<![CDATA[Closer Lives Inc]]>https://www.closerlives.com/jenn-and-leon-travel-blogRSS for NodeSat, 15 Jun 2024 20:46:05 GMT<![CDATA[Valley of the Kings: Ancient Egypt's Pharaoh Burial Ground]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/valley-of-the-kings-ancient-egypt-s-pharaoh-burial-ground6668385bf1862b814c3835aeThu, 13 Jun 2024 22:19:13 GMTJenn & Leon TravelThe Valley of the Kings, situated on the picturesque west bank of the majestic Nile River near Luxor, stands as a testament to the grandeur and sophistication of ancient Egyptian civilization. This iconic archaeological site has intrigued historians, archaeologists, and visitors alike, offering a captivating glimpse into a bygone era filled with mysteries and treasures waiting to be discovered.


A statue of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh's head with the Valley of the Kings in the background. The text reads "Valley of the Kings: 500 years of history" alongside the Egyptian flag.



The Valley of the Kings is more than just a burial ground; it is a testament to the grandeur and complexity of ancient Egyptian civilization. From its origins in the Eighteenth Dynasty to its rediscovery and ongoing archaeological work, the valley continues to fascinate and inspire people around the world. Its history is a story of human ingenuity, devotion, and the enduring legacy of a civilization that continues to captivate our imagination.


A group of people walking in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt..


In this post, we explore the incredible history of this site, including its rise to prominence, tomb robbing issues, its decline and re-discovery. There is so much to unpack here, so let's get to it!






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.







History of the Valley of the Kings


The selection of the Valley of the Kings as a burial ground was no mere coincidence. Its strategic location, hidden amidst natural barriers, provided the perfect security and seclusion needed for the final resting places of the pharaohs and nobles during the illustrious New Kingdom period, spanning from approximately 1539 to 1075 BCE. The valley's cliffs bore witness to the construction of elaborate tombs, each telling a unique story of the individuals interred within.


Person ascending stone stairs carved into a rocky hillside with another person already near the top, set against a background of rugged cliffs and a clear blue sky.


⪢ Origins and Purpose

The Valley of the Kings, known to the ancient Egyptians as the "Great Field," was chosen as a burial site during the Eighteenth Dynasty, primarily due to its remote location and natural security against grave robbers. The valley is divided into two branches: the East Valley, where most of the tombs are located, and the West Valley.




⪢ The Eighteenth Dynasty (1550–1292 BCE)

The inception of the Valley of the Kings coincided with the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, marked by the reunification of Egypt under Ahmose I. Some of the most famous pharaohs of this dynasty were buried here, including:


● Thutmose I: Often credited with commissioning the first royal tomb in the valley. His tomb set the standard for future burials.

● Hatshepsut: The powerful female pharaoh who built a splendid mortuary temple nearby at Deir el-Bahri.

● Amenhotep III: Known for his opulent reign, his tomb reflects the grandeur of his time.


Visitors walk through a wide pathway flanked by rocky hills under a clear blue sky in an arid desert area.


⪢ The Nineteenth Dynasty (1292–1189 BCE)

This period saw the continuation of royal burials in the Valley of the Kings, with famous rulers such as:


● Seti I: His tomb (KV17) is one of the longest and most beautifully decorated in the valley.

● Ramses II: Also known as Ramses the Great, his tomb (KV7) was originally one of the most magnificent, though it suffered significant damage over time.



⪢ The Twentieth Dynasty (1189–1077 BCE)

The Twentieth Dynasty was a period of declining power, yet some notable tombs were constructed:


● Ramses III: His tomb (KV11) is one of the largest and most elaborately decorated, featuring detailed carvings and texts from the Book of the Dead.

● Ramses VI: His tomb (KV9) is well-known for its complex decorations and astronomical ceiling.


A group of people stand around a large topographical model of a mountainous region displayed indoors, with paths and landmarks intricately detailed on its surface.


⪢ Decline and Rediscovery

After the end of the New Kingdom, the Valley of the Kings fell into disuse and was eventually forgotten. The tombs were plundered over the centuries, and by the time of the Greek and Roman periods, their exact locations were lost.


The modern rediscovery of the valley began in the 18th and 19th centuries with European explorers and Egyptologists such as Giovanni Battista Belzoni and Jean-François Champollion. Their work laid the foundation for systematic archaeological exploration.


A map of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, showing the layout of tombs and their locations. The sign includes a title in English and Arabic, landmarks, and a legend for major tombs.




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Controversies with Tomb Robbing


Despite the meticulous efforts to safeguard the tombs, the Valley of the Kings was not immune to the greed and cunning of ancient tomb robbers. The tales of looting and pillaging echo through the corridors of time, with some tombs falling victim to the relentless pursuit of treasures and artifacts. The discovery of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 unveiled a treasure trove that mesmerized the world and shed light on the opulence of ancient Egyptian royalty.





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The Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb


The most significant discovery in the Valley of the Kings occurred in 1922, when British archaeologist Howard Carter unearthed the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62). The tomb was virtually intact, containing a wealth of artifacts that provided unprecedented insights into ancient Egyptian culture and burial practices. The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb captivated the world and renewed interest in Egyptology.





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Modern Archaeological Work and Excavations


Since the 18th century, dedicated archaeologists have embarked on numerous excavations within the Valley of the Kings, unearthing new tombs and artifacts that provide invaluable insights into the burial customs and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. The integration of cutting-edge technologies like ground-penetrating radar and 3D scanning has revolutionized the exploration of the valley, allowing researchers to map its intricate layout and identify potential undiscovered tombs that hold the promise of revealing further secrets of the past.



In the 20th and 21st centuries, the Valley of the Kings has been the site of numerous projects, focusing on excavation, preservation, and study of the tombs and their contents. Notable projects include:


● The Theban Mapping Project: Led by Dr. Kent Weeks, this project has created detailed maps and documentation of the valley's tombs.

● Conservation and Restoration: Ongoing work to preserve the delicate wall paintings and stabilize the tomb structures.


A sandy, rocky landscape with ancient stone structures built into a hillside under a clear blue sky.




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Significance and Legacy


The Valley of the Kings remains one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. It offers a unique glimpse into the burial practices, religious beliefs, and daily life of the New Kingdom period. The artifacts and tombs continue to be studied, revealing new information about ancient Egyptian civilization.

The allure of the Valley of the Kings endures, drawing inquisitive minds and curious souls to unravel its enigmatic past. As each discovery unfolds, the valley continues to invite us to delve deeper into the legacy of a civilization that continues to captivate and inspire us to this day.


A barren, rocky mountain stands under a clear blue sky with sparse clouds. The landscape is dry, with no visible vegetation.




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Visiting the Valley Today


Today, the Valley of the Kings is a popular tourist destination, managed by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Visitors can explore several tombs, including those of Ramses IV, Ramses VI, and Tutankhamun, experiencing firsthand the grandeur of ancient Egyptian funerary art. Each year, the Valley of the Kings attracts a substantial number of visitors, ranging from 500,000 to over a million annually!






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Popular Tombs to Visit


These are the tombs we visited while at the Valley of the Kings, choosing the most popular based on condition and visitor numbers, according to our local guide. We only had time for four spots, but know that this list is by no means exhaustive! We would certainly like to return to explore more of the tombs here. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments section at the end of this post!


Two people pose by an Egyptian flag with a statue and the interior of Tomb KV2, Ramses IV, as the background. The text "Tomb KV2 - Ramses IV" is displayed at the bottom.


Ramses IV's Tomb KV2: Is this the best tomb in the Valley of the Kings?

Explore the captivating tale of Ramses IV, epic photo highlights of his unfinished tomb, and everything you need to know before you go.


Split image featuring a painted hieroglyph-covered wall on the left and an entrance hallway of tomb KV6 of Ramesses IX on the right, with an overlaid text displaying "Tomb KV6 Ramesses IX.


Inside Ramesses IX's Tomb KV6: The Man Who Wasn't Born to be Pharaoh

Delve into the intriguing highlights of the tomb of Ramesses IX, his legacy and history. Plus fun facts, ticket info and opening times.


Image showing the Tomb of Merneptah with a statue of the Pharaoh and hieroglyphic wall paintings in the background, and a stone sarcophagus on the right. Text reads "Tomb of Merneptah.


Visiting Merneptah's Tomb: A Pharaoh Who Ascended Late But Ruled with Might

Coming to power at 70, defeating a mighty Libyan invasion and the famed Israel Stele monument; we unpack the legacy of Pharaoh Merneptah.


View of the temple of Hatshepsut in Egypt, featuring a wide pathway leading to the temple, surrounded by cliffs, with animated Egyptian flags waving above.


Temple of Hatshepsut and the Legacy of Egypt's Formidable Female Pharaoh

Uncover the history of the trailblazing female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and her awe-inspiring Djeser-Djeseru Temple at Deir el-Bahari in Egypt.




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How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Egypt


Check out all of the places we visited in Egypt courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Egypt with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Egypt. Whether you're looking for a Giza Pyramid tour, Sinai Desert stargazing, or a day trip to Saqqara and Memphis, Klook has got you covered.



In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Egypt. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience.



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Your GUIDE to visiting Egypt


First time in Egypt? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, internet availability and much more!


Exploring ancient wonders: your guide to visiting Egypt.




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<![CDATA[Venice Grand Canal Mall, panlasa ng Italy sa Pilipinas!]]>https://www.closerlives.com/tl/blog/post/venice-grand-canal-mall-panlasa-ng-italy-sa-pilipinas666ac9ca3d15cc7157b1d6e4Thu, 13 Jun 2024 12:56:43 GMTJenn & Leon TravelSa Venice Grand Canal Mall sa Taguig City, Manila, maaari mong isawsaw ang iyong sarili sa isang Venetian-inspired na karanasan. Ang kapansin-pansing tampok ng mall na ito ay ang artipisyal na kanal na dumadaloy sa gitna nito, kung saan masisiyahan ka sa pagsakay sa gondola na nakapagpapaalaala sa mga nasa Venice. Ang mga ito ay pinamamahalaan ng mga gondolier na nakasuot pa ng tradisyonal na mga kasuotang Venetian, at kumakanta rin!


Isang mag-asawang nagse-selfie sa backdrop ng isang kanal na may overlay na text na nagsasabing 'hindi Venice ito ang Maynila'


Nag-aalok ang mall ng pinaghalong shopping, dining, at entertainment option, kabilang ang iba't ibang tindahan at boutique, magkakaibang dining establishment, at live performances. Bukod pa rito, nagtatampok ang mall ng mga sinehan para sa mga manonood ng sine, mga magagandang lugar para sa pagpapahinga at pagkuha ng litrato, at nagsisilbing venue para sa mga espesyal na kaganapan at pagdiriwang.


Isang gawa ng tao na kanal na may linya na may mga istilong Venetian na gusali sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Ang gawa ng tao na kanal ay ang sentro ng mall, at ito ang pinakasikat na lugar para sa mga larawan at pamamasyal. Ang kanal ay may linya ng mga tindahan, restaurant, at cafe, kasama ang isang magandang replica ng Rialto Bridge.



Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Ang Ponte de Amore Bridge ay naroroon din, isang hugis-pusong tulay na sikat na lugar para sa mga mag-asawa. Ang tulay ay pinalamutian ng mga ilaw at bulaklak, kumpleto rin sa mga kandado ng pag-ibig, at ito ay isang magandang lugar para kumuha ng litrato.


Replica ng St Mark's Square sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Mayroon ding replica ng St. Mark's Campanile sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, kasama ang maraming atraksyon kabilang ang isang carousel, rides para sa mga bata at maging ang pagpapakain ng kalapati. Mayroon talagang isang bagay para sa lahat dito!


Magbasa para sa aming mga highlight, ang restaurant na sinubukan namin, ang mga detalye ng aming pagsakay sa gondola, ang kasaysayan ng mall, kung paano makarating doon, at ang aming Venice Grand Canal Mall experience rating.






Pakitandaan na ang ilan sa mga link sa post na ito ay mga affiliate na link, at nang walang karagdagang gastos sa iyo, maaari kaming makakuha ng komisyon kung bibili ka sa pamamagitan ng mga link na ito. Mag-tap dito para sa higit pang impormasyon.




Tingnan ang Manila Ocean Park na may Klook


● Mag-enjoy sa isang araw sa Manila Ocean Park, ang una at pinakamalaking oceanarium sa Pilipinas!

● Tingnan ang iba't ibang mga marine creature tulad ng mga pating, isda, ibon at maging mga penguin

● Pumili sa pagitan ng mga natatanging attraction pass na nag-aalok ng access sa mga piling pinakamabentang pasyalan sa Manila Ocean Park




Mga highlight ng aming Venice Grand Canal Mall


Nakakita na kami ng ilang video sa YouTube tungkol sa mall na ito, kaya talagang gusto naming makita kung tungkol saan ito. Labinlimang minutong biyahe lang mula sa aming Airbnb. Napakadali ng biyahe at ang McKinley Village, kung saan matatagpuan ang mall, ay napakahusay na binuo at isang cool na lugar upang tingnan sa pangkalahatan.


Ang pasukan sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Ang entrance pa lang sa mall ay maganda na agad ang Italiano vibes! Kilala rin bilang Venice Piazza, ang mall na ito ay ang pinaka-binibisitang atraksyon sa lugar at nakita namin kung bakit mula sa sandaling pumasok kami sa loob.


Isang life-size na oso na gawa sa mga pulang rosas na may hawak na ginintuang puso


Noong una ay sinalubong kami ng hindi kapani-paniwalang oso ng mga rosas na ito, at habang tinatahak namin ang pasukan na may arko ng rosas ay iginuhit kami sa kaliwa, kung saan una naming nakita ang gitnang kanal. Minsan ang mga ganitong uri ng mga atraksyong panturista ay maaaring magmula nang kaunti, ngunit dapat nating sabihin na ang imitasyon ay pinag-isipang mabuti dito.


Isang kanal na may gondola boat sa ibabaw nito na may linya sa pamamagitan ng Venice-inspired restaurant sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines.


Ang kanal mismo ay hindi masyadong malaki, ngunit sapat na ang haba upang isama ang ilang mga tulay, at may linya na may mga restaurant na lahat ay may kasamang tradisyonal na arch-style na Venice facades. Ang mga kulay ng pastel at natatanging arkitektura ay talagang nagbibigay ng tunay na pakiramdam ng hindi lamang Venice kundi sa Europa sa pangkalahatan. Ang pagkakaroon ng pagpunta sa Venice sa ating sarili hindi masyadong matagal na ang nakalipas, ito ay talagang napaka-kaakit-akit!

Isang street artist na nakadamit bilang isang karakter sa pelikula na nakatayo sa isang pulang karpet


Ang mga gilid na 'kalye' patungo sa kanal ay mataong may mga kakaibang kilos sa kalye, pangunahin ang mga kahanga-hangang bihis na 'estatwa' na artista na nag-aalok ng mga kahanga-hangang photo ops. Mayroong maraming mga lugar upang mahuli ang Instagram na karapat-dapat na kuha, bagama't ito ay abala kaya hindi madaling makahanap ng kaunting espasyo!


Sa loob ng Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines



Ang pasukan sa Juan's Bistro sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Napakaganda din sa loob ng mall, maraming mural, matitingkad na kulay at magagarang ilaw na nakatawag ng pansin sa amin. Mayroong ilang mga high-end na tindahan dito, ngunit ito ay pakiramdam na ito ay tungkol sa lahat ng pagkain sa totoo lang. Makakakita ka ng ilang paborito sa fast-food, ngunit ito ay halos Italyano (malinaw naman) at lutuing Filipino dito na inakala naming isang napakagandang kumbinasyon.


Ang harap ng isang gondola sa kanal sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Pagkatapos ng masarap na pagkain sa Juan's Bistro (more on that later), nagpatuloy kami sa pagsakay sa Gondola. Ito ay isang bagay na hindi namin nagawa sa aktwal na Venice, kaya tila cool na subukan ito dito. Ito ay medyo mahal, ngunit natutuwa kaming nagkaroon kami ng pagkakataong maranasan ito.


Isang tulay na may ilang bangka ang nakadaong sa ilalim nito


We decided to share our gondola and it was awesome kasi may kasama kaming taga Pilipinas pero nakatira sa Canada! Ano ang mga pagkakataon! Napakasarap makilala sila, kasama ang aming Gondolier na kumakanta sa background. Ang mga sandaling tulad nito ang nagpapahalaga sa paglalakbay. Ang biyahe ay tumagal ng halos sampung minuto, at napakakomportable. Kasama sa presyo ang isang libreng larawan din sa dulo, na isang magandang touch.


Ilang Italian-style na light shade na nakasabit sa itaas ng escalator sa loob ng Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Tingnan ang higit pang mga detalye sa Gondola Ride sa susunod na seksyon, at tiyaking panoorin ang aming mga highlight ng biyahe sa aming YouTube video sa susunod na post na ito!


Isang wall mural na naglalarawan ng mga gusali mula sa Venice sa loob ng Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines





Barbara's Heritage Restaurant: Isang restaurant mula pa noong 1800s!


Huwag Palampasin: Barbara's Heritage Restaurant: Dining in style sa Intramuros


Itong Manila restaurant ay isang piging para sa mga pandama! Ang eleganteng interior, masarap na pagkain, at live na banda ang magdadala sa iyo sa ibang mundo!



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Ang Gondola Ride sa Venice Grand Canal Mall


Ang biyahe sa gondola sa Venice Grand Canal Mall ay 10 minutong biyahe end-to-end, sa kahabaan ng man-made canal. Ang mga gondola ay pinamamahalaan ng mga gondolier na nakasuot ng tradisyonal na mga kasuotang Venetian, at may magagandang boses, kumanta rin! Ang Gondola Ride ay isang sikat na tourist attraction at isang magandang paraan para maranasan ang Italian atmosphere ng mall.


Replica ng Rialto Bridge sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Narito ang ilang bagay na dapat malaman kung isinasaalang-alang mo ang pagsakay sa gondola:


● Ang pagsakay sa gondola ay nagkakahalaga ng 500 pesos bawat tao para sa isang shared boat. Ang gondola ay kayang tumanggap ng hanggang 6 na tao.

● Para sa isang pribadong non-shared ride, kailangan mong i-book ang buong bangka, na nagkakahalaga ng 2000 pesos.

● Ang mga sakay ay available araw-araw mula 11am hanggang 10pm.

● Ang pagsakay ay hindi inirerekomenda para sa mga buntis na kababaihan o mga taong may mga isyu sa paggalaw.

● Maaaring makansela ang biyahe dahil sa masamang panahon (ang bahagi ng kanal ng mall ay open air).

● Dumating nang maaga o tuwing weekday para maiwasan ang mahabang pila. Ang average na oras ng paghihintay ay maaaring hanggang 1 oras sa katapusan ng linggo.

● Kapag sumasakay sa gondola, may kukunan ng litrato na available nang libre sa dulo ng biyahe.


Replica ng Rialto Bridge sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines





Kumuha ng isang pass para sa maraming atraksyon sa Intramuros gamit ang Klook



● Magkaroon ng access sa mga nangungunang aktibidad ng Intramuros gamit ang Intramuros Pass ng Klook

● Kasama sa pass ang pangkalahatang entry sa iyong mga paborito sa lahat ng oras - Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, Casa Manila Museum, Museo de Intramuros, at marami pa!

● Ang pass ay may bisa sa loob ng 30 araw at nagbibigay sa iyo ng flexibility na pumili at pumili depende sa kung kailan at saan mo gustong pumunta!



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Ang aming pagbisita sa Juan's Bistro Restaurant


Ang Juan's Bistro ay isang Filipino restaurant na matatagpuan sa Ground Floor ng Venice Grand Canal Mall. Isa itong casual dining restaurant na naghahain ng iba't ibang pagkaing Filipino, kabilang ang mga appetizer, main course, at dessert.


Ang pasukan sa Juan's Bistro sa Venice Grand Canal Mall


Isa ito sa mga unang restaurant na nakita namin nang makarating kami sa mall, at agad kaming naakit sa mapang-akit na menu nito sa labas dahil gusto naming subukan ang ilang authentic Filipino cuisine.


Isang grupo ng mga taong kumakain sa loob ng Juan's Bistro sa Venice Grand Canal Mall


Laking tuwa namin na pinili namin ang Juan's Bistro; ang pagkain ay hindi kapani-paniwala! Ang deep fried half pork leg na inorder namin ay lutong perpekto, malutong sa labas at malambot sa loob. Marahil ang pinakamahusay na baboy na mayroon kami sa labas ng Mexico, na palaging paborito namin.



Bukod sa baboy, sinubukan namin ang Ginisang Sayote, na mga gulay na ginisa sa pinaghalong baboy at chicharron. Ito ang kauna-unahang pagkakataon na sinubukan namin ito sa Pilipinas at ito ay sobrang sarap din at talagang inirerekumenda namin ito.



Mayroon din kaming side ng Embutido Natin, isang fried meat roll na may sausage, pasas at itlog. This was our least favorite of all what we ordered, okay naman, pero malamang hindi na kami mag-o-order. Gayunpaman, walang mali dito, at sulit pa rin itong subukan bilang isang starter.


Halo Halo dessert


Sinubukan din namin ang pinakasikat na disyerto sa Pilipinas, ang Halo Halo. Ang sikat na disyerto na ito ay binubuo ng dinurog na yelo, evaporated milk, at iba't ibang sangkap kabilang ang beans, niyog, malambot na yams sa mga cube, piraso ng flan at prutas. Ito ay isang kapana-panabik na disyerto na maraming nangyayari, at tiyak na sapat para sa dalawa na magsalo. Ito ang aming unang pagsubok ng Halo Halo, at pagkatapos ng ilang rekomendasyon mula sa aming mga subscriber sa YouTube, napakasaya naming nagkaroon kami ng pagkakataong ma-enjoy ito!



Sa pangkalahatan, marahil ang isa sa mga pangunahing katangian ng restaurant na ito ay hindi lamang ang masarap na pagkain, ngunit ang mahusay na serbisyo nito. Mabilis, mahusay at palakaibigan, ang mga staff dito ay talagang nagsikap na gawin kaming malugod na tinatanggap at pinahahalagahan. Kaya't nakilahok kami sa isang espesyal na promosyon kung saan gumawa kami ng Reel para sa Facebook at Instagram, at binigyan kami ng 20% ​​na diskwento, kasama ang isang libreng re-useable na bag at payong. Napakaganda, at isang magandang pagtatapos ng aming oras dito. Lubos naming inirerekumenda ang Juan's Bistro, at sigurado kaming mag-e-enjoy mo ito tulad ng ginawa namin!


Ang loob ng Juan's Bistro Restaurant na maraming mesa at upuan




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Ang kasaysayan sa likod ng Venice Grand Canal Mall sa Maynila


Ang Venice Grand Canal Mall ay isang Italian-inspired lifestyle mall na matatagpuan sa McKinley Hill, Taguig City, Philippines. Ito ay binuo ng Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, isang subsidiary ng Megaworld Corporation. Mahigit isang taon lang ang pagtatayo ng mall at binuksan ito sa publiko noong Setyembre 18, 2015.


Isang gondola ang dumaan sa ilalim ng replica ng Rialto Bridge sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Ang mall ay idinisenyo upang maging katulad ng Grand Canal sa Venice, Italy. Nagtatampok ito ng gawa ng tao na kanal na 200 metro (660 piye) ang haba at 15 metro (49 piye) ang lapad. Ang kanal ay may linya ng mga gondola na nag-aalok ng mga sakay sa mga bisita. Ang mall ay mayroon ding mga replika ng St. Mark's Campanile sa Piazza San Marco, ang Rialto Bridge, at ang Ponte de Amore Bridge.


Isang stained glass window sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Philippines


Ang Venice Grand Canal Mall ay tahanan ng iba't ibang tindahan, restaurant, at serbisyo. Ito rin ay isang sikat na destinasyon para sa mga kaganapan at konsiyerto. Ang mall ay ginawaran ng Best Retail Architectural Design sa Philippine Property Awards noong 2017, at ngayon ay umaakit ng mahigit 1.5 milyong bisita sa isang taon, na ang katanyagan nito ay patuloy na tumataas.




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Paano pumunta sa Venice Grand Canal Mall sa Manila


There are several ways to get to Azure Urban Resort Residences. Here are a few options:


⪢ By Taxi

Taxis and ride-hailing services are also available. The fare from Manila to the resort is around PHP 300-400.


⪢ By Bus

You can take a bus from any major bus terminal in Manila to the Fort Bonifacio Global City (BGC) bus stop. From the BGC bus stop, the walk to Venice Grand Canal Mall is around ten minutes. This will cost around 12 pesos.


⪢ By Car

The Venice Grand Canal Mall in Taguig City, Metro Manila, can be accessed by car from various routes, including EDSA, BGC, and C5 Road. To ensure accurate directions and avoid traffic, we recommend using navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze.


The main parking area is located at the back of the mall. The entrance is on Campus Avenue. The parking fee is 20 pesos per hour for the first two hours and 10 pesos per hour for every succeeding hour.


The overflow parking area is located on Upper McKinley Road. The entrance is near The Woodridge Residences. The parking fee is 10 pesos per hour.


⪢ MRT / Jeepney

Take the MRT south to Guadalupe Station and exit the station northbound. Walk to the jeepney terminal in front of the MRT station and take one bound for Market Market FTI Gate 3. Get off at the McKinley Hill stop; the walk from there to Venice Grand Canal Mall is around five minutes. This will cost around 30 pesos in total.


Papasok sa Maynila mula sa ibang lungsod? I-book nang maaga ang iyong sasakyan at makakuha ng magagandang deal sa mga bus, ferry, tren at kahit na mga flight sa 12go Asia. Mag-tap dito para makakuha ng mga instant quote at mag-book nang direkta sa amin.



Address: McKinley Hill Dr, Taguig, 1630 Metro Manila


Telepono: +63 027 624 1971

Website: megaworldcorp.com/malls/venice-grand-canal


Mga oras ng pagbubukas: 11am hanggang 11pm araw-araw


Isang mapa ng mga atraksyon sa Venice Grand Canal Mall, Manila, Pilipinas




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Tingnan ang aming paglalakbay sa Venice Grand Canal Mall sa YouTube


Nagulat kami sa ganda ng Venice Grand Canal Mall at natuwa kami sa gondola ride! I-enjoy ang aming Filipino food reactions sa masarap na lasa na sinubukan namin sa Juan's Bistro at siguraduhing panoorin para malaman kung ano talaga ang naisip namin tungkol sa sikat na Filipino dessert na Halo Halo.



Tulungan kaming lumago sa pamamagitan ng pag-like at pagbabahagi ng video na ito sa iyong mga kaibigan at pamilya na maaaring interesado dito! Huwag ding kalimutang mag-subscribe kung interesado kang manood ng higit pa sa aming mga video sa hinaharap!





Fort Santiago, Pilipinas.


Huwag Palampasin: Fort Santiago sa Intramuros: 500 taon ng kasaysayan sa Maynila, Pilipinas


Itinayo ng mga Espanyol noong 1571, ang Fort Santiago ay may hindi kapani-paniwalang kasaysayan ng mga paggamit, na nagsisilbing isang HQ ng gobyerno, isang bilangguan at base ng hukbo noong WW2.



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Ang aming rating ng karanasan sa Venice Grand Canal Mall


Mag-asawang nagse-selfie sa isang gondola sa isang kanal sa Venice Grand Canal Mall


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5


Ang Venice Grand Canal Mall ay isang talagang nakakatuwang karanasan na inirerekumenda naming tingnan kung naghahanap ka ng isang lugar na medyo naiiba sa Maynila! Ang Maynila ay sikat sa mga mall at shopping nito at dito ay walang exception; tiyak na magagawa mo iyon. Hindi banggitin ang hindi kapani-paniwalang dami ng pagkain na inaalok din.


Ngunit ang ginagawa ng Venice Grand Canal Mall sa sarili nitong kakaibang paraan ay nag-aalok sa iyo ng romantikong panlasa ng Italy, kung saan masisiyahan ka sa mga sandali na kung hindi ay maaari mo lamang makita sa social media o saanman sa internet. Nakapunta na sa Venice at hindi sumakay sa gondola, para sa amin din iyon! Sana ay magkaroon ka ng pagkakataong pumunta. Huwag mag-atubiling bumalik dito at ipaalam sa amin ang iyong mga saloobin sa mga komento sa ibaba!




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Paano sundin ang aming Blog


Maraming paraan para manatiling napapanahon sa Paglalakbay nina Jenn at Leon. Kung susundan mo kami sa Instagram, maaari kang sumali sa aming broadcast channel para sa aming mga pinakabagong update at post. Mahahanap mo rin kami sa YouTube siyempre, o maaari kang mag-subscribe lang sa aming blog, at ilalagay namin ang aming mga pinakabagong post diretso sa iyong email inbox. Ganun lang kadali!





Ang iyong LIBRENG interactive na mapa ng Pilipinas


Tingnan ang lahat ng mga lugar na binisita namin sa Pilipinas sa kagandahang-loob ng interactive na mapa na ito mula sa Wanderlog. I-tap ang alinman sa mga numero para sa higit pang impormasyon kabilang ang mga direksyon, aming mga post sa blog, mga link sa mga review at marami pang iba.



Ang Wanderlog ay isang libreng app sa pagpaplano ng paglalakbay para sa mga iOS at Android device na nagbibigay-daan sa mga user na gumawa ng mga itinerary sa paglalakbay, ayusin ang mga flight, reservation sa hotel at sasakyan, tingnan ang mga lugar na bibisitahin sa mapa, at makipag-collaborate sa mga kaibigan. Ito ay sobrang madaling gamitin at nakagawa ng malaking epekto sa aming pagpaplano sa paglalakbay. Nakakatipid ito ng oras at napakadaling gamitin!





I-explore ang Pilipinas gamit ang Klook


Nag-aalok ang Klook ng iba't ibang uri ng mga paglilibot upang matulungan kang maranasan ang pinakamahusay sa Pilipinas. Naghahanap ka man ng sunset cruise, lokal na atraksyon o day trip island hopping, nasa Klook ang lahat. Bilang karagdagan sa kanilang malawak na pagpipilian ng mga paglilibot, nag-aalok din ang Klook ng magagandang deal sa transportasyon, tirahan, at mga aktibidad.



Ang lahat ng mga paglilibot ay pinamumunuan ng mga bihasang gabay na makakatulong sa iyong malaman ang tungkol sa kasaysayan at kultura ng Pilipinas. All-inclusive din ang mga tour ng Klook, kaya wala kang dapat alalahanin kundi i-enjoy ang iyong karanasan!




Ang iyong GABAY sa pagbisita sa Pilipinas


Unang beses sa Pilipinas? Tingnan ang aming komprehensibong gabay sa lahat ng kailangan mong malaman kabilang ang aming mga pinakabagong post, mga lugar na dapat makita, at mahalagang impormasyon tungkol sa kalusugan at kaligtasan, transportasyon, lokal na kaugalian, pagkakaroon ng internet at marami pang iba!


Your guide to visiting the Philippines.




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<![CDATA[Ramses IV's Tomb KV2: Is this the best tomb in the Valley of the Kings? ]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/ramses-iv-s-tomb-kv2-is-this-the-best-tomb-in-the-valley-of-the-kings6664af9e689839d287c65f5bMon, 10 Jun 2024 19:34:49 GMTJenn & Leon TravelHave you ever heard of Ramses IV? This pharaoh, who ruled for a short but impactful period in the 12th century BCE, is shrouded in a bit of mystery. In this blog post, we'll delve into his fascinating story, from his rise to power amidst rumors of a palace conspiracy to his building projects and unfinished tomb. We also share our photo highlights from the tomb itself, which in our opinion is one of the most impressive of all in the Valley of the Kings.


A man and woman pose in front of an Egyptian flag, with the interior of Ramses IV's Tomb KV2 and a statue of a pharaoh in the background. Text reads "Tomb KV2 | Ramses IV.



We will also touch on the legacy he left behind, including the Papyrus Harris I, a document that sheds light on his father's reign. That and the power struggles of the time, which lead to the gradual decline of the 20th Dynasty. But Ramses IV's story isn't all history lessons! You will also find some fun facts, like his possible love for music and the reuse of his father's bling, along with important things to know before you visit including opening times and ticket prices. So, buckle up and get ready to journey back to ancient Egypt and discover the life and times of Ramses IV!



A richly decorated room with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and paintings covering the walls and ceiling, including a large blue and red depiction of a figure with outstretched wings on the ceiling.






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A Short Reign, A Lasting Legacy: The Story of Ramses IV


Ramses IV, a pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, ruled Egypt for a brief but impactful period during the 12th century BCE. Despite the shortness of his reign, his legacy continues to hold significance in our understanding of this era.



⪢ Ascending the Throne: A Shadow of Conspiracy

Details about Ramses IV's early life are scarce. He likely ascended the throne after a period of instability, possibly in his forties. Some sources suggest he navigated a "harem conspiracy" aimed at derailing his claim to the throne. The pharaoh before him, Ramses III, faced a dramatic coup attempt orchestrated by his secondary wife and a court official. Their goal was to assassinate the pharaoh and place their chosen heir, Pentawer, on the throne. Despite the success of the assassination, the plot unraveled, and Ramses IV, the designated successor, secured the throne. This "harem conspiracy" casts a long shadow over Ramses IV's rise to power, highlighting the fractures within the royal court during this period.



People walk inside an ancient Egyptian tomb adorned with hieroglyphics and murals on the walls and ceiling.


⪢ Preserving the Past, Building for the Future

One of Ramses IV's significant contributions was the Papyrus Harris I. This document, commissioned by the pharaoh, chronicles the reign of his father, Ramses III, offering valuable insights into the political and economic landscape of the time.

Recognizing the importance of maintaining Egypt's grandeur, Ramses IV embarked on a building program. He continued projects initiated by his father, like the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak. He also ordered expeditions to quarries and erected a temple at Asasif.


Ancient Egyptian wall art featuring hieroglyphs, multiple deities with blue headpieces standing on a platform, and other symbolic figures in a well-preserved chamber.


Papyrus Harris I: A Pharaoh's Chronicle

The Papyrus Harris I is a true gem for Egyptologists, offering a wealth of information about ancient Egypt during the 20th Dynasty. This papyrus holds the title of the longest known papyrus scroll from Egypt, stretching an impressive 41 meters! Imagine a grocery receipt that long, filled with hieroglyphs!


A fragment of an ancient papyrus manuscript encased in a rectangular wooden frame against a black background.


The papyrus is written in hieratic, a cursive form of hieroglyphs used for everyday writing. The content focuses on the reign of Ramses IV's father, Ramses III. The papyrus meticulously details Ramses III's military campaigns, religious festivals, and most importantly, his vast donations to temples across Egypt. This provides invaluable insights into the economic and political landscape of the time.



By commissioning this document, Ramses IV ensured his father's achievements were documented for posterity. It serves as a crucial piece of evidence for understanding this period in Egyptian history. It was discovered in a tomb near Medinet Habu and eventually purchased by a collector in the 19th century. Today, it resides in the British Museum, where scholars continue to study its secrets.


A woman stands in front of an intricately carved and ancient stone structure inside a well-lit tomb in Egypt, surrounded by detailed wall paintings and other visitors. She holds a water bottle and a jacket.


⪢ Limited Military Campaigns, Growing Internal Challenges

Ramses IV's reign seems to have witnessed minimal military activity. Egypt's grip on foreign territories likely continued to loosen during this period. Internally, the rise of the High Priest of Amun, Ramsesnakht, suggests a growing power struggle between the pharaoh and the clergy.



⪢ A King's Resting Place and a Dynasty's Decline

After a reign of approximately six years, Ramses IV passed away. His tomb, KV2, in the Valley of the Kings, remained unfinished at the time of his death. Interestingly, his body was later moved to a royal cache for better protection. Ramses IV was succeeded by his son, Ramses V, but the dynasty's power continued to wane in the face of internal struggles and external threats. Ramses IV's reign, though brief, serves as a window into a complex period in Egyptian history. His efforts to preserve the past and maintain stability offer valuable insights into the challenges and triumphs of the 20th Dynasty.






Image showing a collage of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including a statue of Pharaoh Merneptah, hieroglyphs on a wall, and a sarcophagus. Text overlay reads "Tomb of Merneptah".


Save for later: Visiting Merneptah's Tomb: A Pharaoh Who Ascended Late But Ruled with Might


Coming to power at 70, defeating a mighty Libyan invasion and the famed Israel Stele monument; we unpack the legacy of Pharaoh Merneptah.



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The history of the Valley of the Kings


The Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River near the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor), is one of Egypt's most iconic archaeological sites. It served as the burial place for many pharaohs and high-ranking nobles of the New Kingdom period (circa 1550–1070 BCE), a time of great prosperity and monumental construction in ancient Egypt.


Two people ascend a staircase carved into a rocky desert landscape under a clear blue sky.


The valley was chosen as a burial site due to its secluded and desolate location, hidden amidst rugged cliffs and mountains, which provided a natural defense against tomb robbers. The first pharaoh to be buried in the Valley of the Kings was Thutmose I, of the 18th dynasty, although earlier rulers were interred in tombs in nearby areas.



The tombs constructed in the Valley of the Kings are renowned for their elaborate architecture and richly decorated interiors, featuring intricate reliefs, hieroglyphs, and scenes depicting the journey of the deceased through the afterlife. The most famous tomb in the valley is that of Tutankhamun (KV62), discovered nearly intact by Howard Carter in 1922. Tutankhamun's tomb contained a wealth of treasures, including his iconic golden death mask, which captured the world's imagination and sparked renewed interest in ancient Egypt.


Ancient Egyptian wall painting featuring hieroglyphs and colorful depictions of people in ceremonial attire within a tomb.


Over the centuries, the Valley of the Kings was the final resting place for numerous pharaohs, queens, and members of the royal family, including Seti I, Ramesses II, and Hatshepsut. Despite the valley's remote location and efforts to safeguard the tombs, many of them were eventually plundered by tomb robbers in antiquity.



Today, the Valley of the Kings remains an important archaeological site and a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at its ancient wonders and glimpse into the fascinating world of ancient Egyptian royalty. Ongoing excavations and research continue to shed new light on the history and significance of this remarkable necropolis, offering insights into the beliefs, customs, and achievements of one of the world's most enduring civilizations.


A group of people explore the structures and walkways in a desert-like, mountainous area under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds.




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10 interesting facts about Ramses IV


You're absolutely right, some of those facts did tread close to summarizing his history. Here are 10 new interesting facts about Ramses IV that focus on unique details:


1. Royal Nicknames: Ramses IV had several throne names, including "Strong Bull" and "Appearing of Ra". These titles reflected his desired image as a powerful and divinely chosen ruler.


2. Musical Pharaoh: Evidence suggests a love for music during his reign. Harpists and singers are depicted in his tomb, hinting at a vibrant musical culture in the royal court.


Ancient Egyptian wall carving showing two figures, one with a falcon head, surrounded by hieroglyphs. The figures appear in traditional attire with preserved colors and fine detailing.


3. Borrowed Beauty: Ramses IV's mummy, when discovered, was adorned with jewelry originally belonging to his father, Ramses III. This recycling of pharaonic bling might have been due to time constraints or a desire to connect himself to his father's legacy.


4. Mummy on the Move: As mentioned earlier, Ramses IV's body wasn't left undisturbed. It was later moved to a royal cache, possibly during the 21st Dynasty, for better protection from tomb robbers.


5. A Royal Game of Reuse: Some building blocks used in Ramses IV's temple at Asasif were actually recycled from earlier structures. This practice highlights the Egyptians' resourcefulness and respect for their past.



Ancient Egyptian wall painting depicts rows of figures in various poses with hieroglyphs above them, illustrating a scene from mythology or daily life.


6. Hidden Messages: Decorations in his tomb depict scenes of him smiting enemies. These might be symbolic representations of overcoming challenges during his reign, not necessarily literal battles.


7. The Power of Reused Names: Interestingly, the name "Ramses" wasn't exclusive to this dynasty. Later pharaohs, seeking to connect themselves to the glory of the past, adopted the name as well.



8. A Well-Traveled Papyrus: The Papyrus Harris I, commissioned by Ramses IV, eventually ended up in the hands of a British collector in the 19th century. Today, it resides at the British Museum in London.


9. A Glimpse into the Afterlife: Wall decorations in his tomb depict scenes from the "Book of the Dead," an ancient Egyptian text guiding the deceased through the afterlife.


10. Modern Inspiration: The dramatic story of the "harem conspiracy" during the reign of Ramses III, which indirectly led to Ramses IV's rise to power, has inspired fictional works like movies and novels.





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Tips for visiting the tomb of Ramses IV & the Valley of the Kings


Here are some additional tips to know before visiting the Ramses IV's tomb:


⪢ Dress Code: Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is respectful of the local culture and protects you from the sun.


⪢ Sun Protection: The Egyptian sun can be intense, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen.


⪢ Water: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during the hot summer months. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it frequently.


Two people pose for a selfie inside an ancient Egyptian tomb with walls covered in hieroglyphics and colorful ceiling decorations.


⪢ Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are essential as there are steps and uneven terrain within the tomb complex.


⪢ Photography: While photography with mobile phones is generally allowed, professional photography equipment might require permits in Egypt. Check with the authorities beforehand. The use of drones are not permitted.


⪢ Guides: Consider hiring a local guide, or taking a tour, for a more in-depth understanding of the tomb's history and significance. They can offer insights that enrich your experience.


⪢ Respect the Site: Ramses IV's Tomb is a sacred place for many Egyptians. Be mindful of your behavior and avoid climbing on structures, touching walls or causing any damage.


⪢ Bargaining: If you encounter vendors selling souvenirs or other items, be prepared to bargain for fair prices. This is a common practice in local markets.


⪢ Currency: Carry Egyptian Pounds (EGP) for entrance fees, purchases, and tipping. ATMs are available in Luxor city.





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Ramses IV's Tomb opening times & best time to visit


⪢ Opening times for the Ramses IV's Tomb

The opening times for the tomb of Ramses IV is the same as the Valley of the Kings as a whole, which depends on the season:


● Summer (May - October): from 6am to 6pm

● Winter (November - April): from 6am to 5pm

● Ramadan: from 6am to 5pm



⪢ Best time to visit Ramses IV's Tomb

Summer in Egypt typically lasts from May to October. It's the hottest period, with average temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F) and sometimes soaring as high as 40°C (104°F) in some areas. Winter falls between November and April. Winters are generally mild, with average minimum temperatures around 14°C (57°F), although nights can get cooler, especially in the desert regions.


It's important to note that Egypt has an arid desert climate, so even in winter, days are usually sunny and warm. However, the significant difference lies in the peak summer heat, which can be quite intense for some travelers.


● For Pleasant Weather: Shoulder Seasons (March-April & October-November) offer the most comfortable temperatures, with average highs ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). This makes sightseeing and exploring much more enjoyable without the scorching summer heat.


● Avoiding Crowds: Regardless of the season, arriving at Ramses IV's Tomb early in the morning allows you to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.


● Less Popular Months: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons or even the winter months (November-February) if you prefer minimal crowds. While the weather might be cooler, it's still generally pleasant for sightseeing.


Ancient Egyptian wall art depicting hieroglyphs and figures under weathered blue and white ceiling.




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Getting tickets for Ramses IV's Tomb


You can buy tickets directly at the ticket windows located at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This is the most common option, but be aware that ticket windows close at 4:30 PM, so plan your visit accordingly. There is no direct website for booking online at this time.


⪢ Foreigners

● Adults: EGP 200 ($4.27 USD / $5.82 CAD / £3.37 GBP)

● Student: EGP 100 ($2.14 USD / $2.91 CAD / £1.69 GBP)

● Children under 12 years: FREE


You'll need to purchase a separate ticket for the optional electric car ride to the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This costs around LE 40 (Egyptian Pounds) per person.


** Prices are correct at time of writing (May 2024).


One of the best ways to visit the Valley of the Kings is by taking a tour. We highly recommend using Klook, who have been operating tours for several years in Egypt using only highly trained, licenced operators who take care of all ticket entries, along with helping you to avoid the hawks. They will organise transport, give you great history and background and even organise lunch too. Check out our tour from Hurghada to Luxor and see what you think!




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How to get to Ramses IV's Tomb


Ramses IV's Tomb is situated within the Valley of the Kings, also known as Biban el-Muluk. This location is on the west bank of the Nile river, opposite the city of Luxor.


If you're strict on your travel time in Egypt, we highly recommend booking your Egypt transportation online ahead of time. 12go.asia is a booking site we have used, and have found some great deals on buses, ferries, trains and even flights!


⪢ Taxi / Uber

Taxis are readily available in Luxor and can be a convenient way to get directly to the Valley of the Kings. Agree on the fare beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings. Ride-sharing apps like Uber or Careem operate in Luxor and might offer a more cost-effective option compared to taxis.


⪢ Local Bus

Public buses are a budget-friendly option, but keep in mind that schedules and routes might be less frequent or direct compared to taxis or ride-sharing.


⪢ Day Trip Tours

Many travel agencies in Luxor offer organized day trips to the Valley of the Kings, which often include transportation, entrance fees, and sometimes even a guided tour. This can be a convenient option if you prefer a hassle-free experience.


⪢ Car Rental

Renting a car in Luxor gives you flexibility, but make sure you factor in parking fees and potential traffic conditions near the Valley of the Kings. Foreign drivers must have an International Driving Permit available on request.



Address: PJR2+HWR, Kings Valley Rd, Qena Desert, The New Valley Governorate 1413101, Egypt


Website: egymonuments.gov.eg





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Watch our day trip to Luxor on YouTube

Sit back, relax, and explore the wonders of this epic Luxor day tour on YouTube! We show you everything you have seen in this post in stunning 4k detail, in a way that photos simply cannot do enough justice to!



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!




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Image showing an ancient Egyptian wall painting with hieroglyphs on the left and a stone-walled tomb interior with stairs on the right, labeled "Tomb KV6 Ramesses IX" in yellow text.


Read more: Inside Ramesses IX's Tomb KV6: The Man Who Wasn't Born to be Pharaoh


Delve into the intriguing highlights of the tomb of Ramesses IX, his legacy and history. Plus fun facts, ticket info and opening times.




Our Ramses IV's Tomb experience rating


Two people pose for a photo in a corridor adorned with intricate hieroglyphics. The corridor is well-lit and extends into the background.
Image shows a five-star rating with all five stars filled in orange or gold.


Of all of the tombs we checked out on our epic tour of the Valley of the Kings, we have to say that Ramses IV's, whilst 'unfinished', was perhaps the most impressive. This tomb is remarkably well preserved and highly elaborate, with many of the colors still very vibrant and striking.


There was so much to look at here, and it is well covered from floor-to-ceiling, unlike some of the other tombs. The sarcophagus itself is magnificent, and is also full of intricate fine detail. Despite being fairly overcrowded (like most of the tombs here), this more than any other really captured the magic of ancient Egyptian life for us. We highly recommend KV2!





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How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Egypt


Check out all of the places we visited in Egypt courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Egypt with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Egypt. Whether you're looking for a Giza Pyramid tour, Sinai Desert stargazing, or a day trip to Saqqara and Memphis, Klook has got you covered.



In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Egypt. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience.



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Your GUIDE to visiting Egypt


First time in Egypt? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, internet availability and much more!


Exploring ancient wonders: your guide to visiting Egypt.




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<![CDATA[Inside Ramesses IX's Tomb KV6: The Man Who Wasn't Born to be Pharaoh]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/inside-ramesses-ix-s-tomb-the-man-who-wasn-t-born-to-be-pharaoh665a31688122a9e6b15152c6Thu, 06 Jun 2024 17:33:02 GMTJenn & Leon TravelDeep within the heart of Egypt's scorching desert lies the Valley of the Kings, a sprawling necropolis carved into the golden cliffs. Here, amongst the tombs of legendary Pharaohs like Tutankhamun and Ramses the Great, rests the final resting place of a lesser-known, but no less fascinating ruler - Ramesses IX.


Split image featuring a painted hieroglyph-covered wall on the left and an entrance hallway of tomb KV6 of Ramesses IX on the right, with an overlaid text displaying "Tomb KV6 Ramesses IX.


Unlike his more celebrated predecessors, Ramesses IX (also known as Ramses) wasn't born to be Pharaoh. Thrust onto the throne through an unexpected turn of events, his 18-year reign was a complex dance between restoration and challenge. He strived to revive Egypt's former glory, yet faced a rising tide of economic woes and a power struggle with the High Priests of Amun.



In this post, we delve into the life of this intriguing Pharaoh, exploring his surprising rise to power, his elaborately decorated tomb, and his legacy. Prepare to be surprised by the captivating story of Ramesses IX, a Pharaoh whose reign offers a unique window into a pivotal period of ancient Egyptian history. Plus find out opening times, ticket prices, tips for visiting and more.


A narrow, ancient Egyptian corridor with a decorated ceiling and walls covered in hieroglyphics. Tourists can be seen walking through the passage.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




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Our TOP Recommended Travel Resources

● Say goodbye to switching SIM cards and hello to the future of travel. Save 10% off your first order with Simbye e-SIM.


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● Sign up and save 30% off of your first private car hire booking with Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace.




Who was Ramesses IX?


Ramesses IX, also spelled Ramses or Rameses, wasn't born to be Pharaoh. Originally named Amon-her-khepshef Khaemwaset, he was likely the son of Ramesses III's son, Mentuherkhepeshef. This would make him a grandson of the great Ramesses III. While details of his early life are hazy, it seems he wasn't directly in line for the throne.


That all changed sometime around 1129 BC. He ascended the throne as Pharaoh Ramesses IX, most likely after the reign of Ramesses VIII.



⪢ A Reign of Restoration and Challenge

His reign, lasting around 18 years, was a period of both stability and challenge. He is credited with attempting to restore Egypt's former power and wealth, with texts mentioning travels to Nubia and Asia, possibly for trade or military campaigns.


While there's no record of major military victories, Ramesses IX did focus on building projects. He made significant contributions to the sun temple in Heliopolis and decorated the north wall of the Seventh Pylon at the Karnak temple complex. However, his reign wasn't without problems. The growing power of the High Priest of Amun at Thebes, Amenhotep, chipped away at the Pharaoh's central authority.



⪢ The Shadow of Tomb Robbers

One of the biggest challenges Ramesses IX faced was rampant tomb robbing. The economic situation wasn't great, with grain prices remaining high. This, coupled with the government's failure to pay workers on time, led to frustration and desperation. Grave robbers, mostly poor laborers, began plundering tombs in the Valley of the Kings, a trend that continued into later reigns.


Ramesses IX reign is famously known for the documented 'tomb robbery trials' that took place during Years 16 and 17 of his rule. These trials, recorded in several papyri including the Abbott Papyrus and the Papyrus Leopold II, provide a fascinating glimpse into the security challenges plaguing the Valley of the Kings at the time. The papyri detail accusations against officials, particularly Paser, the Mayor of West Thebes, who was responsible for safeguarding the necropolis.


The trials highlight the growing desperation caused by economic hardship. Graffiti found in the tombs themselves sometimes references the workers who built them, hinting at potential resentment and a motive for the robberies. While the outcome of the trials isn't entirely clear, they offer crucial information about the social and economic climate during Ramesses IX's reign.


A steep wooden staircase leads down into a large, stone-carved underground chamber. The walls are illuminated, highlighting the rough texture of the stone. A wooden railing lines the staircase.


⪢ Death and Legacy: A Pharaoh and His Tomb

Ramesses IX himself died in 1111 BC. His elaborately decorated tomb, KV 6, in the Valley of the Kings, is a testament to his reign. Ironically, despite efforts to secure his burial place, his mummy was eventually moved by later Pharaohs to a hidden cache, a reflection of the very tomb robbing he tried to combat during his rule.



⪢ Rediscovery and Final Resting Place

The Deir el-Bahri Cache, discovered in 1881, contained the mummies of numerous Pharaohs and royal figures, including Ramesses IX. His mummy was found inside one of the coffins belonging to Neskhons, wife of the High Priest Pinedjem II. In April 2021 his mummy was moved from the Egyptian Museum to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 17 other kings and 4 queens in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade.






Image showing a collage of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including a statue of Pharaoh Merneptah, hieroglyphs on a wall, and a sarcophagus. Text overlay reads "Tomb of Merneptah".


Save for later: Visiting Merneptah's Tomb: A Pharaoh Who Ascended Late But Ruled with Might


Coming to power at 70, defeating a mighty Libyan invasion and the famed Israel Stele monument; we unpack the legacy of Pharaoh Merneptah.



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The history of the Valley of the Kings


The Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River near the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor), is one of Egypt's most iconic archaeological sites. It served as the burial place for many pharaohs and high-ranking nobles of the New Kingdom period (circa 1550–1070 BCE), a time of great prosperity and monumental construction in ancient Egypt.


Two people ascend a staircase carved into a rocky desert landscape under a clear blue sky.


The valley was chosen as a burial site due to its secluded and desolate location, hidden amidst rugged cliffs and mountains, which provided a natural defense against tomb robbers. The first pharaoh to be buried in the Valley of the Kings was Thutmose I, of the 18th dynasty, although earlier rulers were interred in tombs in nearby areas.



The tombs constructed in the Valley of the Kings are renowned for their elaborate architecture and richly decorated interiors, featuring intricate reliefs, hieroglyphs, and scenes depicting the journey of the deceased through the afterlife. The most famous tomb in the valley is that of Tutankhamun (KV62), discovered nearly intact by Howard Carter in 1922. Tutankhamun's tomb contained a wealth of treasures, including his iconic golden death mask, which captured the world's imagination and sparked renewed interest in ancient Egypt.


A group of people observe a large topographic model of a mountainous area displayed on a table inside a room.


Over the centuries, the Valley of the Kings was the final resting place for numerous pharaohs, queens, and members of the royal family, including Seti I, Ramesses II, and Hatshepsut. Despite the valley's remote location and efforts to safeguard the tombs, many of them were eventually plundered by tomb robbers in antiquity.



Today, the Valley of the Kings remains an important archaeological site and a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at its ancient wonders and glimpse into the fascinating world of ancient Egyptian royalty. Ongoing excavations and research continue to shed new light on the history and significance of this remarkable necropolis, offering insights into the beliefs, customs, and achievements of one of the world's most enduring civilizations.


A group of people explore the structures and walkways in a desert-like, mountainous area under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds.




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10 interesting facts about Ramesses IX


1. Unexpected Pharaoh: Ramesses IX wasn't originally heir apparent. Likely a grandson of Ramesses III, he wasn't directly in line for the throne but ascended around 1129 BC.


2. Restoration King: His reign aimed to bring back Egypt's former glory. He may have traveled to Nubia and Asia, possibly for trade or military campaigns.


Ancient Egyptian wall art showing multiple human figures, some in yellow and others in red, presumably in ritualistic or symbolic postures, part of a larger mural in a tomb or temple.


3. Builder, Not Conqueror: Unlike some Pharaohs, Ramesses IX focused on building projects. He contributed to the sun temple in Heliopolis and decorated the Karnak temple complex.


4. Power Struggle: His reign saw a rise in the power of the High Priest of Amun, Amenhotep, challenging the Pharaoh's central authority.


5. Tomb Robber Troubles: Ramesses IX faced a wave of tomb robbing due to economic hardship. The desperation of laborers led to the plundering of tombs, a problem that plagued later Pharaohs as well.


Ancient Egyptian wall art depicting a line of deities in profile, with hieroglyphics below and above the figures. The wall shows signs of aging with visible cracks.



6. The Enigmatic Corridor: His tomb, KV 6, features a unique corridor with scenes and texts combining elements from various Netherworld books, sparking curiosity among archaeologists.


7. Missing Sarcophagus: Despite an elaborate tomb, no sarcophagus has ever been found within KV 6, adding to the mysteries surrounding his burial.


8. Mummy on the Move: Ironically, Ramesses IX's mummy wasn't left undisturbed. Later Pharaohs likely moved it to a hidden cache, highlighting the very tomb robbing he tried to prevent.



9. Recycled Tomb Decoration: KV 6 shows signs of decoration reused from earlier tombs, suggesting cost-cutting measures or a time crunch during construction.


10. Living Textbooks: The tomb's detailed scenes and hieroglyphs offer valuable insights into Egyptian religious beliefs, rituals, and artistic styles during Ramesses IX's reign.




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Tips for visiting the tomb of Ramesses IX & the Valley of the Kings


Here are some additional tips to know before visiting the Ramesses IX's tomb:


⪢ Dress Code: Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is respectful of the local culture and protects you from the sun.


⪢ Sun Protection: The Egyptian sun can be intense, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen.


⪢ Water: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during the hot summer months. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it frequently.


A man with a beard takes a selfie in front of an ancient Egyptian wall adorned with hieroglyphs and artwork.


⪢ Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are essential as there are steps and uneven terrain within the tomb complex.


⪢ Photography: While photography with mobile phones is generally allowed, professional photography equipment might require permits in Egypt. Check with the authorities beforehand. The use of drones are not permitted.


⪢ Guides: Consider hiring a local guide, or taking a tour, for a more in-depth understanding of the tomb's history and significance. They can offer insights that enrich your experience.


⪢ Respect the Site: Ramesses IX's Tomb is a sacred place for many Egyptians. Be mindful of your behavior and avoid climbing on structures, touching walls or causing any damage.


⪢ Bargaining: If you encounter vendors selling souvenirs or other items, be prepared to bargain for fair prices. This is a common practice in local markets.


⪢ Currency: Carry Egyptian Pounds (EGP) for entrance fees, purchases, and tipping. ATMs are available in Luxor city.




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Ramesses IX's Tomb opening times & best time to visit


⪢ Opening times for the Ramesses IX's Tomb

The opening times of the Valley of the Kings depend on the season:


● Summer (May - October): from 6am to 6pm

● Winter (November - April): from 6am to 5pm

● Ramadan: from 6am to 5pm



⪢ Best time to visit Ramesses IX's Tomb

Summer in Egypt typically lasts from May to October. It's the hottest period, with average temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F) and sometimes soaring as high as 40°C (104°F) in some areas. Winter falls between November and April. Winters are generally mild, with average minimum temperatures around 14°C (57°F), although nights can get cooler, especially in the desert regions.


It's important to note that Egypt has an arid desert climate, so even in winter, days are usually sunny and warm. However, the significant difference lies in the peak summer heat, which can be quite intense for some travelers.


● For Pleasant Weather: Shoulder Seasons (March-April & October-November) offer the most comfortable temperatures, with average highs ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). This makes sightseeing and exploring much more enjoyable without the scorching summer heat.


● Avoiding Crowds: Regardless of the season, arriving at Ramesses IX's Tomb early in the morning allows you to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.


● Less Popular Months: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons or even the winter months (November-February) if you prefer minimal crowds. While the weather might be cooler, it's still generally pleasant for sightseeing.




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Getting tickets for Ramesses IX's Tomb


You can buy tickets directly at the ticket windows located at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This is the most common option, but be aware that ticket windows close at 4:30 PM, so plan your visit accordingly. There is no direct website for booking online at this time.


⪢ Foreigners

● Adults: EGP 200 ($4.27 USD / $5.82 CAD / £3.37 GBP)

● Student: EGP 100 ($2.14 USD / $2.91 CAD / £1.69 GBP)

● Children under 12 years: FREE


You'll need to purchase a separate ticket for the optional electric car ride to the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This costs around LE 40 (Egyptian Pounds) per person.


** Prices are correct at time of writing (May 2024).


One of the best ways to visit the Valley of the Kings is by taking a tour. We highly recommend using Klook, who have been operating tours for several years in Egypt using only highly trained, licenced operators who take care of all ticket entries, along with helping you to avoid the hawks. They will organise transport, give you great history and background and even organise lunch too. Check out our tour from Hurghada to Luxor and see what you think!




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How to get to Ramesses IX's Tomb


Ramesses IX's Tomb is situated within the Valley of the Kings, also known as Biban el-Muluk. This location is on the west bank of the Nile river, opposite the city of Luxor.


⪢ Taxi / Uber

Taxis are readily available in Luxor and can be a convenient way to get directly to the Valley of the Kings. Agree on the fare beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings. Ride-sharing apps like Uber or Careem operate in Luxor and might offer a more cost-effective option compared to taxis.


⪢ Local Bus

Public buses are a budget-friendly option, but keep in mind that schedules and routes might be less frequent or direct compared to taxis or ride-sharing.


⪢ Day Trip Tours

Many travel agencies in Luxor offer organized day trips to the Valley of the Kings, which often include transportation, entrance fees, and sometimes even a guided tour. This can be a convenient option if you prefer a hassle-free experience.


⪢ Car Rental

Renting a car in Luxor gives you flexibility, but make sure you factor in parking fees and potential traffic conditions near the Valley of the Kings. Foreign drivers must have an International Driving Permit available on request.



Address: قسم الواحات الخارجة, The New Valley Governorate 1340420, Egypt


Website: egymonuments.gov.eg




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Watch our day trip to Luxor on YouTube

Sit back, relax, and explore the wonders of this epic Luxor day tour on YouTube! We show you everything you have seen in this post in stunning 4k detail, in a way that photos simply cannot do enough justice to!



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!




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This image shows the Temple of Hatshepsut, also known as Djeser-Djeseru, with two Egyptian flags and the name of the temple in text overlaid on the photo.


Read more: Temple of Hatshepsut and the Legacy of Egypt's Formidable Female Pharaoh


Uncover the history of the trailblazing female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and her awe-inspiring Djeser-Djeseru Temple at Deir el-Bahari in Egypt.




Our Ramesses IX's Tomb experience rating


A woman stands in front of an ancient Egyptian mural depicting figures in traditional attire. She is holding a white cloth and wearing a dark outfit and a cap.
Image of four and a half orange stars in a row, representing a rating.


We do not really think it is possible to go to a tomb in the Valley of the Kings and not enjoy it to be honest. We mean, what is not to like?! This tomb was actually pretty marvelous, with some wonderful decorative images and hieroglyphs that are remarkably well preserved.


Our only slight critique was that it was incredibly busy, and there were just far to many people allowed inside at the same time. It made it really difficult to take more time to appreciate the tomb. It is only a slight downside, and may just have been unique to our experience at the time, so do not let it put you off. We still highly recommend adding KV6 to your Valley of the Kings tour. You will not regret it!




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How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Egypt


Check out all of the places we visited in Egypt courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Egypt with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Egypt. Whether you're looking for a Giza Pyramid tour, Sinai Desert stargazing, or a day trip to Saqqara and Memphis, Klook has got you covered.



In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Egypt. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience.



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Your GUIDE to visiting Egypt


First time in Egypt? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, internet availability and much more!


Exploring ancient wonders: your guide to visiting Egypt.




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<![CDATA[How We Travel Full-Time: Print on Demand Drop Shipping with Printify]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/how-we-travel-full-time-print-on-demand-drop-shipping-with-printify66538bb3e76b8e70dda4e965Thu, 30 May 2024 14:33:08 GMTJenn & Leon TravelIn the era of digital entrepreneurship, finding innovative ways to generate income has become increasingly popular. In this post, we will share one of the methods that have enabled our full-time travels for the past three years - drop shipping with Printify.


Green background with the text "Earning online with Printify" above the Printify logo. Below are icons of various printable items including a shirt, shorts, socks, hat, pillow, mug, tote bag, and shoes.


This article will explore what print on demand is, how the process works, the pros and cons, creating an online store with Wix, and effective product marketing strategies.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Man in a black t-shirt with "add your design" text, standing beside a green background with the Printify logo.


Print on Demand: Simplifying E-Commerce


Print on demand is a business model where products are customized and printed only when an order is placed. This eliminates the need for inventory storage and allows for a wide range of unique designs without the upfront costs of traditional printing methods.


Getting started is incredibly easy, and you can literally get things going in a couple of hours!


● Choose your platform: There are many platforms to choose from, such as Etsy and Shopify, but we feel that Wix offers a user-friendly website builder perfect for beginners.


● Sign up with Printify: Connect your Wix store to Printify seamlessly with a free in-built integration tool, where you can access a network of print providers and perfectly synchronize product updates, new products and sales.

● Create designs: Upload your custom designs or use existing templates available through Printify.

● List products: Select the products you want to sell and customize them with your designs.

● Market your products: Promote your store through social media, influencer collaborations, and targeted ads.


Printify's product catalog section showcasing t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, candles, bags, and coffee. Below, an ad highlights TikTok's bestselling items with two models and various apparel icons.


Pros:


No inventory management

Low startup costs

Wide product variety

Scalability


Cons:


Lower profit margins

Quality control challenges

Dependence on third-party printing partners


While there is very little investment needed, and virtually no running costs (apart from your website and domain), there is a lot of time involved in getting everything just right. In particular around SEO, and marketing your products correctly. But given the minimal risk involved, versus the considerable rewards if you get it right, this is absolutely something we would recommend you try in your journey.





Who are Printify?


Printify is a leading print-on-demand platform that has revolutionized the way businesses create and sell custom products with their unique designs. Founded in 2015 by James Berdigans and Artis Kehris, Printify has quickly emerged as a game-changer in the e-commerce industry.

Logo of Printify, with the brand name in green text and a stylized graphic of a printer with three bursts above it.

The company's primary goal was to offer a simple yet effective solution for entrepreneurs to bring their creative visions to life without the hassle of managing inventory or production. Over the years, Printify has witnessed remarkable success and exponential growth. Its user base has expanded significantly, catering to a diverse range of individuals such as entrepreneurs, artists, and designers seeking to establish their presence in the online marketplace.



Printify's success story can be attributed to various factors, including its intuitive and user-friendly interface that simplifies the design and selling process for users of all skill levels. Furthermore, Printify stands out for its extensive range of product offerings, allowing users to customize a wide array of items to suit their specific needs and preferences. The platform's competitive pricing strategy has also played a pivotal role in attracting users, offering cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality.


Moreover, Printify's efficient production and shipping processes have been instrumental in building trust and loyalty among its user base. The company's commitment to timely delivery and customer satisfaction has set it apart from competitors, earning it a reputation for reliability and excellence in the industry. In essence, Printify's journey from inception to success is a testament to its innovative approach, commitment to customer satisfaction, and dedication to empowering businesses of all sizes to thrive in the digital landscape.


With a strong foundation built on creativity, quality, and efficiency, Printify continues to set new standards in the print-on-demand industry and inspire countless entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality.





A computer monitor displays colorful Wix webpages against a light blue background with the text "What is Wix" in bold black letters.


What is Wix, and why use them over other website platforms?


Wix has established itself as a leading website builder in the digital landscape, catering to a wide range of users seeking to establish their online presence effortlessly. One of the standout features of Wix is its user-friendly interface that empowers individuals without coding knowledge to design and launch professional-looking websites seamlessly. By leveraging a simple drag-and-drop editor, users can navigate through the process of creating a website with ease, eliminating the barriers that traditional coding may present.


In comparison to other website platforms, there are several compelling reasons why one might opt for Wix. Firstly, the platform's extensive collection of templates stands out, offering users a diverse array of design options tailored to various industries and preferences. These templates serve as a solid foundation for customization, enabling users to personalize their websites to align with their unique branding and vision effectively.



In our opinion, the robust feature set that Wix offers further enhances its appeal. From built-in e-commerce capabilities for online stores to SEO tools that optimize visibility on search engines, Wix equips users with the necessary tools to enhance their website's functionality and reach. Additionally, the seamless integration of third-party apps allows for enhanced customization and expanded functionality, catering to the evolving needs of users.


Another key advantage of choosing Wix is the comprehensive customer support it provides. Through multiple channels such as phone, email, and a knowledge base, users can access timely assistance and guidance whenever they encounter challenges or require clarification on features and functionalities. This commitment to customer support fosters a sense of trust and reliability, ensuring that users can navigate the platform with confidence.


Four website templates are displayed for selection: a product page, a fashion boutique, a home decor site, and a children's clothing site. A cursor hovers over the "Edit" button on the product page.


Wix's affordability is also a significant draw for individuals and businesses operating on varying budgets. With a range of pricing plans available, including a free option with Wix branding, users can select a plan that aligns with their financial resources while still benefiting from the platform's robust features and capabilities. This flexibility in pricing underscores Wix's commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, making it a viable option for users across different economic spectrums.


We believe that Wix's combination of user-friendly design tools, diverse templates, feature-rich offerings, comprehensive customer support, and flexible pricing plans positions it as a top choice for individuals and businesses looking to establish a compelling online presence without the complexities of traditional web development. We highly recommend it!





A laptop screen displays a website with various tote bags for sale, each featuring different colorful designs. Logos for Printify and Wix are visible to the right of the laptop.


Setting Up Your Online Store with Wix


Wix simplifies the process of creating an e-commerce store with its drag-and-drop functionality and customizable templates. Follow these basic steps to kickstart your online store:


● Sign up for Wix: Visit the Wix website and create an account.

● Choose a template: Select a design that aligns with your brand and business goals.

● Customize your store: Add product pages, payment gateways, and shipping options.

● Optimize for mobile: Ensure your store is mobile-responsive for a seamless shopping experience.

● Optimize SEO and site speed: Good SEO can be a long and arduous journey, but with new AI tools of today it is incredibly easy to get right. Along with good site speed and useability, this is crucial in giving your site and store a good chance to be noticed in search results.

● Go live: Publish your store and start selling your custom print on demand products!





A person holds a tablet displaying a digital note titled "Online Marketing" with subtopics like SEO, content, lists, links, titles, and sales, and arrows pointing to each category.


Effective Product Marketing Strategies


To drive traffic and boost sales, we advise implementing these product marketing strategies:


● Social Media Promotion: Utilize platforms like Instagram and Facebook to showcase your products and engage with customers.

● Influencer Partnerships: Collaborate with influencers in your niche to reach a broader audience.

● Email Marketing: Build an email list and keep customers updated on new products and promotions.

● SEO Optimization: Use relevant keywords to improve your store's visibility on search engines.

● Offer Discounts: Encourage conversions by providing exclusive discounts and offers.


By leveraging these strategies, you can maximize the reach and profitability of your print on demand drop shipping business.


Ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey? Start your Printify drop shipping venture on Wix today and turn your creative designs into profitable products! Remember, success in e-commerce requires dedication, creativity, and a willingness to adapt to market trends.





Person using a laptop on a desk, browsing through a gallery of images.


Start Your Print on Demand Business Now


This comprehensive guide aims to equip casual readers with the knowledge and tools necessary to thrive in the world of print on demand drop shipping. Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or a creative soul looking to monetize your passion, this business model offers endless opportunities for growth and success. Happy printing and happy selling!


Feel free to ask us any questions you may have in the comments below!





How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel, and our future poetry, life and social media blogs. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!


A piece of paper with the words "POETRY LIFE SOCIAL MEDIA" in red font lies on a wooden surface beside a feather quill, old manuscripts, and glasses. A round logo with "Closer LIVES" is in the lower-left corner.



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<![CDATA[Thailand extends visa-free stays for tourists to 60 DAYS as part of major reforms]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/thailand-extends-visa-free-stays-for-tourists-and-students-to-60-days-in-major-revamp665731cf6f5b88f147e32519Wed, 29 May 2024 15:50:57 GMTJenn & Leon TravelIn a significant move to turbo-charge its tourism industry and attract a wider range of international talent, the Thai cabinet has approved a comprehensive package of visa reforms. These huge changes, effective June 1st, 2024, aim to streamline entry procedures, extend permissible stays, and cater to the evolving needs of modern travelers.


Collage showing a passport, a rubber stamp, a "Visa Extended" sign, a Thai flag, and a golden Buddha statue.


Read on for all you need to know about this bombshell announcement, which aims to fuel a tourist boom in a country already well established as one of the top destinations in the world. With pre-pandemic levels of 19 million per year, the government hopes these changes will increase number that to a staggering 80 million by 2026. Up to May of this year 14 million tourists have arrived, with projections of 40 million by year-end, generating nearly $96 billion USD for the Thai economy.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Get 5% off your first booking on the Klook app



PROMO CODE: BetterOnApp




Golden seated Buddha statue with four faces at a temple complex, under a clear blue sky, surrounded by visitors and offerings.


Thailand Unveils Sweeping Visa Reforms to Bolster Tourism and Attract Skilled Professionals


Thailand is making a big push to attract tourists and international talent with a major visa reform package. Starting in June, visitors from a wider range of countries (now 93) will enjoy visa-free entry for longer stays (60 days) and more countries will be eligible for visas on arrival. Remote workers and digital nomads can now get special long-term visas, and foreign graduates have a whole year after graduation to find work in Thailand.


Retirees over 50 will also find it easier to qualify for long-term stays thanks to a significant reduction in mandatory health insurance (starting in September). To make things even more convenient, the number of locations offering e-visa applications will double by September. These changes, announced by the Thai Foreign Ministry, signal Thailand's ambition to become a hub for remote work, cultural immersion, and retirement living.


These new rules target digital nomads, remote workers, freelancers, as well as those interested in learning Muay Thai and Thai cuisine," Chai Wacharonke, an official from the ministry said in the announcement. "Foreign graduates can now stay for a full year after graduation. Before, they had to leave the country immediately after their studies. These graduates can search for jobs during this extended period, especially in our areas of need," Mr. Chai noted that about 40,000 foreign students are currently studying in the country.




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The image shows the entrance sign for Chiangmai Immigration, written in both Thai and English, situated in a landscaped area with plants and trees, accompanied by flags and a decorative fence.


Summary of Thailand visa changes for tourists, students, digital nomads and retirees


⪢ Enhanced Accessibility for Tourists (Expanded Visa-Free Entry)

A substantial increase in the number of countries eligible for visa-free entry to Thailand, from 57 to 93. This includes popular destinations like China, India, Cambodia, and several others.


● Previously: Entry allowed for citizens of 57 countries for a maximum of 30 days.

● Now: Increased to 93 countries with a longer stay permitted (up to 60 days).


⪢ Extended Visa-Free Stays

Tourists from these countries can now enjoy longer stays of up to 60 days, allowing for a more in-depth exploration of Thailand's rich culture and diverse landscapes. This means visitors can now enjoy double the time in the Land of Smiles without having to pay a single baht extra. It will also significantly reduce the impact on immigration centre queues, which are notoriously long and arduous.


● Previously: The limit was 30 days, allowing for a 30 day extension at a cost of 1900 Thai Bhat ($52 USD).


● Now: Visa-free limit now 60 days, allowing for a further 60 day extension. 2 border runs are permitted in a 12 month period (currently), meaning visitors could potentially stay for more than 6 months visa free.


⪢ Increased Visa-on-Arrival Options

The program has been expanded to include an additional 12 countries, bringing the total to 31. This simplifies the arrival process for travelers from these nations.


● Previously: Available to citizens of 19 countries.


● Now: Expanded to 31 countries.




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A passport and a visa document are resting on a map. The passport is burgundy with a crest and the word "PASSPORT" on the cover. The visa document is partially visible underneath the passport.


Welcoming Remote Workers and Long-Term Visitors


⪢ Long-Term Visas for Digital Nomads

A groundbreaking five-year visa program specifically designed for digital nomads, remote workers, and freelancers. This visa allows stays of up to 180 days with a single extension possibility, providing greater flexibility for those working remotely.


● Previously: Limited options for digital nomads, remote workers, and freelancers. Stays for these categories were likely restricted to tourist visas with shorter durations (e.g., 30 days) and potentially requiring renewals.


● Now: Introduced a dedicated 5-year visa program for remote workers and freelancers, allowing longer stays (180 days with extension option). Additionally, this program caters to those interested in cultural immersion (Muay Thai, Thai cuisine studies).


⪢ Opportunities for Cultural Immersion

The program extends to individuals interested in immersing themselves in Thai culture by studying Muay Thai or Thai cuisine.


⪢ Extended Stays for Foreign Graduates

Foreign graduates from Thai universities can now remain in the country for a full year after graduation to seek employment opportunities, particularly in sectors with skilled labor shortages.


● Previously: Required to leave the country immediately after graduation.


● Now: Granted a one-year post-graduation stay to seek employment opportunities.



⪢ Reduced Barriers for Retirees (Reduction in Mandatory Health Insurance)

Long-stay visa applicants aged 50 and over will benefit from a significant reduction in mandatory health insurance coverage, from 3 million baht to 440,000 baht (effective September-December 2024). This change aims to make long-term stays in Thailand more financially attractive for retirees.

● Previously: Mandatory health insurance coverage of 3 million baht for long-stay visa applicants aged 50 and over.

● Now: Reduced health insurance requirement to 440,000 baht (effective for applications between September and December 2024).


⪢ Enhanced Online Application Services (Wider Availability of e-Visas)

The number of Thai embassies and consulates offering e-visa application services will double from 47 to 94 (effective September 2024). This will streamline the application process for travelers worldwide.


● Previously: Available at 47 Thai embassies and consulates-general.


● Now: Expanded to 94 locations starting from September 2024.


These reforms demonstrate Thailand's commitment to fostering a vibrant international community and positioning itself as a leading destination for tourism, remote work, and cultural exchange. It is great news for full-time travelers and digital nomads like ourselves, and we fully intend to be taking advantage of these new rules. Has this changed YOUR travel plans too? Let us know in the comments below!


Note that this information is subject to change at any time and has been obtained through our research. We always recommended you visit the official website of the Thailand Electronic Visa, or the nearest Thai embassy or consulate for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding entry requirements.



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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Thailand


Check out all of the places we visited in Thailand courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Thailand with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Thailand. Whether you're looking for some island hopping, an elephant jungle sanctuary or even a tropical garden, Klook has it all. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Thailand. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!



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Your GUIDE to visiting Thailand


First time in Thailand? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


Your guide to visiting Thailand.




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<![CDATA[The Future of Travel: Why Simbye eSIM is the Solution]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/the-future-of-travel-why-simbye-esim-is-the-solution66524a91d43b85d8df6dc972Sun, 26 May 2024 13:53:20 GMTJenn & Leon TravelWelcome to a world where travel knows no bounds and connectivity is as simple as a click.


A green hand icon with the text "Simbye eSims" is superimposed over a globe surrounded by various digital icons, representing technology and connectivity.


Nowadays, the internet is an indispensable companion for travel - whether it's for navigating through unfamiliar cities, communicating with loved ones, or simply sharing unforgettable moments on social media. But how often have we been frustrated by the tedious search for a local SIM card, exorbitant roaming fees, or complicated setup processes?


Enter Simbye eSIM, here to solve all these problems with one elegant solution.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Illustration of a globe with an airplane flying around it, accompanied by two suitcases, symbolizing travel.


Boundless Connectivity


With Simbye eSIM, the world is literally in the palm of your hand. Whether you're exploring the vibrant streets of Singapore, traversing the majestic Alps, or getting lost in the bustling metropolises of Europe, our eSIM data packages provide you with reliable internet connectivity anytime, anywhere. Forget about cumbersome SIM cards and nerve-wracking searches for a mobile provider. With Simbye, you can fully immerse yourself in your adventures without compromising on connectivity.




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A mobile phone screen displays a purchase page for a Japan travel data plan costing in USD, and the options for network, data, and validity are shown. A hand hovers over the "Buy Now" button.


Cost Efficiency Without Compromise


At Simbye, we understand that travel can already be expensive enough. That's why we're committed to offering you cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality. Our eSIM data packages are not only affordable but also provide first-class connectivity, no matter where your travels take you. Say goodbye to high roaming fees and unexpected bills - with Simbye, you can keep your budget in check without sacrificing a seamless travel experience.




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A person is selecting a language on a mobile app. A globe with two location markers in the background indicates international or location-based options.


Simplicity in Perfection


Setting up a Simbye eSIM couldn't be easier. With just a few clicks, you can activate your eSIM and immediately connect to the internet. No more waiting for a physical SIM card, no more complicated setup processes. Whether you're a tech genius or an absolute beginner, with Simbye, connectivity has never been easier.




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A smartphone screen displaying an eSIM management app with a QR code for installing an eSIM. Tabs at the bottom include Shop, My eSIMs, and Profile.


Freedom Without Contractual Obligations


We believe in maximum flexibility for our customers. That's why there are no long-term contracts or hidden costs with Simbye. You only pay for what you need, without being tied to a provider. With Simbye, you have full control over your connectivity - whenever and wherever you need it.




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Smartphone displaying a list titled "Popular Countries" with flags and country names including Germany, Italy, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Japan, Spain, and Turkey. A chat icon is visible at the bottom.


A Step into the Future of Travel with Simbye eSIM


The future of travel is here, and it's called Simbye eSIM. Say goodbye to the limitations of traditional SIM cards and experience the freedom of being connected anywhere in the world. Whether you're strolling through the vibrant streets of Asia or exploring the breathtaking nature of America, with Simbye, you're always connected.


Visit our shop now at www.simbye.com and save 10% on your first order with our exclusive welcome bonus. Experience the revolution of travel with Simbye eSIM and make your travel experiences easier, more affordable, and more unforgettable than ever before.




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!



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<![CDATA[Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival 2024: An Iconic World Renowned Event]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/hong-kong-wine-and-dine-festival-2024-an-iconic-world-renowned-event664faa159a3561d69503c02bSat, 25 May 2024 13:51:43 GMTJenn & Leon TravelVisiting the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival was unexpected, but turned out to be an absolutely delightful experience! This world-renowned festival is a magnet for food and wine enthusiasts, and we were offered the opportunity to attend on the off-chance by our hotel manager.


Two people stand in front of a colorful backdrop promoting the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival. The sign reads "Great Tastes Return" with various neon graphics and the Hong Kong Tourism Board logo.


We had no idea about it prior, but were most grateful in the end! Especially after it had been absent for a while during the pandemic - 2023 was its grand return, and 2024 promises to be even bigger!



This annual event showcases a wide array of wines and gourmet food from around the world, set against the stunning backdrop of Hong Kong's skyline. During the festival, visitors can indulge in tastings of exquisite wines, sample delicious dishes prepared by renowned chefs, attend cooking demonstrations, and participate in wine pairing workshops.


Crowd gathered at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival with colorful neon lights and city skyscrapers in the background.


The festival offers a vibrant atmosphere filled with live music, entertainment, and a bustling marketplace where you can purchase your favorite wines and gourmet products. Whether you are a wine connoisseur or a food lover, the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival promises a memorable and flavorful experience that celebrates the best in culinary and oenological delights! Read on for more about the festival, how to get tickets and details on when it will be returning this year.


A busy city scene at night featuring a tall skyscraper, a brightly lit ferris wheel, and a crowd of people walking beneath a cloudy sky. Trees and additional buildings are visible in the foreground.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




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History & Origins of the Wine & Dine Festival in Hong Kong


The Wine & Dine Festival in Hong Kong was first launched in 2009 by the Hong Kong Tourism Board as a way to promote the city's culinary and wine offerings. Over the years, the festival has grown in popularity and has become a significant event on Hong Kong's annual calendar. The festival typically takes place in the fall, usually for four days at the end of October every year.


Two people are smiling at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, with colorful neon signs and lights in the background.



It is held at the Central Harbourfront, offering stunning views of Hong Kong's skyline as a backdrop to the culinary festivities. Throughout the years, the Wine & Dine Festival has evolved to include not only wine tastings and food samplings but also live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and interactive workshops. It has become a must-visit event for food and wine enthusiasts both locally and internationally.


A large crowd gathers at an outdoor night market event with illuminated tents and skyscrapers in the background.


The festival aims to showcase Hong Kong as a culinary hub, highlighting its diverse food scene, world-class restaurants, and vibrant wine culture. It provides a platform for local chefs, winemakers, and food vendors to showcase their talents and products to a global audience. The Wine & Dine Festival in Hong Kong has become a signature event that celebrates the city's rich gastronomic heritage and continues to attract visitors from around the world. In 2023, it attracted an astonishing 140,000 visitors! We were very happy to be 2 of them!


Colorful illuminations at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, showcasing neon signs for "FOOD" and "GREAT TASTES" above busy stalls and a lively crowd.





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What are some of the featured cuisines at the festival?


The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival is a culinary extravaganza that brings together a tantalizing array of epicurean delights from various corners of the globe. The event showcases a diverse range of cuisines that cater to every palate, offering a culinary journey like no other. One of the highlights of the festival is the exquisite French Gastronomy section, where visitors can savor classic dishes such as coq au vin and foie gras, known for their rich flavors and sophisticated preparation techniques.


Person using tongs to place shredded vegetables on bao buns with meat on a wooden board.


The Japanese Sushi & Sashimi station offers a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine, with fresh and expertly crafted dishes that highlight the art of sushi-making. For those craving bold and aromatic flavors, the Indian Spices section is a must-visit, featuring a vibrant selection of curries and tandoori dishes that showcase the diverse and complex flavors of Indian cuisine.


A black tray with assorted tapas, including cheese, peppers, and sausage, with a glass of sangria garnished with an orange slice on a wooden table.



The Cantonese Delicacies area presents a tempting spread of dim sum and Peking duck, showcasing the delicate flavors and textures of Cantonese cooking. Italian favorites take center stage too with a mouthwatering selection of pasta and wood-fired pizzas, offering a taste of Italy's culinary traditions. The Thai Cuisine section delights with iconic dishes like Pad Thai and Green Curry, known for their harmonious blend of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors.


To complete the global culinary journey, the festival also features Spanish Cuisine with its iconic Paella, Tapas, Jamón Ibérico, and Churros, offering a taste of Spain's vibrant and flavorful gastronomic heritage. Attendees are invited to immerse themselves in a world of flavors, textures, and aromas, as they explore different cultures through a variety of delectable dishes, making the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival a truly unforgettable culinary experience.


A night cityscape with crowds attending an outdoor festival. People are standing, talking, and visiting various white tents with food and activities. Tall buildings with illuminated signs are in the background.




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What are some of the featured wines at the festival?


The Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival boasts a vast selection of wines from over 36 countries, catering to a wide range of palates. Here are some highlights to whet your appetite:


⪢ Classics from Old World Vineyards

Wine connoisseurs can rejoice in the presence of time-tested favorites from Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, known for their complex flavors and rich histories.


Two glasses of wine on a wooden table with a waterfront cityscape in the background, illuminated buildings and lights reflecting in the water.


⪢ Rising Stars of the New World

For those seeking something more fruit-forward and youthful, New World wines from countries like the United States, Australia, and Chile offer bold expressions of their distinct grape varietals.



⪢ Hidden Gems

The festival also shines a light on lesser-known wine regions, allowing you to explore exciting finds from Moldova, Thailand, and even Singapore's innovative soy wine.


A busy bar scene with bartenders preparing drinks and patrons gathered around the counter. The background features a purple-themed sign for a wine and spirits event.


⪢ Spotlight on China

Witness the growing prominence of Chinese wines with selections from wineries in Shandong, Ningxia, and Yunnan. These regions are producing exciting bottles that rival established winemaking countries.


⪢ Natural Wine Movement

If you're interested in wines made with minimal intervention, the festival offers a dedicated section for natural wines produced with organic or biodynamic grapes.


Beyond these categories, the festival caters to specific preferences with special features like low-alcohol beverages and a "Chinese Wine Discovery" section for those wanting to delve deeper into China's blossoming wine scene.


Remember, with so many vendors present, the best way to discover your favorites is to explore and ask questions!


A large crowd gathers at a nighttime outdoor event with white tents and city skyscrapers illuminated in the background.




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Other activities and events at the festival


The 2023 Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival, which took place from October 26th to 29th last year, offered a whirlwind of culinary and beverage delights alongside exciting events and activities. Here's a look at some of the key highlights:


⪢ Global Wine Exploration

Over 400 booths showcased wines from 36 countries and regions, giving attendees the chance to embark on a global wine journey. From established favorites like Bordeaux to up-and-coming regions like Ningxia in China, there was something for every palate to discover.


A large crowd of people sit and stand on a grassy area at an outdoor nighttime event with tents and city buildings visible in the background.



⪢ Culinary Delights from Around the World

Matching the extensive wine selection was a smorgasbord of international cuisine. Over 17 countries and regions were represented, with food stalls offering delectable local specialties and international dishes with some of them mentioned earlier.


⪢ Tasting Theatre

This new addition to the festival provided a hub for interactive experiences. Attendees could participate in themed workshops led by renowned chefs and sommeliers. These workshops covered a variety of topics, from wine pairing tips to masterclasses in specific cuisines like Family Food Science by Curiosity Kids.


A stage setup at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival featuring bright lights and a performer on a large screen. The backdrop includes city buildings and a neon-lit stage arch.



⪢ Live Music & Entertainment

The festival wasn't just about food and drink! The main stage came alive each evening with live performances by international and local singers. From jazz and classical melodies to upbeat music shows, these performances created a vibrant atmosphere for attendees to enjoy alongside their culinary and beverage explorations.


A person performs on a brightly lit stage with vibrant, kaleidoscopic patterns displayed on large screens in the background. The stage lighting is in shades of pink and purple.


One of the biggest stars was singer Marcelito Pomoy, of whom we were lucky to catch on the night we visited. He rose to fame in the Philippines after winning the second season of Pilipinas Got Talent in 2011, later participating in the second season of America's Got Talent: The Champions in 2020 and achieving an impressive fourth-place finish.



Marcelito possesses the ability to sing in both baritone and mezzo-soprano ranges. This exceptional talent allows him to perform songs traditionally meant for both male and female singers. It also gives him an incredibly unique ability to duet with himself! Check out his incredible vocals in our YouTube video highlights.



⪢ Hong Kong Wine & Dine: Taste Around Town

As an extension of the festival experience, the Hong Kong Tourism Board collaborated with restaurants and bars across the city throughout November. This initiative, called "Hong Kong Wine & Dine: Taste Around Town," allowed attendees to continue their culinary exploration and experience the city's diverse dining scene. These restaurants, along with hoteliers, in turn also handed out discounted ticket passes to patrons. No wonder over 140,000 people attended!


A bustling outdoor night market with colorful vendor stalls and bright signs, including one for "Wine & Dine." Many people are walking around, with tall city buildings illuminated in the background.




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Dates, Tickets & Opening Times for the 2024 Wine & Dine Festival in Hong Kong


⪢ Dates: The tentative dates for the 2024 Wine & Dine Festival in Hong Kong have been set for October 24th to 27th.


⪢ Tickets: Tickets are not yet available to purchase online. Last year they were available for $20 HKD (£2.01 GBP / $3.50 CAD / $2.56 USD). We will update this blog when the announcement is made for this year.


A nighttime outdoor scene showing a crowd of people near a lit Ferris wheel and modern buildings, with a line of white tents in the background and green Alipay banners overhead.



⪢ Tourist Pass: Be sure to ask your hotel about a tourist pass if you are staying in Hong Kong at the time of the event. The tourist pass offers FREE entry to the event, a special counter with English speaking staff to sign in and bypass the queues, a free re-useable wine cup (you will need this for the tastings) and 6 free tokens. This is pretty awesome and is absolutely worth redeeming, potentially making it a completely free experience.


⪢ Tokens: Tokens are available to purchase on entry, and are redeemed at the wine and food stalls. There is no way to pay for tastings at the stalls, and all purchases for tokens are made at the entry area of the festival.


⪢ Opening Times: Opening times for 2024 have yet to be confirmed. In 2023 the festival was open from 12pm to 11pm, with a closure between 4pm and 5.30pm.


People stand in line at a collection counter with purple signage, under a series of white canopy tents, during a nighttime event.




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How to get to the Wine & Dine Festival


There are many convenient ways to get to the Central Harbourfront in Hong Kong, depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some of the options:


⪢ Mass Rapid Transit (MTR)

This is the fastest and most convenient way to get around Hong Kong. The Central Harbourfront is easily accessible by MTR via several stations:

● Central Station (Exit K): This is the closest station to the Central Harbourfront, just a short walk away.

● Hong Kong Station (Exit A): This station is also within walking distance of the Central Harbourfront.

● East Tsim Sha Tsui Station (Exit P1): If you're coming from Kowloon, you can take the MTR to East Tsim Sha Tsui Station and then take a short ferry ride across the harbor to the Central Harbourfront.


⪢ Bus

An extensive bus network covers Hong Kong. Several buses go to the Central Harbourfront area. You can use a mobile app or online journey planner to find the most suitable bus route for your starting point.


⪢ Tram

The historic Hong Kong tram is a slow but scenic way to get around. You can take a tram to the Western Market stop and then walk a short distance to the Central Harbourfront.


⪢ Taxi

Taxis are readily available in Hong Kong and can be a convenient way to get to the Central Harbourfront, especially if you have luggage. Fares are metered.


⪢ Ferry

Taking the ferry is a great way to experience Hong Kong's iconic harbor. The Star Ferry offers a scenic ride across the harbor from Kowloon to Central. Several other ferry services also operate in the harbor, connecting various points on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the Outlying Islands.



Address: 9 Lung Wo Rd, Central, Hong Kong


Central Harbourfront Website: cvm.com.hk


Hong Kong Tourism Board: discoverhongkong.com/hong-kong-wine-and-dine-festival


People stand along a waterfront at night in a city. A boat is on the water in the foreground, with tall buildings and illuminated signs in the background.




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Watch our Wine & Dine Festival 2023 experience on YouTube


We had an EPIC evening at the Ladies' Market and The Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival 2023. One of the highlights for us at the event was the opportunity to see one of the America's Got Talent All Stars runner ups; Filipino singer and performer Marcelito Pomoy! Watch our video and get inspired for the festival in 2024!



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!


Skyline of a city at night featuring brightly lit skyscrapers, a Ferris wheel illuminated in red, and a busy street with vehicles and pedestrians below.




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Our Wine & Dine Festival experience rating


A man and a woman smile for a selfie at night with an illuminated Ferris wheel and city lights in the background.
Image showing five golden stars evenly spaced in a horizontal row, often used to indicate a five-star rating or high quality.


Sometimes the best experiences are the unplanned ones! We admittedly had no idea about this event before coming to Hong Kong, and if not for a very attentive hotel manager doing a great job at promoting tourism in the city, we never would have.


It was absolutely worth coming here, and we had a fantastic time. Even if you are not necessarily a wine fan, the food alone will surely entice you, along with a great atmosphere and awesome live entertainment. It was super busy, so we have to admit that queues for things were a bit of a struggle, alongside an untimely rain episode, but do not let that deter you! There are indoor spaces, and the almost 'VIP' status of foreign tourists with a tourist pass will get you access to an exclusive wine tent for cover and comfort. In fact, that pass was a real privilege and basically made this a free night out on the harbourside. Can't argue with that!


Nighttime cityscape with tall illuminated buildings, a large ferris wheel lit in pink hues, and a bustling event with numerous white tents and colorful stands. Cloudy sky overhead.




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of China


Check out all of the places we visited in China courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Hong Kong with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Hong Kong. Whether you're looking to explore the largest indoor sports playground in the city, enjoy the Victoria Harbour with a cruise or even visit a trampoline park, Klook has got you covered. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Hong Kong. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!



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Your GUIDE to visiting China


First time in China? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


A section of the Great Wall of China with greenery in the background. Text overlay reads, "Your guide to visiting China" with an illustrated map of China.




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<![CDATA[Visiting Merneptah's Tomb: A Pharaoh Who Ascended Late But Ruled with Might]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/visiting-merneptah-s-tomb-a-pharaoh-who-ascended-late-but-ruled-with-might664890cace4a15eafa4476c7Mon, 20 May 2024 13:25:29 GMTJenn & Leon TravelThe Valley of the Kings holds the final resting places of Egypt's most renowned pharaohs. Among them lies the tomb of Merneptah, his name meaning 'Beloved of Ptah, Joyous is Truth', a 19th Dynasty ruler who ascended the throne later in life yet left a significant mark on Egyptian history. Son of perhaps the greatest ruler in Egyptian history, Ramesses II, he was known as the first royal-born pharaoh since Tutankhamun.


Image showing the Tomb of Merneptah with a statue of the Pharaoh and hieroglyphic wall paintings in the background, and a stone sarcophagus on the right. Text reads "Tomb of Merneptah.



This blog post delves into the historical and archaeological significance of Merneptah's tomb. We'll explore his unexpected rise to power at 70 years old, after 12 brothers died before him during the astonishing 60 year reign of his legendary father, Ramesses the Great. We also look at his military triumphs, and his connection to the famous 'Israel Stele' found in Thebes (Luxor).


Prepare to unpack some of the fascinating details of this pharaoh's reign, the secrets his tomb holds, and the inscription that provides a vital piece of evidence for the early presence of Israel in Canaan.







Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




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Who was Pharaoh Merneptah?


Merneptah, also known as Merenptah, reigned from 1213 to 1203 BC and was a fascinating figure in the 19th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Here's a comprehensive look at his life and legacy:


⪢ An Unexpected Rise to Power

Born the 13th son of the legendary Pharaoh Ramesses II, Merneptah wasn't expected to be king. Due to his father's exceptionally long reign (over 60 years!), all his older brothers predeceased him. By the time Ramesses II passed away, Merneptah was already around 70 years old. He was the first royal-born pharaoh since Tutankhamun of the Eighteenth Dynasty.


A weathered bust of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh wearing a nemes headdress, displayed on a blue stand against a dark background.



⪢ Military Prowess

Despite his age, Merneptah proved himself a capable military leader. Early in his reign, he quelled rebellions in Canaanite cities like Ashkelon and Gezer. His most significant military challenge came from the west. The Libyans, who had been encroaching on Egyptian territory, launched a full-scale invasion. Merneptah's forces decisively defeated them at the Battle of the Delta, securing Egypt's borders.


⪢ The Israel Stele

One of Merneptah's most famous monuments is the Israel Stele, discovered in 1896. This victory inscription interestingly includes the first known mention of "Israel" in an Egyptian text. The inscription boasts of Merneptah's victory over a people called "Israel," though the exact nature and location of this encounter remains debated among scholars.


⪢ Building Projects and Legacy

While not as prolific a builder as his father, Merneptah did commission some construction projects. He added to the temple complex at Karnak and built a temple at Athribis dedicated to the god Min. Merneptah's reign, though relatively short (around 10 years), was a period of stability for Egypt. He successfully defended the kingdom and maintained its influence in the region.


A large ancient stone sarcophagus covered with hieroglyphics stands in a dimly lit room. The walls are worn and peeling. A wooden railing surrounds the sarcophagus.



⪢ Family Life and Uncertain Successor

Merneptah married his likely full sister or niece, Isetnofret II, who became his Great Royal Wife. They had several children, including Seti II, who succeeded him. However, the succession wasn't entirely smooth, with power struggles documented in later historical records.


⪢ Unraveling the Mysteries

Archaeologists continue to learn more about Merneptah's life and reign. His tomb in the Valley of the Kings, though looted in antiquity, offers some insights into his beliefs and funerary practices. Ongoing research on inscriptions and artifacts from his time sheds light on the political and social landscape of his era.


⪢ Merneptah's Significance

Merneptah stands as a testament to resilience and leadership. Despite his unexpected rise to power at an advanced age, he effectively defended Egypt and maintained its standing as a regional power. The Israel Stele remains a crucial piece of evidence for understanding the early history of the Israelites and Canaan. Merneptah's story offers a glimpse into the complexities of dynastic succession and the challenges faced by pharaohs in the New Kingdom. His reign, though shorter than some, played a vital role in shaping the later years of the 19th Dynasty of Egypt.






A promotional montage for a day trip tour from el gouna to luxor, featuring ancient Egyptian sites and a couple of tourists.


Save for later: Explore ancient Egypt with a day trip tour from El Gouna to Luxor


Our epic 16 hour journey of a lifetime as we explore the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Karnak Temple, cruise on the River Nile and more!



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What is the Israel Stele?


The Israel Stele, also known as the Merneptah Stele or the Victory Stele of Merneptah, is a significant archaeological find from ancient Egypt. It's a large granite slab inscribed with hieroglyphs, dating back to around 1208 BCE. The stele was originally erected by Pharaoh Amenhotep III but later reused by Merneptah, who added his own inscriptions. It was discovered in 1896 by British archaeologist Flinders Petrie at Thebes (modern-day Luxor) and is currently housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.


An ancient Egyptian stela with intricate carvings of figures at the top and hieroglyphic inscriptions below, displayed in a museum setting.



⪢ Content and Significance

The inscription details Merneptah's military victories, including the campaign in Canaan. Famously, it includes the earliest known mention of "Israel" in an extra-biblical text. The inscription boasts of defeating a people called "Israel," though the specifics of this encounter (location, context) remain debated. This reference provides crucial evidence for the existence of Israel as a group around the 12th century BCE. It aligns somewhat with the timeline described in the Hebrew Bible.


⪢ Points to Consider

The Israel Stele is just a single line mentioning "Israel." It doesn't elaborate on the nature of the encounter or the size of the Israelite population. Some scholars have proposed alternative interpretations of the inscription, suggesting the name might not specifically refer to the Israelites we know today. Despite these debates, the Israel Stele remains a cornerstone in understanding the early history of Israel and its presence in Canaan.


Ancient stone with carved hieroglyphs; some glyphs highlighted in red.




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The history of the Valley of the Kings


The Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River near the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor), is one of Egypt's most iconic archaeological sites. It served as the burial place for many pharaohs and high-ranking nobles of the New Kingdom period (circa 1550–1070 BCE), a time of great prosperity and monumental construction in ancient Egypt.


Two people ascend a staircase carved into a rocky desert landscape under a clear blue sky.


The valley was chosen as a burial site due to its secluded and desolate location, hidden amidst rugged cliffs and mountains, which provided a natural defense against tomb robbers. The first pharaoh to be buried in the Valley of the Kings was Thutmose I, of the 18th dynasty, although earlier rulers were interred in tombs in nearby areas.



The tombs constructed in the Valley of the Kings are renowned for their elaborate architecture and richly decorated interiors, featuring intricate reliefs, hieroglyphs, and scenes depicting the journey of the deceased through the afterlife. The most famous tomb in the valley is that of Tutankhamun (KV62), discovered nearly intact by Howard Carter in 1922. Tutankhamun's tomb contained a wealth of treasures, including his iconic golden death mask, which captured the world's imagination and sparked renewed interest in ancient Egypt.


A group of people observe a large topographic model of a mountainous area displayed on a table inside a room.


Over the centuries, the Valley of the Kings was the final resting place for numerous pharaohs, queens, and members of the royal family, including Seti I, Ramesses II, and Hatshepsut. Despite the valley's remote location and efforts to safeguard the tombs, many of them were eventually plundered by tomb robbers in antiquity.



Today, the Valley of the Kings remains an important archaeological site and a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at its ancient wonders and glimpse into the fascinating world of ancient Egyptian royalty. Ongoing excavations and research continue to shed new light on the history and significance of this remarkable necropolis, offering insights into the beliefs, customs, and achievements of one of the world's most enduring civilizations.


A group of people explore the structures and walkways in a desert-like, mountainous area under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds.




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10 interesting facts about Merneptah's Tomb


1. Unexpected Occupant: While Merneptah's tomb was built for him, his mummy wasn't actually found there. It was discovered in a hidden cache along with other pharaohs' remains in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35).


2. Transitional Tomb: Merneptah's tomb marks a shift in design between the 19th and 20th Dynasty tombs. It has a wider entrance and taller corridors compared to earlier tombs, hinting at a more imposing style.


A descending stone staircase with wooden handrails, surrounded by ancient hieroglyphic carvings, leading to a distant group of people near the bottom.


3. Reflections of Reality: The tomb's decorations depict historical events from Merneptah's reign. Scenes showcase his military victories, including the Battle of the Delta against the Libyans.


4. Unfinished Business: Merneptah's relatively short reign (around 10 years) might explain why the tomb's decoration seems incomplete in some areas. Perhaps his focus shifted towards military campaigns and maintaining stability.


5. Hidden Depictions: X-ray examinations of the tomb walls revealed hidden scenes beneath layers of later decoration. These might offer insights into earlier artistic styles or changes made during construction.


A wall mural with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and images is displayed in a partially lit stone chamber.



6. Family Ties: The tomb features depictions of Merneptah's family, including his Great Royal Wife Isetnofret II. These offer a glimpse into the royal family structure and funerary beliefs.


7. Religious Significance: The walls are adorned with religious texts from the Book of the Dead, meant to guide Merneptah's soul in the afterlife. These inscriptions offer insights into ancient Egyptian beliefs about the underworld.


8. Looting and Loss: Like many pharaohs' tombs, Merneptah's tomb was looted in antiquity. This means treasures and artifacts originally intended for his afterlife journey were stolen.


Ancient Egyptian wall painting depicting figures in various poses, adorned with hieroglyphs and partially damaged in some areas. The scene includes several standing and seated figures.


9. Modern Discoveries: Howard Carter, who later discovered Tutankhamun's tomb, unearthed Merneptah's tomb in 1903. This discovery provided valuable information about the 19th Dynasty pharaohs and their burial practices.


10. A Window to the Past: Despite the looting and incomplete decoration, Merneptah's tomb remains an important archaeological site. It offers valuable clues about his life, reign, and the beliefs of the New Kingdom era.





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Tips for visiting Merneptah's Tomb & the Valley of the Kings


Here are some additional tips to know before visiting the Merneptah's Tomb:


⪢ Dress Code: Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is respectful of the local culture and protects you from the sun.


⪢ Sun Protection: The Egyptian sun can be intense, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen.


⪢ Water: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during the hot summer months. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it frequently.


Ancient Egyptian wall art depicting two horizontal rows of human figures accompanied by hieroglyphics, possibly found in a tomb or historical site. The artwork shows signs of aging and wear.



⪢ Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are essential as there are steps and uneven terrain within the tomb complex.


⪢ Photography: While photography with mobile phones is generally allowed, professional photography equipment might require permits in Egypt. Check with the authorities beforehand. The use of drones are not permitted.


⪢ Guides: Consider hiring a local guide, or taking a tour, for a more in-depth understanding of the tomb's history and significance. They can offer insights that enrich your experience.


⪢ Respect the Site: Merneptah's Tomb is a sacred place for many Egyptians. Be mindful of your behavior and avoid climbing on structures, touching walls or causing any damage.


⪢ Bargaining: If you encounter vendors selling souvenirs or other items, be prepared to bargain for fair prices. This is a common practice in local markets.


⪢ Currency: Carry Egyptian Pounds (EGP) for entrance fees, purchases, and tipping. ATMs are available in Luxor city.


Ancient Egyptian wall painting depicting six figures, four with animal heads and two with human heads, standing in a row. Hieroglyphics are inscribed above them. The figures are adorned in traditional attire.




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Merneptah's Tomb opening times & best time to visit


⪢ Opening times for the Merneptah's Tomb

The opening times for Merneptah's Tomb are the same as the opening hours of the Valley of the Kings, which is daily from 6am to 5pm. However, the ticket windows close at 4:30pm, so make sure you purchase your ticket beforehand to avoid disappointment.




⪢ Best time to visit Merneptah's Tomb

Summer in Egypt typically lasts from May to October. It's the hottest period, with average temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F) and sometimes soaring as high as 40°C (104°F) in some areas. Winter falls between November and April. Winters are generally mild, with average minimum temperatures around 14°C (57°F), although nights can get cooler, especially in the desert regions.


It's important to note that Egypt has an arid desert climate, so even in winter, days are usually sunny and warm. However, the significant difference lies in the peak summer heat, which can be quite intense for some travelers.


● For Pleasant Weather: Shoulder Seasons (March-April & October-November) offer the most comfortable temperatures, with average highs ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). This makes sightseeing and exploring much more enjoyable without the scorching summer heat.


● Avoiding Crowds: Regardless of the season, arriving at Merneptah's Tomb early in the morning allows you to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.


● Less Popular Months: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons or even the winter months (November-February) if you prefer minimal crowds. While the weather might be cooler, it's still generally pleasant for sightseeing.


Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and carvings on a stone wall depicting six figures walking in a line, dressed in traditional attire.




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Getting tickets for Merneptah's Tomb


You can buy tickets directly at the ticket windows located at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This is the most common option, but be aware that ticket windows close at 4:30 PM, so plan your visit accordingly. There is no direct website for booking online at this time.


⪢ Foreigners

● Adults: EGP 200 ($4.27 USD / $5.82 CAD / £3.37 GBP)

● Student: EGP 100 ($2.14 USD / $2.91 CAD / £1.69 GBP)

● Children under 12 years: FREE


You'll need to purchase a separate ticket for the optional electric car ride to the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. This costs around LE 40 (Egyptian Pounds) per person.


** Prices are correct at time of writing (May 2024).


One of the best ways to visit the Valley of the Kings is by taking a tour. We highly recommend using Klook, who have been operating tours for several years in Egypt using only highly trained, licenced operators who take care of all ticket entries, along with helping you to avoid the hawks. They will organise transport, give you great history and background and even organise lunch too. Check out our tour from Hurghada to Luxor and see what you think!


A woman stands in front of a wall with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and art, wearing a black tank top, cap, and sunglasses on her head. She holds a scarf and poses for the photo.




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How to get to Merneptah's Tomb


Merneptah's Tomb is situated within the Valley of the Kings, also known as Biban el-Muluk. This location is on the west bank of the Nile river, opposite the city of Luxor.


⪢ Taxi / Uber

Taxis are readily available in Luxor and can be a convenient way to get directly to the Valley of the Kings. Agree on the fare beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings. Ride-sharing apps like Uber or Careem operate in Luxor and might offer a more cost-effective option compared to taxis.


⪢ Local Bus

Public buses are a budget-friendly option, but keep in mind that schedules and routes might be less frequent or direct compared to taxis or ride-sharing.


⪢ Day Trip Tours

Many travel agencies in Luxor offer organized day trips to the Valley of the Kings, which often include transportation, entrance fees, and sometimes even a guided tour. This can be a convenient option if you prefer a hassle-free experience.


⪢ Car Rental

Renting a car in Luxor gives you flexibility, but make sure you factor in parking fees and potential traffic conditions near the Valley of the Kings. Foreign drivers must have an International Driving Permit available on request.



Address: PJR2+79W، الظهير الصحراوى للقرنة, Qena Governorate 1413101, Egypt


Website: egymonuments.gov.eg





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Watch our day trip to Luxor on YouTube

Sit back, relax, and explore the wonders of this epic Luxor day tour on YouTube! We show you everything you have seen in this post in stunning 4k detail, in a way that photos simply cannot do enough justice to!



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!





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This image shows the Temple of Hatshepsut, also known as Djeser-Djeseru, with two Egyptian flags and the name of the temple in text overlaid on the photo.


Read more: Temple of Hatshepsut and the Legacy of Egypt's Formidable Female Pharaoh


Uncover the history of the trailblazing female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and her awe-inspiring Djeser-Djeseru Temple at Deir el-Bahari in Egypt.




Our Merneptah's Tomb experience rating


A man takes a selfie in front of an ancient Egyptian mural depicting two deities adorned with traditional symbols and hieroglyphics.
Image shows a five-star rating with all five stars filled in orange or gold.


This was the first tomb we saw in the Valley of the Kings and honestly it was everything we imagined. It is remarkably well preserved given everything it has been through, from natural degradation, looting, and nowadays, mass tourism. Our minds bristled with wonder as we descended downwards to this spectacular tomb, adorned with the hieroglyphs and drawings we had previously only ever seen in the movies. Tutankhamun's tomb may grab all of the headlines, but this is definitely one we would recommend visiting, especially given the remarkable story behind Merneptah and his achievements.




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How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Egypt


Check out all of the places we visited in Egypt courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Egypt with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Egypt. Whether you're looking for a Giza Pyramid tour, Sinai Desert stargazing, or a day trip to Saqqara and Memphis, Klook has got you covered.



In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Egypt. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience.



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Your GUIDE to visiting Egypt


First time in Egypt? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, internet availability and much more!


Exploring ancient wonders: your guide to visiting Egypt.




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<![CDATA[King John's Odiham Castle: A Tale of Royal Ups and Downs]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/odiham-castle-king-john-s-castle-a-tale-of-royal-ups-and-downs66431fd648f411e5e5f6ca1aFri, 17 May 2024 15:56:39 GMTJenn & Leon TravelHave you ever stumbled upon a magnificent ruin and wondered about its story? Or are you simply just looking for one? Odiham Castle, almost hidden away in the English countryside near Hook, is one such place. Otherwise known as "King John's Castle," its distinctive octagonal keep hints at a time of power struggles and architectural innovation. But Odiham's story goes far beyond a single king.


A person stands in front of the ruins of King John's Castle in Odiham, with the text "Odiham: The castle of King John" overlaying the image.



This captivating castle was once a bustling symbol of royal authority. Kings resided within its walls, and its strategic location made it a key point along the route between Winchester and Windsor. Yet, Odiham has also witnessed the darker side of history. It served as a prison and endured a siege during a rebellion. As centuries passed, the castle transitioned from a formidable fortress to a hunting lodge, and ultimately, a picturesque ruin.


Stone ruins stand tall against a partly cloudy sky with the sun shining brightly above. Surrounding vegetation includes trees and bushes.


Intrigued by Odiham's journey? In this blog post, we'll delve into the castle's fascinating history. We'll explore its construction under King John, its role in medieval conflicts, and the reasons behind its decline. Join us as we unlock the secrets of Odiham Castle and discover a captivating chapter in England's history.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Want to visit Stonehenge while you are in England?

Get a tour direct from London with Klook



● Uncover the secrets of Stonehenge and learn about its fascinating history and purpose.

● Customize your experience by adding visits to other famous sites like Windsor Castle, Bath, Oxford, or Lacock.

● Choose from various tour options: ticket-only, guided coach tours, small group tours, or private tours.




Our Odiham Castle highlights


If ever there was a castle 'off the beaten path', then it is this one! Tucked away in the countryside just off of the Basingstoke Canal, this is a castle that despite its dilapidated state, is a real gem that caught our attention the moment we read about it.


Ancient stone ruins of King John's Castle with large openings, surrounded by overgrown vegetation, under a partly cloudy sky.


After watching a compelling documentary on the 300 year Plantagenet Dynasty, it seemed rather fitting that we would visit a major project of perhaps one of its most infamous Kings. The walk up to the castle is really nice, although you would never know it was there but for the small brown signs pointing you in the right direction! It is a lovely walk along the narrow canal pathway, its entrance a rather unassuming gap in the trees and foliage that line the path.


A canal-bridge path leading towards houses with a signpost reading "Castle" and a red postbox beside it on a sunny day.



Not much is left of the Odiham now, with all of its outbuildings, walls and gardens now lost to history. All that remains is its octagonal keep, which is still pretty impressive, despite most of it too being lost to time. Honestly there is not much to see here, and it is rightfully free to browse. There has been a recent conservation effort, along with some informative signs being placed, so despite its limitations there is still enough to help you picture what once was.


A person stands under a large stone archway of historic ruins on a sunny day, with greenery and trees surrounding the structure.


That is almost the best part about Odiham; the imagination it encourages. It is incredible just how thick the walls are, walls which once withstood a French invasion force with just 13 English soldiers. Despite its relatively small square footage, it is incredible how attractive this castle was to successive monarchs and earls alike, providing sanctuary, refuge and even imprisonment capabilities. For all of King John's faults, he certainly picked a good spot and design for this place. Perhaps his most endearing legacy?


A historic stone ruin with two arched window openings stands behind a fenced area. An informational sign with text and images is displayed in front of the ruin. Trees are visible in the background.


The story of this castle is undoubtedly more than simply just what you will see when you get here. That is what makes it just as magical as other more well preserved royal residences. There is definitely a special atmosphere here, and we hope it continues to be protected for future generations. Read the stories and let your imagination run wild... this is a castle that should never be forgotten!


A narrowboat with passengers travels along a calm, tree-lined canal on an overcast day.




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A couple posing in a rose garden at the entrance of Arundel Castle, England, under a cloudy sky, with a St George flag graphic overlaid on the left.


Save for later: One of THE finest in all of England, the historic Arundel Castle


This magnificent castle emanates beauty both inside and out! A true English gem boasting almost a thousand years of history. Will you visit?




The history of King John's Castle


Odiham Castle, nicknamed "King John's Castle," boasts a rich history that reflects the power struggles and changing fortunes of medieval England. Here's a comprehensive look at its journey:


⪢ Royal Beginnings (1207 - 1216)

King John, facing discontent within his realm, commissioned Odiham Castle's construction in 1207. The strategic location between Winchester and Windsor offered a convenient stopping point and a symbol of royal authority. The castle stood out with its octagonal keep, a rare feature in England at the time. Flint, a readily available local stone, formed the core structure, while dressed stone likely adorned the exterior, hinting at its grandeur.


John himself frequently resided at Odiham, making it a royal residence. However, the castle also served a darker purpose. King Henry V's brother, the Duke of Clarence, was imprisoned here, reflecting the castle's dual role as a residence and a jail.


Transparent drawing of a historical castle overlaying the actual ruins of Odiham Castle. The sign below features a partial floral design and the text "Odiham Castle." Trees and the sky are in the background.



⪢ A Site of Conflict (1216 - 1400)

During the First Barons' War (1215 - 17), tensions between King John and rebellious barons escalated. In 1215 the English Barons persuaded King Philip of France (with the promise of the English throne to his son Louis) to pressure John into creating fairer land and taxation laws. Under duress, King John rode from Odiham to Runnymede and put his seal to the Magna Carta, but the Barons saw little change of heart from John, and called on Louis and his French army to invade England.


In 1216, the French prince, Louis VIII, besieged Odiham in support of the barons. Despite a small garrison of just 13 soldiers, the castle held out for two weeks before surrendering with full honors, demonstrating its defensive strength. Ultimately the Barons' plans with the French were thwarted, and Henry III became King of England and owner of Odiham after King John's death in 1216.


Stained glass window featuring the Plantagenet coat of arms with red lions, blue and gold fleurs-de-lis, and a "Plantagenet" banner at the bottom. Trees and stone wall visible through the window.


King Henry III commissioned repairs to Odiham Castle shortly after his coronation. In 1236 Henry gave Odiham to his young widowed sister, Eleanor of Pembrokeshire. Eleanor was soon re-married to the French noble, Simon de Montfort. He was invested as 6th Earl of Leicester and together they transformed the castle into their residence.


Simon was popular, and his political and religious views caused several confrontations with Henry. In 1265 Simon and his eldest son left Odiham for the last time, to lead the second baronial rebellion against a Plantagenet monarch. Simon met his death during the Battle of Evesham, fighting an army led by the future King Edward I. Eleanor was exiled to France, never to return to England.


Odiham remained under the control of the Plantagenet dynasty, serving as a reminder of their dominance in the region, for a further 200 years. As the 14th century progressed, Odiham Castle's primary function started to shift. While it likely remained a fortified structure, its use as a royal residence began to decline.



⪢ Transformation and Decline (1400 - 1700)

By the 15th century, Odiham Castle had transitioned primarily into a hunting lodge. Kings and nobles likely used it as a base for hunting expeditions in the surrounding area. The castle's decline began around the 16th century. With the development of more advanced weaponry, fortifications like Odiham became less strategically important.


By 1605, records describe Odiham Castle as a ruin. The reasons for its total neglect are not entirely clear, but a combination of factors likely played a role. The rise of more modern residences, the decline in its military significance, and the cost of maintenance probably all contributed to its abandonment.


A circular plaque embedded in the ground, featuring various inscriptions about the Magna Carta, with the date June 1215 prominently displayed in the center.


⪢ Rediscovering the Past (18th Century - Present)

The construction of the Basingstoke Canal in the late 18th century carved through part of the castle grounds, further altering the landscape. Archaeological excavations conducted in the mid-20th century unearthed valuable artifacts and provided insights into the castle's layout and daily life within its walls.


Today, Odiham Castle stands as a picturesque ruin, a testament to a bygone era. It offers visitors a glimpse into medieval architecture, military strategy, and the changing fortunes of English royalty. Odiham Castle's story is one of power, conflict, and ultimately, neglect. Despite its current state, it remains a significant historical site, offering a tangible connection to England's rich past.





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Who was King John?


King John, also known as John Lackland (because he wasn't expected to inherit significant lands), ruled England from 1199 to 1216. John Plantagenet was the youngest of Henry II's five legitimate sons. He was a complex and controversial figure, known for both his failures and a pivotal event in English history.


John's reign was marked by military struggles. He lost most of England's French territories, including Normandy, to King Philip II of France. This significantly weakened the Angevin Empire (possessions held by the House of Plantagenet during the 12th and 13th centuries).


Illustration of a medieval king with a crown adorned with jewels, wearing a fur-lined robe, and sporting a grizzled beard and long hair against a plain background.


However, John's reign also saw the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. This landmark document, forced upon him by rebelling barons, limited the king's power and established certain legal rights. It's considered a cornerstone of English liberty and a precursor to modern constitutions.


Was King John a Taxman or a Tyrant? His reputation is certainly tarnished by accusations of high taxes and ruthless behavior. This discontent among the barons fueled the rebellion that led to the Magna Carta.


While the historical accuracy is debated, King John is often depicted as an antagonist in Robin Hood stories. This portrayal reflects the negative perception of his reign. Regardless of how he was perceived, and all of the struggles of his reign, King John had a significant impact on English history. While he suffered military defeats, the Magna Carta signed under his duress remains a lasting legacy. And honestly, could we really imagine a history without the awesome story of Robin Hood?!




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What is the Magna Carta?


The Magna Carta, meaning "Great Charter" in Latin, is a landmark document signed by King John of England on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede, a meadow near Windsor. King John's reign was marked by high taxes, unpopular wars, and a disregard for feudal customs. This discontent led a group of powerful barons to rebel against him. The Magna Carta was essentially a peace treaty, forced upon John by the barons, to limit his power and address their grievances.


⪢ Limiting Royal Power

For the first time, a document explicitly stated that the king was not above the law. The Magna Carta outlined restrictions on the king's ability to levy taxes, imprison people, and seize property without legal justification.


⪢ Foundation for Legal Rights

While some of its specific clauses are no longer relevant, the Magna Carta established the principle that everyone, even the king, is subject to the law. This concept became a cornerstone of English legal tradition and influenced the development of constitutions and legal systems around the world, including the United States.


⪢ A Symbol of Liberty

The Magna Carta has become a powerful symbol of individual rights and limitations on governmental power. Although its initial focus was on protecting the privileges of the nobility, it paved the way for later advancements in human rights.


⪢ A Complex Legacy

It's important to note that the Magna Carta wasn't a perfect document. It primarily addressed the concerns of wealthy landowners and didn't offer protections for the vast majority of the population. Additionally, King John never truly accepted its limitations, and the document went through several revisions in the following years. Despite its limitations, the Magna Carta's influence on legal systems and its symbolic representation of standing up to tyranny make it a document of enduring historical significance.




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10 interesting facts about Odiham Castle


1. Unique Keep: Odiham Castle boasts the only octagonal keep (central tower) in all of Britain. This unusual design sets it apart from other castles and hints at its innovative construction.


2. Royal Residence: Kings weren't strangers to Odiham. King John, for whom the castle is nicknamed, frequently resided there. It also served as a prison for King Henry V's brother, the Duke of Clarence.


3. 'Flintastic' Construction: The castle's thick walls are a marvel of engineering. Built almost entirely of flint, a readily available local stone, they provided formidable defense.


A crumbling, square-shaped stone structure stands on a grassy field surrounded by trees under a partly cloudy sky. A dirt path encircles the structure.



4. Dressed for Success: While the core structure was flint, the castle wasn't all about rough and tumble. Evidence suggests the exterior was once clad in dressed stone, giving it a more polished look.


5. Moated & Magnificent: An additional layer of defense originally surrounded the keep – a moat and ditch. This watery obstacle discouraged unwelcome visitors and made storming the castle even more challenging.


6. A Haven for Outbuildings: Odiham wasn't just a central keep. Archaeological finds hint at an array of outer buildings that likely housed everything from kitchens to stables, making it a bustling mini-settlement.


7. Plantagenet Power: The castle's construction is attributed to the Plantagenet dynasty, a powerful line of English monarchs who ruled for over 300 years. Odiham served as a symbol of their authority in the region.


Ancient stone ruin with three arched openings stands amidst greenery and under a partly cloudy sky. Trees are visible in the background.



8. A Long and Eventful History: Odiham Castle's story stretches back centuries. Its construction began in the 12th century, and it remained in use for hundreds of years, witnessing various historical events.


9. Partial Picture: Today, only the octagonal keep remains of the once-extensive castle complex. Time and neglect have taken their toll, but the remaining structure offers a glimpse into its former glory.


10. Transformation Through Time: Odiham Castle transitioned from a formidable fortress to a ruin over the centuries. Despite its current state, it serves as an important reminder of medieval England's architecture and history.




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Odiham Castle opening times & ticket prices


⪢ Opening times

Odiham Castle is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.


⪢ Ticket prices

There is no entry fee for Odiham Castle or the surrounding grounds.


A narrow canal with a metal railing beside a footpath, surrounded by trees and greenery, under a clear blue sky with a directional signpost on the right.




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How to get to Odiham Castle


While Odiham Castle doesn't have direct access by public transport, getting there is fairly straightforward. Here are your options:


⪢ By Bus

The Stagecoach route 13 bus runs between Hook and Odiham. The closest stop to the castle is Castle Bridge Cottages, a pleasant 5-minute ride from Hook station. From the bus stop, you'll need to follow the Basingstoke Canal towpath for about a mile (1.6 km) to reach the castle. Buses run every two hours, Monday to Saturday, so be sure to check the timetable before you go.


By Taxi

Taxis are readily available at Hook Station. A taxi ride to Odiham Castle should take around 4 minutes and cost approximately £8 - £10.


⪢ By car

There is no on-site parking at Odiham Castle. The closest car park is Colt Hill car park, which is a 1.5-mile walk down the towpath from the castle.


The walk from the bus stop or car park is along a flat towpath, but it may not be suitable for those with mobility restrictions.


Walking / Cycling

The Basingstoke Canal towpath offers a scenic 2-mile (3.2 km) walk or cycle from Hook to Odiham Castle. This is a great option for a leisurely visit, especially on a nice day.



Address: North Warnborough, Hook RG29 1HQ


Open 24 hours, 7 days per week




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Illustration of a knight in armor, styled as a sheep, holding a flag with St George's Cross, set against the arched entrance of Portchester Castle with text "2000 years of history".


Don't miss: Portchester Castle History, Photos, Facts and Visitor Information


Uncover 2000 years of history at Portchester Castle. Check out our photo highlights, fun facts, its incredible history, ticket info and more




Our Odiham Castle experience rating


A person stands on a dirt path in front of a ruined stone structure surrounded by greenery and trees on a partly cloudy day.
Image of a five-star rating system with the first three stars colored orange and the last two stars gray, indicating a 3 out of 5-star rating.

King John had many faults and made many mistakes, but the construction of this castle was not one of them. What is left of it might only be big enough to fit in one picture, but the tales and history of this place are extensive enough to fill out more than just this small blog! While much of the castle has been lost to history, it is a place of 'what once was', and is also one of significant English historical importance. If you are castle and history buffs like us, it is most certainly a spot worthy as part of a castle tour, just for that alone. There is nothing else to do here though, aside from enjoying the canal stroll, so be prepared for a quick visit!




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of England


Check out all of the places we visited in England courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore England with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of England. Whether you're looking for Stonehenge, a tour of London, or some castle trips Klook has it all. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of England. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!



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Your GUIDE to visiting England


First time in England? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


Your guide to visiting England.




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<![CDATA[What the HECK is 'Grombre' Hair and WHY are SO many people embracing it in 2024?]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/what-the-heck-is-grombre-hair-and-why-are-so-many-people-embracing-it-in-2024664096136bdcea759a38a442Mon, 13 May 2024 11:01:02 GMTEmbracing the Silver Lining

A woman sits cross-legged, touching her long gray-tinged hair, surrounded by speech bubbles with questions about "grombre," on a pink background.





A new movement is emerging—one that challenges the conventional norms of hair color and celebrates the natural beauty of gray hair. Also a process many people choose to go through to get to their beautiful natural silver hair. Enter "grombre" a term that's been making waves in the realm of hair care and self-expression.



Collage of a woman showing hair growth progress at 3 and 10 months, with top and bottom pairs of photos in different indoor and outdoor settings.



But what exactly is grombre, and why is it gaining traction among people of all ages and backgrounds all around the globe?

 


What the Heck is Grombre Hair?

At first glance, the term "grombre" might sound like a curious blend of words. But in reality, it's a clever fusion of "gray" and "ombre," two elements that are key to understanding this phenomenon.

 

Gray/Grey: Traditionally associated with aging, gray hair has often been viewed as something to be covered up or concealed. However, the grombre movement challenges this notion, encouraging individuals to embrace their natural gray hair as a symbol of authenticity and self-acceptance.

 

Ombre: A popular hair coloring technique characterized by a gradual transition from darker roots to lighter ends, ombre typically involves dyeing hair in shades of brown, blonde, or even vibrant colors. In the context of grombre, the term refers to the natural progression from one's original hair color to shades of gray or silver.

 


Four selfie photos of a woman with long dark hair, wearing a white sleeveless top, posing with different facial expressions in an indoor setting.

Many if not most people go through this process when they decide to ditch the hair dye and naturally embrace their grey hair.  The process entails naturally allowing your hair to grow out, no longer dyeing your hair.  Some people do this only until they can cut it a length suitable for them.  Others, like myself desire to maintain their length and let the grow out process progress until the hair dye completely is grown out or cut away.  So although this is often a temporary process and look, temporary can often mean YEARS with a multitude of different lengths in the balance of the old and new hair throughout the process.

 

The Rise of Grombre

The grombre movement didn't emerge overnight; rather, it's the culmination of a cultural shift towards greater acceptance of diverse beauty standards and a rejection of ageism and the idea that grey hair equals old or ageing in the beauty industry.  Social media platforms like Instagram have played a pivotal role in amplifying the voices of grombre advocates, like myself, who proudly share photos of their silver locks alongside messages of self-love and empowerment in attempts to normalize grey hair at all ages and phases of life. 

 




Four split images of the same woman at different times showing her hair growth from 2023 to 2024, transitioning from straight to curly styles.

Embracing Authenticity

At its core, grombre is about more than just hair—it's a symbol of embracing authenticity and rejecting societal pressures to conform to narrow standards of beauty. By embracing their natural gray hair, individuals are reclaiming ownership of their appearance and celebrating the unique journey that has led them to this point. They also choose to go through a process that they know can be challenging but yet rewarding in so many different ways.


 


The Power of Representation

One of the most powerful aspects of the grombre movement is its role in promoting representation and diversity in the beauty industry. By showcasing a wide range of hair colors and textures, grombre advocates are challenging the notion that beauty is synonymous with youthfulness and that grey hair equals - old, encouraging others to embrace their own unique features.


Woman with a dual-tone bun featuring gray and brown hair, viewed from above in a car seat.

The grombre movement serves as a powerful reminder that beauty comes in many forms. Whether you're rocking a full head of silver strands or just beginning to notice a few gray hairs, embracing your natural hair color is an act of self-love and empowerment.


Grombre not only teaches us about self-acceptance as it is a temporary process for most of us, one we decide to take as the natural progression to a full grey hair transformation. This way to going grey also reminds us that positive, healthy changes can take time and patience.


It also helps with the dialogue in our daily lives.  Often thrusting us into advocacy and conversations with others even when we weren't prepared for all of that. Because many people will be vocal about their thoughts and opinions on grey hair and ageing, we really get questioned about the choices and decisions we've made when ditching the hair dye and the whys. It can become quite evident early on that we will have to be strong in our decisions when sporting a grombre look because people have so many questions.  The grombre look creates a curiosity and questioning in others that the advocacy happens whether you want it to or not!





A woman with long, curly hair wearing a yellow sweater sits in a car, holding her hair up and looking directly at the camera.

So here's to grombre and here’s to the those choosing to rock one: a celebration of gray, a testament to authenticity, and a reminder that beauty knows no age because grey hair starts as young as late teens and early twenties which we still don’t seem to realize because we have been taught by society to hide it unless you are OLD, like REALLY OLD


Is there any wonder why we as a society have equated silver hair with age?  It’s only after decades of dyeing and hiding our white hair that women are finally saying ENOUGH to dyeing their hair and being exhausted from spending so much money, time and life energy trying to hide it. But not anymore. We are changing the narrative and for many of us it starts with the grombre. 

 

We’ve had enough and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see so many people embracing their natural hair even as early as their late teens and early twenties. It's always easier when it's in fashion or a trend but this opens up the world to more profound and longer term acceptance in the movement. We'll take what we can get!

 


Woman posing with one hand on her head in front of a bathroom mirror, capturing the reflection with her phone.

Through my grombre grow out, I've discovered a refreshed sense of courage, confidence, and self-love, and I'm proud to advocate for a movement that celebrates the beauty of authenticity. For me this is one of the final steps in a physical representation demonstrating what I have embraced inwardly for a very long time. Authentically accepting the fullness of me. And for many others it's one of the first steps to this!

Have you ever thought about ditching the dye and giving the natural grombre a try? Now is a great time to do it while grey hair and natural hair is all the trend! But that is a blog post for another day.




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<![CDATA[Beyond the Port: the Beauty and History of the Holyhead Breakwater in Wales]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/beyond-the-port-the-beauty-and-history-of-the-holyhead-breakwater-in-wales663e1e7e67b26af7965e2854Sun, 12 May 2024 11:19:54 GMTJenn & Leon TravelThe Irish Sea crashes against the rugged coastline of Anglesey, Wales. Amidst this dramatic scenery lies a man-made marvel: the Holyhead Breakwater. Stretching out for over 1.5 miles, it's not just the longest breakwater in Europe, but a place where history whispers on the salty breeze and breathtaking views leave you speechless.


A couple takes a selfie with Holyhead Breakwater in the background, under a blue sky. text overlay reads, "Holyhead Breakwater, the longest of its kind in Europe" Welsh flag on left.


For over 150 years this Victorian feat of engineering has protected the Port of Holyhead, pound-for-pound the busiest UK port for Irish freight traffic. This post delves into the unique story of the Holyhead Breakwater, exploring its role as a guardian of a vital port, its fascinating past, an intriguing castle-like ruin, and the scenic beauty that unfolds along its path.


A long pier leading to a white lighthouse, with blue sea on either side and hilly landscape in the background under a clear blue sky.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Snowdonia, North Wales & Chester Day Tour from Manchester with Klook



● Explore the remarkable Conwy Castle, an exceptionally well-preserved 13th-century fortress situated near striking bridges

● Immerse yourself in outdoor adventures at Betws-y-Coed, nestled in the heart of Gwydir Forest Park

● Witness the rugged beauty of Snowdonia National Park, home to Wales' iconic jagged peaks

● Uncover the rich heritage of Chester, an ancient border city with a captivating blend of Roman, medieval, and Tudor influences




What is the Holyhead Breakwater?


The Holyhead Breakwater is a massive Victorian structure, completed in 1873, located at the northwestern tip of Holyhead in Anglesey, North Wales. It's effectively a giant seawall, stretching an impressive 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers), making it the longest breakwater in the United Kingdom and Europe.


Clear blue sky over a tranquil sea with several boats anchored; a stone pier with steps leading down to the water in the foreground.



Its primary purpose is to shelter the busy Port of Holyhead from the strong westerly winds and rough seas of the Irish Sea, ensuring safe passage for ferries traveling between Wales and Ireland. The port is the second busiest roll on / roll off port in the UK, with millions of tonnes of goods flowing through it every year. It is also a major transport hub for thousands of passengers from the UK to Ireland and Europe.



Despite its industrial use, the Holyhead Breakwater offers stunning coastal scenery. Visitors can walk along a promenade that runs along the top, enjoying panoramic views of the Irish Sea, the port, and even the distant Skerries islands on a clear day. The area is also designated as part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


A couple taking a selfie on a sunny day with a pebbly beach and calm blue sea in the background.





A woman standing in front of Cardiff Castle with a graphic of a red dragon and "Cardiff Castle" text overlay.


Save for later: Cardiff Castle: Over 2000 Years of History in the Heart of Wales


One of the oldest castles in the UK, with a history dating back to Roman times! Prepare to be awestruck by this majestic fortress!



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Why was the Holyhead Breakwater built?


The Holyhead Breakwater was built for two main reasons:


To Create a Safe Harbor: The old port at Holyhead was exposed to northerly winds and rough seas, making it difficult for ships, especially those reliant on sails, to enter safely.  During bad weather, journeys would be disrupted, and passengers and cargo might even have to be diverted to a less convenient port.


A woman leaning against a seaside wall under a clear blue sky, facing the calm blue ocean.


To Accommodate Increased Sea Traffic: With the rise of steam power and increased trade between Wales and Ireland in the 19th century, Holyhead needed a larger and more sheltered harbor. The breakwater's construction aimed to create a massive, calm-water space, called a roadstead, where hundreds of vessels could safely anchor, regardless of weather conditions. This significantly boosted the capacity and efficiency of the port.


Seaside view with a rocky shore on the left and a long stone wall extending towards the horizon under a blue sky.




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The history of the Holyhead Breakwater


The Holyhead Breakwater, a leviathan of stone stretching over 1.5 miles, is more than just a barrier against the Irish Sea. It's a testament to Victorian engineering prowess, a vital cog in maritime trade, and a silent witness to history. Let's delve into the fascinating story of this iconic structure:


⪢ From Necessity to Innovation: The Birth of the Breakwater (1840s-1870s)

The 19th century saw a surge in maritime traffic and trade between Wales and Ireland. Despite numerous land transportation upgrades, such as the London Holyhead Road, marine traffic remained a problem. Holyhead's existing port was exposed to the elements, making safe passage a gamble. It also required frequent repairs and dredging due to its heavy use. Recognizing a need for improvement to keep the goods flowing and avoid trade going elsewhere, a plan for a massive breakwater was conceived in the 1840s. Construction began in 1847 under the leadership of J.M. Rendel.


A couple posing for a selfie by a calm sea under a clear blue sky.


Building such a behemoth demanded innovation. A broad gauge railway was used to carry more than seven million tonnes of stone from the quarries on Holyhead Mountain to the working areas. Shaped 10-tonne limestone blocks formed the outer wall, while a core of rubble was created by dumping stones from ships and tipping them from the shore. Notably, divers working in specialized submarine bells played a crucial role in laying the foundation underwater, using picks, hammers, and even controlled underwater explosions. Up to 1,300 men were employed during the work; 40 tragically died during construction.

The project wasn't without its challenges. In 1851, workers at the breakwater and nearby quarries went on strike, protesting the use of Irish laborers. This unfortunate incident highlights the social tensions of the era.


Despite the hurdles, the breakwater steadily grew. Following Rendel's death in 1856, John Hawkshaw took over, and by 1873, the marvel was complete. The same Prince of Wales (Albert Edward) who witnessed its early stages officially opened the New Harbour, protected by the breakwater, in 1880. He was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and later became King Edward VII in 1901 upon his mother's death.


Ruins of an old stone fortress with a tower, surrounded by green foliage under a clear blue sky.



⪢ A Haven in Wartime: The Breakwater in World War II

The 20th century brought a new chapter for the breakwater. During World War II, the sheltered harbor it created became a crucial asset. The Royal Dutch Navy, having fled Nazi occupation, found refuge in Holyhead. The breakwater's role shifted from facilitating trade to safeguarding allied ships.


The area around the breakwater also saw defensive measures implemented. Lookouts were stationed, and anti-aircraft guns and pillboxes were positioned to protect the port from potential aerial attacks. The breakwater itself, a testament to human ingenuity, stood strong throughout the conflict, a silent guardian during a tumultuous period.


Ruins of a stone fortress with overgrown vegetation under a clear blue sky.



⪢ A Legacy of Stone: The Breakwater Today

Today, the Holyhead Breakwater continues to serve its original purpose. It protects the port, now a vital ferry link between Wales and Ireland. Its historical significance is recognized, with the breakwater and its lighthouse being listed structures.


Beyond its utilitarian role, the breakwater has become a scenic attraction. The Wales Coast Path stretches along its landward end, offering walkers breathtaking views of the Irish Sea and the distant mountains of Snowdonia. The disused quarries that provided stone for the breakwater are now part of Breakwater Country Park, a haven for nature lovers.


The Holyhead Breakwater stands as a powerful symbol of human ambition and engineering skill. Its story reflects the changing tides of history, from facilitating trade to providing wartime shelter. As visitors walk along its path, they experience not just a scenic wonder but a tangible connection to the past. Since November 2014, concrete blocks have been placed at the entrance to block traffic. However, the breakwater is still accessible to walkers.


Curved stone breakwater extends into clear blue sea under a sunny sky, with a distant island visible on the horizon.




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The Holyhead Lighthouse


Completed in 1873, the lighthouse was likely designed by Victorian civil engineer John Hawkshaw, coinciding with the final stages of the breakwater's construction. Unlike many round lighthouses, it's a unique three-story, square-shaped tower. This design choice offered more comfortable living quarters for the lighthouse keepers.


A person walking towards a lighthouse at the end of a wide stone breakwater under a clear blue sky.


⪢ A Guiding Light

The lighthouse's primary function was to guide ships safely into the newly formed harbor created by the breakwater. Its light would have been particularly important during foggy conditions or nighttime crossings.


⪢ Technological Advancements

In the 19th century, the lighthouse would have used an oil lamp system with lenses to project a powerful beam. Over time, technology evolved, and the lighthouse eventually transitioned to more modern lighting systems.




⪢ Manned to Automated

The lighthouse was initially manned by lighthouse keepers who ensured the light functioned properly. However, advancements in automation led to its conversion to an automatic operation in November 1961.


⪢ Architectural Significance

The Holyhead Breakwater Lighthouse is considered an architectural landmark. Its square design and location as part of the ambitious Victorian engineering project to create "harbors of refuge" contribute to its historical significance.


Today, the lighthouse stands as a silent sentinel beside the breakwater, a reminder of the ingenuity and dedication involved in creating this vital maritime structure. While no longer manned, it continues to be an essential navigational aid and a captivating piece of maritime history!


Coastal landscape showcasing a calm blue sea dotted with boats, a clear sky, and a distant town visible across the water, foregrounded by greenery and ruins.




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The Castle-like Soldiers Point House, Hotel and World War 2 Pillbox


Located on the lead up to the Breakwater, built with local rubble and slate roofs, Soldiers Point House has a distinctive castellated design, featuring turrets and battlements. This "folly tower" style gives it a castle-like appearance, making it a unique landmark on the Holyhead coastline. It was constructed in 1849 by Charles Rigby, the contractor for the Holyhead Breakwater, for his own residence. Based on two L-plan structures, the main house faced south-east.


Black and white photo of an ornate, historical castle-like building with intricate architectural details, surrounded by a grassy area.


Rigby was not just a contractor, but also an Anglesey Magistrate. At the time, he commanded the 2nd Anglesey Artillery Volunteers, who he grouped together from his breakwater workers. During World War II, the strategic location of Soldiers Point House wasn't overlooked. One of the towers of the house's castellated screen wall was converted into a pillbox. Pillboxes were small, fortified structures designed to provide a defensive position for troops. This modification highlights the importance of the Holyhead Breakwater and the surrounding area during the war, as they aimed to protect the port from potential attacks.


Ruined castle with multiple turrets and a blue sky, enclosed by a metal fence, surrounded by greenery, near a coastline.




In 1950, Soldiers Point House transitioned into a hotel. This would have capitalized on the growing popularity of seaside resorts and the potential for attracting visitors interested in the scenic beauty of the area. Unfortunately, details about the hotel's operation and its eventual closure are scarce.


In July 1994 the building was Grade II listed, with plans to turn it into a museum. Sadly, in 2011, the already neglected structure suffered a major setback when it was heavily damaged by a fire. The fire damage requires significant restoration, and its future use remains unclear. In June 2023, it made the Victorian Society's Top 10 Endangered Buildings List, with growing calls for the building to be restored to its former glory.


Griff Rhys Jones, Victorian Society President


Find more photos from inside on derelictplaces.co.uk


An ancient stone tower on a grassy hill against a clear blue sky.




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A £40 million refurbishment (of the Breakwater)


In October 2023, the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced a £40 million funding package from the Welsh Government. The £40m package, made up of a £20m loan and a £20m grant, will go towards the estimated £110m cost of refurbishing the Breakwater. Stena Line Ports Ltd, which operates the Port of Holyhead, has been lobbying for support as the Breakwater is gradually being eroded by the Irish Sea. The stability of the breakwater is now under threat, with an increasing probability of a breach in the structure occurring during storm conditions.


Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford


150 years after its groundbreaking construction, it will be fascinating to see how our modern day technology will be used to restore this crucial piece of infrastructure. We will try and keep this blog up-to-date with its progress!


A woman in a white jacket and black pants stands smiling on a coastal grassland under a clear blue sky.




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How to get to Holyhead Breakwater


There are a couple of ways to get to Holyhead Breakwater depending on where you are coming from. Here are your options:


⪢ By Train

While there is no direct train service to Holyhead Breakwater, you can take a train to Holyhead itself and then take a taxi or bus to the breakwater. The train journey from London Euston to Holyhead takes about 3 hours 40 minutes.


⪢ By Ferry

If you are coming from Ireland, you can take a ferry to Holyhead port and then take a taxi or bus to the breakwater. The ferry journey from Dublin to Holyhead takes about 3 hours 15 minutes.


⪢ Car

This is the most flexible option, especially if you are coming from outside of Wales. The drive from Bewdley to Holyhead Breakwater is around 3 hours 12 minutes via the A55.


Parking is available for free just in front of the Soldier's Point House, but is limited. You need to enter via an open gate which you will see to the right hand side on your approach, with a 'Stena Line' sign on it.



Coastal landscape featuring clear blue skies, vibrant sea, and rocky shorelines with distant hills and a faint airplane trail.




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Collage of whitby abbey ruins with text "Whitby Abbey the greatest ruin" featuring a person walking and another sitting, observing the ancient architecture.


Don't miss: Exploring Whitby Abbey & Dracula's Birthplace via the Pickering Steam Train


Our day trip exploring the North Yorkshire Moors – A ride on the Pickering Steam Train to Whitby & Whitby Abbey, England’s Coastal Gem!




Our Holyhead Breakwater experience rating


A man and a woman wearing sunglasses smile for a selfie with a bright blue sky and water in the background.
Three and a half stars rating with the first three stars filled in orange, the fourth half-filled, and the fifth star grey.


The Holyhead Breakwater is a great place to include in a day trip itinerary to Holyhead itself, but maybe not as a single destination. The waters here are stunning and the lighthouse is very cool, especially given that it is a unique square shape. But unless you are in to fishing, there is not really much else to do here at this specific point, other than that very long hike along the promenade of the Breakwater.


Most people include this with a trip to the picturesque South Stack Lighthouse in Anglesey, which we were going to do, but we chose to go to some castles instead! We would recommend coming here for an hour or two, grabbing your photos and enjoying the water, but after that, head into the town or venture around Anglesey itself.




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Wales


Check out all of the places we visited in Wales courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore the UK with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of the UK. Whether you're looking for Stonehenge, a tour of London, or some castle trips Klook has it all. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of the UK. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!



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Your GUIDE to visiting Wales


First time in Wales? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


A scenic view of a medieval castle in Wales with its reflection in the water, overlaid with text "your guide to visiting Wales" and the Welsh dragon flag.




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<![CDATA[Bodmin Jail: Tour Cornwall's 250 year old Victorian Prison, one of the UK's Most Haunted Places]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/bodmin-jail-tour-cornwall-s-250-year-old-victorian-prison-one-of-the-uk-s-most-haunted-places6639f47d4ac15e6761be3f38Thu, 09 May 2024 11:28:20 GMTJenn & Leon TravelBodmin Jail, perched on the windswept edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, is more than just a tourist attraction. Its granite walls hold a chilling history, echoing with the stories of prisoners past. Built in 1779, it was once a progressive model, a stark contrast to the earlier, brutal dungeons. Yet, within its seemingly enlightened design, a darkness unfolded. Public hangings drew crowds, a grim spectacle that stained the very stones and memories of this place.  


Interior view of Bodmin Jail in Cornwall, featuring a dark stone corridor with historic information posters on walls and a decorative crest on the floor.



Echoes of Suffering: A Spine-Tingling Exploration of Bodmin Jail


As whispers of executions and harsh punishments intertwine with reports of unexplained activity, Bodmin Jail beckons. Is it simply a monument to a bygone era, or does a more sinister presence linger within? This prison, abandoned for almost a century, has been restored to tell a story, one of harrowing conditions, torture, executions and even that of the infamous Beast of Bodmin that stalks the Cornish moors. Join us as we delve into the chilling history and unsettling legends that shroud this captivating landmark.


A dimly lit stone room with a person in a black cloak and hat standing by a red wooden desk filled with old bottles and books, illuminated by red light.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Want to visit Stonehenge while you are in England?

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● Uncover the secrets of Stonehenge and learn about its fascinating history and purpose.

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Our Bodmin Jail Tour


When we had initially seen information about Bodmin Jail online, we only saw the pictures of one of the former wings of the prison, in a decrepit state with no floors or even a roof. We did not delve into it too deeply; it immediately looked like a place we would want to check out. Historical places are always attractive to us, and after our first foray into urbex style exploring in Tskaltubo, Georgia, we have always had an attraction to it.


Interior of an abandoned, moss-covered building with deteriorating walls and exposed structural details viewed from the ground floor looking upward.



So honestly we were pretty surprised when we rocked up to the jail to see it had not only been renovated into a museum, but that the jail wing we saw, both in fact, have been transformed into a hotel! So the urbex idea was obviously out of the window. That being said, this was still a very old former jail, and we were excited to check out what we could. So we went on through the huge foreboding entrance, to see what we could find.


Entrance of Bodmin Jail in Cornwall, featuring a stone building with an iron fence and bike racks, and a person exiting the building.


The part of this old Victorian prison that is not a hotel is now a museum / tour of sorts. There is only one ticket option, which is to go through a non-guided tour, learning some of the most prominent stories from the prison's history. You are navigated through a series of old prison rooms where there are numerous shows, some with full 4D effects, which we though would be tacky but are actually pretty good. The final show is the courtroom, which after sentencing, then leads you to a restored prison block.



The shows were very informative, as we learned about several prisoners of which tied in to the very cells they were housed in. Whilst the prison block was not at all what we were expecting, it was dark, gloomy and very well restored. Every cell had information accompanying them, some about the prisoners we had learned about, others giving information about prison hygiene and medical care.



Dimly lit prison cell block at Bodmin Jail with historical exhibit posters on stone walls and a central staircase leading upwards, marked by an "exit this way" sign.


The story of Bodmin Jail is hugely present throughout, from some of its darker history surrounding poor conditions and overcrowding, to its revolutionary renovation that incorporated a prison standard that had not been seen in its time. This included segregation of women and men, better ventilation for cells, cleaning standards and a gradual improvement in rehabilitation attempts for prisoners, including work and study.


A view through iron bars into a dimly lit, rocky underground cave illuminated by patches of yellow light.


We were very impressed with how well it was put together, and considering the tour was not accompanied, it was very easy to navigate through each area. There was no time limit per-se and plenty of opportunity to check out each cell and room, read the signs ad ultimately get a real feel for the place. Even though we were in a decent-sized group it still felt very chilly, haunting and sombre.


A dimly lit old cell block at Bodmin Jail with exposed brick walls and a central glass display case, featuring historical exhibits in a narrow hall.



One of the more disturbing areas was the 'torture' room, where there were a number of devices that prison officers would force prisoners to use as a form of punishment for bad behaviour. One such device was 'The Crank', a piece of machinery designed for no other purpose other than to exhaust and punish.


An old wooden pillory in a dimly lit room with an explanatory sign on the right and a large wooden chest on the left.




In 1818, an English civil engineer named Sir William Cubitt devised a machine called the treadmill to reform idle and stubborn convicts. As if the Crank was not enough of course. Prisoners would step on the 24 spokes of a large paddle wheel, climbing like a modern day gym machine. The earliest Bodmin machine had a capacity for 26 prisoners, it was a feared punishment and many prisoners were injured In gruelling 8 hour shifts, prisoners would climb the equivalent of 2,400 meters in one day, in a 6 day week they would climb 14,500 meters, Mount Everest is 8,848 meters high just for perspective!


Dimly lit old prison cell with a small window, a metal bed with a mattress, and a wooden stool beside a stove.


This is perhaps where the 'dark tourism' effect starts to come in here. It is a fine balance indeed; it all seems so morbid and must have been horrendous for the people that suffered here. Should we be exposed to it? Or should it be left in the past where it belongs? It is hard to answer, and while we felt very conflicted we wanted to learn more. Indeed there is much more to come after the shows and the jail block; after this section we then moved on to the Prison Warden and Governor quarters, a secret room full of artifacts that was accidentally discovered, and then on to the haunted section of the jail. Not to mention the gallows right at the end, Yes that is right, the public execution area. More on all of that to come!


Bodmin Jail is just full of twists and turns. Some of the stories were pretty heartbreaking, especially given some of the horrendously harsh sentences given out to people in those times. For example, some of the crimes amongst the condemned at Bodmin Jail were sheep stealing (yes you read that right), stealing a purse, forgery and burglary. Is it any wonder the prison is said to be haunted? We know times were different back then. But it makes it no easier to understand if we are honest. Make no mistake, this was a cruel and harsh place. And one we will not forget in a hurry.


Read on for the history of Bodmin Jail, find out about the Beast of Bodmin legend, discover some interesting facts, and get all the information you need before you go including ticket prices, opening times and more.





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Interior view of Arundel Cathedral, showcasing rows of wooden pews and the detailed stained glass window above the altar.


Save for later: Uncover Arundel Cathedral: A Magical Piece of British History


A magical majestic masterpiece overlooking the ancient town of Arundel, this cathedral is one of England's finest and well worth a visit!




The history of Bodmin Jail


Bodmin Jail boasts a rich and complex history. Here's a glimpse into its transformation from a symbol of punishment to a popular tourist attraction:


A Progressive Beginning (1779)

Built in 1779 under the reign of King George III, Bodmin Jail marked a significant shift in prison design. Influenced by the ideals of prison reformer John Howard, it was one of the first prisons to feature individual cells and segregated areas for men and women. This move away from the harsh communal conditions of earlier institutions aimed to provide a more humane environment. Military engineer Sir John Call designed the prison, and its construction used a staggering 20,000 tonnes of local granite quarried from Bodmin Moor. Interestingly, the prisoners of war themselves became the workforce for this project.


A quaint village street featuring an old stone wall, traditional buildings, a vintage streetlamp, and road signs, with a green car parked on the left.



A Century of Change (1800s)

Bodmin Jail initially housed a mix of debtors and criminals. However, by the 1840s, a national crime wave led to overcrowding within the prison walls. Extensions were built to accommodate the influx of prisoners.


In 1850, the limitations of the original structure became clear, and it was deemed unfit for purpose. A new, larger 220-cell prison was constructed on the same site to address these concerns. Another innovative development came in 1859 with the introduction of a unique ventilation system. This involved a network of ducts that channeled stale air from cells to a massive chimney, ensuring better air quality for the inmates.



A dark chapter also unfolded within the prison walls during this period however. Public hangings took place for crimes ranging from murder to burglary, with records suggesting over 55 executions occurred, with the last one carried out in a chilling ceremony in 1909.


An interesting twist in Bodmin's tale came in 1877 when one wing of the prison was designated to house a specific population – naval prisoners. This marked the establishment of H.M Naval Prison Bodmin.


Medieval stone gatehouse to Bodmin Jail, with arch entry, featuring a weathered coat of arms, flanked by green trees and a visible black sign at the front.



Shifting Tides and Closure (1900s)

The early 20th century witnessed a significant decline in the prison population at Bodmin Jail. The female wing closed its doors in 1911, with inmates transferred to another facility. During World War I, the jail took on an unexpected role. In an effort to safeguard important national documents, including the Domesday Book, they were housed within the prison walls for safekeeping.


The last civilian prisoner left Bodmin Jail in 1923, and the Naval Prison ceased operations shortly thereafter in 1922. With a dwindling population and changing needs, Bodmin Jail officially closed its doors in 1927, marking the end of an era.


A person walking beside a stone wall on a road, with a large historic stone building amidst greenery in the background.


From Prison to Tourist Attraction & Hotel (1900s - Present)

Deserted in 1927 and slated for destruction, demolition crews attempted to reduce the prison to rubble for its valuable stone. However, the formidable one-meter-thick granite walls proved too tough for the explosives of the era. The roof, however, met a different fate, succumbing to the process. Since then, the jail has remained a picturesque ruin, slowly surrendering to the elements. Ivy snakes gracefully across its exterior, while bats and pigeons have claimed the exposed spaces as their own.


Nearly a century exposed to the harsh elements had ravaged the two wings, leaving only a skeletal frame of walls. Scars from the failed demolition attempt remained etched on the granite. To add insult to injury, builders of a nearby housing estate, located on a lightly higher plain adjacent to the prison, devised a 'creative' solution for their waste. They simply dumped the construction debris over the edge, burying the north wing's walls up to the third floor.



The imposing structure, however, retained a certain allure. In an unusual turn of events, the 1960s saw the jail experience a brief revival as a nightclub and casino, although this project did not last and closed down not long after opening. Fast-forward to just prior to the Covid pandemic in 2018, and a Russian entrepreneur was out for a walk, saw the building, fell in love with it, and bought it.



An incredible project aimed at preserving and showcasing its past began. Despite huge challenges, from bats to nesting pigeons, Covid and hugely difficult building adjustments, Mallino Developments bravely tackled the task and today, Bodmin Jail is the popular tourist attraction we are writing about. The renovations of the hotel wings are also now complete and have been transformed into an incredible hotel, which you can read about later in this post.


A huge credit must go to the owners, who have carefully brought this piece of Cornish history back to life in a positive way for future generations. The stories and tales should never be forgotten; a stark reminder of a dark past. You can read more about the incredible beginnings and challenges of this ambitious project here.


Exterior view of Bodmin Jail, a historic stone building converted into an attraction, with overcast sky and string lights above a courtyard.




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The Beast of Bodmin


Bodmin Jail boasts a rich history, but the surrounding Bodmin Moor holds another mystery – the Beast of Bodmin Moor. This legendary creature is said to roam the wild landscape, striking fear (and perhaps a little excitement) into the hearts of visitors.


The Beast is often described as a large black cat, resembling a panther, puma, or even a leopard. Sightings began in the 1980s, and reports of livestock attacks, particularly on sheep, have fueled the legend. The size of the creature seems to vary in different accounts, ranging from the size of a dog to much larger. Some descriptions mention glowing eyes and eerie sounds like growls, hisses, or even screams.


A skull, over 100 years old and said to belong to a 'beast' that was captured and died in a jail cell, displayed under a glass dome with an explanatory plaque in a dimly lit setting.


Despite the numerous sightings, there's no concrete evidence to confirm the Beast's existence. No clear photographs or physical remains have been found. Theories abound, with some suggesting escaped big cats from zoos or private collections might be responsible. Others believe it could be a surviving wildcat species thought to be extinct in Britain. There's even a fringe theory that the Beast is a paranormal entity, but this lacks scientific backing.


The high number of sightings prompted an official government investigation in 1995. While the report concluded there was no verifiable evidence of a large cat, it couldn't definitively rule it out either. The mystery surrounding the Beast of Bodmin Moor continues to draw tourists and cryptozoology enthusiasts. It adds a layer of intrigue to Bodmin Moor, making it a more captivating place to visit!


A dimly lit, rustic study room with an old wooden desk cluttered with books, papers, and a lantern, a skull mounted on the wall above, and several orange-hued lanterns casting a warm glow.




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One of the UK's most haunted places


Whether Bodmin Jail is haunted is a matter of personal belief. The jail's history and imposing structure certainly contribute to its reputation as a paranormal hotspot, not to mention some very interesting videos online, and of course the hype from the tour itself. The jail even featured in the UK show Most Haunted, although some of the findings on the show were later debunked. So what is it about Bodmin Jail? Let's take a look...


Display of historical death masks placed on shelves, each labeled with a name, under soft lighting in a museum exhibit.


⪢ A Dark History

Bodmin Jail witnessed countless tragedies over its operational years. Executions, harsh living conditions, and the suffering of prisoners all leave a mark, sometimes leading to the belief that these restless spirits linger within the walls.


⪢ Unexplained Activity

Visitors and staff have reported strange occurrences like unexplained footsteps, disembodied voices, sudden temperature drops, and even apparitions. Certain areas of the jail are associated with specific hauntings. The figure of a priest is said to appear in the chapel area, while the spirit of a young boy might be felt in the former hospital wing. These add a layer of detail to the paranormal claims.


View through metal bars onto a dimly lit, abandoned room with debris and a single mattress on the floor.




The Skeptical View

It's important to acknowledge alternative explanations for these experiences. Drafty corridors, creaking floorboards, and suggestive lighting can create illusions or feelings of unease. Additionally, the power of suggestion, especially when visiting a place known for its haunted reputation, can influence what people perceive.


Our Verdict?

Ultimately, the question of whether Bodmin Jail is haunted is up to you to decide. The jail itself leans into its spooky reputation, offering ghost tours and events for those seeking a paranormal thrill. If you're open to the possibility, a visit might leave you with a chilling encounter for sure. We both felt a presence here in certain spots, especially in the gallows. But even if you're a skeptic, the historical significance and unique atmosphere of Bodmin Jail make it a fascinating place to visit.


An atmospheric scene of a dimly lit room with stone walls, a wooden railing, and casts of light on the floor, suggesting an old, historic building.




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10 interesting facts about Bodmin Jail


1. Progressive Beginnings: Built in 1779, Bodmin Jail was one of the first prisons to feature individual cells and segregated areas for men and women, reflecting a shift towards a more humane approach to punishment.


2. Wartime Safehouse: During World War I, Bodmin Jail served an unexpected purpose – safeguarding important national treasures like the Domesday Book, highlighting its secure nature.



3. Public Spectacle: Over 55 executions took place within the prison walls, with the last one carried out in 1909. These public hangings drew large crowds, a grim reminder of past practices.


4. Naval Imprisonment: Interestingly, one wing of the prison housed naval prisoners from 1877, establishing H.M Naval Prison Bodmin as part of the larger facility.


5. Explosive Resistance: When the jail closed in 1927, attempts were made to demolish it for its granite. However, the incredibly thick walls (one meter!) proved too strong for the explosives of the day.


Scale model of Bodmin Jail displayed in a glass case, with labeled sections including administrative buildings and housing wings.



6. Rooftop Ruin: While the demolition crews couldn't bring down the walls, they did succeed in removing the roof. Exposed to the elements for nearly a century, the jail became a picturesque ruin, slowly being reclaimed by nature.


7. Unintended Backfill: The construction of a nearby housing estate in the 20th century resulted in an unusual consequence. Builders seeking a quick waste disposal solution simply dumped debris over the edge, burying parts of the north wing's walls.


8. Nightclub Experiment: In a surprising turn of events, the 1960s saw Bodmin Jail experience a brief revival as a nightclub and casino, offering a stark contrast to its former purpose.


Ornate black metal gate with circular designs in front of a building entrance, featuring stone walls and a paved pathway.


9. Ghostly Reputation: With its dark history and imposing structure, Bodmin Jail has gained a reputation for paranormal activity. It is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. Today, visitors can even embark on chilling ghost tours for a spooky experience.


10. Living History: Preserved and transformed into a popular tourist attraction, Bodmin Jail offers visitors a chance to explore the prison cells, learn about the lives of prisoners and staff, and step back in time to experience a unique chapter in Cornish history.


Dimly lit museum exhibit featuring an informational plaque about a historical figure next to an ancient stone doorway.




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What is Dark Tourism?


Dark tourism, also sometimes referred to as thanatourism, black tourism, or grief tourism, is a travel trend that involves visiting places associated with death, tragedy, and suffering. It's not about enjoying the macabre, but rather about understanding and learning from dark chapters in human history.


Dark tourism sites can be battlefields, concentration camps, genocide memorials, graveyards, prisons, or even sites of natural disasters. People are drawn to dark tourism for various reasons. Some seek to learn about history first-hand, confront the darker aspects of humanity, or pay respects to those who have suffered.


A rusted metal grid against a dark wall with a sign pointing left saying "this way to the cells".


While visiting places of death and disaster has been around for centuries (think of attending gladiator games in the Roman Colosseum), dark tourism as a defined concept is a relatively recent phenomenon, gaining traction in the late 20th century. Places like Auschwitz in Poland, Chernobyl in Ukraine, Hiroshima in Japan and the Catacombs of Paris (France) are all considered dark tourism sites. As is Bodmin Jail too.


Dark tourism can be a sensitive topic. Critics argue that it can be disrespectful to victims and insensitive to survivors. It's important to be respectful when visiting such sites and to learn about the history involved. We believe that these sites are an important way to educate our current generations about the mistakes of the past, but some may argue that they become more about social media sharing than about honouring the dead or education for the most part. What do you think?


View through metal bars into a dimly lit old stone room with a single chair and bucket.




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Bodmin Jail opening times & ticket prices


⪢ Opening times

Bodmin Jail is open from 9.30am to 4pm, 7 days per week.


⪢ Ticket prices

There are a number of different ticket options for Bodmin Jail:

** Prices are correct at time of writing (April 2024). Please check the official website for the most up-to-date information.


A detailed theatrical stage set depicting an old stone house with characters in period costumes interacting in different rooms.




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The Bodmin Jail Hotel


Bodmin Jail isn't just a historical site these days; it's also home to a unique hotel experience too! We did not stay here, but having checked it out, maybe we will give it a try in the future. Here is a breakdown of what to expect:


Interior of a renovated historic building featuring exposed stone walls, modern black booths, and a bright yellow door under a glass ceiling.


A Luxurious Transformation

The hotel, known as The Bodmin Jail Hotel, occupies the very space where prisoners once resided. However, the original cells have been meticulously transformed into luxurious bedrooms. Each room is thoughtfully designed, incorporating elements of the historic structure like original doors and barred windows. Yet, they boast modern amenities like flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, sumptuous bedding, and en-suite bathrooms, some featuring underfloor heating for ultimate comfort.


Blending History with Hospitality

The hotel takes pride in seamlessly blending the historic charm of the jail with modern hospitality standards. Guests can truly feel like they're stepping back in time while enjoying all the comforts of a luxurious stay.


Room Options

The hotel offers a variety of room options to suit different needs. You can choose from:

Double Rooms with one double bed.

Twin Rooms with two single beds.

Family Rooms with a double bed and a sofa bed, perfect for families or groups.

Accessible Rooms with double beds, specifically designed for guests with disabilities.

Some rooms are even dog-friendly, so you don't have to leave your furry companion behind.


Beyond the Room

The hotel offers more than just a place to sleep. Guests can enjoy:

● The Chapel Restaurant: Serving delicious contemporary Cornish cuisine with a nod to history, this restaurant provides a delightful dining experience.

● A Bar: Perfect for relaxing with a drink after exploring the jail or the surrounding area.

● Fitness Center: For those who want to stay active during their stay.


A Unique Experience

Staying at The Bodmin Jail Hotel offers a truly unique experience. You can combine a relaxing getaway with a fascinating exploration of history. It's a perfect choice for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, or anyone seeking an unconventional and memorable stay.


If you are interested in a stay at Bodmin Jail Hotel, you can book through the official website.




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How to get to Bodmin Jail


Bodmin Jail is situated in Bodmin, Cornwall, England, specifically on the edge of Bodmin Moor. There are a couple of ways to get to Bodmin Jail depending on where you're coming from:


⪢ By Train

The nearest train station is Bodmin Parkway, which is located about four miles outside of Bodmin Town. From there, you can take a taxi or catch a bus to the jail.


By Bus

The local bus route won't take you directly to the jail, but it will drop you off in Bodmin Town, which is an easy 10-minute walk away. Buses are more frequent during peak season, so be sure to check timetables with First Group before your visit.


By Bike

The jail is situated along the popular Camel Trail cycle route which runs from Padstow, through Wadebridge, to Bodmin Town centre. The jail is at the end of the trail, but note that there are limited bike storage facilities / racks available.


⪢ By Car

Bodmin Jail is accessible by car (see postcode below), but parking is limited within and just outside the jail. You are however able to park in the Sainsbury's car park, free for up to 2.5 hours, just a 5 minute walk away.



Address: Berrycoombe Rd, Bodmin PL31 2NR. Sat Nav: Use PL31 2PL


Phone: 0120876292


Email: info@bodminjail.org


Website: bodminjail.org


Hotel Website: bodminjailhotel.com


Instagram: @bodminjail | Facebook: @bodminjail


An old stone cross at a roadside enclosed by a circular stone wall, with suburban houses and greenery in the background.




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Collage of whitby abbey ruins with text "Whitby Abbey the greatest ruin" featuring a person walking and another sitting, observing the ancient architecture.


Don't miss: Exploring Whitby Abbey & Dracula's Birthplace via the Pickering Steam Train


Our day trip exploring the North Yorkshire Moors – A ride on the Pickering Steam Train to Whitby & Whitby Abbey, England’s Coastal Gem!




Our Bodmin Jail experience rating


A person in a blue jacket taking photos with their phone outside an old stone building with an open arched doorway.


Four and a half orange stars, with the half star faded to gray, representing a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.


Prior to our going to the jail we were expecting it to be more of a museum or historical type of experience, which for the most part, it was. The 4D interactive experience part of the tour at the beginning was still worth the experience if that's what you are going there for, but we do think that there should be a second option at half the price where you can simply visit the museum section. The staff member said we could indeed bypass the 4D part, but we'd have to pay the same price.


That would be our only slight critique, aside from that, it was a spooky-yet-informative experience that we would highly recommend. In keeping the stories of its prisoners alive, showcasing the conditions and punishments, Bodmin Jail does a fantastic job of reminding us where we have come from. It is harrowing in most cases to say the least, but a stark reminder of how much progress we have made as a society. A really good tour well-put together and definitely worth the trip.




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of England


Check out all of the places we visited in England courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore England with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of England. Whether you're looking for Stonehenge, a tour of London, or some castle trips Klook has it all. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of England. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!



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Your GUIDE to visiting England


First time in England? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


Your guide to visiting England.




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<![CDATA[Cardiff Castle: Over 2000 Years of History in the Heart of Wales]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/cardiff-castle-over-2000-years-of-history-in-the-heart-of-wales66360185eb26fd546e5d5950Mon, 06 May 2024 14:40:18 GMTJenn & Leon TravelStep inside one of the oldest castles in the UK, with a history spanning over 2,000 years! Prepare to be awestruck by Cardiff Castle, a majestic fortress with a story as rich as its architecture. From Roman beginnings to a lavish Victorian transformation, this castle boasts a history as dramatic as the battles it has witnessed.


A woman standing in front of Cardiff Castle with a red dragon graphic and the text "Cardiff Castle" overhead.



We absolutely love exploring castles and we were really happy to add Cardiff Castle to our ever-growing list. This blog post is your one-stop guide as we delve into its fascinating past, highlight must-see features with stunning photos, include interesting facts, and provide all the practical information you need for your visit, including opening times and ticket details. We also explore the surrounding Bute Park, and its incredible abortorium. There is so much to the story here. Let's get to it!


A couple takes a selfie with a medieval castle in the background, smiling and wearing sunglasses.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Snowdonia, North Wales & Chester Day Tour from Manchester with Klook



● Explore the remarkable Conwy Castle, an exceptionally well-preserved 13th-century fortress situated near striking bridges

● Immerse yourself in outdoor adventures at Betws-y-Coed, nestled in the heart of Gwydir Forest Park

● Witness the rugged beauty of Snowdonia National Park, home to Wales' iconic jagged peaks

● Uncover the rich heritage of Chester, an ancient border city with a captivating blend of Roman, medieval, and Tudor influences




Our Cardiff Castle highlights


As two passionate history fans, exploring the castles of the UK has always been something we have been keen to do. That being said, that had all pretty much happened in England to-date. Wales had always been high on the list, especially given its fascinating Celtic history, but we had never really had the chance to go there - until now.


Stone medieval gatehouse with twin towers and a central archway, surrounded by greenery, under a cloudy sky.


So, of course, what better way to kick off a road trip around Wales than with a visit to its perhaps most famous pride-and-joy, the incredibly Cardiff Castle! A life-long ambition fulfilled, we came here with a huge sense of anticipation and we were not disappointed in the slightest. This is a magnificent castle, and one that we will not forget in a hurry!


A person standing in front of an ancient castle with a large wooden door, surrounded by lush greenery and a stone bridge in the foreground.


The first of 4 Roman forts is established in Cardiff, it was strategically built alongside the River Taff, which supplied its moat and provided easy access to the sea. In around 270 AD the basis of the Castle’s layout today is built in stone, modified over the years as it defended the city from invasion. It now stands as one of the most important structures in Wales, and is a fascinating beacon of Roman, Welsh and English history in the area.




With a large itinerary for the day, we got to the castle early, and had very limited time. We were only able to explore the inner castle and exterior area (Bute Park), and were desperately disappointed not to be able to go inside. We will save that for another time! If you chose to, you can get a ticket to explore the walls of the castle, the Norman keep, its museum and perhaps its most impressive feature, the Victorian Apartments.



It was a cloudy and windy day as you can probably tell from the photos, but we still really enjoyed our time wandering through the free parts of the grounds. The Welsh Dragon, the main castle entrance gate and the keep on the mound are excellent features to check out. The paid area is well sectioned off, but you can still get close enough for some good shots. Once you get past the mound of the keep the you will exit to Bute Park.



⪢ The Surrounding Gardens (Bute Park)

Bute Park is a large park (around 130 acres) located right next to Cardiff Castle. It used to be the private pleasure garden of the castle, but now it's a public park and considered the "green heart" of Cardiff. It's a Grade 1 listed historic park with a wealth of archaeological and nature conservation interest including a magnificent arboretum containing over 3000 rare and beautiful trees, some of which are "champion trees" - the biggest of their species in the UK.


Woman in a hooded jacket and sunglasses standing in a large ornate frame in a park, with trees and a grassy field in the background.


There are remains of a medieval Blackfriars Friary within the park, and it also has a visitor center, cafes, toilets, a woodland play trail, and fitness equipment. There is plenty to enjoy here and when you exit the east-side of Cardiff Castle you will find yourself in the park itself. We crossed over the River Taff, and were thoroughly impressed by the arboretum which kind of reminded us of the mangroves in Langkawi (Malaysia). They really are spectacular!


A person with long gray hair taking a photo of white blossoming trees in a lush green park using a smartphone.


We also checked out the Gorsedd Stone Circle, which may look old, but was actually only installed in 1978. It was moved to Bute Park from Gorsedd (hence its name), to celebrate Cardiff hosting the Welsh National Eisteddfod. This 8 day festival is considered to be the largest music and poetry festival in Europe! We did not know this at the time, but as two poets who literally met each other through our poetry, it was super cool to find this out afterwards. Especially as Jenn was particularly drawn to stand right in the middle of it on the large central stone overlooking the castle walls!


You can find more information on the official Bute Park website. Read on for more on the history of the castle, and some impressive facts! Plus find out all you need to know about opening times, admission prices, and how to get there.





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A couple posing in a rose garden at the entrance of Arundel Castle, England, under a cloudy sky, with a St George flag graphic overlaid on the left.


Save for later: One of THE finest in all of England, the historic Arundel Castle


This magnificent castle emanates beauty both inside and out! A true English gem boasting almost a thousand years of history. Will you visit?




The history of Cardiff Castle


⪢ One of the UK's Oldest Surviving Castles

Cardiff Castle, standing tall in the heart of Wales's capital city, has a rich and storied history dating back over 2,000 years. Its origins trace to the Roman occupation of Britain, where a fort was constructed on the site around 55 AD. Over the centuries, the castle evolved, with significant developments occurring during the Norman period when William the Conqueror's nephew, Robert Fitzhamon, built the first stone keep in the late 11th century.


A historical stone castle with a large arched entrance and banners, with people walking and interacting in front.


⪢ Medieval Conflicts

Cardiff Castle has indeed witnessed its fair share of attacks and conquests throughout its history. It was repeatedly involved in clashes between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh during the 12th century. A significant event occurred in 1404 when Owain Glyndŵr, a Welsh leader, successfully stormed and captured the castle during his rebellion.



⪢ English Civil War

During the English Civil War (1642-1651), the castle changed hands twice. Royalist forces under the Marquess of Hertford captured the castle in a surprise attack, then Parliamentary forces and local troops quickly besieged and recaptured the castle within hours. While these are the most prominent instances, it's likely the castle faced other attacks or attempts at conquest throughout its long history, particularly during periods of regional conflict.


View of a medieval castle with multiple towers and spires, surrounded by lush greenery under a cloudy sky.


⪢ Noble Ownership & Victorian Transformation

Subsequent generations of noble families, including the de Clare and Herbert families, expanded and fortified the castle, shaping its imposing appearance. However, it was during the Victorian era that Cardiff Castle underwent its most significant transformation. In the 19th century, the castle's owner, the Third Marquess of Bute, commissioned renowned architect William Burges to redesign and refurbish the castle interiors, resulting in the creation of opulent and fantastical rooms that are now celebrated as some of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture in the world. The castle remained in the Bute family until the 20th century when it was gifted to the city of Cardiff.



⪢ The End of the Moat

In the mid-1800s, Isambard Kingdom Brunel came up with plans to divert the River Taff to the west, away from its old course around Cardiff Castle. Having supplied the moat for over a thousand years, this move was considered to have marked the end of the defensive era of the castle. The river now flows next to Cardiff Arms Park and the Cardiff Principality Stadium. It also allowed Cardiff Central Station to be built in an area that had previously been prone to flooding.



⪢ Air Raid Shelter to Modern Day Attraction

Cardiff Castle also played a role in World War II, with its walls offering shelter to citizens during air raids. Following the 4th Marquess's death, the castle and its parkland were gifted to the city of Cardiff. For a period, it housed the National College of Music and Drama, but since 1974, it has become one of Wales' most popular tourist attractions, offering visitors a glimpse into Roman, Norman, and Victorian eras within its walls.


A stone castle with battlements and a flag, surrounded by lush greenery and a calm river in the foreground, under a cloudy sky.




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10 interesting facts about Cardiff Castle


1. Roman Beginnings: The site boasts a Roman fort built around AD 55, making it nearly 2,000 years old! Four separate forts were built by the Romans over two centuries, laying the foundation for the later castle.


2. Norman Transformation: Following the Norman conquest in 1066, a motte and bailey castle was constructed, solidifying Cardiff as the center of the Marcher Lordship of Glamorgan.


Bare tree in the foreground with a gothic castle and lush greenery in the background on a cloudy day.


3. Medieval Makeover: Throughout the Middle Ages, the castle underwent numerous transformations, including the addition of a stone shell keep and extensive defensive walls.


4. Victorian Extravaganza: In the 19th century, the 3rd Marquess of Bute embarked on a grand project with architect William Burges, transforming the castle into a lavish Victorian Gothic mansion. This resulted in the opulent interiors with murals, stained glass, and intricate carvings we see today.


5. World War II Refuge: During the war, the castle's tunnels provided shelter to citizens during air raids. These tunnels, with dormitories, kitchens, and first-aid facilities, are now accessible as part of the castle tour.




6. Giant Rugby Ball: In 2015, during the Rugby World Cup, a giant rugby ball was cleverly installed into the castle wall, symbolizing Wales' passion for the sport.


7. Ghosts and Legends: The castle is shrouded in tales of ghosts and legends, including the "Black Cat" said to roam the grounds and the "Archer" haunting the Clock Tower.


8. Movie Magic: The castle has served as a filming location for various movies and TV shows, including "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood."


An old stone castle with a prominent tower partially obscured by leafless trees under an overcast sky.


9. Architectural Mashup: The castle is a unique blend of architectural styles, showcasing Roman, Norman, Medieval, and extravagant Victorian Gothic elements.


10. National Treasure: Today, Cardiff Castle is one of Wales' most popular tourist attractions, offering a fascinating glimpse into its rich and layered history.


A medieval-style castle with multiple towers surrounded by lush greenery, a pond in the foreground, and a wooden log in the front.




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Cardiff Castle opening times & ticket prices


⪢ Opening times

Cardiff Castle is open to visitors 7 days a week, including bank holidays. The only exceptions are Christmas Day (25 December), Boxing Day (26 December) and New Year’s Day (1 January), when the castle is closed.



⪢ Ticket Prices

** Prices are correct at time of writing (May 2024). Please check the official website for the most up-to-date information.


Note: If you currently live or work in Cardiff then you are entitled to your very own Key to the Castle with FREE admission to this world-class heritage attraction for 3 years.




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How to get to Cardiff Castle


Cardiff Castle is conveniently located in the heart of Cardiff city center, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Visitors can choose from several options to reach the castle:


⪢ Public Transport

Cardiff has an extensive public transport network, including buses and trains. Cardiff Central Railway Station is just a short walk from the castle, making it a convenient option for those arriving by train. Additionally, numerous bus routes serve the city center, with several bus stops within walking distance of the castle.


⪢ Walking

If you are already in the city center, walking to Cardiff Castle is often the most straightforward option. The castle is centrally located, making it easily reachable on foot from many nearby attractions, hotels, and shopping areas.


⪢ Cycling

Cardiff is a cycle-friendly city, and cycling to Cardiff Castle is a popular option if you enjoy exploring by bike. The city center has dedicated cycle lanes, and bicycle parking is available near the castle entrance.


⪢ Taxi or Ride-Sharing

Taxis and ride-sharing services operate throughout Cardiff, providing a convenient door-to-door option if you prefer not to use public transport or walk. Taxis can drop off you near the castle entrance.


⪢ Car

While parking in the city center can be limited, there are several public car parks within walking distance of Cardiff Castle, generally charging around £6 per hour. They are well sign-posted and easy to access.



Address: Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB


Email: cardiffcastle@cardiff.gov.uk


Phone: 02920878100


Website: cardiffcastle.com


Informational display board at Cardiff Castle entrance featuring a map, key, photos of the castle, and visitor information symbols.




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Collage of whitby abbey ruins with text "Whitby Abbey the greatest ruin" featuring a person walking and another sitting, observing the ancient architecture.


Don't miss: Exploring Whitby Abbey & Dracula's Birthplace via the Pickering Steam Train


Our day trip exploring the North Yorkshire Moors – A ride on the Pickering Steam Train to Whitby & Whitby Abbey, England’s Coastal Gem!




Our Cardiff Castle experience rating


A couple takes a selfie with a historic stone castle in the background, smiling and waving to the camera.
Three and a half stars rating with the first three stars filled in orange, the fourth half-filled, and the fifth star grey.


We would perhaps have given a higher rating had we had time to go inside, but even still, we would recommend a visit based on what we saw and the experience we had. There is plenty to see here even if you do not want to spend anything, and it is a really nice walk inside where you are able, and outside in Bute Park and along the street with the famous animal wall. Parking is easy to get to and being located in the heart of the city there are plenty of other things you can do around the castle if you are going for a longer day out.


Our castle ratings have pretty high standards, and given we have been to the likes of Balmoral and Arundel, we feel that 3.5 is still pretty respectable! Take nothing away from Cardiff Castle, it is very inspiring and wonderfully imposing! Feel free to let us know about your experience in the comments below... would you rate it higher?




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Wales


Check out all of the places we visited in Wales courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore the UK with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of the UK. Whether you're looking for Stonehenge, a tour of London, or some castle trips Klook has it all. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of the UK. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!



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Your GUIDE to visiting Wales


First time in Wales? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


A scenic view of a medieval castle in Wales with its reflection in the water, overlaid with text "your guide to visiting Wales" and the Welsh dragon flag.




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<![CDATA[Temple of Hatshepsut and the Legacy of Egypt's Formidable Female Pharaoh]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/temple-of-hatshepsut-and-the-legacy-of-egypt-s-formidable-female-pharaoh6627ee17b8d72a94ff258a39Fri, 03 May 2024 14:20:58 GMTJenn & Leon TravelImagine a woman ascending the throne of ancient Egypt, ruling with power and grace, leaving behind a legacy that defied the norms of her time. This is the story of Hatshepsut, the remarkable pharaoh who built a magnificent temple that continues to awe and inspire to this day.


View of the Temple of Hatshepsut in Egypt, featuring a wide pathway leading to the temple, surrounded by cliffs, with an Egyptian flag graphic above with overlay text 'Djeser-Djeseru Temple of Hatshepsut'.


Journey with us to the heart of Luxor, where the Temple of Hatshepsut stands as a testament to her ambition and architectural brilliance. Hatshepsut was not only one of the very few female Pharaoh's to ever hold power in Egypt, but also one if its most prolific builders. Despite a campaign of trying to hide her legacy after her death, much of what she left behind survives to this day. She is now revered as one of the great leaders in the incredible history of ancient Egypt and rightfully so. The Queen who dared to be King!



A couple posing together at an archaeological site under a clear blue sky.


In this post we tell the story of Hatshepsut, showcase the glory of her mortuary temple, and give you all you need to know before you go including best times to visit, opening times, ticket prices and more.


Row of ancient egyptian statues of osiris in the temple of hatshepsut, featuring damaged but detail-rich carvings, under a clear sky.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Get 5% off your first booking on the Klook app



PROMO CODE: BetterOnApp




Who was Pharaoh Hatshepsut?


Hatshepsut (meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies), was one of ancient Egypt's most remarkable rulers, defying convention and leaving an indelible mark on history. Born circa 1508 BCE to Thutmose I, a successful pharaoh who ushered in the golden age of the New Kingdom, she ascended to the throne around 1478 BCE, becoming one of the few female pharaohs to rule Egypt. She ruled for 22 years, the longest period of any woman in Egyptian history.


Illustration of Pharaoh Hatshepsut's bust with a detailed ancient Egyptian landscape, featuring pyramids and temples in the background.


Her rise to power began when she married her half-brother Thutmose II, solidifying her position within the royal family. They had one daughter, Neferure. Following Thutmose II's death, Hatshepsut initially acted as regent for her young stepson, Thutmose III. Thutmose III was co-regent with his stepmother, and was head of the army, but Hatshepsut was the effective ruler, and she soon transitioned into the role of pharaoh herself, becoming one of the few female pharaohs in Egyptian history.



Despite initial challenges to her reign due to her gender, Hatshepsut skillfully navigated the political landscape, consolidating her power and instituting a period of prosperity and innovation known as the "Golden Age" of the 18th dynasty. To solidify her legitimacy as a pharaoh in a male-dominated society, Hatshepsut often adopted the iconography of a male king. Statues depict her wearing the pharaoh's headdress and ceremonial beard, a bold move that challenged traditional gender roles.


Tourists visiting the ancient Egyptian temple of Hatshepsut, a large, terraced structure embedded in a cliff face under a clear sky.


Hatshepsut's reign was characterized by ambitious building projects, most notably her mortuary temple, known as Djeser-Djeseru (or the Temple of Hatshepsut) at Deir el-Bahari, that we are writing about in this post. This temple, designed by her steward and architect Senenmut, is a masterpiece of ancient Egyptian architecture, blending seamlessly into the surrounding cliffs and embodying the grandeur and elegance of Hatshepsut's reign.



Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments built at the Temple of Karnak, including the restoration of the original Precinct of Mut, an ancient goddess of Egypt, that had been damaged by the Hyksos occupation. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth. The other has broken in two and fallen down.


Statues of the egyptian goddess hathor lining the façade of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut under a clear blue sky.


Beyond her architectural achievements, Hatshepsut's legacy is also notable for her successful trade expeditions, particularly to the land of Punt (modern-day Somalia), which brought back exotic goods such as myrrh, incense, and exotic animals. These expeditions not only enriched Egypt but also solidified Hatshepsut's reputation as a powerful and capable leader on the international stage.


Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and carvings on a weathered sandstone wall, depicting various figures and symbols.


Despite her many accomplishments, Hatshepsut's legacy was somewhat overshadowed after her death. Her successor, Thutmose III, attempted to erase her memory from history, defacing statues and inscriptions depicting her reign. However, in modern times, Hatshepsut has been increasingly recognized for her achievements and her role in shaping Egypt's history.


An ancient egyptian temple with statues at the entrance beside a rocky cliff, featuring a pathway with ropes for visitors.





A promotional montage for a day trip tour from el gouna to luxor, featuring ancient Egyptian sites and a couple of tourists.


Save for later: Explore ancient Egypt with a day trip tour from El Gouna to Luxor


Our epic 16 hour journey of a lifetime as we explore the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Karnak Temple, cruise on the River Nile and more!



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Why did Thutmose III attempt to erase the memory of Hatshepsut from history?


Thutmose III's motivations for attempting to erase Hatshepsut's memory from history are not definitively known, but historians have proposed several theories based on the available evidence. One possible reason is Thutmose III's desire to solidify his own legitimacy and authority as pharaoh. Hatshepsut's reign represented an unprecedented deviation from traditional gender norms, with her assumption of the throne likely seen as a challenge to the established order. By erasing her memory from monuments and inscriptions, Thutmose III may have sought to downplay her significance and emphasize his own rightful claim to the throne.


An ancient egyptian statue of a sphinx with a human head and lion's body, placed on a stone base in a desert setting with rocky hills in the background.


Additionally, Thutmose III may have harbored personal resentment or animosity towards Hatshepsut. As her stepson and successor, he initially served as co-regent during the early years of her reign. However, Hatshepsut's increasing consolidation of power may have marginalized Thutmose III, leading to tensions between them. Erasing her memory could have been a way for Thutmose III to assert his own authority and diminish any lingering influence of his predecessor.




Furthermore, religious and ideological factors may have played a role in Thutmose III's actions. Hatshepsut's elevation to the status of pharaoh, traditionally a male role associated with divine kingship, may have been viewed as sacrilegious or blasphemous by some. Thutmose III, seeking to reaffirm the traditional religious and cultural norms, may have sought to erase Hatshepsut's memory as part of a broader restoration of order and legitimacy within Egyptian society.


Ultimately, the exact motivations behind Thutmose III's campaign to erase Hatshepsut's memory remain open to interpretation, but it is likely that a combination of political, personal, and ideological factors influenced his actions.


Ancient sandstone temple facade with multiple engraved doorways, remnants of columns in the foreground, under a clear sky.




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The history of the Valley of the Kings


The Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River near the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor), is one of Egypt's most iconic archaeological sites. It served as the burial place for many pharaohs and high-ranking nobles of the New Kingdom period (circa 1550–1070 BCE), a time of great prosperity and monumental construction in ancient Egypt.


Two tourists posing in front of a rocky desert landscape with hills and a clear sky.


The valley was chosen as a burial site due to its secluded and desolate location, hidden amidst rugged cliffs and mountains, which provided a natural defense against tomb robbers. The first pharaoh to be buried in the Valley of the Kings was Thutmose I, of the 18th dynasty, although earlier rulers were interred in tombs in nearby areas.




The tombs constructed in the Valley of the Kings are renowned for their elaborate architecture and richly decorated interiors, featuring intricate reliefs, hieroglyphs, and scenes depicting the journey of the deceased through the afterlife. The most famous tomb in the valley is that of Tutankhamun (KV62), discovered nearly intact by Howard Carter in 1922. Tutankhamun's tomb contained a wealth of treasures, including his iconic golden death mask, which captured the world's imagination and sparked renewed interest in ancient Egypt.


A view of tourists at the entrance of the historic Hatshepsut temple in Egypt, with a desert landscape and clear blue sky in the background.


Over the centuries, the Valley of the Kings was the final resting place for numerous pharaohs, queens, and members of the royal family, including Seti I, Ramesses II, and Hatshepsut. Despite the valley's remote location and efforts to safeguard the tombs, many of them were eventually plundered by tomb robbers in antiquity.



Today, the Valley of the Kings remains an important archaeological site and a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at its ancient wonders and glimpse into the fascinating world of ancient Egyptian royalty. Ongoing excavations and research continue to shed new light on the history and significance of this remarkable necropolis, offering insights into the beliefs, customs, and achievements of one of the world's most enduring civilizations.





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10 interesting facts about Hatshepsut's Temple


Here are ten fascinating facts about Hatshepsut's Temple, also known as Djeser-Djeseru:


1. Architectural Marvel: Djeser-Djeseru is considered one of the most impressive architectural achievements of ancient Egypt. Carved into the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari near Luxor, the temple blends harmoniously with its natural surroundings, showcasing the mastery of ancient Egyptian builders.


2. Dedicated to Amon-Ra: The temple was primarily dedicated to the god Amon-Ra, one of ancient Egypt's most important deities associated with kingship and the sun.


Tourists visiting the ancient temple of Hatshepsut, a notable architectural site against towering cliffs in Egypt.


3. Innovative Design: Architect Senenmut designed Djeser-Djeseru with a unique three-tiered structure, featuring colonnaded terraces and ramps that ascend towards the sanctuary. This design was revolutionary for its time and served as a model for later mortuary temples.


4. Relief Sculptures: The temple's walls and columns are adorned with intricate relief sculptures depicting scenes from Hatshepsut's life, including her divine birth, coronation, and expedition to the Land of Punt. These reliefs provide invaluable insights into ancient Egyptian art, culture, and religious beliefs.


A couple embracing in front of the Temple of Hatshepsut in Egypt, with other tourists walking around the historic site.



5. Obelisks: Djeser-Djeseru originally featured two massive obelisks at its entrance, carved from a single piece of red granite. One of these obelisks, known as the Lateran Obelisk, was later transported to Rome and erected in the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano.


6. Destroyed Statues: Following Hatshepsut's death, many statues and inscriptions depicting her were defaced or destroyed, mainly by her successor Thutmose III. Despite these efforts, some statues and reliefs at Djeser-Djeseru survived relatively intact, providing valuable evidence of Hatshepsut's reign.


Visitors explore the colonnaded terrace of Hatshepsut's temple against the dramatic backdrop of towering cliffs in Egypt.


7. Sphinxes: The entrance to Djeser-Djeseru was once flanked by sphinxes, mythical creatures with the body of a lion and the head of a human. These sphinxes symbolized royal power and protection and guided visitors towards the temple's grand entrance.


8. Hieroglyphic Inscriptions: The walls of Djeser-Djeseru are adorned with hieroglyphic inscriptions detailing Hatshepsut's accomplishments, divine lineage, and offerings to the gods. These inscriptions served both religious and propagandistic purposes, legitimizing Hatshepsut's rule and commemorating her achievements for eternity.




9. Restoration Efforts: In the 20th century, extensive restoration work was undertaken to preserve and protect Djeser-Djeseru from the ravages of time and environmental factors. These efforts have helped ensure the survival of this magnificent temple for future generations to appreciate and admire.


10. UNESCO World Heritage Site: Along with other monuments in the vicinity, Djeser-Djeseru is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing its outstanding universal value and cultural significance. It continues to attract visitors from around the world, who marvel at its beauty, craftsmanship, and historical importance.


Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and carved reliefs on stone walls in a corner of a historic structure.




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Tips for visiting Hatshepsut's Temple & the Valley of the Kings


Here are some additional tips to know before visiting the Temple of Hatshepsut:


⪢ Dress Code: Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is respectful of the local culture and protects you from the sun.


⪢ Sun Protection: The Egyptian sun can be intense, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen.


⪢ Water: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during the hot summer months. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it frequently.



⪢ Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are essential as there are steps and uneven terrain within the temple complex.


⪢ Photography: While photography with mobile phones is generally allowed, professional photography equipment might require permits in Egypt. Check with the authorities beforehand. The use of drones are not permitted.


⪢ Guides: Consider hiring a local guide, or taking a tour, for a more in-depth understanding of the temple's history and significance. They can offer insights that enrich your experience.


⪢ Respect the Site: The Temple of Hatshepsut is a sacred place for many Egyptians. Be mindful of your behavior and avoid climbing on structures or causing any damage.


⪢ Bargaining: If you encounter vendors selling souvenirs or other items, be prepared to bargain for fair prices. This is a common practice in local markets.


⪢ Currency: Carry Egyptian Pounds (EGP) for entrance fees, purchases, and tipping. ATMs are available in Luxor city.


Interior of an ancient Egyptian temple showing walls with faded and partial hieroglyphic carvings and colorful remnants.




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Hatshepsut's Temple opening times & best time to visit


⪢ Opening times for the Temple of Hatshepsut

It's important to note that these are the typical opening hours. Always check with the official website closer to your visit, as times might occasionally change due to special events or holidays.


● Summer: 6am to 6pm

● Winter: 6am to 5pm

● Ramadan: 6am to 5pm


Ancient Egyptian temple with columns and a statue of a pharaoh, set against a rocky desert background.



⪢ Best time to visit the Temple of Hatshepsut

Summer in Egypt typically lasts from May to October. It's the hottest period, with average temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F) and sometimes soaring as high as 40°C (104°F) in some areas. Winter falls between November and April. Winters are generally mild, with average minimum temperatures around 14°C (57°F), although nights can get cooler, especially in the desert regions.


It's important to note that Egypt has an arid desert climate, so even in winter, days are usually sunny and warm. However, the significant difference lies in the peak summer heat, which can be quite intense for some travelers.


● For Pleasant Weather: Shoulder Seasons (March-April & October-November) offer the most comfortable temperatures, with average highs ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). This makes sightseeing and exploring much more enjoyable without the scorching summer heat.


● Avoiding Crowds: Regardless of the season, arriving at the Temple of Hatshepsut early in the morning allows you to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.


● Less Popular Months: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons or even the winter months (November-February) if you prefer minimal crowds. While the weather might be cooler, it's still generally pleasant for sightseeing.


● Special Events: Some nights during the full moon, the temple is illuminated (opening hours extended), creating a truly magical atmosphere. Check for specific dates and availability beforehand.


A commemorative plaque on a stone wall at the Temple of Hatshepsut, detailing restoration efforts by the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology and the supreme council of antiquities from 1961-2008.




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Getting tickets for Hatshepsut's Temple


You can also purchase tickets directly at the Temple of Hatshepsut's ticket office upon arrival. This might involve waiting in line, especially during peak season.


⪢ Foreigners

● Adults: EGP 240 ($5 USD / $6.84 CAD / £3.99 GBP)

● Student: EGP 120 ($2.50 USD / $3.42 CAD / £1.99 GBP)


⪢ Egyptian Nationals / Arabs

● Adults: EGP 40

● Student: EGP 20


** Prices are correct at time of writing (May 2024). Please check the official website for the most up-to-date information.


One of the best ways to visit the Valley of the Kings is by taking a tour. We highly recommend using Klook, who have been operating tours for several years in Egypt using only highly trained, licenced operators who take care of all ticket entries, along with helping you to avoid the hawks. They will organise transport, give you great history and background and even organise lunch too. Check out our tour from Hurghada to Luxor and see what you think!


Entrance to an ancient Egyptian temple with hieroglyphic carvings on the surrounding stone walls, under a bright sky.




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How to get to Hatshepsut's Temple


The Temple of Hatshepsut is situated on the west bank of the Nile River, across from Luxor city. There are several transportation options available:


⪢ Taxi / Uber

Taxis are readily available in Luxor and can be a convenient way to get directly to the temple. Agree on the fare beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings. Ride-sharing apps like Uber or Careem operate in Luxor and might offer a more cost-effective option compared to taxis.


⪢ Local Bus

Public buses are a budget-friendly option, but keep in mind that schedules and routes might be less frequent or direct compared to taxis or ride-sharing.


⪢ Day Trip Tours

Many travel agencies in Luxor offer organized day trips to the Temple of Hatshepsut, which often include transportation, entrance fees, and sometimes even a guided tour. This can be a convenient option if you prefer a hassle-free experience.


⪢ Car Rental

Renting a car in Luxor gives you flexibility, but make sure you factor in parking fees and potential traffic conditions near the temple. Foreign drivers must have an International Driving Permit available on request.



Address: Al Qarna, Luxor Governorate 1340420, Egypt


Website: egymonuments.gov.eg/en/monuments/hatshepsut-temple





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Watch our day trip to Luxor on YouTube

Sit back, relax, and explore the wonders of this epic Luxor day tour on YouTube! We show you everything you have seen in this post in stunning 4k detail, in a way that photos simply cannot do enough justice to!



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!




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ATV adventure in the desert with Alex Safari El Gouna, Egypt, featuring scenic views and travellers enjoying the experience.


Read more: ATV Desert Tour with Alex Safari in El Gouna, Egypt


A spectacular ATV tour of the epic El Gouna desert including a visit to a Bedouin village & one of the best sunset moments we have ever had!




Our Hatshepsut Temple experience rating


Man in sunglasses and a black t-shirt takes a selfie in front of the colossal statues at the entrance to an ancient Egyptian temple.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5


Hatshepsut stands as a unique figure in ancient Egyptian history, challenging traditional gender roles and leaving behind a legacy of innovation, prosperity, and architectural splendor. Her Temple of Hatshepsut remains a testament to her greatness, and it certainly captivated us with its timeless beauty, serving as a reminder of her enduring influence on the world of antiquity.


Despite all of the attempts to deface the temple, the botched renovations and the affects of mass tourism, this site holds an atmosphere and experience that is unlike almost anything else we have seen. We got 'that' feeling here, one of marvel and awe. No doubt you will too!




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How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Your FREE interactive map of Egypt


Check out all of the places we visited in Egypt courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!




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Explore Egypt with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Egypt. Whether you're looking for a Giza Pyramid tour, Sinai Desert stargazing, or a day trip to Saqqara and Memphis, Klook has got you covered.



In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Egypt. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience.



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Your GUIDE to visiting Egypt


First time in Egypt? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, internet availability and much more!


Exploring ancient wonders: your guide to visiting Egypt.




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<![CDATA[How to recover a de-activated or disabled Instagram Account in 2024]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/how-to-recover-a-de-activated-or-disabled-instagram-account662a13bbf32f8ea3f0c5bae4Mon, 29 Apr 2024 16:13:10 GMTLeon GregoriIf you are here it is sadly likely that your account has been disabled by Instagram. Or locked out, or maybe even hacked. Unfortunately when this happens, Instagram doesn't exactly help you out with any information. 'Your account has been disabled for violating our terms'. Pretty much the sum total of it right?


A person holding a smartphone displaying an Instagram recovery guide titled "how to get your account back in 2024", with a purple and blue background.


Just a quick google search will offer you an absolute ton of pages offering to help you recover your account, along with plenty of scam messages which you will see plastered all over reddit and Facebook forums (cue the comments on this post too). Let me tell you, if anyone is offering to get your account back, especially for money exchange, do not do it!



In this post, I am not here to ask you for anything. I am simply just one of the large numbers of people who have had this happen to them, and I just want to offer you advice from my own personal experience with Meta, and helping countless others, for FREE. Read on for a highly-effective new 2024 method which has worked for many people this year already, and I hope, many more.








Why did Instagram disable my account?


There are a number of known reasons as to why this may have happened, with one of the most significant of them being if you have used an unauthorized app to connect to your account, like one of those follow / unfollow ones. Before we continue, from this point on if that is the case, just don't hide it. In any of your communications, be upfront about it, because Meta know. And they are far more likely to forgive and forget if you own up to it straight off the bat, rather than try to plead innocence / ignorance.


Here are a few common reasons why your account may have been disabled:


Connecting an unauthorized application to your account such as insight apps, automated like apps, follow / unfollow apps etc) Tap here for more about this 

Buying followers (these are usually bots)

Joining follow loops / follow trains

Participating in engagement groups

Sending spam messages to followers and non-followers

Following & unfollowing in large numbers

Using Instagram shopping in unlicensed countries

Providing your login credentials to a 3rd party application or service that is automating actions or scraping information

Using an app or service to interact with Facebook or Instagram in unauthorized ways

Your account was shared or compromised / hacked and someone is taking actions on your behalf or without your knowledge

Changing your location regularly


I would highly advise reading the Terms & Conditions of Use in Instagram's Help Centre to try and fully understand why the block has happened. Be honest with yourself and do not be afraid to admit any breach of the rules. As you progress with the appeal, and as you will see from my experience, honesty is absolutely the best policy here.


I have written an extensive article about this topic, which you can read here. In it I include all of the do's and don'ts around how to stay within Instagram's infamous community guidelines, and how to contact Meta / Facebook through the Meta Business Centre. Definitely worth a read before you formulate your email / plead your case.




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Will I be able to recover my account?


For this post, I am mainly going to focus on a brand new 2024 way to contact Instagram directly through the IG app. Before we get to it, I must stress that the process outlined in my original post about this still stands, and must be followed first, so you can generate your case number (s). It is also important that you have a Facebook account, although with this process it does not need to be a business account, and you do not need an ad account either (although this may help in the long run).


Other mitigating factors include the length of time your account has been disabled for. I am hoping you are here because it has only just happened, but there may also be a chance you are here because you are at your wits end trying to recover your account, and have been for a while. Sadly if you are the later, know that you only have 30 days from the point of getting your account disabled to point of recovery. After that time period has elapsed, the account will automatically go into IG's deletion process. From there on in it is game over I'm afraid.




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Instagram Disabled Account Appeal Forms


So assuming you are below the 30 day threshold (the earlier the better), are prepared to own up to any potential infringements of the community guidelines (including follow apps and engagement groups!), let's get started with the process. First things first, here are the links to all of the Appeal Forms you will need to let Instagram know you are appealing the de-activation of your account:


help.instagram.com/contact/606967319425038

help.instagram.com/contact/396169787183059

help.instagram.com/contact/437908793443074

help.instagram.com/contact/1652567838289083

help.instagram.com/contact/1610459702591585


** June 2024 Update: It appears that Meta / Instagram has removed the functionality of these forms. This may be temporary, or could be a permanent change. Should the links not work, jump straight to Facebook Live Support or try instagram.com/hacked


My advice is to complete each of these forms once only and on separate days. You will most likely read and see many people advising you to complete these multiple times a day until you get a response. I did this myself, in total I completed each one 3 times! However I eventually found out that this was to my detriment.



After speaking directly with Meta they clearly stated that every submission goes to the bottom of the pile! It seems strange but it kind of makes sense. Think about it, you and I will not be the only ones to assume that the more we fill out the forms, the better chances we will have. They receive thousands on any given day, and so they treat it like a waiting list. You are in a queue, and there is no jumping it I'm afraid.



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Person holding a tablet displaying "Meta Verified" service information, in front of a colorful Meta logo background.


Meta Verified, and getting your Instagram account back


Once you have completed the forms, the next stage of the process, which is brand new for 2024, is to get yourself Meta Verified. This is honestly the golden goose in recovering your account, and I have seen countless success through this route having advised many accounts this year about it.


A Meta Verified subscription costs $14.99 per month when you sign up on iOS or Android. Or, you can pay $11.99 per month by signing up through the website directly (only available for Facebook). For now, Meta Verified is only available to individuals, not brands or businesses.


Now this will work best if you can do it through Instagram. If you have a second account, you can do it on there, or if not, you can set up a new account. There is no following minimum on who can get verified, so that is not an issue. You can also do it through Facebook if you do not want to set up a new account.


The important thing is that you use the same information as would be on the account that is disabled. That means the same email, exactly the same name, and ideally phone number too. I cannot stress how important that is to the process.



Once you have been verified, you can gain immediate access to Instagram Live Chat Support. There is also a much higher probability of getting your account back as Instagram has now verified your identity.


So here is how to get in touch. As with most things Instagram, it is buried in an obscure place in the settings area:


or



Note that you can also use this area to contact by email, which I would advise to do as a back up option. Be sure to have all of your reference numbers from the appeal from process to hand, as you will need them.


When you talk with the support team, be sure to make a genuine case as to why you believe your account should be re-instated. Tell them what it means to you, why you use it and what went wrong. Honesty is the best policy and most of the success I have seen has been through people simply owning up to why, and being genuine about their use on Instagram and the connections they have made through their account. Instagram are not the enemy; as with any business they just want to protect their rules.


In all of the cases I have seen this year, this process has gotten the account re-activated. In most cases it has taken less than 24 hours. If there is any reason why it cannot be given back to you, at least here you will find out directly from Instagram themselves.




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A silhouette of a person in a hoodie against a red and black background, with a large Instagram logo on the right side.


I did not violate guidelines; my Instagram account has been hacked


If you have been locked out of your account entirely, going through the process outlined here is unlikely to help. Although I would still suggest giving it a try. Again, if you are verified, it boosts your chances of proving who you are, which is the first major hurdle to overcome.


The only place to go in this instance is instagram.com/hacked.



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Protecting your Account


There are a couple of things you can do to help keep your account secure and in good order. All of these options can be found in the settings area of your Instagram account.


⪢ Connected Apps and Websites


Screenshot of the "apps and websites" section on Instagram settings, highlighting active third-party app connections.


It is recommended you check this to ensure there are no unauthorized connections to your account or connections you do not recognize.



⪢ Two-Factor Authentication & Data Download


Screenshot of Instagram settings menu highlighting "two-factor authentication" options with arrows pointing to the settings.


I would certainly advise turning on Two-Factor Authentication on Instagram. Even if you do not 'log in' that often, adding this layer of security will make it harder for hackers to gain access to your account.


The Data Download feature on Instagram is not well known but is an excellent option for keeping your data secure. Once requested you will have 4 days to accept the download from your email. It comes as raw data, so do not expect it to look like your posts do on the app. All of your photos, videos, comments, likes etc will come to you in separate folders which is a bit tricky to navigate and piece together. However this is a fantastic option which helps you protect your content and potentially re-use it should you ever need or want to start a new account.


⪢ Security Check Up

Instagram has been adding a number of features over the past couple of years, and if you are using the app, you can utilize the 'security check-up' feature in the settings section.


Screenshot of a security checkup interface highlighting "two-factor authentication" with icons for password, email address, and mobile phone options.


Here you can review all of the key security aspects of your account in one place, including your phone number, associated email address, and that essential two-factor authentication. If you are able to recover your account, I would highly recommend reviewing these settings. Not particularly helpful if you are only reading this because your account is disabled I know, but I wanted to include it nonetheless!




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A guide on reactivating a disabled instagram account, depicted with a visual metaphor of a padlocked chain.


Read more: My Instagram Account was disabled: Here is how I got it back and how you can too!


This comprehensive guide will tell you why from my own personal experience, the do's & don'ts, contacting Meta, and ultimately how I recovered my account.



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Any questions? Get in touch


Hopefully this post, and our complete guide, has given you all of the tools you need to recover your account, with (fingers crossed) success. If you do have any other additional questions on points not covered here however, you are more than welcome to get in touch.


Man kneeling and smiling inside a room with walls covered in bright, led light strands, creating a starry effect. he wears a cap and a blue jacket.


You can contact me directly on Instagram, although for the quickest response, please send your message / question here through Closer Lives and we will get back to you within 24 hours.





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How to follow our blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!



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<![CDATA[Vietnam's Cultural Spectacle: A Journey Through Hoi An Memories]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/vietnam-s-cultural-spectacle-a-journey-through-hoi-an-memories662517670c5d42876d9f720fThu, 25 Apr 2024 15:20:22 GMTJenn & Leon TravelHoi An Memories is a large-scale live performance that takes place at the Hoi An Impression Theme Park in Hoi An, Vietnam. It's a spectacular show that tells the story of Hoi An's history and culture through music, dance, and elaborate sets.


Nighttime performance at hoi an memories show in vietnam with illuminated stage, actors, colorful lights, and a graphic of the Vietnamese flag.


Have you ever dreamt of stepping back in time and witnessing the vibrant tapestry of a historical town unfold before you? In Hoi An, Vietnam, that dream becomes reality at the Hoi An Memories Theme Park. This unique cultural destination offers a multi-layered experience that goes beyond just watching a show.



Imagine yourself captivated by the world's largest outdoor performance, featuring over 500 performers who bring the story of Hoi An to life through a mesmerizing fusion of music, dramatic scenes, and electrifying dance. The Hoi An Memories show is just the beginning! Delve deeper into the local way of life by exploring the Coconut Forest, where carefully choreographed performances unfold amidst a lush, seven-acre grove. Prepare to be transported to Hoi An's golden age as you wander through the vibrantly themed sections of the park, each one a beautiful snapshot of the town's rich history and cultural exchange.


People gather at a cultural event outside a traditional house with lanterns, featuring a pond reflecting the evening sky.


Read on for all you need to know about our evening at Hoi An Memories, with our highlights, more information about the park and show, ticket details, opening times, valuable tips, and our specially curated YouTube video. Plus how to get here from Da Nang or within Hoi An!






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for further information.




Hoi An Memories Show with Hoi An Impression Theme Park Combo Ticket



Participate in the world's largest outdoor show featuring more than 500 performers, a unique fusion of music, scenes, and dance in a vibrant performing arts production.

Witness diverse performances by Vietnamese fishermen at the Coconut Forest and explore the seven-acre coconut forest while gaining insights into local daily life.

Explore the Hoi An Impression Theme Park, where the golden and heroic era of Hoi An's ancient town is vividly brought to life through different sections.




What is Hoi An Memories Land about?


Hoi An Memories Land is a unique theme park offering a multi-faceted experience that goes beyond just watching its centerpiece Hoi An Memories show (which we will cover later).


Illuminated arch bridge with orange lights over a river at night, with visible pedestrians and a crescent moon in the sky.


The park itself focuses on telling the story of Hoi An's transformation from a small village to a thriving international port, and the cultural exchange that shaped the city. Hoi An Memories Land is a celebration of Vietnamese culture. Within the park are sections housing architectural replicas that reflect Hoi An's unique heritage, such as miniature Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese villages.


Illuminated conical lanterns suspended from poles above a red bridge in an outdoor urban park at dusk.


Throughout the park there are smaller themed performances, that occur at hourly intervals, with demonstrations of traditional crafts, and historical reenactments. This all leads up to the final nightly show, which focuses more on a unique love story that has been told through the generations.


Read on for our highlights, all you need to know before visiting including opening times, special ticket offers and information about how to get here.


Dusk view of a bamboo building beside a pond with floating lilies, illuminated by paper lanterns, next to a stone path.





A colorful boat decorated with vibrant lanterns on a river at night, with a text overlay saying "Hoi An Night Market & Lantern Festival" with a large star.


Save for later: Magic in the Moonlight: Exploring Hoi An Night Market and lighting a candle at the Lantern Festival


What is the Lantern Festival? Find out here, along with history & facts, a boat tour, the ancient Hoi An Night Market and our YouTube video!



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Our Hoi An Memories highlights


We were already on a high after spending a lovely couple of days in Da Nang and we were really excited to see wait Hoi An had to offer. We did not know all too much about its beautiful history, so Hoi An Memories was literally the perfect opportunity to do just that.


A woman standing under an archway adorned with colorful, lit Chinese lanterns at night.


We were a little apprehensive at first, as we harboured a concern that it may be a little tacky, but honestly we had nothing to worry about. The park is put together extremely well, and the performances are the what it is all about. And they were great, before we even made it to the main show!



Each area of the park is zoned and as you walk through you are guided by staff who will keep you informed of the upcoming programs. It is all focused around the cultural history and journey of this old town, and it is as educational as it is fun and in some parts, pretty spectacular.



From ancient times, the story of bamboo houses and the influx of crafts and trade merchants is told. With so much influence from lands beyond, Hoi An evolved and grew with aplomb. In all of the sectors of the park the mini shows appear, from Geisha's to fighting tigers, wedding ceremonies to recruited soldiers. The areas are well decorated and free to browse around before and after the shows, although there is not much give in-between. Given the late opening of the park it did not leave a great deal of time to check things out, but perhaps just enough for some photos!


A vibrant public garden with a tree sculpture adorned with colorful spheres, surrounded by lush green plants and a clear sky in the background.


We have to say that it was all done really well, and we certainly felt the spirit of the place. We had been there for a good couple of hours before the grand show at the end, and we weren't all too sure what more there could be to show. But then at that point, we weren't prepared for the additional love story, which elevated everything to a whole new level! More on that in the next section.



The main objective of this park is to continue to keep the legend and history of Hoi An alive, and it delivers a great experience in that regard. We left with a far greater knowledge of Hoi An than we came in with, and that is all one can ask for! Perhaps our only regret was not getting any food in the magnificent bamboo restaurant (below), but we had actually eaten prior to coming and were just not hungry! It did seem a tad pricey but if you do have time we would recommend trying it, as it did look pretty good from what we saw.


Read on for more information on how to get there, visiting times and our Hoi An Memories experience rating.





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The Hoi An Memories Show


The Hoi An Memories Show features over 500 performers who bring to life Hoi An's transformation from a small fishing village to a thriving international trading port over the course of 400 years. The audience is taken on a journey through different eras, witnessing scenes of rural life, traditional crafts, and bustling trade with Chinese, Japanese, and Western merchants.


A performer in traditional attire stands on a cone-shaped platform at a night-time water show with background dancers and illuminated buildings.


It is performed in a grand outdoor arena and includes lasers, music and special visual affects. There is a pond in the center which imitates the Thu Bon River, huge town building props and some truly excellent performances from its actors,.



The show begins with the humble beginnings of Hoi An as a small agricultural village, which sees the villagers going about their daily lives, fishing, farming, and weaving. Hoi An goes on to became a major trading port in Southeast Asia, attracting merchants from all over the world.


Night-time water show featuring a performer in bright red illuminated costume surrounded by jet streams and a faux paddle steamer in the background.



The show depicts the interaction between different cultures, with scenes of Chinese traders, Japanese tea ceremonies, and European influences. It celebrates the traditional crafts and customs of Vietnam, with scenes like silk weaving, lantern making, and other traditional Vietnamese crafts.


A vibrant outdoor theatrical performance at night featuring numerous performers in traditional costumes, with a large elephant prop and stylized palm trees on a water-bound stage.


The show also explores the human stories of Hoi An's past, with scenes of love, loss, and resilience. The performers come together in a colorful display of music, dance, and fireworks at the end, with it totally living up to its 'memories' name as we are still reminiscing about it months later. This show will not leave you!


Nighttime view of an outdoor performance by dancers in traditional dress on a waterside stage, with illuminated buildings and palm trees in the background.




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Hoi An Memories opening times


⪢ The Hoi An Memories Theme Park is open from Wednesday to Monday, 3pm to 10pm. It is closed on Tuesdays.


⪢ The Hoi An Memories Show starts at 8 pm and lasts for an hour. We would suggest going into the stadium / seating area closer to 7pm as seats numbers are not allocated.


A curving pedestrian bridge with a metallic structure and yellow railings, under a clear blue sky, overlooking a cityscape.




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Hoi An Memories ticket prices


For entrance to the park itself, it is 25k VND (98 cents USD) for children and 50k VND ($1.97 USD) for adults.


Specific ticket prices for Hoi An Memories Show fluctuate depending on factors like season, seat selection, availability and ongoing promotions. For adults, prices can range from 600k to 1.4m VND, and for children there are tickets between 150k to 700k VND. You can find the price list on the official website.


Given the cheapest adult ticket for just the show starts at almost $24 USD, we would highly recommend saving money and booking through Klook.



Get combo tickets for the park, show and dinner

Also combine with a show boat and lantern release on the river

Other combo options include coconut basket boat rides and pottery classes


Entrance of Hoi An Memories Theme Park in Vietnam featuring traditional architectural gate and two dragon sculptures on pillars under a clear sky.




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Things to know before visiting Hoi An Memories


Here are a few important things that we think you should know to help you have a seamless experience in Hoi An:


⪢ Weather & Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Hoi An Memories Land is during the dry season, which runs from February to September. During this time, you can expect sunny skies and little rain. However, it can also be quite hot and humid, especially during the summer months (June to August).


⪢ Clothing & Respectful Attire

There is no strict dress code for Hoi An Memories Land, but it is recommended to dress modestly. Long pants or skirts and shirts with sleeves are ideal. This is respectful of Vietnamese culture and will also help you to be more comfortable in the hot and humid weather.


You'll also want to wear comfortable shoes as there will be some walking involved. Avoid wearing flip flops or sandals as you may end up taking them off for the show. An umbrella or hat can be useful for sun protection, especially if visiting during the hotter months.


⪢ Peak Times

Hoi An is a popular tourist destination, so expect larger crowds during peak season (December to April) and on weekends. If you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit during the shoulder seasons (May, June, September, and October).



Hoi An Memories Show

● Book tickets in advance: Especially during peak season, it's a good idea to book your tickets for the Hoi An Memories show online in advance. This will guarantee your spot and save you time waiting in line.

● Bring cash: While some vendors in the park may accept credit cards, it's always a good idea to bring cash with you. You can use it for snacks, drinks, souvenirs, or any other incidentals.

● Arrive early: If you want to get a good seat for the show, it's recommended to arrive early. The park opens around 5pm, and the show starts at 7:30pm. This will also give you some time to explore the park before the show.


⪢ Bonus Tip

Consider getting a Hoi An Ancient Town Entrance Ticket, which allows you to visit multiple attractions within the Ancient Town area. It's a cost-effective way to explore the city's historical sites and enjoy cultural activities.


A modern arched bridge with a golden design crosses a river in a scenic urban area under a clear blue sky.




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How to get to Hoi An Memories Land


There are a few transport options available to get to Hoi An Memories Land, depending on your location and budget. It is located about 5 kilometers from Hoi An Ancient Town and about 30 kilometers from Da Nang City. Note that traffic in Hoi An can be congested, especially during peak season. Be sure to factor in some extra time for your journey if you're taking a taxi or private car.


⪢ Private Car

You can pre-book a private car service to take you directly to Hoi An Memories Land. This is a good option if you're traveling with a group or have a lot of luggage. Prices will vary depending on the company you choose, but expect to pay around 200,000 VND ($8.68 USD) or more.


⪢ By taxi

This is the most convenient option, especially if you're staying in Hoi An Ancient Town. You can easily hail a taxi on the street or ask your hotel to call one for you. The ride to Hoi An Memories Land should take around 15-20 minutes and cost approximately 100,00 VND ($4.34 USD).


⪢ By shuttle bus

The Hoi An Memories Land website sometimes offers information about shuttle bus services from Da Nang City to the theme park. This can be a more budget-friendly option, but it's important to check the availability and schedule in advance as they may not run daily.



Contact information


Address: Cồn Hến, rẽ trái, 200 Nguyễn Tri Phương, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam


Email: booking@hoianmemoriesland.com


Phone: (+84) 904 636 600


Website: hoianmemoriesland.com


Facebook: @memoriesland.hoian





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Getting to Hoi An from Da Nang


To get to Hoi An Night Market from Da Nang, there are a few transportation options you can choose from.


⪢ Private Car or Taxi

The most convenient and direct way to reach Hoi An from Da Nang is by hiring a private car or taking a taxi (in our opinion). You can easily find taxis at the airport or in the city center of Da Nang. This is the option we chose, and the journey from Da Nang to Hoi An took us around 30-40 minutes and cost $20 USD.


⪢ Shuttle Bus

Another option is to take a shuttle bus, which operates between Da Nang and Hoi An. These buses are available at designated bus stations or can be booked through tour agencies or your accommodation. The shuttle bus service is a more affordable option compared to a private car or taxi, but it may take a bit longer due to multiple stops along the way.


⪢ Motorbike

If you're comfortable riding a motorbike, you can rent one in Da Nang and ride to Hoi An. The route is straightforward and well-signposted, usually following the coastal road. However, be very cautious while riding and make sure you have a valid motorbike license and proper safety gear. From what we saw, things are pretty chaotic on the roads, so we would also recommend you have the necessary insurance, just to be safe.


⪢ Public Bus

Public buses also operate between Da Nang and Hoi An. You can catch a local bus at Da Nang Central Bus Station, which is located near the city center. The journey takes around one hour, and buses usually run at regular intervals throughout the day. However, the schedule might be less frequent in the evenings, so be sure to check the bus timings in advance.


Once you arrive in Hoi An, you can reach the Night Market by following the directions provided earlier. It's located in the Ancient Town along Nguyen Hoang Street, and you can easily explore the market on foot.





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Watch our first impressions of Hoi An on YouTube


Join us on an unforgettable journey as we delve into the captivating city of Hoi An, Vietnam in 2023! Brace yourself for a whirlwind of emotions as we share our genuine first impressions and uncover the irresistible allure of this incredible destination.



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!





Promotional image featuring the landscape of Marble Mountains in Vietnam, with a graphic of Vietnam's map and text overlay.


Read more: A Day Trip to the Marble Mountains: A Perfect Way to Explore the Beauty of Da Nang in Vietnam


Uncover the hidden treasures of Marble Mountain and experience the harmony of nature and spirituality in this unforgettable destination.



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Our Hoi An Memories experience rating


A couple smiling for a selfie under a canopy of colorful hanging lanterns at night.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5


Hoi An Memories Theme Park and Show is worth every penny in our opinion! There is plenty to see in the park beforehand with 10 shows which are co-ordinated to give you enough time to reach each one. There are tons of photo opportunities, information boards in English to help you understand the meaning of the shows, and high-class standards from the performers.


Then of course we get to the main event itself, with in our opinion is nothing short of spectacular! So well done, excellently co-ordinated and definitely a memory that lives on for us. Even though the prices are a tad on the expensive side, it would be a total shame to come all the way to Hoi An and miss out on Memories!


As ever thank you for reading, and please feel free to share your experience, or ask any questions you may have, in the comments below. All feedback on the post is welcome too!




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!





Your FREE interactive map of Vietnam


Check out all of the places we visited in Vietnam courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!





Explore Hoi An with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of Hoi An. Whether you're looking for a coconut boat ride, spas, or even a lantern making class, Klook has something to offer.



In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of Vietnam. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!




Your guide to visiting Vietnam


First time in Vietnam? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


Your guide to visiting Vietnam.




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<![CDATA[Exploring Intramuros: Dark Tourism or an Essential Manila Experience?]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/exploring-intramuros-dark-tourism-or-an-essential-manila-experience662260e265c8f1ddbfc5b7ffSun, 21 Apr 2024 09:09:59 GMTJenn & Leon TravelExplore the haunting history and resilience of Intramuros in Manila. With almost 500 years of history, this walled city is a testament to the survival and independence of the Philippines. From Spanish colonial rule to Japanese occupation, along with near-total destruction in WW2, this city has not just survived; In the face of shocking adversity and the worst of humanity, it has thrived.


Entrance gate to intramuros, the historic walled city in manila, with a graphic overlay depicting the Philippine flag and text highlighting its survival since 1571 and WW2.


We took the sombre journey to Intramuros having already known about its awful history, littered with death and destruction. While almost all of its colonial-era structures have been lost to war, few do survive, offering a fascinating insight into what once was. Intramuros has rebuilt since the war, and has maintained many of the original street names, along with plaques of what once stood in place.



It is now a thriving hub of activity, from trade to tourism, and is a symbol of Philippine spirit and hope. If you really want to learn about the Philippines, this is the place to be, even if some do consider it 'dark tourism'. But more on that as you read on, along with more on the history of Intramuros and its troubled past, the must-see places, important visitor information, and as ever, our experience rating.


Bronze statue of a historic figure in a battle pose, surrounded by a wet circular paved area and lush green trees in an outdoor park setting.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




Get one pass for multiple attractions in Intramuros with Klook



Get access to Intramuros’ top activities with Klook's Intramuros Pass

The pass includes general entry to your all time favourites - Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, Casa Manila Museum, Museo de Intramuros, and many more!

The pass is valid for 30 days and gives you flexibility to pick and choose depending on when and where you would like to go!




What is Intramuros?


Intramuros; the name itself evokes a sense of intrigue right? Literally translating to "within walls" in Spanish, Intramuros is much more than just a district in Manila, Philippines. It's a meticulously planned and fortified historic city, standing as a testament to a bygone era. Founded in 1571 by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, Intramuros thrived as the political and religious centre of the Spanish colonial Philippines for centuries.


Street scene with pedestrians, cars, and a moss-covered wall under an overpass, with buildings and a clear sky in the background.


⪢ A Citadel of Spanish Colonial Power

Imagine a walled city teeming with activity. Spanish galleons docked at the nearby harbor, while grand residences and imposing churches dominated the landscape. Intramuros served as the seat of the Captaincy General of the Philippines, housing the governor-general and the Real Audiencia (the high court). Fort Santiago, a formidable defensive structure, stands as a reminder of Spanish military might. Religious institutions like San Agustin Church, the oldest stone church in the Philippines, and Manila Cathedral, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, showcase the profound influence of the Catholic Church during this period.


⪢ Beyond the Grand Structures: A Window into the Past

Intramuros offers a captivating glimpse into the social fabric of Spanish Manila. Museums like Casa Manila, a restored colonial mansion, provide a fascinating look into the lifestyles and furnishings of the Spanish elite. Horse-drawn carriages, known as kalesas, add a touch of nostalgia as you traverse the cobblestone streets. The Rizal Shrine (in Fort Santiago), dedicated to Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, offers insights into the struggle for independence during the Spanish colonial period.




⪢ A City Forged Anew

Intramuros bears the marks of a tumultuous past, most notably the devastation of World War II. Yet, it's a city that persistently strives forward. Today, ongoing restoration efforts meticulously preserve the historical character of the district. Modern cafes and art galleries seamlessly blend with the historical landscape, creating a vibrant cultural hub.


⪢ A Destination Not to be Missed

Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, Intramuros is a must-visit destination in the Philippines. Every corner whispers stories of a bygone era, waiting to be discovered. Intramuros offers a chance to step back in time and explore a captivating chapter in Philippine history.


A horse-drawn carriage parked on a wet street in front of a historical building, with a wet street reflecting the surroundings.





Our Manila Airbnb.


Read more: Azure Urban Resort Residences Airbnb Review in Parañaque, Manila


A luxurious and convenient living space in an ideal location to explore Manila. See the pools, beaches, food and facilities in our review.



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Why is it called 'Dark Tourism'


Dark tourism, also sometimes referred to as thanatourism, black tourism, or grief tourism, is a travel trend that involves visiting places associated with death, tragedy, and suffering. It's not about enjoying the macabre, but rather about understanding and learning from dark chapters in human history.


Dark tourism sites can be battlefields, concentration camps, genocide memorials, graveyards, prisons, or even sites of natural disasters. People are drawn to dark tourism for various reasons. Some seek to learn about history first-hand, confront the darker aspects of humanity, or pay respects to those who have suffered.


Statue commemorating the victims of a historical tragedy, with inscribed memorial plaque, set in a lush garden with wet pavement.


While visiting places of death and disaster has been around for centuries (think of attending gladiator games in the Roman Colosseum), dark tourism as a defined concept is a relatively recent phenomenon, gaining traction in the late 20th century. Places like Auschwitz in Poland, Chernobyl in Ukraine, Hiroshima in Japan and the Catacombs of Paris (France) are all considered dark tourism sites. As is Intramuros too.


Dark tourism can be a sensitive topic. Critics argue that it can be disrespectful to victims and insensitive to survivors. It's important to be respectful when visiting such sites and to learn about the history involved. We believe that these sites are an important way to educate our current generations about the mistakes of the past, but some may argue that they become more about social media sharing than about honouring the dead or education for the most part. What do you think?





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The history of Intramuros


Intramuros, meaning "within the walls" in Spanish, is a historic district situated at the heart of Manila, Philippines. Intramuros was founded by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi in 1571. It was built as a defensive fortress surrounded by massive stone walls and moats to protect the Spanish settlers from attacks by local indigenous groups and other foreign powers. The walls of Intramuros stood as a physical barrier between the Spanish elite and the outside world.


A man walking on old stone fortifications at Intramuros, Manila, Philippines.


Intramuros emerged as the political, religious, and economic nucleus of Manila during the Spanish colonial era. The district's architecture showcases a blend of Spanish colonial and Asian influences, featuring elegant facades, intricate carvings, and cobblestone streets. The district was laid out in a grid pattern, typical of Spanish colonial town planning, with the central plaza, Plaza Mayor (now known as Plaza de Roma), serving as the focal point. Key structures like the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church underline its role as a religious and cultural hub.


An aerial photo showing the destruction of Intramuros after WW2.


Intramuros survived the seven year war between Spain and Britain in 1762 but suffered devastating destruction during World War II, facing extensive bombing by American forces after Japan had invaded and occupied the city. Much of the original architecture and structures were destroyed or damaged during this period, not just from the bombing, but also via the 'scorched earth' tactics of the retreating Japanese army. Intramuros was almost completely destroyed, and Manila was the 2nd most destroyed city of WW2, after Warsaw in Poland.



Since the end of the war, and after the declaration of Philippine independence from the U.S in 1946, efforts have been made to preserve and restore what remains of Intramuros' historical heritage. Despite much of the original city being lost, Intramuros is to this day a cherished location, attracting tourists eager to delve into the Philippines' colonial history. It offers a unique glimpse into the nation's past through museums, cultural sites, and landmarks. As a living tribute to the Philippines' history, Intramuros symbolizes the country's resilience and offers a tangible connection to its struggle for freedom from foreign powers.


Street scene with pedestrians, tents, motorcycles, and historic building facades under a clear sky with power lines.




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Must-see places in Intramuros


There are many important places of interest in Intramuros, but here are a few that we highly recommend you check out:


Inside San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


⪢ San Agustin Church

The San Agustin Church is a Baroque church located in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. It is the oldest church in the Philippines and one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only church that survived the near complete destruction of Intramuros in WW2.



Inside Casa Manila, Intramuros, Philippines


⪢ Casa Manila

Casa Manila is a museum in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. It is a replica of a Spanish colonial house from the 19th century. The house was built in 1980 by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and is now a museum that showcases the lifestyle of a wealthy Filipino family during the Spanish colonial period.



Manila Cathedral in the Philippines.


⪢ Manila Cathedral

The Manila Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, is a historic and significant minor basilica located within the ancient walled city of Intramuros in Manila, Philippines. It has been the site of significant religious events, including papal visits, canonizations, and large-scale liturgical celebrations.



The ornate gate at Fort Santiago, with several tourists taking photos a its entrance on a rainy day.


⪢ Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is a citadel located in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. It was built by the Spanish in 1571 and served as the headquarters of the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines. The fort was also used as a prison, and it is where José Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was imprisoned before his execution in 1896.



Vintage-looking interior of a tavern with ornate decorations, candle-style lighting, and a stairway, evoking a cozy, historical ambiance.


⪢ Barbara's Heritage Restaurant

Barbara's Heritage Restaurant is a Spanish-Filipino restaurant located in Intramuros, Manila. It is housed in a restored Spanish-era mansion, Casa Manila, and is known for its elegant interiors, traditional Filipino cuisine, and cultural performances.





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Intramuros entrance fee


There is no entrance fee to access Intramuros itself. However, some of the attractions within Intramuros do charge entrance fees. For example, Casa Manila and Museo de Intramuros both have entrance fees. You can find a list of the entrance fees for all of the attractions in Intramuros on the official website, and we also include relevant entrance fees in all of our blog posts.


A street scene in the philippines with a woman crossing the road, blue and white jeepneys on the side, and various shops in the background.




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Intramuros opening hours


Intramuros itself, as the walled city of Manila, doesn't have specific opening hours per-se, although you will find that the pedestrian and vehicular gates are advertised to open at 5am and close at 10.30pm. The gate we entered through seemed heavily guarded, so we would assume this to be enforced, although details online are sketchy at best.


Most attractions are open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9am to 6pm. It's important to note that some museums and churches may have different schedules, and some are closed on Mondays. To be on the safe side, it's always a good idea to check the specific opening hours of the places you want to visit before you go. We include relevant opening times in all of our blog posts.


Pedestrians and drivers navigate a busy street lined with tangled utility wires overhead and various vehicles including a green public van and pedal-powered rickshaws.




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How to get to Intramuros in Manila


Intramuros is located in the heart of Manila, and is a central and accessible location for both locals and tourists. There are a number of different transport options you can choose from when planning your trip.


⪢ By LRT (Light Rail Transit)

This is the most budget-friendly option. Take the LRT Line 1 (Green Line) and alight at Central Terminal Station. From there, it's a short walk or tricycle ride to Intramuros.

Fare: Approximately PHP 15-30 (subject to change)

Travel Time: Around 30 minutes depending on your starting point.


⪢ By jeepney

● Jeepneys are a colorful and iconic mode of transportation in Manila. Several jeepney routes pass by Intramuros. Look for jeepneys with signs indicating "Intramuros," "Roxas Blvd (Ermita)," or "Central Terminal."

Fare: Minimum fare of PHP 9 (subject to change) depending on the distance travelled.

Travel Time: Varies depending on traffic conditions.


A busy urban street scene in the philippines with pedestrians, colorful jeepneys, and various local shops.


⪢ By taxi

Taxis offer a convenient and comfortable option, especially with luggage. Metered taxis are recommended. Ensure the meter is running before your trip begins.

Fare: Varies depending on the distance and traffic conditions. Expect the base fare to be around PHP 40 and an additional charge per kilometre.

Travel Time: The fastest option, particularly if you're coming from a far distance. Traffic congestion can significantly impact travel time though (and it can be very bad, especially in the evening).


By Kalesa (Horse-Drawn Carriage)

● Experience a touch of nostalgia with a kalesa ride. These horse-drawn carriages are readily available around Intramuros and offer a unique way to explore the historic district.

Fare: Negotiate the fare beforehand. Expect it to be higher than other transportation options.


⪢ By tour

Get access to Intramuros’ top activities with Klook's Intramuros Pass. The pass includes general entry to your all time favourites - Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, Casa Manila Museum, Museo de Intramuros, and many more. The pass is valid for 30 days and gives you flexibility to pick and choose depending on when and where you would like to go.



Address: Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines


Website: intramuros.gov.ph


Instagram: @intramurosph


Facebook: @OfficialIntramurosAdministration


Map of Intramuros highlighting landmarks, pathways, and facilities with numbered legend and a river flowing through.


A small makeshift market set up under a building with bicycles and carts filled with plants and assorted items.




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WATCH our Intramuros experience on YouTube


Come rain or shine we made the best of the day! In this video we explore the tourist hot spots of Plaza San Luis Complex where you can find the Barbara's Heritage Restaurant, The Royal Cafe and the Casa Manila Living Museum. We also head to San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago, all while enjoying the sights and sounds of the lively and friendly Manila that we have come to know and love in our month long stay here.




If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!




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It's not Venice, it's Manila!


Save for later: Venice Grand Canal Mall, a taste of Italy in the Philippines!


Experience the beauty and charm of Italy's Venice right here in Manila! A canal, iconic landmarks, and a variety of stores and restaurants!



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Our Intramuros experience rating


Colorful mural depicting a whimsical face surrounded by flowers, with the words "Intramuros night market desde 2018" on a weathered wall.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5


The Intramuros of today is a far cry from where it was a decade ago, let alone after the war. Today it is a bustling hub of tourists, traders and tour guides. It is a little overwhelming as you first enter, as you will be bombarded by a plethora of people offering you transport around the place. Should you want to go your own way, you will find sidewalks hard to come by, and a lot of traffic on the roads. That being said it is nice to go at your own pace, and the main points of interest in the city are perfectly walkable.


We thoroughly enjoyed checking our the San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral and in particular, Casa Manila. At that point we were really enjoying the old buildings and the general vibe! The tough part was heading to Fort Santiago last, in particular heading down into the prison bunker, which told the story of Intramuros' dark past that literally broke us inside. It was a sobering end to the visit and one which gave our hearts to the lives lost, and the Philippine people who have endured so much terror and subjugation over the years. This is a proud nation and its fight for independence never ceased and was eventually successful, and it really endeared us even more to this incredible country. We have no doubt a visit to Intramuros will do the same for you too.






How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!





Your FREE interactive map of the Philippines


Check out all of the places we visited in the Philippines courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!





Explore Manila with special offers from Klook


Klook offers a wide variety of tours to help you experience the best of the Philippines. Whether you're looking for a sunset cruise, a local attraction or a day trip island hopping, Klook has it all. In addition to their wide selection of tours, Klook also offers great deals on transportation, accommodation, and activities.



All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you learn about the history and culture of the Philippines. Klook's tours are all-inclusive too, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying your experience!




Your GUIDE to visiting the Philippines


First time in the Philippines? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, internet availability and much more!


Participants in colorful, flower-inspired costumes at a street festival in the Philippines, with a promotional banner overlay.




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<![CDATA[Why we have decided to quit Etsy: Are you thinking about it too?]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/why-we-have-decided-to-quit-etsy66029555dd3ef06bb0646c12Thu, 18 Apr 2024 17:05:02 GMTJenn & Leon TravelIt's with a mix of emotions that we are stepping away from Etsy after two years. The platform offered a fantastic launchpad for our products, but after careful consideration and a heap of frustrations, we have decided to pursue a different path for for our store, Closer Lives Emporium.


Hands holding a sign with the Etsy logo and text "we quit" over a resignation letter, with the Closer Lives logo in the bottom corner.


In this post, we share the many reasons behind our decision and our major concerns with the platform. Things that drove a massive 32% drop in Etsy's stock price in 2023, other sellers leaving in droves, and the tripling of Etsy's seller fees. Not to mention the hugely controversial Etsy reserve fiasco. What did we learn on Etsy, and what exciting things do we see coming next? Read on to find out!






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.





A laptop open on a table displaying the Esty homepage, featuring sections like "popular gifts" and "wedding gifts.


First things first, what is Etsy?

 

Etsy is an online marketplace that caters to those who appreciate unique and handcrafted items. It's a popular destination for people looking to support independent sellers and artists from all over the world. The platform offers a wide range of products, from jewelry and clothing to home decor and art. If you're looking for something special and bespoke, Etsy is a great place to browse.


Imagine Etsy as a giant online version of a craft fair. Here, you'll find a vast selection of handmade and vintage items created by independent sellers. This means you're directly supporting creative individuals who put their heart and soul into their work. So if you're looking for a one-of-a-kind piece or a gift with a personal touch, Etsy is definitely worth checking out.



Man in a black t-shirt with "add your design" text, standing beside a green background with the Printify logo.


⪢ Drop Shipping and Print-on-Demand


In addition to handcrafted items, Etsy is also a platform that is an outlet for the masses of drop-shippers and print-on-demand companies who have exploded onto the scene in recent years. Drop-shipping and print on demand (POD) companies like Printify are fulfillment models that allow you to sell products online without holding any inventory. With drop-shipping, you partner with a supplier who stores and ships products directly to your customers after you make a sale.


POD takes it a step further - you design custom products (like t-shirts or mugs) and the POD provider prints them on demand only when someone orders, handling the fulfillment for you. Both models free you up from managing stock and allow you to test out a wider range of products without upfront investment.




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Young man with glasses analyzing financial data with a digital pen, superimposed with dynamic stock market arrows and abstract numerical background.


How is Etsy performing?


In Q4 2023, Etsy reached 7.9 million active sellers, with a year-over-year growth of 3.8%.

 

One reason why selling on Etsy can be profitable is the growing number of buyers on the platform. According to Etsy, the number of active buyers went up by 3.4% to 97.3 million. This shows that Etsy is becoming a bigger market where sellers can make good money.

 

In 2023, Etsy’s consolidated Gross Merchandise Sales (GMS) decreased slightly to $13.16 billion from $13.32 billion in 2022, with a 1.2% decrease.

 

However, annual consolidated revenue notably increased, reaching $2.75 billion, marking a 7.1% YoY increase from $2.57 billion in 2022. Particularly noteworthy is the fourth quarter performance, where revenue marks a new record of $842.2 million, a 4.3% increase compared to Q4 2022, highlighting Etsy’s ongoing strength and resilience.

 

In February 2024, Etsy received 474.1 million visits, according to the web traffic collected by Similarweb. This number has made Etsy the 4th player in the Marketplace and Shopping category, only after Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.


Line graph comparing the percentage change in stock price of Esty and the s&p 500 from January to October 2023, showing Esty down 32.33% and s&p 500 up 24.23%.


Despite this 'increase', 2023 was actually not such a good year for the platform when you really drill down into the numbers. While its revenue seems to have grown, actual sales on the Etsy have stalled. On Etsy, the money from sales goes directly to the millions of sellers on the platform, not Etsy itself. Etsy makes its money by charging sellers fees for various services they use to list and sell their products.


Here's the interesting part: Even though Etsy's own revenue has increased from a very aggressive seller fee strategy to counter losses, the total amount of sales on the platform (called Gross Merchandise Sales or GMS) has dipped. This means sellers are making a less money overall. This trend worried investors in 2023, and it's why Etsy took action. In December of that year, they announced they were laying off 11% of their staff to focus on initiatives that will help sellers grow their sales on the platform. Initiatives which we will look at throughout this post. Funnily enough, they do not seem to be helping one bit.



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Two businessmen shaking hands in front of a blue glass building, symbolizing a professional agreement or partnership.


Why we choose Etsy for Closer Lives Emporium


Fresh into our full-time travel adventure and with an eye on not depleting our savings too much, we started looking around for some serious ways to earn on the go. Etsy was by no means our only option, as we were already teaching English online when we decided to give it a try. That being said, we liked the idea of earning money without having to do much; it kind of seemed to good to be true!


We were inspired by many hours of researching YouTubers and successful entrepreneurs who were sharing their Etsy success stories. Some were demonstrating hundreds of thousands of sales on POD items, in particular tees. With plenty of creative ideas as content creators on social media, we sensed an opportunity for us too. If they could do it, why couldn't we?


At the time, we were in the midst of establishing this website, which was born from Closer Lives Poetry on Instagram, a community page, which Jenn had founded. closerlives.com was actually intended to be a Creator Academy initially, to expand the concept beyond the confines of IG at the time.


With very little experience in website building, establishing our POD range on Closer Lives did not seem like the best idea, given the fact it would take some time to garner domain authority, and we wanted to start earning straight away. So familiar with the brand and prowess of Etsy, it seemed like the perfect spot to build. And so, Closer Lives Emporium was born.




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The journey to 300 products


We started creating our range in Merida, Mexico (of all places). We had a super cute Airbnb in the middle of a quiet urban sector of the city. It was a good spot to relax and get creative, and once we got started, our range just exploded!


There are a few platforms you can try for POD services, the main two being printiful.com and printify.com. We set up an account with both, but opted to use Printify more as it felt a little more user friendly, and it synchronised with Etsy pretty seamlessly. For those who may not know, POD companies usually have tie ups with the big players like Etsy and Shopify, whereby products you create upload directly to the respective selling platform. Any time a product sells, the order automatically generates in the POD platform, and aside from some customer service should you so choose, the process is entirely automated from point of order to the customer receiving the goods.


There are some nuances and processes you can put in place, like manually authorising orders, sending thank you emails and such, but even postal tracking is automated so you really don't have to. All this takes a little bit of work to set up and get right, but once you have it done, you can sit back, and earn money in your sleep as they say.


We kind of lost track of how many items we were creating at one point, if anything we were just having fun with it. We quickly made it to over 100 products, and before we knew it, we hit over 300 across 17 categories. Woah!!!




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Graphic representing SEO concepts with a magnifying glass focusing on the term "SEO," surrounded by related keywords like "Google," "Meta," and "ranking.


Understanding the SEO > product descriptions, alt tags, size charts etc. Mistakes spell a time-consuming disaster!


One of the biggest challenges was actually marketing the products, which goes far beyond just making it and sticking it on your Etsy storefront. There are things like flat-lays, descriptions, alt tags, getting the title right, terms and conditions, refund policies, privacy policies, size charts, fulfillment times, actual delivery times etc. Say what now? We thought this was going to be easy! Such things are not exactly talked about when people share their glossy charts advertising thousands of sales.


This was exactly where the time starts to become a factor. Creating a ton of designs, popping them onto a product template and pressing 'publish' is honestly the easy part. Getting these items on the virtual shelf properly is another matter entirely. Especially if you don't know what your doing, and make some critical mistakes along the way.


Let's give you an example. Alt tags. Yes alt tags. You may have heard of them, and in the past year or so they have grown into the conversation so much so that you can even see them given as an option for you in your Instagram posts. An alt tag is a hidden description for an image on a webpage, helping visually impaired people understand the image. It also provides backup text if the image fails to load, but perhaps most crucially, improves search engine ranking. And search engine ranking is a biggie. Like the biggest, actually.



Funnily enough, alt tags weren't actually a thing on Etsy. In fact when we started in 2021, they weren't prevalent at all. So we did not make them. Just as we did not make size chart thumbs for our items, or fulfillment information graphics. A BIG mistake we had no clue we were making.


Let us tell you, when you have 300 items, and realise you need to update them all with critical things like size chart graphics, that is hours of work. Then Etsy comes along and hits you with alt tags. Then you realise you aren't making sales potentially because of these issues. Then the panic sets in when you realise on average each of your items has at least 10 photos, which means potentially 3000 alt tags. Say what now?



So hopefully we are able to paint the picture now! After all of our initial hype of getting things onto Etsy, we realised our shop was always going to struggle without some serious time being put into the background. SEO-effective product titles and descriptions was not something we did prior to uploading the item from Printify. They were just generic. We had to design a whole bunch of things like our size charts and product flat-lays. Then upload those and figure out how the hell to write a good alt tag, let alone 3000 of them.


Weeks and months passed before we were finally able to get these kind of things done. Let us tell you, those weeks and months are measured in actual time spent, or at least it certainly feels like it looking back.





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A blurry man in a business suit writes "about us" with a marker on a transparent surface in the foreground.


The importance of Branding


So things were starting to move, and after the rough months at the beginning, we were starting to learn a lot, and were making some serious progress on getting our listings up to scratch. We could see the difference it was making too; picking up some sales here or there, and getting excited about the future prospects. Our product wall was looking better by the day, and our products themselves were looking professional and organised.


One of the key elements to this was our branding, something we took great care to curate right from the off. Again we were very in-experienced with this kind of thing, and quickly found out why people pay big-bucks for logo designers and high performance graphics. Just so you know, Canva is great and all, but it is very limiting when it comes to logos. We never did end up paying big bucks, but then again the offset against changing our logo several times, and having issues with pixelation and poor quality, perhaps we should have done in hindsight.


The crux of the branding comes in with all of the 'peripheral' stuff that the big drop-shippers do not tell you about. Those fulfillment charts and delivery info charts are very important. A brand is more than just a flashy logo; it is in the details, the way you market your products, the follow up emails, the terms and conditions. These things can make-or-break a business and are often sidelined in the short-term pursuit of mega bucks. Fortunately with our business experience we did particularly well in this area, but again, that dreaded time count was dding up. Yet more hours, days and weeks to get it spot on!




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Website interface showing Etsy ads feature on a computer screen, with a textual promotion about increasing buyers and a sidebar navigation menu.


The Etsy Ads disaster


So at the point in our journey where we finally felt like our store was how we wanted it, in terms of all of the above, we were still struggling to hit consistent sales. We had got over the 20 mark, which had felt like quite a lot of work for not really that much. With all of the effort we had put in to getting the descriptions, titles and alt tags right, we were hoping for far more return than that.


With our reach pretty low, and our confidence in our products pretty high, we came to the conclusion that we should invest some cash into the store. Now sure, time is money, so the months of work it had taken to get to this point should always be considered as investment, but we are talking cold hard bucks in the system. We were averaging about ten visitors a day to our store, and simple logic told us that this was never going to be enough to take off. Besides, Etsy are obsessed with pushing its advertising-to-sales potential at you, so we decided to bite. And wait for the sales to roll in.


This is where our frustration with the platform really started to kick in. Now you might think that paying some money for a bigger slice of the reach pie might automatically boost your profits. But with Etsy, this is a big no no.



⪢ Etsy Ads offers two ways to promote your products to a wider audience on Etsy and beyond:


⪢ Onsite Ads: These work on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. You set a daily budget and Etsy will display your ads in various locations throughout the Etsy platform, like search results or product pages. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, not when they just see it.


⪢ Offsite Ads: This is a commission-based advertising program. Etsy automatically enrolls all sellers and displays your product listings on other platforms like Google, Pinterest, or Instagram. You only pay a commission (12-15% of the sale price) if someone clicks on your ad and then makes a purchase within 30 days.


Funnily enough, it seemed like every ad-based sale we were making was coming from 'offsite ads'. So we were losing 12-15% every time. Not to mention the taxes on top (which we will get into later).


Now the average margin on your items, especially if you want to remain competitive and soak up the delivery charge, might only be 20%. Take away Etsy ad fees, taxes, and Etsy listing fees, and yes folks, you are losing money. Sadly for us, at least 80% of our sales were barely breaking even. Before we even factored the time spent on creating the damn things. Etsy's cut was easily approaching 25-30% with offsite ads factored in, and without them, the chances of selling though onsite ads was basically zero. We quickly realised that Etsy was starting to demonstrate itself as a little bit of a scam. With the platform raking in billions, where on earth was the support for the sellers that make it? 25% ? Absolutely madness.



⪢ Was there even a good reach?


In all fairness, the reach on Etsy ads did seem okay. We saw an uptick of around 100 visitors a day to our store at one point, although that cost us a cool $130 in a month before we cut it off. It just was not worth it with the offset against sales barely breaking even. A shortage of actual buyers on the platform? Or were our products just not good enough? Definitely an argument for the later, although we had sold at least one across 30% of our range. Deep down we just knew the exposure was not good enough.




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Close-up of a computer keyboard with a prominent blue "update" button replacing the usual "enter" key.


Etsy's direction... too concerned with updates and apps


With the amount of money Etsy was charging us for listings and ads, we were wondering if there was going to be some sort of major investment in the system to boost reach or something. Yes we know that is wishful thinking, but at this point, we had put way to much work in to simply give up. We turned the ads on and then off, then on again, desperately hoping they would spur the organic reach we craved. A few sales trickled in, we lost money, and we eventually decided to keep them off.


In 2022, it felt like the money was going into constant updates and tweaks. A whole new app to replace one that was not broken, a slew of changes to product features and parameters (which meant yet another 300 changes), and then one of the most frustrating of all, an enforced delivery lead-time update which led to another 300 changes. There were plenty of others besides, and we seemed to be spending far more time catering to the platform than sending out 'thank you for your custom' emails. Sales were few and far between, but the time demanded was off the charts.


In the past two years (roughly April 2022 - April 2024), Etsy has implemented several changes to improve the platform for both sellers and buyers. There have been adjustments to fee structures, though as ever with Etsy the specifics are ridiculously complex.


After major seller backlash campaigns in the past few years, Etsy has made efforts to improve search algorithms and introduce new features to help buyers discover unique products. This involved better filtering options or promoting (apparently) high-quality listings. There have also been updates to the offsite ads program, such as offering sellers more control over their ad placements and budgets. Honestly, it is all company bluster to keep us going and paying our fees. Sadly hardly any of it has worked.




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Crazy Etsy charges


The crazy Etsy charges. The crazy Etsy statements. It really is one of the worst parts of the platform. Even to this day, we still cannot make sense of the chaos. Etsy provides a monthly statement, and on it is a barrage of costs that no amount of terms and conditions reading can understand!


For example, we sold a pair of green sneakers and a pair of brown sneakers. 2 items, that's it, that's all. On Etsy's statement - TWENTY separate charges. Yes 20! Let's give you more of an idea:


The sale of the two pairs of sneakers came to $74.08 (CAD).


Charges applied by Etsy (we have added both charges together, but they are all separately placed on your statement, for each item, just to confuse you):


Bill for click-throughs to your shop: $2.65

VAT on Etsy Ads: $0.53

Listing Fee: $0.27

VAT auto-renew sold: $0.10

Processing Fee: $3.21

VAT on Processing Fee: $1.28

Sales tax paid by buyer: $9.70

Transaction Fee: $9.24

Regulatory Operating Fee: $0.36

VAT on Transaction: $1.84


TOTAL: $29.18


So given that our profit margin on both the pairs of sneakers is $36, that leaves us with $6. Raising prices is not an option as we are trying to stay competitive with others in the market... given all of the work involved in launching the product, $6 is not a lot. And the more money thrown at advertising for no returns equals a loss sadly.


⪢ Oh, and the listing fees...


We were aware of the listing fees prior to joining, however it is another expense that can seem to sneak up on you without you realising. Every item comes with an initial listing fee, which renews every 4 months, and also is charged on each sale. While 27 cents might not seem a lot, when you factor in 300 products, it really starts to add up and eat into the margins.




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Light blue text saying "time is money" with a stopwatch integrated into the letter "o" in "money.


Time vs effort - is it worth it?


Now none of this is to say all is completely at a loss. From what we understand, for drop-shippers, Etsy is all about volume. If you can sell a thousand sneakers, that becomes $6000 profit. But the offshoot is that you simply cannot reach volume without Etsy ads, and Etsy ads are totally unsustainable and unprofitable. It is all geared towards raking in money for the platform, leaving the sellers with nothing but years of hard work with little to show for it.


It really is not worth it in our opinion. Maybe a few years ago in the early days of Etsy it was, but in this day and age it is a false economy. It all feels a little like working for a public company where you bust a gut for minimum wage while the fat cats at the top flood their paychecks with millions of dollars. And you can bet they aren't working nearly as hard. Etsy works on the same principal and we decided we were no longer going to fall for it!




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A businesswoman presents a graph on a whiteboard to colleagues in a sunlit conference room, illustrating teamwork and discussion in a corporate setting.


Competition – how tough is it?


The competition on Etsy can be quite tough as we have already mentioned, but it also depends on several factors:


⪢ Saturation: Certain niches on Etsy (like printed tees) are highly saturated, meaning there are many sellers offering similar products. This can make it challenging for new shops to stand out, especially for popular items like clothing or travel accessories (like ours).


⪢ Search Ranking: Etsy's search algorithm plays a big role in determining which shops appear first in search results. Understanding SEO principles and optimizing your listings with relevant keywords is crucial for getting your products seen according to Etsy, but by no means guaranteed. In our experience, the big accounts gobble up about 90%, leaving the remaining 10% feeding off of the scraps. Ok, we cannot back up those numbers, but it certainly felt like that in the 2 years we went at it.


⪢ Product Differentiation: What makes your products unique? Do you offer a special design element, use high-quality materials, or cater to a specific niche within a broader category? Standing out from the crowd is essential for attracting customers. That is what the Etsy 'experts' tell you anyway. Thumbnails are crucial, as are titles, but that takes time and money (Canva pro or flat-lay app subscriptions for example). All while eating into the little-to-no profit margins you have.


⪢ Marketing & Branding: Successful Etsy shops often invest in marketing their products beyond just the Etsy platform. This could involve social media promotion, influencer partnerships, or running targeted ads. Building a strong brand identity also helps you resonate with potential customers. Again this all costs a lot of time and money, and can be very draining. It is a hard slog, with absolutely no guarantees. Especially when you are fighting against millions of others.




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The infamous Etsy 'reserve' debacle


The Etsy "reserve" debacle refers to a policy change implemented in 2021 that caused significant frustration among many sellers. Here's a breakdown of what happened:


⪢ The Policy: Etsy introduced a system where they could withhold a portion (usually 75%, yes 75%!) of seller's funds in a reserve account. This meant sellers wouldn't have immediate access to the full amount from their sales.


⪢ Reasons for Reserve: The purpose, according to Etsy, was to protect the platform and buyers from potential fraud. They would hold the reserve until specific criteria were met, such as the order being shipped with tracking or a certain timeframe passing (typically 45 days).


⪢ Sellers' Frustration: Several aspects of the policy caused major problems for sellers, with the lack of transparency quite shocking. Many sellers felt Etsy wasn't clear about why their funds were being placed in reserve, making it difficult to address the issue.


⪢ Cash Flow Impact: Holding a significant portion of funds could strain a seller's cash flow, especially for those who rely on Etsy income to purchase materials or cover other business expenses.


⪢ Impact on New Shops: New shops (like us at the time), which are more susceptible to being flagged for reserve due to limited sales history, could find it challenging to gain momentum if their earnings are restricted.


⪢ Aftermath: The policy received significant pushback from the seller community, with many voicing their concerns online and through petitions and boycotts. While Etsy has made adjustments to the policy since its initial implementation, the "reserve" debacle remains a point of contention for many sellers.


This shambolic policy was not quite the final straw when it was first implemented, but coupled with the insane charges, constant changes to the platform, the awful ad program and terrible reach, we were really getting there.




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Two men standing and directing documents towards a seated woman with a laptop, in a professional setting, depicted in a simplified graphic style.


Poor store customization


Another major source of frustration for us came with the lack of customization for our storefront, which honestly is pretty poor given the amount of changes Etsy loves to implement practically anywhere else but. For example, items sold always go to no 1 spot in the feed, which means if you have a layout aesthetic you are constantly re-organizing it. And the re-organisation process absolutely sucks and is very time consuming.


The store banner is a nightmare, has poor rendering and is a pain to size correctly. Yu can get additional layout options but of course, you must pay monthly for the privilege. The product layouts cannot be customised and it is very difficult to showcase your brand beyond the small profile picture. These are just a few frustrations, there are plenty more plastered all over the internet. Very disappointing from Etsy given how much money it is extracting from its sellers.




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Neon sign on a brick wall saying "this is the sign you've been looking for" above several hanging prints and a skateboard..


The turning point: time to QUIT ETSY and move on to OUR OWN PLATFORM closerlives.com


So what was the straw that broke the camels back? Well in all honesty, it was our own website, THIS website, which did it.


Up until mid 2023, our website had taken a bit of a back seat to Etsy, our travels, teaching English online, and YouTube. We had started it as a creator academy, abandoned that, and then started to blog a little. But with limited time and an uncertainty as to how to monetize, it just was not a priority.


After experiencing a dramatic rise and surpassing monetization on YouTube while in Jakarta in 2023, we realised that our website was an opportunity we could no longer avoid. We had blogged a little up until that point, but the design and usability was poor, and it was not bringing in any cash. We were nervous about throwing time at it, as we were concerned that it would be another Etsy situation. A whole lot of work for no payout.


Well, we were very happy to be proved wrong on that front! After some serious research, again that good old time, and some big blogs, we completely overhauled Closer Lives. It has been 6 months of major reconstruction and we are now seeing tangible results; increased ad revenues, over ten thousand visitors a month and even store sales. Our OWN brand, our OWN money, and a GENUINE COMMUNITY that we could never replicate on Etsy. The decision was made. Time to go it alone!




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Businessman with arms raised in triumph facing modern skyscrapers.


The benefits of building your own site


Building your own website and online store offers several advantages compared to selling on platforms like Etsy; here are but just a few reasons, and things to consider:


⪢ Greater Control & Branding: You have complete control over the design, layout, and branding of your online store. This allows you to create a unique shopping experience that reflects your brand identity and resonates with your target audience. On Etsy, your shop operates within a larger platform with a pre-determined layout and branding elements.


⪢ Lower Fees: While website building and hosting come with costs, you typically avoid the transaction fees and listing fees associated with marketplaces like Etsy. In the long run, this can lead to significant savings, especially for businesses with high sales volume.


⪢ Customer Data Ownership: When you run your own store, you collect customer data directly, allowing you to build targeted email marketing campaigns and gain valuable insights into your customer base. On Etsy, customer data belongs to the platform, limiting your marketing options.


⪢ Flexibility and Customization: With your own website, you have the freedom to customize the functionality of your online store. This could involve adding features like loyalty programs, subscription boxes, or personalized product recommendations, which might not be readily available on marketplaces.


⪢ Scalability: As your business grows, your website can easily scale to accommodate increased traffic and product offerings. Scaling on marketplaces might involve additional fees or limitations depending on the platform's structure.


⪢ Here's a caveat though: Building and maintaining your own website requires more effort and technical expertise compared to using a pre-built platform like Etsy. You'll need to consider factors like web hosting, domain name registration, website design, security measures, and ongoing maintenance. However, the long-term benefits of control, cost-efficiency, and brand ownership can be significant for businesses looking to establish a strong online presence!




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Two circular logos for "Closer Lives Jenn & Leon travel & lifestyle": one black with white text and signature; another purple featuring a shopping cart and the tagline "Closer Lives Emporium".

The future of Closer Lives Emporium - what have we learnt, and where do we go from here?


This whole experience has been a massive learning curve for us, and as ever hindsight will always demonstrate the could have's, should not's and what could-have-been's. If we could go back and do it all over again, would we? To be honest, as tempting as that might be, we wouldn't. We learnt far too much through our own mistakes, and we appreciate those as much as we do our successes. We did sell on Etsy, we did make a little bit of cash and we did come out of it with almost 300 products that are still very much alive and well right here on our own site.



The learning curve has been steep and challenging, but has not deterred us from making a success of Closer Lives Emporium. That being said, it has also pushed us to developing our own site as a whole, which in turn led to us pursuing one of our biggest passions - writing and blogging! Would that have still been a reality if we were pushing our Etsy store? I guess we will never know, But one thing is for sure, we are having the time of our lives developing this blog, and happiness genuinely is the key to success. The energy this blog continues to give us is the cornerstone of Closer Lives. That all being said, our store is very much operational on here to and you are welcome to take a look!



We hope this post has helped you in some way, and if you have any questions and want to pick our brains at all, feel free to get in touch! Drop a comment or pop us an email; we are always on hand and our advice is free. Helping and making a difference: that to us is a far better use of our time!




⪢ How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!



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<![CDATA[Unveiling Tirana's Beating Heart: A Journey to Skanderbeg Square]]>https://www.closerlives.com/blog/post/unveiling-tirana-s-beating-heart-a-journey-to-skanderbeg-square661d4b8c2ab666088e99d12aTue, 16 Apr 2024 18:09:08 GMTJenn & Leon TravelSkanderbeg Square, a vibrant hub pulsating with life, is a major cultural hub in Tirana, Albania's dynamic capital city. More than just a standard central plaza, it's woven with layers of history, architectural styles, and cultural significance.


Statue of Skanderbeg on horseback, Albanian flag, clock tower, and building backdrop at Skanderbeg square, Tirana, Albania.



Here, the echoes of a defiant national hero mingle with the buzz of modern life. Whether you're a history buff seeking remnants of bygone eras, a budget traveler navigating the city, or simply someone curious to explore the soul of Tirana, Skanderbeg Square has something unique to offer. It is definitely a must-see spot in Tirana, for its national importance alone.


A person observing a traditional carousel in an urban outdoor setting on a sunny day.


In this post, we look into the fascinating history of not just this square but its namesake Commander Skanderbeg himself, and the enduring impact and legacy he left on the Land of Eagles. We'll also tell you more about the Albanian history involving Ottoman rule and Italian invasion, and show you how to get here from within Tirana.






Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Tap here for more information.




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Skanderbeg: Albanian National Hero and Thorn in the Ottoman Side


Skanderbeg, also known as Gjergj Kastrioti (c. 1405 – 1468), was a pivotal figure in Albanian history. He rose to prominence as a military leader who defied the powerful Ottoman Empire and became a symbol of Albanian resistance.


Portrait of an elderly medieval warrior wearing a helmet with a winged adornment, featuring a serious expression and decorated armor.


⪢ Early Life and Ottoman Service

Born into a noble Albanian family, Skanderbeg's early life was intertwined with the political realities of the region. The Ottomans were expanding their influence, and his father, Gjon Kastrioti, sent some of his sons, including Skanderbeg, as hostages to the Ottoman court. This was a common practice intended to secure loyalty.


Skanderbeg received an Ottoman education, converted to Islam (though some sources suggest he secretly remained Christian), and rose through the ranks of the Ottoman military. He even received the name Skanderbeg, a combination of "Alexander" (referencing Alexander the Great) and "Bey" (a title of nobility).


Statue of a mounted warrior in armor, depicted in mid-gallop on a stone pedestal, with a red flag in the background.



⪢ Rebellion and Leadership

In 1443, a pivotal moment arrived. During a battle in Serbia, Skanderbeg saw an opportunity and defected from the Ottoman army. He renounced Islam, reclaimed his family's Christian faith, and rallied other Albanian nobles to his cause. In 1444, he formed the League of Lezhë, uniting Albanian principalities against Ottoman rule.


Skanderbeg's military genius became legendary. He employed guerilla warfare tactics, utilizing Albania's mountainous terrain to his advantage. His small, agile force inflicted numerous defeats on much larger Ottoman armies. Famous victories like the Siege of Krujë in 1450 solidified his reputation as a formidable opponent.


⪢ Legacy and Symbolism

Skanderbeg's resistance against the Ottomans lasted for over two decades. While he never fully expelled them from Albania, he significantly hampered their expansion and inspired generations of Albanians. He became a symbol of national identity and pride, a role he continues to hold today.


Keep reading to find out more about the Ottomans in Albania, how all of this led to Skanderbeg Square being constructed, how to get there within Tirana, and as ever, our experience rating.


City square with people walking and biking, a statue in the foreground, and buildings under construction wrapped in scaffolding, with mountains in the background.





Bus border crossing Tirana, Albania to Ohrid, North Macedonia


Save for later: How to take the bus from Tirana, Albania across the border to Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia


We show you how to cross this land border, useful travel tips, how to find Tirana Bus Station (it is not that easy) and bus ticket info!



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The Ottomans and Albania: A Story of Conquest, Resistance, and Coexistence


The Ottoman Empire and Albania shared a long and intricate history. Their relationship went through phases of conquest, fierce resistance, and even periods of co-existence.


⪢ Ottoman Arrival and a Divided Albania (14th-15th Centuries)

The Ottomans first arrived in Albania in the late 14th century. They capitalized on existing rivalries among Albanian nobility, who were divided in their response. Some Albanian rulers became vassals of the Ottomans, while others fiercely resisted their encroachment. By the 1420s, the Ottomans had established a strong foothold in southern Albania and gradually expanded control northward.


⪢ Skanderbeg's Uprising and a thorn in the Ottoman Side (1443-1468)

Skanderbeg's rebellion in 1443 marked a turning point. He switched sides, defecting from the Ottomans and uniting Albanian principalities under the League of Lezhë. Skanderbeg's military genius and effective guerrilla tactics frustrated Ottoman ambitions for over two decades. He repeatedly defeated larger Ottoman armies, preventing them from fully consolidating power in Albania. Skanderbeg's legacy as a national hero and symbol of resistance continues to inspire Albanians to this day.


A woman walking in a plaza with tall buildings, a mosque and a clock tower.


⪢ Ottoman Rule and a Lasting Impact (15th-Early 20th Centuries)

The Ottomans eventually subdued Albania after Skanderbeg's death. Ottoman rule significantly impacted Albania. Islam spread, but many Albanians clung to their Christian faith. The Ottomans implemented the Timar system, a land-grant system tied to military service, which affected Albanian social structures. Interestingly, local Albanian elites often held positions within the Ottoman administration, demonstrating a degree of co-existence within the empire.


⪢ The Rise of Albanian Nationalism and a Breakaway (19th-Early 20th Centuries)

Despite Ottoman control, Albanian cultural identity and a sense of national consciousness persisted. The 19th century witnessed the rise of Albanian nationalism, fueled by factors like religious discrimination and a yearning for self-determination. Revolts against Ottoman rule became more frequent, culminating in Albania's declaration of independence in 1912.


Statue of Dede Gjon Luli (1840-1915), labeled as "heroi popullit," standing in front of a building with trees and blue sky in the background.


Dedë Gjon Luli Dedvukaj, also known as Ded Gjo Luli or Deda, was a prominent Albanian figure (1840-1915), particularly recognized for leading the 1911 uprising against Ottoman forces in the region of Malësia e Madhe (Greater Malësia). He is also immortalized at Skanderbeg Square, almost at the entrance to the plaza.





Piano trio date night at Archaeological Museum of Durres


Save for later: Archaeological Museum of Durrës, Albania, plus Galan Trio performance!


A wonderful evening enjoying the beautiful piano & violin sounds of Galan Trio, performing amongst the incredible artefacts of Durrës Museum.



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Skanderbeg Square: A Stage for Albania's Evolving Identity


Skanderbeg Square, known as Sheshi Skënderbej in Albanian, is the beating heart of Tirana, Albania's capital city. It's not just a central plaza; it's a physical manifestation of the country's complex history, reflecting different eras and architectural styles. Here's a look at its fascinating past:


Early Beginnings (19th-Early 20th Centuries)

The square's history isn't as old as Tirana itself. In the 19th century, the area was largely undeveloped, with an Austrian-built public square emerging around 1917. Following Tirana becoming Albania's capital in 1920, city planning initiatives aimed to transform the space.


People walking on a tree-lined path in a sunny urban park with mountains in the background and a clear blue sky.


Italian Fascist Influence (1920s-1930s)

During the reign of King Zog I of Albania (1928-1939), the square was envisioned as a roundabout with a central fountain. However, with the Italian invasion of Albania in 1939, the plans changed dramatically. Italian architects, influenced by the Neo-Renaissance style, designed a more elaborate layout with a circular shape and symmetrical buildings. This reflected the fascist ideals of order and grandeur.


Skanderbeg Takes Center Stage (1939-Present)

The square received its name, Skanderbeg Square, in 1937, honoring Albania's national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Interestingly, even the communist regime, not known for its admiration of nobility, retained the name. This highlights Skanderbeg's enduring significance as a symbol of Albanian resistance and national identity.


Post-War Transformations (Mid-20th Century to Present)

Following World War II and the communist takeover, the square underwent further changes. The Old Bazaar, a historic marketplace, was demolished to make way for the Palace of Culture, a Soviet-style building housing the National Theater of Opera and Ballet and the National Library. This reflected the ideological shift towards communist ideals.


In recent years, Skanderbeg Square has seen a renewed focus on pedestrian access. Car traffic has been restricted, and the central area has been transformed into a more open space for gatherings and events. In the summer months, water features add a refreshing touch.


Skanderbeg Square Today

Today, Skanderbeg Square stands as a testament to Albania's evolving identity. It's a place where remnants of fascist-era architecture coexist with communist-era buildings, all overlooking a monument to a national hero who defied foreign domination. The square serves as a vibrant hub, a stage for celebrations, protests, and everyday life, reflecting the dynamic spirit of modern Albania.


Urban building with large artistic murals on its facade, seen behind leafy green trees under a clear blue sky.




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What there is to do at Skanderbeg Square, and things to know before you go


The square itself is a sight to behold, with its grand architecture and the equestrian statue of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, Albania's national hero, dominating the center. The square is also a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax. There are benches scattered around, perfect for people-watching or reading a book. Free Wi-Fi is also available in the square, so you can stay connected.


⪢ Exploring nearby attractions

The Et'hem Bey Mosque, a beautiful Ottoman-era mosque with frescoes depicting religious scenes (not typical of mosques).

The National Historical Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts from Albania's long history. Note: As of April 2024, the museum is closed for renovations, so be sure to check before you go.

The National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, a beautiful Art Deco building that is home to Albania's premier performing arts companies.

The National Library, which houses a collection of books, newspapers, and other materials related to Albanian culture and history.


Two people standing in front of an ornate historic building with a clock tower, under renovation, surrounded by modern construction scaffolding and a crane.



⪢ Other things to know

Grabbing a bite to eat: There are many cafes, restaurants, and bars located around the square, offering everything from traditional Albanian cuisine to international fare.

Shopping: There are a few souvenir shops located near the square, where you can pick up some Albanian mementos.

People-watching: Albanians are known for their hospitality, and Skanderbeg Square is a great place to people-watch and get a feel for the local culture.

Attending events: The square often hosts events such as concerts, festivals, and protests. If you're lucky, you might catch something interesting happening during your visit.

The square is pedestrian-only, so you won't have to worry about traffic.

The square is well-lit at night, so it's safe to walk around even after dark. It is open to the public 24 hours.

There are a few ATMs located near the square, in case you need to withdraw some cash. Albanian Lek is the local currency. While some places may accept Euros, it's best to have some Lek on hand for smaller purchases.


A sunny day in a park with a pathway flanked by benches and lush trees, people visible in the distance enjoying the outdoors.




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How to get to Skanderbeg Square (from within Tirana)


If you're already within Tirana, getting to Skanderbeg Square is fairly easy. The most convenient way would depend on your preference and budget:


⪢ Walking

This is the most economical option, and a great way to see the city at your own pace. Since Skanderbeg Square is centrally located, it's easily accessible on foot from most parts of Tirana. Expect a leisurely walk of 10-20 minutes depending on your starting point.


⪢ Bus

Tirana's public bus system is a convenient and affordable option. Several bus lines run near Skanderbeg Square, including L11, L15, L2, L7, and L9. A single ticket costs around 30 Lek (around $0.25 USD). You can check Moovit app or website for real-time schedules and routes.

⪢ Taxi

Taxis are readily available throughout Tirana and can be a convenient option, especially if you have luggage or limited mobility. Fares are metered, so agree on the price before you get in. Expect to pay around 500-700 Lek (around $4-6 USD) for a ride from within central Tirana.



Modern high-rise building with a unique checkered facade, framed by lush green trees on a sunny day, with a blue bus passing in front.




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Bunk'Art 2: Just a short walk from Skanderbeg Square


Interior of Bunk'art 2 museum in Tirana, Albania, showing a domed ceiling with multiple portrait photographs displayed along the curved walls, with a large Albanian flag in the center.


In 2015 this secret state nuclear communist era bunker was unveiled to the public after being shrouded in secrecy for nearly 40 years. Built as part of an astonishing network of 700,000 such tunnels and bunkers across Albania, now repurposed as a museum, here you will meet the horrors of a brutal paranoid dictatorship led by the notorious Enver Hoxha. Bunk'Art 2 is a symbol of a dark past, yet one that now signifies a new era for this proud Balkan state.





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Our Skanderbeg Square experience rating


A woman in black clothing stands beside a large rock in a sunny park with a yellow building in the background.


⭐⭐⭐ 3/5


Skanderbeg Square is certainly a place we would recommend you visit in Tirana, if you are looking to learn and understanf more of the history and culture here. The main square is absolutely huge, and initially aside from the statue there does not seem to be a great deal going on.


Skanderbeg Square will not blow your socks off, but if you take the time to look outside of the main sea of floor tiles in its centre, there is actually quite a lot to see. Park walks, the museums, a carousel and plenty of cool architecture are all on offer. Not to mention Bunk Art 2 nearby.


We do think that perhaps the city could do a better job of giving information to tourists, especially around the Skanderbeg Monument. The National History Museum has also been closed for an age, and that was also a little bit of a disappointment for us. All that being said, this square is not so much about sightseeing anyway. It is about a national hero who will forever live on in Albanian hearts, and one that we will not forget after visiting here either!




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How to follow our Blog


There are lots of ways for you to stay up to date with Jenn and Leon Travel. If you follow us on Instagram, you can join our broadcast channel for our latest updates and posts. You will also find us on YouTube of course, or you can simply subscribe to our blog, and we will drop our latest posts straight into your email inbox. It is that easy!




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Our First Impressions of Tirana, Albania on YouTube


In this travel vlog, we'll show you our first impressions of Tirana. We'll walk around the city, explore its historic buildings, and taste delicious local food. This video will also be helpful if you have only a day to visit! Get a feel of what to expect when you visit Albania's capital.



If you enjoy our video and want to follow more of our adventures please do like and subscribe! Your support truly is invaluable to us and we will always strive to produce the best content we can from around the world!

e you in Tirana!



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Your FREE interactive map of Albania


Check out all of the places we visited in Albania courtesy of this interactive map from Wanderlog. Tap any of the numbers for more information including directions, our blog posts, links to reviews and much more.



Wanderlog is a free travel planning app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to create trip itineraries, organize flights, hotel and car reservations, view places to visit on a map, and collaborate with friends. It is super handy and has made a big impact on our travel planning. It saves time and is super easy to use!





Your GUIDE to visiting Albania


First time in Albania? Check out our comprehensive guide with all you need to know including our latest posts, must-see places, and key information about health & safety, transport, local customs, connectivity, visa information, useful links and much more!


Your guide to visiting Albania.



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