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Bali

Indonesia, Asia

Bali is a tropical paradise with an abundance of fresh fruit always available. Bali boasts lush green forests, beautiful beaches a...

string(5647) "Bali is a tropical paradise with an abundance of fresh fruit always available. Bali boasts lush green forests, beautiful beaches and incredible rice paddies that spill down the sides of dramatic mountains. It has a strong Hindu spiritual life, with thousands of temples and a rich culture of dancing, music, art, architecture, rituals and festivals. The capital Denpasar in the south is a lively town, particularly after dark, when locals visit Pasar Badung, the biggest and busiest market on the island. It is worthwhile hiring a car, jeep or moped, or chartering a private cab to visit the island’s villages. Among those worth a visit are Celuk, which is noted for its silver and goldsmithing, and Mas for its excellent woodcarving. Near the village of Kutri is Pura Kedarman, which has a hilltop shrine with a panoramic view and stone statue of the eight-armed goddess, Durga. Ubud, at the base of the mountains, is the cultural centre of Bali and home of much traditional Balinese dance and music. This is where most accomplished painters, dancers, musicians, carvers and weavers live and work, so there are a number of excellent museums, art galleries and shops selling quality handicrafts. Not far from Peliatan is Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave, carved into a rock face. Visitors enter the cave through the cavernous mouth of a demon. Also near Ubud, Tampaksiring is a small town where the most impressive ancient monument on Bali can be found: Gunung Kawi. The temple consists of 10, seven-metre high, rockcut memorials. The spectacular 16th century Tanah Lot is probably one of Bali’s best known and most photographed temples. Perched on a rocky islet and encircled by the sea, droves of visitors go to see it at sunrise or, more commonly, silhouetted against a brilliant red sky at sunset. On Bali’s western tip, the Bali Barat National Park covers nearly 20,000 hectares and includes 7000 hectares of coral reef and coastal waters. The region is ideal for trekking, has outstanding dive sites and pristine beaches. East Bali has Gunung Agung, and West Bali has the Gunung Batur crater, a magnificent sight at sunrise. Penelokan, on the edge of the crater, offers superb views of Mt Batur and down to the lake. The village of Batur used to be inside the crater, but after a violent eruption in 1917 when thousands were killed, the village was relocated onto the crater’s rim, with the village of Kintamani. Kedisan, by the lake, is the base from which you can take a boat across to Trunyan. Or walk for a couple of hours on the track around the lake to Toyah Bungkah passing through the old village of Songan. Nearly 1000 metres up the slopes of Gunung Agung is Bali’s most important temple, Besakih. North of Denpasar is the temple of Taman Ayun in Mengwi, spacious and memorable for its moat and large grassy outer courtyard; and Bedugul, which has a leisure park at the southern end of Lake Bratan and lovely botanical gardens. It is the south of Bali that is the real tourist mecca: the areas of Kuta, Tuban, Legian and Seminyak. Kuta has an incredible concentration of shops and services, as well as Bali’s most famous beach—the only place in Bali where the surf breaks over sand instead of coral. Kuta and Legian come alive at night, with shops and market stalls selling every Balinese handicraft imaginable. Various cultural performances are staged nightly, with one of Bali’s best Kecak (traditional dance) performances to be seen in Kuta. The increasingly busy area of Tuban is situated close to the attractions of Kuta and Legian but with a more tranquil beach. Safer swimming combined with Bali’s only watersports park, Waterbom Bali, makes it an appealing option for family holidays. Southern Bali, encompassing Nusa Dua, Sanur and Tanjung Benoa, is where most of the island’s international five-star hotels are located. Sanur has a palm-lined beach and its waters are protected by reefs making it ideal for watersports. Reasonably priced restaurants are found in Tanjung Benoa and Bualu village, and the nightlife is relatively sedate. There are other beaches at Lovina in the north, and Candi Dasa in the east. Popular activities on Bali range from surfing, scuba diving and sea walking to indulging at pristine spas or attending an exciting cooking school. As it continues to attract an increasing number of international visitors every year, dining in Bali is very cosmopolitan yet inexpensive. Bali has amazing fresh seafood and the local lobster, sold at prices that will have you coming back again and again, is not to be missed. A huge range of international cuisines including Chinese, Malaysian, Italian, Greek, Moroccan and Mexican, to name just a few, are available. Be sure to enjoy local delicacies such as nasi goreng and sate campur. Bali is also recognised as a shopper’s paradise. Whether you are looking for casual or tailored clothing, locally crafted jewellery, handicrafts, antiques and artefacts or leather goods including leather coats, jackets and handbags, you will find it all at amazing prices. Don’t forget, bartering is the local custom at the markets so have fun and get the best price you can. If you need a quieter pace, try the fixed-price department stores in Denpasar. Bali offers every standard of accommodation ranging from modest, yet charming bungalow-style hotels nestled in lush tropical gardens through to some of the most exclusive and sophisticated hotels in the world. There is without doubt something to suit every budget. The abundance of cultural and historical sites here makes for a fascinating holiday. "
South Vietnam

Vietnam, Asia

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s most dynamic city. With a population of 8.6 million, its streets are br...

string(2163) "Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s most dynamic city. With a population of 8.6 million, its streets are brimming with shops, stalls and busy vendors with their wares spread out on sidewalks. Popular sights include the Doc Lap Palace, the War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, built in neo-Romanesque style. The central Ben Thanh Market is the best for souvenir bargains and delicious street foods. You can also visit Giac Lam Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in the city, and the spectacular Chinese-style Emperor of Jade Pagoda. The flat but lusciously green Mekong River Delta is the southernmost region of Vietnam and is an attractive patchwork of rice paddies, swamps and canals. The Cai Rang floating markets are the hub of the Mekong River Delta’s fishing and farming trades. These markets appear frantic but tourists should not be discouraged. Everything on sale usually hangs off the front of each boat, and bargaining is encouraged. A sampan boat is the perfect way to watch the Mekong River come alive, and tourists can expect to find everything from fish to jack fruit. The riverbank is dotted with stilted, wooden houses that are built right on the water’s edge. My Tho is a quiet city, a day trip from Saigon, with an interesting central market. Take a boat trip to explore local canals and nearby islands including Tan Long, where longan orchards are found. Further into the Delta lies the colourful town of Can Tho, the biggest city in the Mekong River Delta, with rice the most important industry. Can Tho has an array of delicious, local cuisine and photogenic floating markets nearby, and is close to the Cambodian border. Here you can also find the lively river city of Chau Doc, with beautiful sunset views from the top of Sam Mountain. Off the far southwest coast of Vietnam Phu Quoc Island has beautiful white sandy beaches and a choice of resortstyle hotels. It is famous for its black pepper and nuoc mam, or fish sauce, as well as its pearl factories. While it is not considered a prime nightlife destination, for peace, tranquility and relaxation, it is the perfect holiday spot."
Jimbaran & Uluwatu

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

The Bukit Peninsula offers stunning ocean views and white sand beaches. The quiet fishing village of Jimbaran lies on a narrow ...

string(3794) "The Bukit Peninsula offers stunning ocean views and white sand beaches. The quiet fishing village of Jimbaran lies on a narrow isthmus connecting the Bukit Peninsula to the rest of Bali. Jimbaran is unique in that it borders two different coasts lying less than two kilometres apart. The geography around Jimbaran is distinctly different to the volcanic fertile soils found elsewhere in Bali. The Bukit Peninsula is comprised of a large limestone plateau offering stunning ocean views from its clifftops and white sand beaches. On the west coast is Jimbaran Bay and the Indian Ocean while the east has the shallow and sheltered Benoa Harbour. The region has remained sparsely inhabited due to the landscape and was at one stage a place of banishment where undesirables were sent. The Jimbaran area is a far less crowded alternative to Kuta or Legian thanks to careful planning by local authorities. The beauty of the beach has led to a number of luxury hotels being built along the shore. Budget accommodation is limited in Jimbaran, but the region is easily accessible from Nusa Dua or Kuta by taxi, bemo or bike. The sea temple of Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is the region’s most significant sight. The temple is one of several dedicated to the spirits of the sea along the south coast of Bali. Precipitously perched atop sheer limestone cliffs, the temple is certainly a dramatic sight, especially at sunset. Sunset at Jimbaran Bay is another popular sight. Seafood restaurants and warungs line the beach and tourists arrive in the late afternoon to witness the brightly coloured fishing fleets prepare for departure. An outlying reef protects the beach at Jimbaran quite well, however some of the world’s best and most dangerous surf beaches are located nearby at Uluwatu and Padang Padang. The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (GWK) is situated overlooking the South Bali tourist region and is one of Bali’s premier venues for performances, exhibitions, conferences, sightseeing and relaxation. Jimbaran has three major temples that draw tourists from around the world, Pura Dalem, Pura Puseh and Pura Desa. The anniversaries of the temples occur within four days of each other. At this time of year Jimbaran is vibrant and full of ritual activities. Although the number of tourists visiting Jimbaran is increasing, it’s still a relatively tranquil haven, offering many unique sights. Uluwatu Located on the western shore of the Bukit Peninsula on Bali’s southern coast, Uluwatu is famed for its spectacular rock formations, world-famous surf break, and dramatic cliffside temple. Heralded ‘the most famous wave in Bali’ Uluwatu is a surfer’s paradise, however there is plenty of other things to see and do in Uluwatu for the non-surfer. Uluwatu boasts one of the oldest and most impressive temples in Bali, Pura Uluwatu, built by Javanese priest Empu Kuturan in the 11th century. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, the temple is an architectural wonder, carved in black coral rock and perched high on the cliff side, 70 metres above the Indian Ocean. The best time to visit the temple is in the afternoon, so you can watch the evening traditional Balinese Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performance (held at 6pm every evening) on the cliffside stage as the sun goes down in the background. When visiting the temple, it’s advised to be mindful of your belongings, as the cheeky monkeys that reside here may take off with your sunglasses and hold them ransom in exchange for a banana! This large limestone peninsula is just a short drive away from Kuta Bay, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua. Renowned for its spectacular sunset views its dramatic location, perched high on the cliff’s edge, provides the perfect locale to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. "
Sanur

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

As well as a beautiful white sand beach and a safe swimming area, there are plenty of restaurants, nightspots and good shopping in...

string(2875) "As well as a beautiful white sand beach and a safe swimming area, there are plenty of restaurants, nightspots and good shopping in Sanur. Sanur, a five kilometre east-facing stretch of picturesque coast, is an idyllic location. It is an upmarket alternative to Kuta, yet not as exclusive (or expensive) as Nusa Dua. The area has a relaxed holiday atmosphere without the hustle and bustle of central Kuta. As well as a beautiful white sand beach and safe swimming area, there are plenty of restaurants, nightspots and good shopping. From the 13th to the 16th centuries, chronicles refer to the importance of Sanur priests and scholars and today, Sanur is one of the few communities still ruled by priests of the Brahmana caste. These priests recognised both the threat and opportunity that tourism presented and imposed the famous rule that buildings cannot be taller than the highest coconut tree and established village co-operatives to ensure that a share of economic benefits remains within the community. Known throughout Bali as a home to sorcerers and healers, Sanur is often revered. The black-and-white chequered cloth seen around Bali is emblematic of Sanur. Symbolising the balance of good and evil, it can be found adorning the many temples in the region. A string of ancient temples can be found near the beach. Their low-corralled walls and platform altars are peculiar to Sanur. Anniversary celebrations at these temples are exuberant and strange to Westerners. Sanur is also home to the oldest dated artefact found on Bali—a pillar, with inscriptions on it recounting military victories more than a thousand years ago and making reference to King Sri Kesari Varma who came to Bali in AD 913 to teach Buddhism. Prior to World War II, Sanur was popular with a few prominent Western artists such as Adrien Jean Le Mayeur, writer Walter Spies and anthropologist Jane Belo. The Belgian artist Le Mayeur lived in his house in Sanur from 1935 until 1958 and it is now a museum. Activities in the area include camel rides, cycling and a plethora of watersports such as sea walking and snorkelling at the nearby reef. Sanur is renowned for its spectacular kite flying competitions during July, August and September which are staged by the local community councils. The kites can be up to 10 metres long, require a dozen men to launch them and traffic is halted when they’re carried down the roads. Part of the charm of Sanur lies in its tranquility. Mainly a resort for families wanting to experience genuine Balinese culture, the nightlife is limited to the bars and discos in the larger hotels. A huge advantage is its proximity to inland destinations, such as Ubud, which is around 40 minutes away. Sanur is a place of remarkable contrasts. It is rich in culture, history and activity and is bound to intrigue any visitor. "
Pacific Solomon Islands Honiara Honiara

Solomon Islands, Pacific

Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, which is situated on Guadalcanal, has a population of more than 67,000 and is locat...

string(1979) " Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, which is situated on Guadalcanal, has a population of more than 67,000 and is located on a coastal stretch overlooking Iron Bottom Sound. The town centre has a shopping plaza, cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops. There’s a Chinatown and of course, the Central Markets. Major meeting places can be found in private clubs that welcome visitors. One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the South Pacific is Mataniko Falls, a two-hour walk from Honiara. It has many large pools for swimming and an impressive stalagmite-covered cave which is home to vast numbers of swallows. Climb Mount Austin, passing Solomon Peace Memorial Park, for sweeping views of the northern coastal plains. Other historic sites include the Red Beach on the coastal plain. East of Tenaru is the Tenaru Falls, an impressive 60-metre waterfall. And situated in a westerly direction from Honiara town is Bonigi Beach, five kilometres west of Poha. At the eastern end of Guadalcanal is Marau Sound, a coral paradise. Here there are huge reefs of coral in unique and beautiful shapes which are home to a teeming array of tropical fish and fascinating sea life. There are also giant clams and some of the world’s rarest sea shells. About 250 kilometres south of Guadalcanal is Rennell Island. On the south side of the island, the large Lake Te’Nggano contains some 200 tiny coral atolls and is home to a prolific bird population. Access to the lake is by tractor, canoe and jungle walk. The Florida Islands are the closest island group to Guadalcanal and was the prewar Solomon capital of Tulagi. It was turned into a navy shipbuilding and repair facility during the war. Savo Island is a cloud-shrouded place, and its waters house the graves of at least four ships that were sunk during the Battle of Savo. Today it is an ideal picnic spot and a divers’ paradise with its sunken ships, sleepy villages and magnificent crystal clear waters. "
East Coast Thailand

Thailand, Asia

The Gulf of Thailand offers a host of resorts where Thais and foreigners can unwind, relax on the superb beaches and enjoy the suc...

string(2641) "The Gulf of Thailand offers a host of resorts where Thais and foreigners can unwind, relax on the superb beaches and enjoy the succulent bounties of the sea. It is also home to magnificent mountains, waterfalls and lush tropical vegetation. Pattaya, in the province of Chonburi, lies 150 kilometres east of Bangkok and is one of Thailand’s best known beach resorts. It is a developed, vibrant city that draws families (mostly to Jomtien, two kilometres south of Pattaya) and singles (mostly to South Pattaya Road). It attracts visitors who love watersports and golf, as well as those looking for entertainment, dancing and action in its neon-lit go-go bars, nightclubs, cabarets and discos. For visitors looking for other activities, the Khao Kheow Zoo has more than 50 species of birds and animals, including deer, zebras and tigers, many of them indigenous to Southeast Asia. Each October, buffalo racing is held in conjunction with a fair, and there’s also a buffalo beauty contest. Since the 15th century, Chanthaburi has been known to Western travellers for its abundance of gemstones, and is as renown for gems worldwide as Bangkok. More than 70 percent of the world’s rubies come from Thailand, and Thai workers have a reputation for their skill and dexterity in faceting stones. Of all the Thai gemstones, deep blue sapphires and blood red rubies are the most highly prized, as are unusually coloured (such as yellow) sapphires. Covering an area of just 59 kilometres, Khao Kitchakut National Park is one of the country’s smallest and boasts a 1000-metre granite mountain after which the park is named. Many people make the four-hour climb to the summit of the impressive Phrabat mountains to see an image of the Buddha’s footprint and collections of natural rock formations shaped like an elephant, a large turtle, a pagoda and a monk’s bowl. Nearby, the far larger but less visited Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary provides a home to many endangered species, including sun bears, spotbellied eagle owls, silver pheasants and elephants. Mountainous Ko Chang is the largest of the 50 or so islands that form the Ko Chang National Marine Park, two-thirds of which is sea. Inland exploration is difficult due to the rugged terrain, but it has excellent beaches, including the popular Sai Khao Beach, prettier and quieter Khlong Phrao Beach and the particularly beautiful beach of Ao Bang Bao in the southwest corner. The tourism industry in Ko Chang is in its infancy, a contributing factor is probably the fact that several of the islands consist solely of exclusive, privately owned resorts. "

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