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Seminyak & Canggu

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

With its central location, burgeoning nightlife and accessibility to major tourist attractions, this area is a perfect alternative...

string(2344) "With its central location, burgeoning nightlife and accessibility to major tourist attractions, this area is a perfect alternative to Kuta. To the north of Kuta and Legian, are stylish Seminyak and Canggu. There are no shortage of villas between Seminyak and Canggu luxe villas paired with five-star services and facilities offering you your own private piece of paradise. Seminyak Seminyak, has a reputation among tourists for being more sophisticated and having a more stylish nightlife than Kuta. The shopping centres and busy streets of Kuta are just 15 minutes to the south, and the more rural area of Canggu is just a 25-minute drive to the north. Seminyak has also become extremely popular for its wide range of world-class restaurants featuring all cuisines and eateries lining the beach. The multitude of upmarket boutiques, galleries, shops and markets make for fascinating shopping trips. Seminyak has become the luxury spa destination in Bali. By local standards, treatments may seem expensive but are probably half the price, or less, than you would pay at home. Most hotels offer an in-house service and in-villa treatments are widely available. Canggu Further north of Seminyak is Canggu that is widely used to refer to the eight-kilometre coastal stretch running north from the village of Berawa, just north of Seminyak, to the village of Cemagi, just south of Tanah Lot. The once rural farmland full of green rice paddy fields is now packed with luxury villas, yoga studios, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and beach clubs. Its beaches draw in surfers from all around the world. Most of the action can be found near Batu Bolong, a beach best known for its longboard-friendly break and Old Man’s, a lively beer garden and surf club. Just north of Canngu, one of Bali’s most important temples can be found. Over thousands of years, the tiny island of Tanah Lot was gradually formed as a result of erosion by ocean tides. Surprisingly modest, it comprises of two shrines with tiered roofs, two pavilions and a few small buildings. Access down to the temple is through a sideshow alley of souvenir shops and market stalls. It is a highly spiritual place, and visitors will often see people making the trip to meditate nearby or walking to the water in order to receive the ministrations of priests. "
Outer Islands

Vanuatu, Pacific

With diverse terrains and a plethora of natural wonders, the islands of Vanuatu are small pockets of beauty and adventure. An ...

string(2283) "With diverse terrains and a plethora of natural wonders, the islands of Vanuatu are small pockets of beauty and adventure. An exploration of the outermost of the nation’s 83 islands will reveal famous volcanoes, magnificent coral reefs, historic shipwrecks and traditional villages. The southernmost inhabited island of Vanuatu is Aneityum Island. The northernmost islands of Vanuatu are the Banks and Torres Islands, volcanic in origin and home to active volcanoes on Gaua and Vanua Lava islands. Tanna Island Tanna Island is famous for its volcano, Mt Yasur, its wild horses, its custom villages and the cargo cults that have grown up there. It is possible to take a day trip to Tanna however there is plenty to see and do, so visitors who wish to truly experience. this extraordinary island should arrange a stay of at least two nights in order to see the island’s many attractions. A night trip to the crater edge of mighty Yasur Volcano is a great experience. Also visit the White Grass Plains, home of the wild horses, and go to a custom village to experience the age-old village culture, where people still dress and live in the traditional ways. Espiritu Santo The largest and oldest island in the group, with a wide range of natural sights, Espiritu Santo is a truly romantic island and a great place for diving. You can visit the SS President Coolidge, the largest intact shipwreck accessible to scuba divers in the world, the destroyer USS Tucker lying outside the channel and Million Dollar Point, the place where war surplus equipment was dumped after WWII. See a large experimental plantation and farm, stay in Melanesian-style bungalows, refresh yourself in a natural pool, and go to famous Champagne Beach in the north. Pentecost Only on Pentecost Island can you see the mind-boggling land dives. There is minimal accommodation for visitors, so you can either do a weekend package or a day trip. As many as 25 jumps may be performed in a day from one tower and as the height of the jumps increases, so does the tempo of the traditionally-dressed men and women dancing and chanting alongside. It’s an experience you’ll always remember. This annual event occurs during April, May and June on every Saturday and some other weekdays. "
Sulawesi

Indonesia, Asia

Known for its dive sites teeming with pristine reefs, nature parks and volcanic mountains, Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s most f...

string(1981) "Known for its dive sites teeming with pristine reefs, nature parks and volcanic mountains, Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s most fascinating islands. Sulawesi’s main port of entry is Makassar, which has frequent flights throughout the archipelago. Manado acts as a secondary hub. Both airports are international airports with international flights to Kuala Lumpur from Makassar, and to Singapore from both airports. The south is home to Sulawesi’s capital, Makassar with a population of 15 million inhabitants. The southern plains rise to the mountains of Tanah Toraja, with beautiful scenery, unusual architecture and vibrant festivals which are among the island’s chief tourist attractions. Those after a more unhurried experience can soak up the tropical sunshine on the Togian Islands, one of Indonesia’s best-kept secrets. Manado, the largest city and main gateway to Northern Sulawesi, enjoys views to the emerald hills and the azure sea. The city has a European feel with the fun loving and extroverted Minahasa people living in neat, wood framed houses with fences and flower gardens. The city’s numerous shops and markets are filled with an abundance of consumer goods and agricultural produce and those with an adventurous palate should try the famously hot and spicy Minahasa cuisine. Manado offers easy access to some of Indonesia’s best diving and snorkelling. Of these, Bunaken National Park draws visitors from all over the world. It has warm water and visibility up to 30 metres with a myriad sea life, underwater volcanoes and coral reefs. A trip inland will take you to the Minahasa Highlands where you can visit intriguing prehistoric above ground burial sites, volcanoes and hot springs. There are breathtaking panoramas of lush mountains, coffee and coconut plantations, orchid gardens and terraced hillsides. Also, be sure to visit the Dua Saudara Nature Reserve at Tangkoko that is home to birds and wildlife unique to Sulawesi."
Upolu

Samoa, Pacific

The gateway to Samoa, Upolu is home to the international airport, the capital city, Apia, and the bulk of the country’s populati...

string(3096) "The gateway to Samoa, Upolu is home to the international airport, the capital city, Apia, and the bulk of the country’s population. Upolu’s coast is surrounded by white sand beaches and blue lagoons. One of Samoa’s most pristine beaches, Lalomanu Beach on the southeastern tip of the island with its translucent lagoon, is a protected marine reserve, teeming with a magnitude of tropical fish species and marine life. Just a little further north, head off to Namua Island and swim with the endangered green turtle in its natural ocean environment. South of Lalomanu there’s even more fauna to explore, including the seabird nesting grounds on Nuutele Island. From behind the hospital at Lalomanu you can take a short guided walk to an extinct volcanic crater, which happens to be home to a whole army of flying foxes. Upolu’s interior exudes a very special and mystic charm. There are numerous tracks that lead deep through lush rainforests to a number or rivers and dramatically beautiful waterfalls. O Le Pupu-Pui National Park contains Samoa’s highest mountain, Mt. Fito at 1100 metres as well as Togitogiga Falls and some good hiking trails. Papapapai-Tai Falls, with a 100 metre drop makes these very spectacular falls. The Papase’ea Sliding Rocks are just six kilometres southwest of Apia. Soft vegetation under the water makes it possible to easily slide down the falls into the natural pool below. The idyllic To Sua Ocean Trench attracts those keen to enjoy a surreal swim in a giant swimming hole. Samoa’s capital, Apia is home to 38,000 inhabitants. Situated on a natural harbour, just 40 kilometres from Faleolo International Airport, Apia is the perfect place to acclimatise to island life, pick up some souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage and proud history of Samoa. The colourful Maketi Fou (food market) on Apia’s Fugalei Street, is a good place to stock up on fresh fruit like pawpaws or a bunch of sweet little ladyfinger bananas. About a 10-minute walk from the food market is the flea market, the perfect souvenir haunt where you’ll find everything from clubs and kava bowls to lava lavas (the Samoan sarong), baskets, jewellery and authentic Samoan music. The famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, famed for classic books such as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, spent his final years in Samoa. He was known by the local people as Tusitala, Samoan for ‘teller of tales’. His beautiful mansion Vailima has been converted into a museum set within lush gardens and is open to the public. Visitors can also visit his grave located at the top of Mt. Vaea, along a trail named by the locals as “The Road of the Loving Heart”. The locals are famously hospitable and the city is easily explored by foot. Apia has a great nightlife, everything from busy pubs, nightclubs to cultural shows and excellent restaurants, where you can sing, dance and enjoy fresh Samoan cuisine. In addition to hotels in Apia there are some good resorts, guest houses and fales on the island."
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."
Micronesia Guam Sunset Holiday Guam

Micronesia, Pacific

Like an emerald glistening in a velvet blue jewel case, the green peaks of Guam emerge from the surrounding waters of the Western ...

string(3685) "Like an emerald glistening in a velvet blue jewel case, the green peaks of Guam emerge from the surrounding waters of the Western Pacific. Guam is the largest and most southern island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the northern area of the Pacific Ocean, covering 34159 square kilometres and with a population of approximately 167,000 people. Situated approximately 2494 kilometres south of Japan and 6115 kilometres west of Hawaii, Guam has pristine beaches, championship golf courses, world-class diving and snorkelling. Visitors can experience a variety of cultural and historical sites, outdoor activities as well as recreational events. As the largest and most developed island in Micronesia, Guam serves as a transportation and communications hub and is the gateway to Micronesia, a region of 2000 islands and atolls spread over five million square kilometres of the Pacific. Guam is also America’s airline link to Asia with an average flight time of around three hours to most Asian cities. The terrain of Guam is a startling contrast of limestone plateaus. The steep cliffs and narrow coastal shelves in the central and northern parts of the island are wonderful to observe. Volcanic hills range up to 204 metres which is the height of Mount Lamlam that is the tallest mountain in the world from below sea level as a result of Guam’s proximity to the Mariana Trench. Southern Guam features lush jungles and quiet seaside villages. The central area of the island has all the modern conveniences of suburban living, with restaurants, bars, shopping centres and international class resort hotels fronting Tumon and Agana Bays. Guam’s earliest settlers were the Chamorros who make up about 37 percent of the island population today. They are thought to have travelled by canoe from South-East Asia to the Mariana Islands, where they lived isolated from the rest of the world for centuries. The Chamorros flourished as an advanced fishing, horticultural, and hunting society and were skilled craftsmen who built unique houses and canoes well suited to this region of the world. They are also skilled in intricate weaving and detailed pottery making. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, the explorer sponsored by the Spanish court, arrived on Guam and forged a link between Spain and the Chamorros. The Spaniards’ influence lasted more than 300 years until the island became a US Territory in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. The Japanese briefly occupied the island until 1944 when it was liberated by American forces. Today, even with modern suburban living, Guam still offers abundant natural beauty. The island is blessed by year round balmy tropical weather and cooling trade winds. Stunning coral reefs and clear crystalline blue lagoons, teeming with colourful aquatic life ring Guam’s white sand coastline. Its verdant interior is lush jungle with hidden waterfalls, rivers and volcanic ridges. Guam’s natural offerings have something for everyone above and below water. There is fishing, hiking, golf, kite and windsurfing, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, jet-skiing, dolphin watching and cultural tours to name but a few. History and geography have given Guam a vibrant cosmopolitan population. The charm and warmth of the people originates from the eclectic blend of Spanish, indigenous Chamorro, Asian and Western cultures. The mix of East, West and Pacific traditions and cultures is evident and is infused in the arts and crafts, language, and especially the food of this island nation. Guam is truly an undiscovered Pacific gem and deserves to be shortlisted as one of your next holiday destinations. "

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