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A picture perfect beachfront resort at the heart of popular Klong Dao Beach. Twin Lotus Koh Lanta features luxurious sea facing villas, a stunning infinity pool, and friendly service and dining on laid back Koh Lanta. The sandy stretch is family friendly with plenty of restaurants and bars and shallow clean water for young explorers and swimmers. We couldn’t believe the sunsets each evening and enjoyed our spacious villa complete with comfortable and private outdoor terrace. Island hopping, beach picnics, and dreamy sundowners are all within easy reach and you’ll find it hard to worry or stress in such a tranquil location. Highly recommended for families looking for a luxury boutique property at the center of Koh Lanta.

http://www.twinlotusresort.com/

January 19, 2021 0 comment
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Taipei has fast become one of the hottest foodie destinations in Asia. From bustling night markets to tempting street food, hearty bowls of beef noodles and juicy xiao long bao to fluffy spring onion pancakes and indulgent bubble tea; you’ll find plenty to satisfy your hungry taste buds and I promise it’s all budget friendly.  Yong Kang Street is often the most visited stretch of famous eats and has a diverse collection of delicious restaurants, friendly local stands, and stylish cafes.

For me Yong Kang Street is where I see my family. I’ve been visiting every year since I was a little girl, speaking Mandarin with a heavy American lilt, and have a minimum of 20 extended family members who still reside in the two mile radius.  It’s impossible to walk along the bustling street without bumping into a cousin or auntie on my way to lunch.  In my memory my Grandmother’s home is the epicentre of Yong Kang Street, right around the corner from the world’s first Din Tai Fung.   Her well worn, round dining table is consistently brimming with steaming plates of mouthwatering fare.   Bubbling pots of spicy hotpot, towering stacks of crisp and fragrant spring rolls, heaping portions of addictive stir fried tsao mi fun, and steaming plates of her famous pork and cabbage dumplings.  The same we’ve been devouring since childhood.  Yong Kang Street is full of my memories, so many accented with delicious food.  I first bonded with my cousin over teenage gossip and a delicate bowl of rice noodle soup, we laughed over Taiwanese breakfast sandwiches sleepily devoured in our pyjamas,  and the taste of icy cubes of mango will always go hand in hand with humid summers in my mind.  As I hold my daughter’s hand and line up for a spring onion pancake, the exact same I’ve been eating for over a decade, I can’t resist the the swell of memories that ignite just from the smell and experience alone.

Here’s a look at my favourite restaurants, dishes, and street food stands on Yong Kang Street, coming from someone who sees it as a slice of her heart and home.

Din Tai Fung

  • Many of us have feasted on the bamboo baskets full of indulgent xiao long bao from famous chain Din Tai Fung but I still believe the original on Yong Kang Street is the most delicious.   My oldest cousin has been a regular since it was a humble soy sauce shop and my family still brunch there regularly.  The line is almost always impossibly long, but those soup filled delicate dumplings are worth the wait.  Check out the chefs preparing from the glass front kitchen and browse the bookstore next door while you wait for a table.  Must order dishes include stacks of xiao long bao, the fragrant pork chop topped fried rice, wontons bathing in spicy chilli oil, and the light chicken soup.   The quietest hours are always between lunch and dinner so if you’re hungry for an afternoon snack, head over at 4pm to snag a table.

Yong Kang Beef Noodle

  • This popular spot has been around since the 60’s and serves one of the best bowls of beef noodle soup in town, especially if you like the intense and spicy variety.  It has stood as my brother and my favourite since he was only ten years old and would always require an extra portion of beef to satisfy his appetite.  The must order is of course the braised beef noodles in spicy broth and those who like a richer bite can get the mix of beef and beef tendon.  Everything is made fresh and tastes even better topped with a generous helping of the pickled vegetable that is placed on every table.  Don’t miss their addictive cold dishes and a taste of the savoury steamed spare ribs.  Show up just before they open at 11am if you don’t want to wait too long for a table.

Mango Ice

  • You can’t miss Smoothie House’s bright yellow facade right beside Yong Kang Park.  I’ve been addicted to this dessert since I was a little girl and loved being perched on those high stools sharing a portion with family while watching the weekend crowds browse the little boutiques. This was the original Taiwan Ice Monster, opened in 1995, serving the now famous fresh mango shaved ice, but rumour has it a messy divorce caused a sudden closure and renaming, as well as Ice Monster moving to another location.  Either way the heaps of fresh mango impressively balanced around a mountain of shaved ice and topped with a creamy ball of mango ice cream is a Yong Kang Street staple.  They serve it year round but it is most delicious when Taiwan’s mangoes are in season.  There is a newly opened Ice Monster located a few shops down from Din Tai Fung if you want to taste their recipe and compare.

Tian Jin Onion Pancake

  • I didn’t even know this stand had a name but it is a Yong Kang Street institution and has been around for as long as I can remember.  We used to grab them before my cousin headed to dance rehersal and later it was our favourite hangover cure. We introduced it to my husband when he first visited Taipei and now it’s one of our children’s favourite lunches. The stand is located just at the entrance of Thanh Ky’s Pho and the ladies churn out the fluffy scallion laden pancake wraps at warp speed.  There’s an English menu, but the options are simple with toppings such as basil, egg, ham, and cheese.  Choose whatever you wish but don’t miss out Taiwan’s aromatic basil as a finishing touch. You can also add a dash of spicy sauce for an extra kick.  There’s usually a line outside, but it’s empty if you go at 9am right when they open.  A little trick from my foodie husband.

Lao Tzang Beef Noodles

  • A firm favourite with my family and one of the area’s oldest restaurants.  If you don’t like to wait with other tourists in staggering long lines this is the ideal choice.  Hidden on a quiet corner the rustic and traditional spot serves generous bowls of piping hot beef noodle soup.  The broth isn’t as rich or spicy as Yong Kang Beef Noodle but it’s fragrant, flavourful and homemade.  The menu is far more suitable for children with options that are lighter and the spacious tables mean you can bring a group without any problems.  My favourite is the pork chop noodle soup and my husband is always impressed with the large slices of beef shank and tendon.

Fu Cheng Tainan Mei Shi

  • Across from Yong Kang Park is a restaurant featuring images of their signature dishes around the welcoming entrance. Here you can grab a few portions of the reliably cheap and tasty “lou rou fan” Taiwanese braised pork rice.  Slowly braised cubes of pork in an oily, sweet and savoury sauce is a Taiwanese home cooked favourite and on most children’s favourite foods list.    Tastes best topped with a braised, boiled egg and you can get takeaway to eat in the park.   They also serve a delicious ba-wan, a unique Taiwanese speciality made from potato starch.  I tried it for the first time at this very spot.

吳留手串燒居酒屋-麗水店

  • As Japanese as it gets on Yong Kang Street, this spot is perfect for beers, sake, and juicy yakitori.  We love the izakaya vibes and cozy seating and every member of staff are reliably friendly and smiling.  We eat here a few times a week when visiting my Dad and never tire of the perfectly grilled chicken and endless shots of sake.  Pork tongue, braised tofu, stir fried chives, and the addictive chicken skin are always on our order list alongside the many types of chicken skewers. Bring friends so you can try a variety of their mouthwatering selection.

Local stands

Here are a few places I can’t find on Google Maps but are favourites we all go back to again and again.

  • Enter the small road beside Watsons that leads from Yong Kang Street to Li Shui Street and find  a little chicken stand selling saltwater chicken and a variety of tofu and vegetables. The owner will cut the Taiwanese speciality into cubes and toss with garlic and spices for a moreish savoury dish best paired with cold beer.
  • Wedged between Tian Jin Onion Pancake and a little fruit shop is a hole in the wall that serves light and fragrant vermicelli soup, stewed tofu, delicate pork liver, and fresh local greens.
  • Beside Smoothie House you might notice a cluster of hopeful patrons outside a tiny window.  This stand sells a version of Taiwanese fried chicken cut into bite size pieces and topped with large lashings. of addictive salty spices.  An order that is sure to cure all your drunken cravings.
  • Keep travelling down Yong Kang Street, past Angel Cafe, and you’ll come to a tiny open front restaurant on the right hand side. The friendly cook sells little bowls of “tianbula” which literally translates to a little sweet and not too spicy. This Japanese inspired delicacy is lightly fried bits of fish paste holding just the right chewy texture and paired with a mildly spicy red sauce.
  • Many spots sell classic Taiwanese breakfasts each morning including egg pancakes, mini breakfast burgers, and “fan tuan,”  a glutinous rice burrito stuffed with local ingredients like pork floss, pickled vegetable, and fried dough.  The more homemade the better.
  • If you’re traversing the street in the morning you’ll find it vacant of crowds and a few locals selling freshly made fluffy pork buns. They’re almost always sold-out before 10am.
  • Don’t miss an ice cold milk tea with boba or fresh soybean milk during your walk and stop in one of the many snack shops to pick up dried local fruit and other interesting confectionary.  The best thing about Yong Kang Street is there are little treasures everywhere, hidden between the crowds of tourists and popular hotspots. Delve a little deeper and watch where the locals are dining for a real foodie experience.
January 14, 2021 0 comment
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Clouds of rainbow coloured cotton candy, eclectic locals with neon hair, fish that puff into large balloons adorning the tanks of quaint eateries, real life Mario Bros racing in go carts through the busy streets, who says your kids will be bored in Tokyo? The vibrant and bustling city is full of culture, mouthwatering traditional food, sparkling views, and welcoming locals who will make your children feel right at home.  Here are a few tips and must sees to help you plan your next trip to one of our family’s favourite cities.

Andaz Tokyo

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Things to do:

Harajuku

  • Brace yourself, this street will be very busy but that’s half the fun of Takeshita Dori.  My son, who was only three at the time, perched atop my husband’s shoulders as we traversed the iconic road.  Your eyes will rove in every direction taking in the lights, colours, and people.  Fruit and whip cream filled crepes are served to eagerly waiting patrons and you can grab a selection of kawaii souvenirs from the sidewalk.  We couldn’t resist treating our kids to a giant rainbow cotton candy at Totti Candy Factory and laugh at the awe on their faces when they attempted to eat the concoction.  Don’t miss a trip to Daiso the 100 yen shop and buy a few fun bento boxes, cartoon socks, or unique Japanese cooking equipment to bring home.

Meiji Shrine

  • The perfect place for you and the children to admire Japanese culture and architecture.  The walk into the shrine is both grand and beautiful, submersed in towering trees and greenery. You can talk to older children about the history of the shrine and the emperors of Japan’s past as you explore the ambient scene.  Located near Harajuku and adjacent to Yoyogi Park there’s plenty more to do after your visit and easily accessible wherever you are staying.

Shibuya Crossing

  • This famous crosswalk is quite the sight during rush hour.  Go in the evening and your kids will love crossing with the masses while viewing the neon lights which surround the area.  You’ll be joined by many photographers and photoshoots and if you’re lucky this is the spot we often see people dressed as the Mario Bros riding go-carts through traffic filled roads.  Our children were pretty convinced they were the real deal.   After crossing you’ll be near a huge variety of delicious eats at affordable prices or cozy coffee shops to relax after a long day.

Sanrio Puroland

  • Sanrio Puroland is a must for Hello Kitty lovers.   My daughter is ardently obsessed so we knew a visit was in order. Even kids who don’t know the characters will enjoy the shows and rides, and maybe even seeing the other fans dressed up for the visit. Snap a memorable photo with one of the themed characters and admire the perfectly displayed food that looks almost too cute to eat.

Tokyo Toy Museum

  • Located in a former elementary school you’ll find an interesting collection of Japanese toys, both historic and modern, in an array of playrooms and exhibits. The games and toys are very suitable for young children and they have free arts and crafts led by the friendly staff as well as a lively outdoor area when weather permits.  I loved the natural wood design, educational Montessori style play stations, and the fact that facilities are very well equipped for diaper changing, breastfeeding, and napping toddlers.  It’s a relaxing haven away from the crowds and lights of the city and also gives insight to Japanese culture and education.

What to eat:

Ramen

  • Ramen joints are littered all across Tokyo and are perfect for family dining. Pay for your order at the vending machine at the front and grab a seat along the cozy bar for your delicious and easy meal.  Our kids enjoyed watching the chefs prepare long bunches of noodles and spooning soup from the steaming pots and couldn’t get enough of the ramen in both tonkatsu and soy sauce variety.  Popular spots for ramen include famous chains such as Ichiran and Ippudo, but we enjoyed the noodles at any welcoming local restaurant.

Revolving Belt Sushi

  • Children will delight at watching the small plates of sushi traveling along the conveyor belt and a competition to stack as many finished plates as possible will have them trying many new flavours.  Our kids can’t get enough of tomago egg nigiri, unagi, ikura, and salmon sushi.  You’ll also find simple udon dishes, steamed rice, and miso soup for toddlers and a variety of traditional desserts to complete the meal.  Hamazushi boasts over 400 locations across the country and has very reasonable prices and Genki Sushi is always delicious and even has an electronic screen at your table for ordering if you don’t see what you’re craving on the belt.

Hambagu (Hamburg Steak)

  • If you’re worried about your kids eating Japanese food during your visit we are pretty sure they’ll enjoy hambagu or hamburg rice.  This is  basically a classic hamburger patty, made with either pork or beef,served over rice, sometimes topped with an omelette and some mild curry sauce.  Our son devours the whole lot but our daughter prefers it without the sauce.  Gold Rush, located in Shibuya, has been around since the 80’s and has a distinct American style if your kids are missing home.  You can even order your hambagu with cheddar cheese on top.  For a gourmet foodie option head to Matsusaka Ginza and grab the Wagyu version for an indulgent treat.  We are sure you’ll enjoy it as much as your children.

Omakase

  • Leave your meal up to the chef and partake in an omakase dining experience.  This is a must for foodie parents who don’t want to miss out on Japanese dining while visiting Tokyo with kids.  These are our favourite traditional dinners where the ingredients are always fresh and seasonal and we usually discover new flavours or dishes by recommendation of the chef.  Half the meal is watching the meticulous preparation of each bite, which is a fun and mesmerising experience for the whole family.  Book early as there are usually few seats and check if they allow children first.  Hotel restaurants, such as SUSHI at Andaz, are great for a first time Omakase dinner and can often prepare special menus for children who aren’t into sushi or fish.

Where to Stay:

Ritz Carlton Tokyo

  • One of the most luxurious hotels in the city and child friendly too.  You can’t beat the impeccable service at Ritz Carlton Tokyo where the staff are always eager to cater to your child’s needs. The Carlton Suite, boasts breathtaking city views, an immense amount of space, and a truly decadent bedroom. They also offer exclusive Ritz Kids programs for families with The Ritz Kids Night Safari program as a true highlight. The package includes a camping theme complete with a fully equipped tent, compass-designed floor mat, pajamas, curated camping amenities, and a Home Planetarium,’ by Japanese-based Sega. They also had the cutest mini slippers, safari hats, rubber ducks and even bubble bath for little ones.  Children are encouraged to explore the hotel during their space giving parents peace of mind and a luxurious experience for the whole family.

Andaz

  • The rooms at Andaz Tokyo are refreshingly modern, complete with panoramic city views, decadent bathrooms, gigantic luxurious beds, and plenty of space to add an extra bed for your toddler. Children’s amenities are abundant including welcome juice boxes and colouring books, character pillows, baby slippers, mini yakutas and terrycloth robes all provided for each child.  Our kids loved the restaurants at Andaz with the indulgent breakfast buffet a highlight of each morning.
January 9, 2021 0 comment
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Idyllic is an understatement when describing Koh Ngai Thanya Beach Resort.  We hopped on a private longtail boat and traversed the turquoise waters of Krabi to spend Christmas Day in paradise. Our captain pulled the boat ashore and we couldn’t believe our eyes.  The sea was crystal clear and adorned with fine white sand, rustic bungalows dotted the backdrop, and majestic karsts sat in the picture perfect horizon.  The friendly local staff grabbed our bags with ease and transported all our things and children seamlessly onto the powder soft beach.  We loved our bungalow which was modern, comfortable, and spacious for a family of four.  We could see the beach from our tranquil terrace and felt right at ease surrounded by the beauty of nature and calm. Days were lazily spent poolside or dipping into the glasslike sea. Ever and River hunted for hermit crabs and shells and they couldn’t get enough of splashing in the refreshing beachfront pool.  The simple outdoor restaurant served mouthwatering Thai fare and fresh seafood all day and the smiling staff were always on hand to ensure we were happy and content.  It’s islands like this that are always surprising me in Thailand, showing me a place where you can truly escape the stresses and pressures of the world.  

We were staying in Koh Lanta before traveling to Koh Ngai.  The resort can assist with boat transfers or your can book a private longtail transfer from Koh Lanta.  We paid 3000 baht each way for our private boat which departed from Koh Lanta Old Town and brought us directly to the resort beach. The journey took about one hour and was a beautiful ride.

https://www.thanyabeachresort.com

January 9, 2021 0 comment
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Phra Nang Lanta, set in picturesque Kantiang Bay, was the perfect setting for our family getaway. Tucked at the south end of Koh Lanta we felt miles from crowds or cities and were instantly captivated by the quiet beach backed by lush greenery. The inviting boutique resort features rustic yet stylish seaside inspired design and plenty of local touches creating an beautiful island oasis. Ever and River loved running into the crystal clear water and building sandcastles while I lounged under the sweeping palm trees beside the lagoon pool. I couldn’t resist an indulgent massage at their outdoor spa and a dip in the scenic jacuzzi. All the guest rooms are sea facing and come complete with spacious terraces, outdoor seating, and relaxing hammocks. The resort only houses 15 rooms which means it’s never crowded and ensures an intimate and tranquil ambiance. The ideal choice for families and couples looking for a serene and picturesque escape.

https://phrananglanta.vacationvillage.co.th/

January 1, 2021 0 comment
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Nestled along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River sits Praya Palazzo, a grand boutique hotel steeped in luxury and history. The beautiful property dates back to the Siam period and was once a grand private residence. Now their 15 elegant rooms have been transformed into a quiet and nostalgic hotel perfect for escaping the busy crowds of Bangkok. Our kids loved the novelty of arriving on a private river boat and entering the colonial property from its small yet inviting dock. As soon as you step through the gates you feel as if you’ve completely left the city. Influenced by classic Italian architecture and Siam furnishings, you find picture perfect moments in every corner. Our days were spent beside the ambient and refreshing pool and we couldn’t resist the Thai Royal cuisine served at Praya Dining. Sunsets were magical from the riverside terrace and the rooms made me feel as if I was back in the Amalfi Coast. Staff consistently went out of their way to ensure each guest had a personalized and unique experience and always had the grounds looking pristine and beautiful. Although you feel miles away from Bangkok’s bustling streets the hotel is in an optimal location to sightsee and explore. We hopped on one of the sightseeing boats right on the river and visited the mainly famous temples, street food areas, and shopping malls from the water. A perfect choice if you’re looking for tranquility and relaxation during your stay in Bangkok.

https://www.prayapalazzo.com/m2/

December 31, 2020 0 comment
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Akara Bangkok is a stylish boutique hotel perfect for your city holiday. The elegant property features inviting common areas, mouthwatering dining, and a trendy rooftop bar alongside panoramic city views. We loved the luxurious and beautifully decorated suites complete with eccentric corners, traditional touches, and decadent beds and bathtubs. The kids couldn’t get enough of afternoons in the refreshing swimming pool and their afternoon tea was always a welcome treat. Not only do they feature western, Thai, and Filipino fare, but you can also partake in culinary cooking classes during your stay. The amazing staff couldn’t do enough to ensure we had an enjoyable trip and we loved the intimate and personal feel of the small yet luxurious hotel. A great choice for families and couples who want style, privacy, and impeccable service.

https://www.akarahotel.com/

December 28, 2020 0 comment
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If you’re craving five star luxury at the heart of the vibrant Sukhumvit area, you’ll love Carlton Bangkok. Set at the centre of luxury shopping malls, tempting eateries, and trendy bars you’ll find all that you need and more during your stay. We loved the modern and spacious rooms with options perfect for families and the inviting lobby and espresso bar where you can enjoy festive afternoon teas and post shopping cocktails. Cooling Tower, located on the picturesque rooftop, is one of the city’s best spots to grab delicious cocktails and tempting fare and we couldn’t get enough of the authentic and decadent dim sum served at Wah Lok. Sunny days were spent beside the enticing pool and we made sure to stay fit in their impressive fully equipped fitness center. Carlton Bangkok offers all you need under one roof for an enjoyable five star stay and has the added bonus of being located in one of my favorite areas in Bangkok. A great choice for business travelers, couples, and families looking for seamless service and luxury.

https://www.carltonhotel.co.th/

December 21, 2020 0 comment
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We had been in Bangkok for a few weeks and really wanted a few days near local foodie spots and a variety shopping centers. De Prime Rangnam Hotel is set at the center of Bangkok, near Victory Monument and it’s boat noodles and night market, within close proximity to plenty of the most famous food stalls, and easily accessible to the large shopping malls in Siam. The stylish hotel is still relatively new with modern and comfortable rooms, a refreshing rooftop pool, delicious on site restaurant, and friendly and helpful service throughout the property. Their suites are spacious and luxurious for families with children and we loved making ourselves home in the vibrant and bustling area. A perfect choice for travellers or families who are looking for modern accommodation and great service at an optimal location in one of our favorite cities.

https://de-primerangnam-your-tailor-made-hotel.business.site/

December 19, 2020 0 comment
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A family holiday to remember. We absolutely loved Koh Samet, but Paradee was in a league of its own. Located at the bottom of the island in a secluded slice of paradise, you’ll find one of Thailand’s most idyllic locales. Soft white sand, crystal clear waters, dreamy infinity pools, rustic private villas, and five star luxury were just a few highlights of the decadent property. We loved our private pool, alluding outdoor bath, plush four poster bed, and the immaculate and picturesque grounds. Each morning started with an indulgent breakfast feast before we spent our days partaking in the complimentary water activities, afternoon tea on the beach, tranquil spa treatments, and epic sunsets and tropical cocktails. All the staff went out of their way to ensure you had a private yet personalized stay with all you would expect from a world class resort. We loved the intimate ambiance and quiet scenery taking us a million miles from the real world and any worries. If you are looking for a true escape in paradise this island location, only a few hours from Bangkok, is one of our top choices.

https://www.samedresorts.com/paradee/index.html

December 17, 2020 0 comment
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