Category Archives: Travel

Place which calls me again & again – Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

The turquoise blue water, limestone cliffs, bleached golden beaches and coral reefs beautify this island no less than a paradise. Yes, I am talking about the Island Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, which is at number one in every traveler’s list. Moreover “The Beach” movie and star Leonardo Di Caprio brought this beautiful, bluish green water island to the limelight and fame.

Koh Phi Phi Thailand
Koh Phi Phi Thailand

Island Koh Phi Phi archipelago consists of two islands –Phi Phi Lee/Leh/Ley an uninhabited island 1.5 km away from Phi Phi Don. Phi Phi Don is a permanently habituated island made of limestones.

Recent History of Koh Phi Phi Island

The Koh Phi Phi islands were completely devastated by the Indian Ocean 2004 tsunami. Ton Sai village on Koh Phi Phi Don was nearly wiped out. With new building codes to preserve views, Koh Phi Phi’s infrastructure has been rebuilt.

How to reach?

The Phi Phi Island lies around 45 kilometers from the mainland coast of Krabi and 48 kilometers from the island of Phuket. They are accessible by ferry and speedboat on daily basis. From both Krabi and Phuket province, there are fixed timetables for ferry take off and it usually takes around 90 minutes whereas speedboat takes around 30 -45 minutes.

Koh Phi Phi Thailand

Where to Stay in Koh Phi Phi?

Ton Sai Village is the place to stay if you want fun, party, nightlife and more action. Most of the hotels, budgeted accommodation, party places and restaurants are located here. If you are looking for a relaxing stay with much fewer crowds, then Long Beach is the ideal location with picturesque beaches, tall island cliffs, and good food. The proper signage will lead you to the long beach through uphill- downhill and forest paths. There are no night parties at the long beach. You can walk down or go by boat to Ton Sai Village for the same.

What to do?

  • Relax and get mesmerized by the beauty of this secluded place
  • Give yourself a treat with sunbath
  • Munch over seafood and Thai food
  • Go for day trip to the nearby islands
  • Do swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving in the clear water
  • Dip in the beauty of coral reefs
  • Party whole night on the beach with the bucket of drinks
  • Dance on sand without shoes
  • Watch enchanting crazy fire shows and observe people who jump and walk on fire
  • Get lost in the neon colors of beach at night
  • Watch sunset before and sunrise after party
  • Stroll around the local market
  • Color yourself with the pretty prints of beach dresses
  • Get yourself inked if you have been thinking about it for a long time
  • At the end of the day, go for Thai massage and fish spas. They are actually relaxing

Do also read the complete Phi Phi Tour Guide, before heading to Island.Activities at Koh Phi Phi Thailand

Must Carry Essentials

  • Swim Suit, Beachwear & Towel
  • Shorts
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sunshades
  • Hat
  • Comfortable flip flops
  • Underwater Camera
  • Anti-mosquito lotion or cream
  • Water bottle and some handy eatables

Don’t forget to check detailed post on Beach Packing list.

The Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet

Homestay or hotel for tripper is completely one’s own choice. Homestay is exactly like B&B i.e. Bed and Breakfast. In Home stays you are accommodated as a guest in a private room with an en-suite bathroom and all sorts of luxuries. They are usually run by the homeowners who enjoy welcoming and interacting with people. Homestay does offer some advantages over hotels along with comfort. One gets to know more about the local tradition and culture as compared to staying in the hotels.

Valley View Homestay Ranikhet

At Ranikhet all types of accommodations are available and for the first time, I choose Valley View Homestay Ranikhet over hotels to have a different feel. The gesture offered was up to the saying Athithi Devo Bhava which means the Guest is God. The staff and homeowner both considered an honor to have us as a guest at their place and they made all efforts to make our stay cozy and comfortable.

Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet


The Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet is located on the National highway between Almora and Ranikhet, approximately at a distance of 6 km from Ranikhet Golf course. It is a quiet place curated with love, labor, and patience.  Each point gives you views of lush green wide valley decorated in pear, apricot, peach and apple trees. In the evening sky in painted beautifully in hues of red and orange. At night the village lights, give the feel of twinkling/flickering Diwali Diyas from the balconies. If it’s cloudy than for seconds you feel you are floating among those. It is a bird watching paradise for bird lovers.

 Entrance to The rooms of Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet

Rooms & Tariff

There are 7 rooms from deluxe to honeymoon suites and tariff for each range from Rs. 2500 – Rs. 4500/-. Each room has its own aroma and gives a different view of mountain peaks and valley.

Rooms at Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet


Amenities at Valley View Ranikhet included everything (TV, the Internet, Power backup, Laundry service, room service etc) to give you a real home feel. Rooms are clean; linen is beautiful and crisp with matching decor.  Bathrooms are well lit and spacious. There are so many cozy corners to curl up with a coffee mug and enjoy the nature to fullest.

Garden & Amenities at Valley View Homestay RanikhetFood

For food, they use local produce, natural ingredients of their own farm. The menu is multidimensional from Indian to Chinese to Italian and continental. Each meal is a wholesome preparation from fish and chips to macaroni. Snacks are served in the rooms whereas meals are served only in the small polished dining area.

The Cafe

Adjoining rooms, there is The Cafe an ideal place to munch over homemade cakes, pies, muffins and Cafe special platters. One can also buy local made chutneys, pickles and jams too.

The Cafe at Valley View Homestay Ranikhet

Some places nearby:

  • Ranikhet Golf Course
  • Local Ranikhet market for Kumaoni specialties
  • Orchards and Gardens
  • KRC Museum and War Memorial
  • Jhoola Devi Temple

The Beautiful Binsar Valley in Monsoons

The elevated pitch of modernization and civilization had turned most of the Hill –Stations to Hill Cities. These hill cities with the luxury of Wi-fi, pizzerias, television, etc may be attractive for most but not some. At the same time, some hill stations managed to not be the part of the league and took a bold step to protect themselves from the destruction of commercialization and civilization. The beautiful Binsar Valley, 23 Km from Almora in Uttarakhand is one of them. In 1988, the Forest Department of Binsar took steps to preserve and conserve the forests of broad oak leaf.

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Road to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Binsar is not a village or town but a wildlife sanctuary spread over 46 sq. Km. It is a big natural swath of forestland, painted with pine and oak trees.

Inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
During Monsoons Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Once you enter the Binsar Valley registration fee (Rs 150 per person and Rs 250 for the vehicle), you are in a different world and era. The place had its own natural aura. It seems time clock had frozen years back for this place and sunlight never had an opportunity to kiss this place. While climbing the narrow and snaky roads, chances of spotting wildlife and birds increased as compared to humans.

Evenings at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Evenings at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Days in the Binsar wildlife sanctuary are quite long and different from other places. There is nothing much to do except listening to your own heartbeat with a cool breeze in your ears and trailing the long and dark trails of thick forests till sunset and Zero Point. While wandering on the ridge you can spot Deer, Gray Langur, Wild Boar, Jungle Cat, Jungle Goat, etc and different varieties of birds. If you are lucky enough then sometimes you get a glimpse of leopard too. At 7 Km from the registration point, on the green meadows stands Bineshwar Mahadev temple, known for its architectural excellence.

Bineshwar Mahadev Temple- Binsar
Bineshwar Mahadev Temple- Binsar

During clear skies, from zero point one can get the magnificent views of resolute standing peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Shivling, Kedarnath, etc at a range of 300 km.

Some visit Binsar valley for a day while others prefer to stay here for several days in the lap of nature. There are five hotels and resorts and 2-3 homestays in total. The Binsar Forest retreat is an Eco-friendly homestay located at an altitude of 7600 feet. It offers the sounds and sights of wilderness along with spectacular views of Himalayas and Valley. The Grand Oak Manor offers you comfortable cozy rooms with an old history. The Marry Budden Estate also with the history of the 18th century provides you a luxury living. The Khali estate located at a height of 6600 feet offers you panoramic views of snow-clad mountains and valley. The KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited) guest house, located at 7600 ft was created to increase employment opportunities and community development of the Garwhal region. It does justice with the marvelous location providing all the spectacular views of valley and forest.

KMVN Guest House - Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
KMVN Guest House – Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Some Important Points to Take Care of:

  • Do not move around in the jungle after dusk.
  • Do not leave your children alone.
  • Do not throw lit cigarettes as it can lead to a fire.
  • Use electricity only when required.
  • Carry a sturdy pair of shoes and Umbrella for exploring this place on foot.

Weekend getaway to an old world charm – The Grand Hotel Nainital

Sometimes you feel like running away from the scorching heat, traffic of Delhi. That is what happened with me and my husband last weekend and we planned to rush out. But now the question was where to go? The limited options for weekend getaway from Delhi are Mussorie, Nainital, Jaipur, Shimla etc. Somehow we decided over Nainital. We started from Delhi at 2:00 p.m. and reached around 9:00 p.m. Thanks to NHAI (National highway authority of India) for making it a pleasant journey. We checked into our hotel “The Grand Hotel Nainital  on the mall road. It’s a colonial style hotel with magnificent panoramic views of the Naini lake.


The Grand Hotel - Nainital
Naini Lake View – The Grand Hotel Nainital


The Grand Hotel, Nainital was first built hotel by Britishers in 1872. They have maintained their architecture in traditional style – long open verandahs, stone walls, wooden floors, high ceilings, preserved firewalls and veteran style furniture. We could even found the ball room dance lounge and grand banquets in the dining hall.

Colonial Style Verandhas - The Grand Hotel Nainital
Long Open Verandahs – The Grand Hotel Nainital


In the room of The Grand Hotel Nainital there was everything; from water to glasses to neat and clean bedding, attached washrooms with traditional cloth drying racks, old wooden cupboard, tall mirrors, ethnic style lighting and carpeting throughout the room to make it comfortable during winters.


In The Grand Hotel Nainital , for meals we had to place an order and they are served only in the dining area, to give the perfect feel of grand banquets, whereas snacks are served to rooms, throughout the day.

Nearby, there are good eating joints which are open till 12 midnight.


March end and April starting is the perfect timings to explore this place. There was a blend of cool breeze with sun warmth during the day and evenings are chirpy, cool. At one point of time I felt the need of shawl or jacket, but without it was more joyful.

 Sitting in the verandah of The Grand Hotel Nainital, we could get the panoramic view of Naini Lake with tall trees around it and people chirping on the streets of mall road.At night around 11, strolling mall road hand in hand was an amazing experience. You can see wonderful reflections of light and moon in the water.
Reflections in Nainital lake - The Grand Hotel Nainital
Night View of Lake – The Grand Hotel Nainital


Staff was courteous, mannered and well dressed. The welcoming smiles on their face made you actually speak to them.

In short, I will say The Grand Hotel Nainital is a perfect blend of traditional and modern culture and a must visit once.