I know people who have half their suitcase filled with some kind of ‘parathas / theplas’ with pickles and stuff. Nothing wrong in that, is there? In today’s globalized world, you can get most cuisines, including Indian in every major tourist destinations. We felt like eating at an Indian restaurant in Vatican of all the places, and we were not disappointed – in fact we received VIP treatment from the Indian and Bangladeshi waiters there.
You should try to get a hotel or lodging deal which includes at the very least a breakfast. If your package includes breakfast, then be smart and fill up with proteins and fruits before starting the day sightseeing and avoid too much of sugar or carbs which will simply bloat you up and make you crave for more food sooner. Moreover, high sugar and carb diet makes us weary or drowsy and that is the last thing you want when you are sightseeing. When looking for lunch, eat where the locals do – the cheapest food is near universities or schools or in the central business districts. You should avoid the eating joints near any tourist attractions, unless they are really good i.e. based either on reviews it received or on opinion of locals. Almost all places have Indian and Chinese (although you cannot get ‘Indian’ chowmein there!) eat-outs and they are quite affordable too, especially if they have a takeaway section.
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One approach I recommend is to eat frugal (albeit filling) meals for most of your stay and splurge on one or two occasion to get the best of both. Do lookout for deals or coupons in the local newspapers or magazines for a nice meal in good restaurants. You can also get the city pass or similar tourist pass since they usually contain coupons or discount vouchers for meals. Other sources of deals are sites like www.groupon.com.www.livingsocial.com etc. You can also score on all-you-can-eat meals on weekends in many restaurants.locals will point you in the right directions on this one if you can’t get any info on them Also, check if the other alternative is true i.e. eating on weekdays is cheaper e.g. in Vegas, weekend buffets are costlier than on weekdays.
If you are celebrating any special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, there is no harm in mentioning this to the waiter or server. In many places, this may get you some extras like desserts or wine on the house. Sometimes having a hotel loyalty membership can get you discounts on meals during your stay. I even recommend asking for a package or deal inclusive of at least two meals a day.
In order to satiate your hunger pangs in the room, carry filling nuts, fruits and such snacks lest you reach out for a packet of nuts in the mini-bar costing $10. A trip to the local supermarket is advisable this not only enables you to see the local market, but also allows you to stock up on beverages and food, especially if you have kids in your group. I already mentioned that in the event you decide to rent an apartment or room with kitchen in a B&B, you can get pre-cooked meals from supermarkets like Carrefour, Walmart etc. Most of these supermarkets have a pre-cooked section where you can get salads, sandwiches, baguettes, and much more. So all you need to do is to stock up and when you reach your room, heat it up and eat it. It is hygienic, quick and easy on the pocket too.
When you drink wine or alcohol in restaurants or pubs, do sample the local flavor or beer or wine which is usually cheaper. Also ask about other charges like corkage if you bring in your bottle. You will be surprised to see that in some places the cost of wine and water is same! While on the subject of water, I recommend carrying water bottle/s which you fill up at the hotel or lodging before you leave for the day, especially in US and Europe where a bottle of water can cost upwards of Rs. 150! Add that up for the length of your stay and you will notice that costs increase unexpectedly.
Let us now calculate the cost for tour & sightseeing for a family of 4 (2 adults & 2 kids)
Genting. Book online and get an all-day pass for 65 Ringgits (about Rs. 1,200) at the indoor theme park which will save you 49 Ringgits (or Rs. 900). Thus, for a family of four, it will cost about Rs. 4800. Besides this, there are other attractions like the Casinos, shows and concerts, the tickets for which are available online too.
Kuala Lumpur. Online tickets on a Hop-On-Hop-Off open top bus for the family cost 138 Ringgits (Rs. 2500). Tickets to the Petronas Twin Towers for the family will cost 220 Ringgits (about Rs. 4000). A half day tour to Putrajaya on Viator / Isango will cost about Rs. 10,000. But through local tour operators, it may cost less than Rs. 6,000 for the family. So, do check before buying the tours. Also, please exercise caution if dealing with local tour operators – do not make any online payment unless they have the requisite security on their payment gateway and yes, do check their reputation.
Singapore. One must get the Singapore Pass (http://www.ducktours.com.sg/sp.php) costing Singapore Dollar (SGD) 79 per adult (Rs. 3700) and SGD 59 per child (Rs. 2800), therefore totaling to Rs. 13,000. This might seem a lot, but when you see that this includes the Singapore Flyer (valued at Rs. 4600 for the family), hop-on-hop-off tour (valued at Rs. 3500), river cruise, duck tours, entry to museums, walking tours etc. you discover the value. If you are not interested in museums or some of the tours, check on these tours individually and book tickets online. Next, buying tickets to the famous Singapore Zoo online saves you 20% – online cost is Rs. 3400 for the family. If you get tickets to multiple parks, you save more. You may also like to spend a day at Sentosa, where a day pass will cost SGD 69.90 (Rs. 3200) for one adult & SGD 53.90 (Rs. 2500) for each child. This pass includes 16 attractions for the entire day which will save you at least 60% of the cost if bought separately. For moving around, get the Singapore Tourist Pass, which allows you unlimited travel on buses, MRT and LRT ! A 3-day pass cost just SGD 30 (Rs. 1400). This will save you quite a bundle when travelling within the city.