How to Survive and Navigate London City?
London is becoming a 2nd home for me since I have been travelling there more often thanks to Big Teddy. So here are some of my tips to survive and navigate London city that I’d come to love..
- Voice and Data SIM Card: Once I exit Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, there will be 2 SIM card vending machines located on both end of the arrival hall. I usually go to the one next to WH Smith right across the arrival hall gate. The vending machine is very easy to use, just pop in £20 notes and choose the type of SIM card you want (remember to choose the right SIM card size), the machine will quickly dispense the SIM card pack without a hitch. Some people might have problem choosing the type of SIM card, but so far I’d been sticking to Lyca Mobile £20 Unlimited Data and 500 minutes UK Call, plus Unlimited Calls to other Lyca Mobile.
The only downside I had with Lyca Mobile was that once I got out of London city, their reception is fairly poor especially in smaller towns in Cambridgeshire. So for those who is staying in the London or other bigger towns, I think Lyca Mobile will suffice as it gives unlimited data compared to other SIM cards that usually come with only 1GB. The SIM card pack is very easy to use, you just have to swap your SIM card and no activation is required. Your phone will auto search the network and once it is connected, the world is your oyster again! Minus the expensive roaming charges of course.*Update in September 2015, I tried Lebara Nano SIM Card for the same price but only 1GB data and 250 UK Minutes, however it also has Unlimited UK Texts, Unlimited Lebara to Lebara Calls, 150 International Minutes to over 40 countries (including Malaysia).
|Look our for this vending machine
- Oyster Card: Once the SIM card issue is solved, the next thing is to get an Oyster Card, the pay as you go smartcard that all Londoners use to pay for journeys on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London. This is definitely one of the most important & useful items you need to get around and navigate London City. We wanted to get the Visitor Oyster Card with cool card design and some discount vouchers but when we went to the Heathrow Tube Station Counter, we were told that only the normal Oyster Card is available so we paid £30 each for £25 credit and £5 card deposit.Pros of using the Oyster Card:
- Pay as you go fares are cheaper than buying a paper single ticket. The single Oyster fare for a bus journey is £1.50, but capped at £4.40 for any number of trips in a day (including trips by Tram and tube). Cash is no longer accepted on London’s buses, but a contactless debit or credit card can be used in place of an Oyster card at the same fare. A single tram journey is charged as per a single bus journey, but the tram ticket machines do still accept cash (£2.40) for a single journey. Using pay as you go, a single trip on the Tube within Zone 1 costs £2.30 (compared to £4.70 cash), or £1.70 at peak times (£1.50 off peak or £4.70 for cash at any time) within any other single zone. Journeys in multiple zones are progressively more expensive;
- Your Oyster card offers daily capping. This means you can travel as much as you like in a single day and the amount you pay for your travel is limited (or capped). For example, you can travel as many times as you like in a day in Zones 1 and 2 (from 04:30 to 04:29 the next day) and you won’t be charged more than £6.40;
- By comparison, a Zone 1 and 2 Day Travelcard is more expensive and will cost you £12.
For more information on the Oyster Card, please visit https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/
** Point to note when taking Tube in London: Not every station has lifts or escalators and most of the stations have only staircase, please check https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/wheelchair-access-and-avoiding-stairs. This is extremely useful when you have big luggage to carry around the city.
- London Pass: For 1st time visitor to London, I’d strongly recommend the London Pass get into most of the iconic tourist attractions like Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle and many more. I ordered the 3-days London Pass online with 10% discount for £72.90 each and an email confirmation with clear collection details and map was sent to my mailbox without any hassle. I chose the London Pass as it covers 55 attractions including the famous ones below (individual ticket price stated for your reference if you purchase tickets separately). The ones I’d used with my London Pass:-
- Tower of London – £22
- Westminster Abbey – £18
- City Cruises Thames River Cruise – £18
- Kensington Palace – £15
- Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition and Theater Tour – £13.50
- Tower Bridge Experience – £9
- Apsley House – £6.90
- Tate Modern – Free Mutimedia Guide worth £4
The ones that I could have used if I had more time:-
- Chelsea FC Stadium Tour – £20
- Wimbledon Tour Experience – £22
- Churchill War Rooms – £15.90
- Windsor Castle – £18.50
- London Bicycle Tour – £23.95
and many more…..
So with my 3-days London Pass, I’d saved over £33 of ticket prices and with my oh so weak Malaysian Ringgit it was actually quite a fair bit of savings about RM180. However, please be mindful that some famous London attractions that are NOT included in the London Pass which are The London Eye (Ferris wheel), Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Double-decker bus tours and St Paul’s Cathedral. I paid £20.95 for my London Eye ticket separately and it’s so expensive! But I don’t think I’ll be going up there again soon anytime so just to ignore the conversion rate and pay for the ride.Overall, London Pass is a good way to explore the city and I’ll cover more of it in my review of the individual attractions later in my blog. There are more perks for London Pass so just checkout their website. Do lookout for the discount code on their official website when purchasing and then you are pretty much set to enjoy the sight and sound of LONDON~!For more information on the London Pass, please visit http://www.londonpass.com/.
So are you planning a trip to London soon? There are so many great things to do in this fabulous city. If you need inspiration check out 73 things to do in London. Do ask me any questions if you need some helps in planning your perfect holiday.