Saturday, June 3, 2017

Iceland: Itinerary and Budget (Only RM9000 per person)

Hey globetrotters!

Remember back in 2015 I wrote a post about my Aurora Dream? Though financial is tough, I don't give a shit and went ahead in realizing my dream. With tight budget, awful exchange rate and coming from a 3rd world country, visiting one of the most expensive country in the world is still possible! So believe in yourself and you can do it! Also hope you don't mind that my itinerary is jam packed coz greedy me wanna squeeze in as much places as possible but you have the choice not to follow it.

We look terrible here coz we were shivering. With lots of luck and analysis we saw the lights 5 out of 9 nights. The key is to get out of town away from light pollution. Check out and follow my Facebook profile for more photos.

 
If KP is strong enough you can even view it in the city just like we did while we were out for dinner.
 
An overview of our route and some highlights.
 
Initial plan was to drive around the whole island including excursions to Mývatn, Húsavík, Akureyri and even thought of West Fjords but decided to just explore the south side of the island. As first timers to drive on the right side of the road, we dare not risk on a long journey with potentially terrifying icy roads up north.

ITINERARY
We decided to go in February to chase the northern lights, duh! However it is best to visit Iceland during summer between June to September when all roads are open, more activities to do, temperature just nice like an air-conditioned room, clear blue skies and 24 hour daylight (midnight sun) albeit you might have a hard time to adjust your sleep.

Do note that you can skip London and save on your budget. Flight to Paris would be much cheaper but we opted for London, a city we never visit before. Food and other price in brackets below are for 2 people otherwise stated.


Day 1
This is what you can do in SG with so little time

11:20am PEN to SIN
2:20pm Arrive Changi
3:00pm MRT to Bayfront
4:00pm Marina Bay Sands
5:00pm Gardens by the Bay

6:00pm Dinner at Rasapura Masters
8:00pm Spectra - Light and Water show
8:30pm MRT to Changi
9:00pm Check in flight
11:50pm SIN to LHR 

 
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Day 2
What you can do for day in London. If you have a transit, this "touch n go" tour will be useful. 

5:15am Arrive Heathrow
6:30am Imigration (very long line)
Purchase Oyster day pass (£17.50 x 2)
Leave luggage at Terminal 2 (£11 x 2bags)
7:37am Tube to Westminster
8:40am Westminster Abbey + London Eye
Buy lunch at Pret A Manger (£14)
10:15am Trafalgar Square
11:00am Queen's Life Guard parade
11:50am Buckingham Palace
12:10pm Piccadilly Circus
12:30pm M&M's World
Souvenir at Chinatown (£20)
2:40pm The British Museum
4:00pm Borough Market (Paela £7)
 5:10pm Tower Bridge + Tower of London
7:00pm Buy dinner at Harrods (£20)
8:00pm Tube to Terminal 2 
9:00pm Check in Ibis Hotel 

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Day 3
 From Keflavik Airport to hostel

7:30am Wake up
8:00am Own breakfast
8:30am Check out
1:00pm LHR to KEF
4:00pm Arrive Keflavik 

5:00pm Collect car from Blue Car Rental  
6:00pm Shopping at Krónan  
7:30pm Check in Reykjavik City Hostel 
8:00pm Cook dinner   

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Day 4
Golden Circle looks more like a triangle coz we can't use shortcut 365 during winter.

7:00am Wake up
7:30am
Own breakfast
8:30am
Check out from hotel
10:30am
Þingvellir National Park
12:00pm
Own lunch
1:00pm
Kerið volcano
2:00pm
Check in Golden Circle Apartment
2:50pm
Geysir
4:00pm
Gullfoss
7:00pm
Cook dinner
Aurora borealis at Laugarvatn


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Day 5
Today is waterfall day

 7:00am Wake up
7:30am Own breakfast
8:30am Check out

9:20am Urridafoss
10:40am Seljalandsfoss
12:00pm Own lunch 

1:00pm Skogafoss 
4:00pm Dyrholaey 
6:00pm Check in Icelandair Hotel Vik
7:00pm Cook dinner 
No aurora activity


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Day 6

7:30am Wake up
8:00am Own breakfast
9:00am Reynisfjara
10:30am
Vík í Mýrdal
11:00am Check out
12:30pm Systrafoss
12:40pm Own lunch

1:30pm Foss á Siðu 
2:30pm Skaftafell National Park
5:00pm Svínafellsjökull glacier (F road + not recommended)
7:30pm Check in Gerði Guesthouse 

8:00pm Lamb and artic char dinner at Gerði (8700Króna)
No aurora activity


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Day 7

8:00am Wake up
8:30am Own breakfast
9:00am Check out 

9:30am Jökulsárlón
11:30am Lunch at Jökulsárlón Cafe (3645Króna)
12:30pm Meet up at Hali Country Hotel
1:00pm Ice Cave Adventure 

5:30pm Fjallsárlón glacier
7:30pm Burger dinner (2700Króna)
9:00pm Check in Hotel Skogafoss
Aurora borealis at Skogafoss 

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Day 8

7:30am Wake up
8:00am Breakfast by hotel
9:00am Check out
9:40am Walk to plane wreck
10:30am Sólheimasandur plane wreck
12:00pm Own lunch 

3:30pm Arrive Reykjavík
4:00pm Hallgrimskirkja
4:30pm Snack at Bæjarins beztu pylsur (450Króna x 3)
5:20pm Harpa
 
6:00pm Sun Voyager
 8:00pm Icelandic Gourmet dinner at Tapas Barinn (7990Króna)
10:00pm Check in Reykjavik City Hostel 
 Aurora borealis in the city

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Day 9

8:00am Wake up
8:30am Own breakfast
9:00am Check out
9:30am Tjörnin lake
10:00am Perlan
12:30pm Lunch in Borgarnes (740Króna)

1:00pm Shopping at Bónus
2:50pm Stykkishólmur
4:00pm Kirkjufell 
5:30pm Check in Sudur-bar Guesthouse
7:00pm Cook dinner
Aurora borealis at Kirkjufell

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Day 10

8:00am Wake up
8:30am Breakfast by guesthouse
10:00am Kirkjufell again

11:00am Ólafsvík
12:00pm
Own lunch
1:00pm
Búðakirkja
2:00pm Arnarstapi

4:00pm Nap at hotel
7:00pm Cook dinner 
Aurora borealis outside guesthouse

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Day 11

7:30am Wake up
8:00am Breakfast by guesthouse
9:30am Check out 

1:30pm Own lunch
2:00pm Blue Lagoon (Rent bathrobe 1400Króna)
6:00pm Check in Start Hostel
7:00pm Cook dinner

Aurora borealis at Keflavik

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Day 12
4:10am Wake up
4:30am Breakfast by hostel
5:10am Check out from hotel
5:30am Return car
6:00am Check in
8:10am KEF - LHR
11:15am Arrive Heathrow

 6:55pm LHR - KUL

More souvenirs were bought at Heathrow when we flew back from Keflavik total up about £100 which includes Gryffindor scarf, Absolut Vodka Blue Facet limited edition, cookies, English tea, 3 for £10 giant Toblerone and a hell lot of chocolates.

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Day 13
3:20pm Arrive KLIA
7:00pm KUL - PEN
9:15pm Arrive home sweet home!


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TEMPERATURE
Temperature at end of February ranges from -9°C to 3°C so remember, layering is important. Waterproof clothing and boots are important to avoid turning into a popsicle. Wind and weather in Iceland is no joke so take precaution. Don't open your car door if it's too windy or it will detach and fly away.
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 EXCHANGE RATE

You can change to common currency like Euro or USD  then only change to krona when you reach there because Icelandic Króna is rarely found in your local exchange store.

As on 1st February 2017:
ISK1 = RM0.038
£1 = RM5.48
  €1 = RM4.78  


Cashless country so we converted half of our cash into this orange card to spend conveniently. 
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APPS
Being android user I downloaded via Play Store but I'm sure you can download these at App Store too.

112 Iceland (emergency rescue)
Veður (climate)
MapFactor Navigator (offline map)
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BUDGET
Below are the costs for 2 persons and converted to RM for easier calculation. Bear in mind that whatever you book online will be charged extra to your credit card due to exchange rate. For example one of my hotel here is displayed RM708.34 on Agoda but credit card charges RM723.37.

FLIGHT

British Airways
PEN - SIN - LHR - KUL - PEN
Flight + tax & fuel = RM6085.80


Icelandair
LHR - KEF - LHR
Flight + tax & fuel = £304.82 = RM1566.26


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ACCOMMODATION
We stayed one night each otherwise stated. I'm skeptical when it comes to sharing dorm and bathroom so I try to avoid hostels. Icelandair Hotel Vik is the most expensive hotel due to no choice. To avoid disappointment do book your preferred hotel as early as possible esp for rural area that has limited hotels. Tbh I searched for hotel in Vik 8 months prior but still sold out. All the price below is from Agoda before tax. You will be charged extra again in your credit card statement.

Ibis Londom Heathrow (double room, private bath) = RM217
Chic lobby, great location very near airport but yet can't hear a sound. I won't include this hotel in total cost as this budget is only for Iceland.
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Reykjavik City Hostel (twin room, private bath, kitchen) = RM574 (2 nights)
but we were given a 6 person dorm with private bathroom on the first night lol. Each wing on every floor has 1 well equipped kitchen with lots of free food.
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 Golden Circle Apartment (studio room, private bath, kitchen) = RM284
Situated in the middle of the Golden Circle and in front of Laugarvatn lake.
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Icelandair Hotel Vik (seaview double room, private bath) = RM708
Beautiful view of Reynisdrangar sea stack and strategically located in Vik.
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Guesthouse Gerði (bungalow, private bath) = RM514
One of the nearest and cheapest place available I can find that's near to Jökulsárlón. Try their lamb dinner here!
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Hotel Skogafoss (twin room, private bath, breakfast) = RM558
Located right in front of Skogafoss that you can just walk over to the waterfall.
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Sudur-Bár Guesthouse (double room, private bath, breakfast) = RM844 (2 nights)
Best view and best location to see northern lights. It also feels a lot like home and everything is managed by the friendly owner.
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  Start Hostel (double room, private bath, kitchen, breakfast) = RM330
Strategically located near airport and Blue Lagoon. Rooms are like hotel but with hostel environment.

Total for hotel = RM4029
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Blue Car Rental
Do note that they drive at the right side of the road like in the states. I chose Blue Car coz they are less scammer. You can read about the horrible scams when renting car in Iceland. Driving license with English or latin characters is sufficient. We only used our Malaysian driving license so saved RM150 la.

My beloved boyfriend on the left, SJ K00 sometimes called Louis Koo lol. I miss this car so much.
Toyota RAV 4x4 auto + GPS + insurance (9days) = ISK90200 = RM3544  
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FUEL


Estimated
2000km for full trip. Rate varies at every station but averagely 205Króna/liter
Total for petrol = RM1500


Tol rate for the 6km tunnel (Hvalfjörður Tunnel) is only ISK1000 one way
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FOOD

We packet most of our food like camping trip. It helps you to organize better. However you are advised to allocate extra RM2000 per person because food you bring is never enough and very expensive to dine in Iceland.


Super yummy lamb at Gerði Guesthouse is a must try! Hubby had arctic char which is like salmon.

A set of burger averagely costs RM50.


Must try their lamb hotdog called pylsur.

8-course dinner to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. And yes there's minke whale and puffin included. They seared it almost raw. The texture like beef but has a stinky smell I can't describe.
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ATTRACTION FEES
Please book anything few months earlier. We booked at last minute so both blue lagoon and ice cave tour got freaking expensive. We secured ice cave tour through Extreme Iceland but the tour operator is Glacier Adventure.

Kerið volcano is ISK400 per person
 

Blue Lagoon = ISK6800 x 2 = RM534



Glacier Adventure Ice Cave Tour = ISK19500 x 2 = RM1596


Invest on good hiking boots that are water resistant and can endure icy surface.
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SOUVENIR

Souvenir varies with each individual. Some of you might might only buy a fridge magnet while others might bring home a Prada. So I won't include this in grand total too. But be prepared to swipe a few thousand RM through your credit card unless you have very high level of discipline. Here's an example of some stuff we bought to give you an idea.


Gryffindor scarf £18 = RM98.64
Iceland magnet ISK900 = RM34.20
Blue Lagoon hand towel ISK
1500 = RM57
Puffin plush toy ISK2199 = RM83.56
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MISCELLANEOUS

Nova Prepaid
ISK2000 = RM70



Þingvellir National Park: WC is ISK200 = RM7.60 per entry. Parking is ISK500. Most toilet is free to use at gas stations but you have to be their customer. However parking is a bit troublesome in Reykjavik.

 
Like all our past travels, we need to have travel insurance. This time its RM240 for both of us.
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Grand Total for 2 persons excluding SG, London, insurance, food and
shopping = RM18925

1 person = RM9
462
 



HAPPY TRAVEL!
Enjoy the videos below...



Singapore and London video



Iceland full video





Road to Aurora video


A relaxing video on driving in Iceland. Scenery so beautiful I had to share to all of you. Northern light time lapse somewhere at the end of this video. Hope you sit back and enjoy!

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