Amsterdam – Things To Do (With Map)

The first thing to do when you get to Amsterdam is walk. Everywhere. This is the best way to absorb the beauty and quirks that the city has to offer, and enjoy the slower pace of life. There is so much to love about the city!

If you get a chance, rent a bike – it’s Amsterdam’s best mode of transport (and much faster than the trams).

Cute cars and beautiful frontages provide perfect photo opportunities!

And not a straight house in sight…

Here are some interesting Amsterdam facts:

  • Ever wondered why the houses are so narrow? There used to be a tax on the width of houses!
  • Narrow houses means you need to find an alternative way to get your furniture to the top floors. This explains the wonky houses. The slight forward tilt reduces the risk of items colliding with the building as they are hoisted up from the outside of the building.
  • Take a glance upwards when you walk along the streets, and you’ll see an arm and hook protruding from the houses. Don’t be alarmed next time you see furniture dangling from the front of a house!

Keukonhof – Flower Garden

The Netherlands is known for its flower production, and their appreciation of flowers is exhibited at Keukonhof. A beautiful park that has been lovingly designed to display the beautiful blooms. Mid April is the best time to go to see the flowers in full bloom, and we were lucky that the weather was good for at least half of the day as it makes all the difference. Being outside in the cold for hours is never fun. However, the park does have a massive indoor building where even more unique flowers are displayed, in case you need to hide from the weather.

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Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum is one of the largest and most beautiful museums in the Netherlands that is dedicated to the country’s art and history.

Did you know that the Dutch were considered to have established the first multinational corporation, The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) in 1602? The company monopolised trade in Japan from its trading post on the artificial island of Dejima, where this was the only place Europeans could trade with Japan for more than 200 years. VOC traded throughout Asia and profited from the spice trade among other goods, allowing them to amass huge fortunes. The Dutch were influential around the globe throughout the 17th century, a period referred to as the Dutch Golden Age.

The layout of the museum is so user friendly, allowing you to absorb all the key elements of Dutch history. Don’t miss Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” – just some of the most famous pieces housed in the museum that are more breathtaking in real life. Art is definitely better appreciated when you can see the details up close.

Red Light District

Walking around the RLD is a must for anyone visiting Amsterdam as it is a true eye opener. The tranquil, cobbled streets along the canals are transformed by the glaring neon lights and red lanterns, as women parade themselves in the red-fringed windows. The country has had a long liberal attitude towards prostitution and leisure drugs, where the practices have been legalised and controlled. Even as we walked around the district at 10pm as a party of three girls, I did not feel unsafe at any point. You can read more about the area here.

Other things to do in Amsterdam: Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Bloemenmarkt, Heineken Experience, Coffeeshops

Holidays always begin with my crazy, obsessive planning, so feel free to use the below map that marks the places (mostly restaurants/food) that I wanted to see.

Must Eat Treats in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth! Everywhere you turn, you’ll find amazing treats to satisfy your cravings. And all made to perfection! These are some of my favourite must-eats from Hong Kong:

DSC_0226 copyKam Wah Cafe

Most of the good food finds in Hong Kong are from tiny and obscure venues. The famous Bo Lo Baos at this little cafe definitely lives up to its hype. They are, without a doubt, the BEST bo lo baos in town. The ratio of buttery, crunchy topping and soft, shreddable bread was out of this world! And for $6 (equivalent to 60p!), it was amazing value! They also serve the baos with different fillings such as a slab of butter, ham etc. The milk tea at this cafe is also renowned – it is a simple, good, strong cup of black, milky tea.

IMG_0541Via Tokyo
One of the most famous soft serves on social media in Hong Kong is from this little dessert store in Hong Kong. They specialise in Japanese tea flavours and we were hoping to try their famous green matcha but Wednesdays are “Reverse Tokyo” days, when they do not serve matcha, and focus on their special flavour of the day, which was Hojicha, another Japanese tea. BUT we were not disappointed! Hojicha has a distinct and strong tea flavour, which you often find lacking in matcha desserts, so we were pleasantly surprised. The 3 flavour waffle cup consisted of Royal Milk Tea, Hojicha and Hokkaido Milk soft serves with adzuki red bean, mochi and a chestnut. Shared between 2, this was a very satisfying ice cream treat!

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Mammy’s pancakes

This waffle store serves a variety of different flavours (sesame, matcha, chestnut, coffee…) as well as the original egg waffle. The queue at 8:30pm just shows the popularity of this tiny store. I had the matcha green tea with chocolate egg waffle, which had soft and crunchy textures, and the two flavours were a great combination.

DSC_0022 copy佳佳甜品

Puddings in Hong Kong are a popular treat, and this little venue is known for its tong yuan (glutinous rice balls) and thick puddings. We had the thick walnut pudding, which had a light flavour and the perfect sweetness. We also had the original black sesame tong yuan in ginger soup. The ginger was strong, spicy and refreshing, which balanced the sweetness of the black sesame filling.

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Tai Cheong bakery

This famous bakery chain serves the best egg tarts in Hong Kong. The filling was light, not-too-eggy and slightly sweet, and the hint of salt in the pastry accentuated the short, buttery flavour.

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McDonald’s

Don’t judge me for including McDonald’s! Hear me out first! McDonald’s in Asia is a treat – they serve food that actually looks and tastes like what it should be. We had a few sweet treats from the specials menu: purple sweet potato ice cream ($5.5 = 50p!!) and red bean pie ($7 = 70p). The ice cream tasted surprisingly earthy and true to the sweet potato flavour. The pie was super crunchy but the filling was overly sweet.

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Seemingly, at every street corner in Hong Kong, there is a small local bakery serving delicious, fluffy bread. This Bo Lo Bao with red bean was amazingly light. I mean, how do they get so much air in the bread?? I want the secret!

Let me know if you have any recommendations – I will definitely be back to Hong Kong!