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

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.

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

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


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.

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