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I like to compare prices across a few places for hotels! I usually start my searches on hotels.com because I find their website easy to use. They also offer 1 free night for every 10 nights booked. I know many other booking sites offer similar loyalty programs, so choose the site you will use regularly and try to stick with them. However, I am all about saving money, so I book on the cheapest site that I can find it. And don't forget to look at the hotels direct website to price check, especially when looking at smaller or boutique hotels since they may be offering some special promotions which include food or service discounts when booking direct.
My favorite way to see large cities with limited time is to take a hop-on-hop-off bus with Big Bus tours. We have done this in Sydney, London and now Paris! But they have tours in most big cities, and you can often get a discount by purchasing your tickets online, then you just download the tickets on your phone and show the ticket once when you first board the bus.
Always start your search on Skyscanner.com I love this because you can search "everywhere" if you don't know where to go, and you can view the prices over a whole month if you have flexibility in your travel dates. It's a great place to start your search! When I know in general where we want to travel to, it gives me an idea of different routes, which city-city routes have direct flights vs layovers (I try to avoid layovers at all costs when a direct flight is possible), and the cheapest routes; all which help plan the general itinerary. Once I know the route & airline I want, then I look at the airlines directly before purchasing through a third party platform if its cheapest after taking luggage into account. Yes, it takes time! But it is worth it.
When we know we will be traveling by car for tours, we bring our infant carseat (when we have an infant). If we just have 1-2 days of touring, or lots of in and out of taxis we will bring the Safe Rider harnesses, which allow for the shoulder strap to be in the correct position, and is ideal even for grabbing taxis and so forth. The Ride Safer Delight is a legal child restraint when used according to manufacturers instructions for ages 3+ and 30lbs and over. Otherwise if we will be traveling often in a vehicle then we typically take our carseats, or rent them with the vehicle. These are affilate links.
Vietnam Links & Reviews
Know whether you need a visa to travel! Here is the official Vietnam Visa webpage. Some countries are allowed to get a visa-on-arrival (you need the money in cash to pay, I believe it is $25 - but double check that!). However the easier thing to do and it costs the same, is to just apply for an evisa (if allowed based on your nationality) ahead of time. Here is the government website for that.
Somerset Grand Hanoi hotel was perfect for our family. They are apartments and we stayed in a 3 bedroom apartment which is perfect for our family. It included a kitchen with a washing machine, 2 bathrooms, living room and dining area. There is a pool on site and kids play area but we did not use these. There is one restaurant which is also where breakfast is served. We always book our hotels to include breakfast, but this one didn't come with that option. And although the breakfast was tasty, it was very expensive. The apartment complex is connected to a shopping center which has a coffee shop/restaurant, grocery store and several shops. I'd recommend buying some breakfast items and eating in your apartment. There was a lot of construction going on outside so it was loud. However the bedroom windows are insulated so it is only loud in the bathrooms and living areas. Read more about our time in Hanoi and our trip to Ha Long Bay.
Novotel Da Nang Premier Han River is a very nice hotel with great amenities but small rooms. We appreciate they have interconnecting rooms, and baby cribs which actually fit in the bathroom. They also have a great kids club, pool, gym and breakfast with several restaurant/cafe options on site. Although the rooms are small - if you keep your stuff organized by packing in packing cubes then the size of the room won't matter too much. The view was also very nice of the river, with comfortable chairs on the balcony to relax. Read about our trip to Ba Na Hills & Hoi An while staying in Da Nang.
Bali Links & Reviews
The Patra Bali Resort & Villas is in Kuta and had a beautiful pool, delicious food, a spacious 2 bedroom villa and was right on the beach and literally minutes from the airport. I highly recommend!
Kubu Bali Baik Villa & Resort in Ubud is set out in the rice fields, with large houses with private pools. The breakfast is small in selection (eggs, cereal, toast, instant coffee) but the Villa was very nice.
Tour Guide: Our guide was Jun and we would highly recommend him, as he is a safe driver, speaks English really well, is very knowledgeable and was very kind and helpful with the kids. He can do airport pick-up and drop-off, and here are some selections of the tours he offers, although it can be specialized to your needs. Contact him via email: email@example.com or via Whatsapp: +6285792299268
Ubud tour: Traditional Balinese Dance, Traditional Balinese House, Art Village, Monkey Forest, Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Holy Spring Water Temple, Tegenungan Waterfall, Coffee Plantation and Swing.
Kintamani Tour: Volcano with Mount Batur View, Hot Springs, Bamboo Forrest, Penglipuran Traditional Village, Tukad Cepung Waterfall
West Bali Tour: Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Handara Gate, Twin Lake View, Banyumala Waterfalls, Jatiluwih Rice Terrace
South Bali Tour: Tanah Lot Temple, Water Sports, Uluwatu Temple, Jimbaran Beach for Seafood Sunset Dinner
East Bali Tour: Snorkeling at Blue Lagoon, Coffee Plantation, Lempuyang Temple "Gate of Heaven", Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Nusa Penida Island Tour: Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach, Angel Billabong, Crystal Bay Beach
Koh Samet: We highly recommend Saikaew Beach Resort. It has a gorgeous beach, multiple pools, kids beach toys and very comfortable rooms and good food. It is in walking distance to many restaurants along the beach. Read about Koh Samet here.
Bangkok: If you want a gorgeous view of the Chao Phraya River and be practically next door to the Icon Siam Mall, look no further than The Millenium Hilton Bangkok It is a gorgeous hotel, has inter-connected rooms, a great breakfast and we could walk to the mall for the afternoon.
Pattaya: We have stayed at several hotels for a variety of reasons.
Holiday Inn: When my husband, infant and I were visiting for a week to find our home, we stayed at the Holiday Inn. It is right across the street from Pattaya Beach, it has a fun kids club, kids pool and adult pool both on upper levels and well sized rooms all with a full or partial view of the ocean.
Dusit Thani: We stayed at the Dusit Thani for 2 weeks once we moved while waiting for our home to be ready. The rooms facing south have the best view of Pattaya Beach! It has direct beach access, several really nice pools and was very spacious inside and outside. It had a playground for kids and a very large suite. The windows are not very sound-proof and you will hear music if there is a wedding onsite or during the International Fireworks competition which is held in the bay every year (we had a great view, but wow it was loud!!)
Sukhothai: I haven't blogged about this trip yet, but if you're on this site trying to see what to do in Thailand - this place is an awesome gem in the middle of a road trip from Bangkok area up to Chiang Mai. We loved the national park and all of it's historical structures. We stayed at Sriwilai Sukhothai hotel. It was AMAZING. The grounds were gorgeous, the rooms impeccably decorated, a beautiful pool and even a few historical monuments on the grounds. We only had 1 night there and were wishing we could stay longer. The only downside is they do not have interconnected rooms, so my husband and I were in different rooms with the kids.
Chiang Mai: When you are limited in options because you need connecting rooms, you sometimes have to compromise. The Lotus Hotel was very dated & huge, but it was also affordable and we were able to book 3 inter-connecting rooms which was a huge plus! If you want a nice bathroom, this is not your hotel. It worked for us, I don't know if I'd stay there again, but within the price range and location it was a good find.
Koh Samui: Peace Resort Koh Samui was beautiful, right on the beach, had several room styles to choose from, there were 2 separate kids club rooms, a swing set, smaller kids pool next to the normal pool and a nice selection of food. The room was beautiful and updated.
Hua Hin: You can read all about our visit to Hua Hin and what we did here. But we chose to stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Vana Nava Hua Hin because it had a connecting waterpark and a huge family room. It is not directly on the beach, however that wasn't the purpose of our stay. International Holiday Inn's are so much nicer than the ones stateside. You just get so much more value for the money. The room was comfortable, they are kid friendly and go above and beyond to make your stay with kids comfortable. To top it off they had a gorgeous roof-top pool if the water-park isn't your style.
Khao Sok National Park: This was one of our most memorable trips in Thailand so far. Sleeping in a cabin in the rain forest while the river meanders by. If you want to visit Koh Sok National Park, please look into staying at the Khao Sok Riverside Cottages as they also arrange your tours locally.
Phuket: We spent a week in Phuket and stayed at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort Which has a large and quite fast waterslide that the kids loved and rode on for hours at a time. It was a very large hotel, with a big pool, traditional style Thai rooms, and the food at the restaurant was western prices. It also has a Lagoon to canoe on if you want. It is within a few minutes drive to lots of shopping and restaurants.
We chose to stay at the Nika Island Resort & Spa because it was relatively affordable and they have 2-bedroom bungalows (with a living room) on a private section of the beach. They also have over the water bungalows, good food and can organize boat tours and activities on site. It was perfect for our family of 5 at the time, as we could be right outside enjoying the beach while our youngest child napped. It was the ideal set up and just gorgeous! Check out a full review of our stay here.
There are lots of hotels to choose from in Singapore, but if we were only to go once, we knew we wanted to splurge and stay at the Marina Bay Sands. It was impressive! Staying at the hotel you had free access to the pool on top (instead of the $100 minimum tab requirement), could easily walk to the Gardens by the Bay, walk to the Singapore Flyer and the huge mall that is connected to the hotel. Everything in the city is expensive so be prepared! And make sure you add in free activities at the Gardens by the Bay such as the light show, splash pad and the Spectra light & water show.
Hotel Belfast was a 2 minute walk from the Etoile metro stop and we had a view of the Arc de Triomphe from the hotel window! They offered connecting rooms and cribs which is a huge plus. The rooms were decent size for Paris and traditionally styled. The breakfast was expensive, so we opted to grab bagels from the bakery next door. The location was suburb, close to the metro, the hop-on-hop-off bus stop and also the Le Bus Direct (bus to the Charles de Gaulle Airport) pick up was at the corner of the road.
Prague, Czech Republic
We opted to stay at the Hotel U Prince right at the Old City Square. The hotel was very nice! We were able to book one of their larger rooms, but the main hotel is housed in a completely renovated 12th-century building. The location was perfect for an early morning at the Old City Square before many people showed up.