As night creeps in, night traders begin setting up their stalls on Temple Street in Kowloon. The market stretches for 5 city blocks with a seemingly endless stream of sellers with a range of goods on offer.
Goods range from counterfeit jewellery, watches and clothing to cheap electronics. Vendors have many deals such as 6 USB memory sticks for $50 HKD but obviously this price can be bartered down to as many as 10 or 14 for the same price.
The same applies to handbags and most items in the market, haggling and bargaining is widely accepted and encouraged. If the seller gives you a price you can bargain back starting as low as 30% of the original asking price. The more items you buy from the one seller, the more they seem to drop the price on each additional item you are buying.
One piece of advice I have is to walk through the market first, simply eyeing up what is on offer and do not make any purchases. You will see the same items over and over again from different sellers and prices can vary substantially.
The night market is a great place to pick up some souvenirs or presents you want to bring home with you from your travels. With such a wide variety of items, you are bound to find a present suited to each person you are looking to buy for.
The market is not limited to simply goods. There is a wide array of street food available at modest prices and the smells fill the corridors of the market.
Fortune-tellers also set up shop here and this seems to be quite a popular service that people utilise.
I had a great time exploring the night market, I really enjoyed bartering with the sellers and seeing which goods I could get cheaper than I anticipated.
When to go:
The best time to visit the market seems to be between 7pm-11pm, by this time all of the vendors will have set up their stalls and the market will be bustling with swarms of people.
There are ATM’s nearby if you run out of money but it is best to arrive with the budget of cash that you are willing to part with.
How to get there:
1. From Jordan MTR station take exit C2 and walk along Bowring St.
2. From the Yau Ma Tei MTR station take exit C and follow Man Ming Lane.
For those of us that admire architecture or enjoy the hobby of photographing unusual structures, then the public library in Stockholm is a spot that you will not want to miss out on.
Swedish Architect Erik Gunnar Asplund was the man behind the beautiful design in this building. The base of the building is a square and the tall cylinder shaped hall rises from the centre of the square.
The circular walls within the inner hall are lined with bookshelves from the floor to the ceiling. There are several sets of stairs surrounding the hall giving you access to the different levels within the library itself from which you can take stunning wide angle shots from above the library main floor.
The library is free for public access and does not require any sign up or information to enter its doors. It is a functioning library so discretion and politeness is advised when taking photos. The locals do not mind photographers providing we respect their quietness and refrain from altering the environment people are working in.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the library and its contents and i am sure you will too. I discovered an international reading section which is useful if you plan on spending some extended time in the library soaking up the chilled, peaceful atmosphere.
Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sat, Sun: noon - 4 p.m.
How to get there:
Metro: Odenplan station and walk for approximately 4-5 minutes.
Daiba was the name given initially to a collection of 6 fortress islands that were constructed to defend Tokyo. The word “Daiba” means “Battery,” and remnants of the original fortifications from the batteries can be seen in the park of Odaiba.
The Tokyo bay area was rapidly expanded in the 20th century and the decision was made to regenerate the area and use the land for commercial and residential purposes.
The area was renamed Odaiba and it has since become a major tourist attraction in Tokyo. I am going to give you a brief outline of my experience here and what you can expect to see if you decide to visit the Island yourself.
One great reason to go to Odaiba is to escape from the city and visit one of the few places where you can access the seawater and the beach. The majority of public water access near the sea is blocked by commercial uses such as harbours and docks etc.
As you can see above there is a flat beach area that tourists are free to roam and relax while enjoying the weather. The Japanese people enjoy swimming in this area and performing sports such as windsurfing etc in the summertime.
The island is home to many different shopping malls, the malls are very large and have a great range of shops if you are seeking some retail therapy. Popular fashion brands include h&m, forever 21 and many more. Outside one of the shopping malls named ‘Diver city’ resides the large Gundam statue that I will be discussing in a future blog.
The Gundam figure isn’t the only statue on the Island that garners the attention of tourists and locals. Odaiba has its own statue of liberty that came to the Island in 1998. The statue is far smaller in comparison to the behemoth in New York City in America but the one on Tokyo bears a great resemblance to the original.
There is no shortage of restaurants, shops, and arcades to entertain you for the afternoon or even the entire day. The trip to Odaiba isn’t essential when you visit Tokyo but I would definitely rate it high on my list of places you should see while visiting.
How to get there:
The journey to Odaiba is actually a very interesting one, you will see many sights along the way but the main attraction for me was the Yurikamome train/monorail. The train is driverless and if you are lucky you can sit on the front seats to fully enjoy the fully automated experience.
The train ride provides you with great photo opportunities as you ride over the rainbow bridge on your way to the island.
The station to get off at is Daiba Station on the Yurikamome line, from there you are free to wander wherever on the island that you choose.
Located in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of 5 palaces in the city. The construction of the Palace and grounds was completed in 1395 but it suffered total destruction due to a fire during the Imjinwaeran War with Japan. The site was restored over time starting in 1868, unfortunately the palace was destroyed again under the Japanese occupation at the start of the 20th century.
The Korean government made it a priority to return the Palace and the grounds back to its original state and restoration work began in 1990. The rebuild was highly successful with the majority of structures now successfully restored.It is now a central hub for Korean pride and history for the public to access and appreciate. The Korean people are very proud of their heritage and the majority of visitors to palace grounds are Korean residents from Seoul and the surrounding cities.
The admission fee is 3000 won and this includes a free walking tour that is available in several different languages. If you decide that the tour isn’t for you or you would prefer to explore the grounds yourself then a map is available upon purchasing your ticket and you can choose what you would like to see.
The complex is vast; it has many different structures, bodies of water and lush greenery. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around and taking photos almost everywhere I visited. The grounds never seem too crowded due to the sheer size; many of the visitors will stay around the main areas of the palace. I do recommend strolling through the gardens to see some of the smaller structures that have been restored.
One sight to be seen here is the changing of the guard that occurs three times a day at 10 am, 1 pm & 3 pm. The guards carry traditional weapons and instruments whilst in procession, also wearing bright colourful traditional uniforms as seen below.
There are many restaurants and cafes outside the palace grounds so you will not find it hard to choose a place for lunch or dinner. The walk from the subway is roughly 5 minutes and the directions are below. This is definitely a historical venue to add to your bucket list when visiting Seoul.
How to get there:
Subway: Get off at Gyeongbokgung Station, Seoul Metro Line 3, and Exit No. 5.
The architecture in Shanghai is a marvel to feast your eyes upon. In a city that is densely populated, the only way that the newer buildings can go is up. The Pudong district is where you want to go with your camera to shoot photos of the widely diverse shaped skyscrapers and other buildings.
The Shanghai World Financial Center building was the tallest building in Shanghai until 2014 when the Shanghai Tower was completed towering 400 metres higher than its competition.
I have one piece of advice for you if you do plan on visiting the building in hope of getting some great views from above. My advice is not to pay admission to the building if the smog is heavy or the visibility is poor. The staff at reception will also warn you about the weather conditions on the day you choose to go up. If you go up on a smoggy or cloudy day then you will see almost nothing due to the fact that air and clouds can be very poor in Shanghai.
The structure is uniquely shaped and has gained the nickname of “The Bottle Opener”. It is quite easy to navigate your way to it because the building can be seen for miles.
I visited the tower during the daytime and if I was to go back I would like to visit after sunset. The price of admission is not cheap but hopefully my photos can help you decide if you want to spend that amount of money to see the views. For me, it was worth it. The view from the glass floor is dizzying and the cars below you will appear like ants. If you get a clear day, I believe you will fully enjoy every cent you spend to go up.
How to get there:
Subway: Take subway Line 2 to Lujiazui Station. Walk to Exit 6 and walk roughly 10 minutes to the Shanghai WFC.
Located in the remote mountainous area of Lantau Island is the Tian Tan Buddha, which is more commonly known amongst travellers and tourists as the Big Buddha. It is one of the largest seated Buddha’s in the world and it faces Mainland China, it is said that the statue was created facing north to look over the Chinese people.
Upon arrival at the base of the Buddha Mountain you can see the path that leads upwards to your destination. There are 268 steps to reach the top where the Buddha resides. I stopped along the way up the steps to take photos as the Buddha looms over you. The Buddha itself is highly decorative and stands at 34 metres high.
Once you have reached the statue you can enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding greenery in the countryside. The sea can be seen from one side of the statue’s base. You can go inside the Buddha where a small museum is located; it provides a small amount of history and information about the ideas and construction of the monument.
It is a very surreal, quiet area compared to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong’s main streets. I advise that you take the time to really absorb the atmosphere that surrounds the Buddha.
There are several food vendors selling noodles, deep-fried fish balls and other local nourishments at the base of the mountain and you will see them as you arrive. There is no need to bring food with you because the street food is very cheap. I do however recommend bringing a bottle of water if you are visiting in the humid summer months.
How to get there:
The first step of getting to the Big Buddha is to hop on the MTR and take it to Tung Chung Station. It is very simple to navigate the metro system in Hong Kong, as the train arrives at Tung Chung station, the station name will be announced in English and it will direct you to the side of the train that the doors will open on. Once at Tung Chung, you now have two options to make your way to the monument.
Take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car that costs $125 HKD for a round trip ticket. The cable car opens at 11am Monday-Friday and 10am Saturday/Sunday. I have read that the queues for the cable cars can be quite lengthy but the views are meant to be very nice and scenic. I myself did not take the cable car up the mountain due to the fact that we arrived at Tung Chung station at 9am.
Take the New Lantao Bus No.23 from the Tung Chung Town Centre, which is just around the corner from the shopping centre that you see after exiting Tung Chung metro station. The bus journey takes around 45 minutes through winding, narrow country roads.
This was my chosen route to the Big Buddha and I loved every minute of it, the bus driver’s drive quite fast along the narrow roads and this makes the journey all the more exciting. The bus will cost you roughly $17.00 HKD which is perfect if you are on a budget.
The great thing about taking the bus early before the cable car opens is the fact that you will avoid all the major crowds. We arrived at the monument just as it was opening to the public and we were the first ones up to the top to enjoy the views.
If you take the bus up to the Big Buddha, you could always opt to get the cable car on the way back if you would like to try both forms of transport.
I took a detour to the Tai O fishing village before heading back to the metro. Tai O is a location I will be writing about in a future blog and I will describe how to get there and any tips i have for your visit.
The palace is the chosen residence of the monarchs King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia. Their official residence is actually The Royal Palace located in the old town Gamla Stan in the city of Stockholm itself. Drottningholm Palace provides a scenic escape with unparalleled exclusivity in the countryside it resides in.
Drottningholm Palace can be reached via a 50-minute boat journey from the ferry docks beside City Hall. The boat ride is an interesting journey itself as the ferry passes beautiful scenery and small islands along the way.
On approach to the palace, the sheer imposing size and beauty of the structure can be seen and a good photo opportunity arises from the water.
The Drottningholm residence is a UNESCO World Heritage site representing the European architecture of the 18th century. One of the unique aspects of this palace is that the public is free to walk around the grounds and also do a tour of the interior of the palace. Unfortunately when I visited the palace, the interior was closed to the public so I was unable to do that tour. I spent my afternoon walking around the grounds and enjoying the vastness of the entire property.
Many people bring food and drinks with them to enjoy a picnic in the summer months because the palace grounds are full of green areas and places to rest for a while in the sun.
The gardens are all well maintained and it is interesting to see the endless walls of hedging and trees that line several of the paths that are used to navigate the property.
It is best to set aside a day for this trip to Drottningholm Palace, the ferry journey provides several scenic photo chances with some of the most scenic green areas I have witnessed to date. So overall, this day trip is something you should not miss out on when visiting Stockholm.
How to get there:
Ferry from City Hall in Stockholm, show in the map below.
The observatory is the top unit of the building it resides in. After paying the entrance fee you can look out in four different directions across the hundreds of traditional dwellings that surround you.
As previously mentioned, I visited in the morning and therefore had the entire observatory to myself. I opted to get the orange juice due to the humidity in July.
The inside room is air conditioned and you have plenty of time to absorb the atmosphere of your surroundings that allow you to take as many photos as you want from the various sides of the observatory.
I guarantee that any visitor will enjoy their time here and I look forward to hearing what other people think of this place too.
A Hanok is a Korean traditional house. There are over 900 of these structures in the Bukchon Hanok Village enclave that is located in Seoul. To this day, this settlement has become a popular tourist attraction in Seoul as it feeds our fascination with Korean traditional culture and past times.
There are two main places I recommend you make a pit stop at before venturing off into the village itself. The first stop is the Bukchon traditional cultural centre where you can learn interesting points and facts about the village itself. There are wall diagrams and exhibits that show how the Hanok’s are constructed and how they are an important example of Korean architecture.
The second stop is the tourist information centre where you can pick up a free map in several different languages. This map will detail key points and viewing areas where you can see the full beauty of the village.
The area is quite hilly and the majority of your walking will be uphill to reach the viewpoints, so if visiting in the summer I recommend that you bring some water with you and go early in the morning before the temperatures become too hot. The morning is also a good time to go if you want to get some clean empty shots of the houses and the intertwining streets.
My favourite stop on my visit here was the Bukchon Observatory, a stop i have written another blog about. It has the best views of the settlement and the new towering city beyond which shows the deep contrast between old Seoul and new Seoul
How to get there:
Get off at Anguk Station(Subway Line 3) and take Exit 2. Go straight for about 5 minutes to get to Bukchon Hanok Village.
Bright lights, skyscrapers and crowds of people dominate the city of Tokyo that is home to a population of over 13.35 million residents. One of the primary objectives for any traveller or photography enthusiast is to find a way of viewing this wonderful city from above.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the first of multiple structures I will be recommending as a photo spot for aerial panoramic views of this sprawling metropolis. This building stands at 202 metres tall and has two identical towers rising side by side that can be seen from the surrounding area of Shinjuku. Inside each of the towers there is an observatory 202 metres from ground level thus giving you a birds eye view of the city.
A key point to note is that admission to this building and the observation deck is completely FREE so you can visit as many times as you like if you want to get both day and night photos of Shinjuku and the other structures in the area.
The queues are not too lengthy but there is a security check before you enter the elevators so this can take up some time. Once past the security check you are free to explore the different sides of the observatory for as long as you like. I myself went early in the morning and avoided any large crowds that arrived later on in the day. I would definitely recommend visiting this observation point at least once on your trip to Tokyo.
How to get there:
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is located roughly 10 minutes from Shinjuku Station. This is one of the main train stations in Tokyo so many of the metro lines such as the Chuo, Yamanote, Keio, Sobu, Odakyu and Marunouchi all come through the station.