Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Greetings : London

Hello folks,

A very merry Christmas and happy New Year to all! As you may be realized, I have not posted in a while. I've been busy with some projects and I also did some travelling. Following that, the festive preparations and celebrations kept me busy and I suspect for some more time. :D

London is a beautiful city with truly friendly and honorable people. At the same time, it is also one of the most expensive cities I've traveled to.

Let me share with you some of the sights and experiences in London while providing some suggestions on what to expect.

Here are some rough guidelines on the kind of expenditure to expect when travelling to London.

Arrival at the airport

  1. Upon arrival at the airport, I suggest taking the subway or the 'tube' to your place of accommodation. It is far more economical than hailing one of the infamous London's Black Cabs which will easily set you back around £40. Comparatively, a subway ride to the city center (Zone 1) would cost about £2-3. Less than 10% of the cost.
  2. If you are travelling in London for more than a day or two, I suggest you get the subway card, also known as the 'Oyster' card. This card allows you to store credits in it so that you can avoid the queues at subway stations. Each Oyster card contains £5 in deposit. So you need to pay £5 on top of the amount you with to 'top-up' into the card.
  3. Most flights fly into London's Heathrow Airport. It has FIVE terminals. Terminals 4 and 5 have individuals have individual stations. If I am not mistaken, Terminals 1,2 and 3 share the same subway station. In any case, I would suggest that you purchase an Oyster card prior to your travel to London. Because the queues to purchase the Oyster card will be long.
  4. You may wish to find more information at the following address : Transport for London
Travelling in London

Travelling in London is very convenient using the subways and buses. In some cases you may need to take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) for areas that are further away from the city center. Along river Thames, there are ferries that can take you to directly to the opposite bank and save you some time. It is recommended that you pre-plan routes using Google Maps so as to avoid having to wait periods of time for your transport. It is also prudent to verify time opening hours of all attractions.

#suggestion
It would be very useful to have a small map of London and the subways. You can get this for free at the airport or at some tourist attractions. This is particularly important because the subways in London are connected by (1) different colored lines and (2) trains may not stop at the end of the line but in the middle of it so you will need to re-plan routes on the go.

Day Trips

There are numerous websites that offer day tours however I feel that a tour guide is not necessary if sufficient preparatory reading is done early in advance. Friends recommended me The London Pass which can be purchased online. It is not cheap but for the price it is an all inclusive pass for the public transport and selected attractions You can check out the website for more information and I urge you to read the conditions carefully to avoid disappointment.

If you wish for a quick look around London, you may wish to check out the Bus Tours that bring you around the attractions in London and you can 'hop on and hop off' at various stops. I have not tried out these Bus Tours but I have seen plenty of them in London. Some examples would be  The Original Sightseeing Tour and The Big Bus Tours. If you would like a sightseeing cruise along the river Thames, then City Cruises might be suitable for you.

On a side note, most Museums in London are free. They are surprising free for the fact that they are really good. The exhibits are well maintained and very well described. Definitely worth a visit. 

Food in London

In general, I find an average lunch/dinner to cost around £13-15 per person in a restaurant.
This would comprise of a main couse and a non-alcoholic drink.
  • To enjoy the same meal at a cheaper price, I suggest that you request for water straight from the tap (tapwater) and this can save you a few British pounds. 
A cheaper alternative would be to visit the nearby fast food places such as Macdonalds. A meal would still cost you £6 but it is still half the price of eating in a restaurant.

My personal favorite however, is to visit Starbucks or Pret a Manger for a quick sandwich and a coffee/tea. The cheapest coffee/tea would cost around £1-1.50 and a sandwich would range from £2.50-4.50. 
  • It should be noted that prices would be more expensive if you wish to 'eat-in' at the diners so it would be good if you could eat on the go or find a nice spot in the spacious parks in London.

Living expenses

The daily living expenses (without accommodation) would easily comprise of £4-6 for transport, £15 for dinner and £6 for lunch and breakfast. individually. And that would make up to approximately £33 per day on average.

It is undoubtedly not the cheapest city to travel about it but of course, it is nevertheless a city worth visiting.

Pleasant trip to all who wishes to visit London. Hope this provides good information to those who are planning their trip.

More updates will be forthcoming!

Signing off~
JohnHD

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