Vipiteno – At The Idyllic Doorstep to Italy

Vipiteno – At The Idyllic Doorstep to Italy

Vipiteno – At The Idyllic Doorstep to Italy

Vipiteno is located in South Tyrol directly behind the Austrian border when you cross the Brenner Pass and is the northernmost town in Italy. I have been there regularly for a good 25 years. The reason for this is its ideal location. Because when I was little, we – that is, my parents, my brother and I – used to drive to Sicily every year by car, where my mother came from, and Vipiteno is perfect for a first stop on the way to the south of Bella Italia. But why you should spend more than just one night here, I’ll show you today:

Vipiteno – The Facts

Vipiteno has an incomparable charm – regardless of the season, it enchants its visitors. Even though I know the alpine town especially in the warm season, because we usually made a stop here when we went to Venice in May, to Verona in August or to Palermo in October, I assure you that the place is worth visiting at any time of the year.

Framed by the mountain panorama, picturesque shopping streets await you in one of the most beautiful old towns of the country with medieval churches and squares.

You love sports? Then go hiking on the Rosskopf, golfing on the golf course or skating in the ice rink. The high ropes course ensures fun and a high adrenalin level. Even though I now love to put on my hiking boots (which I did here), I am still more on the side of culture enthusiasts: The gothic churches and medieval castles leave me with a feeling of astonishment and reverence.

The good thing about Vipiteno? Here you can combine everything! So you have the perfect mixture.

 

Vipiteno – How to Get There

By train: Vipiteno has a railway station. You can get there via the Brenner/Brennero stop by changing trains.

By bus: From Innsbruck, for example, Flixbus takes you directly to Vipiteno in about 50 minutes. Prices start at 5.99 euros and there are three to five Flixbuses a day. This is certainly the cheapest alternative for a trip to Vipiteno.

By car: By car you can easily reach Vipiteno from Austria via the Brenner motorway. After you have crossed the border, you have to take the second exit. You can also take the first exit “Colle Isarco” and then follow the road along the river Eisack (Italian Isarco) to Vipiteno. If you choose this option, you will avoid the Italian motorway toll.

Vipiteno – My Highlights

Hiking

Vipiteno, with its location in the South Tyrolean Alps, is a wonderful place for hiking. All around there are numerous hiking trails of every level of difficulty, making it suitable for young and old, young and old.

For example, the ride in the gondola up to the Rosskopf is recommendable. Up there, you can do everything your outdoor lover’s heart desires: hiking, mountain biking, stopping for a bite to eat.

I myself wanted to walk the Trenser Höhenweg with my father and my brother. The circular path leads over almost six kilometres from the pilgrimage church Maria Trens to the castle Sprechenstein and back again and is supposed to take about two hours.

Kirche in Maria Trens bei Sterzing

Maria Trens is, by the way, after Maria Weissenstein, the most famous place of pilgrimage in South Tyrol. Its popularity dates back to the 14th century.

The trail is steep and partly leads over unpaved paths through the forest (attention: due to damp mud it was very slippery in some places), but in general I found it absolutely feasible and not exceptionally difficult.

If you’re lucky you can even observe animals here.

The view was magnificent and I was already looking forward to the opportunity to stop for a bite to eat at the castle.

Unfortunately, one section of the route was too narrow for my father and on one side it went down steeply. I am grateful that he told me what this section had caused in him. Because with my mother’s death, 2019 had already caused enough misfortune to my family. Therefore, we didn’t want to ask too much of our guardian angels. So we’re turned around. Next time I would like to do the hike completely and then see the Sprechenstein Castle not only from below. But it’s not possible go inside.

 

Stopping by an Alpine Pasture

What could be better than to do something good for your body after or during a stimulating hike, to rest and enjoy a cool drink or to fill your hungry stomach? For this purpose, numerous alpine pastures await you along the hiking trails, which also reward you with a view that makes every hiker’s heart beat faster.

If you are not quite so fit, but still don’t want to miss out on a social stop, I have a great tip for you: The Prantner Alm is accessible by car. As my father did not feel physically fit for the hike, I was looking for an alpine pasture to which we can go by car. I quickly found the Prantner Alm, which is only 11 km but a good 30 minutes drive from Vipiteno.

From the Prantner Alm you not only have a magnificent view of the Rosskopf and the surrounding mountains, but you can also feast to your heart’s content. I had a delicious Tris di Knödel – cheese dumplings in three different flavours.

Sights

Castle Sprechenstein

The castle Sprechenstein is a place shrouded in legend. It is said that the ghost of a murdered knight haunts the castle, who once lived at Sprechenstein Castle with his beloved wife. The arrow that cost him his life is still in his heart. A knight who lived in nearby Reifenstein Castle killed him out of jealousy. There is no proof that the story is based on a true incident.

A striking feature of Burg Sprechenstein is the circular keep from the 13th century. The large hall and the chapel, dedicated to St. Erasmus, with its small winged altar, as well as the wall paintings and frescoes were created in later centuries. The castle and its works of art were hit by bombs during the Second World War and later restored. Since the end of the 18th century the castle Sprechenstein has been owned by the princes of Auersperg.

As mentioned in my article above, the castle Sprechenstein can only be seen from the outside.

For the sake of completeness it should be mentioned that Burg Sprechenstein is actually located in the neighbouring Freienfeld.

 

Castle Reifenstein

Southwest of Vipiteno, the imposing Reifenstein Castle looks down from a rocky hill. The castle first appears in historical documents in 1110, when it was given as a fiefdom to the nobles of Stilfes. In 1410 the ownership of Reifenstein passed to the Order of German Knights. In 1813 the order was dissolved and the Princes of Thurn und Taxis received the castle as compensation for the abolition of their postal monopoly.

The Gothic interior of the castle takes visitors back to the Middle Ages: the entrance gate is secured by a portcullis and the historic drawbridge leads across a moat. Balustrades and embrasures in the walls remind us of the numerous battles that took place here. Unfortunately, I could not enter, because this is only possible with a guided tour, which takes place at certain times. I stupidly missed the last guided tour on the only available day.

The castle is privately owned, but is open to visitors.

Opening hours: These vary from month to month. In principle the guided tours take place between 1 April and 31 October. As mentioned, the visit is only possible within the framework of a guided tour with at least 4 people.
This year (2019) the guided tours took place at the following times:
Sunday to Friday at 10.30, 14.00 and 15.00
Closed on Saturdays

Entrance:
Euro 7,00 (Adults)
Euro 4,00 (Children)

Further information:
Tel. +39 339 2643752, info@sterzing.com

 

Vipiteno – Hotel

For about 25 years now, when I stop over in Vipiteno, I have been staying at the Gasthof Hotel Larch. Actually it is located in the neighbouring Freienfeld–- just like the Sprechenstein Castle and the Trenser Höhenweg. The 4-star hotel is quaint, cosy and we feel very comfortable. You shouldn’t expect luxury, but a homely feel-good atmosphere. The food is prepared with fruits and vegetables from our own garden, the breakfast eggs come from the chickens in the stable behind the house and the yoghurt is homemade. With milk from cows from the mountain pasture – and lots of love. You can taste that and that’s why we have been coming back again and again for so many years.

If you prefer to book with Booking, you can find the available hotels in Vipiteno here: Vipiteno Hotels on Booking*.

 

Vipiteno – Where to go Next?

Venice: The city of bridges is always worth a visit. Whether for carnival or any other time of the year, Venice is touristic, but also has many quiet corners to offer. Meanwhile, I have already been there four times and it does not get boring at all. I always discover something new and am already looking forward to my next visit when I leave. Flixbus runs daily from Vipiteno via Innsbruck to Venice.

Verona: I have also been to Verona four times. But especially for a visit to the opera it is always worthwhile to take the way and spend a few days in this beautiful city. Flixbus runs several times a week from Vipiteno via Innsbruck to Verona.

Palermo: Palermo is my second home. Therefore I am a little bit prejudiced. But I think that everybody should have been at least once in the Sicilian capital. Culture, gastronomy, architecture or just enjoying the sun on the beach of Mondello… Palermo is not to be missed!

 

Final Thoughts

For me personally, Vipiteno has been the starting point for holidays for well over two decades. Almost all trips to Italy began here and sometimes, on the way back, they also ended here.

For a long time my family, unfortunately, only stayed overnight there without exploring the area. I am glad that I now catch up step by step.

Have you ever been to Vipiteno? Have you only spent the night there or have you also looked at the surroundings? Let me know in the comments!

PS: Links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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Mae Hong Son – The jungle paradise in the north of Thailand

Mae Hong Son – The jungle paradise in the north of Thailand

Mae Hong Son – The jungle paradise in the north of Thailand

Mae Hong Son is a true paradise in the middle of the Thai jungle:

Mountains.

Waterfalls.

Lakes.

And apart from that far and wide especially one thing: jungle. The far north of Thailand is a green paradise and I couldn’t wait to explore this place where relatively few tourists venture.

The journey to Mae Hong Son

The journey from Chiang Mai takes about five hours in a minivan, which has to make 1,864 bends to reach its destination. Alternatively, you could fly from Chiang Mai, but the journey has something to offer. There is also a bus to and from Bangkok: for about 30 euros you can get here and back from the Thai capital several times a day. So it is not that difficult at all! And you won’t regret it, even if you might have to take a pill or put anti-nausea plasters on your skin to get through the curves safely.

If you don’t want to take all the curves at once, you can make a stopover in the famous hippie village of Pai. This village is about halfway between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son City. You are already in the province of the same name and can enjoy the special flair of the village on the Night Market on the main street.

 

What is there to see in Mae Hong Son?

Mae Hong Son actually has something to offer for almost every taste. The only thing missing is the sea…

Lovers of nature will find themselves in a green thicket that occasionally offers views of breathtaking valleys, roaring waterfalls or expansive lakes. You love Thai culture? Then Mae Hong Son offers you numerous temples and monasteries where you can experience it first hand. And you can also relax here. Whether in a Hot Spring, a Mud Spa or with a typical Thai massage… Treat your body to something good!

 

Nature

Raise your hands if you’re a waterfall fan yourself! Then you’ve come to the right place in Mae Hong Son…

Cool waterfalls

I visited the 10 meter high Pha Sua Waterfall, which can be reached very easily and quickly via footbridges. So you don’t have to go on a long hike to see it and take some pictures. It is about 45 minutes away from Mae Hong Son City and is located in the Tham Phla Namtok Pha Suea National Park, which also offers a lot more besides this waterfall.

Pha Sua Waterfall

Other waterfalls are the Huay Pong-on and Mae Sa-nga Klang or in the other direction, south of Mae Hong Son, Mae Surin Waterfall.

Idyllic lakes

Afterwards I drove straight on to the water reservoir Pang Ung. This is a Royal Project, meaning a project that was brought to life by the royal family. These projects are meant to support the local population. Soon you can read more about this topic here.

Pang Ung

The lake is a wonderful destination and it is best to bring a little time with you. Because here you can even stay overnight. There are camping sites if you want to fall asleep and wake up with a view of the lake, as well as guest houses. This is the perfect place to relax and just switch off.

Camping Pang Ung

A stray sunflower field

My probably biggest highlight was a small natural spectacle. Because once a year sunflowers bloom 80 kilometres south of Mae Hong Son and at the beginning of November they make the whole mountain shine in green and yellow for two weeks. The journey by scooter takes two whole hours, but it is worth it!

Die Sonnenblumen von Mae Hong Son

Die Sonnenblumen von Mae Hong Son

 

Culture

Ban Rak Thai – A Chinese village in Mae Hong Son

First, I can recommend the village of Ban Rak Thai. It is Chinese and not Thai, but it is part of the local history. It’s foundation goes back to the time when the Chinese soldiers of Kuomintang left communist China and went into exile. Even today, the majority here speaks Mandarin.

Ban Rak Thai

Here you can not only take beautiful pictures of the lake where Ban Rak Thai is located, but also dive into the world of tea cultivation and jade import, which are essential parts of the history of the region.

Buddhist temples in Mae Hong Son

Apart from that, Buddhism is of course an important part of the culture here as it is in the rest of Thailand. So you should not miss the temples and monasteries. Here my recommendations:

In the city of Mae Hong Son itself you can visit the two temples Wat Chon Klang and Wat Chong Kham, which are both situated directly at the lake Chonh Kham. Around the lake there is also the night market which I recommend you to visit at least one evening for a walk and dinner.

Wat Chon Klang und Wat Chong Kham

Mae Hong Son Nachtmarkt

At least once you should experience the sunset over the roofs of the city – namely at Phrat That Doi Kong Mu Monastery. It is situated on a mountain, so you can enjoy the view and look at the monastery at the same time.

A little outside the city – about 15 minutes by scooter from Mae Hong Son – another temple is waiting: Wat Su Thong Pae is enthroned on a hill above a rice field and is connected by a 500 meter long bamboo bridge with the next village Kung May Sak. The temple is wonderful and offers many photo motives as well as the possibility to attach a wish written on a piece of wood to the temple. But the highlight for me is the bridge, which divides the idyllic valley seemingly in two parts.

Su Thong Pae Bridge

Wünsche Wat Su Thong Pae

Vipassana at Wat Pha Tam Wua Forest Monastery

And as the last cultural point I recommend the Wat Pha Tam Wua Forest Monastery. There I made a stay of several days for a Vipassana. Because meditation is just a part of Buddhism. So if you want to learn more about these topics, you should consider a stay in this monastery.

Wat Pha Tam Wua Forest Monastery

 

Wellness

If you want to do something good for yourself and your body, I have two cool suggestions for you:

Mud Spa for the special spa experience

Have you ever been to a Mud Spa? Close to the Pha Sua waterfall there is a natural mud source, rich in minerals that are good for the skin and stimulate the circulation.

Mud Spa

For about 1000 Baht you can get a mud treatment here. But there are also hot springs and the possibility to get a classic Thai massage or to relax at the pool with a beautiful view of the rice fields.

Hot Springs for a small purse

Alternatively you can drive to the Pha Bong Hot Springs. They are about 15 minutes south of Mae Hong Son and for only 20 Baht (a little more than 50 Cent) you can enjoy the warm pool. The main pool is really hot and bathing is forbidden here. You are allowed to put your feet in, but even that is almost torture. So I just went for the normal pool, which is really nice.

Pha Bong Hot Springs Mae Hong Son

Pha Bong Hot Springs Mae Hong Son

 

Tips for your stay in Mae Hong Son

Hotel in Mae Hong Son

I stayed overnight at the Tee Nont Guesthouse, which is run by a young, Thai couple who are incredibly friendly and make a big effort to run the guesthouse. For breakfast, for example, every morning a small bast bag is waiting outside your door, filled with local delicacies like dumplings and coconut rice in banana leaves.

The guesthouse is simple and you can’t expect luxury here, but it has a familial atmosphere and they offer a lot of help when you plan your day.

To book with Booking please follow this link: Tee Nont Guesthouse*

Here you can check for accommodation in the city in general: Hotels in Mae Hong Son*

 

Scooter in Mae Hong Son

At Tee Nont Guesthouse I was recommended KTY Motorbike. There you can get well maintained scooters for 250 Baht a day. You also have to leave a deposit of 1500 Baht. Personally, I prefer this to leaving my passport there, as it is regularly done especially in the south.

If you dare to ride a scooter or even have experience, this is definitely the best choice to explore the region on your own.

 

My conclusion

I enjoyed every minute in Mae Hong Son and in the end I was a little disappointed to have been there for only four days. I would have loved to stay at least twice as long – maybe even longer. The region is big and offers so much wonderful nature where you can get lost that I probably could have stayed here for a whole month. After all, it never gets boring here with the numerous possibilities for trips.

Have you ever been to Mae Hong Son or are you planning a trip there?

Deine Barbara

The Chiang Mai Guide for Digital Nomads

Chiang Mai Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Du suchst nach einem coolen Spot für digitale Nomaden in Südostasien? Dann solltest du dir unbedingt die Hauptstadt der digitalen Nomaden Chiang Mai anschauen!

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Red Lotus Lake – A trip to Thailand’s most beautiful lake

Red Lotus Lake – A trip to Thailand’s most beautiful lake

Red Lotus Lake – A trip to Thailand’s most beautiful lake

Just a short moment is sometimes enough to make a decision. That’s how it was for me when I saw a photo of Red Lotus Lake. I saw the pink sea of flowers and knew: That’s where I want to go! So I looked directly at a map to find out where this Udon Thani, of which I had never heard anything before, was located. Since I saw the post in December and planned another trip to Thailand for January, I included Udon Thani and Red Lotus Lake in my planning.

Udon Thani – What, how, who?

Udon Thani is a province and at the same time provincial capital in the north-eastern region of Isaan, the largest region of Thailand. The Mekong River separates it from the neighbouring country of Laos.

This is your starting point if you want to visit Red Lotus Lake. You will soon be able to read more about the city itself and what there is to see in a separate article. But you can easily plan one or two days for sightseeing.

You can fly from Bangkok, but bus or train are both greener and cheaper, so I would recommend one of them. I myself arrived by train in third class and paid 250 Baht for it.

In Udon Thani I rented a scooter for 300 Baht a day and left very early the next morning to be at Red Lotus Lake for sunrise.

 

The Red Lotus Lake

Mainly local, but also some foreign tourists flock to Red Lotus Lake about 40 kilometres away from the city of Udon Thani. Its real name is Lake Nong Han. It is about eight kilometres long and three kilometres wide and an important source of water in the region. It is home to a variety of fish, birds and plants. The lake flows into the Lam Pao River, an important waterway for the inhabitants of the province.

Every year in December and January an incredible natural spectacle takes place here. When the lotus blossoms bloom, the lake turns into a sea of bright pink flowers.

Red Lotus Lake

 

You want to see the pink fairytale? That’s how!

When I arrived at the lake around sunrise, I was disappointed: No lotus flowers in sight. Although I had seen boats in the photos, I didn’t know that the flowers were not visible from the shore. So I drove a good 15 minutes further north along the lake until I reached the place where the boats leave: in Ban Diam.

Boote am Red Lotus Lake

Red Lotus Lake

Here you can either book a small boat for 300 Baht for two people (the next photo shows a small boat), or alternatively there are big boats waiting for you, in which more people fit and which cost 500 Baht. The tour takes about one to one and a half hours.

Red Lotus Lake

Since I would have had to wait an hour for a small boat, I decided to go for a big boat. As it turned out afterwards, this was not too bad, as I had enough space for equipment and co. and could even stand up in the boat.

Then you climb aboard and after about twenty minutes you reach the heart of Lake Nong Han. There the scenery begins to change. And suddenly you can see the ‘Talay Bua Daeng’… the sea of lotus flowers.

Red Lotus Lake

 

Lotus flower or water lily?

Locals say that the pink flowers are actually tropical water lilies. They resemble the flowers of the lotus flower and can easily be confused. The leaves and flowers of the lotus flower usually protrude a few centimetres above the water surface, while the leaves and flowers of the water lily usually float directly on the water surface. Tropical water lilies are an exception to this rule, however, because although their leaves float on the surface, their flowers protrude about 15 centimetres above the water. This is exactly the case with Red Lotus Lake.

Lotusblume

Lotusblume

Barbara macht ein Foto von den Lotusblumen

All I know is, lotus or water lily… The flowers are indescribably beautiful!

 

The inhabitants of Red Lotus Lake

As previously mentioned, Red Lotus Lake is the natural habitat of many birds. A dream for ornithologists! But even I couldn’t help but sit there with my mouth open when I first saw one of the numerous herons open its wings. Watching it swing into the air and glide across the pink sea is breathtakingly beautiful.

Reiher im Red Lotus Lake

Reiher im Red Lotus Lake

 

After the tour

When you return after one and a half hours, you can let the experience sink in in one of the cafés and go through your photos for the first time. When I arrived early in the morning, they were still closed, but when I came back around 10 o’clock, everything was open.

There are also small stands where you can buy, for example, grilled bananas or grilled sticky rice.

Local Frühstück

Kaffeehaus

 

My conclusion about Red Lotus Lake

For me, the trip to Red Lotus Lake was a perfect start into the new year 2020, and if you have been following my travels and adventures for a while now, you know that 2019 was not really my year. My mother died after a severe cancer and several months in hospital. This has put a dark veil over the whole year. The lake with its breathtaking splendour was a ray of hope for me that the mourning period is slowly over. That there are still wonderful things to discover. That I can and want to go on further discovery tours with a smile.

Photo of a photo

Besides this very personal reason why this was a particularly magical hour for me, I can also say that objectively speaking, it is simply a magical place. So if you want to go to a less touristy place and experience a completely different Thailand than you might have seen in Bangkok, Koh Samui or Chiang Mai, I can warmly recommend Udon Thani and Red Lotus Lake.

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Lumphini, Chatuchak & Co. – 5 Parks and Green Spots in Bangkok

Lumphini, Chatuchak & Co. – 5 Parks and Green Spots in Bangkok

Lumphini, Chatuchak & Co. – 5 Parks and Green Spots in Bangkok

Bangkok’s parks and green areas such as Lumphini and Chatuchak Park are a welcome relief in the urban jungle. If you have ever been to the Thai capital, you know how overwhelming it can be. Honking cars and scooters as well as the at times scorching heat can be a real pain. So it’s no wonder that there are some retreats where you can relax and leave the hustle and bustle of the big city behind you. Therefore, I would like to introduce you to 5 parks and green spaces in Bangkok in this post:

Lumphini Park

The Lumphini Park is one of the most beautiful and most famous parks in Bangkok. It is the ideal place to relax, have a picnic or do some sports. The park extends over 500,000 km² and is home to numerous plant and animal species as well as a lake with a boat rental service. To rent one of the swan boats for 30 minutes costs 40 Baht (a little more than one Euro).

Lumphini Park Bangkok

The trails around the park with a total length of approx. 2.5 km are mainly frequented by joggers in the morning and evening. Officially, cycling is only allowed during between 10:00am and 15:00pm. Smoking is prohibited in the whole park and dogs are not allowed.

The Lumphini Park was created in the 1920s by King Rama VI on royal soil and named after Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal. At the time of its creation the park was located on the outskirts of the city. Today, it is located in the heart of the main business district and Lumphini sub-district, on the north side of Rama IV Road, between Ratchadamri Road and Witthayu Road.

Lumphini Park Bangkok

In the park you will come across a statue of King Rama VI, erected in 1942 to commemorate the construction of the Lumphini Park.

Every last Sunday of the month from 7:00am to 9:00am, there are activities that follow the teachings of Buddha – the Dharma. These take place together with Buddhist monks and include for example the offering of rice to the monks and lectures on various teachings.

Music Festival – A western and Thai music festival takes place in the park on Sundays, from January to April, from 17:30-20:00.

 

Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

To get into this park, you have to cross the Chao Phraya. To do so, you should take a taxi to Khlong Toei Pier. From there you can get to the other side by a small boat for only 10 Baht. Since there are no fixed times when the boat leaves you can just go there whenever it suits you.

Khlong Toei Pier

The crossing takes only a few minutes and gives you an excellent view of Bangkok.

Once on the other side you can treat yourself to some refreshments in a small shop. Soft drinks and small snacks are waiting here. You can also rent a bike if you don’t want to explore the park on foot. As this part of Bangkok is hardly populated but offers a lot of nature, you can also consider a tour outside the park.

Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

Since I like taking photos, it is more comfortable if I am not on two wheels and don’t have to dismount for each photo.

If you walk to the left at the first bend, you will come to the upper edge of the park after about 200 meters and to another small shop, where I had a chilled cola. I did not see another possibility to buy something to eat or drink. Don’t forget how the heat can get to you and better drink too much than too little.

Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

The tour through the Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park took about two hours. I also climbed up to the Bird Watching Tower, which looks on the map as if it is located outside the park, but does not appear to be there. Just follow the signs if you also want to go up there.

Bird Watch Tower Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

If you continue the tour afterwards, you will reach some houses after about 20 minutes. Here you can find the only toilets I have seen in the park.

Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park and Botanical Garden

 

Chatuchak Park

Chatuchak Park is an elongated park along the MRT (Chatuchak Park) and BTS (Mo Chit) line with an area of 0.304 square kilometres. It is located, as the name suggests, directly at the popular Chatuchak Weekend Market. There are outdoor tennis courts and football pitches as well as outdoor gyms, which are very popular with locals and expats.

Chatuchak Park

This is one of the oldest public parks in Bangkok. Construction began in 1975 on a site provided by the Thai state railway. Chatuchak Park was opened on December 4, 1980. It was later extended to include Queen Sirikit Park and Wachirabenchathat Park, which are separated from Chatuchak Park by Kampaeng Phet 3 Road.

Chatuchak Park

Chatuchak Park

Chatuchak Park

Chatuchak Park

Personally, I would prefer the already mentioned adjacent parks that I will describe in the following, as they are more quiet. The Chatuchak Park is longish and arranged alongside a much frequented road, so that one cannot escape the hustle and bustle of the big city as well as in the other parks. However, if you want to combine your visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market with a picnic or a walk in Bangkok’s greenery, this park is best suited.

 

Wachirabenchathat Park

The Wachirabenchathat Park was opened in mid 2002 and named by Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Before its transformation into a public park, it was a golf course owned by the Thai state railway.

Wachirabenchathat Park

Wachirabenchathat Park

Bordering Queen Sirikit Park and Chatuchak Park, it is the largest park in the complex at 0.6 square kilometres. It is one of the most popular parks in Bangkok – thanks to its three kilometres of paths, especially for cyclists. A bicycle can be rented in the park if required.

Wachirabenchathat Park

Wachirabenchathat Park

Pedal boats can be rented on an artificial lake. So you can explore the park from a completely different perspective.

There is also a butterfly garden and an insectarium.

Butterfly Garden Wachirabenchathat Park

Butterfly Garden Wachirabenchathat Park

Butterfly Garden Wachirabenchathat Park

Butterfly Garden Wachirabenchathat Park

Like most other parks, the Wachirabenchathat Park has outdoor gyms, numerous children’s playgrounds and tennis and basketball courts. You can also watch countless squirrels, which are used to people and therefore anything but shy.

Wachirabenchathat Park

Wachirabenchathat Park

Over a bridge you enter the adjoining Queen Sirikit Park.

Wachirabenchathat Park Brücke zum Queen Sirikit Park

 

Queen Sirikit Park

Queen Sirikit Park is a botanical garden in the Chatuchak District and forms a unit with Chatuchak Park and the Wachirabenchathat Park. With an area of 0.22 square kilometres, it is the smallest of the three parks and is considered by many to be part of the Wachirabenchathat Park. It is my personal favourite on this side of the Chao Phraya, because the trails are wider and more majestic and the plant diversity is much greater.

Queen Sirikit Park

Queen Sirikit Park

Queen Sirikit Park

It was built in 1992 and named, in honour of her 60th birthday, after Queen Sirikit of Thailand. It contains many fountains and ponds in which lotus flowers bloom.

This park is very well maintained and the different plants you can find here are not here without good reason: Certain areas of the park are dedicated to certain plant species that are important for Thai culture. Near the middle of the park there is a large area of lotus ponds, while on the north side there is a large palm grove. On the eastern side, near the children’s museum, there is a bamboo grove that includes some small rice fields. Here you will learn that rice and bamboo belong to the same family.

In contrast to the neighbouring Wachirabenchathat Park, which was explicitly designed for cyclists, two-wheelers are not allowed in Queen Sirikit Park. So leave your bike at the entrance and pick it up after you have finished your exploration on foot.

 

My Conclussion

I love to lose myself in a city’ s green lungs, to breathe deeply and find peace. That’s also where the most beautiful photos are often taken.

I have two favourites in particular: Queen Sirikit Park, which stands out from the other parks with its beauty, elegance and biodiversity. I really liked it and I would probably choose this park if I wanted to go to Bangkok in the future to relax in the green.

I also enjoyed the Sri Nakhon Khueang Khan Park very much. However, it is much more remote and with the river crossing you have to plan a little more time for the trip.

All in all I am grateful for the small oases like the Lumphini or the Chatuchak Park, which Bangkok offers within these parks, so that one can escape the big city jungle at least occasionally a little bit.

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Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

At the end of November, I was in Mannheim for two days. I already knew the city from other short visits, as it is also not far from my hometown Kelkheim near Frankfurt. So I have met friends here from time to time or even went dancing. Now I should experience Mannheim for the first time in winter! The reason for my trip was the concert Night of the Proms, for which I couldn’t get tickets in Frankfurt anymore.

Mannheim – The City of Squares

Mannheim and Heidelberg were the capitals of the Electorate Palatinate, or Kurpfalz for short. This is evidenced, for example, by Mannheim Castle, which was built between 1720 and 1760 and was temporarily the residence of the Elector of the Palatinate.

The heavy destruction of the city center during World War II meant that the entire city center had to be rebuilt. This reconstruction was carried out in the style of the 1950s – namely in a grid-shaped street network, which gave the city one of its many nicknames, the Square City. Mannheim is known for its parks, for its music culture and for its multicultural diversity.

 

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can do!

I don’t know about you… But when I think of Mannheim, I think of the parks and the beautiful university and the castle. All places that are not ideal for winter excursions. At least if you feel the cold as easily as me.

Therefore I have four things here that you can do in Mannheim in winter:

 

Check Out The Art Gallery

The art gallery called Kunsthalle Mannheim was the first museum in Mannheim and was inaugurated in 1909. It is one of the first civic collections of modern art in the world. It was founded as a museum in 1909 and houses one of the most renowned civic collections in Germany. Works by Manet, Pissaro, van Gogh or Bacon in painting and numerous sculptures make the heart of every art lover beat faster. From the very beginning, the motto has been “Art for all” and is thus committed to people – regardless of their origin or education.

Mannheim im Winter – Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Until June 1st of 2018, the Kunsthalle was housed in the Art Nouveau building designed by Hermann Billing, which was ceremonially built in 1907 to mark the 300th anniversary of the city of Mannheim. Today’s complex has grown naturally: in part very modern and a work of art in itself. While the other part is the former Jugendstil building.

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

At a different time of the year, you can certainly sit nicely on the roof terrace, enjoy the sun and let the works of art take effect on you.

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

For all those who like it modern, the Kunsthalle Mannheim offers an app as a multimedia companion. There are guided tours and information on exhibitions, works and events. It can be downloaded from both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

Here are the facts about the Kunsthalle Mannheim:

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Sunday & Holidays 10 – 18 h
Wednesday 10 – 20 h / 1st Wednesday of the month 10 – 22 h
Closed on Monday

Entrance:

14 Euro / reduced 12 Euro
Family ticket: 24 Euro (2 adults with children under 18 years)
Evening ticket: 10 Euro (valid from 1 ½ h before closing time)
Annual ticket: 30 Euro (from 18 years, valid 1 year from date of redemption)

Free entrance – MVV art night
1st Wednesday of the month, 18 – 22 Uhr

 

Go to the Technoseum

In the Technoseum, the State Museum for Technology and Work, you can go on an interactive journey through time. Information is combined with experiences and complex technical topics are presented in a vivid way. It is a foundation under public law and is financed by the City of Mannheim and the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Technoseum Mannheim

The exhibition covers 200 years of technology as well as social history and is in many cases prepared in a playful and even child-friendly way, so that one does not just walk through a simple museum and look at exhibits or read the respective descriptions. No, here, everybody becomes an actor who likes to experiment. This is specially the case in the uppermost floor where one can help oneself.

Mannheim im Winter – Technoseum Mannheim

In an increasingly complex world, the Technoseum wants to make technical progress understandable and illustrate the influence on people’s lives and work. Modern technologies hold opportunities, but also risks. This is what the museum wants to show.

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

These are the facts about the Technoseum:

Opening hours:

Daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Entrance:

Adults 9,00 Euro
Reduced 6,00 Euro
Children up to 6 years old free

 

Go to a Show at the Planetarium

In 1927 one of the world’s first planetariums was opened in Mannheim. Under a 24.5-meter dome in the Luisenpark, 514 people could be seated. In 1943, however, it was damaged in a bombing raid and demolished ten years later. It was not until 1975 that there was a citizens’ initiative to help rebuild the planetarium.

In 1984 the time had finally come: the new planetarium was built on Europaplatz. The dome is 20 metres high and can accommodate 280 people. It was equipped with the most powerful projector available at the time. But the technology improved so much over the decades that a new one had to be built in 2002. Universarium is the name of the chic new acquisition, which can realistically depict stars using fiber optics.

The old projector is located in front of the entrance to the Dome Hall and can be viewed while waiting for the performance to begin. In addition, a cafeteria ensures that you can warm up when you come in from the wintery cold streets of Mannheim.

Mannheim im Winter – Planetarium Mannheim

Planetarium Mannheim

Planetarium Mannheim

These are the facts for the Planetarium Mannheim:

Opening hours:

The opening hours of the planetarium vary as they depend on the performances, which are different every day. In the schedule you can see which performances are upcoming. The doors open one hour before the performance starts.

Free choice of seats for all events!

Admission approx. 10 minutes before the performance begins.

Tickets:

Adults9,50 €
Group of adults8,50 €
Reduced7,00 €
Children (up to 12 years)5,00 €
Students in a group5,00 €

 

Have a Hot Drink at the Christmas Market

200 huts are waiting at the Mannheim Christmas market at the water tower… For feasting, strolling, Christmas shopping! Because there’s a lot to discover here and maybe you’ll come up with an odd gift idea for Christmas.

In Germany, Mannheim’s Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest. It takes place around the water tower, the city’s landmark.

Mannheim im Winter – Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Be enchanted by the carousel organ or make a detour to the 18-metre high Christmas pyramid. It is accessible and there is even a café upstairs.

A colourful programme awaits you on a stage: artists can show off their talents here from 6 pm! Whether choirs, musicians or dancers… There is something for everyone!

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt – Die Weihnachtspyramide

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Der Wasserturm bei Nacht

Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

These are the facts about the Mannheim Christmas market:

Mannheim Christmas market at the water tower

25 November to 23 December 2019

Or 23 November to 23 December 2020

Daily from 11 to 21

www.weihnachtsmarkt-mannheim.de

 

Hotel in Mannheim

I was accommodated in the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim, less than five minutes walk from the water tower. You can reach all the places listed here within 15 minutes at the most, walking easily. So the location was ideal for me.

You can find a detailed description of my hotel stay here: Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim.

 

Mannheim in Winter – My Final Thoughts

My reason for this trip was a concert. So I must admit: I was a bit skeptical at first whether I would even like Mannheim in winter. I’ve already been to the parks and to the university, so I knew Mannheim mainly as a destination where you can go for wonderful walks. But what should I do in winter?

I had not expected to have such a nice time! But I found the Technoseum really exciting and it was my first time in a planetarium. The Christmas market was also really great and it gave us – me and my family – a perfect opportunity to have a bite to eat before the concert, but at the same time to do some exploring.

All in all it was a fun weekend trip!

Deine Barbara

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LEONARDO ROYAL HOTEL MANNHEIM

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Two nights in the square city

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Two nights in the square city

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Two nights in the square city

ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE LEONARDO ROYAL HOTEL MANNHEIM

In December, I wanted to go to the Night of the Proms with my family. Since we couldn’t get any tickets for the concert in Frankfurt, we decided to buy tickets for Mannheim and combine it with a weekend in the city of squares.

LEONARDO HOTELS – The hotel chain

LEONARDO HOTELS is a European hotel chain with over 150 hotels in more than 85 destinations. The goal is to create places of well-being – through their own regional character, their local connection to the location and their own design. The company motto is “feeling good” and is a promise to us hotel guests to do their utmost to make us feel good and comfortable.

I myself got to know the chain at a travel industry trade fair and especially liked the subsidiary chain Nyx. This one is a bit more trendy and modern – just more for my generation. But since I took this special trip with my father, the classic Leonardo Royal seemed a much better choice.

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim

The Hotel

Due to its ingenious location directly at Mannheim’s landmark, the water tower, the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim is ideal for travellers who like to live centrally: Extensive shopping tours, walks in the Luisenpark or at the water tower, as a starting point for events or a cultural day with museum and planetarium… this hotel is the perfect choice.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Lobby

Here are the facts

  • 192 rooms and suites
  • 1 restaurant und 1 bar
  • A spa including gym area
  • 10 event rooms
  • 24/7 reception with water, tea or coffee station, snacks and sweets
  • Free WiFi
  • Parking garage with direct access to the hotel

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Lobby

Vor dem Leonardo Hotel Mannheim

 

The room

I was given two days in a beautiful suite on the second floor. I particularly liked the fact that there was a walk-through room to the bathroom that was practically a walk-in closet. Sadly, I could only enjoy the bathtub standing up, as there was no time for a real bath. The size of the room was also very pleasing, as it was ideal for two people to work here (my father is also self-employed).

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Suite

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Suite

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Zimmer

 

Auch die einfachen Zimmer habe ich mir angesehen. Sie sind zwar deutlich kleiner, aber durch stilvolle Akzente mit Bildern und Lichtern nicht minder gemütlich gestaltet.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Zimmer

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Zimmer

Gym and Spa

Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a training session either. But yes, there is a gym waiting in the basement with the usual machines and equipment.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Fitnessstudio

Daneben wartet ein angenehm warmer Ruheraum und eine kleine Sauna darauf, dass du hier ein wenig Entspannung findest.

Restaurant and Bar

Next to it, a pleasantly warm rest room and a small sauna are waiting for you to unwind a little.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

Leonardo Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

Leonardo Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

Leonardo Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

You can make yourself comfortable at the bar or in the Lounge Leo for a delicious cocktail or aperitif.

 

Conference and Event Rooms

The event rooms offer space for up to 700 people and are fully equipped. The hallways and the inner courtyard can be used for coffee breaks if the temperature is appropriate. Open-air events are also possible here.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Konferenzraum

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Kaffeepausentisch

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – My conclusion

I spent two really great days at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim. The room was beautiful and really big with all the necessary equipment. All in all I can certainly report a successful stay.

If you also want to stay at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim you can visit their booking page here: www.leonardo-hotels.de or here at Booking*!

PS: I was invited by Leonardo Hotels to spend two nights with breakfast. I did not receive any financial compensation. My opinion is not biased by this cooperation.

PPS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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MANNHEIM IN WINTER

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PHOTO SPOTS IN FRANKFURT

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AUTUMN IN THE RHINE MAIN AREA