1 October 2016

Iceland aurora northern lights


(Total Expenses & Accommodations at the end of the post)

Finally a dream come true after a year of planning!

I seriously had been dreaming to visit for a while. My friends and I had been talking about it for at least a year before we really made the trip happen. And I have to say, it's one of the best choices I've made in my life!

Choosing the right weather to visit is very important. Iceland has different looks in different seasons. During winter, most places will be covered in snow and it's usually dark and cold (I need sunlight). In summer, there is continuous daylight and thus, less chance for us to see the northern lights. In order to get roughly an equal amount of daylight and darkness, we chose September, which is also good to avoid crowd during summer.

We did a clockwise circle self drive around Iceland instead of just staying in the south. I have to say we really liked the northern part which is awe-inspiring and MUCH less touristy than the golden triangle!

Period: September 22–29, 2016
Weather: -1°C – 9°C (Rainy + Clear)
Trip route: Ring road - clockwise
Distance driven: ~2,200 km



Land into Keflavík

Route: Keflavík - Borðeyri (~260km) along the west coastline

It was noon time when we all landed in the Keflavík International Airport. We collected our rented car and drove out of town right away. We wanted the capital and the Golden Triangle to be our last stops, so we didn't stay now. The first accommodation we booked was located in Borðeyri. It took a while before we could locate our accommodation because it was so remote. From the outside, it didn't even look like a proper house. But surprisingly it was so cosy indoor.

Lovely morning view from our first accommodation



Route: Borðeyri - Húsavík (~340km)

We checked out of the house and continued our journey. Goðafoss was the first sightseeing spot of our trip and we thought it was magnificent! After spending a few hours here, we drove to our next accommodation. Iceland is all about long road trips. You don't get to see many tourist spots in a short time because places are far away from each other. We had to drive about 300km everyday just to visit 1-2 sights of interests. However, spending time on the road and enjoying stunning landscapes along the drive would usually be the most enjoyable part of your trip!

Stopping to enjoy beautiful landscapes along the drive

Finally came to Goðafoss - our most favourite waterfall in Iceland!


Dettifoss | Ásbyrgi canyon

Route: Húsavík - Egilsstaðir (~230km)

We stayed a night in Húsavík and carried on our island tour journey. Today we stopped at one of Iceland’s most extraordinary natural attractions, Dettifoss. It is located in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

It was a slow long drive with bad road conditions to Dettifoss. At certain points we felt like we came to the Mars. So confused and lost. But thank God Google Map worked and we eventually found the legendary falls.

My jaw literally dropped when I first saw Dettifoss and its POWERFUL water. I WAS SCARED. It blew us away with its sheer size and power. You can get so close to the edge of the fall and watch water running fiercely from where you stand. It's hard not to be impressed by the magnitude of the falls. But please be extra careful, it can be slippery on the rocks and you don't want to slip off and get swallowed by the waterfall.

Felt like I was in Mars

Iceland Dettifoss and its powerful water
Dettifoss - which served as the backdrop of the iconic opening scene of the movie Prometheus

Dettifoss Jokulsa river

Looking like a rock from Mars.

Iceland Jokulsa river

After Dettifoss, we decided to stop at the Ásbyrgi canyon, a well forested enormous horse-shoe shaped canyon in Oxarfjordur. It's also a part of the Jokulsargljufur National Park.

Got here to our pretty little cottage in Egilsstaðir after another day of long drive!


Seyðisfjörður | East coastline

Route: Egilsstaðir - Höfn (~300km)

We really loved this place! It's small but cosy, and you get a stunning view of the lake. Too bad we had to leave so soon!

I don't mind waking up every morning to beautiful views from this little cottage

I remember the wind was really strong along the drive. Wind is a major force in Iceland and should be enjoyed as part of the landscape. However please be careful. It blows constantly, and everything - even the people.

There are a lot of single lane bridges in Iceland. They are extremely hazardous to foreign travellers who are not accustomed to this. Before entering one lane bridges, we had to slow down and make sure that another vehicle coming from the opposite direction is not entering the bridge.

Seyðisfjörður village
Seyðisfjörður village - one of the most beautiful little towns in Iceland

Icelandic horse
Icelandic horse

Beautiful landscapes along the drive.

Sheeps everywhere in Iceland!


Svinafellsjokull glacier

Route: Höfn - Skaftafell - Höfn

Today we went glacier hiking! We booked a tour online in advance to make our life much easier. We had to wake up early and drive 140km to the glacier. It took about 2 hours to get there.

Stunning view along the drive. Getting closer to the glacier!

We joined a few other people and formed a small group to go hiking together, led by an expert glacier guide. We were given ice crampons to attach them to our hiking boots, to ensure our safety when hiking. Safety is really important as walking too close to a glacier can be hazardous! Often the ice will form cliffs at the end and sides of the glacier. You want to make sure taking every step carefully to avoid accidents like falling off ice cliffs. At one point I missed a step and fell on the ice, close to the cliff. IT WAS TERRIFYING. When the guide says do not play with your phone, you do not play with your phone! Distractions can kill you.

We all had to walk directly behind each other, but with enough gap so that you don't get caught up in crampons.

If you've seen the movie 'Interstellar', I'm sure you've seen this glacier - Svinafellsjokull. And this is where we were hiking. It was SPECTACULAR.

Svinafellsjokull glacier hiking
Svinafellsjokull - filming location for the movie 'Interstellar'

Ice cliffs you want to be careful of 

The tour lasted for about 2-3 hours and ended in the afternoon. We went to have a look at the glacial lagoon which is not too far away from the glacier. Unfortunately it was getting a bit dark and and difficult to take nice pictures. Eventually we decided to come again the next day.

First Northern Lights

It was raining for the first few days and we were quite upset that we did not manage to see the northern lights. I kinda lost hope and thought that I would never be able to see it my entire life.

Guess the sky heard my disappointment and wanted to cheer me up. After a few days of checking the weather forecast, northern lights forecast, etc, my dream finally came true!

That night, we were all busy with ourselves in the apartment. ST was taking shower. KW was cooking and preparing dinner. CL and YH were playing with phones and being lazy on the couch. Me? I was constantly opening and closing the door, looking up at the sky checking if I could see anything UNUSUAL, like you know, northern lights. Lol. 

After a few times of opening and closing the door, I could see slight faded long white lights moving in the sky. I was confused at first, as they look so much like white trails left by airplanes, except that they were moving! 

I didn't want to alert my mates by giving the wrong information. I didn't want to feel embarrassed. I have read before on the internet, that you will less likely to see the green colour of northern lights with your naked eyes, but with your camera, the colours will be captured. So I went in the house, took my camera and snapped pictures of those 'trails'.

And then my mates heard me screaming from the backyard. All of them ran out of the house, except ST who was stuck in the shower lol.

I was so excited I could not take proper pictures of the lights. You need to have proper settings fixed on your camera in order to capture the northern lights. We tried with our mobile phones and GoPro, it turned out all black.

We forgot to prepare and have dinner that night. It was soooo fun just staying out enjoying the view!


Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon | Black Sand Beach | Skógafoss

Route: Höfn - Vik (~360km)

Höfn was the only stop where we stayed more than a night, and we were so lucky to be able to see northern lights here!

When it comes to southern Iceland, it has more touristy spots to see. Some people choose to tour only the southern part of Iceland as this is the most popular part of the island. So, expect to see more tourists around here.

Our apartment in Höfn is huge with a perfect lake view and you can even see glaciers from your backyard. This was our most expensive accommodation in Iceland.

Waking up to glaciers in front of our apartment

Today our first stop was the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon - one of the most amazing natural wonders of Iceland and one of the most popular attractions for travelers to visit. I remember promising myself to see this before I came to Iceland. It was so high on my to-see list. We couldn't take nice pictures the day before, so we came again!

The lagoon lies along the major ring road so it’s easily accessible if you’re driving.

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon 
Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Not far from the lagoon, it was the world-famous black sand beach Reynisfjara. It is located in the south of Iceland very close to the town of Vík and is easily accessible from the ring road. The beach has massive basalt stacks, a wild Atlantic ocean, and stunning landscape.

Once you arrive in Reynisfjara, the first thing you will notice is the spectacular basalt formation in the mountain.
Reynisfjara black sand beach
Reynisfjara black sand beach

Reynisfjara black sand beach
Basalt columns
Different views from the car

Skógafoss from the top

After a day of sightseeing, we moved on to our next accommodation - the rather well-known Hellisholar Cottages. When we checked in, the owner gave us a heads up that tonight Aurora would be really intense. I was a bit skeptical though.

It was really cold that night. When we were getting dinner ready (again), we could hear our Korean neighbours from another cottage cheering loudly. We knew we had to get out there and look what was happening.

This time, it was not just slight faded trails. It was a sky full of clear vigorously moving blazing lights! They were like huge colourful curtains (3D) twisting, swirling and dancing across the night sky!

This particular incident even came on the news. Apparently, there was a solar storm occurring during that period, making solar winds stronger than usual.

The only bad thing was, the temperature was minus and it was freezing! Sometimes when you want to get the best pictures and videos, it will not matter even when you have to sacrifice your hands and your body lol. I nearly turned into an ice.

aurora borealis northern lights

aurora borealis northern lights

aurora borealis northern lights

aurora borealis northern lights

Tips for viewing the Northern Lights

There are many factors to consider if you need to see Aurora. The most important ones are - clear skies and solar activity.

Everyday we would check the coverage of the clouds, location and forecast on Aurora Forecasts to predict if we could see it. However, there were quite a few times that we got disappointed even though the forecast scale was high and the sky was clear. The forecast does not guarantee anything and no one can tell you how likely you will see it. You have to keep checking every night.

Some people pay to join tours to see it, but we were quite fortunate that it appeared just right above our houses. It lasted so long that we had to stay awake the whole night to witness its beauty.


Selfoss | Seljalandsfoss | Gullfoss | Strokkur geyser

Route: Vik - Flúðir (~190km)

After an awesome night of Aurora Borealis in this cosy cottage, we checked out the next day and carried on with our journey. On the way to Flúðir, we stopped by a few popular sights of interest.

Breakfast before checking out

By this time, we were already quite tired of waterfalls, even though these were the most visited attractions. I started to lose interest when coming closer to the city and seeing more tourists. I still prefer the quieter side of Iceland like the earlier part of our trip. If you start your trip the opposite way of ours, you may feel differently.

Strokkur geyser
Strokkur geyser

Strokkur geyser

Finally we came to the last accommodation of our trip. This was situated literally in the middle of nowhere. I saw no other human around. There were 1 or 2 cottages around us but we didn't see anyone at all. But surprisingly, it was the most modern accommodation we have stayed in Iceland!

Again, tonight we saw the Northern Lights!

The third consecutive night of seeing Aurora!
aurora borealis northern lights

aurora borealis northern lights

aurora borealis northern lights


Reykjavik | Blue Lagoon | Home 

Route: Flúðir - Reykjavik - Keflavík airport (~170km)

Today was the last day of our amazing Iceland trip. We packed our stuff, checked out, and drove back to the capital to catch our flights. Along the way and before flying off, we managed to visit the capital for a bit and take a dip in the Blue Lagoon.

The last morning in Iceland

The famous Icelandic hot dog!
iceland Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

iceland Blue Lagoon

iceland Blue Lagoon

We ended our trip with some nice hot geothermal spa at the Blue Lagoon. It was easy that we could just take a shower, clean ourselves and change at the changing rooms before heading to the airport.

I left earlier than the guys to go back to Dubai. And believe it or not, our aircraft took off into the Northern Lights! My 4th consecutive night of seeing Aurora! I did nothing but stare out of the plane window. It felt AMAZING that I was flying together with those dancing green lights! Too bad that my camera ran out of battery and I could not take any pictures/videos from the airplane, but that breathtaking scene will forever stay in my memory.

This is definitely one of the most unforgettable trips in my life. Trust me, you have to witness the unique beauty of Iceland with your own eyes to believe it.


Accommodations: - Click to earn 10% back!

Airbnb - Click to earn travel credit!

Expenses (5 pax):

  • Accommodation: MYR 7,397.85
  • Car rental: MYR 3,701
  • Petrol: MYR 753.57
  • SIM card (1GB): 2,000 ISK ≈ MYR 74
  • Groceries: MYR 1,239.63
  • Glacier hiking tour: MYR 1,616.50
  • Blue Lagoon: MYR 1,170.90
AVERAGE PER PERSON: MYR 3,191 (Flight tickets excluded)

  1. We were on a low budget travel. We bought groceries from the supermarkets (rice & instant noodles from Malaysia) and prepared every meal at home!

  2. Accommodations and flight tickets were booked at the last minute, that's why the higher cost. Book early and you could save a lot more!

Click here for my Iceland travel video 


  1. Carl Stefan Peter7 August 2017 at 00:01

    Oh my god. This is so stunning!

  2. It's just too beautiful to describe ! A place in life must visit !

  3. Are you using iPhone over there? Because some people told me iPhone can't use over there. Thanks.

    1. Yes I used my iPhone with no problems. What do you mean can't use?

  4. Hey! Love the photos that you'd taken. May I know what camera and photo editing software to achieve these amazing effects? Thank you so much

    1. Thank you. I use Sony a5000 and Lightroom

  5. May I know what camera you use ?😢

  6. Hello, saw your blog and quite interesting on the place you travel. mind to share with me something?
    What the reason make you step into this blogging?
    What the benefits other than they pay the ads fee to you?
    Any issue problem that you face about this blog that you would like to improve? Example the feature of the website, website limitation access...

    1. Thanks for dropping by.
      I used to blog long time ago when I was living in Japan. I stopped, but recently in July 2017 I decided to start blogging again as I like the idea of documenting and sharing my travel experiences. It's a good way for me to share my own photos too. :)

  7. Hi there!!! love your icelandic experience. I'm gonna make my way there this year!! <3
    May I know is it easy to drive around there?
    How do you find your way around? Do we need to apply for an international driving license (For Malaysian)
    And could you please please provide me the website where you rent your car?

    Thank you so much in advance pretty! really looking forward to hear from you!!

    1. Driving around is easier in the city, but it can be quite challenging in the countryside where you'll spend most of your time. Like I mentioned in the blog, it can get really really really LIKE REALLY windy in Iceland and it's dangerous even for you to leave your car doors open. Also, just be aware that most bridges have only one lane, which means only one car can cross at a time.
      Yes, we need an international driving license.
      I don't exactly remember which car rental company we used. You can easily google and find one that suits you best. :)

  8. Hi! May I know what lens are you using? Thank You!

  9. Thanks for sharing the post. Are the aurora photos taken with your Sony camera or iphone?

    1. Has to be a camera. You won't be able to see anything with phones.

  10. Hi I really love your photos! They are beautiful. Me and my friends from Malaysia are thinking of visiting Iceland but it is such a different continent and also so much planning needed that we are worried if we are biting off more than we can chew. But after reading your post, I feel like it can be done and it will be worth it! Your post is inspiring! One of my biggest concern is the driving though. I read that you are from Malaysia and we are one of the very few countries with left side driving... so was it hard to drive on opposite side? And is the Ring Road/Golden Circle tar or paved roads? Did you have to drive through any F roads to the attractions ?

    1. Hi Adelyn, thank you for your compliment!

      I didn't drive in Iceland but my friends did. It was completely fine. You'll get used to it within a day or two. I myself have driven in Los Angeles (in the city with more traffic than Iceland) on the left too and I had no problem with it, even though it was my first time driving on the left.

      Ring Road is the national road in Iceland so it's paved with asphalt for most of its length, but there are still stretches in eastern Iceland with unpaved gravel surfaces. Generally it isn't hard to drive in Iceland at all, just beware of the strong wind, and the bridges like I mentioned in the post and other comments.

  11. Hi, may I know you change ISK KRONA in Iceland airport ? Or use credit for the whole trip? Cause Malaysia hardly to exchange KRONA. thanks

    1. We exchanged money at the airport in Iceland. :)

  12. Hi, this is really amazing that help me a lot to plan my iceland trip on next year :)
    may i ask if i use sony nexf3 to take aurora photo is it possible ?
    or must use the long lens or any professional kit.

    1. I don't think it's necessary to get professional lenses. Your camera should be good enough.

  13. I want to know more about this Iceland trip. Any possibility meet up with you?

  14. Hi babe. Just wanted to ask for the air flight suggestions. Which airline and what transit do you suggest?

    1. We went to skyscanner and chose whichever airlines that gave us the cheapest options. Any cities in Europe will be good for transit. I chose Oslo as I flew from Dubai. My friends chose Amsterdam flying from Malaysia.

  15. Hi, may I know what car I rented for the road trip? And is it necessary to rent a 4x4 car of travelling at end of Oct?
    And did u use ur Sony a5000 or other camera to take photos of aurora? The photos is beautiful <3

    1. We didn't rent a 4x4. We had one of the cheapest options for 5 of us and it was totally fine to drive in October.
      Thank you! I only use Sony a5000. :)

  16. Hi Pretty, thanks for sharing with us all your travel itinerary.
    By looking all of your posts here and insta is a motivation for me.
    Keep it up & we always support you. Looking forward to have more travelling stories from you....;)
    Take a good care always.....
    Thanks again for your sharing..."WE APPRECIATE IT"

    1. Hi Mei Yen thank you so much for your encouragement. It means too much to me and motivates me to share more with you guys! :)

  17. Hi👋🏼

    Can i know all the location you went is using waze to reach the detination? Or?

  18. Hi, it's an amazing adventure and truely insipred me to pay a visit ther! I have an important question here, is it driving everyday is tiring and do you all managed to drive for such a far distance?

    1. It was two of my friends who drove. They both took turn. It was tiring but worth it!
      It's even better if have more time, spread it out and take it slowly. :)

  19. I shared your Iceland video on facebook video 3 years ago, and I share it every year when it comes up on my memories.

    Now that I'm old enough and able to travel, I appreciate this blog so much!! I'm definitely going to start planning my trip! Thank you for your time putting this together, This is like one of my dream trips!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my video and blog post! Thank you for your kind words.
      I do hope after the pandemic is over, we can travel again! <3
      Stay safe!


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