebration.

Usually February or March, Makha Bucha Day

April, Chakri Day

Held across the country, this celebrates the Chakri Memorial Day. The holiday honors King Rama the First’s accession to the throne. This day is to commemorate the establishment of the Chakri dynasty, which is the current dynasty in Thailand today.

May 1, Labour Day

May, Coronation of King Vajiralongkorn

May, Visakha Bucha Day

Is this the same as Vesak Day or Wesak Day? I believe it is! The whole nation celebrates. And it is massive! Really beautiful and splendid. So good that I have to share three videos of how the Thais celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.

June 3, Queen Suthida’s Birthday

July, Asahna Bucha Day

This holiday celebrates the first sermon given by the Lord Buddha.

July, Khao Phansa Day

July 28 & 29, King Vajiralongkorn’s Birthday

August 12, Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s Birthday

October 13 & 14, Passing of His Majesty the Late King

October 23, Chulalongkorn Memorial Day

December 5, His Majesty the Late King’s Birthday

December 10, Constitution Day

December 25, Christmas Day


What Are The Festivals In Thailand?

Songkran

Songkran started as a Buddhist tradition practiced during the start of the traditional Thai New Year. Water was sprinkled lightly to cleanse and purify a person for the new year. People would also do spring cleaning for their homes, and gently pour water over Buddha statues.

Today, Songkran has evolved into the most fun and enjoyable festival in Thailand. Everywhere you go, people are splashing water at each other set to music with drinking and dancing. Any method to send water to people is game; water guns, hose pipes, buckets, etc. There are even water fights. All done in good fun.

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

When I visited Chiang Mai, my friend brought me to a market where flowers of many types are sold. It was really beautiful. So it comes tome as no surprise that you can watch breath taking floral displays everywhere in Chiang Mai during this festival.

There is a parade with impressively designed floats adorned with flowers of every size, color and species. Some floats come with drum and dance performances. If you really appreciate flowers, this festival is best for you.

Phi Ta Khon, also known as the Ghost Festival

This festival looks very similar to Halloween. It has locals dressed in costumes with decorated masks. The masks are ghastly faces decorated in bright and gaudy colors. And they go around scaring people. Doesn’t that sound like Halloween?

Oh, the children have lots of fun teasing people, too. Phi Ta Khon has become one of the biggest attractions. The tourists visit farming villages in the mountains of northeast Thailand just to experience this.

Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival

This event can rival the works of Madame Tussauds. There are intricate wax carvings created by talented artists. These works of art are displayed in a parade. The parade also has traditional music and dance performances.

The candlelit parade is a sight to behold. It is held at Ubon Ratchathani in southeast Thailand. The candles are believed to dispel gloom. Also, during this festival, the people donate food and clothing to monks.

Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Nong Khai Naga Fireballs)

A strange phenomenon is happening at Mekong River in Nong Khai. Every year in October during full moon, small vapourless pink fireballs appear.

They float to about 50 meters, and then disappear. They are now known as Mekong Naga Fireballs. Locals and tourists flock to this festival to watch this spectacular sight.

Lai Ruea Fai

Lai Ruea Fai commemorates the Buddha’s return the Earth with the end of Buddhist Lent. This is done with a procession of boats filled with thousands of lit candles, flowers, incense, and paper lanterns.

The boats are set alight, and launched down Mekong River. And of course, like any Thai festival, it also features delicious food sold at stalls, fireworks, religious offerings, dance and cultural performances.

Yi Peng Festival

I have been to the one at Chiang Mai, and I can tell you that the Yi Peng Festival was an awesome experience. Before the paper lanterns were lit, everyone was busy writing on a piece of paper that would be attached to the lantern.

Then at the same time, to the tempo of live performances and firecrackers, everyone released their lantern. The thousands of lanterns floating together to infinity is spectacular!

Loi Krathong Festival

A festival that is such a pretty sight that it inspired many well known photos. During Loi Krathong, also known as the Festival of Lights, a krathong which is a small, lotus-shaped floating vessel are sent off to the waters.

The vessel is usually made from banana leaves. They are decorated with flowers, incense, candles, and even a fingernail clipping or lock of hair.

This is to give thanks to the Goddess of Water for plentiful water supply. Also, to send away any bad things that happened in the past year.

Lopburi Monkey Banquet

It is the monkey’s special day! By feeding the monkeys, Thais believe they will be blessed with good luck. The feast includes long dining tables filled with food and fruits. Also celebrated in memory of Hanuman (Monkey God) who saved another god’s daughter from a demon.

Boon Bang Fai (The Rocket Festival)

Rockets are shot to the heavens in a plea to the gods, to bless the farming communities with rain and good harvest. And these are no mere vessels.

The rockets are huge, and give quite a big bang. They are displayed in a parade around the city, then launched almost at the same time.


What Is The Dress Code In Thailand?

When I was in Thailand, the outfits I wore depended on the occasion. For business, I would wear formal outfits like long sleeved shirt, tie, pants with leather shoes.

For sightseeing, and even dining at cafes or some restaurants, I would be in light and loose cotton clothing. This could be a polo t shirt with bermudas and casual shoes.

When visiting a temple. holy or official site, please be aware of the dress code and dress accordingly. See the video below to learn how to dress appropriately.


What Is The National Dress In Thailand?

The national dress in Thailand is called chut thai. The literal meaning is ‘Thai outfit’. For women, the costume consists of a pha nung, or chong kraben, a blouse and a sebai. For men, it is simpler. Just a sado, a white Manchu-styled jacket and a khian hua.

Do all the Thai terms for the clothing confuse you? I understand. I have no idea what is a pha nung or a sado, or any of the terms. So, I thought it better to show you in the video below.


What Is The National Sport Of Thailand?

Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing), is the national sport of Thailand. It has gained popularity in recent years, and is now a famous sport. What is Muay Thai? Here is a video to explain the fine details.

The popular sports in Thailand include soccer (or known as football in Thailand), takraw, tennis, and long-tail boat racing.


What Currency Can I Use In Thailand?

The currency used in Thailand is the Thai Baht. Other currencies are not accepted. So, please change your local currency to Thai Baht for your holiday.


How Is The Weather In Thailand?

The weather in Thailand is hot all year round. And yet, there is a relativity to the warmness. This created three types of seasons there.

The hot season is usually from March to June. The temperatures can get as high as 40 degrees Celsius. I have been to Bangkok during one of these months, and I can assure you that it gets really warm. You would look forward to spaces with cool air conditioning.

Then there is the rainy season, which is from July to October. There is heavy rain, and you would have thought the temperature would be cooler. But no. it is still high, but more tolerable. Though, it can be difficult for those who are used to dry weather as it can have high humidity.

Finally, the cool season is from November to February. These are my favorite months to visit Thailand. The climate is pleasant, and relatively drier. The temperature does not get higher than 35 degrees Celsius.


When Is The Best Time To Go Thailand?

The cool season, between November to February. As mentioned above, the climate is relatively cool and drier. Temperatures range from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius. But do take note that Bangkok can still be very warm.

I have been to Thailand during different times of the year. While it is best to go during the cool season, it is still ok to visit any other time of the year. After all, if you intend to experience Songkran, you still must visit in April, right?


How Is The Haze Situation In Thailand?

The haze has affected many cities in Southeast Asia. Fortunately, most of Thailand has escaped this terrible situation. But, in recent years, because the haze has become worse, the southern areas of Thailand has been hit by the haze.

Travel Tip: If you have chronic heart of lung conditions, or simply do not want to suffer unhealthy pollution situation, then avoid this period.


Where Are The Best Places To Visit in Thailand?

It is interesting to me that there are many beautiful and exotic cities in Thailand. They range from the cosmopolitan Bangkok to charming Chiang Mai to lush shores of Phuket. Each has something unique to offer.

Bangkok

The capital of Bangkok is the most popular destination of this country. And I can understand why. Every time I visit, I find something new to discover. And a renewed joy with things I already know of this city.

The rich history and culture created the Grand Palace, Wat Prakeaw, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Chinatown (Yaowarat), and even along the Chao Phraya River. At night, you can visit the night markets, or watch a cabaret show.

For your shopping pleasure, there are MBK (Ma Boon Krong), Pratunam, Platinum Fashion Mall, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Siam Paragon, and Central World, and many more.

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I will be writing more about Bangkok. To receive email notification when I publish the article, please join my I Love Travel community.


Chiang Mai

The slower pace in Thailand’s cultural capital appealed to me a lot. The ornate temples, the tasty and healthy food, the friendly locals, the many types of markets, and plenty more enthralled me.

My advice is to take your time to soak in the sights; Doi Suthep, Old City Temples, Wiang Kum Kum, Bo Sang Handicraft Village, Lanna Folklife Museum.

And if you prefer mountains, tribal villages and national parks, then venture a little further away to places such as the Doi Inthanon National Park, Karen Long Neck Tribe, Doi Pui Tribal Village and National Park.

I really enjoyed shopping in Chiang Mai. I found the art, antiques and handicrafts really well made and unique. You can get them at shopping malls. But I much prefer to shop at the markets and boutiques there.

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I will be writing more about Chiang Mai. To receive email notification when I publish the article, please join my I Love Travel community.


Pattaya

More than a decade ago, I had been to Pattaya for just a couple of days. And to be honest, the impression it left me was that it was filled with nightlife and sleaze. Thankfully, this city has evolved since.

Today, tourists flock to enjoy her stunning beaches, stay at gorgeous resorts, and have fun with exciting water sports. Oh, do not get me wrong. The scintillating nightlife is still there. After a day of playing and shopping, you have the bars and clubs to enjoy drinks and party.

For a break from all the sun soaked activities, you can visit the Sanctuary of Truth, Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, , Wat Phra Khao Yai (“Big Buddha Hill”), water parks, Khao Pattaya View Point on Pratumnak Hill, etc.

For some retail therapy, go to the Central Festival Pattaya, Royal Garden Plaza Pattaya, Pattaya Floating Market, Outlet Mall Pattaya, Central Center Pattaya, Thepprasit Road Night Market, Pattaya Night Bazaar, etc.

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Hua Hin

Once, I was asked if I have been to Hua Hin? I was in the wellness industry back then. And after a bit of research, I found out why my friend asked me that question. It turned out that Hua Hin is the spa and wellness center destination today.

Located at the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, Hua Hin is popular with the older tourists. As a seaside resort city, it has become a favourite place for people from all over the world to retire.

The lifestyle here is even slower than Pattaya. There are pristine beaches for sun tanning and water sports. Golf courses to while the hours away. Plus shopping malls and day and night markets to delight anyone.

Sights to see are plenty. Some of which are the Hua Hin Arts and Crafts Centre, the Klai Kongwan Palace, Khao Hin Lek Fai, Kaho Tao, Black Mountain Water Park as well as many more attractions.

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Phuket

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island. I have been there a few times, and found it to be lovely and enchanting.

Most of the activities at Phuket are at the sea and beach. Tourists laze along the white sandy shores with drinks next to them. Others would swim, snorkel, dive, jet ski, do parasailing, yachting and any other fun things to do at sea.

One of the really enjoyable things to do at Phuket is to take a boat and visit the islands nearby. The waters are crystal clear, and there is so much to see.

There is not much to shop at Phuket. Most of the time tourists look for souvenirs. Cultured pearls, nielloware, pewterware, and ornaments are some of the choices. If you really like to shop, there are a few malls; Central Festival, Phuket Town and Jungceylon in Patong.

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Koh Samui

Here is another island that many tourists talk about, and visit. It is located in the Chumphon Archipelego. And is the second largest island in Thailand, after Phuket.

The beautiful beaches that all visitors love are many. There are Chaweng, Lamai, the northern beaches, and the west coast beaches. The waters are so clear that scuba diving is one of the popular activities.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of stores offering wares at bargain prices. For your retail therapy, go to places like Central Festival Samui, Lamai Walking Street, Fisherman’s Village Walking Street, Chaweng Beach Road Shopping, Lamai Night Plaza, Chaweng Walking Street, Maenam Walking Street, The Wharf Samui.

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Krabi

The Krabi Province offers many places for the perfect seaside vacation. That is why it is the third most popular holiday destination in Thailand today.

Some of the places to visit are Ao Nang, Railay, Klong Muang, and the famous Phi Phi Islands. Each has their unique offerings. And each caters to a particular crowd.

I will be writing more about Krabi. To receive email notification when I publish the article, please join my I Love Travel community.


What Are The Food And Drinks in Thailand?

The first time I tried Thai food was during my first business trip to Bangkok. And after that first bite, I found that I loved their cuisine.

And there is so much food and drinks to enjoy. If you are a foodie like me, you would be thrilled too. I simply adore the taste of Thai cuisine. It has a blend of spicy, sour, bitter, sweet and salty.

One of my favorite dish is the famous and popular pad thai, the thai-style fried noodle. I also like the grilled chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. And you must try all the other dishes like tom yum goong (spicy shrimp soup), mango salad, gaeng daeng (red curry), and many more.

You can get these delicious food at street stalls. These are convenient and cheap. Other choices would be the food courts, riverside eateries, dinner cruises, food markets, cafes and restaurants.

Besides Thai food, many of these restaurants serve food from all over the world.

After dinner, you may like to get a drink at the numerous bars and clubs. There is a wide variety, and a type for everyone. Rooftop bars are very popular.


How To Get To Thailand?

By Airplane

I have always found it easy to get to Thailand by air. There are six international airports. There is the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok which is the main international hub of Thailand.

There are also international airports in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani, Koh Samui and Hat Yai.

Airlines that fly to Thailand include their national carrier that is Thai airways, Bangkok airways, Air Asia, Tiger Airways, Air China, Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, China Airlines, Emirates, Garuda, Jetstar, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

There are many more airlines that travel to Thailand. Do check with the ones in your country, and if they fly to this country.

By Train

Thailand share land borders with Burma, Laois, Cambodia and Malaysia. As such, there are ways to travel to Thailand by land. One of the way is to take the train.

You can travel to Thailand via the four main train lines; the northern, northeastern, southern and eastern lines. There are also three smaller lines that are the Mae Klong, Namtok Branch and the Airport Rail Link.

By Bus

If you like to be chaffeured and take your time to see a country, then the bus is your best option. There are buses that cross the borders from Burma, Laois, Cambodia and Malaysia. You can search for the bus services in the respective country you are traveling from.

By Car

It is best not to rent a car and travel by land to Thailand. The roads and routes can be confusing. Plus, car rental can be expensive.

By Boat / Ferry

There are boats and ferries that can transport you from Malaysia or Cambodia. They are few passenger services available, though.

By Foot

While it is possible, this mode of travel is not advisable. It can be difficult, and confusing.

Do You Need A Visa To Enter Thailand?

It depends on the country you are from. Citizens of ASEAN countries, like me, do not need a visa. If your country is not part of ASEAN, please do check with the Thai Immigration Bureau or the Thai Embassy or Consulate at your home country if you need a visa to Thailand.

If you do need one, you will need to apply before you travel there. Most visitors get a 30 day stay.


How To Get Around Thailand?

By Airplane

Domestic flights are expensive. But they are the quickest way to get from on Thai city to another. Choices of flights include Thai Airways, Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Scoot, Thai Lionair and Nok Air.

By Train

As mentioned above, there are railways that can take you from other countries to Thailand. These railways also can bring you from city to city within Thailand.

There are three classes of travel. The first class, of course is the best. Then there is the second class that offersgood enough comfort. Third class is the bare minimum with hard seats and no air conditioning.

By Ferry

There are so many beautiful islands to explore in Thailand. And the only way to travel to them is by ferry or boat. You can book a ride online or check the hotel where you are staying at.

Travel Tip: Avoid speedboats! The larger the vessel, the safer the journey

By MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)

Not all cities in Thailand have the mass rapid transit (MRT) trains. Only Bangkok has the MRT. I have used it whenever I was in Bangkok. And it is a very quick, efficient and convenient way to get around the city. The best part is, the MRT goes to many places of interest.

By Bus

Buses in Thailand go everywhere. It is the widest form of transportation. And cheap too! But you need to be family with the routes and schedules. Check with the hotel or hostel where you are staying at.

By Car

I mentioned it earlier. And I will say it here again. Do not rent a car in Thailand. It is expensive, the roads are confusing, and it may ruin your holiday.

By Taxi

Taxis can be really convenient to get around any Thai city. They can take you anywhere; the tourist attractions, shopping malls, to and fro your hotel.

The fares are not steep. It is best to go by the meter. If the driver refuses to put the meter on, simply get out of the cab. And get another. There are so many in every city.

By Grab

Grab is popular in Asia, and works like Uber. Many people prefer this transport service because it is convenient. Simply use the Grab app, get a ride that will pick you up wherever you are.

By Tuk Tuk

This mode of travel has been featured in the movies. It is especially interesting to people from countries where this does not exist.

They are like rickshaws but motorized. And it quite fun to travel around a city. Also, it is extremely convenient. The fares are really low, much lower than a cab or Grab.

Private Driver and Tour Guide

After my experience of having a private driver and tour guide in Bali, I am now all for this choice of getting around a city that I visit. What is there not to like?

It is so convenient to have a driver bring you and your group around, everywhere you like. Also, provide you with information of each place of interest.

You do not need to worry about parking or finding your next ride to and from any location.

Only concern in Bangkok is the traffic jams. If you are going to mostly move about in Bangkok, I suggest using the MTR where possible. Save the private driver and tour guide for rides to places further out the city.

By Foot

It is easy to get around on foot in any Thai city once you arrive at an area. But, do not do that when you need to get from one zone to another. The walk will be too far. And you will be too exhausted to enjoy the holiday.


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If you have ANY questions about Thailand – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Penang, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide

Penang Malaysia

I have to be totally honest. The city that I looked forward most during my 2018 road trip was Penang. I heard so much about the fascinating sights to see, and the superb tasting food and desserts. I tried as many as possible, and share about all that and more in this article – Penang, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide.

Before I continue, let me share this beautiful video about Penang, Malaysia. It is from a local’s perspective. And is a great watch.

Wasn’t that lovely? Now, let’s continue this journey of Penang. You will be learning about where this city is located? Also, about the people, culture, religion, and more.

More importantly, you will find out which hotel to stay at? What good food to enjoy? What are the things to see and do? And many more useful and helpful information.


Where is Penang, Malaysia?

After our adventure in Ipoh, we drove up the western coast to the northern part of Malaysia. Then we crossed a bridge that brought us to the island that is called Penang.

I really liked crossing the bridge. It reminded me of the time when I crossed the bridge from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island.

The capital of Penang called George Town is located on the island. Therer is also a part of Penang that is on the mainland. That is where the popular place called Butterworth is situated.

Butterworth. Isn’t that a delicous name? When I was a child, I loved sayiing this name – Butterworth. For some reason, it reminded me of butter, and its lovely salted and milky taste.

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Who are the People in Penang, Malaysia?

During my time at Penang, I found the people to be quite cordial. I mean, they are not unfriendly. At the same time, they are not warm.

It could be they are shy? To be fair, I did not have that much time or close engagement with them. Still, I find this video a charming representation of the people in Penang.


What is the Culture in Penang, Malaysia?

Like many other cities in Malaysia, Penang is a hot mix of various cultures. There are the Chinese, the Malay, Indians and many other races that add to a vibrant culture there.

One point I did note is that there is a heavy influence of Chinese culture here. The arts, culture, and even architecture exhibited some Chinese style.

Travel Tip: Please respect their culture.


What are the Religions in Penang, Malaysia?

As with any city in Malaysia, the major religion is Islam. And yet, because of the strong Chinese influence, the religions like Buddhism and Taoism are more apparent here.

Below is a cute video by three lovely ladies who share with us about the religions and cultures in Penang.


What is the Common Language Spoken  in Penang, Malaysia?

While Malay is still the dominant and national language in Malaysia, I did notice that most Chinese in Penang speak a Chinese dialect called Hokkien.

English is still a popular language, and commonly spoken here. As a tourist, I found it easy to communicate as most Penang people speak English.


What are the Festivals and Public Holidays in Penang, Malaysia?

Here are the public holidays and festivals that are celebrated in Penang. They are basically the same as the national holidays celebrated throughout Malaysia.

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • Chinese New Year
  • Thaipusam
  • May 1 – Labour Day
  • Vesak Day
  • Nuzul Al-Quran Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Hari Raya Adilfitri
  • Agong’s Birthday
  • George Town World Heritage Day
  • Birthday of the Governor of Penang
  • Father’s Day
  • Hari Raya Haji
  • Awal Muharram
  • August 31 – National Day
  • September 9 – Birthday of SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong
  • September 16 – Malaysia Day
  • Maulidur Rasul
  • Deepavali
  • December 25 – Christmas Day

To learn more about the above public holidays and festivals, please do visit my article about Malaysia. I cover it in more depth there.

Below are some of the festivals unique to Penang. They look like so much fun! Next time when I plan to visit Penang, I will make sure to plan and visit during one of the festivals. I recommend you do the same, too!


George Town Festival

I was so impressed when I found out that George Town has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kudos to Penang!

And of course there must be a festival to celebrate this. The month long festival has a wide variety of arts, dance and theatre performances, exhibitions, food, drinks, arts, crafts and more.

This is a very popular festival. Tourists from all over the world come to experience this heritage site. Book your hotel room and flight early to avoid disappointment.

Bon Odori Festival

Love Japanese food, arts, dance and culture? So do the people in Penang!

Join them for an enchanting time where they celebrate all things Japanese. Don’t forget to stay for the fireworks in the evening. I heard it is breath taking!

Nine Emperor God Festival

Near my home, there is a temple that celebrates the Nine Emperor God Festival. While I do not follow this event, I am always awed by the parade and the practice of mediums in a trance, being possessed by the spirits of the Nine Emperor God.

The festival lasts for nine days, during the first nine days of the ninth lunar month. It is believed that the spirit of the Nine Emperor God returns to Earth during this period.

Penang International Dragon Boat Race

I find dragon boat races exciting and exhilarating. And it is awesome they have it in many Asian cities. At Penang, the annual event is held at Teluk Bahang dam near George Town.

Competitors from different parts of Malaysia and all over the world come to race for the coveted first prize. Colorful traditional boats. Sounds of drums pounding to get your heart pounding. All this makes this one of the most exciting festivals in this city.

St Anne’s Festival

This is surely an experience that will be beautiful and uplifting. It is a homage to the patron saint, Saint Anne.

Every year, on July 29, the pilgrims flock to Bukit Mertajam. One of the highlights is the beautiful procession of devotees with each holding a lit candle.

Can you imagine the sight of this from above? So pretty, I am sure.

Penang International Food Festival

And of course, what is Penang without experiencing all the delicious food. This is a much looked forward annual 16-day event. Rows and rows of delectable choices. You will be in food paradise.

* Note – sadly this festival is canceled in 2020 due to Covid-19


What is the Dress Code in Penang, Malaysia?

When my friend and I visited Penang, the weather was hot! And I mean really hot!!!

So, it was a blessing to be able to walk all around town in casual wear. We were in shorts and t-shirt. And we noticed most tourists were in the same gear.

So, pack light. Have a great time in Penang!


What is the National Dress in Penang, Malaysia?

The National Dress is the same as for the entire country. You can see what it looks like in my Malaysia article.


What is the Popular Sport in Penang, Malaysia?

I am not much into sports. I did swim in the past but have not done that in a while. Nowadays, I prefer to do yoga.

Penang is much like the rest of Malaysia. The favored sports is football. The other sports that are popular are badminton, tennis, squash, golf, horse riding, sailing and martial arts.


What Currency Can I Use in Penang, Malaysia?

Holidays in Malaysia - Ringgit

All throughout Malaysia, the currency used is the Malaysian Ringgit.


How is the Weather in Penang, Malaysia?

I have found out that the weather in Penang is much like the weather in the rest of Malaysia. To find out more about the weather, please refer to my Malaysia article.


How is the Haze Situation in Penang, Malaysia?

I was very fortunate to visit Penang when there was no haze at all. I did find out that when there was haze, the situation was quite bad. Here is a video from a news channel about it.

The haze has been known to occur during the hot season. This is from May to October.

Travel Tip: Check the haze situation for Penang before traveling to this city.


Which are the Hotels to Stay in Penang, Malaysia?

We figured that we would be out most of the days, to see the sights and enjoy the great tasting food in Penang. Many Penang Hotels to choose from. So, we chose a budget hotel to suit the main purpose of simply a place to rest after a tired day of tourist duties.

Click the image below to read more about the Cititel Express Penang. There is also a short video in the review, for you to see what the room looks like.

Penang Hotels - Cititel Express
Penang Hotels – Cititel Express. Click image above to Read More

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What are the Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia?

Besides yummy food, there are many Things To Do in Penang. Here are a few of them.

Entopia Butterfly Farm

When I first heard of Entopia Butterfly Farm, my first thought was – what is the big deal? Just a place with many butterflies flitting everywhere, right? Boy, was I wrong!

This is one of the things you must do when you visit Penang. Click on the image below to find out why?

Yellow Glassy Tiger Butterfly
Yellow Glassy Tiger Butterfly at Entopia. Click image above to Read More

Kek Lok Si Temple

I love visiting religious sites. But what is there to see at Kek Lok Si Temple that can capture hours of attention? Click the image below to find out.

View of Circular Pavilion garden and Middle Prayer Hall
Kek Lok Si Temple – Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

Penang Street Art

What is the fascination with street art? Who was the famous artist? Where are the street murals? All this, and more information when you click on the image below.

One of the famous Street Art in Penang - Children on Bicycle
Penang Street Art – Click image above to read about this awesome attraction.

What Food to Eat in Penang, Malaysia?

When you visit this island, you must try the Penang Food! A whole vacation can be planned around this theme. In fact, this was the part I looked forward most to for this adventure.

Assam Laksa at Air Itam

Assam Laksa has gained popularity in Penang. The locals enjoy it. The tourists flock to this island to get a taste of this piquant dish. Click the image below to find out what the fuss is all about?

The Delicious Bowl of Assam Laksa - really good!
Assam Laksa at Air Itam. Click image above to read my review.

Cendol at Penang Road

Some people say this is still the best cendol in Malaysia. Some people say the one in Malacca is better. Click the image below to get more details from my review before you head to this popular place to try it.

The Famous Chendul aka Cendol, Chendol or Cendul
Cendol at Penang Road. Click image above to read my review.

Gurney Drive Hawker Centre

When I was a young boy, I remember my parents brought me to this famous eating place. It was charming and exciting for a lad like me back then. There was a wide variety of cuisine, and they were all delectable.

Is it all the same since then? Click the image below to find out.

Famous Indian Rojak stall at Gurney Drive
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre. Click image above to read my review.

Tiger Char Koay Teow

There are many food stalls that serve char koay teow in Penang. Many claim to be the best. What about Tiger Char Koay Teow? Is it as great as they purported? Click the image below to find out.

The famous Tiger Char Koay Teow from George Town, Penang
The famous Tiger Char Koay Teow from George Town, Penang. Click image above to read my review

Where To Go Shopping in Penang, Malaysia?

We only had time to visit one mall. And that was only because we were at Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.

It was Gurney Plaza, which was near the hawker centre. My friend parked our car there. It was convenient.

After dinner, we shopped around the mall. It was all right. Just like any shopping centre. Almost all the same brands and stores.

If markets are more your style, here are a few suggestions in this video.


Best Time to Visit Penang, Malaysia?

There are high season and low season to visit Malaysia. The same goes for visiting Penang. Each season has its pros and cons. For me, I prefer the low season so that I do not jostle with large crowds. Also, the hotel room rates are lower during this season.

To find out more about the two seasons, please go to my Malaysia article.


How To Get To Penang, Malaysia?

By Airplane

You can arrive at the Penang International Airport located in Bayan Lepas. Many airlines fly direct there.

Some of the airlines that can take you to Penang are the Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia, JetStar, Firefly and more.

I prefer JetStar. It is one of the safest budget airlines, according to airlineratings .com

By Train

There are no trains to the island side of Penang. But you can take the KTMB from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth. Then catch a cab to ride across the bridge to the island.

By Bus

There are buses from Singapore, and other cities in Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur to Penang. Do check for various transport providers for individual pricing and schedule.

By Road

I look back fondly at the road trip with my friend in 2018. We drove along the west coast of West Malaysia. And visited Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang.

From Ipoh to Penang, it took us about 2 hours, including a rest stop. We took the Lebuhraya Utara – Selatan/E1 highway.

Do You Need a Visa to Go to Penang?

Visitors from some countries can visit Malaysia, and all her cities without a visa. Some will need a visa. It is best to check the immigration websites to find out if you need a visa to enter.


How To Get Around Penang, Malaysia?

By Bus

This is a convenient and one of the cheapest way to explore Penang. The buses go to most main attractions, too. Check out the bus time table and routes.

There is also the Rapid Penang (RapidPG) bus that offers travel throughout Penang. It includes free onboard WIFI.

By Taxi

There are plenty of taxis in Penang. But, just like everywhere in Malaysia, please do negotiate the price, and agree on it before you board the cab.

By law, the taxis are supposed to go by meter. But many will claim otherwise and negotiate for a fixed rate.

By Grab

Private Hire Vehicles like Grab is available in Penang, Malaysia. I recommend using this service because it is so convenient. Also, prices are fixed before you confirm the ride. So, there is no problem with haggling or sudden increase in fare.

By Car

You have the choice to rent a car. Rental of cars is quite affordable. Just make sure the rental service is legit, and get insurance.

Alternatively, if you own a car, and drive to Penang, you can get around quite easily. My friend owned a car. And I found it very convenient.

We could choose where we would like to go, how long to stay at each attraction, cafe or restaurant. Some hotels even provide free parking. I highly recommend this choice of transport if you can have it.

By Motorcycle

It is cheap to rent a motocycle. And very convenient, too. Plus, you can enjoy a better view of the scenery as you ride around the island.

But, please be careful. There are many deaths due to riding on a motorcycle without a helmet. So, please do wear a helmet. Be safe.

By Trishaw

A trishaw is a tricycle with a front seat. The passenger sits on the front seat. The driver pedals the tricycle to transport the passenger around.

This is a charming way to explore Penang. But really slow. Do it only for the fun of it.


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If you have ANY questions about Penang, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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I have been to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia many times. In the past, I was there as a young boy with my family. Then I traveled often for work. My latest adventure was for a fun and exciting holiday. All these travels are shared in this article about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide?

In my latest adventure, my Malaysian friend and I decided to go on a road trip along the west coast of West Malaysia. I would arrive in Kuala Lumpur where he resided.

He showed me around Kuala Lumpur. Then we got in his car, and rode all the way to Ipoh, and stayed there for a few days. After a nice and relaxing time in Ipoh, we traveled to Penang.

It was really nice to visit all three cities. And even nicer to be shown the sight by a local. He shared with me a lot of local information about popular places, and introduced me to all the best places to eat.

It was a really great holiday. And I share the experience here with you.

In this article, I will provide as much information as I can. Some information would be from research. And some would be from experience.

You will learn about where Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is? Who are the people living there? The culture and religion in this town. The language spoken. The dress code to follow. Where to stay? What good food to enjoy? What are the things to see and do? And many more.


Where is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

As the capital of Malaysia, it is interesting to me that Kuala Lumpur is along the west coast of West Malaysia. And especially interesting that it is situated somewhere in the middle of the peninsula along that coast.

It does make Kuala Lumpur strategically located so that it is within reach, by land, of both Singapore and Thailand. And also easy access by sea to Sumatra.

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Who are the People in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

While Malaysia is multi-racial, the majority of the people in Kuala Lumpur is Malay. Chinese, Indian, Indigenous Tribes and other races are minorities.

While in Kuala Lumpur, I did find that most of the people are Malay. There are Chinese but not as many as in other towns like Ipoh and Penang.


What is the Culture in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

It is evident that the strongest cultural influence are from the Malay and the religion, Islam. Everywhere you go, you will see strong impact on almost any aspect of their lives.

At the same time, because of the other races and religions, there are subtle cultural influences from them. But these are mostly found at certain areas and sites.

Nevetheless, there is a level of tolerance in this country. And as such, each race and religion does celebrate their respective practices and festivals. This creates a colorful range of activities. See Festivals section further down for more information.

Travel Tip: Please respect their culture.


What are the Religions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

In Malaysia, there are many people with different beliefs. Some believe in Buddhism. Some in Hinduism. Some are Sikhs. And some are Christians. The majority in Malaysia follow their main religion, which is Islam. In Kuala Lumpur, the same can be said to be true.


What is the Common Language Spoken  in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

I would say the language to be Malay. In fact, I had a rather unpleasant experience in a shopping mall.

My friend and I were looking for the men’s clothing department. We asked a sales lady for directions in English. She smiled cheekily and answered in Malay. It was obvious she was doing it on purpose to force us to speak in Malay.

But we did not know the language. And we found it to be very rude of her to do that to a tourist. After all, the large departmental store was in the tourist hub. How can she not know how to speak English? Or is it that English is saved for people who only show white skin?

So, from that experience, I concluded that the common language spoken would be Malay. Or rather they expect you to learn and speak Malay. Strange thing was that in hotels and restaurants, they speak English.

Still, I did ask directions a few times on the streets. And most times, I would approach a Chinese or any other race rather than Malay. Because I did not wish to be caught in that same situation mentioned above.

Most times, I found that people were willing to speak in English. If you are fluent in Chinese, you can try to speak it with the local Chinese there. Most would be able to speak Mandarin.

Of course, if you are fluent in Malay, then good for you! You will find it easy to get around, get directions, and get a lot done in this country.


What are the Festivals and Public Holidays in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Here are the public holidays and festivals that are celebrated in Kuala Lumpur. They are basically the same as the national holidays celebrated throughout Malaysia.

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • Chinese New Year
  • February 1 – Federal Territory Day
  • Thaipusam
  • May 1 – Labour Day
  • Vesak Day
  • Nuzul Al-Quran Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Hari Raya Adilfitri
  • June 8 – Birthday of SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong
  • Father’s Day
  • Hari Raya Haji
  • Awal Muharram
  • August 31 – National Day
  • September 16 – Malaysia Day
  • Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
  • Deepavali
  • December 25 – Christmas Day

To learn more about the above public holidays and festivals, please do visit my article about Malaysia. I cover it in more depth there.

Below are some of the festivals unique to Kuala Lumpur.


Thaipusam in Batu Caves

This is a festival in honor of the Hindu god of war, Lord Murugan. It is an annual celebration that is colorful and lively.

Held at Batu caves annually, the Hindu community gathers to shower gifts of gratitude for prayers answered. This vibrant festival is best celebrated personally at Batu Caves. For now, watch this video to see what to expect.


Chinese New Year

In every country that has Chinese community, the Chinese New Year is celebrated. Simply because it is the start of the new year based on the Chinese calendar, or Lunar calendar.

What happens during this celebration? What do the Chinese do? Check out the two videos below for an introduction to this festival.


KL International Jazz Festival

This is an annual event that raises Kuala Lumpur as a centre for stylish live music. The festival attracts world class acts like Incubus, Linkin Park, Jason Mraz, and many more.

Love jazz? Don’t miss this.


1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival

This is one of the biggest sale events in Malaysia. And it is massive in Kuala Lumpur. Lasting for 2 months, you get big discounts on all types of products.


Mid-Autumn Festival

The mid-autumn festival is one of the festivals that I enjoy and love. It is a time for lanterns and mooncakes. The latter which is really yummy and tasty.

Here is a video about mid-autumn festival; how it started, why it started, the origin of mooncakes, and the festivities. Enjoy watching.


Deepavali

Deepavali is also known as Diwali. It is the Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus. It signifies the triumph over evil.

During Deepavali, Hindu families light candles and other sources of light to symbolize the dark being overcomed by the light. Families exchange gifts, enjoy feasts, and pray to their deities. Watch the video below for more information.


What is the Dress Code in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

For years, when I visited Kuala Lumpur, I dressed in bermudas or shorts with a light t shirt. My local Malaysian friend wears the same.

So, as a tourist, it is all right for you to wear the same light and casual wear. But do be mindful when you visit religious sites.

Ask the people in charge what is the correct clothing to wear. If required, most religious sites would offer a temporary wrap around the body or at least the lower part of the body.


What is the National Dress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

The National Dress is the same as for the entire country. You can see what it looks like in my Malaysia article.


What is the Popular Sport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Football, or soccer as known in other countries, is the most popular sport in Kuala Lumpur. Other sports like badminton, bowling, tennis, squash, golf, sailing and martial arts do get some attention, too.


What Currency Can I Use in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Holidays in Malaysia - Ringgit

All throughout Malaysia, the currency used is the Malaysian Ringgit.


How is the Weather in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

I have written in length about the weather in Malaysia. And it is the same weather for Kuala Lumpur. To find out more info, please refer to my Malaysia article.


How is the Haze Situation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Every year, there is haze situation in Southeast Asia. The haze does get worse in Kuala Lumpur. Partly because of it being a city, and has its own pollution issue, too.

The haze has been known to occur during the hot season. This is from May to October.

Travel Tip: Check the haze situation for Kuala Lumpur before traveling to this city.


Which are the Hotels to Stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Kuala Lumpur is a metropolis. And has many hotels and resorts for you to choose from. Here are a few that I have stayed at, and I share my experience with you.


The Face Suites Hotel Review

Looking for a hotel room that is like an apartment? Look no further. The Face Suites may be what you are looking for. And it is also very well situated. Read my review and watch the video walk-through to find out more.

Kuala Lumpur Hotels - The FACE Suites
The Face Suites Hotel. Click image above for more info.

Ramada Suites Kuala Lumpur City Centre

I just love staying at large hotel rooms. And better still, those that are like a small apartment. How does Ramada Suites measure up then? Is it near the city centre, according to its namesake? Read my review and watch the video to find out more.

Kuala Lumpur Hotels - Ramada Suites Kuala Lumpur City Centre - Bed & Sofa
Ramada Suites Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Click image above for more info.

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What are the Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

I have been to Kuala Lumpur many times. But nothing beats seeing the sights with a local friend. Through his eyes and with his explanations of each famous place, I learned more about this fascinating city.


Batu Caves

I used to think that Batu Caves was overrated. Then I finally really explored this place thoroughly. And I learned more about this ancient site. It was mind blowing. Click the image below or button further down to check out my story of my visit to Batu Caves.

Gigantic Lord Murugan Statue at one of the Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves
Batu Caves. Click image above for more info.

Getting to Batu Caves

On a budget when visiting Kuala Lumpur? Wonder what is the best way to travel to Batu Caves at a reasonable price? And is this a comfortable ride? You must read about how we got to Batu Caves.

Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Getting To Batu Caves via train
Getting to Batu Caves. Click image above for more info.

Petaling Street

Every traveler to Kuala Lumpur will eventually visit Petaling Street. Why is that so? Click on the image or button below to find out.

Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur - Petaling Street - Entrance
Petaling Street. Click image above for more info.

Petronas Twin Towers – Icon of Malaysia

This is known as the icon of Malaysia. Not just Kuala Lumpur. But the whole of Malaysia. It has been featured in advertisements, magazines, brochures, TV shows and even top grossing movies. Click the image below to learn more about this amazing sight.

Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - the Petronas Twin Towers at night
Petronas Twin Towers. Click image above for more info.

More Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur >>>


What Food to Eat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

I have always loved the great taste of Kuala Lumpur food. There is so much to try. And so many that are simply scrumptious. While impossible to cover it all, I did my best to feature some of the best here.


DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe and Store

This super heroes theme cafe was eye catching. Nestled inside a shopping mall, it could easily be looked over. But with that awesome, bright and colorful window display, there is no way you would miss it. Come read my experience shopping and eating at this super duper place.

DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe and Store. Click image above for more info.

Kinjuku SetiaWalk Mall

Unfortunately, my friend has informed me, that this place has closed down. It served really good Japanese food. It was an all you can eat buffet. Come read and see what you missed.

Best Places To Eat In Kuala Lumpur - Kinjuku SetiaWalk Mall Review - Header
Kinjuku SetiaWalk Mall. Click image above for more info.

Madam Kwan’s at KLCC

This is a well known eatery. Why is that so? And who is Madam Kwan. What food does this place serve that is so popular? Find out when you click on the image or button below.

Madam Kwan KLCC - Outside Restaurant, Front
Madam Kwan’s at KLCC. Click image above for more info.

More Best Places to Eat in Kuala Lumpur >>>


Where To Go Shopping in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Besides all the sightseeing and eating, shopping is the next best and fun activity in Kuala Lumpur. There are so many malls in the city. It is just crazy Watch the video below to help you narrow down to which mall or malls to visit.


Best Time to Visit Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

There are high season and low season to visit Malaysia. The same goes for visiting Kuala Lumpur. Each season has its pros and cons. For me, I prefer the low season so that I do not jostle with large crowds. Also, the hotel room rates are lower during this season.

To find out more about the two seasons, please go to my Malaysia article.


How To Get To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

By Airplane

When you fly in from another country, you will arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). This is the main international airport that is located in the Sepang district of Selangor.

I know this because I flew in from Singapore, and I arrived at KLIA. One thing to note is that the airport is approximately 45 kilometers from the city centre. I had a choice to take the taxi or call a Grab car. I chose the latter. It was easy and hassle free.

For my latest holiday, I took the AirAsia flight I did not like it as much as JetStar. Next time, I would choose JetStar.

There are many other airlines that fly to Kuala Lumpur. For example, Malaysian Airlines, Malindo Air, Bangkok Airways, British Airways, China Airlines, Emirates, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, and plenty more.

Travel Tip: Find out if your preferred airline flies to Kuala Lumpur International Airport

By Train

You can take a train from Thailand or Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. And vice versa. You go to and from the station called KL Sentral.

You can also take the train to arrive at Kuala Lumpur from the other cities and towns of Malaysia. As long as there is a train line and station to that town or station.

For example, here is my ride experience from Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves. I took the same train back to Kuala Lumpur. Watch the video to see how I traveled from Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) to Batu Caves.

By Bus

There are buses from Singapore or Thailand to Kuala Lumpur. And also from Kuala Lumpur to these countries. Do check for various transport providers for individual pricing and schedule.

By Road

It is true that I took a flight to Kuala Lumpur. But we did go on our road trip back from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. And let me tell you that it was a really long journey. It was nearly 6 hours drive, including one refreshment and toilet stop.

It was fun. But after a few hours of nothing but roads and mountains, it was a little boring. So, I had to chat with my friend a lot to keep him awake and alert.

The good news is that there are highways that made it a quicker ride. To go from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, we traveled on the Lebuhraya Utara – Selatan/E1. If you are unfamiliar with roads in Malaysia, download an app called Waze. It will help you travel easily from one point to another in Malaysia.

Do You Need a Visa to Go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Visitors from some countries can visit Malaysia, and all her cities without a visa. Some will need a visa. It is best to check the immigration websites to find out if you need a visa to enter.


How To Get Around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

By Train

Hooray! Kuala Lumpur now has Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). And it is quite easy to get around using this choice of transport. See the above video about getting to Batu Caves? The initial part of the journey was via MRT. Watch to see how easy it was to buy a ticket, and travel on the MRT.

Travel Tip: MRT can take you to many attractions such as KLCC, Central Market and even their National Museum.

By Bus

If you are mainly traveling within the city, and going to popular places as well as shopping districts, the good news is that there is a free Go KL bus service for you. It is air conditioned and quite comfortable. Best part of this is that it is a free bus service.

If you are traveling further away from the city, and into the various districts, then it is better to go by taxi, Grab or your own transport.

By Taxi

Travel by taxi in Kuala Lumpur is very convenient. There are plenty of taxis. But do take note that it is best to go by meter.

But ultimately, from my experience, most cab drivers haggle for a fixed price. If you are comfortable to pay for the asking price, then agree and get in.

By Grab

Private Hire Vehicles like Grab is available in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I recommend using this service because it is so convenient. Also, prices are fixed before you confirm the ride. So, there is no problem with haggling or sudden increase in fare.

By Car

If you drive in with your own car or rent a car, then this is a good option. This is because you have the freedom to travel wherever you like. Only thing is if you are unfamiliar with Malaysia, you may end up getting lost. Do get the Waze app.

For me, I prefer Grab. Of course, I have a friend in Kuala Lumpur, and he is really nice. Whenever I visit Kuala Lumpur, he would do his best to drive me around. Bless him.

Travel Tip: Rental of cars is quite affordable. Just make sure the rental service is legit, and get insurance.


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If you have ANY questions about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Phnom Penh – The Ultimate Guide

Phnom Penh - The Ultimate Guide

When I decided to visit Cambodia, I was torn between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Each has its merits. Eventually, I decided on the latter. And I share my experience in this article titled, Phnom Penh – The Ultimate Guide.

In the months that led to my travel to Phnom Penh, every day I searched on the Internet about this city. I watched YouTube videos to learn a bit more.

I was interested in the people, the culture and religion. What festivals do they celebrate? What is the acceptable dress code and what clothing should I pack in my luggage?

Also, what currency do I bring to pay for food, sightseeing, transportation and shopping? How is the weather there in October (when I visited)?

What are the sights to see? What food to eat? Which are the places that serve the best tasting food? And how do I get around Phnom Penh?

Thankfully, besides the Internet, I had a local friend and tour guide who helped me have a lovely time in Phnom Penh. The information here is partly from what I learned from my friend.

Meantime, if you are curious about Phnom Penh, Cambodia, here is a video from their tourist board promoting their beautiful country, and all she has to offer.


Where is Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

Cambodia is a country that is landlocked by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh. It is also the largest city in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh covers the lower south area of the center of the country, and has the Mekong River along the east perimeter of the city. It is also the political, economic and cultural centre of the nation.

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Who are the People in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

There around 1.5 million people in Phnom Penh, and I had the great fortune of meeting one of them. He was a nice guy and a talented photographer. He was an excellent example of the Cambodian people. He was gentle, polite, warm and friendly.

I discovered a well produced video titled – People of Cambodia. It does reflect the people in Phnom Penh too. The video highlights the many different races and lifestyles of the people in Phnom Penh. Do watch the less than 3 minute video to get a snapshot of who are the people in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?


What is the Culture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

The culture in Cambodia is uniquely Khmer. Yet, it can be said that there were many contributions to the Cambodian culture by the French, the Theravada Buddhism, the Angkorian culture, and even the Indians through Hinduism.

The culture throughout the country is mostly the same. The current state of the culture is an amalgam of cultures from the French, the Theravada Buddhism, the Angkorian, and the Indians. For the latter, Hinduism played a major role in shaping the culture that it is today.

The people are generally quite shy. In the video below, you can see the shyness of the young man as he shares 7 tips about their culture. Good to know before you travel to any part of Cambodia.

What are the 7 Cultural Tips?

  1. When going into a house, take off hat and shoes before entering.
  2. When meeting the elderly, take off hat as well.
  3. Cambodians respect the head. Don’t touch someone’s else’s head.
  4. In Cambodian culture, men and women show respect for each other by not touching.
  5. Don’t hug someone of the opposite sex. Hugging is not big in Cambodian culture. The tradtitional greeting is putting hands together under the chin.
  6. If you invite someone out for coffee or a meal, it is assumed that you are the one to pay.
  7. Most of the time, Cambodians will refuse the first time something is offered. Ask 3 times.

What are the Religions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

Buddha Image at Silver Pagoda - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

When I was in Phnom Penh, I could see clearly that Buddhism is the religion most Cambodians practice. In fact, I found out that it is the official religion of Cambodia.

A minority follows Islam and Christianity. There is even tribal animism being practiced there.

Below is an enlightening video about religions in Cambodia. It features many Buddhist temples that I visited when I was there.

Just for interest, here is a video about a typical life of a Cambodian Buddhist monk. It is truly fascinating to watch.


What is the Official Language Spoken in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

During the Angkorian period, the Cambodian language was heavily influenced by the Indian languages – Sanskrit and Pali. Officially known as Khmer, the Cambodian language has the world’s largest alphabet.

It is a very complex language, and can be hard to pronounce accurately. One of the reasons is that there are different consonants that can have different vowel sounds. While it is hard to learn Khmer, it is a fun language to learn, too. Watch the video for a foreigner’s view on this.

Most of the people also speak English. So, if you speak English, traveling around and communicating with the locals is not a problem

I found that traveling in Phnom Penh is easy because most of the Cambodians speak English. Here is the video of the nice young man again. This time, watch as he introduces you to common sentences spoken in Khmer.


What are the Festivals and Public Holidays in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

I was in Phnom Penh during the month of October. And my friend informed me that the popular Water Festival and Boat Racing was just over. How I wished I had known earlier about this exciting festival!

Ah well. Maybe next time.

Meanwhile, I made a list of the public holidays and festivals in my article about Cambodia. Do go to that article and read about them. There are interesting videos to about each of the festivals and holidays. Especially if you plan to visit and experience the holidays or festivals there.

Here are some of the public holidays and festivals in Cambodia that are also celebrated in Phnom Penh:

  • January 1, New Year
  • January 7, Victory Day over Genocide
  • Usually January or February, Chinese New Year
  • Usually in February, Meak Bochea
  • March 8, International Women’s Day
  • April 14 to 16, Khmer New Year
  • Usually April or May, Visak Bochea
  • Usually April, QingMing Festival
  • May 1, Labor Day
  • Usually in May, Royal Ploughing Ceremony
  • May 13 to 15, King Norodom Sihamoni’s Birthday
  • May 20, National Day of Remembrance
  • June 1, International Children’s Day
  • June 18, Royal Birthday of the King Mother Queen Monineath Sihanouk
  • September 24, Constitution Day
  • Usually September or October, 3 days Celebration, Pchum Ben
  • Usually September, Silkworm Festival
  • Usually September or October, Mid Autumn Festival
  • October 15, Commemoration Day of King’s Father, King Norodom Sihanouk
  • October 23, Paris Peace Agreement Day
  • October 29, Coronation Day of King Sihamoni
  • November 9, Independence Day
  • Usually October or November, 3 days of Celebration, Water Festival
  • Usually November or December, Kite Flying Festival

Again, if you like to learn more about the above holidays and festivals, please go to my article about Cambodia. More details and videos to watch there.


What is the Dress Code in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

You will be pleased to know that the dress code for touring and shopping is casual wear. I was even able to watch a show in a casino wearing bermudas and t shirt.

But when I visited sacred and holy sites like temples, I was mindful to wear according to the requirements. First of all, be respectful. Do not wear revealing clothing like sleeveless tops, tank tops or shorts not covering the knees.

Before you enter any sacred or holy place, you have to take off your shoes, sandals, or any head wear such as a hat or cap. To help you know what to do correctly, watch the video below by His Excellency Sok Sangvar about the code of conduct when visiting a holy place in Cambodia.


What is the National Dress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

I covered this topic in my Cambodia article. Just to summarize, there is the krama worn by men and women as an accessory. The sampot to wrap the lower part of the body. For the women, there is the Av Pak to wear with the sampot. This is a blouse that can be also done ornately for formal wear or special occasions.

To see how the designs and clothing look like, watch the video below.


I think you can guess by now that boat racing is a really popular sport in Phnom Penh. It is called Bon Om Tuuk, and is held at the end of the rainy season.

Many people love this exciting festival, and they sit along the Mekong riverside to watch the boat racers compete. Watch the video below to see the excitement and fanfare.


What Currency Can I Use in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

US Dollars

Before I arrived at Phnom Penh, I learned that the official currency in Cambodia is the Riel (KHR).

At the same time, I also learned that most businesses accept US Dollars (USD). I asked my local friend, and he confirmed that, as a tourist, it would be best for me to pay for stuff using USD.

Travel Tip: Do be careful with the USD you bring. There MUST NOT BE any stains or damage to the notes. If there are, the locals will not accept it.

I had one USD ten dollars that had a small coffee stain. I did not notice it at the money changer. When I tried to use it to buy some food at a local supermarket, the note was refused. Fortunately, when I returned to Singapore, the money changer took it back with no questions asked.


How is the Weather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

The climate in Phnom Penh is tropical. There are basically two seasons. There is the dry season and the wet or rainy season. The dry season is from December to April, and the rainy season is from May to November.

I learned that this is important to know because the rainy season can be a damper and ruin the travel experience. Conversely, the hotel rates during the dry and cool season are high. So, I tried to find a balance where I get to enjoy lower hotel rates and really nice weather.

Usually, the weather is cool in Phnom Penh from November to February. This is the best time to visit the city. The weather is pleasant, and there is no rain.

Travel Tip: The cool season is also the peak season when many tourists visit Phnom Penh. If you wish to enjoy lower hotel rates, avoid this season.

I do not like weather that is too hot. It makes it difficult to truly enjoy the tour. If you are like me, and do not like hot climate, then avoid going to Phnom Penh from March to June.

If you do not mind rain, then May till November is ideal for you. And it may not rain all day, too. Usually, the mornings are dry. Then it pours in the afternoon. And it can be brief.

For more information about the weather and the best time to visit Phnom Penh, watch the video below.


Which are the Hotels to Stay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

There are plenty of hotels and guest houses in Phnom Penh. So many that I had a hard time trying to choose. Then I remembered that Phnom Penh is bordered by the Mekong River on the east.

So, that became the first criteria for my choice of hotel. It helped as it narrowed down the list. Finally, I found The Bridge Club Hotel. It offered rooms with high floors that had floor to ceiling window that presented an awesome view of the Mekong River and the city.

Phnom Penh Hotels Review - The Bridge Club - Featured Image
Phnom Penh Hotels Review – The Bridge Club. Click image above to read review and watch video of hotel, room, facilities, amenities and unforgettable view of Mekong River.

Click here or the image above to read about my experience at this great hotel. My review includes a video of the hotel room, facilities, amenities and the magnificent view of Mekong River.


What are the Things To See in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

“What is there to see in Phnom Penh?” That was a question many of my friends asked when they found out that I was traveling to this place.

To be honest, I too wondered if there was enough to see to fill five days and four nights stay. I need not have to be concerned.

Thanks to my local friend, I soon realized that there were so many places to visit, and so many things to see. He knew all the best sights to experience.

There was the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Independence Monument, King Statue, the National Museum, Nagaworld, night markets, and many pagodas as well as the well liked riverside and boat cruise.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpLpNPFnwPs/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

I will be writing about all these places soon. So, please join my I Love Travel Community to get updates when I publish articles about them.


What Food to Eat in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

Whenever I visit a city in Asia, I would like to try the local food there. I was curious about the local fare, and my friend happily introduced me to some of the really best places to eat in Phnom Penh.

Most of the cafes and restaurants we patronized served Cambodian dishes. These were accompanied with a bowl of rice. There are also dining spots that serve International cuisine such as western food, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. And of course, there is the famous local boat noodles.

Click on the image below to read my review of this quaint boat noodle restaurant.

Phnom Penh Restaurants - Featured Image

Most Cambodians drink tea and rice wine. Of late, the younger generation has acquired a taste for coffee. Hence, coffee chains like Starbucks has entered the market. There was one just around the corner from the hotel where I stayed.

This coffee drinking trend has created local coffee chains and the small coffee places that many locals and expats frequent. One of the most popular is the Brown Coffee. I tried this joint, and I must say I was impressed with the excellent brew they serve. Plus, of course the yummy cakes.


Where To Go Shopping in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

There are many wet markets, day markets and night markets to shop at in Cambodia. These are markets where you can find cheap local food, household items, arts, handicrafts, fake branded goods, clothes, and accessories.

Like many of the Asian city counterparts, Phnom Penh has many local markets. There are the wet markets, the day markets and the night markets. At these markets, you can find many cheap products.

Travel Tip: Beware! The ‘branded goods’ at the markets are fake.

If you like to get genuine branded products, head for one of the large shoppping malls there. There was an Aeon Mall just behind the Bridge Hotel where I stayed. It was a nice respite from a hot day touring in the sun. Also, it was where I bought drinks and fruits at local prices from the supermarket.

Watch the video below to learn what are the top 5 shopping malls in Phnom Penh. The first mall featured in the video was the Aeon Mall I frequented.


How to Get to Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

By Airplane

I flew by Jetstar and arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport, the largest airport in Cambodia. It was a good, safe and short flight from Singapore.

Of course, there are many airlines that fly direct to Phnom Penh. Some of the airlines are AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, China Airlines, EVA Air, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, SilkAir, and many more. Check online to find out which ones suit your needs.

By Train

The only train to Phnom Penh is from Hua Lamphong, Thailand to Phnom Penh Station. You have to take via Poipet. The entire journey is about 17 hours! Better to take a plane, right?

By Bus

There are private bus companies that provide transport to Phnom Penh. These are from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon. If you are coming from these cities, and decide to take the bus, check with the right bus companies.

Travel Tip: When traveling from one city to another, it is best to take the day buses. Night buses have high rate of accidents.

By Road

The most popular way to Phnom Penh via road is from Bangkok. You can rent a taxi or a car and drive in to the country. Oddly enough, when you travel by taxi or car, you can arrive in Phnom Penh faster than by bus.

By Boat / Ferry

There is only one ferry that goes to Phnom Penh. And that is from Vietnam. It is run by a ferry company called Mandarin Cruises. Go to them to check for further information such as sailing schedules.

On Foot

It is very difficult to travel by foot into Phnom Penh. Consider the above options instead. Best to choose to fly there.


Do You Need a Visa to Visit Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

Most visitors to Phnom Penh require a visa in advance. For some, you can get a visa upon arrival at the Phnom Penh International Airport. Best to check with the official Cambodian immigration website for more accurate details

People from ASEAN countries do not need to get a visa, as long as the stay is not more than 21 or 30 days (depending on the country). ASEAN countries include Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, and Myanmar. Again, it is best to check official resources to confirm this.


How to Get Around Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

After you arrive in Phnom Penh, you will find there are a few ways to get around the city.

By Bus

There are city buses that is one of the most used public transportation by locals. As a visitor, you can try this mode of transport too. But it will take a lot of effort to understand the bus routes and schedules.

The upside is that the bus fares are very low. At the point of time this article is written, the fare can be as low as USD0.25.

While cheap and almost convenient, do not that the buses do not have air conditioning. And during peak hours, they can get very packed.

By Taxi

Taxis are plenty, and easily available. It is rather safe to take a taxi. One advantage is that the drivers speak English and usually are very knowledgeable about the city they drive in.

Travel Tip: Negotiate for the price you are willing to pay before you ride the cab.

By Grab

Today, in cities like Phnom Penh, Grab is very popular, and the choice for locals and tourists. This is a service where you can get a cab or a Grab driver (for example an owner of a private car) to drive you to your destination. It is exactly like Uber.

All you have to do is download the app, and fill in your details. Then use the app to ‘hail’ a vehicle to get you to your destination.

By Cyclo

These are like the rickshaws or trishaws in other cities in Southeast Asia. The passenger sits on a large chair (sometimes can fit two people), that is fitted to a three-wheeled vehicle. The driver peddles to get the vehicle moving.

The advantage of this is that you get a clear view of all surroundings because the top cover can be pulled back. Also, this is relatively cheap.

The downside is that you will get wet when it rains.

By Moto

Motos are basically motorcycles that act as taxis. It is quite common in countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

It is very cheap and convenient. As a motorcycle, they can easily maneuver around other vehicles and not get stuck in any traffic jams.

Downside is you will get wet when it rains.

Travel Tip: You must wear a helmet, even as a passenger. The driver must provide you one. If you are caught without a helmet, the police will catch you and extort some money from you.

Tuk Tuk in Cambodia

By Tuk Tuk

Like Thailand, there are Tuk Tuks in Cambodia that drives people around the city. It is basically a passenger carriage on a three-wheeled motor vehicle.

It is much cheaper than traveling by a taxi.

Travel Tip: Grab service in Phnom Penh offers the option to ride in a Tuk Tuk. Give it a try!

By Foot

Most visitors travel around by Tuk Tuks or Grab. At times, when an attraction is nearby, you can consider traveling by foot.

But please be careful when crossing roads. The traffic lights can be confusing. And sometimes cars do not follow the lights.

Travel Tip: It is best to travel by Tuk Tuk or Grab.


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If you have ANY questions about Phnom Penh – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus