I’m here, now what? Things you MUST do when exploring a new city!

So you made it to your destination! You’re tired but excited and you didn’t plan a THING! You have no idea what to see or what to do and until now, you didn’t give that part much thought. Well, I must admit that I’m a planner, so I can’t completely relate. However, I hardly ever plan every detail and I have shown up in a city or two without a plan at all. I may have even shown up in a city I didn’t even know I would be in…..oops!

So listen, I’ve come up with a short list of things you should do when exploring a new place. I love this list mainly because of one reason, it usually allows me to connect with locals and experience daily life. Ok, maybe that’s two but who’s counting! lol Let’s talk about it!

 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

I learned early on that public transportation was the way to go! During my first couple of trips I spent alot of time and money jumping in taxis. After living in China and traveling in China I learned the hard way to stay out of taxis! I got ripped off several times, stuck in traffic, and just frustrated with trying to help the driver figure out where to go. There are times when they are helpful and you need them. As a rule of thumb I just rely on them as a last resort, not a first option.

Public transportation is a great way to connect with locals and get a different view of the city you are in.  You can explore neighborhoods and maybe even see places that interest you that you where unaware of! I’m a lover of Garrett’s popcorn. During one of my trips to Bangkok I saw a local with a Garrett’s popcorn bag and I lost it! I had no idea they had locations in Bangkok! So I went to him and demanded he tell me where I could buy some! LOL Well, maybe I just asked nicely if he could tell me where I could get some. He was very nice and helpful and that night I sat in my hostel eating my Garrett’s popcorn that I didn’t even know exsited there hours before. All because I rode the skytrain!  By the way, Bangkok’s public transport is great! So get out and see the city from a different view by using public tranportation. It will save you lots of money too! DISCLAIMER: Be careful about riding city buses! Especially if you don’t know the language. Although they are cheap, they are not always easy to navigate. I strongly believe that buses are for the locals! lol I’m all about taking the chance and giving it a try, within reason!

 

LOCAL GROCERY STORES

Going to the local grocery store is a must! It’s usually the first thing I do in a new place or any place for several reasons. One being that I always stock up on water before I get out and about. I never drink the water in a foreign country even if it’s drinkable. I suggest you don’t either. Generally, your body does not have enough time to adjust to possible parasites and toxins in foriegn water. So, what might not make the locals sick, might make you sick. Keep that in mind.

Another reason I like going to the local grocery store is to see what local food or snacks they sell. It gives you a sense of the meals they prepare and I always see something that is interesting! I like to try to figure out what things are and ask questions to the locals I see in the store. I never leave without picking up a local snack to try!

LOCAL COFFEE SHOPS OR LIVE MUSIC VENUES

I love music! Music brings people together on so many levels. I can’t count the conversations I have had with people at music venues around the world. It’s something about music that connects people no matter where you are from. Coffee shops and live music venues are a great way to connect with locals and other travellers. It also helps that I don’t mind picking up the mic and joining in on the fun!

Little Big Ben

DOWNTOWN (THE CITY)

The downtown area is very fun to explore. It’s usually the heart of the area. Most of the time you will find markets, live music, shopping and sights to see! There have been times when I just didn’t feel like doing much exploring, so I decided to just hit the downtown area and I felt fulfilled.

SHOPPING MALLS

I’m not a big shopper. When I visit shopping malls as I travel it is to people watch, look at the fashion selections, and find good places to eat! I might even pick up a souvenir or two. Although I usually get them in the downtown markets! However, its also great to look at different mall structures and get use to local currency.

VISTOR CENTERS

Vistor centers are the way to go!! I was so missing out early on in my travels. When I visited Tokyo I had the best experience at a vistor center. They were very helpful with directions and things to do. They also offered many free things such as; Kimono dressing and Calligraphy writing! I had similar expereinces at other vistor centers around the world. Please don’t miss out on a great way to connect with the community and help make your trip stress-free!

So that’s my list! What did I forget? I would love to hear your suggestions and success stories!

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