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.
Of all the reasons to travel the world, “to see a staircase” likely doesn’t show up on many lists. But it may be time to reconsider. The globe is dotted with remarkable staircases that are breathtaking to look at and exhilarating to climb, and each makes for a quality destination in its own right. Here are just seven of some of the world’s most trek-worthy staircases.
Truly a team effort, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps project is the result of collaboration among neighbors around the intersection of 16th and Moraga in San Francisco. Work on the 163 mosaic paneled stairs started in 2003 under the leadership of artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, and more than 500 neighbors contributed funds and/or labor to complete the project by August 2004. The stairs are now overseen by the San Francisco Parks Trust.
Despite its name, Bueren Mountain is no mountain at all. Instead, it’s a 374-step staircase in Liège, Belgium that was built in 1881 as a pathway for soldiers. The stairs are named after Vincent de Bueren, a 15th century aristocrat who reportedly defended the city of Liège from an affront by the Duke of Burgundy. Those who make it to the top will reap their reward in the form of stunning views of the city and the Meuse River. The stairwell is also an hour’s drive from popular Brussels.
Also known as the Stairway to Heaven, the Haiku Stairs on the island of Oahu are beloved by thrill seekers despite the fact that it’s technically illegal to climb them (at least not without a permit and a $1 million insurance policy). Installed during World War II and deemed off limits in the 1980s, the 3,922 steps rise to the summit of Puu Keahikahoe, from which those who sneak to the top can gaze out over the Koolau mountain range. Sadly, a powerful storm damaged the stairs earlier this year—they’re now more treacherous than ever, and their fate (along with that of the interlopers who climb them) hangs in the balance.
Photo: Flickr user Forgemind ArchiMedia
The Fort de Roovere, a 17th century Dutch fort surrounded by a moat, was originally classified as an island. But in recent years it found itself in need of an access bridge as part of a restoration project. In order to preserve as much of the island appearance as possible, an architectural firm designed the Moses Bridge Stairs, a “sunken” bridge that immerses pedestrians in the moat (without anybody getting wet). A dam sits at each end of the moat in order to ensure that water never spills onto the bridge.
Photo: Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons
Originally constructed in 1715 and renovated in 1930, the stairway was first built so that Santorini residents could climb to the summit of their island home. The stairway switchbacks from the sea to the city for a grand total of more than 4,000 feet (or 657 steps). A cable car was installed in 1979, but you’ll get a better workout if you walk (many tourists also choose to ride donkeys up or down). Rest your feet at any of Santorini’s budget-friendly hotels.
Photo: AnuskaCM via Wikimedia Commons
What better way to connect the small islet of Gaztelugatxe in Spanish Basque Country to the mainland than by creating a human-made bridge of stairs. More than 200 steps lead to a 10th century monastery on the upper portion of the islet, and those who traverse the rocky stairwell report feeling like they’re walking above the ocean (hence the staircase’s name). The church is closed in winter and the islet is packed with tourists in the summer, so the best time to visit is in the spring or fall.
Photo: Paebi via Wikimedia Commons
It’s a bridge; it’s a stair; it’s a bridge-stair! The suspension bridge (also dubbed “The Bridge-Stair at Traversinertobel”) spans the length of the Traversinertobel gorge, connecting two different elevations on either side of the abyss. There’s a difference of around 72 feet between both sides, so those brave enough to ascend the staircase will get a workout in addition to an adrenaline rush. The staircase is only an hour and a half’s drive to Zurich, so travelers can take in both urban culture and natural wonders in the same day.
This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on December 10th.
One of the best things about foreign travel is the knowledge that invariably comes with it. It provides the opportunity for each of us to learn more about the world and its' many diverse cultures, as well as a little bit about ourselves. Another bonus is the chance to see which technology, trends, and practices are popular in the local region.
Think back and I'm sure you can recall a few things that made you go "Why don't they sell these back home?" or "Damn, why aren't we doing this at home?" even "Look at that, how awesome!" Most often those thoughts and semi-rhetorical questions are soon enough forgotten. But for me, at least in the case of Japan, not a day goes by that I don't miss all the great things about that country.
Japan is full of innovative ideas, futuristic technology, impressive customs, and other things that make you say WOW. Don't believe me? Take a look below and feel free to add your suggestions after the post.
Let's get the obvious one out of the way first. Many people already know that these crappers are in a league all of their own. I wrote an entire article about fancy Japanese toilets and other bathroom innovations. Their toilets have features most Westerners have never dreamed of, including background noise to cover any sounds that the user may make, a warm cleansing spray, self-warming seat, built-in water-saving sink, and other impressive features. Be sure to read that post for more intriguing info.
These things are pretty neat, Mayu showed me how to use one. Basically you just hop off your bike and roll it onto this platform. Insert your card and the machine will automatically stow your bike in a huge underground cylinder. This keeps it safe from both thieves and natural disasters while also reducing the amount of clutter at street level. To retrieve it simply re-insert your card into the attached machine and it will spit your bike back out in around ten seconds.
In areas without the Eco Cycle storage it is not uncommon to see hundreds of bicycles crammed together as part of a makeshift bicycle lot (a trend which I hope has died out since my last trip to Japan).
I don't have any personal photos, unfortunately, but I did find this
An enlarged version of the bicycle garages, these things are amazing! They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are pretty wild to watch in action. Some are drive-thrus that slide the vehicle off to the side. Others in the basement of high-rise buildings feature a circular pad so that the vehicle can be rotated 180° and driven out in the opposite direction it was driven it.
Ramps down to these underground garages can be seen all over the big cities
Other models are individual lifts that hoist one vehicle up into the air so that a second can be driven in underneath it. Walk past people's homes in the evening and it is not uncommon to see two vehicles stacked atop each other.
In the big metropolises of Japan you are never more than two blocks from a vending machine. They are usually found in pairs but sometimes also in long banks of a dozen or more. They sell all the traditional items you would expect such as refreshing beverages (soda, water, tea, milk, juice, beer...essentially everything liquid) and cigarettes (requires scan of a Japanese ID to dispense product) to other more unconventional items including ramen, electronics, umbrellas, even underwear and ties.
This one is essentially self-explanatory, I don't know what more I can write about them. They are controlled by a button up front and swing open really fast. Oh and they are twice as great when its raining out.
These reduce the number of (and stress on) restaurant employees. Expect to see more in the future.
Anyone who has ever walked past one of these has undoubtedly heard the noise and flashing lights blaring out. They are basically like arcade halls combined with casinos, some being multiple levels and taking up entire blocks. I never played myself but did wander through a couple of them.
Japanese citizens love these things and have been know to spend hours playing in these giant parlors, like the stereotypical American Grandma glued to the Las Vegas slots. Not very popular among foreigners though due to the constant flashing lights and never-ending din of bells, chimes, tings, tongs, pings, and general noise of hundreds of people gambling.
Love hotels are plush yet discreet hotels that rent rooms either by the hour, a several-hour "short stay" period, or for the entire night. Each room has different themes with the fanciest being compared to a brief stay in paradise. These swanky rooms would undoubtedly fit right in with some of the classy hotels of Las Vegas or Dubai.
When I say the theme varies greatly between rooms, I cannot stress that enough. One could be Egyptian theme, the next dungeon-themed, another a retro-hippie love-nest, etc. I highly recommend you check out a love hotel, especially if you've met a cute little Asian girl at the club that night.
Impressive, huh? Love hotels are common in neighborhoods with lots of clubs and an active nightlife.
A variety of businesses have staff that are ready and waiting to help you at a moment's notice. For lack of an official term (that I know of) I jokingly refer to these people at the white glove crew. Whether standing next to the trash cans in McDonald's waiting to take your tray from you and dispose of it themselves or inside the elevator, eager to take you to whichever floor has what you need, these people always have a smile on their face and white cloth gloves on their hands.
The railway attendants are dressed similarly and also sport the white gloves. However, they don't always have a smile on their face -- especially not during rush hour.
It's not what you may think. Big clubs in Japan frequently stay open until sunrise. Many even have an employee on hand who's sole job is to care for the ladies that have had way too much to drink; other employees that are walking around the club will bring these women down to him. Not only does this prevent them from getting taken advantage of or robbed, but it also leaves their boyfriend free to keep partying (guilty, I'll admit it).
This employee is even armed with rubber bands and miniature black trash bags for -- you guessed it -- tying up their hair and puking. This "drunk person attendant" is located near the entrance, making it easy to retrieve your drunk person on the way home. Hope you saved money for a cab because they will not be fit to walk!
Now that is a level of service that is hard to match. Unfortunately I never thought to get a photo.
Now this isn't so much a Japanese innovation, but rather a testament to their level of perfection. Every bank note is impeccably crisp, whether receiving it from an ATM or as change from the local corner store. No bills are ever raggedy, torn, of limp, as other countries currency often is. I suspect that the banks simply rotate out worn bills at an increased rate. Whatever it is the fact remains that this simple little thing is surprisingly easy to get used to.
Image coutesy of Japan Scene
Based on the American dollar stores, Japan revamped these into stores that offer products that are not utter crap -- even fresh food -- and people are not shopping at them because they are poor.
These stores take the embarrassment out of bargain shopping
Although you can smoke inside restaurants, clubs, and a variety of other places in Japan -- basically everywhere except grocery and clothing stores -- many cities have restrictions on outdoor smoking. For example outside railway stations and airports there are sporadic smoking areas. Some are merely painted rectangles on the ground but others are actually fully enclosed cubicles with high-powered ventilation to combat the smoke, as pictured below.
Indoor smoking area at an establishment that had recently banned smoking
Given the fact that Tokyo is the most populated metropolis in the world (36.9 million people, over 10 million more than #2, Mexico City) I initially expected there to be a lot of homeless people as well. After all, I was born in NYC. I'm familiar with homeless people.
There is nothing more depressing than walking around a big city only to pass underneath a bridge and realize you are walking through someone's home. And damn, now I've got to keep smelling this God-awful smell until getting out from underneath this bridge and several paces away.
In my many months of wandering around Tokyo at all hours of the day and night, I only recall seeing a single homeless person. I'm not saying that they do not exist, just saying that thanks to the strong principles of the Japanese culture, homelessness is not near the problem there that it is in many other countries.
There is plenty more that makes Japan a fantastic country to visit, but you'll just have to experience it yourself and see what you find!
What are your thoughts? Have any additions to this list?
Traveling is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have. Unfortunately, many people allow life's stresses to get in the way. Here's why you should drop everything right now and hit the road.
Travel is all about throwing yourself into the unknown and experiencing new things. When you're faced with challenges like having to navigate foreign languages and transportation systems you learn more about yourself and what you're capable of. This is especially true if you're traveling solo, a truly empowering experience.
You're never too young or too old to build your resume. Travel helps you to enhance a variety of skills in a first-hand manner. While navigating foreign languages enhances communication skills, being able to adjust to new situations helps you become more adaptable. Additionally, bargaining in markets helps with negotiation, trip planning enhances strategizing abilities and sorting out issues along the way makes you a better problem solver.
Angry bosses. Problems at home. Daily life stresses. Get away from everyday life and immerse yourself in a new place where your worries are far behind. To really enhance the experience, leave your electronics behind and truly disconnect. Remember, the more you disconnect the more you'll truly be immersed in your destination.
Life truly is short, so you need to make the most of it. Stop making your bucket list longer and actually start knocking some of the items off. The world is a big place, with many destinations to discover and experiences to have. Do you want your last thoughts on Earth to be about all the things you wanted to do, or all the things you did do?
Traveling is a great opportunity to try something you've never done who're. Not only are you naturally in a more adventurous mindset, you're also exposed to opportunities that you don't have at home. Sample a new food, go mountain climbing, take part in a local festival or learn a cultural skill like tai chi or tango dancing. It's a fun way to enrich your life while experiencing a new destination.
When traveling, you have the opportunity to interact with locals and learn more about what life is really like for the people of the destination. Ask questions, make conversation and, if possible, hangout with locals in their favorite spots for a firsthand glimpse of community life.
Whether your travel to another country or domestically you'll have the chance to experience a new culture. Dive in and learn as much as you can through food, classes, attractions, interactions and random experiences. It's an easy way to become a more worldly, open-minded person, and can be a very eye-opening experience.
One of the best ways to experience a destination is through the local food. Travel allows you to break away from any diets restraints and sample exciting new dishes you've never tried, and maybe even never heard of. Asado in Argentina, cemitas in Mexico and pasta in Italy are just some of the mouth-watering culinary experiences to have around the world.
Travel enriches your life through all the reasons mentioned above, so why not give yourself that opportunity? Discover interesting cultures, learn something new, experience new things and become a more well-rounded, fulfilled person in general.
Stop making excuses on why you can't travel. Work will always be stressful, there will always be things to do at home and you'll never have as much money as you'd like, so stop worrying and realize these problems will be there whether you travel or not. In the meantime, you might as well see the world and leave the problems at home for awhile.azwegers
Hawaii is rich in activities and attractions both cultural and geographic. It poses as one of the top tourist destinations in the US. You can also find great accommodations in many places such as the Bluegreen Resorts. Consider visiting the following locations if you are planning to tour the Hawaiian Islands.
Pearl Harbor is the biggest natural harbor within the State of Hawaii, initially referred to as “Pu’loa” by the ancient Hawaiians. Situated in Honolulu, the USS Memorial at Pearl Harbor is the top tourist destination in the Hawaiian Islands. You can visit here to see the nine historic sites where the WWII began for America. At the Pearl Harbor, you can get a movie ticket to watch a film that summarizes the history of this primeval site.
The name Waikiki means ‘sprouting waters’ and refers to the freshwater rivers that used to flow towards the ocean. It was at first a holiday destination for Hawaiian royalty but was later recognized by foreign visitors. The Beach town of Waikiki is decorated with a broad array of luxurious resorts and restaurants. In Waikiki Beach, you can see the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, the Waikiki Aquarium, and Honolulu Zoo.
The North Shore of Oahu is the geographic region between East Oahu’s Kahuku Point West Oahu’s Ka’ena Point. The North Shore of Oahu is widely acclaimed for its huge waves and impressive coastline that attracts surfers from all around the world during the Winter. Among the famous North Shore surf spots are Sunset Beach, Ehukai Beach, and Waimea Bay. Here you will also see the historic town Hale’iwa that is widely recognized for its art galleries, a surf museum, food trucks, and yoga studios.
The Na Pali Coastline is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is rich in Hawaiian cultural history. The perfect way to explore this coastline is by use of an ocean vessel. You can also choose to study the coast through the Kalalau Trail by foot and experience the magnificent beaches, streams and natural waterfalls.
This is one of Hawaii’s most spectacular landscapes. As you are on the Road to Hana, you can get a glimpse of the Twin Falls, the Garden of Eden Arboretum, and Wai’anapanapa State Park. In Hana Town, you can check out the art galleries, farmers markets, and Hana Bay.
This is a secluded destination ideal for lovers of nature. It serves as a symbolic gesture of contemplation for those who have suffered from Hansen’s Disease. As you tour Kalaupapa, you can stop to experience the windward side of the peninsula.
The Haleakala National Park is perfect for camping and hiking trips. The summit area here offers a stunning view and landscape good for watching sunrise or sunset.
Sometimes referred to as the “Pineapple Isle”, it is a striking, privately owned island located in the Hawaiian archipelago. While in Lana’i, you can explore the beautiful garden of Keahikawelo, a landscape of rock towers, Sweetheart Rock, and the romantic Puu Pehe Beach. There are also some world-class golf resorts and scuba diving spots here.
To get the history of how the Hawaiian Islands were formed, visit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Here, there are some volcanic lava fields, steam vents, old lava cave, the Kilauea’s Caldera and the Halema’uma’u Crater.
This is Hawaii’s most renowned signpost. While at Diamond Head State Monument, you should take the short hike through old military bunkers. Remember to carry a flashlight as part of the trails goes through long dark tunnels.
With all these breathtaking attractions, Hawaii is your destination of choice. It is fun to visit whether you are traveling alone or with your family.
For some reason people tend to overlook Raleigh, North Carolina as a vacation destination but they really shouldn't. From music to nature, nightlife to history, there is something for everyone here!
Raleigh skyline, as seen from South Saunders (source)
Raleigh is a very bicycle-friendly city (source)
Charles Frazier House, built in 1925 and on the National Register of Historic Places (source)
Sun down, fun up (source)
Lots of live music can be found in Raleigh (source)
There is history in Raleigh too (source)
Plenty of beautiful nature in Raleigh as well (source)
Raleigh Lake (source)
Lake Johnson Park (source)
There is even a trolley pub! (source)
The New Year’s here! Make this year memorable for lifetime by exploring some of the most popular destinations in the bucket list of every traveler this season. Based on the reviews compiled from travel experts and after taking into note the up-and-coming industry trends, we’ve finally identified 14 standout holiday spots that assure you of a delight of lifetime:
Inspiring Disney masterpieces like Frozen with its intense natural beauty, Norway is a gorgeous Scandinavian paradise that will knock you out with its unparalleled striking beauty of its snow-covered mountains and fjords (long, narrow inlets of deep blue water between soaring cliffs). Along with its natural beauty, it also contains hip restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and surreal museums to keep you entertained.
The island of Capri, is a piece of paradise yet to be commercialized by masses compared to its other Greek cousins. The heady mixture of history, nature, worldliness, culture and events here will keep you enthralled.
Easily accessible through transport, this part of Eastern Canada is endowed with incredible wildlife, intriguing Viking culture, stark & beautiful landscapes, surreal hospitality and the friendliest people you will meet. You can also go bird-watching or view icebergs from the shore or glide near them with kayaks.
From brilliant emerald green hills & high rising cliffs leading to glorious beaches with their turquoise waters, Ireland is every inch, poetry in motion. Magnificent castles with their old age aura to charming villages with their lavish hospitality will make you reluctant to go back from here.
The Australian Apple-Isle is known for its breath-taking beaches and irresistible natural beauty, Awaken your adventurous side with a hike at gigantic Cradle Mountain or through the granite mountains and azure bays near the Freycinet National Park. When you are tired with all that walking, relax by the beach with a glass of the world- renowned wine from here.
Stepping in to its 50th year of Independence this year, Singapore is a vibrantly beautiful & cultural destination. With colorful festivities & celebrations, relax at some of the most luxurious resorts in the world placed beside clear, scenic beaches.
Namibia is a vividly beautiful African desert haven. Colonial architecture and beautiful landscapes filled with mountains, beaches with a stunning coastal desert have led to its naming among UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its undisturbed natural reserves, the country is home to some of the rare species of flora & fauna as well.
This tiny, unexplored country on Arabian Peninsula with its unique culture, stunning natural spots & luxurious resorts is a definitely a must-go location. The amazing beaches, stark deserts, rugged coastline and opulent spa hotels are bringing out many international tourists in droves. The country is slowly opening up for globalization & travel. .
The emerald green isle bordering India, Sri Lanka provides the perfect destination for rest & recreation. Foodies, Golfers, Beach groupies- everyone can find something here. Beautiful temples, the uniquely spicy food, lush green tea plantations, colonel era trains, abundant wild life only end up adding the charm to this tropical paradise. With the tourist development on rise, many International hotel chains are opening up their branches here, leading the way for a comfortable stay.
The wine hub of Mexico, Guadalupe Valley is a spectacle to behold with sprawling lush vineyards, charming restaurants in middle of farms & blissful wine. The valley was recently named as one of the ten best wine destinations and is now on the way to become the next Napa of the future.
Who doesn’t wish for a vacation by the English countryside interspersed with the charms of London? With the rugby cup coming up, thousands of fans will descend to England, charging up the atmosphere with excitement. From big ben to Stonehenge to all the regency era stops, this will be a holiday straight from pages of a fantasy book.
Get transported to another world, with beautiful snowy mountains, unusual northern lights and hot springs. A dream location for outdoor enthusiasts, this one does not disappoint the party people as well, with an amazing night life coupled with luxury resorts for rest and recreation. The Nordic cuisine & hospitality will definitely keep you wanting more.
Visit Morocco for an experience truly out of this world. From an exotic faraway culture to a diverse landscapes and a rich history, Morocco thrills every part of the avid traveler in you. Go for hiking at Atlas mountains or the great desert or roam around in the charming old age alleys of Fez, or sample the amazing Moroccan cuisine, you will have a holiday of a lifetime at one of most intriguing destinations in the world.
Lima, the capital of Peru is a city steeped in history. The Inca traces found nearby at the beautifully haunted ruins at Macchu Picchu are mixed along with contemporary seaside neighborhoods coming up against gritty shantytowns clinging to barren hillsides with fountain parks in between. Intrigued already? The Peruvian cuisine is praised all over the world and shortlisted among the best. Don’t forget to sample Pisco, the native potent grape wine.
There we’ve it for you – the top 14 go-now tourist destinations of 2015. So what are you waiting for? Grab your tickets and head out to explore, enjoy, and experience the world for yourself!
Vietnam is slowly but surely emerging as the preferred Southeast Asian destination for backpackers all over the globe. And why not? With so much to offer in terms of exotic street food, long pristine beaches with clear waters, ethnic people and lifestyles, ancient cities and monuments with rich history, breathtaking trekking locations, gorgeous landscapes and a vibrant nightlife, it truly does have all the ingredients that go into making a perfect holiday destination!
Vietnam is increasingly finding favor among eager backpackers in South Asia as well. An increasing number of Indian backpackers head to Vietnam due to its proximity as well as for its budget-friendliness.
So my Indian friend, if you too are contemplating a backpacking trip in the near future, better put Vietnam on the top of your list. Get your hands on your passport, apply for a Vietnam visa, book your flight tickets and say chao to Vietnam!
Mentioned ahead are some tips for the first-time Indian backpacker making his way through this Asian wonder:
Before you head to a new location, it is better to equip yourself with pertinent information about it. Did you know Vietnam is officially known as Socialist Republic of Vietnam? Hanoi is the capital city and Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in this country. The official language here is Vietnamese, and the currency is Dong.
The climate in Vietnam is hot and dry for most part of the year. Heavy rainfall is experienced between May and October, so you might want to avoid travelling in these months.
It is advisable to take along several photocopies of all important documents like your passport, the visa papers, the driver’s license, and so on. These documents should be kept in another bag, away from the originals as a backup (just in case you misplace your original papers). To be extra safe, scan these documents and upload them electronically to the cloud (or in your email) so that you can access them whenever required.
It is a good idea to refer to reliable websites/travel guides on health precautions that you need to take before leaving for Vietnam. Depending on the places you plan to visit, figure out what vaccinations you need to go for.
In many countries, a cholera vaccination certificate needs to be produced as a condition of entry. Keep the vaccination certificates along with your travel documents so that you can show them at the airport if necessary. Also, do take along other medical supplies, mosquito repellants and sunblock lotions.
Try and carry along some local currency and spend that wherever possible. Do give travel money cards a thought as it is not advisable to carry a lot of cash. Watch out for the special “tourist rates” that the locals might try to charge you. To minimize your chances of getting ripped off, research the going rates of staples such as food and drinks, transport and accommodation.
The post-war Vietnam has rapidly evolved into a traveler’s heaven, thanks to the development of its tourism industry. You can expect to find all kinds of hotels in major cities. Whether it is a budget lodging facility or a luxurious 5-star hotel you’re looking for, finding one shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure you book your hotel in advance if you’re going to travel in the high season.
Use public transport wherever possible. Buses are available too, but they may not be as comfortable as you would want them to be. You could opt for VIP buses though. Travelers also have the option of riding on/renting scooters. Tuk-tuks are one of the most popular means of commuting as they’re easily available. Apart from these, you can also use trains and planes.
Take your time to explore the beauty of Vietnam. Do visit Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi for their gleaming skyscrapers, the caves of the Halong Bay for their exquisite splendor, Hoi An for its architecture and food, Dalat for its tranquility, Mui Ne for its stunning natural landscape, Nha Trang for its panoramic coastline, and Ha Giang to experience a different world altogether. Get there and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
See More: Halong Bay Photo Gallery
Make sure your backpack does not weigh more than what you can carry. Keep it light by taking along only what is necessary. Keeping the Vietnamese weather in mind, it is better to carry lightweight and washable cotton garments, as you can stay cool and comfortable in them. Although you might want to look stunning in your photographs, remember, you’re going backpacking and not on a fashion parade. This reminds me – don’t forget to pack your camera!
One of the best ways of experiencing a new place is through its authentic and exotic culinary delights. Vietnamese cuisine is colorful, aromatic, delicious, with some flavors similar to those back home in India. So do give the local cuisine a try. You don’t have to be over-adventurous with food though. Stick to what you’re comfortable with. There are ample options available for vegetarians too.
Always ask for the price before you buy something to wear, eat on the street side, or get into a tuk-tuk (or the local auto rickshaw). Confirming rates beforehand will deter locals from taking you for a ride and ripping you off. We’ve all heard stories about foreigners being charged substantially more than others for everything. In such cases, forewarned is forearmed.
To be on the safer side, avoid unpackaged water and drink only bottled and filtered water. Do give the local beers a try. Another interesting (and daring) option to be sampled here is the Vietnamese snake wine.
Conclusion Each city in Vietnam has different experiences to offer. Make sure you lap those up. Keep the above tips in mind for a fun and safe backpacking journey in one of the most wondrous countries in the world.
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Paying extra baggage fees at the airport is pretty common these days. In fact, airlines continue to rely on baggage fees and similar other charges to improve their profitability. In 2012, airlines in US collected about $ 3.5 billion as baggage fees. Most passengers end up shelling extra bucks either due to improper packing or sheer bad luck. However, with thoughtful consideration you can avoid paying those hefty fees. Here are some tips to help save a ton of money.
1. Choose your airline carefully. Different airlines impose different restrictions. For instance, SouthWest allows you to carry two bags free of cost whereas JetBlue allows only one. Be careful when choosing budget airlines. You might end up saving few bucks but what if the extra baggage fee exceeds the amount saved. There’s no point in flying with such airlines.
2. Buy an electronic hanging scale to double-check the weight of your baggage. If it exceeds the airlines’ restrictions, make other arrangements. It’s advisable for you to avoid carrying unnecessary items onboard. For instance, instead of carrying a couple of heavy books go for an e-book reader. Pack your baggage wisely. Distribute the weight properly in different bags so that these do not exceed the limit.
3. You booked a flight ticket using flightnetwork.com/airlines/continental/. Now, make sure you know every terms and conditions regarding the baggage limit and fees imposed. Many passengers are not aware of the restrictions and eventually end up paying extra. Use your common sense!
4. When you check-in, have an extra bag. If the suitcase weight exceeds the limit, use the extra bag to dump some of your heavy stuff. Once you have done this, get the suitcase re-checked. This way, you will be able to avoid the extra fees.
5. Be tactful when your baggage exceeds the imposed restriction slightly. Talk to the particular airline employee checking the bags and request gently to do away with the minor difference.
6. Airlines are smart. These days, they closely watch out for heavy carry-on bags when you check-in. Be careful with this. Choose a light weight carry-on bag and make it appear as if there’s nothing heavy in it. Try boarding in during the rush hour to avoid unwanted attention.
7. Besides this, use the right bags for packing your stuff. Lightweight luggage is increasingly becoming popular these days. Carefully pack your electronic items such as laptops, DVD player and tablets. You can go for mini travel bottles to pack your toiletries. Next, before packing any stuff such as towel, napkins or hair dryer, see if the hotel in your destination supplies this. It helps save space in your baggage.
8. You can even ship your baggage to the hotel in advance to avoid extra fees. It helps keep your luggage protected and prevents any chances of loss, theft or misplace. Furthermore, there are certain items that airlines allow for free such as car seats and children’s strollers. Try and conceal some of your stuff in here. You can save plenty of space for your carry-on
9. Take few clothes in your luggage. You can always wash your clothes during the journey to save money. Similarly, avoid carrying unwanted jewelry. In case you want to take some, wear them.
10. If you are an elite flyer, use frequent flyer programs to avoid extra baggage fees. Your loyalty is sure to be rewarded.
Pack your items carefully and be a smart traveler. Just follow the above mentioned tips and you are sure to get away with baggage fees at the airport.