Getting a Malaysia Tourist e Visa Online in 24 Hours – Fees & Requirements For Indian Citizens 

Getting a Malaysian visa turned out to be way easier than we initially thought – we completed a 20 days long trip to Malaysia this month itself (Feb 2017), and are very satisfied with the e Visa for Malaysia service.

Malaysia Visa for Indians

The idea of going through any agent always makes us little uncomfortable, however, once we found that a Single entry e-Visa for Malaysia could be obtained through a direct online portal operated by Malaysian Embassy, we were quite relaxed.

The e-Visa facility for Indians is available through a portal called WINDOW MALAYSIA, and the fact that they have quite an easy process makes it very encouraging. In most cases, e-Visa is issued within 24 hours, however, in certain situations, it might take up to 48 hours. Therefore, I would recommend that you start the process at least 1 week in advance to have enough margin to accommodate any last moment goof ups.

Visa for Malaysia for Indians - Without any Agent - Directly through Malaysian Embassy

The e-Visa is issued for a period of 30 days, and is valid for 3 months – which I think is good enough for most tourists.

Requirements for e-Visa 

  1. Scanned Copy of Passport
  2. Return flight tickets
  3. Passport Size Photo – their system is very particular about the specifications of passport photo – so try your best to adhere to the specifications
  4. Accommodation Bookings – optional

e-Visa Fees

Indians need to pay 25$ as Visa fee and Rs. 1050/- as convenience charge – not sure if it was called convenience charge or something else.

Note: If the address on your passport and the current address filled by you in the form do not match, the processing team might ask you to submit another document as a proof of your current residence.

Also, if you need multiple entry visa, you will have to go through a different channel.

Once it gets processed successfully, you will get an email notification. Subsequently, you can just go to the window Malaysia website, login to your account, and take a printout of your e-Visa – as simple as that!

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BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN UDUPI – SOME OF THE BEST BEACHES IN INDIA

Many of us would have heard about Udupi food or Udupi restaurants but only a few of us might know that Udupi is also a home to some of the most amazing and pristine beaches of the country. You get different types of beaches within just a few kilometers – a sandy beach, a rocky beach, a powdered sand beach, a seashell beach, and may be other types too that I didn’t come across.

Best Unexplored Indian Beches - Udupi

It is also a very popular pilgrimage center, mainly because of Udupi Krishna Temple, and attracts a pool of krishna devotees from across India.

Udupi Krishna Temple is actually a Math

The weather here is quite hot but not that humid, and morning and evening are the best time to enjoy the beach unless you plan on getting some serious tan.

Route – How to Reach Udupi

We did a road trip from Bangalore and it took us around 9 hours to reach Udupi, including 2 hours that we spent at Sakleshpur fort and an hour and half worth short breaks for tea and snacks – the stretch of Shiradi Ghats was not in really good condition and that resulted in some delay. Otherwise the roads are just fine!

We also considered going via train to keep a check on the budget, however, since we were a group of 7 people, a taxi appeared to be a far more convenient and better alternative. Besides this, we love stopping at random places that we find beautiful, and so we all unanimously opted for the taxi!

BEACHES

Things to do in Udupi

We were in Mangalore around 6:00 pm and it would have been dark by the time we reached Udupi, so to end the day with at least some excitement and sense of achievement we decided to stop at one of the nearby beaches Enroute Udupi.

PERAMBUR BEACH

It was quite close to our current location and therefore Perambur it was. The beach was not very crowded when we reached there and the sound of the waves and the view of the shore made us all happy. There were horse carts, yes horse carts not just the horses, running on the shore which added to the scenic beauty of the beach. The beach was pretty clean and had soft sand – we identified a relatively less crowded corner and jumped into the water, played for about an hour and then were off to Udupi around 7:00 pm.

MALPE

Next day we headed towards Malpe beach around 9:00 am. It was about 10 kms from the heart of the city and it took us very little time to reach there.

Malpe Beach Udupi

Again the beach was pretty clean, and while we were on the beach, locals were still gearing up for the activities of the day (water sports and ferry services).

We clicked a few pictures, roamed around for some time and decided to head straight to St. Mary’s island. The idea was that if St. Mary’s Island is better why not spend more time there in the morning hours while it is still not very very hot. We took the ferry service which charged us around Rs. 200/- for to and fro per person and they also informed us that we would be given only an hour at the island, and then the ferry would pick us up and bring us back to Malpe. The ferry usually waits until there are minimum 10-15 people and it didn’t take us more than 10 minutes before we were off the shore.

ST. MARY’S ISLAND

The view of the island from the boat was stunning and it didn’t feel like we were in India anymore. So beautiful and clean, and more importantly such few people.

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This was one of my first seashell beaches that I had ever seen. The entire beach was flooded with seashells and there was no sign of sand. Another interesting thing about this beach was the hexagonal rock formations which made it look even more spectacular. The letdown was the heat of the day and rocky bed which prevented us from getting into the water.

We did pick a few beautiful shells and Shankhs (conch shells), and then returned to Malpe.

Even though Malpe was extremely hot by that time, we still decided to indulge in some water sports – mainly parasailing. The charges here are high here when compared to Goa – it’s 800 Rs. Per person and they asked for 500 more for the dip!

Around 12:00 Pm we headed back towards the city and spent most of our day in the city. Though there were a plenty of other beaches on the list, Kapu had to be out last one due to the time constrain.

KAPU OR KAUP

We roamed around in the city whole afternoon and headed towards Kapu around 5:00 Pm. It was some 19kms from Udupi center and took us around 30 minutes to reach there. Pristine  beach with ultra-fine sand, little crowd & high level of cleanliness as everywhere else on the beaches of Udupi – maybe it was because this beach was far from both Udupi & Mangalore. We also spotted some dead jelly fishes brought to the shore by the waves.

Jelly Fish at Kapu Beach Udupi

It was our first encounter with this species – wish we could see them alive. All of us played a lot in the water and my dad even tried ATV.

The lighthouse was another interesting part of this beach. The spiral stairs are beautiful but you need to very cautious. Initially, the rise of the stairs is reasonable but towards the end, it becomes dramatically steep, almost vertical.

Spiral Lighthouse Stairs, Kapu Beach Udupi

The best part was, we reached the top when the sun was about to set. The bird’s eye view of the beach from this point and at this particular time was mesmerizing.

Kapu Beach Lighthouse View Udupi

We could feel the breeze on our face and were so fascinated by the view that preferred to experience it rather than capture it.

UDUPI FOOD – RESTAURANTS & CAFE

Udupi Food Resturants Cafe

Woodland’s – Best Udupi Restaurant

During our 2 nights stay at Udupi, we mostly ate at Woodland’s – the food was good and even better was the manager/owner who interacted with us for quite long. He was very welcoming and gave us a lot of information about Udupi Food and the myths that people have about Krishna Matth. We found the Banana Bun to be very unique and tasty!

Must Try Udupi Food - unique udupi food or north Karnataka food

MTR

We also tried MTR one day and it didn’t let us down as always. There was one thing common at all the local restaurants – a Gadabad Ice-cream. Definitely worth a try!

OTHER THINGS TO DO

KARKALA

We were very interested in the Jain temples of Karkala, and therefore, while returning we planned our way through Karkala & Charmudi Ghats.

In Karkala, we visited one of the most beautiful churches I have come across in India, a Jain temple with Unique Architecture at Varanga and a few other small Jain temples in Karkala.

Best & Most Beautiful Church of India

 

Varanga Jain Temple - Best Jain temples in South India

A Small yet very unique jain temple in Karkala, Udupi - Some of the best Jain Temples of South India

We also went to Gomateshwara which had a 47 feet long statue of Bahubali. The temple is located uphill, and you could either take the stairs or get the permission to take the vehicle at the top.

Gomateshwara Temple Karkala, Udupi - Jain temples in South

What we liked more was the view from the top – there were some beautiful houses just behind the temple and they appeared incredible from the top.

AGUMBE

Even Agumbe is not far from Udupi – it was on our list but unfortunately that was all we could do in that limited time.

KUDREMUKHA NATIONAL PARK

Another possible activity could be riding through Kudremukha national park! Again, we couldn’t manage to do it.

WHERE SHOULD YOU STAY – Hotels in Udupi?

If you are interested in beaches, Paradise Isle Beach Resort on Malpe beach is an ideal place. We stayed here and loved it! The best part is you can enjoy the early morning beauty of the beach without having to run anywhere, and even at night you can sit till late.

However, if you are interested in Krishna Matth, there are a number of cheap Udupi hotels around/near Udupi temple. I would still recommend staying at a beach only and then traveling back to the city, if you have a vehicle with you – it shouldn’t take too long.

11 THINGS TO DO IN CHIANG MAI – THAILAND

Why Chiang Mai, Thailand?

Things to Do in Chiang Mai Thailand

Visit to a country is incomplete if you can’t get a taste of its culture – you may get the world’s most amazing beaches in Phuket, Koh Lanta or Koh Samui, may indulge in crazy and famous full moon parties in Koh Phag Ngan, or get the taste of night life and luxury shopping in Bangkok, but to experience the real taste of Thailand, you must come to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is a city with rich cultural heritage yet equipped with necessary modern infrastructure. The city is booming with numerous Buddhist temples, Craft Shops, amazing cafes, restaurants, hotels, boutiques and night markets.

SETTING CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

The city may appear to be be quite ordinary when you arrive at first and it might take a day or two to be able to feel its vibes – the pace of life is slow out here and you got to give it time to please you.

photo-collage

 

CHIANG MAI – THINGS TO DO LIST

It was difficult to identify the list of Best Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand as I had to drop many of my favorites.

THE WATS Or BUDDHIST TEMPLES

Wats in Chiang Mai

The city is a place to hundreds of Wats which have an impressive architectural style – for a layman mostly all Wats appear to be somewhat similar but a pair of artistic eyes can spend hours appreciating the architectural details and creativity in each Wat. Among the most prominent ones are Wat Phra Singh, Wat Sri Suphan & Wat Chedi Luang. The best way is to take a walk around in the old city area & if walking isn’t your cup of tea, hiring a motor bike on rent is the second best option.

Other notable one is Doi Suthep which is one of the highest rated tourist spots and is about 18-20 kms from the old town. If you are staying in Chiang Mai for more than 2-3 days I would definitely recommend you going in that direction. The best way to reach there would be either by a red truck (a shared mode of transportation) or a motorbike. Though it would be a long ride but if you like to go at your own pace, stopping at places in between, and enjoying the ride with a friend or the partner, this would be best bet.

2. THE SUNDAY NIGHT MARKET

Sunday Night Market Chiang Mai

If you visit Chiang Mai and miss the Sunday Market, either you didn’t do your homework well or you are poor at planning, unless of course you hate shopping, crafts or crowd! OK, I must admit that I love it so much that even if you hate shopping, I would highly recommend you going there.

The Sunday Night Market starts at around 5:00 PM near Tha Phae gate and is a heaven for craft lovers and foodies – you get to see really high quality handicrafts at extremely reasonable prices when compared to the rest of Thailand. The boys may not have as many options to shop but girls for sure wouldn’t want to go home – beautiful bags, wallets, décor items, local clothing, wooden products, and many more things.

Do not hesitate to stop by a massage stand (there are many ad hoc in the market) to give some relief to your tired feet, or sit in a food court to enjoy some local cuisines, as the market is spread quite a bit and you might not enjoy everything at one go!

3. THE SATURDAY NIGHT MARKET

The Saturday Night Market is a smaller version of Sunday Night Market and is relatively less crowded. The market opens at around 5 PM on Wua Lai Road. Of course, you don’t get to see all the amazing products as you find in the Sunday Market but if you can’t manage to stay in Chiang Mai over a Sunday this would be a good alternative.

Saturday Walking Street Night Market

4. NORTHERN THAI FOOD

There are wide variety of choices in Northern Thai food, however, I am fan of few things in particular.

Khao Soi is an amazing soup-like Thai dish with a combination of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles. The vegetarian version is also available at some of the restaurants – Taste from Heaven is one such place! The other places that I loved were Kanjana and LemonGrass.

Northern Thai Food Khao Soi Phad Thai and Red Curry

You may also want to Try Northern Style Green, Yellow or Red curry – you get a choice of vegetables or meat of your preference. I personally liked the Green Curry a lot!

You may also want to try Ice-cream (I tried one at the Central Festival) at a local creamery, Sticky Mango Rice at Fruitrday (a food chain) or on a small cart in front of Wat Phan On, or a Pad Thai at a Shop that comes up in front of Maya Shopping Mall every Friday.

Local Food In Chiang Mai on Nimman Road

These are just a few things to name but you have got a wide range of other options.

5. GET LOTS OF MASSAGES

Massages here are worth every penny and you shouldn’t miss a chance to get one whenever you are tired or have some spare time. Just for 5-10$ you can get amazing foot massages and if you don’t mind paying a little bit extra a whole new world of massages opens up for you. You go to any corner of the city and would find a number of massage parlours lined up.

You might feel like bargaining when you see others doing the same thing but when you see the hard work of those people, you feel they deserved every penny they asked for.

6. NIGHT MARKET

Okay, do not get confused with too many night markets. The other two night markets mentioned earlier happen on specific days and are the best-in-class craft markets in thailand. This night market, however, opens every night and provides you a good opportunity to buy local souvenirs and crafts if you cannot manage to visit Chiang mai over a weekend or if you have a lot of time to kill in the evenings. This is no where close to the other 2 markets but it certainly gives good glimpse of Chiang Mai night markets and crafts – everything here is a bit expensive when compared to other two markets.

7. PLOEN RUDEE INTERNATIONAL FOOD PARK

Places to Drink in Chiang Mai - Things to do in Chiang Mai

It’s situated on the night market road itself and is a place filled with amazing energy – live music, people dancing, amazing cuisines and drinks – what else would you want for a relaxing evening. Definitely worth a visit if you are in that area.

Good places to eat near night market

8. CHIC BOUTIQUES & CAFES ON NIMMAN ROAD

Cafes on Nimman Road - Living on Nimman Road

Old city is fun, but even heaven feels monotonous and boring after a while. Nimman Road is a good area to experience the other side of Chiang Mai – more modern and less touristy. The road boasts few of the best cafes of the city, some of the amazing night clubs and pubs, and some chic Boutiques.

The boutiques are owned by young designers who create beautiful products that have good blend of international fashion and local art. Even if you don’t need anything you would be tempted to get inside the shop and might end up buying one or the other products – be it handbags, wallets, paintings, backpacks, clothing or any other piece of art/craft.

Boutiques on Nimman Road

You have plenty of food choices too – Salad Concept, Fruitrday, Guu Fusion Roti and Tea, Smoothie Blues are some of my favourites on this road and offer you a diverse variety of food options. Starbucks and Wawee Coffee are also there in case you want to sip a cup of coffee and finish some of your work. Besides hip cafes, the street even has some of the finest restobars and pubs in the town – Warmup café and Beer Lab, Beer Republic are excellent choices.

9. SHOPPING MALLS

Central Festival and Maya are two of the best shopping malls in the city. Though Central Festival is a bit on the outer skirts of the city, you can reach there easily by paying approximately 120 Bhats to a Tuktuk or about 30-50 Bhats to a Read truck.

Shopping malls in Chiang Mai - Things to do in Chiang Mai

The mall is very big and has everything that you might want – be it apparels, food/grocery market, electronics, food courts, or even some cosmetic therapy clinics. Even the area outside of the mall is beautiful and is often occupied with some temporary food/craft shops – mostly the local crowd, majority of which is school/college going girls and boys.

Maya is another gem of Nimman Road – it is not as big as central festival but is a good place for peaceful shopping – you would find some local brands too here. Rimping Food Market is situated in the basement which can meet all your daily needs if you wish to cook by yourselves or want to buy some fruits or snacks. This is also an ideal place to buy all the Thai spices, herbs, pickles, sauces and ready to cook food packages that you might want to carry home with you!

Maya Shopping Mall Chiang Mai - shopping in chiang mai

10. GRAND CANYON

Once you are tired of the city life, you might want to see something different. You might want to take off that shirt, jump into the water and relax as if you were sitting on the beach or maybe your beach wears are dying to taste the water of Chiang Mai.

Grand Canyon Chiang Mai

Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai is the place you want to be heading towards. It is a water body about 24 kms from city and is quickly becoming popular among tourists but still not crowded yet. You can go there via a tuk-tuk – it would cost you approximately 400-500 Bhat including return fare. Make sure you agree with the driver on the wait time beforehand.

If you are an adventure enthusiast then you might want to go try cliff jumping here.

11. Baan Tawai Village

Unless you are a super huge fan of wooden craft, it may not be worth going here, but if you are, there are many reasons to visit this place. The entire village is a hub of wooden crafts and you can spot some beautiful and gigantic décor items from quite far while approaching the village. People often Buy the wooden items for home décor and get the local shipping companies to ship it to their place. There are plenty of courier guys around and even the shop from which you buy the product would be happy to help you.

Baan Tawai is approximately 8 kms from Grand Canyon – so you can plan on visiting both the places together.

Follow the blog, like my facebook page or Instagram page to get more regular updates about amazing travel destinations! My next 2 posts would be on Chiang Mai only – so be in touch if you wanna know more about Chiang Mai!

International Travel Checklist – Backpack Essentials – My Travel Packing Checklist for Thailand

I have been traveling frequently since last few years and over these years, I have become more organized in terms of my travel. Having a ready checklist helps a lot and so I thought of sharing my latest one.

Landscape

Following is the International Travel  Checklist that I had prepared specifically for Thailand (My 2015 Vacation Checklist) but with small modifications list remains equally applicable for other destinations too. This one isn’t very extensive, but I think it does cover what’s essential for a trip.

Travel Packing List

Depending on whether you are traveling to beaches or mainland or both, you may modify your list.

Packing Tips

  • Pack T-shirts as 6-inch Military Rolls – to ensure minimal wrinkles and ease of fetching the right one when required

Artboard 1

  • Use Grid-it Travel Organizer for Organizing the gadgets – well organized and easy to access – no tangled cables and scratched gadgets

Grid it

  • Pack all liquid or gel like items in small 100ml travel bottles, ensuring the total liquid doesn’t exceed more than a litre
  • Use a Passport Wallet to organize passport, tickets, passport photos and currencies – becomes quite handy during immigration, check-ins at hotels, interaction with tour operators and when need to fetch currency
  • Pack at least a full length bottom and a top that will cover your elbow  – in case you plan on visiting some religious places. Many of the places have specific requirements.
  • Pack medical supplies depending on your medical condition; everyone should keep and at least a basic first aid kit – you never know when you might need one.

Experience Now – The Destination May Not be as Good as it is this Moment

A walk on the wavering suspension bridge, the blue water flowing beneath, white sand, and the out of this world landscape – however, my focus was only on reaching to the other side. I was hoping that I would find even more magical landscape on the other side. The other side, however, turned out to be disappointing with nothing much to see and do.

I thought, let me get back and enjoy the experience on the bridge only. The sun had suddenly become merciless, the wind had stopped and there were a lot of people waiting to cross the bridge now.

Phunakha Suspension Bridge

What’s beautiful now, may not be after a while
What’s not in focus now can be an invaluable treasure
So, why search for diamonds elsewhere
When they can be under your feet!

Nature vs Imagination

North East, Sikkim, Snow and Nature

Just a valley shot in the northeast, while being on the move – you can imagine how beautiful the valley must be.

The above is a shot with minimal editing – just an application of light blue tint.

From my experience so far, I feel that nature is immensely beautiful and graphics are just a result of inspiration derived from nature, or a fusion with creativity. Just like the truth is always stranger than the fiction, I believe, nature itself is far more superior and surprising than the imagination.

Have you ever met a traveler who doesn’t enjoy food?

I have only met travelers who are crazy food lovers and would spend a lot of their time in exploring the food of the place they visit.

Our Exotic meal for the Saturday Afternoon – packed with green vegetables and some unhealthy Manchurian for the health Junkies