All posts filed under: Travel

Explore Marrakesh (Morocco) Like in Insider

Marrakesh, with its kaleidoscope architecture and chaotic souks, can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. I had an opportunity to visit Marrakesh for four days with my friends who have been there numerous times and had local recommendations from their friend, Zach Idrissi, the owner of Amani Hotel. Having local guidance to ease me into this overstimulating experience was a welcome blessing since I was flying solo for most of my stay in the city. I also lucked out by going around Ramadan as everything was calmer and more laid back. The markets and attractions will close a bit earlier around 5pm, but the aggressive behavior in the souks will generally be less prevalent. This makes for an overall pleasant and safe experience for solo travelers. Where to eat: Have an afternoon tea break on the terrace of La Mamounia and take a stroll in their manicured garden. You should check the availability for non-hotel guests as the hotel started to restrict non-hotel guests to certain hours for tea. Have dinner at Le Tanjia where there …

Essential Travel Tips for Marrakesh and Morocco

Traveling to Morocco for the first time can be intimidating and overwhelming for many travelers, even for the experienced folks. The mélange of sights, sounds, and cultural differences in this vibrant city can trip many up. These are tips that can help make your arrival smoother and less stressful. 1- Book a transfer from Marrakesh Airport to your hotel. Taxis in Marrakesh have a well-deserved awful reputation for ripping off tourists and also refusing to turn on their meters. After a long flight, the last thing you want to do is haggle for a reasonable fare. I highly recommend Marrakesh Airport Transfer. I booked online two days before my arrival with flight information. My driver was waiting for me after I exited baggage claim with my name on an easily identifiable sign and escorted me to a clean air-conditioned car. The cost was approximately $12 for a 15-minute ride to the Sofitel in the city center for one person. Prices will change depending on the number of people and the destination. I checked with my local …

2 Days Chillaxing in Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira has to be Morocco’s most laid back beach town and luckily, only a short 2-hour drive from Marrakesh. When I asked my local friend to help me plan my Morocco vacation, she suggested this sleepy seaport town. At first I didn’t know what to make of it because it’s not a resort town dotted with luxury hotels that one would expect. However, the chill atmosphere there provided a much needed respite from the bustling city. It felt very much like a backpackers’ haven. I decided on a short 2-day trip to Essaouira, leaving Marrakesh at 9am and returning the next day at 3pm. This turned out to be just enough time to sample what the town had to offer in short period. Essaouira is known for ocean sports such as kite surfing, so if you are into that, then you’ll need a few more days. I booked my own private transfer through my friend’s recommendation with Hiba Tours, which cost 160 euros or approximately 190 dollars. The car ride was comfortable and Jamal, the …

Review: Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas

Phuket has always been on my list to visit whenever I am in the southeast Asia due to the inordinate amount of enticing beach photos that are published on social media. On my recent trip to the region, I was able to fit a few days in Phuket. The biggest question while researching the popular destination was where to stay because Phuket is renowned for its amazing luxury resorts and party towns. After receiving advice from my Thai friends, I opted to stay in the northwest region of Phuket as the weather is better there in November and my main objective was to relax. I selected a 5-day stay in a pool villa at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas located near the Sirinath National Park. Did the 5-star resort meet my expectations? Positives: This 91 villa-only resort is catered to honeymooners and high-end clientele. The location is approximately a 20-minute cab ride from Phuket International Airport. Each villa has an infinity pool making it a perfect spot to hide away for days. Alternatively, there …

Review: Creative Omakase at Michelin-rated Sushiyoshi (Osaka, Japan)

Getting to experience the creativity of Chef Nakanoue Hiroki at Michelin-rated Sushiyoshi was the culinary highlight of my recent Japan trip. Although Osaka has a booming street food scene, its sushi has generally played second fiddle to Tokyo’s. Sushiyoshi is trying to break that narrative with its creative omakase. I had heard great things about this 26-year-old sushi-ya and was excited to try it. As an added bonus, Chef Hiroki speaks decent English and his exuberant personality makes the experience memorable for all guests. How did this chef’s tasting stack up to all the other omakase? When I arrived at 7pm for my reservation, there was already a full house as the sushi-ya contains only 8 seats at the counter. I was escorted to my spot at the end of the bar and was promptly served tea and a hot towel. Japanese omakase can be intimidating for non-Japanese tourists; however, Chef Hiroki was very welcoming. My omakase started with salmon and caviar tartar housed in an “apple” wafer vessel. The wafer reminded me of a …

3 “Days” of Gluttony in Osaka, Japan

Osaka has been a YouTube sensation over the past few years due to its reputation as a street food haven. The city has been overshadowed by Tokyo and Kyoto for the last decade and is now finally coming into its own. On my recent trip to Japan, I made it a point to include this foodie destination on my itinerary and the city did not disappoint. I had limited time since it was only three full days, so my trip was packed with eating and some sight-seeing. This is my foodie adventure in the kitchen of Japan. Day 1: Dotonbori I had underestimated how long it would take for me to travel from Bangkok, so by the time I arrived at my hotel, it was already 7pm. Since I only had three full “days” in Osaka, every minute counted. I quickly made my way to Dotonbori, the heart of Osaka’s entertainment district, which reminded me of New York’s Times Square with its bright neon signs and throngs of tourists. I quickly searched for Mizuno, the …

Restaurants to Try in Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon (Vietnam) for 2018

On my recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC” or “Saigon”), my local friends recommended a few of their favorite restaurants (a combination of classics that we highlighted in previous posts and current hot spots). I was able to try a few and loved their recommendations. As many of my friends and colleagues continue to ask me where to eat in Saigon for their upcoming trips, I decided to share this list. Phở Lệ Address: 303-305 Võ Văn Tần, Phường, District 5 / Tel: +84. 3834.4486 This is an oldie, but a goodie with all the locals. When I had a craving for a good bowl of southern phở, my god sister (a Saigon native) and I ventured to Phở Lệ in District 3 (the second location is in District 7). The restaurant is your quintessential phở restaurant with a short menu of the famous noodle soup with a variety of meat toppings. The broth is rich, sweet (from the herbs and fruits) and robust, which can only be achieved from hours of cooking …