Adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal

Adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal.

Are you searching for a European beach holiday that is spectacular yet inexpensive? Well, look no further than Albufeira in the Algarve. The Algarve is a coastal area in the south of Portugal with consistently good weather year-round. This stretch of golden sands is well connected with an airport in Faro, as well as buses and trains from the capital of Lisbon.

The summers are meant to be superb and as a winter escape, you can’t go wrong. After hearing rave recommendations, my friend Tamara and I decided to add Albufeira to our Portugal itinerary. We visited in early March and were thrilled to find weather warm enough for bikinis! At this time of year, there aren’t too many places in Europe where you can expect temperatures fit for frolicking on the beach.

And if that wasn’t good enough, throw in fresh seafood feasts, Portuguese hospitality and luxury hotels. Are you booking your flights yet?

Here are my recommendations for adoring Albufeira in the Algarve.

Planning a trip to Portugal? Check out my 2 day itinerary for Lisbon and 5 reasons to visit Porto.

Praia-dos-Olhos-de-Agua-Albufeira-Portugal-Chantell-Collins-Adoration-4-Adventure

Albufeira

If you are flying into Faro, it is just a 35 minute bus ride to Albufeira. From Lisbon, Albufeira can be reached either by bus or train (both around 3 hours and €20-30 one way). We chose the bus as it stopped at the Albufeira bus depot, where we could transfer onto a bus to our resort, Velamar Boutique Hotel.

Albufeira has everything you need for retail therapy, and just outside the center are beautiful beaches waiting to be explored. The old town is located in Praia dos Pescadores (beach of the fishermen) and has a lively nightlife with pubs and karaoke bars. We visited on our first night to eat dinner at Ruina (ruin), as recommended by the Velamar Boutique Hotel manager, Jose. The restaurant is in an old fortress and located right on the sea. If you are a fan of seafood than this is a treat not to be missed.

The Velamar Boutique Hotel is located in Olhos d’Água (eyes of water) which is walking distance to not one but three magnificent beaches! The area itself has many amenities including supermarkets, bakeries, clothing stores, bars and restaurants. You can easily spend your whole time hanging out at the hotel and beaches, without ever venturing into the center.

Praia-Maria-Luisa-Albufeira-Portugal

Praia dos Olhos de Agua

Moving from east to west, the first of three beaches located near Velamar Boutique Hotel is Praia dos Olhos de Agua. This beach has a number of sea-front restaurants providing an opportunity to dine in the sun and soft sea breeze. We stopped in at Restaurante La Cigale twice for mid-afternoon drinks. Tamara also tried the soup and fish, both which she loved.

The beach has many little coves which make the perfect place to lay down your towel, stretch out in the sun and read a book. We spent a whole afternoon doing only this.

Praia-dos-Olhos-de-Agua-Albufeira-Portugal

Praia Maria Luisa

Maria Luisa is the closest beach to the hotel and was also the beach with the least amount of people when we visited. Although we were there in off-season so it was very quiet and relaxed anyway. Besides being another great beach to relax and walk on, there are stairs that lead to the top of the cliffs for awesome ocean views.

There aren’t any restaurants near the beach front, however there are many on Albufeira street closer to the hotel. My favorite was 3 Maria’s where you can get a “Menu do dia” for €13. This includes a starter, main course, dessert and half a bottle of wine. For a sit down dinner in a charming restaurant, the value is unbelievable.

Praia-Maria-Luisa-Albufeira-Portugal-Chantell-Collins-Adoration-4-Adventure

Praia de Santa Eulalia

With all this eating and laying around, a stroll can be great to stretch the legs. Santa Eulalia is a long and wide beach that is nice to walk up and down. This would be a good option if you are looking to go for a jog as well. Tamara and I had grand plans to work out while we were in Albufeira but it never happened. And that’s okay, because when you are on holidays, it’s all about enjoying yourself!

The layers and textures of the colored sands at Praia de Santa Eulalia are very striking as well. All three beaches are unique and worth a visit.

Praia-de-Santa-Eulalia-Albufeira-Portugal

Velamar Boutique Hotel Pool

If you happen to get sick of beaches (is that even possible?) or feel like a change of pace, then there is the pool at Velamar Boutique Hotel. During summer there are sun loungers and a pool bar to help keep you hydrated.

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Outdoor-pool-Albufeira-Portugal


Velamar Boutique Hotel

Velamar is a boutique hotel that is both luxurious and affordable. The building was recently renovated and the decor is ocean-inspired with soft blue and green tones. There are many premium amenities including a stylish hotel bar, games area and meeting room.

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Lounge-Bar-Albufeira-Portugal

We stayed in the Classic Room that comes with either a double or twin beds. Our room was very spacious with a huge closet, en-suite and balcony. There is also a television, mini fridge, and facilities to make tea and coffee. The sliding glass doors and curtains can be opened up during the day for the breeze and sun. At night they provide a thick barrier for a peaceful sleep.

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Classic-Room-Albufeira-Portugal

Buffet breakfast is included for all guests at Velamar Boutique Hotel. The restaurant is located on the top floor and has sea views. One of the best parts of my day was leisurely breakfasts with multiple courses and coffees while looking out at the ocean. Breakfast includes range of cereals, breads, pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and juices as well as two coffee machines. There is also usually a choice of freshly cooked eggs, which the servers will tell you about once you are seated.

The staff at Velamar Boutique Hotel are multilingual, friendly and helpful. The hotel manager, Jose, and the team went out of their way to make sure our stay was memorable.

Location: Estrada de Albufeira, Olhos d’Água, 8200-635 Albufeira, Algarve

Website: http://www.velamar.pt/

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Restaurant-Buffet-Breakfast-Albufeira-Portugal

My friend and I were complimentary guests of Velamar Boutique Hotel, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal. Including Praia dos Olhos de Agua, Maria Luisa and Santa Eulalia.

Have you traveled to Albufeira and Lagos or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain

4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for 4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain.

The words “getaway” and “Barcelona” don’t sound like they belong in the same sentence. Why would anyone want to getaway from Barcelona? Believe me, I am with you on that. I’m crazy about this city and am not shy to show it (it’s my favorite European city and in my top 5 of the world). So much so that I spent almost a month based here. And what a month it was!

Barcelona is easily worth a month (or more) of your time. However, it is still nice to get out of the city and explore other surrounding areas. The public transport system is easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Within just few hours you could find yourself in a totally different region or country.

Here are my recommendations for great getaways from Barcelona.

Heading to Spain? Check out my posts for Barcelona and Mallorca.

Montserrat (1 day)

Montserrat is the most well-known day trip from Barcelona. The monastery is just over an hour out of the city and easily accessible by a combination of train and rail or train and cable car. Alternatively if you have a car, you can drive. There are many ticket options available on the website and it can be confusing. My friends and I bought our train and rail passes from the ticket office at Plaza Espana.

Once you arrive, there is no actual entrance fee unless you want to visit the Museum, Audiovisual Space, or take a ride on a funicular. Access to the grounds and the Basilica are free. Inside the church you can view the famed Our Lady of Montserrat statue.

There are also numerous hikes, which were my favorite part. Visit the tourist office to pick up a map so you can find views like these.

Montserrat-Spain

Girona (1-2 days)

I visited Girona as a day trip, however it could also be stretched into a lazy weekend. By train, it is 40 minutes from Barcelona Sants station and costs around €25 return. For photographers, this city is a dream with a mixture of cultures and architectures. A majority of the activities are free or less than €5 so it’s also a destination that suits budget-conscious travelers.

Here are some of the things you can do during your visit to Girona:

  • Walk through the Jewish Quarter and visit Europe’s smallest plaza
  • Visit the Santa Maria Cathedral and Arab Baths
  • Explore the garden and church ruins
  • Walk along the city wall and take photos of the incredible views
  • Eat delicious ice cream from Rocambolesc (there is also a location in Barcelona)
  • Visit the Cinema Museum.

River-onya-Girona-Spain

Valencia (2-3 days)

I visited Valencia for 2 and a half days and absolutely loved it. It takes 4 hours by bus from Barcelona, so is not possible as a day trip but you wouldn’t want to spend less time here anyway. Life is meant to be enjoyed in Valencia and there is absolutely no rushing.

Valencia is in the region of Comunitat Valenciana with the official languages of Valencian and Castilian (Spanish). English is also widely spoken. As a different region with a different language, it is nice to see the contrast to Barcelona (located in the region of Catalonia with the language of Catalan). it is also a University city, so there are also many young international students.

Read my 2 day itinerary for Valencia, Spain.

Plaza-de-la-Virgen-Valencia-Spain

Andorra la Vella (2-3 days)

Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, located between the borders of Spain and France, and close to the Pyrenees Mountains. From Barcelona, you can take a direct bus to the capital of Andorra la Vella in 3 hours.

Andorra la Vella is small but picturesque with a mountain backdrop. The city itself can be explored in a few hours and is probably not worth a day trip unless you are counting countries or looking to shop. The attached neighborhood of Escaldes-Engordany is like a giant outdoor outlet store.

Majority of visitors to Andorra come here for the skiing and stay up in the mountains. The other option for visitors to Andorra la Vella is one of their luxurious spas.

Andorra-la-Vella-Girona-Spain


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for 4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain. Including Montserrat, Girona, Valencia and Andorra.

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How to get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia

How to get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations on how you can get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia.

Are you looking for a holiday destination that has a wow factor but won’t cost a fortune?

Bali is a small island in Indonesia, full of enormous opportunities for fun, relaxation and romance. It is a very accessible and affordable destination for families, couples, groups and single backpackers.

Many travelers come here with one specific location or activity in mind, however there is no reason why you can’t enjoy a range of unforgettable experiences.

Planning a trip to Asia? Check out posts about Thailand and Cambodia.

Live a life of luxury

Most of us love to relax by the beach, cocktail in hand while watching the waves roll slowly up onto the shore. Bali is definitely the place that you can spend an entire week (or more!) doing just that.

The added bonus is that Bali is very economic, which means that you can upgrade yourself to luxury for the same price that you would pay for a standard hotel in a major US city. Inaya Putri Bali is a 5 Star Resort with its own private beach. Located in Nusa Dua, Inaya Putri is an easy transfer from Bali Denpasar International Airport. Find out here.

kuta-bali-indonesia

Party hard but not too hard

One of the reasons that so many Australians go to Bali is that the party scene is ridiculously fun. Start your night early with a Bintang beer (to match your new Bintang tank-top) while enjoying a Nasi Goreng dinner. Then hit the nightclubs that Kuta is notorious for.

Forget dress-codes and long lines, partying in Bali is made to be simple and relaxed. Everyone is in a good mood so it’s very easy to make new friends whether you are traveling in a small group or solo.

The low cost of drinks can help make your dollars go further. Just don’t overdo it, so you can still get out of bed at a reasonable hour the next day (or back up for the following night!).

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Immerse yourself in Balinese Culture

Have your big nights out in Kuta while still experiencing more of the island and it’s culture during the day. Ubud is an easy day trip from Kuta by either tour or hire car. When visiting with friends, I hired a private driver for the entire day and made up our own itinerary. Split between four people, it was very cheap and we saw everything we wanted.

Some memorable places included the Ubud Monkey Forest, Mt Batur and Titra Empul temple. We also stopped to experience Balinese dance performances, local dishes and exotic fruits.

ubud-temple-bali-indonesia

Make time for island time

It might seem crazy to leave a beautiful island for another island getaway, however the Gili Islands are not to be missed. Located of the neighboring island of Lombok, the Islands are made up of three small islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

The islands are a remote paradise with no motorized transport and complete tranquility. Also a great place for divers to get their certification.

gili-islands-bali-indonesia

All photos in this article are the were sourced from Pixabay and Wikimedia and are free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. This is a sponsored post for which I received a small payment to go towards the costs of running this website.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for how you can get the most out of your holiday in Bali, Indonesia.

Have you visited Indonesia or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Local cuisine and culture in Lisbon, Portugal

Local cuisine and culture in Lisbon, Portugal

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for local cuisine and culture in Lisbon, Portugal.

As a solo traveler, I am pretty comfortable with eating out on my own. However, given the chance, I will almost always choose to dine with company. One of the reasons I enjoy using BonAppetour is that it provides me with an opportunity to get to know new people over a meal.

BonAppetour is a community platform that brings travelers and local hosts together, from over 40 countries across the world. I first tried BonAppetour in Bangkok, Thailand with a Thai cooking class and meal. After having such a fun, social and relaxed time, I was hooked!

For my next BonAppetour experience, I attended a sit down 3 course meal in Lisbon, Portugal. Once again, my expectations (and the capacity of my stomach!) were well exceeded.

bon-appetour-dinner-libson-appertisers

Enjoying local cuisine

One of the richest aspects of travel is enjoying new and local cuisines. As this was my first trip to Lisbon, I chose a traditional Portuguese meal for my BonAppetour experience. However, often you can find an array of dining options from local cuisines to exotic dishes on the BonAppetour platform.

My host family were incredibly warm and kind. Luis met me near the underground station (just a short trip from my hostel in Praca de Rossio) and directed me to their apartment, where I was greeted by Patricia and their two lovely daughters. The atmosphere was very welcoming and I immediately felt like an old friend of the family’s.

Almost upon arrival, I was being seated for the first course of delicious cheeses and meats. The main was a dish that I had never heard of before but was grateful for the opportunity to try. “Carne de Porco a Alentejana” includes both pork and claims. For dessert we had a melt-in-your-mouth Portuguese pudding. Each dish was exquisite and paired with a hand picked local wine, liqueur and coffee. Don’t worry if you have food preferences or allergies, Patricia is happy to customize the menu.

carne-de-porco-a-alentejana-lisboa-portugal

Discovering Portuguese culture

The added bonus of using BonAppetour for your dining experience, is that the hosts are locals. This provides an opportunity for you to get to know more about the culture and history of your destination.

I have a particular interest in Portugal, as I had lived in Brazil for a short time and now speak a little Brazilian Portuguese. It was great fun for me to practice my Portuguese with Patricia and her family over the meal. They also impressed me with their fluency in foreign languages and worldly travels.

Patricia was delighted to share her knowledge about Lisbon and other parts of Portugal. I left her apartment with a head full of suggestions, arms full of brochures to Sintra and a tummy full of Portuguese goodness.

portuguese-culture-libson-adoration-4-adventure

Use the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” to receive 10% off your next BonAppetour experience.


BonAppetour

Do you want to enjoy great food and connect with locals? BonAppetour provides the opportunity to “dine at homes around the world”.

And if there isn’t a host in a city near you, you can also sign up to become a host and home chef.

Use the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” to receive 10% off your next BonAppetour experience.

BonAppetour - Explore Unique Home Restaurants

I was a complimentary guest of BonAppetour, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.  

This page contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from purchases made through these links, however there is no extra cost to the reader. For more information, please read my disclaimer and privacy policy.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for finding local cuisine and culture in Lisbon, Portugal. How to enjoy home dining around the world.

Have you tried BonAppetour or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

5 reasons to visit Porto, Portugal

5 reasons to visit Porto, Portugal

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 5 reasons to visit Porto, Portugal.

I might be biased but Porto is now one of my favorite European cities. It has everything this girl could want in a destination – easy to walk around, incredible views and very affordable. Plus, it has the added bonus of giving me an opportunity to practice my Portuguese.

Since living in Brazil in 2013, I have been studying Brazilian Portuguese using various methods including group classes, private lessons, books and apps. So you can imagine how excited I was to be visiting a city where they speak the language I am learning. Well…. sort of. Actually the Portuguese from Portugal and Brazil are a little different. Especially in the accent. For the most part though, everyone could understand me and I could at least follow along in conversations.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak a word of Portuguese. The citizens of Portugal generally speak excellent English and are more than happy to converse with you. In fact, even if you don’t speak English that well, they will still try to understand and help you.

Sounds amazing right? Well read on for more reasons why you should visit Porto.

Planning a trip to Europe? Check out posts for the England and The Netherlands.

Walk-able streets

Everything about Porto is easy. Taking the train from the airport to downtown is very simple and cheap (just a few Euros). Then once you arrive to the center, chances are you won’t need to take public transport again because this city is very walk-able!

There is so much to explore and my favorite way to do that is by foot. I actually took two walking tours while staying in the city – as one morning tour covered half of the city and the afternoon covered the other half. In addition to that, there are still many gorgeous and winding alleys that you can wander off on your own.

pacos-do-concelho-porto-portugal

Stunning views

One thing that I loved about both Porto and Lisbon (Portugal’s capital) was the number of incredible rooftop views that the cities provide. Porto is not shy is showing off it’s beauty. Some of the best city views, including Vitoria and “the path of virtues” are included on the free walking tours.

path-of-virtues-porto-portugal

Portuguese cuisine on a budget

Porto has two dishes that are traditional to the area. The first is a “Tripas”, a tripe and bean stew. I decided to take a pass on this one, however don’t let that stop you from diving in. If you are unsure about the tripe then you can ask for it on the side.

The second dish is the “francesinha”. This is one monster sandwich! Basically they take two slices of white bread and fill it with meats such as beef, sausage and ham then cover the whole thing in cheese. The bowl is filled with a tomato and onion sauce which may include other liquids such as whiskey and Porto wine. If that wasn’t enough, the meal also comes with a side of fries. I highly recommend sharing as I didn’t meet anyone who had finished it on their own. For “uma francesinha e cafe com leite” (and coffee with milk) I paid 8.30 Euros.

uma-francesinha-porto-portugal

Bacalhau (cod) is also a popular dish, although not specific to the region as you can also get this in other parts of Portugal and Brazil. Still if you like fish, this can be a really nice meal or snack to have with a “cerveza” (beer).

All in all, I found the food to be really cheap! For breakfast hit up the local “padaria” (bakery) to enjoy fresh bread and coffee for under 2 Euros. Then at lunch time, look for a sign that says “menu do dia” (menu of the day) which will include a starter, main and a drink for as little as 5 Euros. This meal is also huge so don’t be afraid to share.

Wizard-y connections

Any Harry Potter fans here? If so, then you will definitely want to add Porto to your list. JK Rowling lived here at the time of writing the first book. There are many obvious connections between the city and the novels which I will let you discover by yourself (hint: a lot of these will be covered on the free walking tours).

You can even visit some of her favorite places to write, including the Cafe Majestic and Livraria Lello.

livraria-lello-porto-portugal

Oporto City Hostel

While staying in Porto you will want to be somewhere central and fun. Oporto City Hostel provides a relaxed and social environment in an excellent location. The hostel is an easy stroll from all the major historical attractions and an even shorter distance from the Trinidade Station.

I found the staff to be super helpful and always smiling. At the front desk you will find information about the free walking tours that I mentioned, as well as a pub crawl and port wine tour. In addition to this, they can provide you with a city map and recommendations.

Location: Rua Guedes de Azevedo 219, Porto

Website: www.oportocityhostel.com

oporto-city-hostel

I was a complimentary guest of Oporto City Hostel however my opinions are my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s 5 reasons to visit Porto, Portugal.. Including walk-able streets, stunning views and Portuguese cuisine on a budget.

Have you visited Porto or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand

Finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand.

There are two things that we all crave when arriving at a new destination – great food and good company. This can sometimes be difficult to find, especially if you are not familiar with the area and don’t have local contacts.

Well now there is a solution for travelers (or even locals) who are looking for a delicious meal and an opportunity to connect with others. BonAppetour is a community marketplace that connects diners with home chefs for an authentic dining experience.

Currently there are hosts in over forty countries across the world. When planning a trip you can search for a city and find a home dining experience that suits your tastes. Each listing includes details about the dining experience, menu, location and host to help you make an informed decision.

During my recent trip to Bangkok, I decided to try a Thai cooking class and meal through BonAppetour. This was a great option for me, as I was traveling solo and didn’t know anyone in the city. What followed was a fun filled afternoon of laughter, fun and delicious food.

Read on if you are looking for where to eat in Bangkok or in other destinations around the world.

Use the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” to receive 10% off your next BonAppetour experience.

Finding good food

Fresh and quality produce are essential to a great meal. Luckily the locals usually know where to go to get the best fruit and vegetables. Some BonAppetour dining experiences, like my cooking class with Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, even include a market tour.

After arriving at our meeting point, our host, Air, led the group into a nearby market. He guided us to specific stalls pointing out the produce that would be used in our meals. Our host was very passionate and knowledgeable about Thai cuisine. Sharing his culinary wisdom, Air told us what to look for in certain vegetables and what could be used as alternatives if we couldn’t find them in our home cities.

Fresh produce, Bangkok, Thailand

Meals are better shared

One of my favorite parts of this dining experience was getting to know the other diners and our host. Our group was made up of six lovely ladies (myself included) with four from the Philippines and one from Sweden. The host was Thai born and had lived in Australia during his teenage years. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s backgrounds and stories while cooking and eating together. From the first moment that I arrived, I felt very welcomed and comfortable.

Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, Thailand

Our dinner was green curry chicken, pomelo salad, hot & sour prawn soup (Tom Yum Goong) and chicken satay with peanut sauce. BonAppetour hosts will often have a set menu, which may change from day to day, so be sure to check the menu section before booking your experience.

The food at was incredible and plentiful. In fact, I could barely eat half of the four meals put in front me. Fortunately, our host provided us with bags if we wanted to take our leftovers for later. I am a big curry fan, so the Thai Green Curry was the stand out dish for me. Going around the table, it seemed like everyone had a different favorite depending on their tastes.

At the end of the day, the group departed full of smiles and warm bellies. I was happy to have had such a nice experience during my trip to Bangkok.

Eating my Thai food at Bangkok Cooking Academy


BonAppetour

Do you want to enjoy great food and connect with locals? BonAppetour provides the opportunity to “dine at homes around the world”.

And if there isn’t a host in a city near you, you can also sign up to become a host and home chef.

Use the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” to receive 10% off your next BonAppetour experience.

BonAppetour - Explore Unique Home Restaurants

I was a complimentary guest of BonAppetour, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.  

This page contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from purchases made through these links, however there is no extra cost to the reader. For more information, please read my disclaimer and privacy policy.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for finding good food and company in Bangkok, Thailand. How to enjoy home dining and local hosts around the world.

Have you tried BonAppetour or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.