TRAVEL - 10 THINGS TO DO IN DALAT, VIETNAM!



Da Lat is a beautiful mountain town in Vietnam's Central highlands. Around 3 hours in land from Nha Trang. Due to the high altitude and heavy rainfall it's surrounded by bushy mountains, waterfalls and the famous Da Lat flowers! The streets are lined with coffee shops and street sellers flogging fluffy ear muffs and big puffer jackets, (worlds away from what we've seen so far in Vietnam.)
For such a small town hidden away in the mountains, Da Lat has a lot to offer tourists, with a number of these being unique to Da Lat it self!

We went on a guided tour organised by our backpackers Mr Happy's Hostel and here's a list of the top 10 places we visited during our stay.



Lang Biang Mountain




Located just a short drive out of the city, following fields of famous Dalat flowers and crops you'll find Land Biang Mountain. Standing at 2,167 meters (7,110ft) above sea level, you'll be able to take in the incredible view of Da Lat and it's rich agricultural background.

Hang Nga Guest House - Crazy House



Da Lat is famous among many travelers thanks to Dang Viet Nga and her unique architecture. Dang Viet Nga studied in Moscow before heading to Dalat to build her somewhat strange fixtures. Crazy House is a strange cement guest house that doubles as a maze/mind boggling escape for tourists. We spent around 2 hours visiting all the rooms and climbing over the room of one of the buildings. If you really want to you can even sleep here!


Maze Bar (100 roofs)



Maze Bar is another interesting architectural spot famous in Da Lat. The name pretty much gives it away, Maze (You're going to get lost here) and Bar (you are going to get drink here) Add them both together, whats the worst that can happen?
Luckily, we had our guides from Mr Happy's Hostel showing us around the bar so we didn't get lost - but it's easy to see why. There are multi level turning stair cases and hidden drop downs that take you to different areas of the bar. My favourite spot being the cosy balcony where we could enjoy a few drinks.
Once you arrive, there's no entry for the bar, but you need to buy a drink to get in. I went for an alcoholic cookie dough smoothie, my partner had a vodka and lemonade. We visited twice, once in the evening and once in the morning. There's even a large back garden for you to sip in the sun!

Elephant waterfalls




We visited the Elephant water falls during a day tour with our scooter guides - it's a bit out of the city but 100% worth it. It's an incredible ride passing amazing views and long, winding roads. Be warned - if it's raining the ground is very slippy. You can view it from the top - but it's so much better hearing the water crash at the bottom.

Catch the Cable Car to Truc Lam Pagoda




We headed up to the cable car on our first day in Da Lat. It was only a 10 minute walk up the hill and pretty damn cheap. Once you reach the other side of the beautiful, grassy ravine - you'll find yourself at Truc Lam Pagoda. This stunning complex features a variety of traditional Asian architecture. You'll easily spot the Pagoda while you're walking around, and you'll even spot a few of the monks that live on the land while they go about their daily routine. You can either head straight back down the cab;e car to where you started; or if you want to explore more, I would highly recommend following the path around the fishing pond and making your way down to Xuan Huong Lake.

Xuan Huong Lake



Situated right in the middle of Dalat City, this artificial lake is shaped like a crescent moon and approximately 7km all round. It's surrounded by dense pine forests, green lawns and wonderful flower displays. It's great for those who love to walk (or even run)
The water is perfectly still, and on a brighter day works as a mirror image of the sky above. Grab one of the swan shaped peddle boats and go explore!

Linh An Pagoda



Linh An Tu Pagoda is somewhat over looked. It doesn't show up on many guides we found online but our tour guides brought us here after visiting the Elephant Falls.
The grounds are full of multiple buildings of worships and decorated with stunning art work and religious statues throughout. Our favourite being the Giant Happy Buddha in the garden behind the main hall.

Thien An Cricket Farm



Now this one is hit or miss. It's a weird set up of a wine distillery, petting zoo and cricket farm?
There's three sections you're able to walk around, the first being the wine distillery. We entered into an underground passage way that's filled with ceramic bottles/trophies - each containing different types of wine, it's a narrow walk around but still interesting for the short time you can cope down there. Once you're out the other end you're met by 3 crocodiles in a tiny pen with little water. This is where it gets a bit strange and off putting. Outside there were crocodiles, a deer and three big ass, scary ostrich! All in tiny cages that must be ancient.

Then you quickly run past the giant birds into the indoors zoo. This includes hedgehogs, rabbits and guinee pigs that you can pick up and pet (very cute, but too many in one cage again)
Get's weirder.... porkie pines! literally a family of porkie pines places in a tiny cement cage.. this is not a place for animal lovers - and last animal being the main attraction are the crickets. I did't know crickets could be so small, literally less than 1cm long there are baby crickets everywhere!

Last on your tour of the cricket farm is the wine testing. They had EVERYTHING, we tried grass wine, rice wine, snake wine and a few shots of 'Happy Water' (still no idea what that is) and tucked into some crickets while there too.

Pongour Waterfall.




By far the most famous in the area, Pongour Waterfall is a great day out! Easy to get reach view the wide gravel pathways, along with steps and rope that'll help you make your way down to the viewing point. Pack a picnic because it's the perfect place to stop and relax while you watch the water come crashing down the wide cliff face. You are able to walk onto the waterfall itself, but please be aware it is slippy and the signs do tell you not to!

Mr. Loc's weasel coffee farm



The majority of Weasel coffee and special wines come from Dalat, so we were super excited to head to Mr Loc's Weasel Coffee Farm to explore! (Michael loves coffee, i love cute weasels so win win!) If you are into coffee culture then this is the place for you, Weasel coffee is seen as one of the most Gourmet coffees in the world. Basically, a Weasel eats the coffee beans, his insides have special powers to make that coffee bean magical and then poops it out - and then its used like a normal coffee bean. Science.
Here they'll walk you through the process, you can see the fields of beans, the weasels (and some cute dogs) and at the end grab yourself a cup of Weasel coffee!

Stephanie xoxo

TRAVEL - CITY BACKPACKERS HQ - BRISBANES BEST BACKPACKER HOSTEL!


We're officially half way through out trip down the East Coast of Australia and in the lively city of Brisbane! If you want to be in the heart of Brisbane, make lots of buddies and not break the bank then look no further than City Backers HQ. With rooms to suit every type of backpacker and offering plenty of high quality facilities - you will not be disappointed!

We partnered with City Backpackers HQ for our first 4 nights in Brisbane, and to say we were thrilled with our stay would be an understatement. We made new friends, got to have a dip in the pool while looking over the city skyline, had a few $5 beers in their onsite bar and so much more!

If you're thinking of heading to Brisbane soon and looking for a recommendation then here is an honest review about our experience during our stay at City Backpackers HQ. Covering everything you want/need to know about the hostel and why you HAVE to stay there. Happy reading!


The Location
As stated at the start, you are literally in the heart of Brisbane. It's just a 10 minute walk over to the science center, museum, art gallery and so much more. There is a fantastic pub on site - but if you fancy venturing out to a local gem, I highly recommend The Fox Hotel - which is only a 15 minute walk away. There is a cinema and Aldi just across the road, and you're a two minute walk from the nearest City Cycle Rack. Let's not forget that you're just far enough out of the city to make the venue relatively quiet from noise and commuting - and bonus, you get this amazing view of the city!


How to book

Booking is really simple. You can either book your stay directly through their website to guarantee the best price possible. Including discounts for booking a one week or more stay. Alternatively, City Backpackers is available on the majority of booking websites including Booking and Hostelworld. You are able to book anything from a bed in a 16 bed dorm, female only room or a couples room.


The Room
During our time at the hostel, we stayed in a private double room which looked over the decking with a view of the city. Our room was spotless, included curtains, a mirror and also had a clothing rail we could hand our outfits. There was room for us to slide our backpacks under the bed and plenty of room to walk around the room as we needed.
Even though our room looked over the decking, we couldn't hear the other backpackers outside the window - they we're either really quiet all the time or the glass just blocked it out. The room across the hall was an 8 bed dorm, it would be a bit noisy while the guys were getting ready for the evening, but normally died down around 9pm when every one hit the bar.
Directly across the hall from our room was a small toilet, perfect for people like me who need a loo all the time! and literally 5 steps away were the communal bathrooms.


The Atmosphere.

This hostel is super chilled. I really liked how there was only a small desinated smoking area in the corner of the balcony. It mean't the smell and smoke didn't drift over to everyone trying to enjoy their evening. Everybody we met during our stay were super friendly and wanted to get to know you. You'll find when you travel as a couple, people don't want to disturb you - but we met so many great people we enjoyed every night. The hostel holds offers every night in bar/restaurant - we took full advantage of the $5 pints. Cheapest you'll find in Brisbane!

With the open air outside area, including a swimming pool - you honestly felt relaxed everywhere you went. The kitchen was very busy between 5-7pm, but any other time we were often the only ones using the kitchen. Upstairs included a cinema room with big leather sofas and Netflix, we caught a few films over our time staying there. The hostel also has a jobs club, once you arrive, just ask them to add your name and number to the jobs books  - if any calls come in looking for working they'll give you a call!

In addition to all of this, the onsite pub/restaurant plays music until midnight, and sometimes later on the weekends. We loved having a little boogie with our new backpacker friends (but also loved that once midnight hit, everyone would go to the bars and we could go to bed)


Stephanie xoxo

TRAVEL - MELBOURNE CITY BACKPACKERS REVIEW


After spending two and half weeks stranded in Cairns due to record rainfall; we were sick to death of the sight of grey clouds and muddy puddles. We scanned the internet for the cheapest and quickest flights out of Cairns – and choose a holiday (within a holiday) to Melbourne for the following morning.
We arrived just after 10pm in Melbourne and hopped on our Sky Bus towards Southern Cross Station before finishing our short walk to Melbourne City Backpackers for the weekend. Melbourne City Backpackers hostel offers quality and affordable accommodation right in the centre of Melbourne CBD.



The Location
Literally a 2-minute walk from the convenient free tram system and the Southern Cross Station where you can jump on trains and buses that’ll take you ANYWHERE in the city. The hostel is a stone throw away from several cafes, restaurants, bars and a few convenience stores such as 7eleven.


How to book
You can book your stay either directly through the Melbourne City Backpackers Website, or through the various accommodation websites such as Booking/Hostel world. They have 8-4 bed dorms and private rooms to suit everybody’s preference and budget. If you do want to book via Booking.com, Use THIS LINK to get 10% off your stay – and help me keep this blog running in the same transaction, with no added fees for you.



The Room
During our stay, we were placed in a 4 bed dorm with two other guests. The others had A LOT of stuff piled on the floor, but the rooms are so big and spacious it didn’t really make an issue for us. Just an eyesore – but that’s just down to bad luck! The beds consisted of two bunk beds, we both choose the top bunks. With the rooms being located on the top floor, there is next to none noise pollution from the street outside. We didn’t even notice the fire department battling a blaze down the road on the first night because it was so quiet!



The Atmosphere
A very chilled out hostel, no one was loud or drunk within the hostel. The common areas are open plan and very large. This meant we were all able to relax with everyone in the hostel having their own personal space. The guests were all still very social though, settling down for group dinners and talking about their next travel destinations. The hostel helped guests interact by offering movie nights, sausage nights and quiz nights!
This hostel is perfect for those who want to get the most out of their stay in Melbourne. It’s clean, conveniently placed and has so much to offer. The hostel offers free breakfast every morning, jobs boards for those looking to stick around a bit longer and can also help arrange any tours you fancy.


Stephanie xoxo

* DISCLAIMER - This was a complimentary stay provided as part of an agreement between myself and Melbourne City Backpackers. Although I received free accommodation the review itself is honest. I will only include Hostels that I would personally recommend on Blonde Daisy Chains.




The best FREE things to do in Melbourne!



So, you're thinking of visiting Melbourne? Well, let me make it easier for you.

DO IT!

We were stranded in Cairns for two and a half weeks due to floods and after 72 hours of non-stop rain we booked a flight for the next morning to Melbourne to get our dose of Vitamin D! Our holiday within our holiday only lasted eight days - and I'm already counting down the days until we return at the end of April/start of May.

We spent every moment in Melbourne exploring the city and covered a lot of ground. Without spending a penny on entrance fees, no booking in advance and pennies on public transport to reach place to.

Here's a list of just SOME of the amazing things you can do in Melbourne without damaging your bank account. 

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Wander through the world famous lane ways

Any blog you read will tell you to walk around the lane ways and it's for a very good reason. They're covered in some of the most unique artworks you'll ever see and add real personality to every lane. We specifically loved the AC/DC lane. These lanes are more than just that, they each hold hidden treasure troves of secret bars, galleries and plenty of little surprises along the way.


Rock out at Cherry Bar

While speaking of said lane way surprises, on AC/DC lane you can find a rock music venue called Cherry Bar (well, it's actually moving in a few weeks, so you'll need to google it's new location, soz.) Cherry Bar is Melbourne's first authentic rock bar. They have a wide range of local and imported drinks, play FREE gigs 3 nights a week (and some decent bands for $10 too) We had an amazing night of dancing to rock and roll and listening to two of our new favourite bands.


Visit the State Victoria Library

Even if you're not into reading, you'll wan to go and see this absolute gem. The architecture made me feel like I was entering a Harry Potter movie. Start up to the very top to get a birds eye view of the whole place. There are individual exhibitions on each floor for you to enjoy while exploring to.


Take a stroll around the Royal Botanic Gardens

Every day locals flock to these stunning botanical gardens. It's the perfect picnic destination on a nice day. You can easily take a whole afternoon to walk around the gardens and chill by the lake. There's also a green house to explore if you can find it.



Educate yourself at the Statue of Remembrance

This was probably my favourite thing we did during our time in Melbourne. Just across the road from the Royal Botanic Gardens is a memorial building that was originally built to honour those who served during WWI. Once in the main building, climb the stair case to reach the roof top where you can get a panoramic view of the city.
Then, head downstairs and around the back to the war museum that is built underneath - It's an eyeopener to how Australia was effect by the wars.


View some art at the National Gallery of Victoria

wither you love art, or just need to kill some time in the city with some AC the National Gallery of Victoria is the place to be. It's completely free and holds modern and traditional pieces of art from around the globe.



Learn about your favourite Aussie music stars at the Australian Music Vault

Located right next to the NGV, a brand new venue has opened it's doors to showcase Australian music talent. It's completely free and is home to a permanent exhibition which celebrates homegrown music, and also has new objects changed regularly so there's always something new to see. My favourite item was the famous AC/DC school uniform. I just wish they had more Kylie outfits!


Check out the best of Australian Screen Content

The ACMI offers a variety of multimedia work that showcases both Australian and international content. It's home to everything from popular video games such as Minecraft and Super Mario to original aboriginal films and Hollywood blockbusters. It's nice to get an insiders look into the technology and skills that went into making probably the biggest entertainment systems in the world.


Catch the latest sporting event at Fed Square

Federation Square is located across the street from Flinder's Station. It's home to many restaurants, the ACMI and so much more. There's a large screen on the side of a building that shows live sporting events. We were able to watch our first big NFL game while tucking into our picnic. (We're in the UK, so the football is always on at like 3am)


Find a festival

There is always something happening in Melbourne, be it a small band in a local park or the famous St Kilda festival make sure you check it out. We were fortunate enough to be in Melbourne while the St Kilda festival was on. A completely free music festival on the beach in the summer.


I hope this guide has been useful for you. Let me know if you're heading to Melbourne and need anymore information - or if I've missed anything you think I should know about please let me know. I'll be heading back in May so will need more things to see!

Stephanie xoxo




The Best Hostel in Cairns - Mad Monkey Backpackers Village!


Mad Monkey is a hostel chain that have been on my 'must stay here' list for the last 4 months now since I started researching our Australia trip. I was a little apprehensive it wouldn't live up to what I was expecting it to be, but it did not disappoint! After a few rainy nights in our van 'Betty' we wanted something a little more comfortable so headed to Mad Monkey Backpackers Village in Cairns.

We arrived around 2pm and were pleasantly surprised that we were able to park our van in Mad Monkey's personal car park rather than on the busy street outside. Headed into reception where we were greeted by smiley staff at the tour guide desk and the manager at the main reception. From the moment we arrived we felt welcomed into the Mad Monkey family!  

We were given the ground rules, told about all the facilities within the complex, given some local advise on where to go and what to see and then shown to our room.

The Room 



I loved our room! We stayed in a private double room with our own en-suite. The room was located on the bottom floor  and had a window that looked out into the garden. Although it rained ALOT, the window mean't natural light could fill our room which made it feel airy and homely. The hostel has been fully renovated in 2017, meaning our room had a new subtle minimalist colour scheme of neutral grey running throughout. Clean side table and unique bedside light bulb lamp to decorate.
I don't know about you, but I can't get comfortable in a dirty hostel - but I felt right at home here! The room was spotless! Literally not a single thing I could find wrong with our rooms, I felt like I was inside a show home. All rooms now come with new Samsung Air Conditioning units which worked a treat when it's 32 degrees and 96% humidity! 


The bathrooms look like they've just been installed, perfect white tiles, a decent shower head with constant hot water and a large mirror which makes getting ready a breeze. The room even came with a strong hair drier and straighteners! (truely amazing, we were going to a gig on the most humid day I've ever experienced and it helped tame my mane!) 

The Atmosphere



After making our way to the hostel, checking in and cleaning ourselves up, I thought we decided to have a well deserved beer. At the end of our corridor, in the communal area is the hostels bar. The bar serves draft and bottled beers/larger and ciders. They also sell spirits and mixers. We opted for the jugs, a steal at only $12! We were super lucky to be there while the Backpacker Village was celebrating their 1st birthday party so lots of games and fun to be had.

Within seconds of sitting down the hosts were rounding up contestants for the weekly quiz where you could also win yourself a jug of drink and some snacks! All v All! Just one of the events they hold every week - others include pub crawls, beer pong tournaments and movie nights. There's something on every night which makes it easy to chat to other back packers and experience Cairns the Mad Monkey way. 



The hostel offer free breakfast in the clean, modern kitchens every morning including fresh fruit, cereal and even fluffy pancakes with all different sauces, tuck in and eat them on the long tables with the rest of your new pals. Then head off for a dip in their outdoor pool. Although it literally every second of our stay, it was still pretty warm so jumping in the pool was the perfect way to cool off in the crazy Cairns humidity. 



If your a bit hungover from your night at Woolshed and don't fancy socialising, not a problem either! The hostel has a TV room, loaded with a large Samsung flat screen TV, Netflix and even a Playstation 4 with FIFA and Crash Bandicoot!

For those who can't stay away from the gym, you're in luck because Mad Monkey are partnered with a local gym so you can still get your work out FOR FREE! 

The Staff

From the moment we arrived the staff were nothing but polite, friendly and outgoing. After chatting to the lady on front desk about where we'd been, what our plans were and getting some insider insight into Cairns - I was super impressed when she remembered my name two days later when we wanted to book for for another night! Our original room was unfortunately booked but we were conveniently moved to another freshly cleaned room on the floor above with a view of our van out front. This room didn't include an en-suite but the shared bathrooms were just down the hall and again spotless! The staff on cleaning duties had the most attention to detail when cleaning the place I've ever seen. Better than some of the top hotels I've stayed in!

Another great thing about the staff here is that they are/were travelers themselves, so they were able to give us advise on the MUST see places during our trip around Australia, and you can even book your trips in the reception area at the tour guide desk!

The Location

I personally thought Mad Monkey Backpackers Village was in an ideal location. There are plenty of trendy bars and cafes a stones throw away from the hostel. You can visit the best bars and clubs Cairns has to offer within a 15 minute stroll (or a 5 minute Uber if you're like us!) You can walk to Cairns Central shopping center in just over 10 minutes also. 


How to book

To make sure you are getting the best price possible you should always book though the Mad Monkey website. www.madmonkey.com.au - This way you know you're not getting ripped off and it's booked directly through Mad Monkey. The website is easy to navigate through, simply click bookings in the menu navigation bar, choose your arrival dates, room preference and your all set to book.

Stephanie xoxo
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* DISCLAIMER - This was a complimentary stay provided as part of an agreement between myself and Mad Monkey Backpackers. Although I received free accommodation the review itself is honest. I will only include Hostels that I would personally recommend on Blonde Daisy Chains.