A Guide to Lauterbrunnen

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If you’re ever visiting the Bernese Oberland and at a lost of which village to stay in, stay in Lauterbrunnen! It is the most accessible village and the scenery in the valley is beautiful too! I stayed in Lauterbrunnen for 3 nights and I loved each and every night. I’ve compiled a list of things you should do and eat in Lauterbrunnen and also the places you can travel to from Lauterbrunnen:)

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Eat

1. Hotel Oberland Rosti

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Can I just say that this was the best Rosti I had ever eaten in my entire life. I’m not even kidding about how good the Rosti was. I couldn’t stop putting it into my mouth. And the fact that it had bacon and onion hidden between the strips of potatoes, topped generously with melted Alpine cheese just sealed the deal for me. You cannot miss this Rosti when you’re in Lauterbrunnen!

2. Swiss Restaurant Weidstuebli

I loved the vibe of this restaurant, especially since it was World Cup period and there was a TV for everyone to cheer on their favourite soccer team while eating their food. The food was relatively reasonably priced (for Swiss standards) and well portioned. Though this restaurant veers off the normal touristy path, the walk to and fro was quite enjoyable.

3. Flavours

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This cafe just opened when I was there last June and we tried their burgers which were delicious while the oven baked potatoes that came with it were addictive. Besides the food, I also loved the design of the cafe. There were bean bags and fake grass outside the cafe for cafe-goers to lie on and chill while people-watching. A pity that we only visited Flavours on the last day of our Lauterbrunnen trip. We would eat there again if we ever had a chance to!

4. Airtime Cafe

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This is a really popular cafe with tourists, maybe because it offers adrenaline-packed activities and free wifi besides food and drinks. I came in just to pack a vegetarian sandwich for my walk which was quite passable but honestly, not really worth the money. But if you’re looking for a place to buy food to-go, this is one option.

Do

1. Walk the Mountain View Trail to Murren

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There are different ways to get to Murren from Lauterbrunnen. You could choose to hike all the way, which is only for the experienced hikers due to the super steep slope; you could choose to take public transportation all the way which would mean a gondola up and a train to the village or you could be like us and do both. We took a gondola up and then decided to walk to Murren. Even then, you have two choices: to walk on flat ground or to walk the Mountain View Trail.

We decided to walk the Mountain View Trail so as to get a vantage point of the breath-taking scenery around us. I mean it’s not every day that you can walk alongside mountains so we chose the more scenic route. However, the route was quite taxing and the terrain quite rocky

2. Visit Trummelbach Falls 541A6991

The sound of gushing water of these glacier waterfalls could be heard from a distance and it scared me bit. But the Trummelbach Falls were so magnificent. The water in these falls originate from Jungfrau and the falls are the only glacier waterfalls in the world accessible underground by lifts, stairs and pathways. Don’t miss this if you are in Lauterbrunnen! It really is a sight to behold.

3. Take the cruises on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun
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One of the perks of buying a Swiss pass is that cruises like these are free. We decided to capitalise on the fact that there were free and went on both cruises even though they were quite similar. Hence, my suggestion is to take just one of the cruises for the experience and also because it’s a different way of taking in the sights. I would recommend cruising on Lake Brienz because the lake has nice, calming turquoise waters which is really unique. The cruises can be found near Interlaken OST and you can stop along the way to visit small little villages.

4. Vist Jungfrau-joch 541A6678-2 541A6690 541A6850

Even though the trip to Jungfrau-joch will set you back by about $200, it is worth it to head up to the tallest reachable point by tourists in Europe. The views were so spectacular and breath-taking that we stayed up there for 4 hours, being fascinated with the snow and snow capped mountains. A warning first though, your body may have problems adjusting to the altitude, resulting in altitude sickness and a general lack of energy. Manlin faced problems breathing and felt tired really easily due to the lack of oxygen. After 4 hours on top, my head felt heavy and I came back down with a sunburnt face ): So lesson learnt is to always apply sunblock before heading for the mountains even though it seems very counter-intuitive to me.

5. Take a day trip or stay over at Mannlichen

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Männlichen is easily accessed by taking a train from Lauterbrunnen to Murren and then taking a gondola up to the mountain. We stayed in Berghaus Mannlichen for 1 night because we wanted to experience staying up in the mountains. However, because it was summer, the clouds were low and shrouded the entire mountain which meant that we spent an entire afternoon just chilling in a blanket of white mist. It was a frustrating experience to a certain extent but a unique one. What made the stay up there really worth it was the view in the morning. I jumped out of bed at 7am and was overjoyed to see that the clouds had cleared and the scenery was just breath-taking. Words can’t describe how amazing it felt to be surrounded by mountains so I’m just going to leave you with photographs.

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Stay

1. Hotel Stabbauch

Hotel Stabbauch offers attic rooms at a cheaper rates to budget travellers like me which I found to be a very good deal because I didn’t see the need to pay extra for a room view of the Stabbauch falls, considering that I could see the falls from anywhere in town and the hotel also had public balconies to chill and view the falls. The breakfast was not very memorable but at least it filled us up for our day ahead. I loved the fact that the hotel had a common lounge with a TV set and a piano for guests to hang around and watch soccer together. Also, the hotel staff here were incredibly helpful. There was this pregnant lady who loved Manlin and I, and never failed to answer all our questions and give us recommendations as to where to eat. The service in this hotel was impeccable!

2. Valley Hostel

We ended up with a free night with no lodging so we decided to bunk in at Valley Hostel where the person kindly offered us a 4-bed room at a 2-bed room price 🙂 The hostel had basic amenities and the room and sheets were clean, nothing to complain about as long as it gave me a comfortable night stay. What I loved about the hostel was this common porch right outside the room that allowed guests to sit on the benches and watch the trains go past. It was such a chill thing to do, just watching the world go past while enjoying the occasional breeze 🙂 It’s moments like these that make me fall in love with travelling.

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7 Must Try Places in Hong Kong

1. Dim Dim Sum Dim Sum Restaurant

We laughed so much because the name was hilarious and sounded like a joke but the food was no joke. Generally, the dim sum served here was the best, even better than Michelin starred Tim Ho Wan and One Dim Sum. Although this has no michelin star, it is well reviewed and recommended by Anthony Bourdain in TimeOut.

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The Har Gao here had the best tasting skin, it was thin and soft, delicious to eat! Besides the usual fare, they also have creative dim sum inventions and modifications.

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The Prawn Cheong Fun was stuffed with tempura fried prawns, a modern twist on this traditional dim sum. I loved it! There was also mushroom buns which were baos that looked like mushroom with a curry-like filling. They didn’t taste particularly fantastic though.

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Lastly, you have to try the brinjal with prawn paste on top, it was so delicious we ordered two plates!

The service here was the best, with kind ladies recommending the good food to you and always having a smile on their faces. I almost tripped over my chair while walking over to settle the bill and all the waitresses instantly had this worried look on their faces while saying ‘Be careful!!’. What wonderful people that make me want to go back again and again 🙂

G/F, Man Wah Building, 23 Man Ying Street, Jordan
Tel: 2771 7766
MTR: Jordan
Mon.-Sun. 10:00-01:00

2. Tim Ho Wan at Sham Tsui Po

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Tim Ho Wan is famous for its unique creation of crispy skin barbecued pork bun and it did not disappoint. The filling was meaty enough and salty enough to complement the sweet crust. However, I felt that it would have been better if the crust was a little more baked.

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Another star for me was the Siew Mai. The meat was not fatty and instead of putting dyed ‘fish roe’ on top, they put gei ji, a pleasant change. The filling of the Har Gao (shrimp dumpling) was the tastiest, though the skin could have been softer and thinner. 

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The turnip cake left an impression on me because it was filled with turnip and less floury than usual, which is how I like my turnip cake to be. Besides their buns, Tim Ho Wan is also good in the usual dim sum dishes.

Visit Tim Ho Wan in the morning, around 10am, when there is no queue at all. We were delighted to get our table immediately 🙂

9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
深水埗福榮街9-11號地下 (10 min walk from Sham Shui Po MTR)
Tel: +852 2788 1226
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 9:30pm (Daily)

3. One Dim Sum

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We ate One Dim Sum twice because it is near Mongkok, which was where we shopped every single day. One Dim Sum has this screwed up way of arranging seating, so be prepared to wait 30 minutes for a table. I loved the boiled vegetables in One Dim Sum, so much so that I ordered one whole plate for myself. Call me a veggie freak.

Besides that, the century egg and pork congee is worth trying and so is the Har Gao and Siew Mai, typical dim sum dishes. Don’t bother trying the overly floury turnip cake.

15 Playing Field Road, Kenwood Mansion, Prince Edward, Shop 1 & 2, G/F,
MTR: Prince Edward
Tel: 27892280

4. Australian Dairy Company

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The BEST ever scrambled eggs I’ve eaten in my entire life. Seriously, you need to try their scrambled eggs and toast. The eggs don’t steal the entire show because the warm buttered toast is amazing as well. Try the egg pudding too which tastes like the chinese version of creme brûlée. My friends loved it but it was too sweet and eggy for me. Don’t bother trying their milk tea because it is tasteless.

The waiters here may be busy but they are quirky amidst their busyness. My friend took a photo on her iPhone and a waiter who walked past peeped at her photo and said that it wasn’t nice, hahahaha.

Visit Australian Dairy Company in the mornings for breakfast. Don’t book a hotel that includes breakfast because you’ll be wasting one meal and your money too! You have to eat at Cha Chaan Tengs for breakfast. Live like a local!

47 Parkes St, Hong Kong
MTR: Jordan
Tel: +852 2730 1356
7:30 am – 11:00 pm daily, closed on Thursdays

5. Mak’s Noodles

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I tried the Wanton noodles and Dumpling noodles here. They came in small portions which left me wanting for more. The noodles were very springy and the wanton skin was thin and delicate, making it easy to slurp each prawn wanton up. The dumplings had more filling in them, so order them if you want more meat.

G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong,
Central MTR – Exit D2.
Tel: +852 2854 3810
Operating Hours: 11 am to 10 pm Daily

6. Tai Cheong Bakery

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Egg tarts, egg tarts, egg tarts. These are the freshest egg tarts I’ve ever eaten. They are sold right out of the oven, with the egg custards still wobbling and the tart still too hot to eat. The pastry is the buttery, crumbly kind, not the flaky Portuguese egg tart kind. I like how the tart shell melts in your mouth and is salty, complementing the sweet egg custard.

35 Lyndhurst Terrace, 中環擺花街35號地下
Central MTR – Exit D2.
7.30am-9pm

7. Lucky Desserts

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Lucky Desserts is famous for it’s durian desserts. The durian pancake was much raved about online but I felt that it was overhyped. The mediocre cream ruined the durian pancake, it felt like I was eating more cream than durian and wasting my calories on cream from the can.

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My friends loved the durian cream with sago but I much preferred the mango cream with sago and pomelo. They were very generous with the mango, with at least half a mango inside my bowl. The thickness was just right as well and it wasn’t too sweet. The perfect end to the day 🙂

G/F25-27 Soy St, Mong Kok 旺角豉油街25-27號
1pm-2am

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Maldives

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I visited the Maldives for a week-long break in May to enjoy the sun and sea with the family before going off for college. The cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean is a well known holiday spot, and for good reason too. It is the perfect place to unwind and disconnect from city-life – basically, do nothing. So if lazing around on the beach for a week is your kind of thing, the Maldives is a must-visit; but be warned, if your idea of a holiday is packing as much sight-seeing as possible in the daylight, I suggest you try somewhere else.

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Guests pretty much just spend the entire day suntanning.

{Pre-Trip}

A couple things to note before you head off, firstly, the Maldives is a Islamic country. So when packing, do keep in mind that all alcohol is prohibited, and bring along a sarong to cover up. If you intend to buy one there instead, USD is the accepted currency on most of the resort islands. Additionally, you might want to bring along snorkeling/diving equipment and swimsuits rather than rent them to save money. An underwater camera and sunblock would also come in most useful.

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View of the capital.

{Malé}

Singapore Airlines is one of the few flights that can get you to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. While slightly pricey  for a round-trip from and to Singapore, the 4.5 hour flight is a comfortable one, especially during off-peak seasons where you can get an entire row of seats to yourself.

The airport itself is on a separate island, Hulhulé . After alighting, we were met by representatives from Hotel Octave and boarded a ferry to Malé where we stayed a night. Maldivians are incredibly friendly and welcoming to tourists, but unfortunately we experienced rather poor service from Hotel Octave with the wrong room and late pick-up drivers. At USD300 per person for a night and breakfast the next day, I suggest you search for another hotel nearer the ferry jetties.

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Locals going about their daily business.

I would recommend you spend half a day on Malé to soak in the local atmosphere. Just take a stroll down the narrow streets, pop by the fish markets and mosques. Although keep in mind for both men and women to respect the local culture and dress modestly. Do grab a couple of bottles of water as well, as drinks on the resort islands often cost quite a bit.

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Hello paradise!

{Maafushivaru}

After a morning on Malé, we headed to our resort island, Maafushivaru, in the South Ari Atoll via a seaplane. The islands are up to 40 minutes away from the capital and not accessible by boat. So the ___ plane ride though expensive, is compulsory. Although, you do get 40 minutes of to-die-for scenery as the seaplane rides just among the clouds.

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Killer view from the seaplane.

We were greeted by incredibly friendly staff as stayed in the beach villa which opens out into your private patch of the beach. The entire island is only about half a kilometre long, and you can stroll around it in 20 minutes. Amenities wise, it has a water bar, a cuisine gallery for meals, a spa centre with a yoga pavilion, and a diving school.

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The first one to great us on upon arrival.

Maafushivaru is actually smaller the other resort islands, but no less gorgeous. Fine white sand to squish your toes in? Check. The clearest, bluest waters you’ve ever seen? Check. Idyllic and romantic? Check. Most of the other guests wake up at a leisurely 10 am, take a dip in the ocean in the morning, spend the afternoon sunbathing on the beach with a book, and hang out by the water bar for drinks in the evening. Like I said, people come just to relax, although there are a few activities you can take part in.

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The oncoming storm.

House Reef

Surrounding the island is Maafushivaru’s own coral reef where you can snorkel among the entire cast of Finding Nemo, and even a black tipped reef shark! There is a USD$10 introductory snorkeling course conducted by the resident marine biologist. I gave that a pass and snorkeled around on my own, but I highly suggest you go for the course if this is your first foray in the ocean.

Just some of the colourful marine life you can see.
Just some of the colourful marine life you can see.

Whale Shark Expedition

For USD$55, you can join a marine biologist and a boat crew out and snorkel with whale sharks. You will get to swim right next to the most gorgeous gentle giants you will find in the waters, but be ready to bump into snorkelers from other resort islands as well. Let your breath be taken away by the immensity of the ancient beast, admire the graceful sweeping of its fins, but do respect the whale shark and not touch it.

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Gentle giants.

Manta Ray Expedition

Like the Whale Shark Expedition, the boat will take you around the atolls and when a manta ray is spotted, you’ll be signaled to jump in and swim after them along with the instructors. Similarly, the whale sharks and manta rays all have distinguishing marks and if you can catch a good photo, the individuals can be identified by the researchers studying the marine life of the Maldives. If it’s a new individual, you even get to name it!

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Manta rays are badass.

The expeditions are a four hours each and you get to enjoy a boat ride out to the sea with your fellow resort guests. But if you get seasick easily, do take the seasick pills which the instructors will offer. With any luck, you may also get to see sea turtles and pods of dolphins along the way!

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Baby dolphins chaperoned by adults from the main pod.

Sunset Fishing

This was my first try at fishing, and I’m glad to say I was successful! Everyone is given a spool of fishing wire with a hook and weight, along with bait. You get to watch the sunset as you wait for that telltale tug on your line. I caught a 3o cm red snapper (biggest of the trip!), while others caught white snappers, yellowtails and parrotfish, which were all grilled for lunch the next day.

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Fishing yachts floating along.

Lonobu Island

Maafushivaru owns a much smaller island next to the main resort. There are daily trips to Lonobu Island or you can even book it for an entire day and get the whole place to yourself. This, along with a private dinner, is a popular choice for couples on a retreat.

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Nothing like a dramatic sunset.

There are more water sports and diving tours you can try. But we only stayed for five days, unlike other guests from the US/UK who normally stay for three weeks minimum. The benefit of the small size of Maafushivaru is that you get to interact with guests from all around the world. Through the expeditions and meal times, I befriended with most of them which contributed to the jovial atmosphere all around the island.

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Having a beer by the sea.

The Maldivian economy relies mostly on tourism, so tax rates are rather high. But as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, the money is well worth it, and it’s an experience you’ll definitely relish!

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This is a guest post by Suzanne Ou.

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