Our Travels

One city at a time.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg

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Charles Bridge, Prague

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Venice, the City of Waters

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United Kingdom

A Day Well-Spent in Iconic London

By on June 6, 2013

London is an iconic city that continuously draws in travellers from all over the world. But, if for some reasons you find yourself with only a day to spend in this wondrous city, make the most of out it and plan your itinerary strategically.  Keep in mind that there’s more to London than just the Buckingham Place and the Westminster Abbey, though they are undoubtedly two of the most impressive landmarks ever! So here’s how you can make the most of your day and sample some of the best alternatives to touristy spots of this remarkable city.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

Take a Morning Walk

Start walking along the city’s South Bank to get an impressive aerial views of London stretching from across the river. Here you can admire two notable landmarks that are in close proximity – the historic Tower Bridge and the symbol of modernity – the Shard. Continue your walk down to Shakespeare’s Globe and if you’re interested, you can check out a play. This theater is quite legendary and you shouldn’t pass up the experience of sitting in one of its velvet covered seats. Looking for someplace to grab a bite? Check out the Borough Market and its endless restaurant and food stall options. It’s the perfect place to be for foodies and travelers to rest for lunch.

Stroll in the afternoon

Bask in the cool London temperature and take a stroll to some of the City’s galleries and museums. Alternatively, you can ditch the National Gallery to check more fascinating facts and artifacts at the British or Imperial War Museum. You can spend hours on end inside these history-rich buildings. Afterwards, you can relax and simply enjoy London’s open air freshness at the Regent’s Park. The place offers beautifully landscaped gardens to give you an impression of royalty.  If you’re still up to it, you can also check out London Zoo and be impressed with its 750 animal species. This zoo is consider as one of the best in the world and will offer you fun and excitement the rest of the afternoon.

npg london
National portrait gallery, and renovations…

A Night Cap

The most picturesque views while walking in London can be seen during sunset. Head to Camden and stroll down to ride the tube to the Regent’s Canal. Cap the night with lively entertainment or shopping from a selection of pub, theaters and market stalls in the area. The World’s End or the Hawley Arms are just some of the most recommended watering holes in this region.

Want some other alternative places to check out in London? There’s the SoHo for fashionistas and the East End – London’s equal to NYC’s Broadway!

london red bus
the iconic double-decker bus

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Australia

Places to Visit and Things to Do in Fraser Island

By on June 4, 2013

One of the numerous smaller islands that comprise the beautiful country of Australia is Fraser Island. You can find it just off the south Queensland coast, opposite Hervey Bay. It stretches 122 kilometers long and has an expanse ranging between five and 25 kilometers. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, which is why it is considered a part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage.

It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Australia. People visit the island to admire its exceptional beauty. If you haven’t been there, picture these in your mind: long, uninterrupted white beaches sandwiched by sand cliffs of striking colors and over 100 freshwater lakes with tea-colored and clear, blue waters surrounded by white sandy beaches. Try to visualize rainforests along the banks of swift, crystal-clear creeks, immense sand blows, and cliffs of colored sand that are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the whole world. There are wetlands that boast of rare, patterned ferns, mangrove colonies, sea-grass beds, more or less 40,000 species of migratory shorebirds, and rare, vulnerable, and endangered species of dugongs (sea cows), turtles, ant-blue butterflies, and eastern curlews. Little wonder, then, that Fraser Island was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 in recognition of its natural values.

lake Mckenzie beach

You can do so many things once you set foot on Fraser Island. Nevertheless, one of the most famous attractions there is its highly invigorating natural environment that makes for a day of extreme adventure. The island is littered with dramatic tracks that are perfect for driving a 4WD. You can hire one and explore interesting places right on the island such as the following:

1. Lake McKenzie – This is an astounding body of azure water with low ph levels. The waters are surrounded by soft white sand, which makes it the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely dip before heading out to your next stop.

2. Pile Valley – Here, you can admire a rainforest environment that has existed for years. You can certainly immerse yourself in the wonders of creation and beauty of nature in this place, what with its leafy trees and quiet streams.

3. Stonetool Sand blow – This is an active sand blow covering a decent part of a forest. Once the sand blow moves across the island, what appears to be a vast dessert slowly gives rise to the forest.

4. Eli Creek – This is the best route to take, wading through cool waters, if you want to go from the rainforest to the Coral Sea at 75 Mile Beach. Incidentally, the said beach is aptly named because of the sand shores that stretch for 75 miles.

5. Maheno Shipwreck – The wreckage of this trans-Tasman liner that was blown off-course by a cyclone washed up on the waters of 75 Mile Beach in 1935. To this day, you can take in the sight of the wreckage while on the beach.

6. Pinnacle Colored Sands – Iron compounds in the sand made possible this wonder of nature. The location takes its name from the rainbow-colored sand and rocks in the area that makes for a uniquely beautiful sight. Make sure you have your camera handy when you visit this place because you’re sure to come face-to-face with a shot-worthy landscape.

After visiting these places, you can go back to the beach and cave in to some adrenalin-pumping activities like snorkeling and diving. Of course, if extreme activities are not your cup of tea, you can always rent a trailer boat and go fishing.

coloured sands
colored sands

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Holland

The Famous Windmills of Holland

By on June 2, 2013

Windmills are to Holland what the Colosseum is to Rome. Simply put, these windmills of Holland have become icons that depict everything Dutch. Funnily, though, the Dutch are not the ones who invented windmills.

Now the question that may be running through your mind is how these windmills became synonymous with Holland.

It might have been during the 1600s when windmills began ingraining themselves into Dutch culture. That was when Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest added a crankshaft to a windmill, thereby inventing the wind-powered sawmill. This invention made it possible for wood to be sawed at a significantly higher speed (according to Wikipedia, it was able to convert log timber into planks 30 times faster). From then on, sawing mills grew explosively, making way to the windmills that are now a permanent fixture in Holland.

Hausbootfahrt in Holland - Keukenhof - Park mit Tulpen und Muehle
Photo of the Hausbootfahrt in Holland – Keukenhof – Park mit Tulpen und Muehle (original link cannot be found)

In fact, prior to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, an estimated 10,000 windmills that proudly dotted the countryside became a defining attribute of Holland. Then and now, windmills were crucial in powering sawmills and grain mills, as well as pumping water from low-lying areas to keep a great many parts of Holland flood-free.

Over the years, though, the number of windmills dwindled. Today, there are roughly 1,000 Dutch windmills still standing primarily for historical and tourism purposes.

One of the most famous groups of windmills in Holland is the Kinderdijk system located around 15 km east of Rotterdam, which is composed of 19 windmills. These were built in the mid-1700s to keep the area from being flooded. These picturesque windmills are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time to visit this place is in July and August, since that’s when all 19 windmills operate in full accord. If you love ice-skating, you can visit the place during winter and ice-skate with your family along the Kinderdijk.

Another group of historical Dutch windmills is found in Zaanse Schans, which is a neighborhood of Zaandam in North Holland. About 250 years ago, this area was considered one of the very first industrial sites in the world; thus, over 600 mills could be found here. These mills did everything, from producing shelves to manufacturing paper. Nevertheless, as years passed, the historic windmills were relocated as part of an open-air conservation area and museum, the Zaans Museum, which was established in 1994. Apparently, this museum, which focuses on the European Route of Industrial Heritage, receives over 900,000 visitors each year. If you want a close-up look at some of the more popular Dutch icons like clogs, cheeses, and of course, windmills, Zaanse Schans is the place to visit.

Now if you want to see the largest windmills in the world, Schiedam is the place you want to be. The windmills in that area reach up to 33 meters tall! You can visit “De Nieuwe Palmboom” (The New Palm Tree) windmill, which also functions as a museum, if you want to find out more about the history and purpose of the Schiedam windmills. Suffice it to say the windmills of Schiedam played an important role in the production of jenever or Dutch gin. Originally, there were 20 windmills in this area. Now, only five remain to this day – “The Whale,” “The Three Cornflowers,” “The Freedom,” “The North,” and “The New Palm Tree.” However, a sixth mill, “De Kameel” (The Camel), was rebuilt in 2011.

windmill
image via http://royalegacy.blogspot.com

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Greece

Top Historic Sites on the Island of Corfu (Kerkyra)

By on May 29, 2013

Despite being a small island the Greek Island of Corfu has a long and varied history, with many stories to be uncovered and sights to be seen. Holidays in Corfu can be a real history lesson as the island has been inhabited since 1300BC and been involved in many battles right up to World War II. It has always been a plentiful island located between the landmasses of Greece and Italy, making it a prime target for invasion. These days things are a lot calmer, but the relics and stories still remain ready to be discovered.

The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort), Kerkyra
image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/orientalizing/

The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort)

The Old Fort sits on the East side of Corfu town and has a small museum to explain its significance in Corfiot history. The museum is well worth a visit, even just to view some of the oldest remaining art in existence, dating back to the 1st Century. Whilst there has been a fort here at all times since the 6th Century, much of what remains today was built by the Venetians at a later date and repaired by the British in the years that followed.

gardiki castle corfu
Gardiki castle walls

Gardiki Castle

Gardiki Castle is now partially ruins, but once stood tall above the Gardiki village, protecting it from invaders. The castle is Byzantine by design and its octagonal shape was once decorated with art of the time. Sitting among olive groves, this picturesque relic is a huge attraction on the island.

Palaiokastritsa
image via http://www.greeka.com/

Palaiokastritsa, a Panagia Theotokos Monastery

The Palaiokastritsa, a Panagia Theotokos Monastery dates back to 1225 and is located in a beach resort. This strange combination makes for an interesting daytrip as the beach is notoriously clean, and the monastery houses a small religious museum, home to a supposed sea monster skeleton! The current building was built in 1700 but the site itself has many ancient stories to tell.

Islands are great places to find a wealth of history as they have often witnessed many battles and changed hands multiple times over the ages. Corfu is no exception and is a fantastic place to explore the past.

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Travel Plans

Top 5 Things to See in Tangier

By on May 24, 2013
Hercules caves
Hercules’ caves by http://www.flickr.com/photos/divadhar/

Tangier is one of the most interesting holiday destinations in Morocco. The area is a cultural melting pot, offering a mix of African, French and Spanish flavour. Tangier is a thriving port, but it is far from commercialised. If you want to get an authentic taste of Morocco, stay away from the tourist traps and head to Tangier instead. Here is a quick look at a few of the most interesting activities in the area.

The Hercules Caves
Less than fifteen miles outside of Tangier you will find the Hercules Caves. According to ancient mythology, these caves were the place where Hercules would come when he needed to rest. When the tide is low, you can go inside the caves and enjoy a spectacular view of the sea. The caves are partly natural and partly man-made and are of huge archaeological importance.

Grand Socco
The Grand Socco is a large market square in the heart of Tangier. The square is full of cafes, restaurants, stalls and shops. There are musicians, snake charmers and entertainers at every corner. This is a good place to come if you want to get a flavour for the cultural history of the city.

The Museum of Moroccan Arts
The Museum of Moroccan Arts is a large museum full of traditional Moroccan textiles and handicrafts. The building itself is a beautifully designed Byzantine structure and the collection of textiles on display is huge. Unfortunately, most of the information signs in the museum are printed in French, which makes the displays difficult for non-French speakers to appreciate.

The Kasbah
The Kasbah is the highest point in Tangier and it is a must-visit location. From the Kasbah you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Gibraltar Straits and even see part of Spain. This is a rare opportunity to see two continents (Africa and Europe) at the same time.

TANJAzz
TANJAzz is Tangier’s annual international jazz festival. The festival’s dates differ each year, but if you are a music lover, it is worth trying to schedule your holiday around the event, which attracts some big-name jazz performers, as well as rising stars.

Before you book a trip to Tangier, it is a good idea to compare prices on cruises and also look at various land tour options as well. The port of Tangier is a great place to visit; it is an evocative place and will give you the chance to enjoy a different side of Morocco without having to deal with the high prices and crowded streets found at the more traditional tourist traps.

Each town in Morocco has its own unique flavour and culture. If you want to get a true taste of the country, why not explore several towns, perhaps heading from Tangier to Chefchaouen or taking the train to Meknes or Fez for a few days. Travel around Morocco is inexpensive, so you should be able to take in several towns and cities even if your budget is quite limited.

View of the Straits of Gibraltar from near the Kasbah, Tangier, Morocco
View of Straits of Gibraltar, photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/67999968@N00/

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Accommodations

The Universe of Sound: A Digital Installation in Birmingham’s Municipal Bank

By on May 20, 2013

 

Ever fancied heading to the city to enjoy something a little different? Whether it’s your first time in Birmingham or you’ve visited before, one thing’s for sure – you will have never experienced anything quite like The Universe of Sound before. Open your minds and appreciate something out of the ordinary this summer, with the help of Birmingham’s Philharmonic Orchestra, presented in the disused Municipal Bank in the centre of the city.

If you plan on staying in the city for a day or two, take a look at Travelodge’s rooms in Birmingham that will provide you with excellent rates that won’t break the bank. Combine that with the digital installation that’s completely free to appreciate and you have a budget-friendly city break that will help to reignite your senses.

Symphony hall – image via http://www.thsh.co.uk/

The Town Hall and Symphony Hall are working in conjunction with the Philharmonic Orchestra to bring to Birmingham a digital extravaganza that is running between the 25th May and the 16th June 2013. Completely free to anyone who wants to spend some time experiencing the magic, the event is jam-packed with film screenings, family activities and live performances that will have you enthralled from the very beginning.

From the confines of the Municipal Bank, the world-class Philharmonic turns virtual for everyone’s entertainment. Conduct your own orchestra using state-of-the-art digital technology or play live and virtual instruments to feel like you’re among the virtuosos in the Orchestra Pit.

With ten separate rooms, homing various activities, you can learn more about the role of a conductor and how they cope managing an entire orchestra while the piece de resistance is a 360degree planetarium-style room which will transport you to the centre of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, making you feel like you’re in the heart of the action.

If you’re a fully-fledged musician, you are welcome to bring your own instruments along. Otherwise, the virtual instruments will be available to enjoy on site.

During its final week (from the 14th June), there will be a 7pm screening, in its entirety, of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey at Symphony Hall, complemented by an original soundtrack performed by the Philharmonia and Birmingham’s Ex Cathedra choir.

Head to the Symphony Hall Café Bar for the Universe of Sound Family Day. With plenty of activities and workshops on the 15th June, it will encourage children of all ages to explore the Orchestra, music technology and much more. Whether you’re a lover of music, space or both, you can be sure that, whatever the age of your brood, there’s something for everyone.

At 7:30pm on the 15th June, the esteemed Philharmonic Orchestra and the ladies of the City of Birmingham Choir will be performing The Planets, live.

Take a look at Travelodge’s rooms in Birmingham and head to the city for a budget break. Whether you choose to pop along between 11 and 6:30pm at some point during its run, or you want to book seats for the finale, don’t miss out on this musical and astronomical masterpiece at the Municipal Bank this June.

 

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Travel Tips

Dubai Supercar Hotspots

By on April 29, 2013

 

You like fast cars but you only get to see them on Top Gear. What you really want is some kind of car utopia, where it’s normal to see a Lamborghini or an Aston Martin out on the streets and where the infrastructure and industry reflects a deep passion for beautiful machines. Well my friend, welcome to Dubai.

The Police

Our first hotspot starts on the streets. Why? Well where else in the world a fleet of supercars be owned by the police, patrolling the streets? With a Lamborghini Aventador already in their inventory, it was recently announced the motorheads at Dubai Police had made another small acquisition. A Ferrari FV no less, costing around £350,000, and capable of speeds exceeding 200mph. Audacious extravagance maybe, but surely the cops need something fast catch all the boy racers out there.

At The Mall

Strictly speaking supercar spotting at the Dubai Mall has now been sadly banned but security will only approach you if they identify you as a supercar spotter. So for supercar lovers that means hiding your camera, wiping the drool from your chin and realising a nonchalant swagger, as if being 10 feet away from a Pagani Zonda is a normal daily experience for you. As for getting there, the Dubai Mall is the world’s largest of its kind with 1200 shops. In other words I don’t think you’ll need directions.

Lamborghini Aventador
photo credits http://www.flickr.com/photos/34352388@N07/

Showing Off

Top Gear say it’s the best supercar dealership in the world and they just may be right. Owned by Abdullah Al Ketbi, Alain Class Motors has a showroom of cars that have a combined, mouthwatering value of £80 million. A car enthusiast and collector since 1992, with 18 Ferrari’s in his inventory, some Maserati’s, several Lamborghini’s and one of the fastest cars in the world, the Koenigsegg Agera, it would be an understatement to say that Abdullah Al Ketbi likes cars. Like many others in Dubai, there is nothing else that impresses him more. Alain Class Motors main property is a 10,000sq foot showroom located on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Your Own Drive

All this talk about Koenigsegg’s and Ferrari’s must have put the thought in your head: I’d love to drive one. Well you can. It would be foolish to think the locals would have missed out on that one. There are a number of luxury car rental spots all over Dubai. Lane Luxury Car Rentals is popular, based at the Al Naboodah Building, near the centre of Warson 1. With a fleet including but not limited to Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porcshes and Audis, there is something for everything. For pricing just sign up to their mail list.

The International Motor Show

The Dubai International Motor Show, which runs between 5th and 9th of November is the largest of its kind in the Middle East. Who’s it for? The sort of people in Dubai that like to buy cars. What does that mean? Supercars. Lots, and lots, of lovely supercars! With over 150 car manufacturers participating from 30 different countries, there is plenty on offer. Even better, there’s an event that takes place two days earlier in Abu Dhabi, about 100km away. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on the 3rd November.

This is a car lovers dream holiday and if you’re thinking about planning trip to Dubai, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get there. You can use a flight finder tool like www.momondo.com that will pull the prices from hundreds of sites so you can pick the best deal for your budget. It’s also possible to find a good deal on top accommodation of you book way in advance or at the very last minute.

Author Bio: David Bell is a freelance writer and blogs about interior design, food, travel, art and culture. Follow him on Twitter @DavidBellWriter

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Cancun

A Guide to Scuba Diving in Cancun

By on March 25, 2013

Cancun, in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, is sometime called The Glittering City. Exactly what this refers to – it could be either the lights of the buzzing nightclub scene or the sunlight reflecting off of the crystal clear ocean – is unclear, but it is certainly one of the more complimentary city nicknames out there. (Much better than London’s, that’s for sure: The Big Smoke!)

The city itself is famous in America because it’s a popular destination for Spring Breakers – every year, in the American equivalent of the Easter half-term holiday, hordes of college students flock to Cancun to engage in revelry of the highest degree.

underwater beauty

Worry not, dear traveller – it’s not like that all the time. In fact, it’s a pretty great place, no matter what kind of tourist you are. However, as you’re currently reading this article, we have to assume you’re at least mildly interested in scuba diving. Luckily for you, Cancun is just amazing for that particular pastime. Here’s a short guide for you. Divulge and dive in!

Where to Go

There are a few different hotspots in the Cancun area, so you have some choices to make. First off, there is Arrecifes Chitales. You’ll find this shallow reef near Punta Cancun, so it’s not far to travel, and as it’s only about 40 feet deep, it’s great for beginners.

Don’t worry, though: it’s good for any veterans, too, as you can go further out and experience the current. It’s the perfect spot for drift diving, and the water is so delightfully warm that you’ll barely know you’re out of the sun.

Next, we have the Isla Mujeres. This little island is beautiful itself, with a luscious lagoon ripe for exploration, but it’s also home to a number of great dive spots. A lot of them are fantastic for beginners as you can see so far, but for experts we’d suggest the scarily named Cave of Sleeping Sharks.

Our last recommendation is the Underwater Museum, because it is precisely what it sounds like. An eco-friendly museum beneath the waves, this dive takes you around about 500 sculptures. Fantastic!

Wanna Get Certified?

If you want to get hold of your scuba diving certification, there are a few ways to do this. To start out, you can go to a resort course, where you’ll cover the basics – enough to last you your whole stay in Cancun.

However, if you want to then scuba dive elsewhere, you’ll need the full Open Water Certification. There are a handful of places nearby which offer this; be prepared to spend up to 4 days and $400. You may even get a specialty course thrown into the mix, such as Cavern Diving!

There are plenty of other tips we could give (like book your flights with Cheapflights, make sure to bring along an underwater camera for some unforgettable snapshots, try out a night dive for memories to last a lifetime) but ultimately, you have to just get out there and do it for the best experience.

Oh, and don’t forget to dive around the Great Maya Barrier Reef – this reef is only beaten in size by that big one in Australia!

scubdivingcancun
strike a pose!

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Travel Tips

Travel Light on a Full Itinerary with Mini Travel Essentials

By on March 14, 2013

Packing. One of the first things one must pay attention to when travelling. Well you’ve read of the many tips on how to pack lightly, I personally am not so good in that department. What I do is list down the essentials, the amount of each I should bring and check them out from my list when I had them tucked in my luggage – which is another thing worth writing about, I’m the worst when putting in stuff there. ^_^

You can actually get the most out of your travel by experiencing all types of activities offered in the land. You can fill your itineraries with indoor and outdoor activities that are unique in the region and bring home more than just photos and souvenirs. However, moving from one place to another can be a bit inconvenient when one has a bulky set of personal necessities to bring along for the trip. Travelling light without leaving any of your travel essentials behind is easy with mini-products that are ideal for travel. Even if you are staying in a hotel, it is best to bring your own vanity kit and toiletries especially of products you trust and use for your hair, teeth and skin. You can never know what the  hotel-provided shampoo would do to your flat hair and you wouldn’t want to go about with fizzy hair while enjoying the scenes…worse, you wouldn’t want to be caught in a less glamorous mane on your photos!

hotel toiletries, travel light, essentials
photo via http://fitnessista.com

Grooming essentials like soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and toothpaste can take a lot of luggage space if one doesn’t pay attention to their sizes. Purchasing mini or travel size versions of these items doesn’t only save on baggage space but also relieves travellers from unnecessary weight. Toiletries for travel usually come in pocket sizes. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion can be found in sachet packs or mini bottles. Those who plan to have these items on their carry all baggage can consider bottle sets that are TSA compliant so they don’t have to worry about meeting travel security requirements for bottled liquids. You wouldn’t want to be hassled by getting them all out of your luggage and confiscated when checked…it’s both waste of time and money so go with the minis.

When it comes to hand or beauty soap, travellers can choose from pocket sized bars or soap sticks that are easy to use and pack-away even when wet. There are also travel shampoos, hand soap, and body wash sheets that are ideal for outdoor travel like camping or trekking. All that is needed is a bit of water and one can lather these thin and tiny sheets  and leave you feeling clean and fresh. For oral hygiene, one can choose from a variety of toothbrush and toothpaste set that come with a handy case. Toothbrushes with foldable or detachable handles are the ones ideal for travel.

Always consider the amount of time to be spent on your travel, if you are staying for more than a week, it is best to buy your essentials from the nearest shop than bring too less…Sometimes, the small issues make the big difference to your travel experience.

  

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Travel Tips

The top five tourist destinations in Asia

By on March 6, 2013

For those that are perhaps a bit bored with the regular vacation destinations, Asia offers a wealth of idyllic, and unique, vacation spots. There are many locations with beautiful beaches, remote islands with tropical palms and fascinating centers of cultural and historical significance. With excellent cheap air flights readily available, travelers can reach any of the five top Asian destinations listed below from their nearest international airport.

Shodoshima, Japan

Japanese tourists taking a home vacation love the ‘Island of Little Beans’, however, this land of hot springs, lush olive groves and wild monkeys is still a well-kept secret when it comes to foreign tourists. The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and as a result citrus groves are a feature here. Hikers readily take the trails across the rocks, enjoying the scenic views from the cliffs or those across the Kanka Valley. After a long day of walking and sightseeing, the island’s many hot springs provide a welcome respite for those tired feet.

ubud, indonesia
Ubud Rice terraces – image from http://static.environmentalgraffiti.com/

Ubud, Indonesia

The home of the Balinese royal family, Ubud is a relatively small town, with an impressive number of galleries, museums and a lively arts scene – for example, visitors can try the craft of a silversmith at Chez Monique, and take home some personalized jewelry they have created. For a wildlife treat, the lush greenery of the Monkey Forest is home to a lively bunch of monkeys that are fun to watch.  They will swoop down to steal food or anything that looks like it could be food, so beware!

Goa, India

In South Goa the quiet and beautiful Agonda Beach has smooth, soft sand, stunning sunsets and charming beach huts where visitors can stay. Sea turtles nest at the beach, and there are lifeguards on patrol to ensure that it is safe for children. Definitely a destination for those seeking peace and quiet, it is never crowded, the locals are very friendly and there are enough shops and good restaurants to make it interesting. Hire a scooter to make the most of visits to the other beaches and the local towns.

Xi’an, China

The Tang Palace walls and those of the Ming dynasty are clues to the glorious past of Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China, which has many ancient tombs and ruins. Outside the city, 25 miles to the east, the 7,000 statues of the Terracotta Army represent one of the most significant archaeological finds in the world. The life-size warriors, their horses and chariots, depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, and they date from 210 BCE. Xi’an city has many important historical sites, including pagodas, royal mausoleums and towers, and outside the city walls, the southern area offers shopping, bars and some nightlife.

Penang Island, Malaysia

The “food paradise” of Malaysia, Penang’s rich multicultural history makes it a divine place to enjoy an extensive range of Indian, Chinese and Malay foods – allegedly some of the best cuisine in Southeast Asia. Gurney Drive in Georgetown, Penang’s capital, is a coastal promenade with restaurants and bars. Alongside the huge variety of carts serving some of the best street food available, there are upscale eateries and some Western chain restaurants. Take a break from all that eating and enjoy a trip to the Penang National Park – Malaysia’s newest – to see nesting sea turtles in the turtle sanctuary, and to explore the trails across the pristine beaches or above the jungle canopy from the elevated walkway.

Wild-Goose-Pagoda-Landscape-XiAn-China
Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi’an (image via http://www.asia-trip.info)

 

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