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Ubud

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

A visit to Ubud isn’t complete without going to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary south of the village which is inhabited by cheeky mo...

string(3191) "A visit to Ubud isn’t complete without going to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary south of the village which is inhabited by cheeky monkeys waiting for visitors with peanuts. Located in the lush slopes leading up towards the central mountains, Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali. A sanctuary for artisans, this quiet Balinese village is 60 minutes by car from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Ubud has a peaceful atmosphere and is a haven from busy Denpasar and Kuta. Complementing the ancient temples and palaces is the unspoiled countryside that offers picturesque rice paddies, rivers and gorgeous scenery. There are many wonderful walks in every direction from Ubud, through the rice terraces, villages, jungle gorges and grassy hilltops. Organised walks cover a variety of themes including birdwatching and exploration of historic and cultural sites. Ubud’s beautiful surroundings and gracious way of life have drawn artists from all over the globe in recent decades, some of whom have even adopted Ubud as their home. The main gallery areas are Jalan Raya, running from the Peliatan crossroads in the east all the way up to Sayan in the west; the main street through Peliatan; Pengosekan Village; Batuan Village; Penestanan Village; and the town of Mas, where the big-name woodcarvers have palatial galleries with impressive facades and enormous signs. Ubud is also known for its selection of Batik fabrics, carvings, jewellery and paintings. Ubud also has several art museums. To gain a true appreciation of Balinese art, visit Museum Neka which features mostly modern works by Balinese, Indonesian and Western artists who have worked in Bali, and also take time to see Museum Puri Lukisan—Ubud’s “Palace of Art”. Founded around 40 years ago by a group of artists and patrons from the Ubud royal palaces, it is set in a peaceful garden with fountains, statues and pools. The main crossroads in front of the Puri Saren palace is the ‘navel’ of Ubud— its cultural and historical focal point. Away from the main streets, Ubud is a quiet place featuring small lanes lined with homestays, warungs and Balinese compounds extending north and south from the main road. A visit to Ubud isn’t complete without going to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary south of the village which is inhabited by cheeky monkeys waiting for visitors with peanuts. The interesting Pura Dalem Agung (Temple of the Dead) is also located in the forest and features amazing ancient trees and sculptures. Ubud features a range of accommodations including luxury properties with great spa settings and facilities, wonderful health retreats and spectacular views. There are cultural shows on nearly every night and organised tours can be easily arranged to visit other parts of Bali. Its central location makes it easy to get from Ubud to the mountains, beaches and major towns. The main street is also lined with restaurants and cafés with a wide range of delicious foods to cater for all tastes. Although visitors often outnumber residents during peak periods, Ubud retains its charming, unhurried atmosphere and distinctive way of life of a small rural community. "
Suva

Fiji, Pacific

Welcome to Fiji’s capital and the largest and most populated city in the South Pacific. Unlike its more far-flung islands, Suva ...

string(3726) "Welcome to Fiji’s capital and the largest and most populated city in the South Pacific. Unlike its more far-flung islands, Suva offers a buzzing cosmopolitan atmosphere, brimming with colonial buildings, modern shopping plazas, a plethora of restaurants, farmers markets and entertainment, culminating in a truly exotic urban metropolis. Delve into the rich and diverse cultural influences that thrive here; a wonderful blend of Indian, Fijian, Chinese and Japanese culture. Full of history, Suva is well worth a visit when you land in Nadi before moving onto the other islands, to find out more about the island nation itself; from its remnants of colourful colonial architecture to the Fiji Museum showcasing the archaeological, linguistic, political and cultural history of the Fijian archipelago. For the foodies, Suva offers an eclectic range of dining spaces, from affordable cafes and hangouts, to fine dining restaurants. As the day turns to night, Suva boasts an admirable selection of bars and clubs, with the O’Reillys bar reigning as a popular spot amongst locals and visitors. For exploring the city, the Tropic Towers Apartments couldn’t be more convenient and affordable; great for families, business travellers, tour groups or holidaymakers, this is the perfect base from which to soak up all of the cultural, historical and cosmopolitan experiences you’re sure to have here. Convenience is the name of the game here, and Holiday Inn in Suva not only boasts harbour views, but is just steps away from the best of the city’s attractions. For those looking for an added grand touch, the captivating Grand Pacific Hotel gives guests a taste of colonial grandeur and impeccable service and is widely recognised as a gem of the South Pacific, delivering the wonder of old-world charm. There’s something for everyone in Suva.Suva is the capital of Fiji and is a beautiful harbour city built on a peninsula reaching out into the sea. The city is perched on a hilly peninsula between Laucala Bay and Suva Harbour in the southeast corner of Viti Levu. The mountains north and west catch the southeast trade winds, producing moist conditions year round. An exciting multi-racial city, Suva began as a late Victorian village with frame houses and stores along the beachfront. Much of its past still survives, for there are many small, quaint wooden bungalows in the old section that sit in juxtaposition to the modern offices and shopping plazas. On Sundays it’s well worth attending church to hear the choral singing that is magnificent. Most churches have services in English, but none compare with the 1000 strong Fijian service at Centenary Methodist Church on Stewart Street. A vital centre, Suva offers a great selection of restaurants including Chinese, Indian, traditional Fijian and European cuisine. There are tours to landmarks such as the Thurston Gardens next to Government House, the official residence of the president of the Republic of Fiji. The Fiji Museum is recognised as one of the best of its type in the South Pacific which holds a remarkable collection of archaeological material dating back 3,700 years and cultural objects representing both Fiji’s indigenous inhabitants and the other communities that have settled in the island group over the past 200 years. Not to be missed is the sprawling complex of municipal markets near the waterfront that comes to life on Fridays and Saturdays. Here you’ll find an assortment of artifacts and handicrafts for sale, made by Fijians throughout the Island group. For those who like history, there’s Albert Park where Charles Kingsford-Smith landed his plane Southern Cross on his trans- Pacific flight in 1928."
Central Thailand, Bangkok & Hua Hin

Thailand, Asia

From bustling cities, serene temples and beautiful relaxing beaches, Central Thailand has something for every traveller. On the...

string(3671) "From bustling cities, serene temples and beautiful relaxing beaches, Central Thailand has something for every traveller. On the fertile plains stretching north from Bangkok are 21 provinces, sometimes called ‘the rice bowl of Asia’, that are responsible for producing much of the country’s rice. Ayutthaya was one of the greatest mercantile centres in Asia and its incredible temples and palaces are built around the confluence of the Chao Praya, Lopburi and Pasak rivers. Hundreds of visitors on day trips from Bangkok are drawn to the remains of monuments that stand among more modern buildings. At Kanchanaburi is the infamous River Kwai bridge and ‘Death Railway’, the Japan-Burma railway built by the Japanese during World War II, when thousands of Asian labourers and Allied POWs died. Nearby are two war cemeteries, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and Chong Kai Cemetery and the JEATH (Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland) War Museum is housed in a reconstructed POW detention hut. Bangkok Bangkok is a thriving, bustling capital city catering to all kinds of tourists. Taxis or minibuses take visitors directly to their hotel via the convenient new expressway. Bangkok proper seethes on the east side of the Chao Phraya River and can be divided in two by the main north-south train line. Old Bangkok glitters in the portion between the river and the railway and it is here that most of the older temples and the original palace are located while new Bangkok is east of the railway For a bustling city, Bangkok surprisingly offers quiet escapes. Step out of the street noise and into the calm of one of the city’s 400 temples and monasteries. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo complex is the city’s premier tourist attraction and home to Phra Kaeo, the small, sacred and renowned emerald Buddha, the most revered image of Buddha in Thailand. The Grand Palace is a must-see for visitors, with temples and pavilions shimmering in gold leaf, porcelain and glass while not far away is the Marble Temple, considered one of the country’s most beautiful buildings. The Dusit Zoo is near the Royal Plaza, where the Thai royal family live in the Chitralada Palace. Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn is one of the city’s major landmarks with its central monument symbolising Hindi-Buddhist cosmology. The Temple of the Golden Buddha houses a unique, gleaming, 18-carat gold, four-metre high, 13th century Sukothai Buddha. Other sights include the Wat Sai floating market in Thonburi, a boat trip through the city’s extensive network of canals, and the renowned Oriental Hotel. For a shopping indulgence, head to central Bangkok’s Siam Square. This bustling shopping mecca is littered with alleyways jam packed with cheap, independent designer boutiques as well as numerous major shopping malls. Hua Hin Hua Hin is a favourite coastal destination for Thais who flock there to enjoy its beaches, multicultural buzz and numerous cafés and bistros that offer a wide range of cuisine. It is situated in the southwest of Bangkok and is recognised as Thailand’s first beach resort and extends some kilometres to a headland where Buddhist temples cling to the cliffs. Powdery white sand, resort hotels lining the coastline and visitors enjoying numerous watersports give the beach town its distinctive ambience. Stunning Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, 45 kilometres south of Hua Hin is one of the best-managed protected areas in the country. Kaeng Krachan National Park, northwest of Hua Hin, is Thailand’s largest protected area and is home to elephants, tigers, leopards, gibbon and many species of birds. "
Pacific Papua New Guinea The Islands The Islands

Papua New Guinea, Pacific

The Islands of Papua New Guinea are divided into four groups. East and West New Britain, the largest of PNG’s outer islands, h...

string(3700) " The Islands of Papua New Guinea are divided into four groups. East and West New Britain, the largest of PNG’s outer islands, has two main centres: Rabaul in the east and Kimbe in the west. Rabaul is the site of some of PNG’s most active volcanoes, Tavurvur and Vulcan. The last big eruption in 1994 completely covered the peaceful town and harbour in ash and forced the residents who remained to move the town to nearby Kokopo. The town has recovered and visitors are assured of a range of quality accommodations and services. Diving is still a big attraction here, even though the eruption hit many dive sites in the harbour quite hard. Ironically, the source of the town’s demise has now become one of its biggest attractions. Trips to the volcanic observatory and helicopter tours of the crater are not to be missed. There are a number of hotels operational in Rabaul Township and at Kokopo, a number of lodges, guesthouses and hotels are now open and provide excellent accommodation. A highlight of a visit to Rabaul is a visit to Palmalmal in the Pomio District, the Duke of York Islands and the Bainings. Like its neighbour in the east, West New Britain is surrounded by a turquoise sea, dotted with reef-fringed atolls and adorned with magnificent rainforests, which plunge into white sandy beaches. The fertile volcanic soil in this region is suitable for growing just about anything and lush plantations stretch from the mountains to the sea. The major attraction here is the diving in Kimbe Bay, accessible from land or via live-aboards. A chain of dormant volcanoes shields the bay from open ocean conditions, creating a pocket of calm on the north coast of the island. The landscape of extinct volcanoes creates a dramatic backdrop and steaming thermal springs, waterfalls, boiling volcanic pools and mud holes can be found within. New Ireland is an island paradise of sandy white beaches, towering mountains and clear springs and rivers that run the entire length of the island. A road made from crushed coral links north to south, but travel is easier by sea. The Malangan culture in the northern and central part of the island is unique within the Pacific and its people are particularly well known for their sorcery and shark calling. Diving in this region is fantastic and there are several resorts offering accommodation and diving services. The abundance of local seafood translates into gourmet feasts for visitors featuring coconut crabs, crayfish and a variety of reef fish. There are a number of hotels and guesthouses in Kavieng and small guest lodges are located on the islands in the harbour. Manus Island is a distant island group to the northwest of the mainland which can be reached by air or by coastal cargo ship and there are two main hotel lodges in Lorengau. Manus Island has vast tracts of forests in the central range and a magical coastline. The dancing by the locals is erotic and majestic, depicting a life of openness and joy. This island group is hailed as having exceptional diving and is occasionally visited by some of PNG’s live-aboards. The North Solomons as a province includes Buka and Bouganville Island, as well as hundreds of smaller islets, cays and atolls. Boating enthusiasts find this a marine wonderland with untouched reefs to explore with an everlasting supply of reef fish and shellfish. Buka Island is accessible by boat and plane from Rabaul and has a variety of accommodation varying in price and quality. Walking through village tracks and plantation roads is the best way to discover the magnificent flora and fauna. Whilst there are few hotels on mainland Bougainville, there are numerous guesthouses in Buka. "
papua new guinea port moresby Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea, Pacific

Port Moresby is home to 200,000 people, with 700 diverse languages and cultures. The town consists of a complex traditional soc...

string(2286) "Port Moresby is home to 200,000 people, with 700 diverse languages and cultures. The town consists of a complex traditional society formed by historical bonds between the traditional land owners, the coastal Motuans and the inland Koitabu. Port Moresby fluctuates from the hustle of commercialisation to the serenity of a country town. Downtown at the waterside is the nostalgic Port Moresby. At the entrance of Fairfax Harbour are Lolorua and Daugo (Fishermen’s) Islands, favourite picnic areas for sailors. Beautiful views from Paga Point overlook Ela Beach and Koki Point. Juxtaposed to the metropolis is the partly stilt-based Hanuabada Village. Burnt after WWII, the big village was rebuilt by the Australian Administration. Despite cosmetic changes, the character of the village is still there and is renowned for elaborate ceremonies. Koki market on the waterfront is a favourite for trade in fresh seafood and has a colourful fruit and vegetable market. Be sure to visit PNG Arts and Beyond Art, to see PNG’s largest collection of tribal artefacts. The National Parliament, a symbol of modern architecture, contrasts with the dignity of traditional design at The National Museum and Art Gallery. The first permanent display of local artefacts was established here in 1978 and is well worth a visit. Located on the slopes of Independence Hill at Waigani, it’s open weekdays and Sunday afternoons. In September join in the celebrations of the Hiri Moale Festival to commemorate the historical trade between villagers around the Gulf Province and the Motuans and Koitabuans of Central Province. The festival features canoe races, processions, choirs, string bands, sing-sings and the Hiri Queen contest. The Sogeri Plateau (46 kilometres from Port Moresby) is where the Kokoda Trail became the centre of war between Japanese and Allied Troops during WWII. Variarata National Park is a spectacular mountain region, with views over Port Moresby and the coastline. If you get up early enough, you can catch the mist blanketing the ranges. Westbound from Port Moresby is the Hiritano Highway, connecting the city with Bereina, home of the Kairuku and Mekeo people. The Mekeos are renowned for their strong chieftain system and grand traditional costumes. "
South Kuta & Legian

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

The culture of multinational surfers, backpackers, wellheeled tourists, families and the forever friendly Balinese ensures South K...

string(2925) "The culture of multinational surfers, backpackers, wellheeled tourists, families and the forever friendly Balinese ensures South Kuta remains a unique place for tourists. The Kuta region is Bali’s largest tourist area and most visitors to Bali will visit it sooner or later. Centrally located, it is minutes from Denpasar and the airport. It offers a wide range of accommodation, a plethora of restaurants and tourist facilities in a buzzing atmosphere. Though Kuta isn’t for everyone, if you enjoy the beach and bar scene it is the best and most exciting place in Indonesia. Surfing is a hugely popular activity in Kuta with countless shops hiring out surfboards. Lessons and surf tours can be arranged as well. Australians once dominated the tourist scene however it is now much more diverse. French, English and Japanese tourists are all common and Kuta has become extremely popular with surfers the world over. Local activities include rafting, diving, bungy jumping and horseriding, which can all be organised through local travel agents. Waterbom Bali is hugely popular with children. It is supervised by lifeguards, and has assorted slides, pools and rides that the whole family will enjoy. Almost all hotels have a swimming pool and most will allow non-guests to use their pool for a small fee. Spa establishments can be found throughout Kuta for a true indulgence. Massages are available in most hotels but are much cheaper on the beaches. Kuta nightlife features music, arak (local alcohol) and happy hours that last all night. The busiest bars and clubs are along Jalan Legian, such as the new Paddy’s and the Bounty Ship. Merging almost seamlessly with Kuta to the south, is Tuban. It is a little quieter than Kuta but is thriving on tourism. Many tourists opt to stay in Tuban as it’s slightly further out from the epicentre of Bali yet still close enough to share all the facilities. It offers plenty of places to stay, eat and party. Tuban has colourful shops and markets as well as the larger Jalan Kartika Plaza and the Discovery Shopping Mall. Aside from all this, Kuta still remains a Balinese village with quiet compounds and small offerings to the gods left in every doorway. The culture of multinational surfers, backpackers, wellheeled tourists, families and the forever friendly Balinese ensure South Kuta remains a unique place for tourists. Legian The village of Legian was established as an alternative to Kuta and is now almost an extension of it with the two blending into each other along the main streets of Jalan Legian and Jalan Melasti. There is no shortage of places to eat in Legian, with roadside stalls (warangs) and restaurants in five-star hotels. Many exclusive hotels line the picturesque beachfront and its central location, burgeoning nightlife and accessibility to major tourist attractions make it a perfect alternative to Kuta. "

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