How much does it cost to travel in Singapore? Our budget and tips

Our budget from Singapore is, by far, the most we spent in a country per day. For low budget lovers: it might be tricky to enjoy your time on budget especially if staying in an Airbnb, hostel or hotel. On the other side if you manage to volunteer or stay at someone’s house Singapore will turn out to be actually pretty cheap.

Over 7 days we spent 821 euro for the both of us. That gives us around 59 euros per person per day. I have to mention that it’s a budget packed with tickets, everyday exploring, not much cooking and a bit of a splurge when it comes to accommodation. Let’s go into details.


Where did we travel?

We mostly stayed in the center of Singapore, we made sure our Airbnb was close enough to walk to most of the interesting spots. Except for that we went a bit outside of the center to visit the Chinese Gardens and the Joo Chiat Peranakan Houses.

How did we travel?

We mostly walked. Thankfully that was possible since our apartment was pretty centrally located. Honestly the highlights in Singapore are not far from each other.

The 32 euros mentioned in transportation include two uber rides to the spots that were further and not so easily accessible. The rest we spent on metro.

Where did we stay?

Accommodation was the biggest part of our budget especially since we decided to splurge a bit. We didn’t want to stay somewhere far away and travel to the center for a long time. We decided that since we were coming only for a week we would treat ourselves. We stayed in a nice room in an Airbnb apartment in a very nice art-deco neighborhood. The room itself was really stylish, cosy and with so needed airco. The apartment less so… It was a world apart: hot, dirty, not really well maintained. It's immediately obvious why we only saw the pictures of the room on Airbnb. Anyway we were satisfied. That luxury cost us 462 euros for 7 nights.

TIP! If you want to stay somewhere nice but reasonably priced the only option is an airbnb or  hotel rooms without windows… I saw plenty of those on and honestly it took me a while to notice that they didn’t have a window. The pictures almost fooled me…

When looking for an airbnb make sure you check the location as many cheaper spots will be over the border already in Malaysia or really far from the center.

What did we eat?

We mostly ate local food in omnipresent food markets and food courts. Nothing extravagant but pretty good and for a reasonable price. We chose between thai curries, hainese chicken and any other goodies that they had to offer. Few times we even scored really cheap coffee or tea to accompany our meals. On average we spent 13-20 SGD (around 8-13 euro) per time for both of us. In total we paid 94 euros on eating out.

Everything we spent on ingredients for our lunches and breakfasts, which we prepared at our Airbnb, we included in the food section. Whole 97 euros. This one also contains many liters of water that we had to buy during the running around Singapore. I mention it because water was surprisingly expensive especially considering that in such a climate we drunk insane amounts of it. We always tried to look for a food court where water was cheaper than at any convenience store.

How expensive are museums, tours etc?

Good news is that there is plenty to see for free. There is no entrance fee to see the Gardens by the Bay, stunning shophouses’ facades or the Botanical Gardens.

That said there are quite few unmissable spots that cost a lot. National Gallery entrance depends on the exhibition and if you want to see just one or all of them. We paid 60 SGD for us both (around 38 euros). On the bright side you can explore the building itself and its amazing terrace for free which we didn’t know.

For both conservatories in Gardens by the Bay (since we couldn’t buy just one) we painfully said goodbye to 56 SGD (around 35 euros).

All in all we spent 107 euros on entrance fees.

Where did the rest of our money go?

In the 29 euros in miscellaneous and equipment we included printing boarding passes and contact lenses that we bought for JD.

Money- saving tips and tricks

  1. Pay attention where your hotel/ hostel/ Airbnb is. You really don’t want to stay in Malaysia instead of Singapore! Try to stay centrally to limit the transportation costs.
  2. Check out your credit card deals! For paying with Mastercard we got a free ticket to the OCBC Skywalk.
  3. Eat locally! Food at local food courts and food markets is really affordable, not to mention the coffee. It’s a huge difference compared to even a mediocre restaurant.
  4. Take as much water as possible from your accommodation. If you really need to buy more, try local food courts rather than convenience stores.
  5. Try to volunteer! Accommodation is pretty pricey so try to volunteer to limit the costs. Not to mention the benefits of submerging in the local culture.
  6. Enjoy the free attractions. Many spots in Singapore are free of charge. You can see the whole building of the National Gallery including the terrace for free (except for the exhibitions obviously), same with Gardens by the Bay, light show on Supertrees or Marina Bay Sands Mall. Even the Botanical Garden is free. So if you’re staying for a short period of time and you are on a tight budget than maybe think about exploring the free options first.

Exchange rate used: 1 Euro = 1.6 SGD

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Sigirya, Sri Lanka

How much does it cost to travel in Sri Lanka? Our budget and tips

Coming from Oman Sri Lanka was a breath of fresh air to our pockets. Almost everything was cheap and for those who want to lower their standards even further and get cozy with rats it can be even cheaper 🙂

On Sri Lanka we spend a total of 1311 euro over 29 days. So that makes almost 23 euros per day per person.

So let´s break it down:)

Where did we go?

Starting from Colombo we travelled along the coast stopping in charming villages and towns down to Mirissa. After seeing whales we started going more north to enjoy some tea in Ella, the famous train from Ella to Kandy and finally the cultural triangle. For the last few days of our stay on Sri Lanka we chilled out on the coast close by Colombo.

How did we travel?

We wish we could say "safe" but honestly the buses in Sri Lanka were really scary especially along the south coast. Whenever we could we tried to take a train rather than the bus. But on the positive side the transportation of all kind was really cheap and offered really breathtaking views over tea plantations, rice fields, lakes, seaside and whatever you could imagine. Many times we saw elephants from buses and not only passing the temples.

For the famous train passing through tea plantation we paid 800 LKR (around 5 euro)... for both of us. And that was a 7 hour train so probably the most expensive that you can get. It was 3rd class but it was comfortable and we were sitting without a problem.

Buses are a bit more expensive, probably because you pay for the adrenaline shot that you get in there… So a short ride from Kandy to Dambulla costed us 200 LKR (1.2 euro) for us both.

Tuk tuks are obviously the most expensive option except for a private car with a driver of course. They require quite a bit of bargaining skills and patience. Within a city or just outside for a short ride we would pay maybe around 120 LKR (around 75 cents).

In Colombo and surrounding areas along the coast we used UBER which turned out to be cheaper than local tuk tuks. For that price we were expecting a Flintstone-like vehicle but to our surprise we were always picked up by a car.

Overall on transportation we spend a total of 77 euros.

Where did we stay?

Accommodation was the biggest part of our spending and cost us 557 euro. That said we slept in really few shabby places and we treated ourselves with nicer places to sleep twice. We even rented an apartment which was ridiculously cheap.

Only 4 nights we spent in dormitories not even because we were open to spend extra on private rooms but actually because private rooms were often cheaper than two beds in dorms. For 3000 LKR (around 19 euro) we already had a nice double room with a private bathroom in most cases. For just additional 1000 LKR we stayed in a charming, little cottage with a private terrace overlooking a green, lushy tea region. Rowinrich Cottages was definitely our favorite accommodation where we stayed just for 5 nights. We wanted to stay there forever 😀

Another treat was an Airbnb apartment in Mount Lavinia for 30 USD. It was worth every dollar of that price. We had our own kitchen where JD could cook his amazing curries, great, spacious living room, aircon in the bedroom and a stunning, huge terrace with plenty of trees and plants of many kinds.

What did we eat?

On food and eating out we spent a combined 514 euros. The prices of restaurants on Sri Lanka were surprisingly high. In some places especially along the coast we couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t cost us a day in a bathroom, for under 10 euros per plate. Thankfully in many spots we had a kitchen so we just cooked ourselves buying a lot of vegetables, seafood and occasionally meat. Whenever we cooked we were definitely not saving on ingredients of any kind and still it was mostly cheaper than eating out. The only delicious and really economic restaurant was Matey’s hut in Ella where we ate every day. Everything there was prepared fresh with love and passion. Prices were very low and we were leaving happy, full and ready for any adventure for 1000-1500 LKR for both of us (6-9 euros).

Along the coast we went to a few hip restaurants and bars and generally for both of us we would pay around 2500-3000 LKR (16-19 euros).

How expensive are museums, tours etc?

On tourism we spend 147 euros. In general entrances to museums, temples and sights were cheap or free BUT in the cultural triangle the prices are just insane. For seeing Sigiriya Rock we paid 9000 LKR (56 euros) for both of us which is just a ridiculous price considering that you’re only visiting ruins on top and bottom of a rock which don't resemble more than few walls…. Honestly we were not even impressed. Well maybe we were stunned by the crowds but that’s it. It would have been a nice trip for 10 dollars but it’s not worth the whole price we paid.

Polonnaruwa ruins which also belong to the cultural triangle cost us 7500 LKR (for both, 47 euros) so also overpriced in our opinion. But those were at least pretty extensive and included many ruins and temples. It was also not that crowded in the morning.

Whale watching tour was surprisingly cheap and we paid just 4000 LKR for the two of us. We were sharing a boat with probably around 30 Chinese people which at times was challenging. All of them were running around from one side of the boat to the other trying to get the best shot of the whales. The boat was swinging like crazy but no one seemed to care except for us.

Many other sights were pretty cheap and our favorite was a temple carved in a rock in Dambulla (free of charge).

Where did the rest of our money go?

Most of our 16 additional euros we spend on mobile internet. For 649 LKR (around 4 euros) we bought a simcard from Dialog together with 4GB data during the day and 5GB data throughout the night time. We put some additional money on the phone to be able to call and text and honestly it was a great investment. The mobile internet was just great and came in very handy in so many situations especially that in some places where we stayed the internet was not really that good or sometimes even non-existent.

Our tips to save money on Sri Lanka

  1. Bargain, bargain, bargain!! On Sri Lanka prices are very negotiable. So before you rent a tuk tuk, a room or anything try to set the best price possible.
  2. Take UBER. In Colombo and nearby towns you can get better prices by just requesting an uber than you would get bargaining with a tuk tuk driver. And you will be picked up by a normal car:)
  3. Know the way! If you’re taking a tuk tuk make sure that the driver realizes that you know the way. We found that if you actually show on the map point A and B and tell them the amount of kilometers, you get a better, more honest price.
  4. Train! Trains are generally cheaper and safer than buses so whenever you can try to use them.
  5. Volunteer! Although we didn’t try it we met quite a few people volunteering via Workaway. It’s mostly volunteering in hostels and guesthouses but if you’re on a tight budget you can save on accommodation and food.
  6. Check out double rooms! In many cases we paid less for a double room than we would for two beds in a dorm.
  7. Check out the seasons! Sri Lanka has two monsoon season so it’s advisable to check them out before you go. We really wanted to see the whales so we went there in January which is also the peak of the high season. I’m sure that later on it would have been much cheaper.
  8. Share! Costs or taxis and tours are often calculated per car so if you’re with more people it’s way cheaper.

P.S. Exchange rate used for the overall budget 1 EURO = 159 LKR

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Kalouts, Iran

How we went to the Moon- our trip to the Kalouts desert

Kalout desert was our favorite sight in whole Iran. We are always more than happy to skip the crowds and in the Kalouts it’s not even a challenge. There we could feel like tiny ants in the big world, surrounded by all this giant rocks shaped by erosion.

How did we get there?

We didn’t really dare to rent a car in Iran but that would definitely be an option. Instead we organized a tour going from Kerman which is the most popular way of going to the desert. The guides have pretty varied prices and some of them are pretty open to negotiation so it’s worth giving them a call to find out the details. I preferred to call them also to check out their English … quite many of them couldn’t respond my basic questions so it was clear they wouldn’t be able to respond more complicated ones out there in the desert. In final end we went with Ali from Visit Kalouts.

How much did it cost?

We paid 150 euros for us both which wasn’t the cheapest but pretty close to it. We were really satisfied with our guide Ali, his English was good, he was friendly, patient and happy to explain everything. We chose him because we felt his company had the best idea of what there is to see around the desert and the most organized plan. Others seemed just to want to drive through without much plan.

What it included?

Practically everything, transportation, food, accommodation in a rather basic house (2 days, 1 night), flexible schedule. If we wanted to stay somewhere longer, sleep longer or wake up in the middle of the night, it was all possible.

What did we see?

Except for the amazing giant stones shaped through erosion we saw how the people in the desert lived. How they dealt with water, their water system and reservoir and even a salty river. Yep plenty of water in the desert.

How about Kerman?

Initially we didn’t plan to visit Kerman, we just wanted to skip it and use it just as a stop to get to the Kalouts but after our tour we still had a bit of time before the night bus and Ali and Shiva (Ali’s colleague) proposed to give us a little tour. So we walked around the main square, the bazaar and local library. We realized that the place had much more to offer than we initially anticipated. It was quite pretty and had one hidden gem. A tea house opened in an old bath house in one of the corners of a bazaar labyrinth. Sitting there surrounded by all the beautiful tiles, Iranian carpets and even a fountain we were just wondering how come all of the people love the heating so high. We were literally melting away. I guess it was another way to imitate the weather like if it was summer.

At some point we got hungry and wanted to order food but it turned out to be impossible because they only served lunch and it was already after the time. But impossible in Iran can be solved … with money I guess. So we met a nice Iranian man that lived all his life in Holland and described himself as an almost royalty in the region. His new friends couldn’t walk around hungry so he disappeared for a few minutes and came back inviting us to the restaurant part of the place. We got served whatever we wanted and the food was delicious. We were a bit hesitant when we were walking up to the counter, we thought we might end up paying for reopening the restaurant but the meal was actually really cheap. Power of money and connections in Iran…

Cayo Boliviar

Colombian paradise- San Andres and Providencia

To prepare ourselves for Christmas we decided to start December with a vacation. As ridiculous as it sounds, as some people think we have been on vacation for 10 months already. But this time we wanted an oasis of peace, stuff booked, no searching, just chill, relax and diving. Miraculously (as December-January are super busy, summer months when everybody has vacation) we found cheap flights to Colombian islands just off the coast of Nicaragua...San Andres y Providencia.
San Andres was well... Busy, a bit too party style and definitely it did not look as anything even close to a paradise, well maybe after few piña coladas... Diving was also not really anything special, it was more a search for a reef then admiring it. But from there we took an organised trip to Cayo Boliviar which is a tiny island only reachable by those trips or a private boat.Cayo Boliviar We still haven't won any lottery so there was only one way to get there. To say adventurous is an understatement. Boat was jumping up and down, hitting the water so hard that I was sure it was our last trip. Even more dramatically, everyone was screaming possibly because some of the beauty queens were trembling for their make-up. But after an hour we arrived in paradise.... 50 shades of blue water, sandy beach, perfect place to snorkel and even the crowds when spreaded were not that bad. While snorkeling we even saw some nurse sharks, only because they were fed by the guides but still beautiful too see. But the best was yet to come... Providencia.
Providencia is a smaller island, close by San Andres. The only way to get there is by boat or by plane from San Andres. Many think it's too big of a hassle so there are not that many tourists and the island is more virgin in every way. Own language, Creole is omnipresent. It's a weird version of English. And the cuisine is just superb, only place in the world where we ate only lobsters, crabs and fish and all delicious, fresh and ridiculously cheap. The island has also an amazing architecture, traditional wooden houses painted as cheerful as possible. The sight immediately lifts the spirit if the views or diving doesn't do it.
To get there we decided to go by boat, we both love the sea, waves and cheaper options:) but on that catamaran we couldn't see anything as the waves were hitting all the windows constantly. But the worse was the puking party. P1140839-16There were bags with content flying everywhere. Even a special vomit master appeared to take care of the content and make sure new bags were ready so that no other passenger was endangered by the flying liquids. And like that for 4h. All worth it. The island was what I had in mind thinking about paradise. Unbelievable sea, shades of blue, food, architecture and polish vodka on the shelves of the shops (!). Thank god there is even one hostel on the island otherwise we would need to sleep on the beach which could be painful as there are sooooo many crabs walking at night. Actually the island closes their roads twice a year for a crab migration. Basically first they have to close the roads because of black crabs coming from the mountains to lay their eggs and later when the little crabs come out they have to close them again to make sure they can go safely to the mountains.

But going back to our the hostel it's worth saying that it was not a real hostel. I mean it was actually just one of the huts rented from a resort and I could easily see that concept of sharing space by 6 foreigners seemed absurd to them. White people who are not rich enough to rent a whole hut and need to share it? Weird:) But thanks to that little hut we met an amazing Swiss guy Nico and a one of a kind Canadian- Gabe. We immediately became friends and to my surprise soon our group was joined by another polish living in Amsterdam- Natalia. And so the days went on diving, eating crabs, lobsters and the evening went by with rum, polish singing and long discussions. It all felt like a true vacation, vacation in paradise. And the diving made it all really special... Sharks, sting rays, coral reefs, variety of fish... all there. And underneath a few pics from paradise to make you all guys feel jealous in the European winter.

How much does it all cost?

  1. To get to San Andres you can buy pretty cheap flights from all bigger Colombian cities- we went from Medellin and we paid around 100 euro per person (return ticket) with checked in baggage (flying with Viva Colombia)
  2.  To get to actual paradise, so to Providencia there are two options: catamaran (164 000 colombian pesos for return so around 47 euros), plane (162 000 colombian pesos one way so around 47 euros)
  3. For entering the islands you need to buy a tourist card at the airport which costs 49 000 pesos (around 14 euro)
  4. There is one hostel on Providencia which costs 45 000 colombian pesos (around 13 euro) per bed per night, there are actually plenty of other, affordable accommodations that can't be found online but the locals will make sure you find them as soon as you get off the catamaran/plane
  5. Diving is actually not that expensive- 160 000-180 000 pesos (around 45-51 euros) for a two tank dive (you go to the spot with a boat)
  6. Eating out: on San Andres we actually had a kitchen in the hostel so we cooked but on Providencia we had to eat out and there is something for every budget. Main meals are between 18 000 (around 5 euros) and 60 000 (around 17 euros) colombian pesos and 60 000 being a lobster with salad etc at the best restaurant. Actually the cheaper food was also pretty yummi and good quality.
  7. It's good to rent a Kawasaki Mule, or motocycle to drive around the whole island and to go to Santa Catalina which is a tiny island joined with Providencia by a colorful bridge. To rent a motorcycle or scooter is around 50 000- 70 000 pesos (around 14- 20 euros) per day and a mule is around 110 000 pesos per day (around 31 euros)

Best diving spots:

  1. Manta's Place- quite shallow dive (up to 12 m) but absolutely beautiful and we saw a few big sting rays over there, that I'm not going to mention the coral and the variety of fish
  2. Piedra Tortuga- an amazing place, full of sharks (but sharks are literally everywhere on deep dives around Providencia), beautiful coral, actually we went between two walls of coral which was stunning
  3. Felipe's Place- great canyon dive, again lots of sharks and fish
  4. Tete's Place- similar to Manta's Place, also a shallow dive with lots of coral and fish and some sting rays


Tarapoto, Peru

In the Peruvian Amazon

Going to the Amazon region in Peru we didn't know what to expect, except for mosquito bites and sweating like in a sauna. We also heard that people were way nicer than in other parts of Peru, warmer and more welcoming. The sweating part started already in the bus to Tarapoto which took 18 Peruvian hours (27 European hours). The change in people never came.
Arriving at the hostel we realized we were one of very few that came for the nature and not to take drugs (Ayahuasca ceremony is a tradition in the amazon but also a main tourist attraction for those who like to fly away). In Tarapoto except for close meetings with insects of all kind we managed to see monkeys, amazing butterflies and huge, hairy spiders. Obviously it wouldn't be me if I didn't fell somewhere and killed one of those hairy spiders with my hand...Tarapoto, Peru

From Tarapoto we traveled till the end of the road so till Yurimaguas, a tiny town where there is nothing special except for a cargo boat that would take us to Lagunas from where we would reach our goal Park Pacaya Samiria- the biggest protected area in Peru, second biggest in the Amazon region (20 000 km²). The cargo boat was just amazing, cargo and hammocks hanging everywhere, nice people, nice views, heaven. Only the sanitary of the boat was to say the least rustic. After 13 hours we arrived in dark, dark Lagunas as they only have electricity for a few hours a day...
To go to the park we had to have a guide so we asked around already in Yurimaguas for prices and there was one typical Peruvian answer from everyone we asked: they have an association of guides and that's why they all charge 150 soles per person per day..."But for you my friend 100 (or 110 soles) but in secret". On the next day after arriving in Lagunas we started our trip with our guide Alberto and his wife Jady. Married for 20 years, so they got married when she was 15 and he was 32... On my question of how they met, they only smiled...
With them we spend 8 pretty fun days enjoying the nature around us. We saw 5 types of moneys, birds, a sloth, otters, an anaconda and much more. Finally on that trip I started enjoying fishing. I remember when I was a kid and I was going fishing with my dad we were waiting hours in silence to catch ANYTHING. Here in the jungle, as soon as anything hits the water it is attacked by piranhas and other creatures which makes fishing extremely easy and fun for everyone. And with a stick and rope... That I'm not going to mention our fishing techniques like just throwing a spear or just swinging a machete blindly in the water. Even the net which had more holes than net was so successful that already while spreading, there were fish in it. Obviously we had a mainly fish diet those days with rice, pasta and the main ingredient in the amazon- banana. Many different kinds of it. But my absolute favourite was suri- delicious larvae from bugs taken from the inside of a palm fruit. Mmmm...Suri, Pacaya Samiria, Peru
Normally everyone who wants to see the jungle goes to Iquitos, where one has to pay serious money and everything is organised. The locals call the kind of tourism that goes from Lagunas "tourismo de aventura" (adventure tourism). Couldn't be more true, starting from sleeping on the floor in huts (floor and huts are both an overstatements) and finishing on taking a shower on our canoe (because going to the water could mean the last shower ever) taking water from the river with a bucket and having manyyyy crocodiles looking at us. Alberto was also a man of adrenaline and so he took us multiple times to watch caimans at night when they are the most active. Totally living on the edge considering that I read wikihow, before going, to find out what to do if attacked by a caiman and there first fundamental advises were: don't go where you know there are caimans living and 2nd if you have to go then don't go into the water, no canoe. And there we were in our canoe, at night staring at them. Our dear Alberto spotted a hugeee black caiman of around 6 m, a beast and we started following him. At some point the beast stopped but we didn't because Alberto really wanted to go as close as possible (or rather impossibly close) to the point where the crocodile started hissing at us. At that point we were already begging him to paddle away, I was already seeing us being eaten with pleasure. We definitely had more luck than brain and the crocodile ran away, splashing water and fish at us. Wet and happy to be alive we continued to look around when Alberto caught one of the small crocodiles with his bare hands, he placed him between his knees and paddled further as he saw another one. Possibly he wanted to catch the other one as well but it was bigger than he assumed and when Alberto approached he got scared and ran away leaving us wet for the second time that night. And then I felt something was walking on top of me, touching it I realized that Alberto let the caiman that he had between his legs go and now he was running through me till the end of the boat. After some time I realized that I had a lamp with me which I switched on to see our caiman scared out of his mind. Alberto went like if nothing happened till the end of the canoe, grabbed the crocodile and said "foto??". And so we took pictures with this nice, not so little friend who decided to go against his nature and not bite us. On the last day of our trip maybe to redeem himself Alberto had a little suprise for breakfast. A crocodile.... In my mind I was just hoping it wasn't the same, friendly one that we met a few nights before...

How to get to Pacaya Samiria Park and how much does it cost?

Visiting Pacaya Samiria from Lagunas is a way cheaper alternative when compared to Iquitos. But it´s also a bit more adventurous when it comes to accommodation and sanitary which has it´s charm:)

The whole journey starts in Tarapoto. From there we went by shared car to Yurimaguas (20 soles each, 2.5 hrs). From there we took a cargo boat called Eduardo to get to Lagunas (30 soles each (around 8 euros), 13 hrs) . It was a pleasant trip and we were mostly chilling out in our hammocks. Except for those, there are other cargo boats going to Lagunas which are cheaper (20 soles p.p. (around 5 euros)) but it´s rather hard to say which one will leave the port that day. There is always a boat leaving everyday but the time is unknown:) there are also speed boats going in 6 hrs for 40 soles (around 11 euros)Pacaya Samiria, Peru

Also accommodation in Tarapoto, Yurimaguas and Lagunas is cheap and there are quite some options to choose from even if for the last two villages there are not that many places online. Double room with private bathroom costs around 30-50 soles (around 8-14 euros).

When it comes to the trip, you can take a guide for as many days as you want, 2 days or 30 days all is possible. The park is huge so it´s good to have as many days as possible and the more days you go the cheaper price per day you can expect. Going for 8 days you can expect 100-110 soles (around 28-31 euros) per day per person but going above that you can expect 80-90 soles (around 22-25 euros) per day. Those prices include sleeping on the floor, food and guide.. all except for the park fee which is 20 soles (around 5 euros) per day per person. For multiple day stay there are discounts so for example going for 7 days you pay only for 6. Obviously for the park fee you don´t need to bargain, it´s set in stone. Which I can´t say about the prices of the guides (prices above are prices after negotiation).



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Astrid and Gaston, Lima, Peru

Fine and not so fine dining in Lima

We knew already before coming to Lima that for us it would be only a food destination. This was made clear again as soon as we came to Lima that it was not for us... Lacking the beautiful colonial architecture or character of Cusco unfortunately what it didn't lack is the performances of the national sport of Peru- honking... Everyone's driving so a ton of people honking for no reason at all. Music for your ears. That I'm not going to mention what a challenge it is to cross the street having the green light, all the cars were not even slowing down just letting you know by honking how determined they are to kill you if you don't run away. City jungle.

Coming to a new place we always want to taste the local cuisine and that one starts on the streets. And so we started by tasting causas (kind of potato mash normally stapled in two layers and chicken or fish or veg in between) and ceviche (fish in cubes "cooked" in lemon juice). It was not bad and it didn't end up in diarrhea but it didn't blow us away. Far more poisonous was "El Barrio Chino" which is famous in Lima for chifa style of cooking so a fusion of Cantonese and Peruvian. The food we tasted over there was just horrible... Soooo soaked in fat that even KFC would seem healthy next to it and it didn't have any spice in it. As usual almost no veg just because rice and potatoes are vegetables enough... At least we didn't pay much for this food mistake.
Our hopes built up with a visit to Larco cafeteria (yep cafeteria of a museum!!!) which actually sold nice sandwiches and causas (well except for soggy French fries but you can't have it all).

All of that was just a starter for what we were really looking forward to.... Best restaurants in the world:) 3 of the 50 are in Lima so we absolutely couldn't miss that chance. Number 4 was not available unless we made a reservation two months before which we didn't. But fortunately we could visit number 14, Astrid y Gastón. The restaurant is situated in a nice old hacienda and just like usually it's not really well marked so unless you know it's there, you won't find it. We were both blown away by the design, really modern but kind of cosy, home style (And thank God cuz we were both under dressed not to say a bit hobo).

Their service was also spectacular, separate guy from tea, separate guy from water and all of them nice and saying "thank you" and "you're welcome" which is a nice change in the country where those words seem to be out of use. Unfortunately we were not blown away by the starters and mains, not that we didn't like them but they were not as delicious and tasty as we expected from nr 14 in the world. But God the desserts were just smashingly good!!! Firstly I had a Lucuma dessert, a symphony based on a traditional Peruvian fruit of that name which was just spectacular with fresh raspberries and splashes of sauce made with purple corn.

Jandirk went for a white peach dessert which was outstanding as well. Tempted we both decided to try another dessert and so I took the strawberry dessert with vanilla, yogurt and an absolutely yummy wine sauce:) Jandirk took a rich chocolate one with banana and caramel....-) still now thinking about these desserts makes us smile :))))

As Jandirk was not satisfied with only one fine dinning experience we decided to visit restaurant "IK" which was the most spectacular dining experience in our lives and by far. The restaurant looked spectacular, all green and full of plants with windows on the kitchen through which we saw a well oiled machine of working people and a beautiful, traditional mud oven. Even the tables were original with their projections of native ingredients of Peru like coffee, lucuma and Inca berry.

We went crazy with the 12 course tasting menu and o my God it was worth it!!! Everything starting from the service which was really good and fun... For example when I was going to the toilet they would take my napkin to bring a new one with tweezers (never too sterile). But the food, the art, the theater.... Unbelievable and worth every dollar that we spent on it. Every dish had a story, presented native Peruvian ingredient from a different zone either from the Amazon, coast or deep Andes and all of them had a story and taste... They were all one of a kind and absolutely delicious. And so we ate eatable leaves from a branch, spicy (finally!!) Amazonian ceviche, roasted Andean potatoes, Amazonian fish, Amazonian tomato salad, pork belly, corn and we even normally don't like corn, all of the ones we tried at "IK" were unbelievable. In the end we tasted a dessert made entirely from a cocao bean, all if its parts which you normally throw away. And it was an unforgettable, symphony and what food is all about, bitter, sweet, refreshing and simply presented in the bean shell itself.

Afterwards we still got a tree which represented a traditional Peruvian celebration called Yunza. Obviously it had something tiny and delicious like chocolates to eat:) after 4 h of the experience of our lifetime we went to our 6 dollars per bed 14 bed dorm :)) money somewhere saved, elsewhere spent.

How much does it cost to dine in Lima?
The restaurants we have visited and how much they cost

  1. IK restaurant- unbelievable, decadent, truly delicious 12 course menu is 300 soles (83 euro) per person so in total we paid 730 soles (203 euro) for their tasting menu, two drinks, water and a little, delicious bread at the start
  2. Astrid y Gastón- for their not so mind blowing starters and mains and absolutely outstanding 4 desserts we paid 600 soles (166 euro), starters between 48- 79 soles (around 13-22 euro), mains 48- 109 soles (around 22-30 euros), desserts 36-42 soles (around 10- 12 euros), they also have a tasting menu which costs around 110 euro per person
  3. Larco cafeteria- good food in a nice, garden surrounding after a visit to the museum cost us 90 soles (25 euro)
  4. El Barrio Chino- tasteless and almost poisonous meal in the Chinese district cost us 23 soles (6 euro)
  5. Chifa Titi- less poisonous but still pretty tasteless dinner cost us 245 soles (68 euro)

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