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Luzon & Manila

Philippines, Asia

The city is a mix of old and new, of traditions and modern customs, of quaint street stalls and modern shopping malls. Luzon, w...

string(3651) "The city is a mix of old and new, of traditions and modern customs, of quaint street stalls and modern shopping malls. Luzon, where Manila is located, is the largest island in the Philippines and many of the provinces are just a few hours drive from the city. Northern Luzon is rich in panoramic views, green landscapes and old Spanish houses. Nicknamed the Summer Capital, Baguio City is a cool climate escape for Manila’s wealthy. The neighbouring city of La Trinidad, the provincial capital just north of the city, has some interesting sights. You can visit the vegetable market, climb Mt Pulag or see the well-preserved Kabayan mummies from burial caves in the north. Visit Asin, a woodcarving village with a hot spring swimming hole, natural streams and relaxing steam bath. A side trip to the tranquil mountaintop town of Sagada offers beautiful scenery and a cool climate. Its claim to fame is the hanging coffins, seen on cliff sides surrounding the town and in limestone caves. Hugging the northwestern slopes of Luzon are the provincial towns of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. There is a strong Spanish influence in Vigan Ilocos Sur, with 16th century Spanish houses lining the streets of the old section and a museum full of Spanish treasures. Antipolo is the centre of the May-time pilgrimage, while Angono is home to the Higantes Festival, held in November, when gigantic papier-mâché figures of men and women are paraded down the streets. Northern Palawan is home to some of the most diverse ecosystems in the country. The El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area showcases extraordinary flora and fauna, including mammals, reptiles, and birds that are abundant in the area. The dramatic landscape boasts of soaring limestone cliffs standing guard over crystal-clear waters, forests over limestone, and beaches with powdery white sand. Dramatic lagoons, mysterious caves, and colorful reefs are among the facets for Bacuit Bay in El Nido and Taytay Bay. A couple of hours by boat from El Nido are the snorkelling havens of Simisu Island and Cathedral Cave, Snake Island and Cudugman Cave. South Palawan is quite different to the north. Quezon is situated around 100 kilometres from Puerto Princesa, and is the nearest town to the archeologically interesting Tabon Caves, a half-hour boat ride away. Quezon is famous for its Pahiyas Festival celebrated in the towns of Lucban and Sariaya in mid-May Manila Manila has a population of around 10 million. The city is a mix of old and new, of traditions and modern customs, of quaint street stalls and modern shopping malls, of excellent museums and happening restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Although the city spreads a great distance along Manila Bay, the main places of interest are fairly central, concentrated just south of the Pasig River. Immediately south is the fortress of Intramuros (literally ‘within the walls’), once the preserve of the ruling classes. The Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church are two of the oldest churches in the country. Nearby, Casa Manila is a beautifully restored Spanish colonial home. The Cultural Centre of the Philippines is the central venue for all the diverse arts of the provinces, including ballet, concerts and stage plays. Within the complex is the stately Coconut Palace, made of materials from the coconut tree and other indigenous materials. This is also a great place to view the spectacular sunset across Manila Bay. At the huge Chinese Cemetery in Santa Cruz, tombs are fitted with crystal chandeliers, air-conditioning, kitchens and flushing toilets, to ensure comfort on the trip to paradise."
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. "
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. "
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."
Coral Coast & Pacific Harbour

Fiji, Pacific

The Coral Coast is 80 kilometres of barrier reef beaches, on the sheltered southern side of Viti Levu about halfway between Nadi a...

string(3652) "The Coral Coast is 80 kilometres of barrier reef beaches, on the sheltered southern side of Viti Levu about halfway between Nadi and Suva. The temperate climate and great variety of accommodation—from selfcontained ‘bure’ cottages to international five-star resorts—make it a popular tourist retreat. The resorts offer great recreational facilities, restaurants, cultural performances and nightlife, while the pristine waters and reefs create an underwater paradise for snorkelling and diving. You can throw in a line with the locals or take out a charter vessel for game fishing. There are some spectacular surf beaches too. Natadola beach is arguabley the best beach on the island and the a great place to learn to surf. Also at Natadola is the Natadola Bay Chamipionship Golf Course which annually hosts the PGA (Austral-Asia) & European Tour accredited ‘Fiji International’ Golf Chamipionships. For those wanting to take in some nature, history and culture, visit the Sigatoka Sand Dunes where shifting sands and archaeological digs continue to reveal skeletons and pottery arefacts. Fiji’s only wildlife park, the Kula Eco- Park in Korotogo displays rarely seen indigenous species. Head for the hills into the beautiful Sigatoka Valley, aptly named The Salad Bowl of Fiji, a colourful patchwork of agricultural fields, Fijian villages, Indian settlements, temples and volcanic hills. It offers spectacular scenery and a fascinating history of the Tongan tribes who were the last to resist Christianity. Sigatoka River Safari tours into the valley villages are very popular. At Tavuni Hill you can walk amongst the ruins of an ancient fort. The cave tour follows the Tongan trail to Naihehe Caves to see the spectacular rock formations and awesome reminders of the past. The same tour takes you for a river ride on traditional bamboo rafts. There is also a waterfall tour where you can learn about plant medicines on a rainforest trek, participate in authentic ceremonies with a village chief and swim in a beautiful tropical waterfall. Robinson Crusoe Island is fringed with white sandy beaches, and offers great snorkelling and Pacific isle entertainment. To get there, take a boat ride or a sea plane which is based on the river at Sigatoka Town. It is also possible to enjoy scenic flights over the coast and valley or charter a small plane for airport transfers. In the bustling town of Sigatoka, locals and tourists blend together when eating, shopping and socialising. Farmers barter their wares in the central marketplace and there are duty free shops, supermarkets, tailors, bars and cafes. There are quaint roadside markets right along the Coral Coast stretch, so even those just driving through will be able to enjoy this lovely area. On the eastern most fringe of the Coral Coast, Some 30 kilometres west of Suva, Pacific Harbour is known as Fiji’s ‘adventure capital’, famous for activities like the world-class shark dive at Shark Reef, great scuba diving in the Beqa lagoon, zip-lining, off-road buggy rides, white-water rafting in the Upper Navua gorge, and world-class surf at the Frigates offshore surf break. Pacific Harbour was originally established in the 1970s as a recreation oriented, residential community as well as a resort area. Here groups can arrange a visit to the Arts Village Cultural Centre and Marketplace for special performances, as well as demonstrations of handicraft making techniques. Not too far from Pacific Harbour is the legendary Beqa Island, home of the Fijian firewalkers who perform their ceremonies at several major Fijian hotels and resorts. "
Sabah

Malaysia, Asia

Situated on the beautiful island of Borneo, Sabah is one of the thirteen states of Malaysia. It is the second largest state in ...

string(2644) " Situated on the beautiful island of Borneo, Sabah is one of the thirteen states of Malaysia. It is the second largest state in Malaysia and shares the island of Borneo with Sarawak, Brunei, and Indonesian Kalimantan. Sabah is richly blessed with nature’s diversity, unique cultures, fun adventures, beautiful beaches, and fantastic cuisines for the adventurous tastebuds. From the world’s largest flower, the rafflesia, to one of the highest mountains is Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, and one of the world’s top dive sites, Sipadan Island, Sabah has it all. Not only will you be amazed by the places to see and things to do here, you will also be treated with unique Sabahan hospitality. Explore the unique culture and tradition of Sabah and get ready to experience memories that will last a lifetime. Traditionally, Sabah’s economy was lumber dependent. However, with the increasing depletion of natural forests as well as ecological efforts to conserve the rainforest, palm oil has proven to be a more sustainable resource. Sabah also exports other agricultural products including rubber, cocoa, vegetables and seafood. Tourism, particularly ecotourism, is presently the second largest contributor to the economy. In the downtown area, you can get around quite easily on foot between hotels, restaurants, tour operators, markets, and the tourism office. For longer trips, taxis are readily available. Just 24 kilometres from Tawau town is Tawau Hills Park with sprawling grounds, lush green foliage and a sparkling river. It is a popular destination for visitors who want to experience nature at its best. Enjoy the rich vegetation of the park that changes as the altitude increases. There are plenty of hiking trails with some leading to a hot spring area and waterfalls. For a rich, cultural experience visit the Linangkit Cultural Village in Tuaran and meet the Lotud people, one of the 32 diverse ethnic groups in Sabah. Situated in Kampung Selupoh, approximately an hour’s drive away from the heart of Kota Kinabalu, the Linangkit Cultural village offers an indepth look into the social and cultural heritage of the Lotud people. The choice of accommodations in Sabah is endless. Sabah offers five-star resorts with the latest amenities and facilities to comfortable lodgings for the budget conscious. They all feature Sabah’s common aspect of warm hospitality. Signature championship golf courses surrounded by serene vistas, a world-class marina for sailing enthusiasts, and endless island accommodations are just few reasons that will ensure that every moment of your holiday is lively and fun filled. "

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