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A vacation to consider? 7 days in Ireland & Northern Ireland UNDER S$1,000!

October 13, 2018

So, I'm not too sure how many Singaporeans actually bother visiting Ireland, let alone Northern Ireland (which is the probably the least visited among the 4 countries that make up the U.K).

 

Well, for those who have visited, I'm sure it was eye opening. And as for the rest of you who prefer sticking to just England, read on to find out what you've been missing out on. (Don't get me wrong, I love England, and London is one of my favorite "big cities")

 The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

The thing is, while 7 full days doesn't do justice to the "Irish Experience", but as far as experiencing some of the "MUSTS" is concerned, a week on this island is certainly comfortable (and most of us Singaporeans can't take too many days of leave anyway). Toward the end of this post, you'll find a breakdown of the costs and rough itinerary for a 1 week trip.

 

While vacationing in the U.K & Ireland is apparently rumored to be among some of the most expensive destinations to visit in the world, here in this post, I've broken down exactly how you can travel "comfortably", and I mean very comfortably under $1000 SGD for a week or 730 USD (no hostel dorms or dining of bread and water).

 

If you score cheap tickets with British Airways or Singapore Airlines on one of their many promotions, you'll be vacationing in U.K & Ireland for $2000 SGD!

 

Key Attractions in Northern Ireland

 

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

The Giant's Causeway is without doubt, Northern Ireland's top attraction. It is the MUST DO attraction in this part of the world.

 

So, what is the Giant's Causeway and how was it formed? Well, the Giant's Causeway is pretty much a mix of 40,000 basalt columns of varying heights formed apparently after the cooling of successive lava flows into the sea some 60 million years ago.

 

Not that anyone cares how it was formed.

 

Everyone just wants a selfie here for "The Gram".

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

From the pictures, it does look kind of difficult to scale but it actually isn't. Because these basalt columns have so many variations in height, it isn't difficult to find an easy way up (as simple as walking up a flight of stairs). When I was there, there were loads of kids and elderly folk clambering about.

 

So yeah, tourist attraction, no doubt.

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

My trip to the Giant's causeway coincided with "Storm Ali", without doubt the strongest winds I'd ever faced, blowing at speeds of up to 120kph. I weigh 80kg and actually felt myself being "carried" by the winds.

 

You can't really tell it was a gale from the picture, but you can see my pockets being blown inside out.

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

This is the starting point of the Giant's Causeway walk. The attraction is FREE. Don't be mislead by what you read online saying you have to pay; You DON'T.

 

For those of have actually visited and paid, what you are paying for is entrance to the visitors center, which is totally necessary. And as for those of you have chanced upon this post and you're planing to go? Just drive to the car park (which is free too), get off, and follow the trail.

 

There, I've just saved you 10 pounds. You're welcome.

 

Carrick-a-Red Rope Bridge

This suspension bridge is done together with the Giant's Causeway due to their proximity. The Carrick-a Red rope bridge is just a 20 minute drive from the Giant's Causeway.

 

The coastal walk to the bridge is free and it's probably one of the most amazing walks anyone can do in their life. Walking across the bridge costs you 7 pounds. When I was there, because of the "Storm Ali", the bridge was closed, so all I could do was climb above the bridge to see it.

 

Is it worth 7 pounds? Well, I guess that's debatable. But still, this place is a MUST go.

 

The Dark Hedges (as seen in Game of Thrones)

Of the main natural wonders Northern Ireland has to offer, the Dark Hedges are probably the least impressive.

 

These 150 beech trees were planted by some guy back in 1775 who built a new house and wanted to create the feel of an "imposing approach" (in 2018 here in Singapore, people spend their money on renovation instead of planting trees).

 

Thanks to the Game of Thrones, this is now one of the main natural attractions in Northern Ireland.

 Reading about the history behind the "Dark Hedges".

The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

 

Should you visit this?

 

Well, yes if you're renting your car for a self drive around the country. If you're on a day tour, this is likely covered as part of that. But if you're getting around by public bus? Don't waste your time. I'd rather you go down by the coast for a nice cup of coffee and awesome views.

 

Titanic Belfast (Museum) 

Titanic Belfast Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Ah, the Titanic. The movie showed when I was in Primary School. I remember having schoolmates who watched it as many as 6 times!

 

But I'm betting, even after watching it 6 times, most of them didn't realize where Titanic was built!

Titanic Belfast Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

The titanic was built in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland and home of the worlds greatest shipbuilders.

 

The building of what would be the worlds largest Ocean Liner changed the fortunes of this city. Thousands of jobs were created and hope was buzzing throughout the city.

Titanic Belfast Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Today, the Titanic Belfast is one of Europe's most famous attractions (2nd in N.Ireland after the Giant's Causeway) and without doubt the best Titanic Museum in the world.

 

It costs 18.5 pounds for entry but if you're your comfortable with speed reading like I am, go just 1 hr before the exhibition closes and you'll get a ticket for 10 pounds.

Read about the history, how the ship was built, the stories of the victims, the crews account of what happened the night of the sinking.

1st Class Cabin....

 3rd Class Cabin....

 

One of the really cool things about this exhibit are the rebuilt cabins on board the Titanic; you'll be able to see the difference in prices and standards between the 1st and 3rd class cabins!

 

I'm not exactly a museum kind of guy, but the Titanic Belfast, was amazing. Definitely a MUST go.

Rough map of Northern Ireland and where the key attractions can be found.

 

So if you refer to the map above, most of the key attractions in Northern Ireland can be experienced very comfortably in a day if you're self driving, no rush at all. In fact, we even had time to take the scenic coastal route on the way back!

 

For a 7 day vacation in Ireland, I would suggest 2 full days in Northern Ireland;

- 1 full day, do self drive and visit the attractions outside Belfast

- 1 full day, for Belfast city itself.

 

Key Attractions in Ireland

 

The Cliffs of Moher

 The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

If Northern Ireland has the Giant's Causeway, Ireland has the Cliffs of Moher, the country's most popular attraction. If you haven't visited the Cliffs of Moher, you haven't been to Ireland. Yes, it's that big an attraction. 

 

The easiest way to reach the Cliffs is by simply renting a car and driving there. From Dublin (Ireland's capital), the Cliffs are around 3 hours drive away. If you were to catch a public bus, it would take as long as 6hrs! If you don't want to drive, day tours departing from Dublin are available from 40 Euros.

 The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

Like Scotland and much of England, the weather is terrible in Ireland, sunny one minute and absolute pouring with rain the next. Regardless, the Cliffs of Moher are magnificent. When I was there, it was both rainy and sunny. You can see the difference in the views in my pictures above.

 

Like the Giant's Causeway, entrance to the Cliffs is free. The 6 Euro fee you'll be asked to pay is for the visitor center; don't bother with it.

 

Dublin City

The Temple Bar, Dublin City, Ireland

 

Now, traveling is not simply about seeing sights or doing things. A great way to enjoy Ireland is simply doing nothing. Soak up the Irish experience by having a pint of beer in the bar or watching football with the locals.

 

Dublin City itself is way larger and livelier then Belfast (Northern Ireland's capital). In the day, Dublin is a pretty enough city to keep you "ooing & ahhing", and with enough "instaworthy" places to keep most Singaporeans excited. At night, Dublin is as wild as "wild" could possibly be if it were alive. Temple Bar (above) is where all the action is after dark. Watch out for rowdy locals though.