Our first ever Travel Advisor, Joe Thompson, is off!

Follow his journey around the world via our interactive map.

Kickstarting in Norway and ending in South America, Joe will be sharing his travel adventures every month. Keeping in the theme of comparethemarket.com, Joe will be looking at the best deals across food, accommodation and the top sights to see, throughout his journey. Stay tuned for more! 

World map for travel advisor blog

Blog 3: China

China will take you by surprise in so many ways! It’s such an enormous country, bursting full of diverse culture.

I started in Hong Kong and made my way up through the middle and Western areas, ending up in Beijing. You’ll need a Chinese Visa, which I advise sorting before you fly out at your closest Chinese Visa Centre. Alternatively, you can arrange your Visa in Hong Kong. Mine took around 4 days to process and cost about £65 for 30 days.

Here’s a list of my top tips for your trip to China:

comparethemarket.com travel advisor - Hong Kong
  • There are some useful apps you should download before your trip. Firstly, you’ll need a good translation app that lets you download languages offline as English isn’t a widely used language in China. I used the ‘WeChat’ app, which I found was very commonly used among the Chinese locals to communicate. To help you get around, I’d recommend ‘CityMap2Go’, as this lets you download maps offline.
  • Food in China is extremely cheap and generally, portion sizes are large. You’ll learn what foods you like and don’t like along the way. Keep in mind that Western food in China is much more expensive so I’d recommend just sticking to the local stuff, it’s delicious!
  • Accommodation in China is also inexpensive and hostels tend to be of a very high standard. Just make sure to check out reviews online and if it has a strong rating then you can’t really go wrong. I went for anything ranked above 7/10 on Booking.com.
  • Getting around the country is pretty easy and great value for money, thanks to its train network. Use a website called C-Trip to book all of your trains. I’d recommend booking 2nd class on long/overnight journeys and seating class on your shorter trips.

Here are a couple of my favourite places I visited during my trip:

Hong Kong - this city is amazing and there is so much to do both in and outside of the city centre. Visit some of the local beaches and islands for a tropical adventure. You can surf in Big Wave Bay and afterwards, enjoy a well-deserved dinner at the cafe. I’d recommend staying at Hop Inn on Mody road. 

Yangshuo County – I stayed in Wada Hostel, they’ll help you explore this amazing place. I went rock climbing with Black Rock Climbing company.

Zhangjiajie – also known as ‘Avatar Mountains’, where they filmed much of the Avatar film. An incredible landscape worth 3 days of exploring.

XI’AN – I stayed at See Tang Hostel, it has an amazing roof terrace.  Also visit the Muslim Food Market for some tasty food!

Hohhot - I spent 4 hours playing table tennis with the locals in Manduhai Park, it’s great fun!

Blog 1: Norway

Norway never failed to take my breath away! The sheer volume of amazing landscapes this country has to offer makes a trip here well worth it. I travelled through the western Fjords, flying into Bergen and out of Ålesund. Flights, if booked in advance, can be found at a reasonable price; being so close to the UK. However, when here expect to pay top dollar for things like food, accommodation and well... everything! Here are some useful tips for your stay in Norway to make your pounds stretch that bit further:

Joe Thompson - Norway
  • Hostels are still pretty expensive here. Try to bring camping equipment and pitch up a tent in a campsite. Hostels cost from £35-50pn and a camp spot is £15-20 – so a considerably cheaper option! Also, check out Airbnb as there are some good deals to be found on here.
  • The best way to get around Norway is via its public transport and there are plenty of buses and trains. Plan in advanced though as there are only a few buses each day or week in some areas! If you’re in a group, renting a car might be a good option if you are in a group. I’d recommend looking on Rent A Wreck as they have some good prices. 

  • Use a website called Rough Guides to help plan your itinerary and route around Norway so you can make the most out of your visit.
  • Food in restaurants is very expensive here. Your best bet is to shop in the supermarket and cook for yourself. However, if you search online for cheap restaurants then you can find some exceptions. 

Blog 2: Nepal (Everest Base Camp Trek)

So, you’re thinking of trekking to Everest Base Camp? It’s an incredible experience that I would recommend to all! Despite what you sometimes hear, you don’t need a lot of experience in trekking, navigation, expeditions etc... all you need is a decent level of fitness to take you on the trails!

  • You’ll fly from Kathmandu to Lukla to begin your trek. Leave a few days leeway in case of cancellations due to adverse weather and I’d recommend booking a flight as early in the day as possible.
  • Accommodation in Kathmandu is very inexpensive. Stay near Kanti Path road, it has everything you’ll need such as shops and restaurants. For a more rustic experience, stay at Tengboche Guesthouse and experience their wonderful family-owned restaurant. 

Joe in Nepal

 

 
  • If you’re looking to keep costs down, hiring a guide isn’t necessary, unless you want to avoid the hassle of asking for directions! However, I found that the route is well laid out for most of the trek and I also managed to find a great itinerary at IanTaylorTrekking.com to help plan my trip.
  • Accommodation at the start of the Everest Base Camp trek can be found from £1-2. Towards the end of the trek, prices begin to increase and can go up to £4. Past Namche you won’t find much Wi-Fi and power, unless you pay for it so bring power banks and wave goodbye to your Facebook!
  • During the trek, food was more expensive than accommodation as it has to be carried by porters. A main meal will cost around £5, give or take a few pounds, depending on what you order. Most meals are homemade, so you’ll eat well here!
  • A couple of my must-visit places include: Namche Bakery for some incredible cakes and pastries... and pizza! Also, Liquid Bar plays films at 3pm & 7:30pm. Gokyo Lake has some incredible views and is definitely worth a visit if you have time! For an unforgettable experience, visit Tengbouche Monastery at 3pm to view one of their daily ceremonies.
All recommendations are based on my own personal experience and I have not been compensated by any of the places mentioned
comparethemarket.com first travel advisor

About Joe

"My name is Joe Thompson, I'm a 22 year old photographer from London. I specialise in capturing landscapes and people; I love telling stories with my photography. I'm also an adrenaline junkie and love pushing my limits!"

 

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