Author Archives: Krisette Capati

About Krisette Capati

I want to travel the world in the 'Phileas Fogg way' in as little time as possible, or probably beat his 80-day record, whether in a balloon, boat, train, or elephant. When I'm not reading novels, writing tech stuff for clients or traveling, I write. That's what I do for a living and it keeps me sane all the time.

Prague Castle

Things to do in Prague by Krisette Capati

Prague Castle[media-credit name=”Peyton Guan” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″]

It’s the place where fairy tale meets reality, where well-loved literary characters — Tomas, Tereza, Sabina, Franz, and a dog named Karenin in Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” — come to life as you step foot in the city.

At the heartland of Czech Republic, Prague, the obvious quaintness of surroundings invites you to experience an unforgettable one-day itinerary. There are many cultural attractions to see and to immerse yourself, with gothic and renaissance scenery.

Spring and Fall are the best times to travel, yet the former is more tolerable and encapsulates my definition of ‘beauty,’ with flowers in effloresce.

Breakfast

Café Colore

If your hotel is just around the Old Town, you can’t miss Café Colore along Jungmannova Street. It’s one of the best spots to eat breakfast. It opens at 8 a.m. and serves great food at reasonable prices compared to other tourist spots cafés.

The relaxing Parisian and Venetian-inspired ambience and excellent customer service of the smiling staff is warm and inviting. It feels wonderful to sip a hot cup of coffee and munch tasty cinnamon twist and butter patties, or indulge in a heavy meal of spaghetti carbonara. The latter, by the way, is a must-try.

Palackeho 740/1, Prague, Czech Republic +420 222 518 816

Morning Activity

Old Town Square

Stroll and shop at the Old Town Square and if you can, wake up early and stroll along the streets and climb the famous Astronomical Clock Tower to see the top view of the city before breakfast.

After breakfast, you can check out the shops for some luxury brands or open market stalls along the way, where they sell different kinds of items – from clothing to bags, handcrafted art and souvenir and many more. The Charles Bridge and its museums are must-see sites. Just walk to the roundabout by Karluv and enjoy the sights.

 

Lunch

School Restaurant and Lounge

To keep you energized for the long walks and adventure for this one-day itinerary, you don’t have to go beyond the Charles Bridge for lunch. School Restaurant and Lounge is just a few metres away. Go back and head east on Karluv most toward Křižovnická, turn right onto Smetanovo nábřeží, and you’ll find it on your left side.

It’s a non-smoking restaurant on the riverside with good food, great service and ambience. The virgin mojitos, tomato and mussel soup are a must-try.

Smetanovo nábřeží 205/22, 110 00 Praha 1

 

Afternoon Activity

TRAP Prague

TRAP Prague at Senovazna 8 is a real-life escape game you can play with your friends. It’s best to tag along two to three friends to make this adventure more fun and exciting. It’ll take you more than 30 minutes if you walk from Café Colore, which means you have to go back via Karlova and Centena, or take a public transit to get there in about seven to eight minutes.

The TRAP adventure gives you clues and brainteasers to crack the puzzles when you play inside the room. If you still have time for the rest of the afternoon, you can have a Prague underground tour at Male Namesti to see the hidden treasures and get a taste of medieval history underneath the city.

 

Dinner and Evening Activity

Prague Castle

Evening is the best time to visit the Prague Castle after the hustle and bustle of the crowd in the Old Town. The castle is rich with history and legends to marvel. You may have dinner at Restaurace Nostalgie for authentic native Czech cuisine before heading the streets for late night beer drinking at the Repete Bar, which is open until 3 a.m. for tourists, locals and expats.

Hanoi

Things to do in Hanoi by Krisette Capati

Hanoi[media-credit name=”Deposit Photos” align=”aligncenter” width=”431″]

Have you seen your friends post the status “I’m travelling to…”? My social media feed is full of travel updates that show where they’ve travelled. Maybe you see the same set of updates, too (or maybe not).

Anyway, I can suggest just the perfect place to visit this April and May (weather-wise, these are the best months to visit). Before I forget, you’ll also have to update your wall to say: I’m travelling to Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you’re coming this March, you’re lucky to see the scented grapefruit flower baskets along the streets.

Here’s an itinerary for a day at the Vietnamese capital.

Breakfast

Café 129

French legacy still penetrates the scenery and architecture of Hanoi, from buildings, art and to food. If you’re in the city, you can’t miss what Café 129 at Hai Ba Trung offers.

Whilst the cafe may not have the fastest service, the extensive breakfast menu and servings are worth the wait. From sumptuous omelettes and English breakfasts to succulent strips of bacons and burritos to Canadian breakfasts, the meals prepare you for the upcoming hours of adventure and outdoor activities.

Wait, savor, and delight each serving. Promise! It’s worth the wait.

129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung,

Morning Activity

Hoan Kiem Lake

I recommend outdoor activities in the morning (early morning would be great, and as early as five a.m.) at the parks or the lakeside to enjoy the breeze and freshness of morning dew.

Wake up early for walkathons and a few miles of running along Hoan Kiem Lake, which is located in the heart of the city. Sightseeing is the best during this time because locals practice Tai Chi at the park, and you can experience the oriental landscape and culture along the streets. Rent a bike to explore the streets of the Old Quarter until you reach the Dong Xuan market.

Lunch

Don Xuan Market

Eat like the locals at the Dong Xuan market, where you’ll find food stalls selling Vietnamese cuisine to noodles and famous ban mhi sandwiches and rice noodles. You’ll see how they prepare the food.

Afternoon Activity

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and local museums

Siesta time is after lunch. Whilst you can rest for a while at the hotel or stay at the Dong Xuan market to see other items, I recommend the shopping activity later tonight. For the afternoon, it’s time to learn more of the culture and history through museum hopping and sightseeing, from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to Vietnam Museum of Ethnology to the Temple of Literature.

Dinner

Quan Oc Vi Sai Gon

You’ll find local cuisine specialties as well at the food stalls, bars and restaurants along the streets of the Old Quarter. Try Quan Oc Vi Sai Gon seafood restaurant for a change before you go to the night market. From an adventurous street food and wet market experience at lunch to Oc Vi Sai Gon’s place of comfort, spacious seating and ambience—tasty snail dishes await you.

19 Gia Ngu, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem

Activity

Night Market Near Xuan Market

Shop ‘til you drop at the night market near Xuan market. Stalls are set up during Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, I suggest you visit the place for cheap prices offered from merchants of jewelry, silk, dry goods and a variety of clothing. You can still explore the places and items from Hang Dao Street to Hang Giay Street.

Ho Chi Minh City

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh by Krisette Capati

Ho Chi Minh City[media-credit name=”flickr” align=”aligncenter” width=”634″]

Beyond the quaint provincial landscape of coastal south central, we’re off to another city in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). This city reminds us of the fast-paced metropolis life and how time passes quickly – where the remnants of war found in historical museums, the pagodas showing indelible marks of Taoism, the café culture and flea markets in the heart of the city give us a glimpse of the sights and experiences that we can’t simply miss a day’s worth of tour and activities.

 

Breakfast

Princess and the Pea Cafe

 

Saigon is known for its café culture. You’ll find cafes all over the city, and I’m not talking about Starbucks or international franchise coffee shops because you won’t find them here.

For breakfast, I found this hidden gem in District 1, Princess and the Pea Café. You really have to venture through the Pasteur St. alley to find it – laid-back, with a relaxing space, offers free Wi-Fi, and with casual cushioned seat floors and affordable meals.

The café serves light food such as baked sandwiches with strawberry jams, tiramisu and chocolate cheesecake; please, don’t get the bill until you try the Smoothie Banana.

63 Pasteur, Ben Nghe, 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

 

Morning Activity

Le Cong Kieu Street

 

I suggest we go shopping in the morning at the flea markets. Antique items are sold along Le Cong Kieu Street, near Ben Than market, then until we reach to Russian market in Ben Chuong Duong Street, you’ll find over 150 stalls there, offering dry goods from sporting goods to souvenirs and general products for large sizes.

 

Lunch

Hungry Pig

 

Keep yourself from the siesta culture – as most locals do take their rest around noon until 1PM – then here’s a light lunch to curb your hunger. Visit the sandwich place called The Hungry Pig. It’s famous for its bacon sandwich with oriental taste, from classic BLT to Asian taste. Plus, if you visit during Sundays, you’ll be offered Full English Breakfast.

144 Cong Quynh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 

Afternoon Activity

Art exhibits near Ben Than Market

 

Discover more of Vietnam and visit art museums not far from Ben Than market. Art exhibits includes pottery, sculpture, painting to abstract art and even weaponry. If time permits, you can rent scooters, or also called Vespa, for late afternoon tours to experience the city like locals.

Enjoy the vintage Vespa ride, and see the metropolis through the bustling and hustling of the town, from the city landmarks such as municipal post office, busy China town, basilicas and a wealth of French colonial architecture.

 

Dinner

Monsoon Restaurant & Bar

 

Indulge in the regional taste from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos Cambodia and, of course, Vietnam in Monsoon Restaurant & Bar. Taste and see the South East Asian food with all its richness – the menu is divided per country; freely choose among the appetisers to mains and desserts.

Cao Ba Nha, P. Nguyen Cu Trinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 

Evening Activity

Broma

 

Saigon’s backpacker district, Pham Ngu Lao Street, meets you in the nightlife of revelry, lights and sounds, and drinks all night long—good vibes and paradise. But if you want to make it more urban, go to the rooftop bars at the city’s popular hotels—the Rex, Majestic and Caravelle. Well, if you desire this kind of pampering, you have to be ready for those expensive drinks. Gulp until you drop—that is, until your pocket drop.

Anyway, Broma, an open lounge in the fourth floor of an old French colonial building, is a good alternative, too. While you can experience the same, the prices are down to earth compared to the former.

Hoi An

Things to do in Hoi An by Krisette Capati

Let’s explore an ancient city in Vietnam along its quaint streets and buildings filled with oriental influence. Hoi An, which means “a peaceful meeting,” unveils relaxing spots and a scenic view of the sparkling East Vietnam sea and South China sea along the beaches in the countryside.

Better wear a Non La (the famous Vietnamese conical hat), sunscreen and rubber sandals for a day in one of the world heritage sites. From shopping and cultural tours to bicycle tours, night fishing and barbeque grills, I’m sure you’ll discover more of Vietnam in a more intimate way.

Hoi An[media-credit name=”Deposit Photos” align=”aligncenter” width=”431″]

Breakfast

An Hoi Hotel offers affordable rooms located in the centre of the ancient town. It’s accessible to tourist spots, making it easier for you to walk (and also rent bikes) around nearby shops and cultural places. The hotel serves Asian and Western menu with a regional taste. The breakfast is packed with limited choices, and the view from the verandah overlooking the river looks good.

69 Nguyen Phuc Chu St., Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province

Morning Activity

You’ll find tons of ridiculously cheap tailored clothes scattered throughout the district. Leather goods, crafted novelty and jewelry items are sold in nearby shops along the way. I advice you to first roam around and compare prices before buying items.

Shop around throughout Phan Chu Trinh, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Nguyen Phuc Chu and the riverside until you reach the Hoi An market. If you want to explore other shops, you may go as far to Hai Ba Trung for more choices.

Lunch

There are many good options for cheap but tasty Vietnamese food, from quang nam noodles, Cao Lau, soups, shrimps, beans, herbs and the best banh mi sandwiches (definitely my favourite!) at the Hoi An central market food hall. That is, if you don’t mind eating inside a busy market, surely it’ll go well for you. Give yourself a break for a decadent experience on street foods.

Tran Quy Cap, tp. Hội An Quang Nam, Viet Nam

Afternoon Activity

Relish the ancient town with a cultural tour, then off for a bike tour in the late afternoon. I suggest you hire a guide for better understanding of the places, or you can explore at your own pace.

There’s a ticketing system allowing you to see 21 attractions, from old museums, handcraft workshops, halls and, of course, the old Japanese Bridge and Quan Cong Temple.

Try the bike tours in the late afternoon between the old town and beaches with the scenic view of rivers, pagodas and temples.

Dinner and Evening Activity

Hoi An is the culinary capital of Vietnam, so don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the locals (book on Get Your Guide) by wrapping up your day with night fishing and barbeque grills; learn fishing and crab catching techniques. There are unknown restaurants along the river that serves Cao Lau noodles boat and beer, too.

After all the hustle and bustle, you really deserve to relish a freshly cooked meal and eat at your heart’s content.

Budapest

Things to do in Budapest by Krisette Capati

Budapest[media-credit name=”flickr user mdid” align=”aligncenter” width=”634″]

Discover the hidden gems in the heart of Hungary as you unpack your bags and slip on comfortable sandals for long walks, shopping, and sightseeing. A remarkable and unforgettable travel experience awaits along the breathtaking Danube River, the beautiful architecture, museums and basilicas, with all splendor and Celtic roots at its finest.

Breakfast

Lumen Galeria es Kavezo

Start your day with the best coffee in town served at Lumen Galeria es Kavezo, located in the enchanting squares of Budapest. The café also serves other hot and cold beverages and light dishes to prep you for a day’s worth of travel, long walks and visits. Make way for deliciously cooked omlettes, Paninis, bacon and eggs, soups and salads served on a white plate or glass bowls. Your stomach will surely find its fill.

The laid-back atmosphere is quite tempting for tourists to stay for hours, especially for artisans, since the café houses an art gallery. But if you’re looking for a quick breakfast and a taste of the best freshly roasted coffee in town, Lumen Cafe perfectly delivers what they have promised.

Mikszáth Kálmán tér 2. Budapest, 1088, +36 30 395 1513

Morning Activity

District Eight Shopping

Morning is the best time to shop around the neighborhood for souvenirs and antique and novelty items to save you from the afternoon’s hustling and bustling of the crowd and shoppers.

You’ll find a wealth of antique and baroque-inspired stores in nearby places around district 8 and a beautiful small jewelry shop, which I highly recommend. Sterling Ékszergaléria sells sterling jewelry with unique designs of different kinds of accessories for women. It’s just a few blocks away from Lumen Café.

Along Kiraly Street, the Antik Varium is a haven for avid and voracious book lovers who would be patient enough to rack the shelves for good reads and antique items.

Moving forward, you’ll find another hidden gem, a candy shop called Sugar! Design Confectionary and Candy Store along the Paulay Ede Street. It’s quite a long walk from the bookshop, but it’s worth it. It’s like entering Willy Wonka’s land full of delightful and indulging sights of cakes and candies in a fairy tale–inspired interior. The best candies in town are sold here at very reasonable prices.

Lunch

Kiskakukk Étterem

For a traditional Hungarian meal to prepare you for the afternoon’s activity, a cozy little restaurant called KiskakukkÉtterem is the best place to have lunch along with friends and family. The delectable sautéed goose liver and goose terrine taste will surely leave a perennial Hungarian craving for a jetsetter like you. Great place, fast service and delicious food – frankly, it’s a mid-day experience you won’t forget.

1137 Budapest, Pozsonyi Way 12, Hungary, +36 1 450 0829

Afternoon Activity

Margaret Island 

Aside from the museums and art galleries that most tourists visit, an extraordinary afternoon awaits you. It is packed with a half-day tour in Margaret Island located in the heart of Danube River.

Known as one of the green hidden gems, it’s the perfect getaway from the busyness of the city as you stroll along the island’s popular attractions, from the medieval ruins, a musical fountain, a small zoo, flower gardens, open theatres, and to clubs and bars.

You can explore the island in three ways: by walking, renting a bingo cart (more comfortable) or riding a small train (most comfortable). However, if you’re on a budget, you can go for a walk and pay for the entrance fee only, whichever suits you best. You may stay here until dusk, set up a picnic mat, wait for the musical fountain to play four musical pieces and take photos of the phantasmagorical scenery of the fountain at its best.

Dinner

Pata Negra Buda

I know you’re quite hungry from fun-filled and adventurous afternoon activities. Now it’s time for a sumptuous dinner at Pata Negra Buda, located at Frankel Leo utca, which is known for serving a great selection of food, wine and beers. Try the sweet paprika soup for appetizer, chicken salad (for light dinner) or a plate of grilled duck breast with apple for dinner. 

1023 Budapest, Frankel Leó utca 55, Hungary, +36 1 438 3227

Evening Activity

Fisherman’s Bastion 

Night activities can be spent on Fisherman’s Bastion and the nearby places along the Castle Hill district. The place reminds me of the popular games set on medieval years, such as Game of Thrones and G5 Entertainment’s hidden object games. It’s like stepping in a fantasy world where reality meets imagination and transcendence, in addition to the spectacular panoramic view of the entire city.

A few blocks away, you may end the night with timeless conversations with friends and family at the Belga Sorozo, which serves the finest choice of Belgian beers. The restaurant is open until 12AM; just make sure the raucous drinking ends with sobriety to get you home safe.