Thursday, May 21, 2015

Top 10 Essential Travel Tips in UK

Hola..I just back from my UK trip. This time around..I went to London, Wales, Hursley, Bath and Stonehenge. 

For those who are planning to visit UK, below are the top 10 essential travel tips:

1) Unlimited Data Plan
You need a data plan to get around UK to find the places, restaurants and even to find where is the tube station too! Saying that, which means you need google map a lot! 

From the survey so far listed here, I recommend you all to get the "Pay As You Go Sim" from Three store! No contracts, unlimited data for a month. On top of that, you get 300 minutes and 3,000 texts too. 

And it's only for £15 per month SIM plan. Check the information here below:

2) Get a Visitor Oyster Card or Travel Card
The London Underground rail network, or "the Tube" is a great way to travel to and from Central London and will be an integral part of most people's stay in the UK capital. So that's the public transport I used the most in my recent trip to get around Central London apart from walking la..

So what's Oyster card?
It's a plastic smart card which can hold pay as you go credit, Travelcards and Bus and Tram season tickets. You can use an Oyster card to travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.  

Deciding which ticket to buy – a Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card or Travelcard – depends on how long you're staying in London and how frequently you'll be using public transport.

If you plan to make two to four journeys a day for a couple of days, or if you want to travel to the outskirts of the city, then a Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card or contactless payment card will be your cheapest options. 

If you are visiting London for a week or more, and plan to use only the central London area (e.g. zones 1 to 2 or zones 1 to 4) to make four or more journeys per day on a daily basis, then a 7 Day Travelcard may be the most cost-effective option.

Note: If you buy a 7 Day Travelcard from a Tube station, Oyster ticket stop or London Travel Information Centre when you get to London, it will be issued to you on an Oyster Card (A £5 deposit is payable when you get an Oyster card).

I opted for a 7 Day Travelcard for Zones 1-2 (covers central London only, including most major attractions) which cost about £32.10 since I'm in London for more than a week. Check the link below here to help you decide which travel pass is right for you:

3) Grab a free copy of the Tube map from the Tube station
Since in tips #2 I mentioned I used tube the most, so the free tube map is a MUST for me which helps to interchange between the tube lines easily. Or you can download the pdf here.

4) Tips for booking overground train in London 
If you need to travel out of the city which is beyond the Tube line, use the London's Overground train. London's Overground rail services crisscross the city and extend beyond the Tube network. 

Most local train lines connect efficiently with the Tube and accept payment by Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card, Travelcard and contactless payment card. 

Wonder where the overground train covers? Check it out here:

Where to book the train and check the schedules:
Train Line:

Or from the train website directly:
National Rail:
First Great Western:

Below are some of the tips for booking the train: 
  • Book in early - Advance tickets are the cheapest train tickets. The earlier you book, the greater the saving, up to 80%.
  • Be flexible -  Avoid the busy peak travel times 06:30 - 09:30 and 15:30 - 18:30.
  • Get single - 2 singles can be better value than 1 return journey.
  • Split your journey up - Instead of booking one ticket for your journey, try splitting the journey into different stages with a ticket for each stage.
For more information for money saving tips for booking a train, check it out here:

This is my train ticket from Newport back to London Paddington
5) Stand on the right, walk on the left on London Underground escalators
Stand to the right when riding the escalators unless you intend on getting shoved, nudged and bumped. Absolutely, under no circumstances, stand to the right.

6) Checkout Local Tour Package
Sometimes it's cheaper to get a local tour package if the train and also the entrance fees added up is more costly. Some of the local tours which you can check for the visit to some of the following places:
  • Cambridge
  • Stonehenge
  • Bath 
  • Oxford
Some of the recommended local tour options:
  • Anderson Tours - I purchased the package to Stonehenge and Bath from this tour. Thumbs up!
  • Golden Tours - My colleague recommended this tour agency
7) Do not take London's iconic black cabs from the airport if you are budget savvy
If you are on the budget constraint, check out alternative transfer services for transfer to and from the airport. An estimate of a black cab charges from the Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 to Central London cost about £80 per journey. 
  • BA Transfer, a transfer service which is quite reputable, charges for £39 per journey inclusive of £7 for the airport parking to wait for your arrival. Otherwise, it cost only £31 for charges to Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 from Central London.
  • Ezee Transfer
I personally used BA Transfer and the service is damn convenient. 

All I need to do is to go online and booked it earlier and TA DAA..I get my confirmation processed next day and the driver arrived earlier than specified pickup time. The driver will make a call to you personally before the pick up too. 

Oh, don't be surprised that the receipt that you get from the driver is like that:

If you wanted to get a cab in Newport, recommended to get this cab service: Dragon Taxis

8) Where to shop in London?

(a) Recommended Souvenir Shopping Street - Bayswater

You get a whole street of shops which sells plenty of London souvenirs like magnets, keychains, T-shirt etc. And dun worry about the shops closing at 9pm! You can do late night shopping here. For Malaysians, do take note that some shops here have special discounts for Malaysians!

Bayswater station
How to get here:
->By tube: Take the District/Circle (Green/Yellow) line to Bayswater station. Once you get out of the station, turn left or right...there are plenty of souvenirs shops everywhere here.

(b) Best clothing deal store in London - Primark! 

A good place to shop for incredibly dirt cheap clothes from as low as GBP1, shoes, inner wear etc. If you run out of room for your luggage, you can even grab one here at a very cheap price of GBP20 here too!
How to get here:
Primark Oxford Street East
Address: 14 – 28 Oxford Street & 3 Tottenham Court Road
London, W1D 1AU

By tube: Take the Central Line to Marble Arch. When you are out of the station, cross the road and turn left. Walk straight and you will see Primark on your right.

Opening hours:
  • Mon - Fri: 8am to 10pm
  • Sat: 8am to 9pm
  • Sun: 12pm to 6pm
(c) London's most famous luxury department store - Harrods
How to get here:
Address: 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL, United Kingdom
Phone:+44 20 7730 1234

By tube: Take the Piccadilly line to Knightsbridge station
Opening Hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, 
  • Sunday 11:30 am – 6.00 pm
**TIPS: When you shop in UK, remember to request for a VAT refund whenever you can. The VAT refund receipts are longer than the normal ones. And please ask for credit card VAT refund if the amount is too small, otherwise, you will get deducted GBP2.50 for every single receipt of VAT refund as admin charges. And dun worry about not getting your refund back in the card! I got mine credited after 5 working days which is pretty fast!

d) Best place to get sports shoes and jerseys - Lillywhites

Wanted to find Arsenal or Manchester Uniter jerseys? The place to go is Lillywhites! Here you can get wide selections of latest or out of season jerseys and sport shoes too.

How to get here: 
London - Piccadilly 
24-36 Regent Street
London SW1Y 4QF
By tube: Take the Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus

Please stay tuned for my upcoming shopping haul post in London!

9) Where to eat Asian food in London?
Craving for Asian food in London? Below are the recommended places to get Asian food in London:

a) Bayswater

Here, you not only can shop for all the London souvenirs but you can even get Malaysian or Thai food too! Some restaurants which I have tried:
  • Malaysia Hall Canteen : Satisfy your Malaysian food cravings here with Nasi Pattaya, Curry Puff, Mee Mamak..
  • Gold Mine Restaurant : Best roasted duck!
How to get here:
By tube: Take the District/Circle (Green/Yellow) line to Bayswater station.

b) Chinatown
Get all the Chinese, Japanese or Korean food here! Some restaurants which I have tried:
  • Bone Daddies : Delicious ramen!
  • Tokyo Diner : So-so Japanese bento or don set. However, you get free green tea drinks when you dine here.
  • Chinatown bakery : Get all the typical Chinese buns or cakes here

How to get here:
By tube: Take the Piccadilly/Northen line to Leicester Square station.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on the recommended food in London!

10) Free tourist spot in London
If you are on a tight budget while visiting London, there are many free tourist attractions that you can visit too. And it's really worth it! Below are some suggestions on activities which you can do without costing you a penny:
  1. Explore London's free museum
  2. Marvel at the changing of the guard at Buckhingham Palace
  3. Discover Westminster Abbey
  4. Visit the British Library
  5. Stroll through London's famous markets
  6. Westminster Bridge - where you can take picture of the London Eye to the east and the House of Parliament and Big Ben to the west. If you walk west from here, you'll come across one of London's gorgeous Royal parks: St. James Park
Stay tuned again for my upcoming post about this! 

Check here for more of my UK trip sharing.

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