Hello lovelies,

Hope you’re all well.

Thought I’d start by sharing my Philippines adventures with you all. We are spending our last two months together here exploring some of the many islands and we can’t wait to take you along with us! So for our first two weeks in the Philippines, we went to Coron and El Nido, so this blog post is dedicated to them and all the things we got up too! 

If you want the short version to our recommended places to stay then scroll down to the bottom for my recommendations. 

So to start our trip we landed in Manila on the 1st of July to start our adventure, and booked a one night stay at the Mini Suites Hotel. Such a central, beautiful hotel with good WiFi, a pool and gym which was ideal! 

We stayed here as a small stop over, to get some money before our flight to Coron in the 2nd. However, we wish we had spent another day in Manila to sort money before the islands as having half a day to sort money was a little challenging. 

In the Philippines, you can take out 10,000 pesos per day and then are capped at this price. (10,000 (£162.00))  we needed 20,000 for our upcoming boat trip and then money to last us two weeks on Coron and El Nido (we were told there was limited to ATMs on the island, however we now know they do have ATMs and they are pretty central on Coron and El Nido). 

Anyway we ended up in a bit of a pickle regarding getting enough money before our flight out on the 2nd, but after much confusion  we ended up sending the company we did the boat trip with (Big Dream Boat Man) money via PayPal so it all worked out and we just both got out 10,000 pesos each in Manila (the max allowed every 24 hours) to last us on the islands. 

Because of this, I’ve left some tips regarding money whilst your here down below, including all the things we wished we had know before visiting. 

Things to know about money: 

  • In the Philippines you are charged  250.00 pesos (£3) every time you take any money out, using an international card. So if you have the option to get a smart travel card from Barclays or another company, then do it! Or just make sure you have a MasterCard or Visa card to take money out (these are accepted on most ATMs out here). We’ve been using our Monzo Card and it’s been fine out here, but only working in BPI ATM’s. 
  • If we were to do it again, I would have made sure I brought cash with me from the UK or just exchanged it in the UK before hand, so when you land you have some on you without the hassle after travelling all day. In general though, it’s okay getting money out, as you can just get 10,000 pesos every 24 hours and 10,000 is around £164.00, so lasts a while out here!! 
  • Getting money out on arrival: this can either be done at the airport as soon as you arrive at an ATM, however I’d double check the charges of the ATMs and we came across some that charged (250 pesos £3) per 1,000 pesos: which is a huge rip off! However, if you have cash currency whenever you are from then there are extra booths that take cash only and can do the exchange. Or ask someone who works at the airport the charges from the machines or there is the option to take money out in Manila, there are a lot of ATMs around that are easy to find! We used a BPI ATM in Manila and found this had a good exchange rate for us, whilst using our Monzo’s cards.
Big Dream Boat Tour to Kayangan Lake.

CORON: 

After arriving in Coron, we had half a day to get settled at Charm hostel. A cute little hostel situated just outside of town about a 10 minute drive away (30 pascos per person: 50p). Charms was a cute little stay, with friendly staff and a clean air con room with a pool! They also did breakfast and dinner which was ideal for us! In terms of Wifi and sim service it was limited here, but the town centre was a 7 minute drive away so easy to get to and find a cafe to sit in.

On the 3rd of July, we then packed up and headed to Port to meet the Big Dream Boat Man crew to start our 4 day adventure with them: I’ve left an more in-depth blog post on our time with BDBM here, if you fancied reading in more depth about our three night, four day boat expedition with them from Coron to Coron the my post is- LINKED HERE. We explored some of the most beautiful islands, camped on stunning small islands, swam for hours each day, ate yummy food and saw shooting stars every-night. If you get the chance to come to the Philippines, I couldn’t recommend this tour enough!! Best four days ever.

BDBM, on the boat exploring the islands.
Kayangan lake: Most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

Anyway, on the 6th of July we arrived back in Coron and headed to a new stay for one night at Coron Village Lodge.(click here)

This was an ideal little spot near the ferry port as on the 7th we booked a four-five hour ferry to El Nido.  It was a clean decent room, but the WiFi was awful so we headed to a place called Epic Cafe for super yummy banana bread, iced latte and WiFi access, which worked well (you are limited to one hour WiFi codes but we just asked for more). 

Then on the 7th, we jumped on our ferry to El Nido. This was a lot better than expected. We were told to be prepared for feeling  sick, and me and Kirsty aren’t great travellers when it comes to travel sickness so we prepared for the worst (lots of snacks, sick bags and sea sickness tablets at the ready). However, it was fine! We were seated at the front of the ferry, rows 1-8, which we later realised was the only area with air con (so try ask for seats near the front). It ended up being five hours in total but we just edited, slept and ate and then arrived in El Nido! 

El Nido 

Straight away El Nido came across a lot more buzzing than Coron. There’s a lot more going on in El Nido than Coron, and I’m glad our time in Coron was spent on the boat because other than the day tours, expedition tour or visiting the Hot springs there, there isn’t much else going on in Coron centre. 

So we felt excited by El Nido and being able to explore here for the week.

We also had a lot of people tell us prior to our visit about mosquitos here and the food being awful. However, again we haven’t found the mosquitos bad.  We wear deet in the day and night and it’s been absolutely fine for us so far! 

The food on the other hand is a challenge; everything here is pretty much carbs, beef or pork. Kirsty and myself don’t eat beef or pork so at first found this challenging, and struggled to find fruit and veg spots. But after some googling we managed to track down “Taste” , an all Vegan cafe, that do lovely smoothie bowls and a good Eggplant Lasagna!! We also found a cafe called CB Cafe that did the biggest pancakes and fruit plates for breakfast, so big me and Kirsty shared the pancake between us! And for dinner we’ve resulted in sticking with a dish most nights called “chopsuey” which is a steamed vegetable dish with carrots, cucumber, peppers and baby corn and you can add Chicken as an extra if you want it. In most places this also comes with rice, so it’s a filling dish. So if your in need of some vegetables that will be your go to dish!!! We are loving it and feel so happy we finally found out about it! 

For our first night in El Nido we stayed at a beautiful island cottage; called Island front cottage resort, we had a room overlooking the beach and it was stunning. However, we were situated 10 minutes from the centre here, which came to 100 pesos, with luggage & two people, from the centre. And 50 pasos (two people no luggage) from the centre. It also, although stating it had WiFi, had no WiFi access and our Globe and Smart sim struggled for connect whilst we stayed there. For our remaining nights we booked at a super cute stay called, Bayal Paragua Anex Link here in El Nido a home stay a 1 minute walk from the main strip or shops and the lovely “Taste” vegan cafe (good WiFi here too). This home stay also had the best WiFi we have found all week, than in any cafes or locations, lovely clean rooms, and a (temperamental) hot shower!! And air con. The staff here were also so lovely and we booked our tours through them and had a great time. 

Whilst staying in El Nido, we decided to venture out on day one and explore some of the beaches. We spoke to a tricycle driver and ended up making a deal with him to be our driver for the day to take us to NACPAN Beach (30 minute drive from El Nido main centre) to wait for us there whilst we explored, and then drive us to Las Cabanas (1 hour from NACPAN Beach) and wait for us there before driving us home. This turned out to be 1,000 pesos for us both for the full day and all round trip (£17 pounds between us both). It allowed us the freedom of the day without having to rent bikes as we were unsure of the roads around this area. However if you prefer to ride a motorbike then it’s absolutely fine to do so, the road is a bit bumpy on the way down to NACPAN Beach but a lot more comfy than a small tricycle that’s for sure!

NACPAN Beach.

Both these beaches were super lovely and we had a lovely lunch on NACPAN beach at Ranchos Cafe and a swim; there’s lots of places to get yummy food also! At Las Cabanas the beach seemed smaller but still stunning. And there was the option to go on a zip line across the ocean to a small island,  which is meant to be amazing!! So I would highly recommend looking into that (it was raining for us so we opted out to doing this there. 

Las Cabanas Beach.

After exploring the beaches we booked in two tour days, we chose Tour A and Tour C in the end, as we were recommended these and told they were the most popular locations to visit. 

Our first tour, Tour A was extremely different compared to the Big Dream Boat Tour (in Coron), we absolutely loved for the 4 days. Which we expected, however we felt the tour guides on the day tours in El Nido were forcing a lot of the talks and situations (making us sing, telling us to be happy and clap etc). It was still an amazing experience though and visiting the beautiful islands was incredible.  And if you prefer a more private, to yourself day, whilst visiting the islands with less busy situations then I’d highly recommend looking into a private boat tour and experiencing them that way! 

Kirsty and myself still had the best time explore these places and on Tour A, we got to visit the beautiful Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, 7 Commandos Beach, Shimizu Island.

Big Lagoon.
7 Commandos Beach.

Felt very lucky to experience these stunning places and would highly recommend going to see them, whether it’s with a tour company or not! (We did ours with Umi tours). 

For Tour C, we visited the further islands from El Nido. Helicopter Island, Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, and Matinloc Shrine.

It was so fun, and we really enjoyed the snorkelling around these islands, never seen so many colourful fish!!! 

I’ve also uploaded a top tips on what to bring on a Philippines boat tour so if you do end up going and need to know, it’s LINKED HERE! 

Matinloc Shrine.
Food On the Day tours. Either served on the Boat or the Beach.
Matinloc Shrine.

After the day tours we decided to give ourselves a work day in El Nido, filled with lots of smoothie bowls from Taste and a lot of editing before heading to Port Barton (a four hour van drive). 

So that concludes the first two weeks of my trips, up until now and it’s been a blast!!! I can’t wait to share the next few adventures with you all as we are off to Port Barton, Puerto Princesa, Cebu, MoalBoal, Siargao Island, Siquijor island and Boracay!! 

So will see you in the next post!

Love, India Moon.

RECCOMENDATIONS: 

CORON PLACES TO STAY 

  • Charms 
  • Coron Village Lodge

CORON WIFI SPOT

  • EPIC cafe 

EL NIDO PLACES TO STAY

  • Island Village Cottages (no WiFi and barely any service with glove sim) close to las cabanas beach. 
  • Balay Paragua Annex (good WiFi and lovely staff) close to centre.
  • EL NIDO CAFES GOOD WIFI 
  • Taste (vegan amazing smoothie bowls) 
  • CB cafe (good pancake and fruit spot) 

 

  1. Water shoes. These are needed when you are walking from the boat towards most locations on the boat tours
  2. Money. On some of the day tours, money is needed to access one of the islands on Tour C and on Tour A, there were kayaks to use to paddle into the Big Lagoon for 250 pesos for us both. Which you don’t have to use but we wanted to kayak into the big lagoon rather than swim.
  3. Rash vest. when snorkelling it’s so hard not to burn so we highly recommend Water proof, sea safety suncream and a rash vest.  
  4. Towel. They offer small towels but they don’t dry easily on the boat so we’d recommend taking one of your own and having both for the day.
  5. Warm clothes and rain jacket. After a day on the boat, we found it got a bit rainy (we are here in rainy season) and cold, so having a dry shirt or jumper is ideal to have.
  6. Water in a flask or reusable bottle. No plastic is allowed on the boats (which is amazing) so just make sure you have your reusable bottle to fill up on the day.
  7. Motion Sickness tablets. Just incase! I didn’t need to take mine on these day tours but there is always a chance of it being a bit rocky! So always be prepared if you do tend to get motion sickness.
  8. Snorkel and Mask. Dependant on you: but if you have your own snorkel, mask and flippers then I’d recommend bringing them along with you! It’s fine to borrow them, however we found it’s unlikely you’ll find some that fit.

Hope that helps a little before any day tours you may venture on!! Have the best time!!

Love, India Moon.

Hello you lovely lot,

Hope you’re all well! So so excited to share this post with you all!! Was one of the best expedition tours we’ve done whilst being away and was such an incredible four days!! If you don’t know what Big Dream Boat Man is, they are an Expedition company in Coron in the Philippines, that join like-minded travellers together to experience Island Life and adventure like no other in the Philippines. As a company they take you on a 3 night, 4 day tour of the beautiful islands surrounding Coron (soon from Coron to El Nido, El Nido to Coron), where you get to experience the islands without any other day tours/groups of people being there.

You see all the day tour spots, without tourists just the small group of you (max 14 on a tour) and the crew. They also do Private Expeditions if your in a group. Was by far the best tour I’ve ever done! As a company they also are fully Eco friendly, they work on constantly helping improve their surrounding environments, by doing organised beach clear ups, cleaning rubbish everyday of their tours, and recycling.

Also before I get into everything we got up to on this one in a life time trip, I’ve been giving a 10% off code if you use “INDIA10”.

The tour itself came to £500.00 pounds each (without the discount), but is honestly worth every single penny. The price includes transport after the trip to your accommodation, accommodation for the three nights, all food, snacks and drinks. Snorkels, flippers, paddle boards and kayaks and all the island visits with barely anyone around! Experiencing these beautiful islands and locations with only ourselves, the crew and 6 other members of our group was so incredible. Some of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen.

Kayangan Lake.

Our Itinerary:

With Big Dream Boat Man, the Itinerary can change dependent on the weather/ timings of the tides/ whether other tours will be at the locations, as BDBM always aim to let you explore these beautiful places when there’s no one else around. You always get to see the same places, it just depends on the order you do them in as that might vary. So this is just the order we did the tour in and what we experienced.

Day one:

We met the BDBM crew at Luis Bay restaurant by Coron port and by 11.30am we were heading out onto the boat. On the boat trips, your big bags are stored below the boat which you are given the choice to access in the evenings at the stay island locations if need be. However, we opted to having two tote bags as our day bags which we filled with everything we would need for the four days, which was a lot less hassle and meant our laptops/hard drives were safe in our big cases below.

To start our trip we headed to the beautiful Kayangan Lake, which took about 1.5 hours to get there. Kayangan Lake, was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and the pictures don’t ever show the extent of its beauty. I was in awe, and felt so lucky we got to see this place with only 9 of us there. We stayed there for 1.5, swam a lot and sat and admired the view.

Around 2.30pm, we moved on from Kayangan Lake we had a delicious lunch on board the boat as we headed towards a ship wreck, where we swam and snorkelled above and around it. It was so cool, to see a shipwreck so up close and the amount of fish we saw was incredible!

After this around 4pm we headed towards our first stay of the trip, Pass Island. This little island was so gorgeous, white sands, big palm trees and just us and a few other locals that lived there. We spent the evening getting settled into our cute little double bed huts, watching a beautiful sunset on top of Pass Island before a yummy dinner and evening of sharing the stories with our group. Was so inspiring hearing about the crews lives and their love for exploring these islands and meeting and bonding with the six others on our tour was so lovely. Then we all headed to bed, before an exciting day two.

Kayangan Lake.
Kayangan Lake.
Kayangan Lake.
Kayangan Lake.
Pass Island.
Pass Island.
Pass Island: Picture from BDBM.

Day two:

We all woke up and had a delicious breakfast around 7am, pancakes, rice, eggs, fruit, and milo (our new favourite chocolatey drink)! We left Pass Island around 8am and headed to Black Island. The Granite rocks are black surrounding the island, hence the name! It was the prettiest beach ever, dark green palm trees and the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Here there is a ship wreck that is so close to the surface you are able to swim around and see all the fishes and creatures that inhabit it. Black Island also has some huge caves that you can explore, however me and Kirsty last minute decided against this as we forgot our Deet and I’ve never seen so many mozzies in one place! Pretty glad we did, as the others got eaten alive! So just make sure you bring your deet with you onto Black Island if you go!

After a few hours on Black Island, we headed off to Dibutonay Island for another insane lunch. It ended up thundering and lighting here, so we sat for a while whilst the crew collected fire wood from the island for our evening bonfire. After the storm cleared, we headed to Maltatyok Island where we went snorkelling for a while. The reef was beautiful and I saw my first ever sting ray!!

We then headed to our second night accommodation, on North Cay Island. Here we stayed in little cabins, with the biggest king size bed! was so comfy! We settled in a bit before heading up to another sunset spot, and watched the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen so far on my trip. The sky turned the most incredible shades of red and pink. Then we sat and had dinner together, before having a bonfire and watched the stars. On these islands the stars are like no where else I’ve ever seen, you can see the outline of the Milky Way and me and Kirsty saw three shooting stars!!! Island life really is the best life.

Black Island.
Black Island Image from BDBM.
Black Island.
Driving to Dibutonay Island.
Storm coming in on Dibutonay Island.
Sunset on North Cay Island.
Sunset on North Cay Island.
Last bit of Sunset on North Cay Island.
North Cay Island, BDBM photo.

Day three:

Another yummy 7am breakfast to start the day, on day three before we left at 8am to the beautiful Coral garden. Here the boat dropped us off and we snorkelled for around 40 minutes and got to experience the most extraordinary reef ever. Also if your worried about the 40 minute swim, I should mention the crew took floats for anyone that needed support and you have the option to wear lifejackets, or jump on a paddle board if you get tired. However it goes so quick and you are snorkelling so it really doesn’t feel like 40 minutes, and it’s worth the view! it was amazing. The 40 minute snorkel leads you to another shipwreck the Lusong Shipwreck. Here you get to experience the biggest shipwreck, and our tour guide Joy (an experience free diver) even filmed a bit of footage for us through the shipwreck, which will be on my youtube video coming soon!

After experience the Lusong Shipwreck, we headed towards a salt water & fresh water hot spring- one of the only salt and fresh water hot springs in the world! We got a paddle board here, due to the jellyfish and arrived at the most stunning spot. The salt water and fresh water mix make the water divide so it’s super hot like a bath in some areas and freezing in other spots! Was such a cool experience.

We then headed to Culion island, which is a former leprosarium and although leprosy on the island-town was abolished in the 1980s, it was only declared free of leprosy in 2006. We visited here and explored the history of the island, and our guides explained how still so many people are in fear of visiting these stunning island due to the association with leprosy so to help support the development of the island they are raising awareness by sharing the stories and history of this island. It has so much to offer and it was lovely being able to visit and experience this place.

After this we headed to our last evening accommodation, detouring past a sand bar. When we got there there was a few other tour boats around so our guide Joy, took us too a secret beach. It was just the 8 of us and crew and the beach was incredible! There were no footprints but our own, with the bluest water and white sand. Was Stunning! We then visited the Sand Bar for about half an hour before heading to Banana Island just in time for sunset. The rooms had a double bed and single bed, and cute coloured sheets and mozzie net, in a high ground cabin. For our last evening, the lovely guides came and joined us for dinner and we all sat round a huge table and shared more stories before an early night as we were all shattered from the exciting day.

Secret beach we visited, unsure of the name.
Secret beach we visited, unsure of the name.
Sand Bar we visited.
Culion island.
Boat life.
Banana Island, BDBM photo.

Day four:

For our last half day, we had a 7am wake up call to head to the beautiful Twin Lagoon so we could experience it before any of the other day tours arrived there. We had breakfast on the boat, and had the loveliest boat ride towards the lagoon, I even saw a shark! The Twin lagoon was absolutely incredible. So so beautiful and here the water, like the hot springs, is a mix of salt water and fresh water so you experience the same super hot and super cold water mix whilst swimming in its crystal clear waters. We stayed here for a while swimming and taking in, its beauty.

After this we drove past Vivian Beach, due to high tide we couldn’t access the beach we got to see it’s cute little huts, white sands and admire it from afar. Then we headed back to Coron Habour, and arrived back at around 11am.

Twin Lagoon.
Twin Lagoon.
Twin Lagoon.
Twin Lagoon.

Never have I experience such an amazing trip, filled with the loveliest people, and beautiful experiences. I loved every minute and being able to experience these places with no other tourists was a dream come true.

The crew on this trip were so lovely and we miss them already! We loved how uplifting, inspiring and fun they kept the four days. We are already planning on coming back one day for the Coron to El Nido tour!

I’ve had a few further questions about what to bring on trip so I’ve included these below just in case you do decide to go on this epic adventure! and If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me! My video will be out soon!!

Little secret beach, Joy our tour guide took us to before visiting a Sand Bar.
Kirsty, Me and Darwin one of guides.

What do you need to bring:

-Rash Vest/ T-shirt to swim in to stop you from burning whilst snorkelling as this is inevitable whilst in the water for hours.

-Toiletries, toothpaste and whatever else you may need!

-An extension lead. All the islands had electricity between 6pm-6am in the morning, but had limited access to plugs so depending on how many of you there are, we found our extension lead super helpful when charging multiple things.

-Camera and Go Pro (if you have one) you spend a lot of this trip in the beautiful clear waters, so if you want to capture these experience in the water then a waterproof camera or go pro is perfect!

-Dry Bag. From the boat you go to a lot of islands so just in case you want to take your phone/camera to the islands with you then I’d recommend getting a dry bag. The guides do take a kayak over with the dry bags in to some of the islands too so you don’t have to swim with them, just ideal to have to prevent any belongings from getting soaked.

-Water shoes. Water shoes are needed for when you are swimming or walking towards any of the islands.

-Snacks. Although the boat offers drinks all day and occasional snacks such as fried banana. I found with the amount of exploring and swimming we were doing that I’d get super hungry, so I’d recommend bringing little snackey bits and bobs to keep you going throughout the day.

Love, India Moon x

Discount code for BDBM “INDIA10”.

Our Apollo Barn Van.

Hello you lovely lot!

Hope you’re all well and having a lovely July so far. I feel like I need to apologise for the late upload of this post, I just was soaking in Bali life after Australia and needed to make sure I included absolutely everything you need to know about van life and travelling beautiful Australia in a van!

During mine and Kirstys trip we spent majority of our time in three different styles of vans, living our best van life. It’s was quite a daunting thing travelling to the other side of the world , especially with the thought of living the whole 7 weeks in a van! But I can confirm it was the best 7 weeks of my life, and there’s no other way I would have spent it. Having a home on wheels was the best decision we made. Each van we had on our adventures we instantly became attached too and we miss it already. Im going to include everything from where to start, costs, what’s it like and tips and tricks below to living van life and experiencing it all in amazing Australia. Of course this is my experience, but hopefully it gives an insight into van life and whether it might be for you…

How to get started- Where to Hire and what to prepare for:

Where to begin!! Myself and Kirsty lived in three different styled vans throughout the 6 weeks of our adventures and had the amazing help of Ratpack Travel and their incredible services. If you want a hassle free start to planning your van life adventures then they are your go to!! They are owned and operated by Sammy who is also a backpacker, the RatPack team can help you book tours, experiences and transport and offer so much advice when it comes to seeing Australia and New Zealand. Once they find the most affordable and best rated option they then apply a discount making it at least 10% cheaper than actually booking direct! I honestly couldn’t recommend them enough!

Ratpack helped us organise all our vans in all our different locations, and as they have a good relationship with all the camper van and car rental companies, a 10% discount off the price is always guaranteed when booking with them; which is ideal when it comes to saving too as Australia can be pricey! They compare all the different vans available and their prices for you and let you know the best options, it basically makes booking a van super easy, cheap and stress free!!! If you’ve already booked your flights to Oz / NZ and have dates hit up the link below and they can make a price comparison for you:

 

https://www.ratpacktravel.com/camper-vans/

 

Not only that but they offered us so much advice when it came to exploring Australia and booking our experiences, such as The Whitsundays tour, Fraser Island and our Sky diving Experience in Airlie Beach. Sammy from RatPack was the biggest help and has experience so much of Australia so hearing all his tips and tricks was so ideal. They also have a WhatsApp Support chat, which is so handy when your on the road and in need of any advice. There page also offers so much inspiration for planning and general advice, so if you do fancy checking them out: CLICK HERE!. If you have any further questions about Ratpack Travel then please feel free to comment or send me a message over on instagram or message them on WhatsApp +61450381801 to get your planning started!! (CLICK HERE TO WHATSAPP THEM)

Sky Diving booked through Ratpack Travel.

Costs:

Van life costs…so this does depend on what style of Van you go for, where you drop off the van and lots of different factors which you can tailor when you plan with RatPack Travel! However, I will leave all our costs below so you can get an idea of what we had and experience.

There are a few things that will impact the cost of your van, such as pick up and drop off points– if you drop off your van somewhere else this is an extra cost. How many of you there are/how many beds you have or whether you have a hi-top van or two seater. Milage- dependant on your trip plan, of course the cost of petrol will be more.

1st van Hire: We picked up our first van, a Camperman Van hi-top 4 bed van, in the Gold Coast for 18 days and drop her off in Airlie Beach ($250 more for dropping off in another location). For Insurance we had everything covered expect roof, windscreen or tyre this was $400.00 in total. Then the total cost of van one came to $1296, plus $500 refundable deposit. (To be noted: This was through Ratpack travel and was a Camperman Van.)

2nd Van Hire: Our second van, a Apollo Hippie Drifter (small two seater) we had for 9 days and picked up and dropped off in Melbourne. For Insurance we had full cover including windscreen and tyres, and a total of $330. Then the total cost van to $535.18, plus $100 refundable deposit. (To be noted: This was through Ratpack travel and was a Apollo Hippie Drifted Van.)

3rd Van Hire: Our last, and most boujii van of them all was for 11 days, in a hi-top four bed with Autobarn Van Company. We picked her up and dropped her off in Perth. For insurance we got full cover for $360, and this was a total cost of $900. (To be noted: This was through Ratpack travel and was a Autobarn Van)

Fuel Prices: On average around $70 dollars lasted us around a four hour drive.

Camping Prices: There are different options for camping, and there is always the option to free camp. however, every few days the van does need to be plugged into electricity but using the WikiCamps app, camping sites are super easy to find! Myself and Kirsty only did powered campsites, as we needed power to charge most evenings for work. For campsites for two people on a powered site we paid between $33-$45 a night. This includes your power, water, shower and toilets and a camp kitchen. We opted to using the camp kitchen due to limited space in the Van.

Things you need to know: Tips and Tricks

  1. Choos the style of your van to suit you: In mine and Kirsty experience, as we both had hi-top vans (4 person max) and smaller seated van (2 person max). We would personally never go back to a low top van, after experiencing both I think having a hi-top is just a lot more hassle free! Especially when your living with another person/people, the space is needed! Also if you decide on free camping, a hi-top is again more hassle free when it comes to cooking in the van and being able to move around. We also personally wouldn’t have more than four people in a van, there was three of us in a hi-top big Apollo Van and it was still such a tight squeeze! Although it was manageable, I think four would have been quite intense!
  2. WIKICAMPS: This app is now your go-to!! It’s a fiver on the App Store, but so worth it! The app shows you campsites (powered/paid or free) across the whole of Australia. On our travels, we used this daily to help find the campsites, see their facilities, read reviews and see photographs. It allowed us to be very flexible
  3. Fuel: Always check how far your next drive is and make sure your tank is full!!! During our adventures in Western Australia, we had an experience driving towards Point Anns through the national park where we really thought we weren’t going to make it back due to petrol…it was a Sunday, in the middle of nowhere and we just made it back to the only petrol station around for miles!!
  4. Bring an Extension lead: Ideal for travelling anywhere around the world, but vans usually have only one or two plugs so this just allows you to charge multiple things at once which is ideal!
  5. Kangaroos and animals: In Australia, it’s important to really watch out for wildlife and animals, especially at dusk or in the early morning. Kangaroos can jump out without looking, and there can sometimes be road kill in the middle of the roads which can get in the way!
  6. Travel in summer: Travelling Australia in winter was still amazing, but do it in summer if you can!!! It was hard to stay warm.
  7. Buy Tupperware and meal prep: Top tip when your on the go and trying to save in Australia! Meal prep! We found making meals in advance meant we had more freedom in the day to eat on the go, whilst exploring and saved us money!
  8. Have a day bag: whether you have a rucksack or suitcase, it’s hard to have space when there’s two or more of you in a van. Myself and Kirsty found having day bags with our essentials in such as toiletries/ underwear and outfits in meant everything was hassle free and easier to move around and get ready in the mornings. Also saving the time from having to open up and try rummage through your big bags!
  9. Plan your route before the day: To help save time and allow you to know where the nearest petrol stations are and campsite, I recommend planning a night before or day before if your doing any long drives. Petrol stations can be far from one another, so its good to know where you can stop along the way!
  10. What the Van comes with: All our vans came with bedding, tea towels and pots and bans and cutlery also. Some of them sometimes came with washing up liquid but some of them didn’t! So once you get the van all you really need is food, washing up liquid and tea! 
  11. EMBRACE AND ENJOY it: Van life is amazing! Of course, it takes some getting used to but you adjust to taking things in turns with the people your living with, moving around and getting things in and out. And you get in a rhythm of the lifestyle pretty quick! I personally think Van life is the best and only way to experience Australia! Being in control of your adventures, how long you stay in places and where you stay and explore is amazing- there’s no time limit and you are in full control of how you spend your time. It’s also like your own little home on wheels. I found it so nice being settled in each van and felt sad saying goodbye to each one. So embrace it and enjoy every second!

I hope this may answer some of your questions or helps with any interests you may have towards van life and exploring Australia. It was some of the best few weeks of my life, and I’d do it all again if I could! I’ll be posting my Australia round up post shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for that as that will talk more about my overall experiences and if you fancy watching my Van life videos too: CLICK HERE!

If there’s any more questions you have then please feel free to message me or comment below, happy to answer the best I can!

Love, India Moon.

Van One: Camperman Van.
Van Two: Hippie Camper.

Hello lovelies ! Hope you’re all well and have been enjoying some sunshine!!

My lovely two and a half week Bali trip has come to an end, so I thought I would share a little guide of the last two and a half weeks and some places I’d reccomend visiting if you ever decide to come to beautiful Bali!! 

I travelled to Bali four years ago and spent a month here and Kirsty has also been around a year ago so we decided to choose some of our favourite places for this trip to visit over the space of two weeks. 

We started by landing in Denpasar Bali and booked a little Air BnB in Canggu for two nights; Linked here! Through this Air Bnb we pre booked our taxi because sometimes you can be over charged from taxi services at the airport, so I’d recommend trying to pre book a taxi if you have a stay pre booked or just asking a Bluebird taxi to keep it on the metre whilst driving to your location.

We drove straight to Canggu, because from experience both Kirsty and myself, really disliked Kuta so just wanted to avoid going there. This is just personal preference, but it’s super busy, a lot of rubbish everywhere and the scene reminds me of a Magaluf strip, if I’m being honest.

In Canggu we stayed at this gorgeous Air Bnb Bungalow (linked here)   , it was super cute and it’s super easy to find places to stay via booking.com or Air BnB! 

Air Bnb Canggu.

Also Bluebird taxis were super easy to stop whilst they drove past here. But I would recommend if you find a taxi driver that has a WhatsApp number, I’d recommend getting that as it makes it easy when your booking them to locations to just send a WhatsApp! 

Whilst in Canggu there’s so many gorgeous places, little cafes and fab beach clubs you can visit! We didn’t have time to visit them all, but I’ve written the list below because they are all musts if you ever come to Canggu or Seminyak Area! 

  • Coffee Cartel Bali 
  • The Loft 
  • Kynd Community Cafe 
  • Lola’s Shaking All Day 
  • Cafe Organic 
  • The Shady Shack 
  • Machinery cafe 
  • Clear Cafe Bali 
  • Nalu Bowls
  • Revolver Espresso 
  • Sisterfields
  • Watercress 
  • Sea Circus 
  • Milk & Madu 
  • Little flinders 
  • Holiday Canggu 
  • Mr Warung 
Lolas Shaking All Day.
Machinery cafe, Canggu.

Machinery cafe, Canggu.

  • BEACH CLUBS:
  • Mrs Sippy Bali 
  • The Lawn 
  • Potato Head beach club
  • Como Beach club Bali
  • Echo Beach Club
  • Finns Beach Club
  • Sundays Beach Club

The Lawn, Canggu.

Finns Bali.

Finns Bali.

Finns Bali.

We then travelled from Canggu to Ubud, to stay at the gorgeous Om Ham Retreat and Resort (linked here) for the first few nights. This Resort was on a deal on booking.com which was why we chose to stay here, and turned out to be such a gorgeous place, amazing staff, lovely yoga in the mornings and incredible Oreo milkshakes and breakfast. (Link go booking.com here) . This retreat was a 15- 20 minute outside of the centre of Ubud, but the resort offered taxis or a shuttle x3 times a day and it wasn’t far at all!

Om Ham Retreat.
Om Ham Retreat.

After our first day exploring the Ubud Markets and visiting the monkey forest, we decided to hire some bikes and drive the hour from Om Ham Retreat to Nung Nung Waterfall. The drive was beautiful via bikes, minus the numb bums from sitting on the bikes for too long. Was so worth it! The waterfall is incredible, and although it’s a massive trek down and up it’s worth the amazing views at the bottom. (Pictures below) 

Ubud Markets.
Monkey Forest, Ubud.
remember your helmets!
Nung Nung Waterfall, Ubud.

After staying at Om Ham Retreat & Resort for two days and exploring some of Ubud’s Markets, the Monkey Forest and cute cafes we moved onto our next stay at the beautiful Nang Ade Villa through Parama (linked here) this was a super affordable Villa, with four big rooms, a nice living space area, kitchen and beautiful pool space, only 10-15mins from the centre. The staff here were so lovely and it was such a nice place to have to ourselves for a few days. We ended up hanging out by the pool a lot, visiting more cute cafes and exploring the area. On our last day in Ubud, we rode our bikes about 12 minutes from Nang Ade Villa to the Rice Terraces. Probably my highlight of Ubud, they were so incredibly beautiful and I loved walking around them for a few hours and there are so many cute cafes you can go to that overlook the gorgeous Terraces. I highly recommend visiting them if you go! 

Nang Ade Villas, Ubud.

Rice Terraces, Ubud. Tegalalang.
Rice Terraces, Ubud. Tegalalang.

Ubud has so much to offer and is so beautiful! There is also a lot of amazing luxury resorts and spas that you can pay day entry into, and hang out by the pool also! I have left a list below of some reccomended places to stay,eat  and explore whilst in ubud!  

Ubud: Hotels and pools you can visit for the day with entry fees.

  • Jungle Fish 
  • Rock bar 

Ubud amazing places luxury places to stay: 

  • Jungle Fish 
  • Black Penny Villas 
  • Zen Hideaway 
  • Own villas 
  • Bisma Eight Ubud
  • Goya Boutique Resort
  • Komaneka at Bisma
  • Chapung Se Bali Resort and Spa
  • Origin Ubud
  • Como Uma Ubud
  • SenS Hotel and Spa, Ubud.
  • Mandapa Ubud
  • Viceroy Bali Luxury Villas
  • Padma Ubud
  • Kamandalu Ubud Resort
  • Maya Ubud

Best Boutique Hotels:

  • Stone House Ubud
  • Blue Karma Ubud
  • Wapa Di Ume Ubud
  •  

Places to stay affordable Villas/ Spas. Also look on Air Bnb and booking.com as the options are endless and there are some amazing deals on there.

  • Nang Ade Villa (AirbNb) 
  • Om Ham Retreat and Resort (booking.com)
  • Cahaya Ubud Villa
  • Taman Bintang Villa Ubud
  • Darra Ria Villa Ubud
  • Inang Villas
  • Santosha Villas and Spa
  • Suparsa’s Home Stay
  • Rouge Villas & Spa
  • Jiwa Guest House
  • Kajane Mua Villas

Places to eat in Ubud:

  • The Elephant 
  • Zest 
  • Ibu Susu Bar & Kitchen 
  • Dumbo 
  • Casa Luna 
  • La Pacha Mama 
  • Milk & Madu Ubud 
  • Alchemy 
  • Watercress Ubud 
  • Yellow flower cafe 
  • KAFE 
  • Clear Cafe 
  • Ubudian Cafe Bali 
  • Akasha (vegan cafe) 

We then got a shuttle bus from Ubud down to Padang Bai Ferry port, to catch our fast boat ferry (2hours) to Lombok (Bangsai Ferry Port). There are two types of ferry’s you can get over to the Gili islands or Lombok, the fast ferry (2 hours) or the slow one (4-5hours) or you can fly for super cheap to Lombok (1-2hours: if you have under 30KG luggage unlike us) but it’s super straight forward and easy to do! 

We chose the fast boat as Kirsty and myself get super boat sick so this was the best option for us. The ferry’s also stop off at the Gili islands so if you haven’t visited them, I highly recommend stopping off for a few days and experiencing them. I’ve left a bit of information about the Gilis below, in terms of stays and cafes. Although it’s been four years since I visited (old blog post here) , Kirsty went recently so we’ve piled some tips together below. (Gili air was our favourite)!  

If you go to the Gili islands: Must go to cafes below! and a few stays I’d recommend. I didn’t stay on Gili Meno and also only visited for Lunch so haven’t included much on Gili Meno below.

  • Kayu Cafe (GILI T) 
  • Gili Bliss (GILI AIR)
  • Nalu bowls (GILI AIR) 

Gili Air stay:

  • Andin Bungalow (low budget)
  • 7 Sea Cottages (low budget)
  • Salili Bungalow (mid budget)
  • Bambu Cottages (mid budget)
  • Captain Coconuts Gili Air (high budget)
  • Grand Sunset Gili Air (high budget)
  • Sunrise Resort (high budget)

Gili T budget places to stay:

  • Gili La Boheme (low budget)
  • My Mate’s Place (low budget)
  • Gili Klapa (low budget)
  • Madison Gili (mid budget)
  • Resota Twins (mid budget)
  • Villa Ombak (high Budget)
  • Pearl of Trawangan (high budget)

Once in Lombok, we headed from the port to the South of Lombok and headed to our first stay at Blue Monkey Villas (linked here) a gorgeous stay with a beautiful view overlooking Mawun Beach. Although Blue Monkey Villas is slightly out of the way from Kuta, Lombok (the centre) it’s defiantly worth a stay and Jeff the owner is super lovely and can do pick ups and drop offs if requested! Pictures below of Blue Monkey Villas: 

Blue Monkey Villas, Lombok.
Blue Monkey Villas, Lombok.
Blue Monkey Villas, Lombok.

We then moved onto our next stay in the centre of Kuta Lombok to Bamba/So It Goes (linked here). Which is the most beautiful “poshtel” ever! There is the option to stay in private double bed rooms or dorm rooms made up of six beds. The private rooms sell out super fast, however because there was six of us we had a full dorm of just us and this worked perfectly. The dorms are massive double beds, with locker storage units and a curtain so you have full privacy when in the dorms. The bathrooms have drying racks, showers and toilets and all the facilities are absolutely stunning! Also the comfiest bed I’ve ever stayed in. Also not to mention the beautiful pool, pillow comfy area, Bamba Restaurant Food and incredible cocktails. This place was mine and Jamie’s favourite relaxing spot, we loved the music and had some lovely evenings having cocktails here. 

Bamba, So It Goes, Lombok.
Bamba, So It Goes, Lombok.
Bamba, So It Goes, Lombok.
Bamba, So It Goes, Lombok.

If you are in Lombok there is also some fun places to go out, such as Bus Bar which is a 5 minute walk from Bamba and super fun! They do pizzas and play music till around 1am, we had such a laugh here. And if you fancy continuing your night, Rasta Bar is where everyone usually heads out from Bus Bar afterwards about a 15 min walk or 5 minute bike ride around the corner situated on the beach and it’s super fun for dancing! 

After some days exploring and having fun (all recommendations for this below). We moved onto the beautiful Villa Strata, this 5 bedroom villa is around 15 minutes from the centre and about a 8 minute drive from Tanjunn Ann Beach. It was the most incredible place I’ve ever stayed. The staff were incredible, and you have the option to have breakfast, lunch or dinner made for you if requested. The 360 views here were out of this world, always catching the beautiful sunrises in the bathrooms and sunset from the front of the house. The amazing open interior means you constantly get the insane views and light throughout the Villa. We had an amazing stay here, and if you get the chance I couldn’t recommend grabbing a group of you and all chipping in together to stay here! 

Villa Strata, Lombok.
Villa Strata, Lombok.
Villa Strata, Lombok.
Villa Strata, Lombok.
Villa Strata, Lombok.

I’ve also listed some of our favourite Lombok food places for amazing breakfast, lunches and dinners, as well as our favourite places to stay and the beaches to explore below. 

Lombok places to stay:

  • Bamba: So It Goes.ID 
  • Blue Monkey Villas 
  • Villa Strata 
  • Katamaran Resort 
  • Mana retreat.

Places for Yoga:

Lombok places to eat:

  • Bamba 
  • Milk Cafe (oppersite Bamba) 
  • El Bazar 
  • Kenza Lombok

Places to go out and have a dance. 

  • Bus Bar – good pizza and dancing! 
  • Rasta Bar (usually a spot to go to after Bus Bar finishes at 1am.) 
  •  

Beaches to visit in Lombok: More info on the beaches linked here.

  • Tanjung Aan Beach
  • Segar hill (to sit and watch sunset) 
  • Mawun beach 
  • Selong Belanak (Good for beginners surfing)
  • Senggigi
  • Pink Beach
  • Tangsi Beach
  • Batu Payung
El Bazar Cafe, Lombok. Banana Bread Pancakes, an actual dream!

After Lombok we return via fast boat ferry, back to Canggu for our last few days. There are so many stunning places to explore and stay in Bali and Indonesia that I’d recommend exploring that I saw on my previous trip so I’ve left a few of those places and tips below also, because my lists go on for days. Bali is just such a beautiful place. 

On the last few days in Canggu, we stayed briefly in Seminyak at Alam Boutique Resort (linked here) pictures below. This is a newly launched resort with lots of different sized villas for groups or couples, offering spa treatments in the rooms, all day food and lovely flowered baths!! The attention to detail here was incredible, it was super clean and it was so lovely being able to experience the opening of this beautiful place. Alam boutique is situated super close to Potato Head Beach Club so whilst we stayed here we had an evening at Potato Head before heading to our last stay at Mojo Resort. Mojo resort was a super simple but lovely stay just outside of Canggu (around 10 min drive from the centre) with a nice pool and rooms. And as i mentioned above, there are some super lovely cafes to visit and beach clubs to go to in a Canggu. 

Alam Boutique Resort.
Alam Boutique Resort.
Alam Boutique Resort.
Alam Boutique Resort.

Anyway, that sums up our amazing two week trip in Bali. I’ll be sharing soon my top ten tips when visiting Bali, so keep your eyes peeled and lots of Australia and the Philippines posts coming soon. I hope this is in some way, was helpful if any of you decide to visit this incredible country and if you have any further questions, then please feel free to DM me on Instagram (@indiaamoon) with any questions or comment below! And if you do visit, have the most incredible time!!!!!! 

Love, India Moon.

 

Potato head Beach Club, Canggu.