A Complete Guide to Grutas Tolantango Hot Springs, Mexico

water hot springs holiday Mexico

If you search for ‘Mexican Paradise’ on any social media platform, chances are you’ll come across at least one picture taken in Grutas Tolantongo. The elusive geothermal pools are quickly becoming a hotspot for insta-models on vacation in Mexico, although many are quite reluctant to tag and give away the location!

I must admit, I stumbled upon these pools in the same way as most do. After seeing a picture of the iconic pools on Instagram with no geotag, I was determined to find out more. I’ve done the research and digging so you don’t have to. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about visiting Grutas Tolantongo!

hot spring Grutas Tolantongo Mexico City

How to get to Grutas Tolantongo

The Grutas Tolantongo hot spring complex is nestled in the Hidalgo region of Mexico. Only four hours away from Mexico City, I was excited to put Grutas Tolantongo on my Mexico itinerary to break up the hustle and bustle of CDMX.

I found a few bits of information online about hiring a car and self-driving or taking the public bus to Grutas Tolantongo, but since I was a non-Spanish speaker travelling solo, I decided against these options. I ultimately chose to take a full-day private tour with Nómada Tours to the hot springs (5am-7pm). My guide took care of everything throughout the day, and I would highly recommend Nómada Tours if you’re interested in a stress-free trip to the pools.

The drive from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo takes around 4 hours (traffic-dependant, of course). I did find the trip to be a little bit longer on the way back. The hot springs are pretty remote, and the drive will take you through the Mexican desert countryside. There’s very little phone reception and no big towns nearby. You are truly in a secluded oasis by the time you arrive to the pools.

swimming pool Grutas Tolantongo

Entrance fees for Grutas Tolantongo

Entrance to the Grutas Tolantongo area is 150 pesos, which includes entry to all the water attractions, and use of the amenities (toilets, showers etc.). Parking is an extra 20 pesos. 

hotel in Mexican country side

Things to do in Grutas Tolantongo

While the pozas termales (man-made thermal pools) here are the iconic sight you’ll be coming for, the Grutas Tolantongo area actually has many attractions. Along with the man-made pools, there is a geothermal river, a thermal cave/waterfall system, zip line (an extra 100-200 pesos depending on the course), swimming pools and waterslides. You can also go hiking in the area if you wish. Here’s breakdown of the main activities.

Pozas termales

What’s not to love about cascading pools with sweeping valley views! These hot spring pools perched on the mountain are paradise. Don’t be fooled by the quiet pictures though, expect these pools to be busy with couples and big local families. If you arrive early on a weekday though, you’ll probably be able to score a pool for yourself. It’s tempting to soak in these bubbling baths all day but there’s more to see around the resort, so don’t spend the whole day here. The best place to take a panoramic shot of all the pools is at the entrance next to the security guard. 

swimming hot spring Grutas Tolantongo

Geothermal river

The river runs fairly slowly so it’s perfect to sit on the rocks in the stream and relax. The water is lukewarm due to the geothermal activity, and have a bit of a sulfur smell, so be warned. It’s a great place at the bottom of the valley to camp or have a picnic.

thermal river Grutas Tolantongo Mexico City

Caves, tunnels and waterfalls

I actually found the caves, tunnels and waterfalls to be the most exciting attractions in the complex. You’ll need to take a short walk up to the waterfall area, which is tucked away in the mountains. Once you wade through the large cold waterfall outside, you’ll find yourself in a large cave. Despite the freezing cold waterfall at the entrance, the water inside is toasty warm thanks to the geothermal waterfalls in the cave. It’s really cool to wade in the area where the two temperatures combine.

geothermal waterfall Mexico adventure

The geothermal waterfalls inside the cave are powerful enough to give a nice back massage – if you stand underneath, it’s like a natural hydrotherapy spa. There are tunnels leading off from the main cave which you can explore if you’ve got a torch. Just be aware of the strong currents if you’re not a strong swimmer. These warm waterfalls are a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else!

warm waterfall inside Mexico cave
inside cave Grutas Tolantongo

Be aware that the pozas termales pools, river and caves are all in different areas of the valley, so be prepared to drive between them or trek a substantial way. If you don’t have a car, the local hotels run a shuttle between different areas for 60-80 pesos per trip.

camping Mexico holiday

Accomodation in Grutas Tolantango

The are four small hotels in Grutas Tolantango which are run by the Hidalgo locals. They are Paraíso Escondido (closest to the man-made pools and zip line) La Gruta (closest to the waterfall/caves) La Huerta (closest to the river) and Molanguito (at the top of the valley).

These hotels don’t accept reservations in advance, so you must turn up on the day and hope they have space. If there’s no space at the hotels, or you’d prefer a more outdoorsy adventure, you can rent equipment (or BYO) and camp down by the river. Hotel rooms are between 600-1200 pesos, and tents are 120-250 pesos. The whole area is cash only, so make sure you have more than enough for your stay since the closest ATM is an hour away. Some of the Paraíso Escondido bungalows did look like they would be very comfortable from the outside. If I was to go again, I’d probably consider staying the night!

hotel in mountains Mexico

Facilities at Grutas Tolantongo

Since the infrastructure isn’t exactly designed for big buses of Western tourists, don’t expect 5-star resort amenities. The hotels are relatively simple places with half-finished buildings, basic restaurants and lots of overall charm. There is no wifi or TVs in the hotels. There are 8 restaurants in the area with simple Mexican dishes available and a some shops for convenience items (but these are by no means well-stocked). That being said, there are plenty of communal change rooms/showers/toilets in each hotel complex, which are included in your ticket price and were very clean.

enchiladas mexico city

Is Grutas Tolantongo worth visiting?

Truth be told, Grutas Tolantongo is an authentic Mexican paradise. Since I’d seen so many instaworthy pictures online, I was expecting at least a few people with big cameras and tourists lining up for the perfect shot in the pools. But I didn’t meet any other Western tourists on the day I was there – literally none! It was truly a picture-perfect Mexican getaway. I would recommend to anyone who has time to visit.

beautiful pools Grutas Tolantongo

Poppy xoxo

You can find out more about Grutas Tolantongo on the offical website here.

Want to read more about Mexico? Check out my guide to the 10 best places in Mexico City for tacos!

a complete guide to Grutas Tolantongo

How To Water Indoor Plants: 10 Tips For Watering Houseplants Like A Pro

Not sure why your indoor plants are looking a little bit sad? It might have something to do with the way you water them. Here’s some watering tips to get your houseplants thriving!

big devils ivy cutting beginner plant

1. Don’t overwater your indoor plants:

I’ve said it before and I’ll day it again – soggy plants aren’t happy plants! Most house plants don’t need to be watered as often as we think. Even if the top layer of soil seems dry to touch, the bottom of the pot could still be full of moisture from the last watering. 

Every plant species has different watering requirements, but as a general rule of thumb you’ll only need to water your indoor plants when the top few centimetres of soil are dry. The easiest way to check the soil with your fingers. If you’re not sure whether it’s time, err on the side of caution and hold back watering for a day or two. 

mini monstera water indoor plants

2. Get yourself a moisture meter:

Want to take the guesswork out of watering your indoor plants? A moisture meter will give you an accurate measurement, and will help you understand when it’s time to water your plants much better than a finger estimate!

You should be able to buy a basic moisture meter at any gardening centre. Stick your moisture meter into the soil – as close to base of the root ball as possible. After a few minutes, you should have an accurate reading of whether you soil is wet, moist or dry. This is also a great way to see if some of your plants retain more moisture than others. 

jade plant grow indoor plants water

3. Water your indoor plants deeply:

Rather than giving your plants little sips, try giving them a deep water. Watering your plants deeply allows the soil and roots to be moistened evenly, whereas as little trickles don’t always reach all areas of their pot.

So how do you water deeply? Well, simply give your plant a good soaking until you start to see water running out the drainage holes. It’s best to water like this in the sink, shower or outside so you don’t leave puddles around your house. Plants that are watered deeply generally don’t need a shower as often, since moisture in the pot remains for longer – which is great for busy people.

marble queen devils ivy water plant

4. Don’t let your indoor plants sit in water:

Unless you’ve got aquatic plants sitting in a fish tank, your houseplants won’t like living in a puddle of water. Leaving your plants to sit in water can lead to issues like root rot, mould and even mosquitos breeding in tropical areas. 

For your small plants with saucers, wait a few minutes for the water to collect in the saucer before tipping it out. If you have giant plants that are difficult to move, pop a sponge in the side of the saucer to soak up the excess liquid. Don’t worry if you forget to empty the saucers for a few hours – your plants should be okay. Leaving the water for days however could start to cause problems! 

The only exception to leaving houseplants sitting in water is when you’re ‘butt-chugging’! – more on that below!

burros tail water indoor plant beginner

5. Give your houseplants a ‘butt-chug’:

‘Butt-chugging’, or bottom watering, is a method of watering where you let your indoor plants drink from below. It’s a great way to water if you haven’t got a watering can, or you’ve got plants that don’t like their leaves being splashed with water. 

Fill a saucer or plastic container with water and let your plant sit directly in the water. The water will wick it’s way up through the drainage holes into the soil, and your plants will gradually suck up the water they need. Bottom watering generally works better for plants with strong root systems, so give it a try with these plants first. Some people in the gardening community solely water their plants this way, and swear by it!

spider plant indoor houseplants watering tips

6. Tilt your pots: 

Sometimes water can sit in the bottom of the pot when you give your plants a shower, even when there are lots of drainage holes. 

If you suspect your pot is holding extra water, try tilting it on a 45 degree angle – if there’s excess liquid, it should drip out slowly. I tend to give all my plants a tilt after watering, just to be sure!

peperomia indoor plant beginner

7. Dial back on watering to combat fungus gnats:

If you’ve got indoor plants with a fungus gnat problem, your watering habits can help make or break their breeding cycle. 

Fungus gnats love laying their eggs in the top layer of moist soil. If you can keep your indoor plants dry, it discourages them from breeding. You can do this by watering only when it’s absolutely necessary, or try bottom watering to give your indoor plants a drink without overly moistening the top soil. 

black rubber plant houseplant

8. Use lukewarm water:

You wouldn’t particularly enjoy an icy bath, so why would your plants? Make sure the water you’re using is room temperature to avoid any unnecessary shocks to the system. This is especially important in winter, where tap water could be close to freezing depending on where you live!

begone rex plant water tips

9. Know who to mist and who to miss:

Misting can be a great addition to general watering of your indoor plants. It helps increase humidity and keep leaves dust free, just like a sprinkle of rain would in the wild. 

Certain plants like ferns love their leaves being misted, but be warned – not all of your houseplants will enjoy being spritzed. For some plants, especially those with furry leaves, misting can be detrimental and cause damage to the foliage, so do your research before getting trigger-happy with your spray bottle. 

devils ivy plant beginner

10. Give your indoor plants a shower: 

For plants that don’t mind a splash of water, try giving them a shower next time they’re thirsty. 

Houseplants which originate from humid tropical regions will especially enjoy a shower every once in a while. Water falling from a shower-head mimics natural rainfall your plants would experience in the wild. Just make sure you don’t go into autopilot and blast the hot water like you would for your own shower!

beginner indoor plant soil

Keep these tips in mind next time your plants need a drink. Even if you’ve had watering problems in the past, keep trying until you get it right – your plants will thank you!

Poppy xoxo

If you’re new to houseplants, take a look at this post I’ve written on 9 things every indoor plant beginner should know.

how to water indoor plants

11 Awesome Places To Eat In Western Sydney

Sick of eating at the same places in Sydney over and over again? If you’re willing to travel out of the city, you’ll find loads of hidden gems in the suburbs of Sydney – you just need to know where to look. Here are 11 great places to eat in Western Sydney!

1. YX Mini Hot Pot

If you’re looking to get lost in another world, get yourself to YX Mini Hot Pot. This hot pot restaurant has been decorated to look like a scene out of a traditional Chinese fairytale, which definitely makes the dining experience feel special. Now for the food – each diner gets their own individual hot pot, and the ordering is all done electronically from the tablet on your table. I love how the meat is presented, especially the platter of roses! The food here is pricier than the usual hot pot joint, but the quality of your meal and the overall experience matches the price. YX Mini Hot Pot has also opened a new location in Haymarket recently, which has more of a cosy private booth atmosphere. 

delicious hotpot western Sydney dinner eat

2. Wagyu House KBBQ

This is the holy grail of all-you-can-eat Korean BBQs, and at around $35 a head you’ll be hard-pressed to find better value. Wagyu House has a huge selection of quality meats and they use wire grilling plates with charcoal, which gives your meat a great smoky flavour. It’s busy every night of the week, so come early if you want to avoid the lines! 

Wagyu House Korean BBQ buffet western Sydney

3. Kanzo Sushi

There’s no shortage of Japanese restaurants in Sydney, but Kanzo is one of the best in the West. The sushi combinations served at Kanzo aren’t the typical Japanese offerings – think Aussie fusion, with lots of toppings and delicious sauces. It’s a busy lunchtime spot for workers in the local area, so be prepared for the lunch rush on weekdays.

Kanzo sushi western Sydney dinner restaurant in Parramatta

4. Knafeh

The guys at Knafeh love theatrics, but it’s their sweet cheesy dessert that steals the show. For anyone not familiar with the Knafeh dessert, it’s a traditional Middle Eastern sweet made of baked cheese and breadcrumbs, drenched in sugar syrup – yum! The bearded bakers at Knafeh run as a pop up all over western Sydney, so check their social media to find where they’re baking at any given time. 

Knafeh dessert western Sydney Lebanese sweet cheese

5. Tan Viet

This Vietnamese restaurant is famous for its iconic noodle soup and crispy chicken that will blow your mind. The menu here is simple and the service is lightning fast, since most diners already know their order before they even step foot in the restaurant. The soup here is not your typical Vietnamese pho – it’s a more nourishing bone-broth full of goodness. And the crispy chicken is fried to perfection every time!

Tan Viet restaurant Vietnamese soup western Sydney food

6. The Woods Pantry

This modern cafe in the suburbs focuses on Aussie classics with a middle eastern twist. The highlight of the menu here is the Knafeh French toast – a sweet cheesy desert (or breakfast if you’ve got a sweet tooth) served with pistachio ice cream and a generous drizzle of fragrant rosewater syrup. Besides the food, I can’t get over the giant horse covered in plants that lives here – random, but cool.

French toast brunch western Sydney cafe

7. Al Aseel

Al Aseel is probably the most iconic Lebanese restaurant in Sydney, and for good reason. Its menu is full of mouth-watering Lebanese flavours, served in big portions fit for even the biggest of appetites. Al Aseel is the perfect place to bring a group of friends and share plates of delicious Middle Eastern food.

Al Aseel Lebanese restaurant western Sydney food

8. Bay Vista

Chocoholics take note – Bay Vista is your one-stop shop for deserts in the West. They’ve got liquid chocolate on tap, crepe and pancake making stations, and ice cream bowls with all the toppings you could ask for. The place is open until late, so you can enjoy indulge your sweet tooth or grab a coffee after hours.

bay vista ice cream bowl dessert parramatta

9. Tuk Tuk

Traditional Thai flavours are the drawcard here at Tuk Tuk, in a city oversaturated with Thai restaurants. While they’ve got all the usual Thai dishes, the bold flavours here pack a punch and you’ll be back for more! If you’re not good with chilli, make sure you tell the waiters you’d like your dishes very mild – otherwise you’ll be crying tears of spiciness (I found this out the hard way).

Tuk Tuk thai lao restaurant canley vale dinner spicy food

10. Hot Pot City

Hot Pot City is home to a buffet with an amazing spread full of seafood, vegetables, noodles, sauces and meat. Pick your soup flavour and get stuck into plates of all your hot pot favourites!

hot pot soup Bankstown buffet all you can eat asian food

11. Poke Bros

If you’re craving a healthy meal, stop in at Poke Bros and pick yourself up a delicious poke bowl. They have seafood, chicken and vegetarian options, with decent portions and fresh ingredients. Even though it’s not particularly traditional, I love the spicy Korean chicken bowl with mayo and kimchi – its secret ingredient is cream cheese! 

poke bowl Cabramatta delicious  healthy food Korean chicken

So there you have it – 11 great places to try in Sydney that aren’t in the city CBD! Give one of these a try next time you’re hungry for something different. 

Poppy xoxo 

If you’re looking for more Sydney recommendations, check my list of 15 free things to do in Sydney, as recommended by a local.


Buying A Rug In Morocco: The Best Tips and Tricks

buying rug Morocco

Everybody has heard a thing or two about Moroccan rugs, but until you visit Morocco you won’t fully understand how important rugs are to the local culture. Rugs are not just for home decor in Morocco, they are an integral part of any household. Every single house in Morocco has at least one rug, and they are used for everything – carpets, couches, beds and outdoor seating. If you’re thinking about buying a rug when you visit Morocco, keep reading to find out some tips and tricks for your buying experience.

The history of rugs in Morocco

Rugs are deeply engrained in Moroccan culture, and have historically been woven by the women of Berber tribes. Traditionally, rugs were used to protect people from the harsh elements of the snowy Atlas mountains and the arid Sahara desert. Weavers used tribal symbols and motifs to create both simple and intricate wool rugs, full of charm and practicality. Nowadays, Moroccan women still make authentic rugs by hand, which can take months of work depending on the size and complexity. Most of Morocco’s rugs are still made in rural Berber (indigenous) communities and brought to the big cities to be sold.

marrakech rug shopping Morocco tips

Where you can buy rugs in Morocco

No matter where you go in Morocco, you’ll be able to find shops selling rugs – even in tiny rural towns, there will be rugs on display ready for tourists to buy. There are hundreds of rug stores in every major city, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to where to shop. As you wander the souks, expect most rug stores to have small shopfronts with a few rugs hanging out the front. You won’t know how big the store really is until you go inside. More often than not, the tiny entrance opens up to a grand room, with hundreds of rugs piled up around the edges of a large tiled floor.

Man selling rugs in Morocco

Be careful of rug shops (especially any you visit with a tour group) that tell you they’re part of a womens cooperative, and paint a picture that buying from their shop will help local women earn a decent living. In most cases, this isn’t true. The women who make rugs usually earn a low fixed price for their work (regardless of how much you pay) and the shop owner pockets the rest, so don’t fall for this story and pay extra because you think you’ll be supporting those in need.

Rug shop in Marrakech

What to expect when you walk into a rug shop

The expectation is that you’ll go into a rug shop with a rough idea of what you’re after, and the staff will go through their stock and lay out rugs matching your ideas. Having a clear idea of what size, style and colours you’re after will really help the process, and give the staff a good starting point.

You’ll end up with dozens of rugs laid out on the floor, as the staff try to show you things they think you’ll like. Don’t feel bad for asking them to lay more and more rugs out – it’s their job, and you want to make sure you find something you really like. If you’re not into what’s being laid out, speak up or forever hold your peace. If you say nothing, they’ll keep laying out the same type of rugs, so communicate what you do or don’t like so they can narrow down the search. When you find some rugs that take your fancy, get them put to the side.

Happy shopkeeper in Morocco

Should you say yes to the tea?

While you’re browsing, the staff will more often than not offer you some mint tea – this offering is part and parcel of Moroccan culture. Accepting the tea doesn’t lock you into buying anything, so drink your tea and enjoy it.

Colourful textiles in Marrakech shop

What you should look for when browsing Moroccan rugs

When you’re browsing rugs, look for ones with a tight weave, and feel the surface to make sure you like the texture. Get the staff to flip the rug over so you can examine the underside, to check for any holes or issues. Authentic moroccan rugs are made from wool fibres, but there are dupes floating around even in shops that look reputable. If you suspect something is synthetic, try the old fire test – hold a lighter to a corner, and if it burns or has an unpleasant smell, it’s likely made from synthetic fibres.

piles of Morocco rugs

It’s important to remember that handmade rugs will have colour variations and slight imperfections – that’s part of the charm of a handcrafted item. Perfectionists beware – this might cause you a bit of a headache. If you find a piece that you absolutely love but you find a hole or some small damage, ask the staff if there’s any chance of getting it repaired – minor issues can often be fixed in the weave of a rug. They can do a lot with altering rugs to suit your needs – I’ve even had offers to cut and re-finish large rugs into a smaller sizes because I said I’d buy the rugs if they weren’t so big!

antique rugs in Morocco shop

Okay, you’ve narrowed down your options – now what?

Once you’ve gone through all the rugs and narrowed it down a few that you like, get the staff to move away all the rejects and lay the finalists out side by side to pick the winners. You can ask if it’s okay to take photos of the rugs, although many stores will say no because their stock is unique and they don’t want to risk the designs being copied by other craftsmen.

Hopefully, you’ll know when you find the rug (or rugs) you’re after – you’ll get that feeling in your heart that it’s a piece you just have to have! If none of the rugs tug on your heart strings, thank the staff and head to another shop. It can be easy to be pressured into buying since they’ve gone to the trouble of laying out so many options. But at the end of the day, buying a rug is a significant and personal purchase, so if it doesn’t feel right put your foot down and walk away. Don’t let the shop owner bully you into buying something you don’t truly want!

shopping for souvenirs in Morocco

When you’re ready to buy your Moroccan rug

When you’re ready to buy, it’s time to start bargaining. Only engage in the bargaining process if you’re serious about buying, and go in hard. Don’t let on that you’ve made up your mind on a specific rug – if the staff catch on, they’ll know they can charge more because you’ve fallen in love with that particular piece. Walk away if you’re having trouble bringing the price down – they will likely come back with a more reasonable offer if they’re about to lose your business. If you’re asking for a price out of pure curiosity, take the quoted price and halve it as a general rule to determine the final price you’d except to pay. Once you really start the bargaining process, it’s rude to back out (not to mention a waste of time for both parties involved – and you could already be at the next shop browsing their stock).

When you’ve agreed on a final price, the staff will pack the rug up for you. They are notoriously good at packing large rugs into a size small enough to take as carry on luggage (they love to use this line to convince you to buy!). Don’t forget to take a picture of your rugs before they pack them – once they’re all bundled up, it’d be unwise to unpack them until you get back home.

beautiful rugs in rural Morocco

How you should pay

While the majority of shops will accept credit cards, they prefer cash and will happily wait for you to go to an ATM once you’ve settled on a price. There’s usually a large surcharge on card purchases so cash is the way to go to save a bit of money. Most places will be able to ship any purchases back home for a fee, which is worth considering if you’re short on luggage space.

layers of Moroccan rugs

And that’s it! Hopefully these tips will help you to find the perfect Moroccan rug for your home, and you’ll know what to expect throughout the buying process. Happy shopping!

Poppy xoxo

If you love buying authentic souvenirs, check out these other awesome things to purchase when you’re in Morocco.

15 FREE Things To Do In Sydney, According To A Local

We all know Sydney isn’t exactly the cheapest city in the world, and living here I know this all too well. Things can really add up if you’re not paying attention to your spending while you explore this beautiful city. While it’s nice to indulge sometimes, there’s plenty of things us locals love to do in this harbour city that won’t cost you a thing! Here’s a great little list of free activities that will keep you busy in Sydney, as recommended by a local.

1. Visit one of Sydney’s beaches

Sydney is lined with beautiful beaches – the coastal lifestyle is of the city’s greatest draw cards. Unlike lots of other places around the world where beach access is privatised, beaches in Sydney are completely free for all to enjoy! Whether it’s iconic Bondi, northern Palm Beach or down south in Cronulla, hit the beach and enjoy the sand between your toes.

Coogee beach Sydney Australia

2. Art Gallery of NSW

The Art Gallery Of NSW is the biggest art gallery in the Sydney, and while there are usually seasonal exhibits which require admission tickets, the majority of the art is free for the public to admire. The gallery has an impressive collection of art on multiple levels, with a great display of indigenous Australian pieces. It’s a great place to visit for a date, family day out or solo for some creative inspiration.

Art Gallery of NSW paintings

3. MCA

The MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is another great art gallery in Sydney, located in Circular Quay. There are lots of free galleries inside the museum filled with great contemporary art, and the rooftop cafe has a stunning view of the harbour you won’t want to miss!

contemporary art museum

4. Walk along the Harbour Bridge

The Harbour Bridge is an absolute Australian icon, and you’ll probably find most visitors to Sydney have seeing the bridge on their bucket list. If doing the offical climb to the top of the bridge is a little out of your budget (it’s not cheap!), try taking a free walk along the bridge’s pedestrian path and enjoy the same view. A slow stroll will take about 30 minutes, and the view will definitely be worth the walk.

beautiful Harbour bridge in Sydney

5. Bondi to Bronte walk

Another free activity that Sydney-siders love is the famous beachside walk between Bondi and Bronte beaches. You’ll get your steps up while being treated to beautiful ocean views!

bondi icebergs beach pool

6. Enjoy the gardens and water fountains in Darling Quarter

Just a quick walk from Darling Harbour, the newly-updated Darling Quarter area is full of restaurants, water fountains and playgrounds. Make your way down and relax by the water features, or have a cheeky swing in the park.

darling quarter fountain Sydney

7. Stroll around Paddy’s Markets

If you’re looking for souvenirs, Paddy’s Market in Haymarket will already be on your radar. But this Sydney market has much more than just ‘I love Sydney’ keyrings. Paddy’s Market has a whole section down the back dedicated to fresh produce, as well as stalls for clothes, electronics and questionable lingerie. Get lost wandering around the aisles – a bit of window shopping never hurt anybody!

Paddy's market activities in Sydney

8. Check out the views at Circular Quay

Even as a local, I love coming down to Circular Quay every once in a while to soak up the views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Admiring these Sydney icons with the ocean breeze in your hair is an experience money can’t buy – literally, because it’s free! A little tip – the best panoramic view is from the platform inside Circular Quay train station, so don’t forget to stop and take pictures if you get off the train here.

sunset in Sydney harbour bridge

9. Walk the steps of the Opera House

While you’re in Circular Quay enjoying the views, you’ll definitely want to visit the famous Opera House. If a prestigious show in the Opera House is a little out of your price range, not to worry – you can walk up the steps, around the front perimeter and have a peek inside for free.

Opera house bar at sunset Sydney

10. Admire the view from the top of Queen Victoria Building

The historic Queen Victoria Building is home to many luxury boutiques, and is largely a thoroughfare for people getting from point A to B in the city. Ditch the crowds on the lower levels and make your way up to level 2, where you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the building’s stunning architecture for free – don’t forget your camera!

QVB Queen Victoria building town hall

11. Relax in one of Sydney’s parks

Sydney City is full of green spaces, all of which are open freely to the public. Visit the Botanical Gardens for a beautiful area of manicured gardens, Hyde Park for the War Memorial, or Observatory Hill for an alternative view of Sydney Harbour.

Hyde park Sydney activities

12. Enjoy the light and sound exhibitions of Vivid

During the winter months, Sydney city puts on Vivid – a free display of night-time art around for the public to enjoy. You can expect colourful art projected onto iconic buildings around the city, and well as interactive light and sound installations which come alive at night. The city gets extremely busy during Vivid winter nights, but crowds are part of the fun in my opinion.

13. Plane-spotting at Brighton-Le-Sands

If you like aviation, this one’s for you! Sydney is one of the few places in the world that has its airport situated in the heart of the city, which makes for awesome plane-spotting. Get yourself down to Brighton-Le-Sands beach, where you can watch planes fly in and out whilst sitting on the sand.

B747 Qantas plane spotting Sydney

14. Browse for books at Kinokunya and Dymmocks

Looking for a great free activity that will keep your mind busy? Spend some time browsing in Japanese bookstore Kinokunya, or head down the road to the classic Dymmocks store in Town Hall. You could spend all day flipping though the books at either of these stores, both which have cafes if you’re looking for a coffee to go with your page-turner.

town hall QVB

15. Visit the Grounds of Alexandria

Part restaurant complex, part garden oasis, the Grounds of Alexandria is a new Sydney icon in the age of Instagram (you’ll recognise it as the backdrop for many influencer shoots!). The food at the Grounds of Alexandria can be a bit pricey, but it’s completely free to wander around the complex, and is totally worth visiting for an earthy vibe that will transport you to the countryside.

grounds of Alexandria Sydney activities things to do

I hope you like this list of free things to do in Sydney!

Poppy xoxo

Want to read more about Sydney? Check out this post on 11 Awesome Places To Eat In Western Sydney.

15 free things to do in Sydney local advice

The Truth About Tulum: What You Won’t See On Social Media

You won’t need to look very far to find someone who’s been to Tulum, or thinking about visiting. It’s a hotspot for travellers wanting to enjoy the relaxed bohemian vibes of Mexico. 

But Tulum isn’t all it seems on social media – I found out the hard way when I visited this up-and-coming destination for myself. Here’s a few things people don’t tell you about Tulum, so you can be prepared before you go.

tulum ruins things you should know Mexico

There’s a big divide between Tulum’s town and beach

Tulum is separated into two main areas – the pueblo, or township where the majority of locals live, and the playa, the built-up strip along the beach. The pueblo and playa are connected by a big main road, and it’s possible to drive or bike between the two.

While the geographical divide between the two areas isn’t that big, there’s definitely a metaphorical divide that’s only getting larger as more and more people flock to Tulum to live out their influencer fantasies. 

Even though it’s a huge tourist destination, Tulum’s pueblo has largely maintained the atmosphere of a small Mexican town. There’s essentially one main road with touristy restaurants and shops. Once you step off this road it’s like any other small town in Mexico, with locals going about their daily life. There’s a few glitzy accomodation options tucked away in the jungle, but the majority of hotels have modest Mexican hospitality.

Tulum’s playa however is almost the complete opposite of this. The beach is lined with wellness retreats, exclusive beach sanctuaries and reservation-only restaurants. Most of these venues aren’t particularly Mexican, but instead have been manufactured to have that rustic tropical vibe that tourists enjoy. The playa is the side of Tulum that you’ll generally see on social media, and is definitely full of places to see and be seen.

Tulum town pueblo, holiday guide

The weather in Tulum is pretty unpleasant  

Tulum is situated in the jungle, and during the day the weather in is extremely hot and humid. And I’m talking unpleasantly humid, to the point where you’ll be lucky to stand outside for 5 minutes without wanting to jump into an ice bath. The sun is absolutely relentless, and there’s minimal breeze, so you’re left to basically boil. Some of my days in Tulum were truly worse than being stuck Southeast Asia or Delhi in the middle of summer. 

Aside from a refreshing dip in one of the nearby cenotes, the only place where you can get a little bit of relief from this heat is along the beach where there’s an ocean breeze, but keep reading to see why this isn’t exactly practical.

relaxing in tulum Mexico cenote holiday vacation

Anything beachfront in Tulum is going to be expensive 

Beachfront accommodation in Tulum is eye-wateringly expensive. You’ll be spending at least a few hundred dollars per person each night for even the modest hotels along the beach. For those dreamy luxury options you see all over social media, you could easily be spending over $1000USD per night in peak season due to their popularity.

It’s totally possible to skip the expensive beach hotels – instead, you could just visit a few insta-worthy restaurants and hotels and take a few snaps while you’re there. If you plan on doing this though, be aware that you’ll be paying for the pleasure, and you’ll most likely need a reservation to do so.

Almost all venues along the beach have a minimum spend per person, and it’s usually pretty substantial. To make matters worse, most of these establishment prefer to charge in US dollars if they can, which adds a bit more to the bill once the currency conversion is done. You’re also expected to tip and pay for things like valet parking, so a quick bite to eat can really start to add up! And after all that, you might not even have the chance to take that perfect photo you were chasing, especially if it’s busy.

Most of the beach in Tulum is privately owned 

If you’re not willing to pay for beach access, you might have a tough time enjoying the sun and sand in Tulum. 

There are a few spots along the Tulum shoreline which have public access, so technically if you enter through these areas you’ll be able to walk along the beach. But most resorts won’t let you use their facilities or walk through their premises to get back to the road unless you’re staying there, so you’ll be stuck in limbo if you stray too far from the overcrowded public beaches.

The seaweed on the beach in Tulum is out of control 

Another thing to consider if you’re heading to the beach in Tulum is the infamous seaweed problem. 

Despite government efforts to keep algae offshore, it’s still washing up on the beaches of Tulum by the tonne-load. The only stretches of the beach where this isn’t a problem is in front of luxury hotels, where groundskeepers are constantly sweeping the beach. 

The result is giant piles of decaying seaweed along the beach, with pretty pungent smells and swarms of bugs. Not exactly what you’d plan for when going on a beach holiday! 

So there you have it, a few things to keep in mind about Tulum, so you don’t have an unexpected reality check when you arrive! Don’t let these things stop you from visiting this awesome beach town though – there are plenty of awesome things to do around Tulum that makes visiting totally worthwhile.

Poppy xoxo

Want to read more about Tulum? Check out my solo travel guide.

9 Things Every Indoor Plant Beginner Should Know!

indoor plants tips beginner

I’ve always invested in good-quality faux plants, so I could travel and know I’d be coming back to beautiful and healthy (fake) plants every trip. But recently with travel grinding to a halt, I found myself at home with plenty of time to care for some real green babies. What started as a few indoor plants around the house quickly turned into a full-blown obesssion with all the bells and whistles. Now, I’m a crazy house plant person!

So for those with little houseplant experience, where should you start? There’s a lot of gardening information out there, but once you cut through all the planty jargon, there are really only a few key things that you need to know to keep your indoor jungle thriving.

So here’s a great little list of things I think every houseplant beginner should know before they dive right into their plant obsession! 

mini monstera houseplant beginner

1. Houseplants love humidity:

Most of the houseplants we know and love originate from South East Asia or South America, where they would have lived in humid jungle environments. If you can mimic this humidity in your home, your houseplants will thrive!

Even in a house where it isn’t particularly humid, there are methods you can use to raise humidity levels for your plants. You can try:

  • misting the leaves (not all species like water on their leaves, so check before you mist)
  • keeping plants close together to increase humidity 
  • standing your pots on a tray of wet pebbles (but don’t let the bottom of the pot sit directly in the water) 
  • running a humidifier 
  • keeping them in the bathroom (where showers help to keep the air moist)
burros tail indoor plant

2. Don’t overwater your indoor plants:

Overwatering is the biggest killer of house plants, and is probably the biggest issue for your new green babies – soggy plants are not happy plants! It’s really easy to whip out the watering can whenever you sense your plants are unhappy. But realistically, indoor plants don’t need as much watering as beginners think they do. Apart from being soggy, overwatering can lead to a host of other issues for your houseplants, including root rot, mould, fungal infections, and pests breeding in the wet soil. 

Each species of plant has different watering requirements, but a general rule of thumb is to feel the soil and only water plants when the top few centimetres of soil is dry to touch. 

It can be tempting to run to a watering schedule, but changes in weather or humidity might mean plants need water quicker or slower than usual. If you’re not sure if it’s time’s to water, err on the side of caution and hold back for a day or two. I’ve written a whole post with tips and tricks for watering houseplants, which you can read here

cutting devils ivy beginner plant

3. Drainage is key for indoor plants:

Next to overwatering, drainage is another major issue which can cause beginner houseplants to go downhill fast. Indoor plants HATE sitting in water, and their roots will start rotting if they become waterlogged. 

To give your plants the best chance of flourishing, make sure they are living in a pot with lots of drainage holes. The grower pots plants come sold in at the nursery are a good examples of well-draining pots. By having a good drainage situation, your plants can soak up the amount of water they need and get rid of the rest.

string of pearls grow houseplant baby

4. Repotting straight away might not be necessary:

The idea of repotting plants as soon as you take them home has always been drilled into me – and I think most beginner plant enthusiasts probably think the same. After all, repotting straight away lets the plant settle into its “forever” home, right? Well it turns out, repotting new indoor plants isn’t always a good idea – here’s why. 

Taking a plant home from the nursery can be a bit of a challenge for your new green friend – new lighting conditions, temperatures and humidity can stress out even the healthiest of houseplants. Couple that with repotting and changing the soil environment, and you’re almost certain to send the plant into a little bit of shock. 

Generally, if you think repotting is going to be necessary in the near future, it’s probably worth biting the bullet and doing it straight away. That way, your plant doesn’t have to cope with two rounds of stress – settling into its new home only to be shocked again with a new pot. But if the current pot still has room for the plant to grow, it might be best to let it stay put. If in doubt, postpone the repotting and let your indoor plant settle into its new environment first. 

monstera leaf opening indoor plant

5. Rotate your indoor plants:

Plants usually like to grow towards the light, and houseplants are no exception. If you keep your plant facing the same direction for too long, you might start to notice your plant growing a bit lopsided – this is because it’s focusing its energy on growing into the light. Rotate your pots regularly to keep foliage growing in all directions – it’ll keep you plant looking full and happy!

6. Buy cute cover pots for your regular pots:

So by now, you know that drainage is absolutely key for happy houseplants. But whenever you go shopping for pots, the awesome designs never have any drainage holes…. what’s an indoor plant lover to do? 

An easy solution is to measure the size of your plant’s current pot, and purchase a decorative pot a few centimetres larger. That way, you can use this larger pot to hide the boring one inside – you’ll keep your plant well-drained and stylish at the same time. 

When it’s time to water, you’ll just need to shimmy the plant out of its decorative and give it a good soak, making sure any excess water drains before putting it back in the outer pot. 

7. Inspect and monitor your foliage for pests:

It’s easy to get excited at the nursery and buy the first plants you see, but if you’re not careful you could be bringing pesky hitchhikers home with you. Before you purchase, check the stems, undersides of leaves and soil for any signs of bugs which could cause problems in the future. 

The best thing you can do to keep your plant collection pest-free is set up a quarantine routine. If you can, isolate new plants for at least two weeks before putting them into general plant population – this gives you time to see whether the plant has any pest issues, and keeps the spread to a minimum.

While your plant is settling into its new home, keep checking regularly for any little critters – if you catch them early, you have a much better chance of managing the problem before it turns into a full-blown infestation. 

If you do find some bugs, don’t panic and throw the whole plant out- there’s plenty of natural and chemical options out there to help combat pest issues. Try to identify the pest, and treat accordingly. Make sure you put the affected plants back into quarantine so they don’t keep spreading to others in your collection!

big monstera indoor

8. Find your ‘goldilocks’ lighting conditions:

It’s important as an indoor plant beginner to find the ‘goldilocks’ lighting conditions in your home. Not too light, not too dark – just right. Without proper lighting conditions, your plants won’t thrive. Best case scenario, they simply don’t grow, worst case scenario, they shrivel and die. 

Not giving your plants enough light is a common mistake made by lots of houseplant beginners. Before you bring home the plant of your dreams, take some time to figure out if it’s intended spot will have enough light. Try to remember that low light doesn’t mean no light, it just means it won’t die in poorly-lit conditions. Even plants suited to low light conditions will benefit from a little extra filtered light. 

On the other side of the spectrum, say you proudly put your new little friends under the brightest window in your house – but instead of them thriving like you’d expect, you start to see brown spots or sad-looking foliage. Too much light can also be a deal-breaker for your plants, as the sun can burn their leaves and cause grief.

Ultimately, the ‘goldilocks’ position for most houseplants is in bright indirect light. What is that exactly? A spot which receives plenty light, but where rays of sun don’t hit your plants’ foliage directly. Bright indirect light is a houseplant lover’s best friend!

Some plants are more sensitive to direct light than others that others, so do a quick search online to see whether your plant will burn if it spends too much time in harsh rays. If you’re worried about your plants getting sunburnt, try introducing a sheer curtain, moving the plants a bit further from the window, or get something like a cactus that loves soaking up the sun.

rubber plant black houseplant

9. Everyone has differing opinions on what’s best for plants:

The internet definitely isn’t short of gardening advice, and it’s easy to get confused with so much conflicting information out there. One website will say a certain plant is sun-loving grower you’ll be hard-pressed to kill, and the next will say it’s a finicky shade-lover that beginners should steer clear of.

At the end of the day, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to indoor plant care, and realistically you’ll end up making adjustments according to how your plant reacts. What works for one plant might not work for another – it’s a bit of trial and error.

If all the internet advice is giving you a headache, don’t stress – your plant will most likely come with a little tag of care instructions, so use these as the basis for your care if you’re unsure of what to do. 

zz plant growing indoor beginner

Keep these tips in mind next time you take a trip to the local nursery – they’ll help take you from black thumb to green goddess in no time!

Poppy xoxo

Want more tips and ticks for indoor plants? Take a look at this post on how to water your houseplants like a pro.

9 tips for indoor plant beginners

What To Eat At Tashas: South Africa’s Best Cafe Chain

My guilty pleasure in South Africa is the popular cafe chain Tashas. It’s the perfect place for brunch with friends, business meetings or a quick solo bite. When I travel to Johannesburg, you’ll find me at Tashas almost everyday for some sort of meal. I’ve tried basically everything on the menu at some stage or another – so here are my favourite picks!

Something sweet

Classic French toast with a side of crispy bacon:
This French toast is the real deal. I don’t know how they get the outside of the French toast so crispy and caramelised while keeping the inside soft and fluffy – it’s soooo good! The dish is perfect by itself with its berry reduction, but I always get a side of crispy bacon to cut through the sugar. Be prepared for the sugar rush to follow after you polish this off.

French toast breakfast South Africa

Something savoury

Mediterranean tostada:
If you’re looking for something really filling, this tostada is your best bet for a full stomach. It’s loaded with so much good stuff – grilled chicken, hummus, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, feta, chilli flakes, cumin, parsley and vinaigrette, all served on top of a crispy wholegrain wrap. I’d recommend ordering a side of avocado to go on top…. you’ll basically get a whole avocado, and it’s totally worth it for that extra creamy texture.

Creamed avo on toast:
Everyone loves a good smashed avocado on toast, but this one has a bit of a twist. Expect your avocado to be creamed with almond and served with fennel, labneh, chives, parsley, spiced pistachios, cucumber & gluten-free sourdough. This is a really good vegetarian option, with surprisingly good gluten-free bread (I guess that makes this gluten free?!).

Hummus toastie:
Hummus, rocket, avocado, tomatoes, feta, poached egg, za’atar spice & toasted village bread. It’s definitely a bit of an upgrade from the usual eggs on toast! And another good option for those vegetarians out there.

Don’t forget with all the savoury dishes, you can go crazy with the sides! They have everything from halloumi to chicken schnitzel, and they’re all really well-priced.

Something healthy

Sometimes you just need a simple and hearty breakfast – if that’s what you’re in the mood for, order the oats. Banana, maple yogurt, coconut, chia and cinnamon-spiced warm oats – your stomach will thank you for this one! You’ll feel like snuggling up in the corner with a book while you slowly make your way through this bowl of goodness, and I’m sure the staff will be happy for you to do just that if it’s not a busy morning.

Fruit salad:
Nothing like a huge bowl of fruit salad to keep you happy and healthy. You can order with a side of yogurt and muesli to make it a more substantial meal. Perfect for a light summer brunch, or a few colourful snaps for your Instagram story.

Something to drink

Peanut protein smoothie:
This smoothie is so dense and filling it could almost be considered a light meal. Peanut butter, banana, almond milk, chia seeds, spiced agave syrup and cinnamon are blended to perfection, and those gym junkies out there can add whey protein into the mix for that extra kick.

Tashas hot choc with marshmallows:
This deconstructed drink is the perfect option on a cold day! They serve all the elements separately, so you can ladle in the Nutella and make your drink as chocolatey (or un-chocolatey) as you like.

Berry açai smoothie:
If you’re attempting to keep your juice cleanse alive, reach for this big glass of fruity goodness. Açai, banana, blueberry, mango and apple juice make for a light and refreshing  smoothie you’ll love.

Fresh Juices with Ginger:
They love asking you if you’d like ginger in any of their fresh juices, so be sure to say yes if you like that gingery zing.

There’s plenty of other amazing dishes on the menu at Tashas, so don’t limit yourself to the things in this post – enjoy!

Poppy xoxo

Want to read more foodie content? Check out my post about the 10 best places for tacos in Mexico City! 

what to eat at Tashas South Africa

13 Souvenirs To Buy In Morocco: A Shopping Guide

Man in sweet shop, Marrakech Morocco

If you’re like me and love anything remotely bohemian, Morocco will be your dream destination for souvenirs. The souks (markets) are packed with colours and chaos, filled to the brim with things that are both decorative and practical. While Morocco can be overwhelming with so many shops and souvenirs, there are a few things that really stood out to me as must-buy mementos of my trip. Here’s a list of 13 things souvenirs that you should pick up in Morocco, so you can budget accordingly!

spice shop in Marrakech Morocco

1. Rugs
Everywhere you go in Morocco, you’ll come across shops selling beautiful handmade rugs. There are so many different styles, sizes and colours to choose from, so you’re sure to find the perfect rug for your home. Have fun at the carpet shops, as staff lay rug upon rug out on the floor for you to admire – and don’t forget to bargain hard when you find the one you love! I’ve written a whole post about buying rugs in Morocco, which you can read here.

beautiful rug shop in Morocco

2. Lanterns
There are many places in Morocco that sell gorgeous lanterns, with intricate patterns carved into metal lampshades. Look for massive pendant lights, small tea-light holders and everything in between inside insta-worthy lantern shops around the country.

Lantern souvenir shop

3. Tajines
Tajines are iconic to Moroccan cuisine – you’re guaranteed to have a few amazing tajine dishes on your trip! While you can buy these cooking vessels from fancy homeware stores at home, why not pick up one of these bad boys straight from the source? You’ll find tiny decorative tajines designed to serve olives and dips, all the way up to the heavy-duty clay styles used for everyday cooking. I absolutely love my tajine and I use it all the time at home to cook delicious meals. The conical shape of the lid traps moisture, making your food juicy and flavourful every time.

Decorative tajines for olives and dips

4. Leather Goods
Morocco is known for its leather industry, especially in the city of Fez. Expect leather jackets, bags, belts, poufes and shoes being sold in the souks, all at reasonable prices. As you’ll find out when you visit the tanneries, authentic leather in Morocco is cured in vats of pigeon poop – yes, you read that right, pigeon poop. Shopkeepers will give you sprigs of mint to help you cope with the smell, but be prepared for it to linger slightly on your leather goods!

Open courtyard with leather shop in Marrakech Morocco

5. Shoes
Moroccan shoes come in all the colours of the rainbow, adorned with intricate bohemian patterns. Shoe stores in the souks mostly sell sandals or slip-on shoes, but if you like the idea of babouches (the pointy elf-looking shoes), you’ll also find those too. You can even pick up a furry pair if you’re after something a bit different!

sandals and shoes in the moroccan market

Fluffy slippers for markets in Morocco
6. Textiles

The Moroccan souks will be your one-stop shop for incredible textiles – look out for pillow cases, blankets, floor cushions and throws in vibrant patterns and textures. Moroccan textiles are known for their beautiful colours and are great souvenirs – you’ll be itching to get home and proudly put them on display!

Rugs and textiles in an alleyway, Essaouira Morocco

7. Ceramics
Moroccan ceramics come in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll find them everywhere on your travels. Their designs are influenced by both Islamic and Mediterranean culture, which makes for distinctive geometric patterns. Ceramic bowls are great souvenirs for friends and family – they’re useful little storage dishes for around the house.

Ceramic shop in Fez, Morocco shopping

8. Spices
Spices are integral to Moroccan cuisine, and are a practical souvenir to remind you of your travels. The spices I brought home from Morocco turned my cooking from basic to brilliant in an instant. You can’t miss the spice shops out in the souks – you’ll smell the pointy pyramids of powered spices before you see them. There are spices for everything – meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, stews, barbecue and even sweets mixes, which are all very affordable. The vendors will let you take a whiff of all their options, and will mix a special blend for you if you ask!

Vibrant spice shop in a market square Marrakech Morocco

9. Dates
Like spices, dates are really popular in Moroccan cuisine – you’ll find these dried fruits in tajines, couscous, or in small bowls accompanying your meals. There are so many different varieties of dates, with varying qualities and prices to match. Moroccan date shops have boxes and boxes of the fruit all neatly on display, and they normally let you have samples before you buy!

Boxes of dates in the Markets Morocco

10. Kaftans
If you love picking up clothing as a reminder of your travels, a Moroccan kaftan will make a great souvenir. You’ll find loads of everyday styles hanging up in the souks, as well as luxuriously beaded pieces in specialty shops. When deciding on a kaftan, I’d recommend picking something you can see yourself wearing in your regular life. The fancy or traditional styles may catch your eye, but it’d be a waste to get something that’ll just sit in your wardrobe when you get home.

Colourful covered markets in Marrakech Morocco

11. Tea Glasses
Morocco is famous for its delicious mint tea, which is usually served in delicate little glasses with gold finishes. Even if you don’t drink tea at home, a set of these glasses make great ornaments for around the house (or oversized shot glasses if you like to drink!).

Pouring mint tea at a Moroccan market restaurant

12. Argan oil
Argan oil has taken the beauty industry by storm, popping up in skincare as a miracle moisturiser. But many people don’t know that the oil is produced solely in Morocco. Authentic argan oil is milled from the nuts of argan trees, which are native to the country – because the process is quite laborious, pure argan oil is expensive. Beware of people selling fake argan oil at cheap prices, as it’s usually a blend of vegetable oils and doesn’t have the nutty aroma that pure argan oil has. There are different grades of argan oil (mostly for cooking or cosmetics), so make sure you don’t buy cooking quality for moisturising your face and vice versa.

Moroccan Lady making traditional argan oil

13. Woven Baskets
One thing that always caught my eye when travelling in Morocco was the woven baskets stalls. These baskets are made with straw and brightly coloured wool, woven into beautiful geometric patterns. The most common style is a conical shape with a removable lid, which is awesome as a display piece (and doubles as a sneaky storage solution too).

Woven baskets in outdoor market Morocco

So there you have it – my top 13 picks for souvenirs in Morocco. Keep lots of empty space in your suitcase when you leave home – you’re going to need it!

Poppy xoxo

Want to know more about shopping in Morocco? Check out this post I’ve written with tips and tricks for buying rugs in Morocco.

13 Souvenirs to buy in Morocco

20 Awesome Things To Do in Hong Kong

busy markets in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has always been one of my favourite places in Asia to explore, because there are so many things to do, eat and experience. Here’s my top 20 things to do when you visit Hong Kong!

1. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Mong Kok:
You’ll find a bit of everything in Mong Kok – browse the fresh kicks along Sneaker Street (yes, there’s a dedicated street for sneakers), try some street food (like the waffles slathered in condensed milk and peanut butter), peek inside Chinese medicine shops, and enjoy the neon lights at night. You’ll never be short of things to do in Mong Kok.

Mong Kok busy streets
Streets of Mong Kok

2. Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car and Tian Tan Buddha:
Riding the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car up to Tian Tan Buddha is a fun half-day activity. Take the train to Tung Chung MTR station and choose whether to go for the normal cable car ($235HKD) or the upgraded glass bottom ($315HKD). As you glide along the cableway, you’ll be treated to amazing views of Lantau Island and China in the distance if it’s a clear day. Once you reach the top, there are shops and restaurants lining the road up to the base of the Tian Tan Buddha, one of Hong Kong’s iconic sights (and one of the biggest Buddha’s in the world). You can climb all the way up to the top, and go inside the Buddha. On your way down, be sure to stop in at the Citygate outlet mall if you’re interested in picking up some discounted designer goods.

Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
Tian Tan Buddha big statue
Tian Tan Buddha up close 

3. Lamma Island:
Take a ferry from Central over to Lamma Island ($16-28HKD, depending on day of the week and specific ferry route) for some incredible hikes and a chilled-out hipster vibe. If you prefer shopping over hiking (me in a nutshell), there are plenty of boutique shops and cafes to explore along the main street of the island. Seafood lovers should definitely stop at one of the restaurants along the shore with fresh seafood cooked to order!

4. Street Markets:
Hong Kong wouldn’t be Hong Kong without its street market culture. There are different markets all across Hong Kong, catering for tourists and locals alike. Visit the Jade Market in Tsim Sha Tsui if you’re looking for some jewellery, or try the fresh fruit and vegetable market along the steep Graham Street in Central. If you’re looking to browse at night, head to Temple Street Night Market in Jordan or the Ladies Market in Mong Kok.

Mong Kok ladies market souvenirs
Ladies Market in Mong Kok
fresh fruit market in Hong Kong
Graham Street Fresh Food Market

5. Soho and Midlevels Escalators:
The Midlevels outdoor escalators help commuters make their way up the steep mountainside in the Central area of Hong Kong. They aren’t any different from regular escalators, but for visitors it’s a novel experience riding up the street in this way. There’s plenty of hipster shops, bars and cafes in the Soho area, so it’s a perfect place to explore when you’re hungry. Just be aware that once you step off the escalator route, walking up the steep roads will leave you out of breath! And the escalators only go one way, so you’ll have to walk back down the hills by feet.

View along the Midlevels escalator
View along the Midlevels escalator
Back streets of Central Hong Kong
Back streets of Central Hong Kong

6. Temples:
There are plenty of beautiful temples in Hong Kong. Some worth visiting include Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple (known for its hanging lanterns and water features), Man Mo Temple (known for its incense), Po Lin Monastery (next to the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau island) and Chi Lin Nunnery (known for beautifully manicured gardens).

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tao Sin Temple
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tao Sin Temple
Man Mo Temple Hong Kong
Man Mo Temple

7. Lan Kwai Fong:
If you’re looking for a night out, Lan Kwai Fong is the place to go. It’s a small area close to Soho known for its buzzing nightlife and open-air bars. You can find plenty of tourists and locals here enjoying drinks and getting rowdy any night of the week. Even if you’re not a big drinker, it’s worth walking past if you’re in the Central area to see what all the fuss is about.

Lan Kwai Fong Party Hong Kong
Lan Kwai Fong

8. Eat BBQ meats:
You can’t leave Hong Kong without having some barbecued meats (sorry to the vegans out there, you’ll probably want to sit this one out). You’ll see huge sides of pork, chickens and ducks hanging on display in shop fronts, ready to be freshly chopped and served with rice. Look for a place which is busy with locals, and get a double or triple combo so you can try all the meats!

BBQ meats out on display in Hong Kong
BBQ meats out on display in a shop front

9. Victoria Harbour:
Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour is a must-see when you visit. The Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui is the perfect vantage point for unobstructed views of the Hong Kong Skyline. There’s plenty of concrete seating so you can sit and relax while you watch the world go by. You can also take a ferry ride across the harbour, or even book an cruise on a traditional ‘junk boat’ to take in the scenery from the water. Victoria Harbour is lit up by a laser light show each night at 8pm, which is worth a watch if the weather is nice!

Victoria Harbour light show Hong Kong
Victoria Harbour light show
A traditional junk boat crossing Victoria Harbour
A traditional junk boat crossing Victoria Harbour

10. Chungking Mansions:
The Chungking Mansion building in central Tsim Sha Tsui is known for its eclectic character. It houses lots of electronic stores, currency exchanges and eateries on the lower floors and is known for its interesting accommodation options on the higher levels. If you’re researching accomodation and come across very cheap rooms in Tsim Sha Tsui, they’re more than likely situated in Chungking Mansions. Go inside and embrace the chaos, but be aware – everything’s can be a little ‘too good to be true’, so think twice before dropping cash on a new camera (which could be counterfeit) or booking a hotel (which probably has bed bugs).

Electronics store in Chungking Mansions
Electronics store in Chungking Mansions

11. Hong Kong Disneyland:
Hong Kong Disneyland isn’t as big as the parks in America, but it has all the Disney highlights with the right amount of local flair. The park mostly caters for adults rather than children, so it’s a fun day out if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city. It’s really easy to catch the train from the city out to Disneyland.

Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland

12. Gold Fish Market:
In Prince Edward, you’ll come across an area called the Goldfish Market, which is known for its weird and whacky fish trade. The streets here are lined with fish hanging in individual plastic bags ready for sale. Lots of shopkeepers don’t like you taking photos, but you can usually snap some good shots from the opposite side of the street or in a busy shop where they’re occupied with customers.

Goldfish Market, Prince Edward
Goldfish Market, Prince Edward
Goldfish Market, Prince Edward Hong Kong
Goldfish Market, Prince Edward

13. Yick Fat Housing Estate:
You’ve probably come across pictures of the instaworthy Yick Fat building all over the internet. It’s a short walk from Quarry Bay MTR station, and is well worth the trip out of downtown if you are into photography or Hong Kong’s architecture. The Yick Fat building is a public housing estate, so technically you aren’t allowed inside, but you can sneak through the shopping arcade off the Main Street to reach the centre. Since people live and work there, make sure you’re respectful don’t take photos of the locals unless they give you permission.

Yick Fat Housing Estate Hong Kong
Yick Fat Housing Estate

14. Visit a wet market:
Wet markets are places where locals go to pick up fruits, vegetables, meat and other fresh ingredients for cooking. Most neighbourhoods in Hong Kong will have a wet market somewhere. If seeing raw meat makes you squirm, sit this one out. Otherwise, wander though the alleys and snap some great pictures – but try not to get in anyone’s way, or you might end up getting splashed with raw chicken juice!

Fresh fish at a wet market
Fresh fish at a wet market

15. Kowloon Park:
If you’re trying to get from Tsim Sha Tsui up to Jordan, why not take the scenic route and walk through Kowloon Park. It’s the biggest bit of greenery in Hong Kong city and is great to stroll through for a bit of fresh air. There’s a lake with flamingos in the middle of the park, as well as playgrounds and sports facilities.

16. Shop for fancy outfits in Causeway Bay:
There’s plenty of shopping malls and designer stores in Causeway Bay if you’re after a bit of retail therapy. Check out SOGO department store, Hong Kong’s Times Square and stop on Houston Street for a bite of street food.

17. Stop along Fa Yuen Street overpass:
If you like people watching, stop along the walkway above Fa Yuen Street Market in Mong Kok. It’s an amazing photo spot to capture local life in Hong Kong.

Fa Yuen Street Hong Kong
Fa Yuen Street

18. Have dim sum and a local tea house:
Hong Kong is famous for Dim Sum, so you’ll definitely want to try some while you’re in town. Don’t be intimidated by the busy and dingy nature of local tea houses, these are the best places to sample some traditional Cantonese dishes. You’ll be able to get your favourites from home (BBQ pork buns, shu mai, prawn dumpling etc.) plus all the weird and wonderful local delicacies. Try Lin Heung Tea House in Central for an authentic dim sum experience.

Lin Heung Tea House
Lin Heung Tea House

19. Take the tram to The Peak:
An iconic activity to do in Hong Kong is ride the tram up the steep tracks to the top of The Peak, where you’ll have sweeping panoramic views of Hong Kong from above. The best time to go is just before sunset, so you’ll get stunning views of Hong Kong in the twilight. If the line to take the tram is particularly long, you can also take a bus up to the top as well.

20. Stanley:
If you take a bus over to the other side of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Island, you’ll experience a totally different vibe that could easily be mistaken for a cosy European beachside town. Relax on the beach, have lunch at one of the seaside restaurants along the Stanley Promenade and browse the sunny Stanley markets.

Hope you enjoyed these 20 things to do in Hong Kong, and you’ll add some of them to your list for when you visit!

Poppy xoxo

If you liked this post, check out my Foodie Guide to Hong Kong: Top Places to Eat for Every Occasion.

20 awesome things to do in Hong Kong

What Is Greyhound Roaching? Everything You Need To Know

Greyhound lying upside down roaching

There’s plenty of urban definitions for the word ‘roaching’ out there, so what does it mean in the greyhound world?

greyhounds roaching on bed

What is greyhound roaching?

Roaching is a position lots of greyhounds like to snooze in. Lying on their backs with their legs in the air, they look a bit like dying cockroaches when they roach (which is where the name comes from).

Our greyhound Pepper is a master ‘freestyle’ roacher – she can sleep upside down absolutely anywhere. Our boy Finn prefers to roach when he’s resting up against a wall or lounge. Either way, it always gives us a chuckle seeing them in such silly positions!

greyhound lying on floor

Does roaching mean a greyhound is happy?

People tend to think that if a greyhound is roaching, it means that they’re happy. It’s usually a sign that a grey feels comfortable and safe in their environment, since the upside position would ordinarily leave them vulnerable to threats. If you’ve brought a new greyhound home, roaching is a good sign that they’ve settled in.

2 greyhounds on bed relaxing

Is greyhound roaching normal?

While roaching is pretty common, not all greyhounds like lying in this position, so if you can’t seem to catch your fur baby in the roaching position it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t content. On the other side of the spectrum, some greys are obsessed with roaching and will do it anywhere (Pepper is one of these!), so it doesn’t always mean they comfortable either.

greyhounds sleeping having fun

Regardless, roaching is one of those quirky greyhound traits that greyhound owners love to see!

greyhound in cage sleeping roaching

Poppy xoxo

Want to read more about greyhounds? Take a look at this post I’ve written on 9 reasons why greyhounds make the best family pets.

what is greyhound roaching

Things To Do In Hawaii: A Waikiki 1 Day Itinerary

sheraton Waikiki swimming pool

When I travel to Hawaii for work, I’m lucky enough to stay right in the heart of Waikiki. While I would definitely recommend exploring other parts of O’ahu, sometimes it’s nice just to stay put in Waikiki and have fun enjoying the tourist hotspot. So if you’ve got a free day and not sure how to spend it, here’s a 1 day itinerary of things to do around Waikiki!

Waikiki beach sun and sand
Waikiki Beach

Sleep in and have a lazy morning – you’re on holidays after all! If the hotel breakfast buffet isn’t looking too appetising, have a big breakfast at Eggs ‘n Things – they do great omelettes, pancakes and American breakfasts. The franchise on Kalakaua Avenue has a beautiful view of the beach, which is a perfect way to start your day.

people enjoying the sun at Waikiki beach
South Waikiki Beach

Pop on some sunscreen, pack your swimmers and head out to explore Waikiki. Walking along Kalakaua Avenue, your first stop will be at the famous Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Statue. The beautiful bronze statue commemorates the Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku, who was an Olympic swimmer, surfer, actor, sheriff and ambassador for the state. Snap some pictures, kick off your shoes and walk along the sand, taking in the beautiful views of southern Waikiki Beach.

Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Statue

Walking along the beach definitely builds up an appetite, so grab a poke bowl for lunch from Poke Bar on Lewers Street. From here, it’s easy to walk back through to the northern end of Waikiki beach and have your lunch on the sand. Nothing could be more quintessentially Hawaiian than poke and the beach!

Hawaiian poke and diamond head
Poke bowl with Diamond Head in the background!

Lunch is done, now it’s time to hit the water. I’m not suggesting you should forego the “30 minutes between eating and swimming” rule, but it’ll be hard to resist. I know lots of people can’t stand touristy beaches, but I love busyness and people watching, so I find it really soothing to float in the Waikiki water and watch everyone go by. You can easily spend hours here relaxing in the ocean.

things to do in hawaii
Northern Waikiki Beach

Once you’re finished swimming, stroll back along the beach and wander through the beachfront hotels. Most of the resorts backing onto the beach are open and accessible to the public, so it’s easy to stroll through the gardens, pool areas and outdoor restaurants. One of my favourite hotels to visit is the Moana Surfrider Westin Resort, with its beautiful tree and historical charm. Pick up a refreshing shave ice or a snack on the way from any of the many ABC stores dotting Waikiki.

Moana Surfrider Westin Resort
hotel swimming pool in Waikiki
One of the pools at the Sheraton Waikiki
shave ice in Waikiki hawaii things to do
Hawaiian shave ice

Grab yourself a Mai Tai and listen to the live music at the famous Duke’s Bar. It’s always ridiculously busy, so if you can’t get a table, relax on the beach right in front of the bar and you’ll hear the music just fine.

dukes bar thins to do hawaii
Duke’s Bar just before sunset

Time for sunset (check the specific time for sunset so it doesn’t creep up on you), and where better to watch than over the stunning infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki. There’s lots beachfront hotels in Waikiki, but this is my favourite vantage point along the shoreline because of its uninterrupted views of Diamond Head. If you’re not a Sheraton guest you won’t be able to sit on the deck chairs or jump in the pool but there’s no need for that – grab a drink at the nearby Edge of Waikiki Bar and you’ll have the exact same view.

Infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki
The Edge of Waikiki Bar

You won’t be short of dinner options in Waikiki – there’s fast food chains, luxury restaurants and everything in between along the Waikiki strip. If you’re after something quick and simple, head to Oahu Mexican Grill for a big burrito or tacos. For a big plate of American comfort food, try a greasy burger at Cheeseburger in a Paradise. If you like Japanese food, make your way to Waikiki Yokocho. This underground Japanese food court has plenty of vendors to choose from – ramen, tempura and sushi are all on the menu, served with some some green tea or sake. Whatever you choose, just remember that food bills can add up quite quickly in Hawaii once you add taxes and tips, so keep track of your order to avoid nasty surprises at the end of you meal.

Cheeseburger in Paradise
Japanese food
Waikiki Yokocho

The shops in Waikiki are open late (10pm or 11pm every night of the week), so shopping after dinner is the way to go. There’s lots of shops along Kalakaua Ave, and many more stores in the three big Waikiki shopping malls – Royal Hawaiian Centre, International Marketplace and Waikiki Beach Walk. Don’t forget to pick up some gimmicky souvenirs in Duke’s Marketplace, stock up on cookies (and munch on free samples) at the Honolulu Cookie Company, and get a custom family ornament at the Waikiki Christmas Store. Rummage for some bargains at ROSS, pick up skincare supplies at Sephora and browse the accessories at Urban Outfitters.

Duke’s Marketplace
Shopping in Hawaii
Entrance to International Marketplace
Ornaments at the Waikiki Christmas Store
Honolulu Cookie Company

Time to finish the night off with some dessert. Since you’ll be shopping in the centre of Waikiki, The Cheesecake Factory is the perfect place for something sweet. You can spend over an hour waiting for a table here at dinner time, so go after the crowds are full and get yourself a big slice of cheesecake for dessert.

the cheesecake factory Waikiki
Cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory

On the way back to your hotel, make one last stop at an ABC Store and grab some snacks – just in case you get hungry in the middle of the night. Freshly cut pineapple and a pack of Maui Style potato chips are my picks for any time of the day (or night).

Kalakaua Avenue at night

Head back to your room and tuck yourself into bed, knowing you’ve had an awesome day in Waikiki!

If you have more than 1 day, there’s plenty of other things to do around the Waikiki area – you can hike the Diamond Head trail, experience a traditional Luau, visit Ala Moana Shopping Centre and go on a sunset ocean cruise. Enjoy the paradise that is Hawaii!

Poppy xoxo


9 Reasons Why Greyhounds Make The Best Family Pets

You might think greyhounds belong on the side of a bus, or zooming around a track on the sports channel. But where are greyhounds truly in their element? As pets in your home!

These beautiful dogs aren’t often given the attention the deserve as pets, because they don’t really fit the ‘family dog’ stereotype. They’re not the cute fluffy companion most people have in mind when looking for a dog.

Here’s why you should consider bringing a greyhound into your home – you won’t regret giving an ex-racer a second lease on life!

greyhounds as pets swimming at beach

1. It’s far better to adopt than shop:

Most people nowadays are concerned about puppy farms and the inhumane breeding conditions of the dog world. With the surplus of dogs in shelters growing, there’s never been a better time to consider adopting a furry friend rather than buying from a breeder.

There’s plenty of deserving dogs waiting in shelters, so why should you get a greyhound?

Well, unlike most other dogs in shelters or adoption agencies, greyhounds have often had a hard working life in the racing world. They’re raced until they’re no longer profitable to their owners, and then put down if they can’t be rehomed. Greyhounds are constantly being retired out of racing, so there’s always a long line of gorgeous greys waiting to be adopted at any given time.

There’s definitely something special about giving a working dog a second chance at a life. For most greyhounds, they have never experienced love and care from a family before!

pet dog greyhounds on bed

2. Greyhounds aren’t expensive to adopt:

Most greyhound rehoming agencies have very reasonable adoption fees for their doggos – they’re focused on forever homes, not making profit. We paid around $400 each to adopt Finn and Pepper. This adoption fee covered registration, microchipping, desexing, worming and vet checkups before we brought them home.

Compared to the thousands of dollars you can spend getting a purebred puppy, greyhounds are an affordable pet to bring into your family. Not that you could ever put a price on the love of a dog!

sleeping on bed greyhound pet

3. Greyhounds are purebred:

If you’re hell bent on a purebred dog, a greyhound is the perfect choice for you. When you adopt a retired racer, there’ll be no doubt as to its pedigree. Since the racing industry take lineage very seriously, you’ll be able to trace your fur baby’s family tree with a quick internet search.

Greyhounds are the supermodels of the dog world – they’re lean, defined and instantly distinguished from other dogs. Your greyhound will never get lost in a sea of fluffy purebred doggos.

female greyhound on walk

4. Greyhounds sleep almost as much as koalas:

People think greyhounds are full of energy… After all, they run for a living! It’s all a lie. Greyhounds are lazy as anything, they’ll sleep all day if they get the chance.

Our two greyhounds, Finn and Pepper, love going on short walks and the occasional run around the dog park, but if they miss out on some exercise they won’t be upset. They would much rather be stretched out on a bed than running amuck in the backyard. You can come back after being out for hours and find them sleeping in the same positions as when you left!

greyhound sleeping

5. Greyhounds are used to human contact:

In the racing world, greyhounds are constantly handled by people, so as a dog breed they are incredibly familiar with human contact. This means when you bring a greyhound into your home, your new furry friend will already be comfortable around people.

This is especially great for young children who can make a habit of pulling ears and tails unannounced – a little poking and prodding will leave your greyhound largely unphased. Finn and Pepper naturally gravitate towards humans (and their pats!) and are well-behaved in crowds of people, which can’t be said for all dog breeds.

(Not all greyhounds have had positive human experiences in their racing life, so be sure to check with the rehoming organisation if an individual dog has issues with human contact or aggression towards people)

greyhounds having fun

6. There’s no puppy phase:

There’s no denying puppies are adorable, but what about their constant barking, chewing and need for attention? Not so adorable.

When you adopt a retired racing greyhound, you skip all the naughty puppy behaviours that have new dog owners tearing their hair out. Sure, there may be some retraining to get your grey settled to their new home (they may not be used to stairs, their new toilet spot etc.), but it will be far less stressful than navigating puppy training from scratch.

While your rescue greyhound might not be a puppy, be aware – they’ll still whip out their ‘puppy dog’ eyes when they want some of your dinner!

why you should get a greyhound

7. Greyhounds don’t shed:

Greyhounds have short coats that don’t shed* or need haircuts, so apart from a bath every now and then they’re very little maintenance. You can kiss the dog groomers goodbye with a greyhound!

*While the general consensus is that greyhounds don’t shed, there’s a few furry doggos here and there that do – Pepper is one of them! Although since the fur is so short, it’s easily managed with a quick vacuum.

cute greyhound with hat

8. Greyhounds are a conversation starter:

I’m not suggesting you should get a greyhound purely as an icebreaker, but your furry bag of elbows (an affectionate nickname that the greyhound community love to use) will definitely get people talking.

People are naturally curious to see greyhounds as pets, and often have lots of questions about the adoption process and the racing industry. When we walk around the neighbourhood with Finn and Pepper, people often come up to have a chat and a pat. Having a greyhound is a great opportunity to educate the community about these gorgeous dogs and their life post-racing.

big greyhounds on walk

9. They’re just so cute:

Come on, how could you say no to these faces?!?

cute greyhounds sleeping pet

So there you have it, 9 reasons greyhounds make great pets! Greyhounds are incredibly adaptable to new environments, and are great at settling into retired life. Finn and Pepper took no time at all to weasel their way into our hearts – now we couldn’t live without them!

If you’re still not sure about greyhounds, you can always foster a retired racer to see whether it’s right for you. Have a chat to your local greyhound rescue organisation to see if there’s a perfect fit for your family.

Poppy xoxo

Want to read more about greyhounds? Check out this post on everything you need to know about greyhound roaching.

Going Inside the Pyramids of Giza: What’s Inside and What to Expect 

3 pyramids of giza

Climbing inside the pyramids should be on every Egyptian itinerary in my opinion – it’s an experience unlike anything else in the world. As impressive as it is to see the great pyramids of Giza from the outside, it’s completely different to see them from within!

Giza pyramids

Do you need a ticket to go inside the Pyramids of Giza?

Climbing inside the pyramids isn’t included in the general admission ticket. The Great Pyramid of Khufu costs 400 EGP and the Pyramid of Khafre is 100EGP. I opted to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Make sure to buy your extra tickets from the ticket booth when you enter, or you’ll have to walk all the way back down the hill to get them later.

How do you get inside the Pyramids?

Now, for the experience going inside. In the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the tunnel at the entrance is wide and well carved out. Once you get to the main tunnel though, it’s a complete different story. You’ll need to climb crouched over for around 40 metres, up a steep ramp. The ramp is in a very small tunnel – the width can really only accommodate one person comfortably, but it’s a two-way street so you’ll inevitably have to clamber over or under people coming from the opposite direction.

climbing inside pyramid Egypt Giza

Once you’re through this section, you’ll walk up another steep ramp, although this one has high ceilings. You’ll duck under some large rocks and then enter the main chamber – at this point, you’ll have reached the top!

inside the great pyramid

What does it look like inside the Pyramids of Giza?

The main chamber at the top is a small room with high ceilings. It’s completely bare apart from a large stone structure, which resembles the remains of a sarcophagus. The Pyramids of Giza were built before hieroglyphs became popular, so the walls inside are have no carvings or decorations. Since they all look relatively the same from the inside, it is recommended that you only need to go inside one pyramid for the experience.

room inside pyramids Egypt Cairo

After you’re done here in the main chamber, it’s back out the pyramid the same way you came in. You can expect the total time to go up and come back down to be about 30 minutes. Be aware that the further inside you climb, the warmer it gets. Even in winter, I was sweating heavily once I got up to the top. Bring a bottle of water as you’ll get thirsty!

If you have joint problems or suffer from claustrophobia, it’s probably best not to venture inside the pyramids, as you don’t want to injure yourself in the small tunnel.

camels outside the pyramids of giza,

Is it worth going inside the Pyramids of Giza?

All in all, paying for the extra ticket to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would highly recommend. Going inside the pyramids gives you a completely different perspective to the one you’ll get from seeing them on the outside. Seeing the size of the stones and thickness of the walls from the inside makes you appreciate how difficult it would have been to build these pyramids with ancient technology. It really gives you a true sense of how great an architectural feat these ancient structures are.

Poppy xoxo

If you liked this post, check out my post on How To See The Pyramids of Giza Without a Tour or Guide.


Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia Guide: All Your Questions Answered

Travelling to Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats) was one of my highlights in South America – I loved the experience of driving along the barren landscape and learning about the history of the region. Uyuni is home to the largest salt flat in the world (over 10,000 square metres of flat salty crust), but that’s not the only thing here to see – the area is full of rocky deserts, lagoons, mountains, volcanoes, hot springs and other incredible landscapes. In this post, I’ll answer some common questions about Uyuni, so you know what to expect when you visit.

Uyuni salt flat Bolivia tour guide

Whereabouts is Uyuni Salt Flats?

The first thing to note about the Uyuni region is its remoteness. I’ll admit, I had no idea this was the case when I first decided I wanted to visit. While it’s a well-known tourist destination and bucket list item for lots of people, it’s not particularly close to any other destinations in Bolivia. It’ll take you around 10 hours to reach Uyuni town by bus, even longer by train. If you’re on a tight schedule and budget isn’t an issue, I would recommend flying into Uyuni. Flying from La Paz to Uyuni Airport will take less than an hour, which means you can spend those extra hours exploring more of the salt flats and the surrounding landscape. By the time I visited Uyuni, I’d already done several overnight bus rides around South America, so I chose to fly with Amaszonas Airlines. It’s also possible to visit overland from the Chilean and Argentinian – it’s reasonably close to both borders.

Uyuni has a small township where most people start their Salar de Uyuni adventure. There’s restaurants, hotels, hostels, and small shops in town.

silly photo Bolivia salt flat

What’s the weather like in Uyuni?

Weather wise, expect hot and ridiculously sunny during the day (especially with the glare bouncing off the salt) and reasonably cold during the nighttime. Even though it’ll be warm and sunny, it’s a good idea to wear long loose-fitting clothing during the day to protect yourself from drying out like a raisin and sunburn. Pack warm clothes for at night.

Uyuni has a wet season and a dry season. If you plan to visit during the wet season, keep in mind that some areas of the salt flats and desert may not be accessible due to rain. That being said, you have far better chance of experiencing those beautiful reflections in the top layer of the salt flats (which isn’t always possible during the dry season). I visited in between seasons in April, which meant I got the best of both worlds.

sunset on Bolivia salt flat

How long should I spend in Uyuni?

It’s totally possible to do a day trip to the Uyuni salt flats, but realistically it’s not enough time. You’ll see the main highlights of the incredible salt flats, but it will be rushed and you won’t be able to explore the surrounding desert area. If you’re going to spend the time or money getting out to Uyuni, you might as well make the most of it and see all the sights. I chose to do a 2 night/3 day tour, and I felt like it was the perfect amount of time to see everything and be comfortable with the altitude – if I visited it again I would make the same decision. It’s a good idea to arrive the night before your tour starts as most itinerary leave town early in the morning. There’s plenty of affordable accomodation options in Uyuni town.

4wd adventure

How do I pick a good Uyuni Salt Flats tour?

Driving around Uyuni is not really doable by yourself – the rugged terrain and remoteness means you’ll need an expert to safely navigate through the area on a tour. Tourism is the main industry in the region, so you won’t be short of tour companies to choose from.

It’s really important to do some research and read reviews online before you book a tour. Look for reviews that mention well-maintained cars, as rust can be a big issue with all the salt. Drink-driving has been a known issue with some drivers, so look out for any reviews mention this as an issue too. It’s worth paying a bit extra for a company with a good safety record, as mechanical issues on the salt flats could potential be dangerous, especially in the wet season.

My research led me to booking my 2 night/3 day tour with Salty a Desert Aventours – they included airport pickup, had new cars, and I liked that they carried oxygen tanks for altitude sickness emergencies. I booked it all through whatsapp, and paid cash on arrival at the office in town.

Cactus island in Uyuni

Is it expensive to visit Uyuni Salt Flats?

Most Uyuni tours are quite affordable, considering they include guides, vehicles, meals and accomodation. Except to pay around 200USD for a 3 day/2 night tour. This doesn’t include park entry fees (which will be around 220 Bolivianos), tips for the driver or any other snacks or souvenirs you may wish to buy along the way. Make sure you have any cash you think you might need before you start your tour, as there’s no ATMs along the way. As a guide, 600 Bolivian Bolivianos will be plenty of spare cash for the time on your tour.

Reflection of flamingos in lake in Bolivian desert

What should I pack when going to Uyuni?

Besides the usual things you’d pack for travelling, I’d recommend packing sunglasses, sunscreen, scarf and hat to shelter you from the sun, loose fitting clothing for day time, warm clothing for night time, a towel (accomodation doesn’t provide towels), swimming costume if you’d like to swim in the hot springs (definitely recommend!), plus any props you’d like to use for taking funny pictures on the salt flats. Depending on your tour and the time of year, you might need a sleeping bag as well.

sulfur springs in desert Bolivia

Should I worry about the altitude at Uyuni Salt Flats?

The biggest thing to watch out for is the altitude. Altitude sickness is REAL, and if there’s anywhere in the world it’s going to effect you, it’s here. It’s easy to dismiss the altitude because the ground is incredibly flat – it’s not like you’re climbing to Everest base camp or something. But be warned, it will creep up on you if you’re not careful! Look out for headaches, dizziness, tiredness, nausea, and difficulty breathing – they’re all normal signs of altitude sickness. If you’re worried about how you’ll cope, talk to your doctor before you leave home about medication for altitude sickness.

They say that being fit and healthy gives you better chances at coping with the rise in altitude, but this definitely isn’t true! You’ll go to areas on your tour where the altitude is over 16,000ft, and you’ll definitely feel it. The key is to build your tolerance to the higher altitude gradually over a few days. If you’re coming from somewhere with high altitude like La Paz, your body will already be reasonably comfortable, but even still you’re likely to experience some headaches and sluggishness.

Since you’ll be spending most of your time in Uyuni inside your vehicle, take it easy and do you best to keep the altitude sickness from overwhelming you. Drink lots of water and tell your guide if you’re feeling really unwell – they deal with altitude sickness all the time, so they’ll be able to help.

abandoned train track in the desert

What can I expect to see in Uyuni?

Besides the famous salt flats, there’s tonnes of other things to see in the Uyuni region. Most tour companies will follow similar itineraries, and you’ll often find different tour companies using the same accommodation options at night.

Some of the stops included on the Salty Desert 2 night/3 day itinerary were:
Train Cemetery
Colchani Village
Uyuni Salt Flats
Ojos de Sal (Salt Flat Eyes)
Isla Incahuasi (Cactus Island)
Playa Blanca Salt Muesum
Altiplanic Lagoon
Red Lagoon
Árbol de Piedra (The Rock Tree)
Aguas Termales de Polques ( Hot springs)
Sol de la Mañana geyser
Salvador Dali Desert
Green lagoon
Licancabur Volcano
White Lagoon

red lake in Bolivian desert

What’s the accommodation like at Uyuni Salt Flats?

The accommodation on Uyuni tours is in remote areas, so don’t expect luxury. If you’re accustomed to rugged adventures you’ll find it reasonably comfortable, if not then you’ll find it fairly basic. Not all accomodation has showers/hot water, and there are often shared bathrooms, so be prepared. That being said, the accomodation is clean and it does the job.

Jumping photo on salt lake

Should I be concerned about safety if I’m travelling solo to Uyuni?

I went to Uyuni as a solo female traveller and I found it to be very safe. There’s nobody else out in the desert or salt flats apart from other tour groups, and the locals you’ll come into contact with are genuinely happy to have you there. Tourism is the main income source for the region, so everyone does all they can to make sure you have a great time. I would take regular precautions – lock your bags if there’s valuables inside, and if you go off exploring on your own, be sure to let someone from your group know where you are going (in case you fall off a rock or something).

Llama in red lake

Will the be places to charge my phone? What about cell reception?

Your accomodation will generally have facilities to charge your phone and camera, but electricity isn’t always reliable in the remote areas. I’d recommend bringing a portable battery as a precaution so your devices will be ready to go no matter to what. As for phone reception, it will be patchy out in the desert, so tell your loved ones not to expect any message from you while you’re out and about in Uyuni.

Hot springs in desert

That’s all for the Uyuni questions and answers – my next Uyuni post will cover my Uyuni 3 day/2 night tour itinerary in more detail, so be sure to subscribe so you’ll know when it’s live!

Poppy xoxo


How To Visit The Pyramids of Giza, Without a Tour or Guide

sphinx in cairo Egypt

Before I went to Egypt, I knew I wanted to visit the Great Pyramids of Giza without organising a guide or tour. I really wanted to spend a full morning roaming around the pyramids at my own pace, without having the pressure of other people waiting on me. I did a lot of research but there wasn’t much information online, so I went and hoped for the best.

The good news is visiting the pyramids without a guide is totally doable. Here are all the tips and tricks I learnt from my experience so you can do it yourself when you visit Egypt.

Man with camel in front of Great pyramids of Giza

How do I get to the pyramids?

The easiest way to get to the pyramids is by Uber. It’s best to put your drop off location as the ticket booth, as this is where you’ll need to enter. If you search on google maps for ‘Giza Pyramids Ticket Office’ you will find the location of the ticket booth. It’s directly in front of the Pizza Hut. You’ll buy your admission tickets (200 EGP) and enter through the metal detector at the ticket office into the Giza complex. If you want to go inside any of the pyramids, you’ll need to buy seperate tickets at this point before entering the complex (more info about going inside further down).

Map for visiting Pyramids of Giza

When should I arrive at the pyramids?

I’d recommend arriving at the pyramids in the morning when the complex opens at 8am, or as close to 8am as you can. If you go in the morning, you’ll almost have the place to yourself, which makes for a special experience. It also means you’ll have done the majority of your walking before the midday sun starts beating down. Nobody likes a sweaty selfie.

Where should I start exploring from?

Most organised tours drive further up the road and start exploring the site near the base of the Pyramids, but by entering down at the ticket booth you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of the 3 main pyramids and the Sphinx as soon as you walk in. This view is what you came to Egypt for!

How do I get to the Sphinx?

To get down closer to the Sphinx, turn left to walk past the bathrooms and through the open gate (as if you’re exiting the complex from the side). Straight after the gate, take a right and follow the path where you can see the row of souvenir vendors set up. From this path you can go right (straight into the dirt) and walk around to get an iconic picture of the Sphinx head-on. Alternatively, you can jump the barriers to the left of the bathroom entrance and get to the same position. The security situation is hit and miss, and it really depends on the time of day and if the guards are bothered to punish you or not!

sphinx and pyramids in cairo Egypt

To the left of the Sphinx is the stone mummification temple with two entrance doorways. Go through the entrance on the right to go inside the mummification temple. This the only place where you might need to show your ticket to the guard, as they do have guards here most of the time (usually in civilian clothing which can be confusing). Once you go in, you’ll go around the corner and head up a ramp into the section where you can take the typical pictures kissing the Sphinx from the side!

kissing the sphinx

How do I get to the base of the pyramids?

Once you’re done here, exit through the gate and head up the pathway towards the middle pyramid of Khafre. If you look to your left you’ll see ruins of priests’ tombs. If you look back toward the entrance, you’ll start to see a great view of Giza city.

When you reach the top of the path, you’ll be at the base of the pyramid of Khafre. From here, you can step over the barriers and go right up to the pyramids and touch the stones!

exploring in Giza

Where is the best view of all 3 pyramids?

If you walk around the base of the pyramid of Khafre towards the smaller pyramid of Menkaure, you’ll start to get some amazing vantage points of the pyramids without many tourists in the way. You can keep going through the dirt all the way over to the pyramid of Menkaure for a great view of all three great pyramids. This area is probably the best place for pictures. You’ll get some unique angles that most people won’t get to due to time constraints of a regular tour.

When you’re ready, you can head back through the dirt towards the great pyramid of Khufu.

Can I go inside the pyramids?

It’s possible to go inside the pyramid of Khafre for 100EGP and the great pyramid of Khufu for 400EGP – just remember to buy your seperate ticket down the bottom when you start, otherwise you’ll have to walk all the way back down to the entrance ticket booth. Many people say it’s not worth going inside the pyramids since there’s nothing inside, but I really enjoyed going inside the great pyramid of Khufu! You can read more about going inside the pyramids and what to expect here. You’ll only need to go inside one pyramid, since they’re all very similar from the inside.

inside the great pyramids of Egypt

Can I climb up the pyramids?

By law you aren’t allowed to climb the pyramids, although since the security is minimal many people do (or at least try to). I witnessed a man blatantly ignoring the guards screaming at him to get down. There are plenty of stories of people going to jail for climbing the pyramids, so climb at your own risk. At the end of the day, I think being respectful of these amazing structures and their history is more important than a few pictures for your socials. If you really want to get a picture of you climbing, it can be done around back side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu on your way inside the pyramid.

Is it safe to visit the pyramids solo?

The biggest problem you’ll have going to the pyramids without a guide is being touted by the local vendors. While it can be annoying and difficult to deal with, it’s important to understand that Egypt is a developing country where these people are trying to make ends meet through tourism. They will be very persistent, so make sure you are well prepared so it doesn’t rattle you and spoil your experience.

Beware of anyone who asks for your ticket and says they’re there from the Ministry of Tourism to help you. Their famous lines are “I’m not a camel or a horse man, you don’t need to worry, I don’t want money”. They can be extremely pushy trying to guide you around and even tell you that you can’t visit certain areas without a guide (which isn’t true). Be firm with declining their help and they’ll eventually leave you alone.

The men with camels and horses will ride up to you offering a cheap price for a trip to the top of the complex or out to the panoramic view – again, be polite but firm in saying no and they’ll continue on their way. If you come in the morning they’re more likely to target you since the complex is quiet and there are not many people to hustle. If you do happen to find a friendly guide or camel man and wish to have them help you, make sure you negotiate a good price before setting off.

You’ll be able to snap a few pictures of camels around the complex as there are plenty around, but if you want to pose with a camel be prepared to pay a tip for doing so. Although if you’re nice and the camel handler likes you, he might let you take them for free – that’s what happened to me!

camel tour in giza

What should I do once I’m finished exploring?

Once you’re finished exploring the site, you can walk down the sealed road back to the front entrance where you entered.

It’s easy to order and catch an Uber from here back into downtown Cairo. If all the walking has made you hungry, you can grab a pizza from Pizza Hut, or walk around the corner to have some traditional Koshary from a local restaurant called Koshary Hekaya (64 ش ابو الهول السياحى، Nazlet El-Semman, الجيزة، Giza Governorate, Egypt).

Hopefully this guide helps you to enjoy the Great Pyramids of Giza solo!!

Poppy xoxo

Need more pyramid inspiration? Check out my post on going inside the pyramids: what’s inside and what to expect.

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes In Tokyo: A Happy Pancake Review

fluffy banana pancakes in Japan

Fluffy pancakes are a Japanese dessert craze which I can always get behind! One of my favourite places in Tokyo for these pancakes is A Happy Pancake cafe in Ginza. Hidden on the 7th floor of a tucked away building, you won’t stumble upon this dessert experience unless you’re looking for it!

Seating at A Happy Pancake, Tokyo

Since the cafe is relatively small with just 32 seats, it can get extremely busy. On weekends and public holidays, you can expect to wait for over an hour for a table. I’d recommend coming on a weekday after the lunch rush if your schedule allows it. I usually come at this time and find there’s no wait for a table. If Ginza isn’t on your itinerary, A Happy Pancake has cafes in Omotesando (the original cafe), Shibuya, Ikebukero and Kichijoji.

Cooking station at A Happy Pancake, Ginza

If you’re curious as to how they get the pancakes so fluffy, you can see the whole process through the glass window into the kitchen. In true Japanese fashion, they are very methodical with the whole process. It’s really interesting to watch them whip the eggs, measure the batter and slice the toppings with such precision. I really like how they check the temperature of the pancakes and hot plates constantly to ensure the pancakes are cooked perfectly every time. They are totally fine with you taking pictures (I’m fairly sure that was the idea behind the glass window into the kitchen), so snap away!

cooking dessert

A Happy Pancake only uses high quality ingredients in their dishes – Manuka honey from New Zealand, organic eggs from Nara and fresh Hokkaido cream. They don’t use any baking soda or raising agents, and their food is completely free of preservatives. Expect your meal to take at least 20 minutes, since they cook the pancakes to order.

Banana Chocolate fluffy Pancakes

Now for the pancakes – they are truly like golden yellow pillows of fluffiness in your mouth! They aren’t too sweet, letting the flavour of the egg meringue and toppings shine through. Light and airy, yet filling at the same time, you’ll definitely walk out with a full stomach after a plate of these. You can really tell that they use those premium-quality ingredients in their food. They also have an extensive drinks menu full of hot and cold options to pair with your meal.

I will say though, I have ordered the “happy pancake” which comes with whipped butter and syrup, and while I found it delicious it definitely has a strong egg-y undertone, so I would stick to some of the other items on the menu if you have more of a sweet tooth. I love the chocolate banana or tiramisu flavours, and they also have savoury pancakes if you’d prefer those. They have an English menu for non-Japanese speakers.

Delicious dessert fluffy pancakes in Ginza, Tokyo

All in all, if you’ve never had a “fluffy” pancake before, A Happy Pancake is a place you should pop on your Tokyo food bucket list. It’s the perfect spot for a filling afternoon tea during a day of shopping or sightseeing. Expect to spend around 2000 yen per person for pancakes and a drink. Enjoy!

Poppy xoxo

Love reading foodie content? Check out this post on the 10 best places for tacos in Mexico City!

fluffy pancakes review Tokyo

Chatuchak Market Guide, Bangkok: Best Shop Locations 

stall at Bangkok Chatuchak market

What is Chatuchak Market?

Chatuchak Market is the largest covered outdoor market in Thailand, and is a must-see if you’re visiting Bangkok. With over 15,000 stalls, you’ll be able to find anything your heart desires – souvenirs, clothing, homewares, pets and antiques, plus lots of food stalls and massage parlours.

Where is Chatuchak Market?

It’s a short walk from Mo Chit BTS station, and open to the public every Saturday and Sunday between 9am – 6pm. During the week, you’ll find the plant section and wholesale parts open at different times.

How to find shops at Chatuchak Market

Since the market is so big, it’s divided into sections and sois (rows) to make finding particular stalls a little easier. You’ll definitely get lost at some point or another, but that’s part of the fun! Here are some of my favourite stalls – and their locations in the market – to get you started in Chatuchak. The section/soi listings will make more sense once you’re in the market and can follow the signs hanging in the alleyways.

fresh coconut dessert at Chatuchak market, Bangkok


Section 23, Soi 32/7: T Shirt Shop
Vintage-looking T shirts printed with pop culture references with Asian twists.

Section 21, Soi 28/3: Tie Dye Clothes and Boxer Shorts
The big shop on the corner has tie dyed clothes in tonnes of different styles and colours. There’s also a stall opposite that sells quirky patterned boxer shorts.

Section 4, Soi 50/2: Old Skull T Shirt Shop
Streetwear-style graphic T Shirts in colourful designs.

Section 4, Soi 47-49/2 and Section 4, Soi 51/1-2: Designer Boutiques
Rows with boutique clothing stalls selling local Thai designs.

rattan bags at Chatuchak market Bangkok


Section 4 Soi 50/1: Tote Bags
Canvas tote bags printed with bold graphic patterns.

Section 7, Soi 63/3: Boho Bags
Plenty of tote and shoulder bags woven with straw, rope etc. There are several of these shops around the market, with varying bag qualities.


Section 17, Soi 9-8-7/1: Blue Ceramics
Lots of stalls with beautiful ceramic bowls, plates, cups and kitchen items with blue finishes.

Section 15, Soi 9/1: Thai Ceramics
Traditional Thai scenes (dancing, rice fields, elephants etc.) painted in bright colours on bowls, teapots, plates and other utensils.

Section 19, Soi 6/1: Wooden Homewares
All sorts of wooden homewares and trinkets.

Section 8, Soi 14/1: Straw Items
Baskets and other boho household items woven from straw.

Section 7, Soi 63/3: Art
Large canvases painted by local artists in lots of different styles. Most of the stalls are manned by the artists themselves.

Section 17, Soi 8/7: Hem Aroma Perfume Shop
Stall with a huge variety of essential oils, perfume blends and aromatherapy diffusers.

spice shop at Chatuchak market Bangkok


Section 20, Soi 5/1 and Section 11, Soi 12/1: Boom spices
A stall with all sorts of local spices. They have different Asian spice blends prepackaged and ready to take home.

Section 4, Soi 48/3: Cafes
Lots of little boutique cafes with covered seating – great for a coffee and break from the shopping chaos.

Section 9, Soi 18/1: Tik Cafe
Great spot for fresh mango sticky rice and fresh drinks.

cafe stalls, Bangkok
outdoor stalls, Bangkok

Self Care

Section 21, Soi 28/6: Massage Place
Just one of the many massage places inside the market. It’s air-conditioned inside and very well priced – perfect for a quick foot massage in between browsing the alleys.

Chatuchak market stalls, Bangkok

Use these stalls as starting points to explore different parts of the market. Have fun and enjoy this crazy Chatuchak experience!

Poppy xoxo

Chatuchak market guid Bangkok Thailand shopping

10 Best Places For Tacos In Mexico City

Tacos are synonymous with Mexican culture and are truly the lifeblood of Mexico City. They’re perfect for any occasion – breakfast food, lunchtime meal, social snack or a filling dinner. Here are some of my favourite taquerias in CDMX for every budget and taste.

Los Cocuyos

1. Los Cocuyos

This small taco stand in Zocalo is a popular with locals and tourists alike. It became a tourist hotspot after Anthony Bourdain visited with his ‘No Reservations’ TV series, but it was already a popular local taqueria years before that. Los Cocuyos is open 24 hours a day, and the menu here has all sort of offals on offer – tongue, brains and gizzard etc. The tortillas here are the BEST I’ve ever tasted – they have an amazingly soft and buttery flavour/texture. My favourite filling here would be the campecheno (mixture of chorizo and beef). Since Los Cocuyos is literally just a hole in wall, you’ll watch the cooks prepare the fresh tacos and tend to the bubbling pots of meat while you stand and munch on your tacos. It doesn’t get any more authentic than this!

Calle de Bolívar 57, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

2. Los Especiales

Famous in Zocalo for their cheap and tasty basket tacos. There’s always a line of locals snaking outside the shop, so you know it must be good. Each taco is 7 pesos, which is very affordable by locals standards!

Av Francisco I. Madero 71, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

El Huequito

3. El Huequito

El Huequito has many franchises around México City, but this is no ordinary taco chain! You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think these are some of the best tacos al pastor in CDMX (me included). El Huequito is known for their flavourful meat marinade, crispy tacos al pastor and onions soaked in the dripping juices from the trompo. Be sure to order the pastor especial con queso – you’ll be treated to a mountain of freshly sliced al pastor meat covered in cheese, and around 10 tortillas to wrap into your own tacos. The sopa azteca here is also delicious. Come hungry.

Calle de Bolívar 58, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico (various other locations)

4. Orinoco

The decor at Orinoco gives me serious In-N-Out burger joint vibes, as does the simple but well-executed menu. You can except a long (but quick) line for this restaurant in Roma Norte. People go crazy for their chicharron tacos, and they have vegetarian options as well.

Av. Insurgentes Sur 253, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

El Tizoncito

5. El Tizoncito

A busy casual indoor-outdoor restaurant in La Condesa. El Tizoncito say they are the original creators of tacos al pastor… not sure how true this is but their tacos al pastor are definitely delicious! They have the trompo out in the centre of the restaurant, and great little condiment stands on each table with salsas, corn chips and beans. There are English menus and semi-English speaking staff for us non-Spanish speakers, which really helps the experience. They are open until 3:30am everyday, and have a full menu of soups, huaraches etc. as well as their tacos.

Av. Tamaulipas 122, Colonia Condesa, Cuauhtémoc, 06140 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

6. El Vilsito

Mechanic shop by day, popular taqueria by night, El Vilsito is a casual nighttime dining spot out in the suburbs. The place was recently featured on the Netflix show ‘Taco Chronicles’, which has only added to the late night crowds visiting for a feast.

Av. Universidad, Narvarte Poniente, Benito Juárez, 03020 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

El Pescadito

7. El Pescadito

Seafood tacos are hard to come by in CDMX, but El Pescadito have great options and are known for their fish tacos. Their self-serve condiment bar has all the sauces and salsas you could ever want. You’ll only need a maximum of 3 tacos to fill you up – they’re large and filling, especially after adding your salads and pickles! I found the fried fish tacos here delicious.

Independencia 57, Colonia Centro, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico (various other locations)

Rico’s Tacos de Guisado

8. Rico’s Tacos de Guisado

This local taco stand specialises in a variety of stewed meat and vegetable tacos. The vendors travel hours from the Mexican countryside everyday to man their stand. There are lots of street stands around town with questionable hygiene, but this one is known to be fairly clean. Their chile relleno tacos are unique and flavourful.

Av. Morelos 1, Colonia Centro, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Taqueria Gonzalez

9. Taquería González

A local standing-room-only shop serving large tacos full of hearty toppings. You can get fillings like slow-cooked potatoes and cactus on your tacos here, which makes them very substantial. Despite being a hole-in-the-wall shop, Taqueria Gonzalez is known for salsas full of complex flavours. Definitely something different from the usual tacos you see around CDMX.

Calle López 100, Colonia Centro, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

10. Taqueria El Greco

A hole-in-the-wall taqueria in La Condesa. It’s right around the corner from Parque México, so if it’s busy and you can’t get a table (which is fairly common) you can always order takeaway and have a picnic in the park. Doneraky is the most popular order here (meat with corn tortilla)

Av Michoacán 54, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Poppy xoxo

Want more Mexico City inspiration? Read my Complete Guide to Grutas Tolantango Hot Springs, Mexico.