If you've been following us on Instagram and Facebook, you probably would have known that Suzana and I recently went on a trip to Amsterdam and Paris. Huge thanks to KLM and Air France for making this happen! We were really excited as we've heard so much about both cities and we just couldn't wait to explore for ourselves. Plus we visited during one of our favourite seasons - autumn!
Launch of the Dreamliner from KL to Amsterdam
To add on to our excitement, we also witnessed the launch of the Dreamliner in KL and were amongst the first batch of passengers to take the plane straight from KL to Amsterdam! The crew were extremely friendly and took the time to chat with a number of passengers. As it was a long-haul flight (13 hours!), the Economy Comfort seats were a life-safer with extra legroom and recline. And the best part of it all? The Dreamliner is now available on three weekly day flights between Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam! So you'll board the flight at 8am in KL and land in Amsterdam in the afternoon :D
P.S. Did we also mention that there's a sale going on from now till 30 Nov? :D
Our lunch onboard the KLM Dreamliner - loving the Dutch design of the tray!
Day 1 - Arrive at Amsterdam
- Take the train from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Central Station
- Collect your I amsterdam card from the I amsterdam store at central station. You can also purchase the card directly from the store.
- The card comes with a city map which was super handy in helping us navigate around the city. You also get free entry to more than 30 attractions/museums, free public transport and more!
Day 2 - Day Trip From Amsterdam
Start your second day in Amsterdam by heading to one of the most picturesque and charming area in Netherlands - Zaanse Schans!
Zaanse Schans (6 hours)
- Before you leave, make sure to snap a photo outside Amsterdam Central station
- To get to Zaanse Schans, take a train (around 17mins) to Koog-Zaandijk and walk 18mins from the station (there are directions along the way)
- Stroll along the charming town and snap lots of photos!
#HHWT Tip: There are a number of workshops, museums and windmills to check out in Zaanse Schans. Check out the website to plan your trip in advance as some of the attractions have admission fees and different opening hours. Extra perk if you got the I amsterdam card, as the admission for Zaanse Schans is covered under the card ?
- Visit the clogs museum (one of our favourites) and check out the long Dutch history of clogs. You can also get souvenirs and a pair of clogs to bring home :P
- Snap a cute photo with the many giant clogs outside the museum!
- Pop by the cheese factory and watch how cheese gets made
- Make your own hot chocolate at the chocolate factory
- Visit De Kat (The Cat) - one of the last remaining paint windmill that's still in operation! If you're up for it, you can even climb up the extremeeely steep ladder for a pretty awesome view from the second level of the windmill.
Dinner + Anne Frank House (3 - 3.5 hours)
Credit: Pancakes Amsterdam on Facebook
- Try local Dutch pancakes at Pancakes Amsterdam! Do note that there are seafood and vegetarian options available but the eatery is not halal-certified. Readers are advised to visit at your own discretion
- Get in the queue for Anne Frank House
- Set aside an least an hour for your visit (in addition to queuing, which will take around 45mins), and end off your visit by checking out the bookstore where you can get a copy of the diary
#HHWT Tip: Get your tickets in advance for Anne Frank House online as the queues are ALWAYS long and if you don't reach there on time, you might not get in. This is especially so in winter, when the house closes at 7pm instead of 10pm. You can rearrange your itinerary by visiting Anne Frank House first before heading to Zaanse Schans, as booking your ticket online will ensure you a morning entry.
Day 3 - Explore the must-see sights in Amsterdam
Breakfast at a Local Cafe (1 hour)
- Start your day with breakfast at a local cafe - we heard that Dutch coffee is really good, so don't forget to grab a cuppa!
- Get a window seat and people watch if you have time to spare
Van Gogh Museum (2 hours)
- With the largest Van Gogh collection in the world, the Van Gogh museum is an absolute must-visit. If you have the I amsterdam card, you'll get to skip the queues!
- Read about Van Gogh's life, check out his letters, view his famous works - Sunflowers and Almond Blossoms, his self-portraits and countless other paintings. Do note that no photography is allowed in the museum, but there are selfie walls where you can snap a photo
#HHWT Tip: Squeeze in a visit to the most popular museum in Netherlands - Rijksmuseum, if you have time, as it's located pretty near the Van Gogh museum. You'll get a discount with the I amsterdam card too!
Albert Cuyp Market (2.5 hours)
- Take a tram or enjoy a stroll as you head to where the locals go - the largest day market in Amsterdam - Albert Cuypmarket!
- This famous street market first started all the way back in 1904 and has pretty much everything from fresh fruits to clothes and bedding. If you're visiting on a weekend, be prepared to face the crowds! Make sure you visit on an empty stomach because there's lots to eat at the market.
- Our first stop was the Benny's Chicken which serves halal chicken in all forms - sandwich, chicken wings, satay, whole grilled chicken and more. ? The chicken is marinated with their own special spice (but really, it's not exactly spicy) and if you get the sandwich, it even comes with cheese! Not to mention, it's really affordable with the price ranging from 2.50 to 5euros.
- Next up - raw herring! And because action speaks louder than words, click here to watch our video on this local delicacy.
- Finish off with freshly made stroopwaffles that taste waaaaaaay better than the packaged ones they sell in supermarkets. You can choose from the original (with caramel inside) or go all out and get the one with chocolate on it. (Or do what we did, and try both ?)
Piping hot stroopwaffles are a must-try! And here's all the other yummy street food you can't miss!
Flower Market (1 hour)
- Amsterdam is home to quite a number of street markets and the flower market is another must-visit!
- Although most of the flowers are for sale (and it might be reaaaally tempting to get some), it's still fun to snap some shots and just bask in the colourful floral atmosphere!
- Don't try buying the tulip bulbs home though, as they won't be able to survive in the hot tropical weather ?
Dam Square (2 hours)
- Head to Dam Square if your inner shopaholic is begging to be unleashed. Not only is it home to the largest departmental store in the city, there are also a number of international brands. In Nov, the area is decorated with festive lighting and deco!
- On your way there, don't forget to snap a photo of the Dam Square Monument and the Royal Palace
- Alternatively you can head towards the Central Station and board the canal cruise which comes free with the I amsterdam card!
- The cruise lasts around an hour and comes with a free audio guide, so take a seat, plug in your earphones, and learn more about the history of Amsterdam while enjoying the leisure ride!
Nothing screams Amsterdam like taking a cruise down the famous canals.
P.S. If we've convinced you to take a trip to Amsterdam, check out KLM's Oh My Deals for fares as low as RM 2,743 from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam! Plus, the travel period is from 15 Jan to 15 Jun 2017 so you can visit Amsterdam in Spring :) Don't forget to book by 30 Nov 2016!The promo is now over.
Day 4 - Paris bound
It's time to head to the city of love!
Take a Flight to Paris and Check-In to Your Hotel (3 hours)
- Take a 1hr 20min flight on Air France from Amsterdam to Paris (we took a morning flight and arrived at around noon)
- From the airport, we took the Le Bus to Étoile Champs-Elysées where our hotel was located. The famous street is gorgeous!
- We checked in to our hotel - Hotel Royal Magda Etoile which had a really good location - just a short walk away from the subway
Galeries Lafayette (4 - 5 hours)
Credit: @angelina_paris on Instagram
- Enjoy a tea break at Angelina, one of the well-known tea rooms in Paris and try a cup of their amazingly rich hot chocolate. Do note that Angelina is not halal-certified, but we've checked with the staff and their desserts do not contain alcohol. We advise readers to visit at your own discretion.
- Treat yourself to an amazing shopping experience at Galeries Lafayette, the famous departmental store chain which first started operations all the way back in 1895!
- Shop to your hearts content with the insane number of brands available, from Zara to Chanel. There’s something for everyone ?
- If you’re in a rush or not quite sure where to start, the departmental store also provides a personal shopper service completely free! Simply let them know your preference and budget and an experienced personal shopper will put together an outfit for you. Don’t forget to make an appointment in advance!
- Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about the guys. There's a separate building - Galeries Lafayette Homme - dedicated to menswear and accessories - it's accessible via a bridge in the main building.
- If you're visiting in mid-November till the end of the year, you're in luck! Admire the festive decor and get your cameras ready as the windows outside Galeries Lafayette get all dressed up for the festive season.
- Get a stunning view of Paris with Eiffel tower in the background, from La Terrasse,located on the 7th floor of the main building! The terrace opens at 9.30am and closes at 7.30pm or if weather conditions are adverse.
- The view of Paris from La Terrasse is a completely new angle of this iconic and historic city!
- If you’re a big shopper, you’ll most likely receive an invitation to Le Concierge, a lounge especially for Galeries Lafayette VIP customers that provides the ultimate shopping experience. Escape the hustle and bustle of the shopping floor and take a break in La Suite. You’ll even be able to do your tax refund while enjoying a drink in comfort of the spacious lounge!
- Treat your sweet tooth with a wide-range of desserts at Lafayette Gourmet, a separate store dedicated to gourmet food and desserts
- Get a box of the world famous Pierre Hermé macarons* (Macarons don't just taste good, they're photogenic too :D)
- And of course, when you're in Paris, you absolutely have to try eclairs! Thankfully the gourmet hall has everything you need. L' Eclair de Génie* is pretty much one of the best eclairs in Paris and there's a wiiide range of flavours for you to choose from. We went with salted caramel and yuzu, which were both very different but equally good!
*Do note that the macarons and eclairs are not halal-certified, please consume at your own discretion. We've checked with the staff and while none of the macarons contain gelatine, some of the seasonal flavours may contain alcohol, so do check with them when you're purchasing. The eclairs are also alcohol-free.
Day 5 - All Things Touristy in Paris
- Get a Paris Viste pass (1, 2, 3 or 5 days) which allows you onboard a number of public transport – RER, metro, bus, etc. Remember to check which zones the sights are located in as you’ll have to purchase this according to zone. For our trip, we got zone 3, which allows for unlimited travel within zone 1 and 3 during our trip.
- If you're planning to hit a number of museums, definitely consider the Paris Museum Pass which not only gives you free access to over 50 monuments and museums, it also allows you to skip the queues!
Louvre (2.5 - 3 hours)
- A trip to Paris calls for a visit to the most enigmatic ladies of all time - the Mona Lisa! And to do that, you'll have to pay a visit to one of the most iconic museums in the world of course
- Be sure to snag a museum map so that you can navigate your way around the exhibits.
- Being the most famous painting in the museum, you can also easily find your way to the Mona Lisa by following the numerous signs around the museum.
#HHWT Tip: The Paris Museum pass includes free entry to the Louvre and you also get access to a priority queue. Visit early in the day to avoid crowds.
Trocadéro + Eiffel Tower (1.5 - 2 hours)
- If you don't have enough time to head up the Eiffel Tower, do the next best thing - alight at Trocadero and get an awesome view of the tower!
#HHWT Tip: Do keep a lookout for your belongings as this place is packed with tourists and it can get pretty overwhelming.
- There are plenty of photo spots at Trocadero and even a carousel where you can get gorgeous shots of Eiffel Tower next to the carousel!
- Not only is this a popular tourist spot, you may also spot a couple or two taking their wedding shots in the area.
Dinner at Alcazar (2 hours)
- Located in the suburbs of Paris, Alcazar is one of the best French fine dining restaurants you could possibly hope to visit in Paris. The menu is constantly changing as the mains change according to the seasonal ingredients available and everything is prepared fresh. We got the Limousin beef steak in medium!
- During our visit, we tried a number of appetizers, beef cheek and a steak for mains. Their portions are really generous (we had a hard time finishing all the beef!) and the beef steak is absolutely amazing.
- Here are even more halal eateries in Paris to check out!
Day 6 - Exploring More of Paris
Arc de Triomphe (30 mins - 1 hour)
- Since our hotel was located just 5min away from Arc de Triomphe, we had to snap a few photos of the arch in the morning light!
- If you want an amazing view, do head up to the observation deck (opens at 10am) for stunning views of Champ Elysees and Eiffel Tower in the background.
Musee D'orsay (3 - 3.5hours)
- Take a longer route to Musee D'orsay by walking through the Tuileries Garden, a public park where you can spot locals walking their dogs and taking a morning run
- You can also chill at one of the many chairs encircling the huge fountain in the park
- Head on over to the museum and skip the queues if you have the museum pass.
- Being the largest museum in Europe, Musee D'orsay holds an impressive number of paintings by renowned painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh... The list goes on. the interior of the museum is equally awe-inspiring!
Vintage Car Tour (1 hour)
- After all the walking, it's time to explore Paris in a whole new different way - onboard a vintage car!
- The car tour allows you to check out the popular sights in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, Pont Alexandre III and more!
The Luxor Obelisk was a gift from Egypt to Paris and currently stands in the middle of the Place de la Concorde.
Notre Dame (2 hours)
- We managed to hit another major sight after our car tour - Notre-Dame! The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. We didn't have time to head in as we wanted to check out even more sights!
- Just a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame cathedral, Shakespeare and Company is definitely worth a visit even if you’re not in the market for a book.
- With its rustic interior and bookshelves, be temporarily transported to a quieter Paris of the past, the moment you enter the store.
- Don’t be put off by the queue when you arrive because it moves faster than it looks and it’s definitely worth the wait!
Dinner at Alambra (2 hours)
- To be honest, we’re still dreaming of the mouthwatering meal we had at Alambra. Where else can you get your own wedge of French cheese (minimum of 2 pax for a raclette order) melted to hot gooey perfection?
- Wait for the cheese to melt before spreading it over your steak and jacket potato. Even if you’re not a cheese person, you’ll change your mind after this meal :P
Day 7 - Next Stop: Disneyland (Hotel)!
- Take the RER to Marne La Vallee Chessy and head to Disneyland Paris. Depending on which Disney hotel you're staying at, you can either take the free shuttle bus or a short walk to your hotel
- We checked in to Newport Bay Club, a nautical themed, 1920s New England-style hotel, located around a 15mins walk away from the train station. The room was pretty spacious and the beds were huuuuge.
- If you're up for it, get more shopping done at the huge outlet shopping village - La Vallée village!
- Alternatively, walk around the Disney Village and browse the Disney merchandise to get yourself hyped up for your Disneyland visit the next day!
Day 8 - Paris Disneyland
- The only Disneyland in Europe needs no introduction ?
- Some of the highlights of the park in Paris includes the Sleeping Beauty Castle (which you can actually climb up!), Alice's Curious Labyrinth - a hedge maze only found in Paris and Shanghai Disneyland, Phantom Manor with a French twist and the classic carousel!
- Check out our tips for Paris Disneyland here!
Day 9 - Walt Disney Studios + Au Revoir Paris
- The best thing about staying in a Disney hotel is the extra time that you'll get in the parks! Your stay comes with Extra Magic Hours that allows you to enter the Disney parks either one or two hours before it opens to the public.
- During our visit, we were able to enter Walt Disney Studio TWO whole hours before the official opening time.
- Some highlights of the Walt Disney Studios are the Ratatouille ride and Crush's Coaster which are both unique to Paris! You'll want to hit these two rides as soon as the park opens as the queue can get pretty crazy for Ratatouille.
- When you're done with the park, take the Magic Shuttle straight from your Disney hotel to CDG airport. Be sure to arrive earlier for your tax refunds.
Air France Premium Economy From Paris to Singapore
- On our flight back, we were on Air France Premium Economy which comes with SkyPriority, giving you priority access from check-in and baggage drop-off all the way to security and boarding. It was amazing not having to face long queues and we saved so much time that we were able to do some last min gift shopping before we boarded the plane :P
- If you're a Flying Blue member, or taking a long haul flight in the La Première and Business cabins, don't forget to drop by the Air France lounge after you check-in!
- Yay for priority boarding :D We were allocated a cosy two-seater onboard Premium Economy - look at the comfy, stylish seats! Not only do the seats come with their own (adjustable) reading light, you also get a complimentary bottle of water and your own set of noise-cancelling headphones!
- Did we mentioned that we were also served halal French food? We were super excited when we saw that we had chicken ratatouille, plus it was really delicious too :D
And that sums up our Amsterdam/Paris adventure ❤ We've received a number of messages asking about the situation in Paris. We didn't face any issues during our visit, alhamdulillah, but we did notice that security was really tight in all the touristy spots and shopping malls. Do take care of your belongings, especially in crowded areas. We had an amazing time in both cities and we definitely hope that our experience will benefit more travellers! Thank you to KLM and Air France for giving us the opportunity to cross these two cities off our travel bucket list!