Tips and recommendations for Asian travellers

Tips and recommendations for Asian travellers

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Posts: 21
JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Dec 31, 2015 - 7:29 PM

Dear forum readers,

I have just returned from my Switzerland trip from 10 - 28 December 2015 and it was a lovely trip! We had no problems with the travel passes (I bought Swiss Half-Pass) and were able to get around with English. The trains were on time and runs through Christmas eve and on Christmas day itself! It was excellent! We took the forum's recommendation to stay at Grindelwald instead of Interlaken and stayed at the Derby Swiss Hotel, which proved to be an excellent choice because it was right beside the train station and offers excellent views of the Eiger. Another excellent accommodation find is Kafischnaps in Zurich. It is located a little further away from town but it was worth every penny as the hosts were excellent and the rooms and toilets were clean and heated. The prices were also not exorbitant and reasonable.

This forum is an excellent source and is up to date with the information! As suggested by the moderators, I decided to purchase light hiking waterproof footwear from North Face, which I purchased for less than 100 euros, and they were very useful in keeping the feet dry in the wetter regions, i.e. Swiss Alps. Another good recommendation that came from the forum was the SIM card - I purchased a 2 GB mobile data SIM card, valid for 1 month, from Sunrise (tele provider) for 25 CHF. The mobile data proved to be very useful in finding out the train connections, timings, number of stops and occasionally platform numbers - the SBB app crashed a few times so thank goodness I was able to use google maps! On the last day of my trip, I decided to change the itinerary to visit another city (Bern instead of Mt Titlis - we were tired of mountains since we have already gone to JFJ and Schilthorn), so having mobile data on the go is useful if you encounter changes to you plans. However I met someone on the trip who bought her SIM from 3USIM which provided 12GB of mobile data for 1 month! And this SIM card can be used in various countries in Europe - something to consider if you are planning to visit multiple European countries.

As I visited Switzerland in December, Christmas markets were one of the highlights of my trip. Just to share, I loved Basel's Christmas markets the most, but Montreux's Christmas markets are also worth mentioning/visiting. It was quite extensive and offers a lot of yummy hot food in cold winter. Zurich also had Christmas market though I felt it was milder compared to the other two (but this is just my personal opinion).

One last thing, if you are an Asian traveller like me (I'm from Singapore), and will be travelling for 2 weeks or more, do prepare some cup noodles. Soup and Asian staples (e.g. rice and noodles) are hard to come by and sometimes you just need some comfort food for a break. Cup noodles are sold in the local supermarkets (e.g. COOP, MIGROS), but the selection is severely limited.

Lastly, I would like to thank Arno, Annika and Slowpoke for their suggestions and helping to refine my itinerary :) We did not find a catholic church for Christmas in the end but that's ok.

I would strongly recommend this forum to anyone who is planning their Switzerland itinerary.

Happy New Year 2016!

Cheers, Jane

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jan 1, 2016 - 2:02 PM in reply to JaneQ

Hi Jane -

Thanks for your thorough report, even good for travelers who are not from Asia, too! ;-)

Sorry about the church. Christmas Eve might have been easier than Christmas day....

Slowpoke

Annika
Annika
4418 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 2, 2016 - 1:21 PM

Hi Jane,

Thank you for getting back to us. We're happy to hear you've been enjoying your stay in Switzerland that much. You obviously managed to include various activities, combining mountain top visits with city trips and Christmas markets. What was weater like? Good to know you're satisfied with your accommodation and rail pass choices. The Eiger views in Grindelwald are splendid indeed, and it's great to have a room offering such.

Thanks for your tips about footwear, hotels and SIM cards. They're definitely useful for other forum visitors.

JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Jan 4, 2016 - 3:44 PM

Slowpoke: No worries at all :) And yes, some tips are also applicable to non-Asian travellers! But food was tough, even more so for my mum who is used to Asian food. Haha.

Annika: Yes we managed to follow our itinerary 90% with some minor changes! The weather was quite good - foggy on some days but generally quite sunny most of the time. It did not snow whilst we were there, although it probably snowed at night because we woke up to snowy fields in Grindelwald. You are welcome and I would be happy to answer any other questions relating to my trip!

To add on, I would also highly recommend Lunch at 360 panoramic restaurant in Piz Gloria at Schilthorn - the buffet meals were surprisingly reasonable and it is definitely an experience to be dining with the Swiss Alps right outside your window. Also, it might be a good idea to plan ahead for meals (e.g. stock up on food or order room service) for public holidays. We spent 25th and 26th Dec in Lucerne and everything (including supermarkets like COOP & MIGROS, retail stores and restaurants) were closed on Christmas and boxing day. Only restaurants attached to hotels were open, and they were very crowded (a rare sight in Switzerland). Thankfully, some sandwich stores at Lucerne train station were open so we were able to pack some food back to our hotel for a quiet meal.

I thought to also elaborate a little more about the Swiss Pass we chose. Using the excel template the forums provided (perhaps someone can provide the link?), we found that the Swiss Half Pass best suited our 10 days duration in Switzerland (we spent the rest of the time in France). The original transport costs amounted to CHF 1000 but with the Half Pass, we paid less than CHF 600 per person. So it is really dependent on your itinerary and where you want to go. The JFJ train from Grindelwald only cost us CHF 92 per pax with the Swiss Half Pass. We did not purchase the tickets in advance, because we wanted flexibility for our itinerary (and sometimes, a little bit of lay in and late breakfast). You can easily check the departure boards at the train station for your destination and buy the train tickets on the spot! Dollar bills and coins are both accepted, though for certain machines they only accept coins or cards - but you can always look for machines that accepts bills.

Last modified on Jan 4, 2016 - 4:02 PM by JaneQ
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jan 4, 2016 - 4:23 PM

<<"To add on, I would also highly recommend Lunch at 360 panoramic restaurant in Piz Gloria at Schilthorn - the buffet meals were surprisingly reasonable and it is definitely anexperience to be dining with the Swiss Alps right outside your window. ">>

Hi Jane.

Thanks for that tip.

It always a pleasant surprise to find reasonable prices in the major tourist attractions.

;-)

A I read your reports, i note that you found the transport network easy to use, with helpful information where you need it.

That is one of the things that makes traveling by public transport so pleasant in Switzerland.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 4, 2016 - 4:26 PM by Slowpoke
JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Jan 4, 2016 - 4:37 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

Yes indeed! The train system in Switzerland is excellent and organised, therefore, easy to get around. What was also helpful was the lifts and slopes for trolley luggage; you don't have to lug it up the stairs - which can be a back-breaking affair. As for the Piz Gloria restaurant, my mum enjoyed that particular meal very much because the restaurant offered a good variety of food, including soup and salad for CHF 20 or so.

Jane

luanyee
luanyee
5 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2016 - 4:53 AM in reply to JaneQ

Dear Jane,

I'm also from Singapore and am planning a trip to Switzerland, maybe in May or June. Thank you for the tips you shared with us. I am wondering if you share your full itinerary with me. It would make my planning easier. Thank you.

Warmest regards from luanyee.

JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2016 - 5:15 AM in reply to luanyee

Hello Luanyee!

You are welcome :) I've actually listed my full itinerary in the Miscellaneous forum (titled "Swiss itinerary for Dec 2015") for the moderators to comment and clarify some questions I had. You are welcome to use it :) Do note that I went in winter and was travelling with my mum so I've only planned a tourist site a day - sun sets at 4.45pm so it was hard to stay out. If you are going in May/June, you may see more things with longer daylight. Some suggestions would be to take a hike within the mountains to enjoy the sceneries (the hikes I've seen in JFJ range from 1.5 to 3 hrs).

Hope this helps and I'm excited that you're visiting Switzerland! If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

Jane

luanyee
luanyee
5 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2016 - 6:27 AM

Thank you Jane. I'm in my late fifties so your itinerary may suit me.

JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Jan 7, 2016 - 3:35 PM in reply to luanyee

Hi Luanyee,

Sure! Feel free to use it to plan - it was slow-paced as I could managed. Most of them involved train rides from town to town so you get to see beautiful scenery while taking a rest on the train.

if you are following my itinerary, the route from Grindelwald to Lucerne is especially scenic! And I've read on from the forum that the cogwheel train up to the JFJ Swiss Alps is more scenic on the right hand side (direction from Grindelwald Grund up to Kleine Scheigg).

Hope this helps!

Cheers,

Jane

Applegsy
Applegsy
6 posts
new member
Mar 3, 2016 - 8:35 AM

Hi Jane,

Thanks for your tips! I'm also from Singapore and planning our family trip later this year. I read your thread in the other sub-forum and found that we have a similar question on appropriate footwear. Can you share where did you purchase your footwear (in singapore / overseas)? & also the approximate price? I find it's really hard to find reasonably priced outdoor footwear in Singapore!

On a related note, do you have any tips on where to find reasonably priced outdoor clothing such as waterproof/windproof jackets locally or nearby (maybe malaysia haha) ?

Thanks very much!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 3, 2016 - 3:56 PM in reply to Applegsy

Hi Applygsy -

Welcome to the forum.

I'm hardly an expert on the details of your question. I got all my gear in the USA where we have several options.

However, I have the impression that the North Face brand that Jane bought is available internationally.

If you wait until you arrive, you can also nget something in Switzerland. Although, when I am travelling overseas, I prefer to spend my time being a tourist, not buying clothes. ;-)

Also, although prices in Switzerland are far from cheap compared to the USA, the COOP stores sell at reasonable prices, and have their own brand for clothing and some other items (" St. Anna Hof") brand. There is a COOP store with a St. Anna Hof section in the back of the store on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich. It is on the west side of the Bahnhofstrasse at Füslistrasse, just south of the Rennweg tram stop and about a 5-10 minute walk from the main station.

The COOP across the street from the main station is smaller, and would not be my first place to look. I'd go there for groceries.

No guarantees, but the one I described on the Bahnhofstrasse is a good bet. Also, you can ask at Tourist Info for Zürich in the main station.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Mar 4, 2016 - 1:19 AM by Slowpoke
Applegsy
Applegsy
6 posts
new member
Mar 3, 2016 - 4:01 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

Thanks very much for your reply! I am also working on my draft itinerary -will post it soon for comments :)

JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Mar 3, 2016 - 7:08 PM

Hi Appelgsy!

I bought North Face hiking boots from Malaysia City Square mall. There was a 50% sale and with the currency exchange, it worked out to be about SGD140 per pair. I'm not sure if that is a high price to pay for NF shoes, but it was for a long term investment. For Singapore, it is possible to buy similar shoes (e.g. Merill hiking boots) for SGD 50 during sales. You can also consider purchasing from Decathalon online - I remember seeing Quechua hiking boots from SGD 60 onwards. My hiking boots were not lined, just waterproof is enough.

As for winter wear, I purchased fleeced-lined pants from Uniqlo in Malaysia (since it is cheaper with the currency exchange). They were so insulated that I don't need to wear thermal pants! I've had my own winter wear from past trips so I didn't spend a lot of money on winter wear. From what I see though, I do think Uniqlo offers comfortable cold wear at reasonable prices. If you find it a hassle to go into Malaysia, you can easily purchase the coldwear items in SG's branch. You may wish to consider buying waterproof pants if you want to go skiing.

Lastly, I do agree with Slowpoke's suggestion. You can also buy some cold wear clothing at cheap prices in Switzerland. I visited various H&Ms in Zurich alone, and each branch has different offers for different clothing, so you may wish to pack light and buy them in Switzerland. Just a note though, I did not see cheap shoes (but local knowledge will come in handy here; I may be visiting all the tourist spots).

Cheers, and I am excited for your visit! You'll enjoy it :)

Jane

Last modified on Mar 3, 2016 - 7:10 PM by JaneQ
Applegsy
Applegsy
6 posts
new member
Mar 6, 2016 - 2:16 PM in reply to JaneQ

Dear Jane,

Thanks very much for sharing, you gave me some ideas there. I will check out the new Decathlon store as well :)

Cheers! We are very excited :D

JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Mar 6, 2016 - 2:44 PM

Hi Applesy,

You are most welcome! Wishing you and your family a memorable holiday. Happy and safe travels (even though Switzerland is really safe 😆)!

Jane

sskundu
sskundu
127 posts
active member
Mar 20, 2016 - 11:55 AM in reply to JaneQ

HI JaneQ / Anyone,

You mentioned that you met someone with 3USIM that provided 12 GB of data for a month and valid in multiple countries - do you have an idea where did she get it from / where to get the same from ? The link provided in the forum don't speak about a 3USIM and myself (from India) will be visiting 3 countries this April - France, Swiss and Italy for about 15-days. A multi country data card for the mobile (phone and text not required as such) will be highly advantageous as I can manage VoIP calls back to India.

Last modified on Mar 20, 2016 - 11:56 AM by sskundu
JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2016 - 1:35 AM

Hi sskundu,

Unfortunately I do not have the link for the SIM card, so you probably have to search around. My friend's a Korean and she was able to have it mailed to her before she left for Europe.

Otherwise, you may want to search around the Internet for such SIM cards. I'm pretty sure there will be more than 1 provider providing such service in Europe :) Good luck!

Jane

Arno
Arno
7727 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 21, 2016 - 7:08 AM in reply to sskundu

Hi sskundu,

The card suggested on myswissalps.com/ simcard supports multiple countries and there's one for all of Europe too. I tried it myself; it worked perfectly.

Kanwal
Kanwal
1 post
new member
Aug 16, 2016 - 1:15 AM

I am planning to travel with family in September. Just need some information to type of clothing and footwear for this month. Places to be visited will be Zermatt, Interlaken.

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