[LONDON] 8 Tips Exciting Trip You Need To Know For First-Time Visitors

For visitors who want to travel to Europe for the first-time, you can make London the first stop on your itinerary. London offers plenty of activities to satisfy any traveler. There are plenty of accommodation options, but you can save more money if you have friends to stay with during your trip. On our second trip to London in mid-February 2017, we were very grateful because our good friend allowed us to stay in their home, located in Staines Road, Twickenham (approximately 1 hour trip from central London to their home – yay, thank you so much Jike and Yola! Mwacks!) There are numerous of activities and entertainment options to suit a variety of tourists, but in this article, I will share top 10 London attractions, the best places to visit in London, and the best things to do in London to keep your trip fun and adventurous! Feel free to leave comments, and share this article with your friends. Thank you for reading!

    1. Airport Transfer

The easiest airport transfer to London is to stop at Heathrow International Airport, London. The Heathrow Express (train) reaches central London in just 15 minutes from the airport. And there’s a National Express bus from Heathrow to London which takes between 40 minutes and 2 hours 35 minutes and is cheaper than the train.

    2. Getting around London on the Tube, buses, and trains

There are two travel tickets which can be used in London: Visitor Oyster Card or a London Travelcard. We buy Visitor Oyster Card once we arrived at the Visitor Centre at Heathrow Airport. This contactless, pay-as-you-go smartcard is pre-loaded with credit to access any public transport in London. You can top up your credit if you run out.

Tube (London’s Underground train), London Overground, Buses, and National Rail services in London are divided into zones. Most services operate in zones 1-6, with Tube, London Overground and National Rail also operating in zones 7-9.

If you use a Travelcard on any of these services, it must be valid for every zone you travel through.

Buses do not operate in zones and any Travelcard is valid for any bus journey within Greater London regardless of the zone(s) it covers. If your Travelcard includes Zone 3, 4, 5 or 6 you can use it on trams.

You can use a Visitor Oyster card in ANY zones, but your fare will vary depending on which zones you travel in. The card automatically calculates the cheapest fare for the zones you use.

    3. SIM CARD for Internet Connection

At the Visitor Centre at Heathrow Airport, London, don’t forget to buy a SIM Card that has the best deals.

We chose this brand: “3” (THREE) and last November 2016, we purchased 10 Gb of Internet data for £25, but on this visit, February 2017, we paid £40 (equal to IDR 680,000,- if we convert to Indonesian Rupiah) for unlimited data, and it’s valid for one month.

    4. Pay for the Public Toilet

The absence of a free toilet in most places in the UK makes us very sad. Here, you’ll find a coin-operated toilet locks in most public toilets in the United Kingdom, whether it’s at the train station, malls, shops, etc. The fees vary from 30p (30 pence equal to IDR 5,100,- if we convert to Indonesian Rupiah). If you don’t want to pay, then you can find a fast food restaurants in your area, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, which has a toilet inside their restaurant. Some cafes and coffee shops even use a 6-digits code to open their toilet doors, which actually aims to maintain the cleanliness and comfort of the toilet for visitors. However, now tourist can easily locate the free public toilet from this mobile application.

    5. Mineral Water

From my experience, the cost of everything in the UK is so expensive when compared to Japan, and some countries in Asia. Here in London, the cheapest mineral water we could find available at the Sainsbury Supermarket which costs just 50p (50 pence equal to Rp 8500 if we convert to Indonesian Rupiah) for Sainsbury’s Caledonian Still Water 2L.

    6. Save More Money with MEAL DEAL at any supermarkets

Not only the hungry workers, but we also like to save more money by

getting the best value meal deal at these supermarkets: TESCO, Boots, and Sainsbury’s. They usually have a special offer called MEAL DEAL where you can buy a Main Meal (sandwich, pasta, salads) + any drinks (juices, mineral water) + any snacks (fresh fruit, chips) for £3 to £3.29 (equal to IDR 51,000 – IDR 56,000,- if we convert to Indonesian Rupiah).

Claim your VAT Refund here at Heathrow Airport, London

    7. TAX Refund

It is possible for international visitors (non-European Union countries) to get a VAT refund on purchases of goods made and/or business expenses incurred while visiting London.

Things to do:
1. if you make purchases with a minimum spend of £30, don’t forget to ask for a TAX-FREE form, from the cashier when you make the payment.

2. If you are leaving the EU from London Heathrow Airport, please allow enough time for the export validation process before your flight departs. There were long queues at the TAX Refund Office when I was there tonight, and it requires about 45 minutes to an hour to get the refund claim done.

3. Make sure all the forms completed, then you can present your Tax-Free forms to one of the Travelex VAT refund desks (BEFORE CHECK-IN)! Bring along the purchase receipt, and items purchased (make sure the products are sealed and unused, just in case there’s inspection) and tell them if you want to get a CASH Refund (VAT total, minus an administration fee – a cash refund fee may apply, starts from £3 GBP) or refund to your CREDIT CARD (no admin fee, but it takes longer time to be credited to your credit card).

8. Buy ingredients from local supermarket and cook your own meals

Cooking your own meals is one way to cut the cost significantly, and we’re willing to do the extra work because everything is very expensive in the UK. Lucky for us, we booked an apartment through Airbnb, and this place has a fridge, and also a kitchen. Almost every day, we prepared our breakfast, made sandwiches for an afternoon snack and cooked instant noodles when we returned home. Ha-ha..

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Author: myfunfoodiary

Myfunfoodiary as Indonesian Food and Travel Blog was born in July 2012 and has become one of the valuable online source for locals, tourists, food enthusiasts and industry professionals. It is a Jakarta based Food and Travel Blog managed by Mullie Marlina, a young, lovely, cheerful and blessed wife who loves to share her culinary and travel experiences through her writing. You’ll find her honest reviews, valuable suggestions, objective ratings and recommendation of eateries in Jakarta and selected cities in Indonesia and abroad. Her curated restaurant reviews are based on her meticulous inquiries and her rich dining experience in various restaurants in Jakarta. She has also traveled to different cities and countries where she finds interesting and inspiring dishes, cuisines and excellent dining ambience which she also included in the list. From recommendations, restaurant experiences, events, travel destinations, and recipes, readers will find anything food related in this website. She would really appreciate your feedback, and would love to hear about any suggestions, events regarding food, or just to drop in to say "Hi". Again, thank you so much for dropping by, and she hopes you enjoy reading her journal. Thank you so much for all your supports! God bless you! ^_^

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