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Palawan

Philippines, Asia

Voted World’s Best Island in 2013 and 2015, Palawan, often referred to as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has m...

string(2024) "Voted World’s Best Island in 2013 and 2015, Palawan, often referred to as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has much to offer its visitors. Officially the Province of Palawan, it is an island province that is located in the Mimaropa region.The biggest island in the Philippines, Palawan. It is part of an archipelago with more than 1700 islands on the western side of the country and its eco diversity includes grasslands, jungles, mountains and pristine beaches.The northern part is characterised by incredible clear waters, white beaches that line the coast and many species of flora and fauna.One of the most visited places, El Nido, is known for its sandy beaches, coral reefs and is the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands with steep limestone cliffs. The area has many dive sites, including Dilumacad Island’s long tunnel leading to an underwater cavern.When El Nido is crowded during the peak seasons and you prefer a quieter environment, Taytay is a great place to visit. It has loads of things for visitors to do. You can swim in the many hidden lagoons, kayak on beautiful Lake Manguao, swim around the beautiful waterfalls, snorkel or island hop.The capital of the province is the coastal city of Puerto Princesa. It is a great base from where visitors can take boat trips through the huge limestone caves as well as the underground river in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Around the city are great dive sites that are only five to 40 minutes from the beach inside Puerto Princesa Bay with the closest being White Beach and Red Cliff. They offer slopes and walls just seven metres under the surface where colourful fish, turtles and rays can be seen. Not to be missed is a visit to the 19th-century Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral.The cheapest option for getting around Palawan is by local jeepneys and tricycles. Getting from one island to another is possible with daily boat trips available. Car and van rentals are also available."
North Bali & Other Regions

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

Renowned for its variety of picturesque landscapes, lovely beaches and villages where traditional ways are preserved.There are...

string(2859) "Renowned for its variety of picturesque landscapes, lovely beaches and villages where traditional ways are preserved.There are a number of other regions on the island of Bali which are popular with travellers.On the northeastern coast lies the small village of Tulamben which has a friendly atmosphere and wonderful food. Tulamben is best known for spectacular dive spots including a drop-off and the sunken American ship, Liberty, torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942. Now encrusted with marine flora, it is home to thousands of tropical fish.The area boasts picturesque rice fields with massive black rivers of volcanic rubble from the 1963 eruption of Gunung Agung. As Bali’s highest and most revered volcano, it dominates the easternmost district of Karangasem which is not only renowned for its variety of scenic landscapes and lovely beaches but also for villages such as Manggis where traditional ways are preserved.The mountainous region of Kintamani is located in the northeast of Bali and centres around the spectacular caldera of Gunung Batur with its deep crater lake and hot springs. Kintamani has a range of accommodation but is easily accessible for day trips from Kuta. It is great for trekking, sightseeing and shopping. Gunung Batur is still active but much of the crater is farmed by villagers with water from Lake Danau Batur. Every three days, a colourful market is held where fresh produce and handmade clothing is sold.In the northwestern corner of Bali is Pemuteran, a small village untouched by tourism. Bordered by the Java Sea and jagged mountain ranges, the area is too dry for rice cultivation so the local people traditionally live off the sea. Following years of destructive fishing around the offshore coral reef, a conservation project has been instituted. This has resulted in greatly increased numbers of marine life, perfect for snorkelling and diving.Visitors to Pemuteran may also be interested in Menjangan Island just off the coast, the dramatic Pulaki Temple which is perched on the side of a cliff, the botanical gardens at Bedugul and Sing Sing waterfall.Natural wonders continue to be a drawcard in the west of the island. The Bali Barat National Park is renown for its dive sites, flora, fauna, great trekking and pristine, beautiful beaches.Off the east coast is Nusa Lembongan, a small island covered with coconut trees, mangrove forests and small farms. Most people visit Nusa Lembongan to enjoy its quiet beaches, surfing or diving on day cruises from Bali.The village of Jungutbatu is charming with quiet lanes and a few temples. A popular temple is Pura Segara, which has an enormous banyan tree within its complex.About four kilometres away is Lembongan Village where visitors can take a tour of the eerie underground house where a man excavated his cave with a spoon."
Koh Samui

Thailand, Asia

Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.Roughly circular in shape, the island...

string(2676) "Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.Roughly circular in shape, the island is the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang and one of the most popular destinations for international travellers. The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable jungle where Samui’s highest mountain, Khao Pom, peaks at 635 metres. The various lowland areas are connected together by a single 51-kilometre road that meanders mostly along the coast to encircle the bulk of the island.The old capital Nathon is located on the southwest coast of the island and remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the regional government and for Samui locals is the recognised commercial hub. It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shophouses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history.Although Koh Samui is in southern Thailand where Islam has a strong inf luence, the original inhabitants of the island, known as Chao Samui, are predominantly Buddhist.In the past, most of the locals made their living in the coconut farming business. Today, however, most islanders work in jobs related to tourism because in recent years Koh Samui has developed into a popular, tropical beach resort destination. While still maintaining its unique charm, from coconut tree fringed beaches to tropical jungles and a vibrant nightlife, it has something for everyone.Accommodations range from bungalows and villas to five-star boutique resorts and are suitable for all budgets. There are fine dining restaurants that offer a wide range of international and exotic local Thai dishes. If pampering is high on your list, there are many day spas available.Koh Samui offers an abundance of activities including elephant trekking, canoeing, sailing, diving, golfing, fishing, cycling and almost anything else you can think of! Nature lovers will find it a paradise of waterfalls, temples and jungles. There is a butterf ly garden, aquarium, tiger zoo, monkey theatre, snake and crocodile farm to visit. Day tours to the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and the Angthong Marine National Park are also highly recommended.With direct f lights to Samui Airport from Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as ferry services from Suratthani, Koh Samui is conveniently accessible.Koh Samui boasts many popular beaches including Chaweng and with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees it is easy to see why travellers from all over the world make it their preferred holiday destination."
Mamanuca And Yasawa Island

Fiji, Pacific

The Mamanuca Islands lie in a majestic arc only a short distance from the mainland of Viti Levu, curving to the northwest, and alm...

string(2807) "The Mamanuca Islands lie in a majestic arc only a short distance from the mainland of Viti Levu, curving to the northwest, and almost touching the Yasawa chain of islands.There are 20 islands and they all share in common pristine white sandy beaches, waving palms, crystal blue waters and, at night, the cooling influence of the trade winds.The Mamanuca Islands (pronounced Mah-mahnoo-tha) are essentially volcanic outcrops pushed up from the ocean floor in a gigantic earthquake thousands of years ago. Some are especially significant in Fijian folklore.From the air you can see that the Mamanucas islands are two clusters known as Mamanuca-i-ra and Mamanucai-cake. Within the Mamanucas is the Malolo group, five kilometres inside the barrier reef, extending in a curve for 120 kilometres.A number of resort islands are scattered throughout the Malolo group, each offering bure accommodation, a relaxing holiday atmosphere and a range of water activities. There are boat excursions, fishing trips, and watersports including surfing, SUP, jet ski safaris, parsailing, kiteboarding, kayaking and coral viewing for the kids. The islands of Malolo are the centre for most tourism to and from the Mamanucas. It has safe anchorage, a cosmopolitan community and an airstrip. The movie Castaway was also shot on Monuriki Island in the Mamanucas.At the southern end of the chain, Cloud 9 is a world-class wave that hosts the Fiji Pro International Surf Competition and recently hosted the World Stand-Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships. Here there is also a two-tier floating bar off Malolo Island on stunning RoRo Reef.The Yasawa Islands have a different ambience and are dotted with small resorts and backpackers accommodation. They are a chain of 16 volcanic islands and dozens of tiny islets stretching 80 kilometres in a northeast direction off the west coast of Viti Levu. They are special because their beautiful, isolated beaches, cliffs, bays and reefs and are less commercialised than the neighbouring Mamanuca Islands.Islands in the group include Waya, the highest with amazing scenery and Tavewa, a strikingly beautiful, small island that is about two kilometres long. In 1972 Richard Evanson bought Turtle Island while others in the group include Sawa-i- Lau Island with ancient limestone caves and Yasawa Island that has small villages and a five-star resort. Naviti is the largest island while Viwa is the most remote, sitting alone 25 kilometres northwest of Waya. The Blue Lagoon movie was filmed in the Yasawas.The limestone caves of Sawa-i-lau is a very popular day trip as are diving with manta rays and snorkelling with sharks. There are also multi-day island-hopping small ship cruises to the Mamanucas and Yasawas with three and seven day itineraries."
Vietnam

Asia

Vietnam has incredible scenic beauty, featuring two main cultivated areas of the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River...

string(7144) "Vietnam has incredible scenic beauty, featuring two main cultivated areas of the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River Delta in the south. It is made up of equatorial lowlands, high, temperate plateaus and alpine peaks.Stretching over 1600 kilometres along the eastern coast of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is bordered by China to the north and Cambodia and Laos to the west.Capital and major centres Whilst Ho Chi Minh City is the country’s largest population centre, the capital, Hanoi is the political and cultural centre of Vietnam. Haiphong is the Northern region’s main industrial centre and a major seaport, while Da Nang in the Central region, is promoted as the gateway to Indochina. Other major centres include Dalat in the Central Highlands, renown for its cool climate and beautiful mountain scenery and Kontum in the Central Highlands.The people Vietnam’s population is about 90% Viet (Kinh) ethnic people and the rest are 53 other ethnic groups such as Tay, Nung, Muong, Cham, Khmer, Ede, and Hoa. The native language is Vietnamese with the northern and southern dialects differing slightly from each other. Now many Vietnamese young people can also speak English, French, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity have all served to shape the rich spiritual life of Vietnam, along with the indigenous religion of Caodaism. The main temple for Caodaism is in Tay Ninh city, 90 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. It offers daily ceremonies and educational tours.Nature Vietnam is lush and tropical with much jungle and vegetation ranging from the green Mekong River Delta to forests containing an estimated 12,000 plant species. The country’s wild fauna is enormously diverse and includes elephants, rhinos, leopards, black bears and a variety of monkeys, birds and reptiles. Ho Chi Minh City’s zoo and botanic gardens are a delightful place for a stroll, as are the tree lined avenues in the Cultural Park (Tao Dan Park).Food and entertainment Vietnam offers the opportunity to sample some truly amazing cuisine. There are said to be nearly 500 traditional dishes, ranging from exotic meats such as bat and cobra, to a variety of fish, vegetables, spices and sauces. As a guide, food in the Central region tends to be spicy, while the Northern region cuisine is mild. The Southern region has an understandable accent on pepper, as Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of the spice. ‘Pho’ is the noodle soup eaten at any time of day and ‘com’ means ‘rice dish’. Because Buddhist monks of the Mahayana tradition are strict vegetarians, many dishes contain tofu, mushrooms and raw, cooked and fermented vegetables. While Vietnamese desserts such as pastry, sticky rice and beans tend to be a little sweet for foreign palates, the selection of local fruits is amazing. Try green dragon fruit, jujube, longan, pomelo, three-seed cherry and water apple. A word of warning, smoking is still allowed in most hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, so it’s advisable to get a table outside or by a window.In Ho Chi Minh City, entertainment can be found at discos and hotel nightclubs, while bars and cafes are popular throughout the rest of the country. For a local experience, enjoy a ‘Beer Hoi’ at a road side bar. It’s cheap, refreshing and a great way to meet the locals.The sights Vietnam’s national parks include: Cat Ba, Ba Be Lake and Cuc Phuong national parks in the north; Bach Ma National Park in the Central region (sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund); and Nam Cat Tien National Park in the south to name a few. In 2003, another national park, Phong Nha-Ke Bang was recognised as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO. Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park offers mountains that are ideal for climbing and exploring and it is also home to archaeological and historical relics along with a range of geographic attractions. The most recent to find favour with visitors is the Son Doong (Mountain River) Cave. Discovered in 2009, it is claimed to be the world’s largest cave. The other UNESCO recognised sites in Vietnam are Halong Bay, the imperial city of Hué, the ancient quarter of Hoi An and the My Son Sanctuary, the Trang An landscape complex, central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi, and citadel of the Ho Dynasty.Getting around There is a major airport serving each of the three major tourism zones: Ho Chi Minh City serves the Mekong River; Da Nang serves Hué, Hoi An and My Son; and Hanoi provides access to Halong Bay and the mountains. Travel between the three gateway cities is available by air, train and bus. Overnight travel by train or bus is a popular choice for visitors and is inexpensive and relatively comfortable. Chartering a minibus or hiring a car and driver are other viable alternatives. Cabs (some metered, some not) operate in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and most of the major cities. As a rule, it’s best to avoid travelling by car in major cities during peak hour unless you are not in a hurry. Visitors can hire cyclos (pedicabs) to get around, or there is the option to travel the way the locals do and hire a motor scooter. With a population of about 95 million, it is easy to think that all Vietnamese people own a scooter. The roads are full of them. Traffic in the major cities is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Despite the vast numbers though, scooter traffic moves like water. It is constantly flowing, sometimes fast, usually slow and occasionally it will pool due to an obstacle, but then find a way to break through and move on. Walking can prove to be a bit of a challenge, as most footpaths are lined with parked scooters, left there by the locals while they shop or eat.Shopping Vietnam is known for its handicrafts, including lacquerware, mother-of-pearl inlay, ceramics, bamboo products, jewellery, silk goods, intricately carved statues and paintings. In Hanoi, two popular areas are Hang Gai Street and Hang Bong Street which stock embroidered tablecloths, greeting cards with traditional hand-painted silk covers, water puppets, clothing and antiques. In Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market is a good place for shopping. (Vendors will willingly bargain but as a courtesy, do not ask the price of something unless you want to buy it.) Dong Khoi Street is an arts and crafts tourist bazaar. Currency The currency is the Vietnamese dong. The US dollar is widely accepted and several big cities accept Euro. Traveller’s cheques are easily exchangeable in banks and credit cards.Climate Vietnam has three climatic zones with temperatures ranging from 22oC to 27oC. In the north, the best time to visit is between October and March. Central Vietnam is protected by the Hai Van Pass Mountains and travelling is recommended year-round. In the south, there are two seasons—dry and rainy. March, April and May are the hottest months. Lightweight clothing is sufficient for the south all year round but warmer clothing is needed during winter (November through April) in the north and in the highlands."
Central Vietnam

Vietnam, Asia

Da Nang is central Vietnam’s largest city and is home to some extremely picturesque sites including the Ngu Hanh Son (Five Eleme...

string(3909) "Da Nang is central Vietnam’s largest city and is home to some extremely picturesque sites including the Ngu Hanh Son (Five Element Marble Mountains) which lie close to the sea and have caves and pagodas, and Da Nang Beach which stretches for several kilometres between Monkey Mountain and Marble Mountain.The city of Da Nang is surrounded by the three UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites of Hoi An, Hué and My Son.Thirty-two kilometres south-east of Da Nang is the ancient town of Hoi An, an important international port from the 17th to 19th centuries and now Vietnam’s most popular destination beyond Hanoi and Saigon. Its combination of charming heritage streets and riverside setting, bustling markets, Chinese assembly halls, Japanese remnants, quaint restaurants and cafés, and local tailors and handicraft outlets, have made it a must-see for visitors to Vietnam. It is also a rapidly developing beach resort, with a huge stretch of beach just five kilometres from the town and many modern resorts.Outside Hoi An is My Son Sanctuary, the capital of the kingdom of Champa from the 5th to 12th centuries. From here, there’s a great view of Champa from the Mountain Church (Nha Tho Nui) which is on top of Buu Chau Hill in the town of Tra Kieu.Hué, located approximately a 2.5 hour drive north of Da Nang, is widely regarded as the most beautiful city in Vietnam. Hué is situated alongside a large, deep river adjacent to a mountain range. Traditionally Hué was one of the country’s cultural, religious and educational centres, and was also Vietnam’s capital from the years 1802 to 1945. The city of Hué is known worldwide as an architectural treasure with palaces, royal tombs and mausoleums, pagodas, and temples all framed by the natural landscape on either side of the Huong (Perfume) River. The ruins of its huge, moated citadel contains many interesting sites, such as the Nine Holy Cannons, the Imperial Enclosure, the Palace of Supreme Harmony and the Halls of the Mandarins, although the Emperor’s Getaway, the Purple Forbidden City, was largely destroyed during the wars. The Royal Tombs are 15 kilometres south of Hué. One of Vietnam’s best beaches, Thuan An is just 13 kilometres north-east of Hué, and from here visitors can take sampan trips up the Perfume River. From Hué, tourists can go by car to visit the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the remarkable tunnels of Vinh Moc, used during the wars.The Hai Van Pass divides North and South Vietnam. A 21 kilometre-long road over Hai Van Pass, opened at the end of the 19th century, winds back and forth to a height of 435 metres above sea level. Its name means ’Pass of the Ocean Clouds,’ since the peak of the mountain is in the clouds while its foot is close to the sea. Hai Van is considered to be the largest frontier post in Vietnam From the top of the pass, one can admire Lang Co Beach to the north and Da Nang to the south. The curving railway through Hai Van Pass is 3200 metres long with sections running through seven tunnels. There are endless forests to the west of the pass and the ocean is to the east. Hai Van Pass is a real challenge for drivers, as well as for adventurers.Dalat located in the Central Highlands region is renown for its relaxing, natural verdant environment. A popular tourist destination, it is probably one of Vietnam’s best-known vacation sites and is a popular honeymoon mecca. The many sites include Emperor Bao Dai’s Summer Palace and the colourful fresh food and flower markets. Picturesque crumbling French Villas from the 1930s dot the surrounding hillsides.Nha Trang is on the south central coast of Vietnam and arguably boasts the best beach in the country. Its turquoise waters are perfect for swimming and boat trips are available to interesting offshore fishing villages and islands including Monkey Island with diving options also available."

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