Guides

Thailand

I have been to Thailand many times and we did self drive twice in Thailand. The first self drive we did was many years ago, that time the WiFi is not yet developed. The first self drive we went about was with a traditional paper map, travelling 8 days at the southern part of Thailand, covering many places such as Phuket, Ko Samui, Krabi etc. Without a google map from the phone, it is hard to believe that we managed to self drive and arrived safely at each of the booked hotel on time. So self drive the second time, which happen quite recent (Dec 2016) and with the help of google map, start from Bangkok to Chiangmai 8 days was nothing compared to the first one. Thailand is a budget destination for tourists and full of cultural and nice beaches and last but not least, not forgetting the yummy spicy hot Thai food. Yes, coming back to explore different part of Thailand is definitely a must for me.

Taiwan

Taiwan is a familiar places for most Singaporean but not many has tried self drive? I have been to Taiwan twice, the first time was to Taipei and Hualian free & easy with bus & train. The second time we went to Taiwan was self drive which covering whole island, except Taipei – the capital, as usual the big city is not suitable for self drive. Self drive in Taiwan is different from Singapore as the driving seat is at the left! There are more motorbikes & scooters in Taiwan as compared to Singapore so you may feel a bit uneasy at first but after 2 days, you should be able to get use to it and happily driving your rental car to explore this beautiful island which is surrounded by mountains and beautiful beaches. The landscape changes dramatically across island, some road curved endlessly and snaking through tunnels, especially at the Suao-Hualien/Suhua Highway. But you will be rewarded with breathtaking stretch of coastline line in the world.

Japan

Japan is very familiar to me as I used to spend few years studying in Japan. Knowing Japanese language make my trip to Japan even easier. I have been to Japan many times and both of my recent trips back to Japan was self drive. Self drive make it so much easier for family with young and old folks/grandparents. Many of the train stations in Japan, especially in “inaka”/countryside do not have the elevator or lift so you may need to carry your big suitcase and walk up or down the stairs to catch train. Taxi cost a bomb in Japan! The easier and economical way is to rent a car and drive around. I have done twice self drive in Japan, the first time was to Kyushu Island and the second time is to Central Region/Chubu in Honshu covering Mt Fuji, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine & etc.

One of the best place to start self drive in Japan is Kyushu Island, located at the southern part of Japan. Kyushu Island is about the size of Taiwan and you could do one round of the whole island for about 5 to 8 days covering the 7 prefectures. I am suggesting Kyushu as a start simply because this island has so much to offer, many historic treasures, modern cities and natural beauty such as beaches and mountains. Don’t underestimate Kyushu, it is Japan’s third largest island but compare to the main island, Kyushu has lesser cars hence make it less hectic and ideal for self drive. I would say the experience of self drive in Kyushu is similar to Australia. Both driver seat at the right hand side.

I believe the minute you landed in Japan, you will be fascinated by the culture (kimono & tatami), food (sushi, sashimi, natto) and the beautiful landscape (Mt Fuji & Miyazaki Beaches). My future travel bucket list including Shikoku & Hokkaido & Okinawa. Yes, of course using rental car and self driving around like a local!

UK

I was traveling to UK in summer this year, self driving the whole Britain including Wales, England, Scotland for about 12 days. The driving seat in UK is at the right hand side, same with all Commonwealth country. However there are many roundabouts in UK and you have to get use to it. Some roads in UK can be a very narrow so it is not wise to rent a very big car. UK is simply stunning with the old cathedrals, castles, museums & their English countryside scenery. Rich in tradition & complex in culture make UK is such a fascinating place to discover. I am glad we have done a round trip of Britain with a rental car taking in exactly what we want to see. Do check out my self drive itinerary which cover most of the important sites around Britain.

Singapore

When I was a student studying in Australia and Japan, people would ask where do I come from? I would tell them I came from Malaysia (my birth place) but then they have no idea where Malaysia is, so I have to tell them “next to Singapore”. Immediately everyone seems to know where Singapore is and they talked about the iconic Merlion with water coming out from the Merlion mouth and how clean the garden city is. Yes, Singapore is safe, clean and efficient country. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be impressed by the world class terminals in Singapore! Most people speak English or ‘Singlish’ – a Singaporean version of English. You can still understand 90% if you are a foreigner. Singapore is all year round humid and hot with average temperature of 27’c to 32’c. It is wise to always carry an umbrella to block away the hot sun ray and you never know when it is raining. The stunning Garden by the Bay which offer best waterfront view which overlooking Singapore skyline is one of the must visit place in Singapore. A good 4 days is enough to explore Singapore. Don’t miss out other attractions such as Marina Bay, Clarke Quay, Botanical Garden Singapore, Esplanade Theaters, China Town, Kampong Glam, Little India and shopping paradise such Orchard Road and Bugis and many more. I have been living here over 10 years and I am still exploring and discovering this little gem!

Malaysia

Malaysia is familiar for me as I was born in Malaysia. Self driving and visiting Malaysia is kind of like a “Balik Kampong”/”returning home” feeling for me even though my whole family has migrated to Australia in the 90’s. Revisiting some of the places such as Ipoh, Malacca and Penang has always bring back a sense of nostalgia as my parents would brought us for holidays during our school holiday! Having said that there are still many places in the East Malaysia that I have not explore. I have only visited Kuching/the cat city in Sarawak many years ago, yet to explore the other state, Sabah.

South Korea

With Korean drama and K-pop influence these days, South Korea has become one of the top destination. People rushed to Korea, hoping to get a glimpse of any Korean celebrities. I have been to South Korea twice, the first time was free and easy to Seoul area only. The second time was in the winter of 2016, covering the whole island within 8 days. It was a rusty scenic tour, exploring countryside & many big cities of Korea. I had the unforgettable experience learning from Korean housewives how to make Korean pancake, ice-cream & cheese in one of the remote countryside. The Korean farmer then drove us to his farm for seasonal fruits picking. There are so many reasons to love Korea, one of them is to try out the Korean cuisine such as Korean BBQ, bibimbap & ginseng chicken and especially their small free dishes! This country combines an ancient and storied culture with modern amenities. It is also a very colorful country with picturesque landscape!

China

China is a country full of spectacular natural wonders, with 5000 years of ancient history and culture. This is really a world class tourist attractions. With the RMB appreciating every year, it is better to visit as often now before things get too expensive over in China. Having said that, things and living expenses in China are still very affordable for Singaporean as of now. China is so huge, you can visit many times and still have plenty of places to explore. I have visited China 8 times in total, including, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Yunnan, Guangzhou, Fujian & Shantou. Being a third generation Chinese living overseas, to find out more of my ancestors history is kind of a mission for me. I am still thinking of exploring Dongbei – Harbin snow area or inner Mongolia in my next visits. I never repeat the same location in China. Each time I visited China, it gives me a different experience and discoveries so I will be back!

India

India is such an unique place to visit but when I told my friends about visiting India, everyone kind of giving me a frown. India has about over 30 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites across the country. Majestic Forts and Palaces are simply stunning and eye opening! I have explored Kashmir & Indian Golden Triangle which include Delhi, Agra & Jaipur during winter time. I think the best time to visit India in during year end, that way the weather is cooler and more fun to walk around!

Turkey

If Turkey is considered as Europe, then my first visit to Europe is Turkey! I tour for about 12 days covering most of the major cities in Turkey, including Istanbul, Pamukkale, Canakkale, Konya & Cappadocia. The most unforgettable memory was going up to hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia early before sunrise. It was my first hot air balloon experience and it simply took my breath away! The best timing for hot air balloon in Cappadocia is during winter time as it is more picturesque with some snow covering the unique landscape and unusual rock formation/”fairy chimneys”

Europe

I have visited both Western and Eastern Europe for two summer consecutively. If you have not been to Europe at all, I would suggest to start with Western Europe first then East Europe. Reason being East Europe is more beautiful than the West. Western Europe is more modern and more well-known for many people, most people speaks English but things are more expensive! I personally prefer Eastern Europe as it is more beautiful, be it scenery or ancient architecture and culture. Things are also so much cheaper and affordable compare to Western Europe. So start with West then go East is the way to go. Best time to visit of course is summer, that way you can have longer day to play with. My recent visit was to UK, self driving the whole Britain, including England, Wales & Scotland but not including Northern Ireland. It was a great experience doing self drive in UK in the summer! I strongly recommended you tried out the self drive in UK as it is more cost saving and more convenient!