The popularity of offbeat travel is on the rise. Whilst most people will share some of their must-visit countries with thousands of others, there will be plenty of places that offer an authentic experience that appeals to them, but not always the masses. That’s great news for you.
If you want to get off the beaten track and get involved with local life, you’ll be rewarded with an experience unlike a typical tourist. That’s how some of the best travel memories are made, when we throw ourselves into the unknown rather than sticking to the same places. To get such an opportunity, try visiting these four countries:
If you like adventurous travel, then Mongolia is for you. It’s a huge country, full of pristine landscapes, and home to nomadic people whose lives have barely changed in the modern day. Their survival depends on the wide-open spaces, untouched wilderness and fresh water supplies – all of the things that make Mongolia such an amazing place.
Nadaam in Mongolia // bernd_thaller
Head to Mongolia’s best-known national park, Terelj. Here, The Secret Traveller says, you’ll be able to spend a night in a traditional yurt, watch demonstrations of archery and horse riding, and hike through some of the most spectacular scenery the world has to offer. What better way to experience local life? It’s no beach holiday, but that’s exactly why it’s great. You can get actively involved.
Europe has a lot to offer keen travellers, but we love Poland because of its friendly population of hospitable people that are welcoming and genuine. The country boasts UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the popular Krakow’s Old Town, amazing food, an abundance of castles, and a musical heritage they’re proud of to this day.
You can easily find concerts for jazz to medieval to opera music – particularly impressive in the warmer months when they’re held outdoors in parks and squares.
According to Go East Europe, one of the best things about Poland is how each city in Poland has a distinct feel and social culture. From Warsaw’s urban pulse to Krakow’s historic pride, to Wroclaw’s whimsy, to Gdansk’s stately maritime heritage, each city has its own appeal. You’ll probably want to head to more than one.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ll know Brazil throws the best party in the world – the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Full of colour and energy, it’s best described as an explosion of culture – but you’ve got to experience it for yourself. Whether you’re looking for a party experience or some relaxation, Brazilis a great place to visit. In this list of 100 reasons to visit Brazil (yes – 100), they point out it’s in the culture to greet everyone as if they were great friends.
Rio De Janeiro // photographingtravis
So find a spot on one of the over 2,000 beaches along Brazil’s shoreline, and relax with great company, as well as a cocktail and some amazing fresh seafood. You could even watch the sea turtle hatching season in the village of Praia do Forte between October and March each year – such an experience is a once-in-a-lifetime sight, so don’t miss out.
The UK’s capital city, London, might be the most popular spot for tourists – but it’s not the best place to go for an authentic experience. We promise you not everyone in the UK is as grumpy as those in London, who are constantly in a rush to get somewhere else. Nor is everywhere in the UK full of the same tacky souvenirs you’ll find on Oxford Street.
Brighton // ben124
Stay out of the busy commuters’ way by heading into the countryside. Here, the UK really excels and people tend to be much friendlier. Amongst the suggestions for an authentic English experience is a trip to the Pantomime at Christmas time, a hike along the South Downs way, a visit to Brighton for some fish and chips or just heading to a traditional pub for a pint.
What countries have you recently visited? Share your suggestions for an authentic, offbeat travel experience.
Business or leisure? Why not both? For those lucky enough to travel for business, we suggests turning business trips into mini vacations, or what some call "bleisure" trips. The cities below are known for their economic prowess as well as their entertainment dexterity, making them perfect for bleisure. With stunning skylines, rich cultural sites, wilderness centers and upbeat night scenes, these cities are the ideal places to blend business with more than just a dash of pleasure.
As the financial capital of Brazil, this concrete jungle of skyscrapers knows how to cater to business travelers with luxury hotels and fine restaurants. Sao Paulo also offers great antique markets and cultural institutes making it a great city to extend a business trip into a short vacation. The InterContinental Sao Paulo on Avenida Paulista makes it easy to get to meetings as well as the Sao Paulo Museum of Art, which has a fine collection of national and European art. On Sundays, an antique fair operates underneath the suspended museum's open space. Leave the bustle behind and stay at George V Also De Pinheiros in Villa Magdalena, the bohemian area of Sao Paulo. Benedito Calixo square is sprawling with vendors of art, and handmade and antique treasures on Saturdays.
With six international airports and the Eurostar high-speed rail service connecting London to the rest of Europe, the city is a must-stop for international business travelers. Stay a few days longer to partake in London's rich history. It's oldest financial district, often referred to as The City or The Square Mile, conveniently houses many of the must-see sights.St. Paul's Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Museum of London, the Barbican Center, and 30 St. Mary Axe (better known as The Gherkin) are within walking distance. The modern Apex Temple Court Hotel is between the City and Covent Garden in theTheatre District. The Grange Tower Bridge resides near Jack the Ripper's old haunts in the East End, which is now a trendy area filled with markets, bars and restaurants.
There's no need to travel the world on business, when the business world congregates in New York. Forget the stereotypical Wall Street bankers, New York draws people for more than just work. The City has something for everyone: museums, on and off-Broadway shows, secret speakeasies, green spaces, fashion, and sports teams galore. The food selection is as diverse as its people with mini communities throughout the five boroughs representing much of the world's cuisine. Stay at the W New York Times Square in the heart of all the action and spectacular views of the city and only a couple of stops from Central Park. Avoid the touristy scene altogether by staying at the Sixty on the border of East Village and the Lower East Side neighborhoods for an eclectic glimpse of New York.
Singapore's geographic location, top-tier AAA credit ratings, low taxes, and zero-tolerance for corruption make it a highly desirable place to do business. The 13.6 percent of public green spaces that occupy Singapore's land mass makes it a great place to relax and escape the madness of city life. In 2015 the 202 acres that make up the Singapore Botanic Gardens, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just as impressive are Gardens by the Bay with 250 acres filled 500,000 species of plants, fountains and promenades. For more nature action visit the Singapore Zoo or go on a night safari to see animals in their natural habitat and experience a rainforest ecosystem. Stay at the lovely Sheraton Towers Singapore, which offers rooms with balconies opening directly to the pool.
Trade and tourism make up Tokyo's largest industry output with 18%, according to the Brooking's Institute 2015 Global Metro Monitor Map. This city was made for business and pleasure. The Grand Hyatt Tokyo is in the center of Roppongi, known its night scene, which attracts both locals and foreigners. Karaoke is a favorite outing for locals and Tokyo knows how to do it right. The Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo offers four private karaoke rooms with incredible views of the city. Fashion is Tokyo's forte so take time to explore the city's array of eclectic styles. Head to the ward of Shibuya to check out the Harajuku district made famous by singer Gwen Stefani in her hit song Harajuku Girls where youths dress in mixed colorful styles of traditional dress, cosplay, Goth and more. Locals also strut their Harajuku Sunday best at the nearby Yoyogi Park near the Meiji Shrine, a forest spanning 170 acres.
This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind Blog on April 14th, 2016.
Planning a visit to London? After booking your flight and picking the perfect London hotel, the next item on the list is figuring out where to dine in this British metropolis. London is packed with everything from expensive, swanky restaurants to ultra-affordable, no-frills street vendors. The great thing about this city is that whether you dine in luxury or while just lounging on a park bench, you can enjoy some truly delicious food.
But what should you eat while you're there? You'll be bombarded with international cuisine options and hearty English dishes everywhere you turn. Tantalizing smells will waft from street carts, cafes and restaurants alike, all of which make it more difficult to decide what to eat. But on a limited jaunt in this city, you'll want to make your menu selections carefully. It's important to enjoy the traditional flavors this city serves up without missing out on some of the more exotic offerings.
To help travelers make the most of every meal in London, we've put together this hassle-free guide to the city's best dishes. Use this menu to make sure you don't miss out on the incredible flavors that London has to offer during your visit.
This article was originally published on IHG on May 9th, 2016.
With the recent debut of the latest installment in the James Bond movie franchise, Spectre, we’ve been reminded of one of 007’s greatest qualities—namely, that he’s better traveled than most people on the planet (okay, he’s a fictional character, but the point still stands).
In fact, in his 50 years of service, Bond has visited nearly 50 countries, while most of the films feature upwards of six distinct locales. Want to globe-trot like James Bond? Simply jet-set to any of these stellar destinations.
The bustling city has been featured in several Bond films, including You Only Live Once, Die Another Day, and The Man with the Golden Gun, which includes scenes shot in the famous Peninsula Hotel. Considered one of the world’s best hotels, the Peninsula boasts a Rolls Royce fleet, a rooftop helipad, marble baths, exceptional service, and (fittingly, for Bond fans) traditional British tea.
In the opening of Skyfall, Bond finds himself in search of a stolen hard drive in the city of Istanbul. He then chases an assailant through Eminonu Square, one of the oldest in the city (Bond also visits Istanbul in From Russia with Love and The World is Not Enough). To make your visit as luxurious as Bond’s would have been (had he not been dodging would-be assassins and chasing down bad guys), book a stay at the lavish Shangri-La Bosphorous, which promises an in-room espresso machine, 300-count linens, heated bathroom floors, a separate shower and soaking tub, and complimentary high-speed WiFi.
The whole country makes the list on account of its significance to the Bond franchise. Not only was nearly all of the original James Bond movie, Dr. No, filmed on the island, but it’s also the site of the emergence of Honey Ryder (the first Bond girl, played by Ursula Andress). The country is also heavily featured in Live and Let Die. To top it all off, Goldeneye, Jamaica is the former home of the late Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond franchise. His house has now been incorporated into a luxury boutique hotel, which keeps Fleming’s writing desk and typewriter on display.
Dubbed “James Bond Island” by 007 fans, this island in Thailand had its moment in the spotlight in The Man with the Golden Gun. Located within the Ao Phang Nga national park, it makes for a stunning destination for nature lovers and film buffs alike. Head to any of the cheap hotels in nearby Phuket after your day of adventure.
No list of this kind would be complete without mention of 007’s headquarters. Home to M16 and featured in nearly every film in the Bond franchise, London is hands down Bond’s most frequented destination. While M16 has moved from London office buildings to Whitehall’s Old War Office, the Barbican, and its eventual headquarters on the Thames, London will forever remain Bond’s home.
Spectre marks the second time Bond has found himself in Mexico. The first time around, in License to Kill, Bond checked in at the Grand Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. This time, 007 is amongst the crowds during the Day of the Dead parade celebration in Mexico City’s Zocalo square. Mexico City is one of the most populated cities in the world, so you’ll have no shortage of sightseeing opportunities at any time of year.
The canals and gondolas of Venice make for frequented terrain for the Bond franchise, with spots in From Russia with Love, Moonraker, and Casino Royale. Stroll the Piazza San Marco and ogle the Cipriani Hotel, where James Bond is seen mooring his yacht in Casino Royale (It’s also reportedly where Daniel Craig himself stayed during filming).
While you may not be landing on a helipad or saving the world from nuclear meltdown, you can still travel the world in style at any of these 007 locations.
This article was published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on December 3rd.
Whether taking a trip to London or just looking to find a romantic getaway without having to go to far, London has plenty of romantic hotels perfect for couples. Whether you crave elegant romance on the River Thames, an in-suite massage for two, or just a quiet, refreshing weekend for two, rest assured that these three spectacular hotels will be just what the two of you need to escape the stress of the work week.
With a name like Plaza on the River, you already know this hotel will be grandiose. And thankfully it does not disappoint. This five-star hotel and residence boasts immaculate suites, most with river views, and each individually furnished with a sleek and contemporary look. They even come with a kitchenette!
One of the biggest perks of staying at the Plaza on the River is the in-suite spa treatments and massage services they offer, perfect for pampering on a romantic weekend getaway. Wind down with a quiet evening at the hotel's cocktail bar or go out for a show. The hotel also sits within minutes of several prominent shopping areas and within a 15-minute walk of most everywhere else guests would like to visit, such as Big Ben and the London Eye.
Effortlessly blending classical design with contemporary style, the Arch London Hotel is one of the nicest hotels in the Hyde Park area. This hotel is actually composed of seven Georgian townhouses, as opposed to one modern highrise. Here the standard practice is "nights in" rather than nights out. This is in part thanks to the Arch's mouth-watering restaurant, elegant bar, sophisticated champagne salon and a martini lounge as well.
Each of their 82 rooms is tastefully decorated with artwork that perfectly complements the color and style of the room, and furnished with nothing but the best in furniture and linens. The luxurious bathrooms feature upscale, state-of-the-art fixtures, black granite countertops and even a flat screen TV within view of the bath!
Few hotels in London stand on such a historic plot of land. Imagine the people throughout history who have walked the same footsteps! Located right in central London just south of the River Thames, the London Bridge Hotel is in a building constructed in 1915, although it didn't become a hotel until 1998. Many archeological finds unearthed during the construction of this building are still on display in the Museum of London.
As romantic as that history is, we all know that the real romance happens in the bedroom. With the stylish suites at the London Bridge Hotel, as well as the even more stylish executive suites, combined with room service and all the amenities, there is no reason to even leave the hotel. But should you decide to, guests will find that they are located in one of the best areas of London, with a seemingly never-ending amount of nearby ways to pass the time.
Few cities are as entertaining -- or as overwhelming to first time visitors -- as London. The sheer amount of sights and activities can be mind-boggling. However, aside from obligatory tourist attractions, London has a lot of unique sights, foods and activities that all foreign visitors to London should partake in. Here's what to do on your first trip to London to get the most authentic experience.
London has history like Hawaii has volcanoes. To visit London and not take a gander at the history and culture is akin to heresy. Although there are no shortage of sights located in the heart of the city, such as the Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the National Gallery, the real history and culture of Olde England lies just outside of the modern city. Stonehenge, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Bath and the historic cathedral city of Salisbury are just a few of the nearby attractions, all of which are accessible via a full day tour through the legends and lore of Olde England.
Like all great metropolises, London has plenty of quirky and unique corners that remain known only to longtime residents. One such offbeat location is the Whirled Cinema. Tucked away in a side alley and with an entrance that appears to be an abandoned warehouse, few if any tourists stumble upon the Whirled Cinema without being tipped off by a local. The cinema is well-known and well-loved for showing unique and offbeat independent films in a cozy 60-seat theatre that is, of course, stocked with a small bar and restaurant as well.
Anyone who has ever seen Harry Potter knows that London is where it all began. Parts of The Order of the Phoenix and The Deathly Hallows were both filmed in London, and parts of the set are visible on the Harry Potter London Bus Tour. Or for the real Potter enthusiasts there is the Harry Potter Tour of Oxford and Lacock, which takes guests out of London to some of the country's most historic and beautiful sights.
One of the best combinations in life besides chocolate and milk is food and alcohol. Thankfully London has an abundant selection of restaurant bars that serve the best food, drinks and entertainment all wrapped up in one nice little package. Take for example Circus, which is exactly as the name indicates: a full-on entertainment experience for all five senses. While guests dine on their delectable food and drinks they are treated to a wild show featuring acrobats, fire dancers and magicians. Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience!
Check out more Cool & Unique London Restaurant Bars
Experience the breathtaking fusion of the modern and historic London via a full day tour designed for photographers and history buffs alike. You'll cover some of London's most historic sites, from Westminster Abbey to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Buckingham Palace -- just in time for guard change!
Let's be honest. Food can get boring. Day in and day out, week after week and year after year. Such routine. Such hassle. It's time to make things more interesting. And what better place to do that than in London, England's most diverse and interesting city.
London is an impressive city with hundreds, if not thousands, of hidden nooks and crannies to explore. Food in the city is the same way. There are always exciting new restaurants opening up that are doing something different. So come with me and let's see what kind of quirky restaurant bars we can find.
Most restaurants have entrances, usually composed of a door. Boring! It's the places where the entrance is hidden or through the kitchen -- or in this case through a phone both -- that really captivate me before I've seen the inside. Thankfully, I was so impressed by the food here that I had to list Bunga Bunga first. Order the My Little Porcellino, or for a delicious vegetarian pizza, try the Burratina.
Much like Bunga Bunga, prospective patrons of La Bodega must pass through a raunchy-looking adult sex shop to gain access to the restaurant within. Don't let that scare you away though -- inside you will find what is arguably the best Mexican food in all of London and drinks that are dangerously easy to down. The Pork Belly Carnitas here are my personal recommendation...but then again I've always been a sucker for pigs.
I despise the circus (clowns are evil, just trust me on this one) but Circus is amazing! Guests are visually entertained by talented acrobatics and magic tricks while they devour their food and indulge in their drinks. Circus is a bit more expensive than the other establishments on this list, but to be fair you are also paying for the show. Definitely something that every visitor to London should experience at least once.
Admit it: you already want to visit here just having heard the name. It's okay, I had a similar reaction. Turns out that Meat Liquor is the best burger joint in all of London, albeit a bit hippie-esque. Personally I never thought "chicken" and "burger" went together until I tried their Buffalo Chicken Burger. Simply amazing!
London's largest and most well-known restaurant bar combination is Shaka Zulu. The restaurant recently re-opened last year following a 5.5 million pound renovation after acquiring the next door bar, Gilgamesh. The place supposedly is now even bigger and better, although I have yet the see the improvements firsthand.
Of course it's no secret that eating out in London and enjoying the city's nightlife is anything but cheap. There are ways to be thrifty. So make sure to check out my guide to cheap London hotels on Hipmunk to save some cash -- cash which can then be spent on some unforgettable food and drinks!
People all over the world know two things that London has in abundance: amazing street art and crappy weather. While I cannot help you with the latter, I can show you where to find some magnificent street art -- as well as several other offbeat sights and activities that should not be missed next time you are in London. It's time to dive on into the offbeat and off the beaten path side of London!
First things first. You've escaped the airport and dropped your bags off at the hotel room. Now what? It's time for a drink! Walk right past that hotel bar though, that's not where you want to be. Find a nice, quirky watering hole and go mingle with some locals. My personal favorite is the Phoenix Artist Bar -- and if you don't already want to visit there just based off hearing the name then please, just stop reading now, because this guide is clearly not for you.
Phoenix is becoming less-and-less "hidden" every month but that doesn't make it any less offbeat. The bar is frequented by those in the theatre industry and is in fact a private club. However non-members can get in by presenting a theatre ticket. The interior is stocked full of theatre memorabilia and their upbeat atmosphere will make you quickly feel right at home. Other offbeat options include Cellar Door and the aptly named Happiness Forgets.
London has no shortage of theatres and shows, however my personal favorite is the Whirled Cinema. From the outside the building appears to be an abandoned but inside it is the most lavish 60-person theatre that you've ever seen. They also have a small bar where you can order cocktails or a pizza to make your movie more enjoyable. Good luck finding the place though!
Toilets have become all the rage in recent years, with more and more countries opening up toilet restaurants. London even has a toilet coffee shop. However in order to truly appreciate these necessities of daily life, it helps to learn how far they have come over the years. London Loo Tour is an hour-and-a-half long walking tour that traces the history of toilets all the way up to now. You'll never look at the loo the same way after!
Located in southeast London, the 19 acre garden surrounding Eltham Palace is arguably the best garden -- and best-kept green secret -- in all of London. Here visitors can escape the chaos and noise of the city without ever actually leaving the city. The entire property is considered a three-in-one getaway: visitors can relax in the park, marvel in the majestry that is Eltham Palace (which dates back to the 1300s), and even tour the 1930s Art Deco house also located there.
Last but not least is London's street art scene. Head on over to Brick Lane and the surrounding areas to find some of the city's best street art, including several well-known works by Banksy and other prolific artists. Further north are the neighborhoods of Dalston and Hackney, both of which not only have plenty of street art but also an abundance of vintage stores, boutique cafes, quirky coffee shops and other independent businesses that will make it easy to pass the day away.More HoliDaze Offbeat Travel Guides
Travelling by bus is cheap and (usually) convenient, since there are many different companies competing for business along the same lines and there are bus stops at very frequent intervals. There are disadvantages, too – the buses are often overcrowded and dirty and the frequent stops that make buses so easy to catch also make them a slow means of getting from A to B.
Bus services that travel internationally are less common but are nonetheless fiercely competitive. They are usually cheaper than other forms of international travel, but here we set out a list of all the pros and cons of using bus services for long journeys.
I am quite fascinated with the London borough Chelsea, mainly because of the Portobello Market in Notting Hill, Notting Hill the movie, Notting Hill itself, and my favorite reality show Made in Chelsea. My favorite London borough though, is Camden.
Here's my absolute favorite, the Camden Market. I've read somewhere that it's best to go there on a weekday to avoid the crowds. I've been twice - once on a Sunday, and once on a weekday, and I gotta say, it's much more fun with more people around. There's a certain feel-good vibe on weekends.
If you walk past the market and further uphill, you'll get to Primrose Hill, which has a totally different ambience. I really love the contrast between the Camden Market and Primrose Hill. Observe:
Delicious cupcakes from a sweet little shop called Sweet Things
Apparently, Primrose Hill has/had some pretty famous residents, including Professor Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange! I would absolutely love to live on Primrose Hill and bump into, oh I don't know, maybe Gavin Rossdale, Jamie Oliver or Jude Law, and head down to Camden Lock with Agyness Deyn or Gwen Stefani.