Lonely Planet blog provides travel advice, information and inspiration from Lonely Planet’s online community. Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 120 million books in eleven different languages, along with guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet.
From awe-inspiring ancient spires to innovative, contemporary designs, the world’s varied locales are so often characterised by their architecture. So much of the joy of travelling involves looking up, down and all around at the man-made marvels that form concrete jungles, iconic skylines and world-renowned landmarks of different destinations.
To celebrate the release of our newest title A Spotter’s Guide to Amazing Architecture in April, we’re hosting an #lpchat on Twitter, all about the planet’s greatest buildings, structures and ancient sites. There’ll be chat about chapels, talk on temples and conversation about construction a-plenty, as well as oodles of travel inspiration.
Bring your best stories, pictures, tips and tricks, and meet us on Twitter at 16:30 BST/ 8:30 PDT on Wednesday 28 March. See you there!
The best tweeter will win themselves a copy of our new A Spotter’s Guide to Amazing Architecture book.
HOW DO I TAKE PART?
Follow @lonelyplanet and the hashtag #lpchat on Twitter on Wednesday 28 March at 16:30 BST / 8:30 PDT.
Questions will be ordered Q1, Q2, Q3 etc. To answer Q1, begin your tweet with A1. For Q2, A2 and so on.
Add #lpchat to all of your tweets during the Twitter chat, so others (including @lonelyplanet) can see what you’re saying.
Bring your best travel tips, pics and ideas!
Terms & Conditions: Entrants must be 13 years old or over. Judges’ decision is final. Promoter: Lonely Planet Publications Ltd of 240 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NW. The winner will be notified via direct message on Twitter. The winner must claim their prize and provide an address for delivery within 7 days of being notified, otherwise the judges may select another winner. Prize: one copy of Lonely Planet’s Amazing Architecture in book or eBook format, valued at £7.99/$11.99.
Do you know which country grows the most mangoes? Or the name of the football team who play their home games at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with April’s edition of our monthly quiz. Can you score 100%?
Spectacularly shedding its reputation as something of a sleepy month, this February bombarded us with tales of adventure from the globetrotting Pathfinders community. Thanks to them, we’ve vicariously walked ancient trails in Japan, relived epic battles in Scotland and even searched for erotic artwork in Pompeii.
Selecting our favourite posts is never easy, but here are our top five from February.
A little-known carnival featuring monstrous, satirical effigies of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un? Count us in. Lorelei’s report on Belgium’s Aalst Carnaval strikes a balance between humour and respect, noting the frivolity of the spectacle while also taking care to acknowledge its history – the parade dates back to 1851 – and significance to local people. Excellent imagery also helps bring this experience to life.
While wanderlust-fuelled thoughts of modern Japan likely conjure images of Tokyo’s neon skyline, arguably the country’s most rewarding travel experiences lie in its natural landscapes. In this post, Paul details his hike along the Nakasendo Trail, an ancient walking route that linked Kyoto to then capital Edo (modern-day Tokyo). The narrator illustrates his journey with images of wooden villages, steaming onsens and woodland scenery, which left us ready to strap on our hiking boots.
Falling somewhere between poor wi-fi and sweaty bus journeys on the list of traveller irks, turbulence is an aspect of long-distance travel we all endure, but what exactly is it? In this post Kristin poses flight-related queries to a senior Swiss Airlines pilot. Opting for an engaging Q&A format and incorporating expert insight, the article makes for essential reading for anyone who starts to sweat as the seatbelt sign is switched on.
Simultaneously exploring a picturesque part of central Scotland and correcting Hollywood inaccuracies (in this case, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart), Chris does a great job of bringing a compelling historical event to life while painting a vivid portrait of the city of Stirling, and explaining what it offers to modern-day travellers. Handy illustrations, striking imagery of cliff-edge castles and informative advice on how to reach the medieval market town makes this blog post a must-read.
Examining a popular tourist site from a fresh perspective is no easy feat (especially one that’s over 2000 years old), but Ryazan’s article delving into Pompeii’s erotic heritage (including the use of concealed phallic symbols to point the way to the nearest brothel) makes for an entertaining read. Yes, it’s a little lewd, but the post offers an insight into how liberal Roman society was, providing a more evocative image of life in this ill-fated city than its weathered ruins.
This month’s feature is from Hanna and Zach of HandZaround, who take us on an exciting hike through the varying landscape of the Ngare Ndare Forest in Kenya.
‘We visited Ngare Ndare Forest, 4 hours north of Nairobi, and fell in love with its lush, indigenous setting. The 200 year old trees surround the canopy walkway that takes you into the magic parts of the forest, while the blue waters of the falls provide you with a stunning spectacle (and a pretty freezing bath!) Undoubtedly, it’s a very special place to visit in Northern Kenya.’
Ngare Ndare Forest – HandZaround
A big thumbs up to Hanna and Zach who have seamlessly pieced together a variety of shots to take us along on their hike. We particularly enjoy the change of pace throughout the video, which is complemented by sweeping drone shots of the forest, close-up details and first person footage of various points in the journey. The colour treatment of these shots not only ties everything together, but also gives the montage a warm, summery vibe.
Thanks to all the Pathfinders who submitted footage this month; hats off to videographer Mark Hadj Hamou who was back to take us on a wanderlust-inducing adventure to Luzon in his latest video. Nicole Booth also shared a vlog about her recent trip to Jordan, which was bursting with energy.
Tell us more… I spent seven days travelling around Uzbekistan, one of the biggest travel drawcards in Central Asia. I had been to the region before, but never to Uzbekistan, so the aim of the trip was to see all of the country’s highlights in its main cities – the capital, Tashkent, as well as Bukhara and Samarkand – and to learn about its rich cultural heritage.
In a nutshell… If, like me, you have dreamed about seeing the Silk Road, Uzbekistan is the country that ticks all the boxes. Blue-domed mosques and incredible mosaics covering the outer walls of mausoleums and medressas (Islamic schools) define Uzbekistan’s cityscapes and hearken to a time when Silk Road trade through this region made it among the busiest and most important places on earth.
Defining moment? Watching the sunset in the Registan – Samarkand’s famous main square, flanked by three tiled medressas. The blue hour set in and I could hardly capture the waning light as it softened over the enormous mosaic-covered domes. Hunger pangs set in and I was ready for dinner, as I started to set off the lights suddenly switched on, illuminating the entire square in the most magical way. I probably stayed for another hour after that trying to savour the moment.
Good grub? Uzbekistan’s food is hearty Central Asian fare that relies on a lot of meat, potatoes, dumplings and plov (the local pilau rice). The most surprising and welcome part of Uzbek cuisine were the incredible salads: beetroot and fresh tomato-and-cucumber salads were served at almost every sitting. Uzbek produce is beautiful thanks to its sunny climate.
Fridge magnet or better? Even if you don’t have room to bring home a huge, fuzzy Turkmen hat, you should at least get a photo of yourself wearing one.
You’d be a muppet to miss… Thousand-year-old Bukhara, which was at one time Central Asia’s holiest city. It’s a small and walkable town stuffed with ancient mosques, minarets and holy sites at every turn. Plus the old town is well preserved and is a complete maze – worth getting lost in the dusty back lanes.
Fave activity? Going for a wild swim in Aidarkul Lake. It’s way out in the northern desert of Uzbekistan and was totally empty when I went. Due to its high salt content, you can float around easily. On the day I was there, the sun was beating down and the water was warm. I could’ve stayed in all day.
Quintessential experience? Taking photos of the incredible mosaics that adorn many of the country’s monuments. Close-ups of the Persian-inspired detailing on specific tiles, faraway shots that take in the magnificent colours and of course selfies of you in front of these amazing works of art. Don’t be shy!
Watch the interview
Megan Eaves travelled to Uzbekistan with support from Kalpak Travel (kalpak-travel.com). Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.
Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out what Picture Editor Claire Richardson got up to on her recent trip to Łódź, Poland.
What’s noteworthy about the Arctic Circle’s latest hotel? And which US city has been named the most romantic in the country? Test your knowledge of the latest happenings in the travelsphere with our travel news quiz, featuring some of this month’s most intriguing news stories.
This month’s feature is from videographer Zach Murray who takes us on a journey through Scotland’s mesmerising landscapes.
‘Last spring my wife and I went on an incredible road trip in Scotland. We travelled through beautiful mountains, along rocky clifftops, past fairy tale-like castles and stopped off in Edinburgh, Loch Ness and even the Isle of Skye.’
A Scotland adventure – Zach Murray
Scotland Adventure - YouTube
By combining stunning footage of the Scottish highlands with fun, personal excerpts of their encounters Zach truly brings this travel documentary to life. There are some great transitions throughout the film, which leads us between destinations seamlessly. We particularly enjoyed the (plentiful) sheep cameos!
Thank you to all the Pathfinders that submitted videos this month. Well done to Nomadus Films who guides us through the changing pace of a day in Istanbul. We also rather enjoyed joining The Common Wanderer in their video which documents their time in Swedish Lapland.
New year, new travel experiences! Our intrepid Pathfinders have kicked off 2018 with a host of incredible snapshots, framing everything from the world’s busiest beaches to its most serene landscapes with their well-honed photography skills. Here are the five Instagram posts that stole the show this month…
‘Morning strolls in Chile are a must – those moments where you can enjoy the foggy, peaceful landscapes of this unique area of our world.’ – Javi, @javilorbada
Why we like it: Chile is home to some of planet earth’s most breathtaking natural wonders and panoramic landscapes, and Javi’s capture of this glacier mid-flow showcases them perfectly. The moody, stormy clouds and dark, thick forests that frame the shot give it an extra flourish of drama, and feel almost as though they are creeping into the camera lens itself.
‘With its vibrant arts scene and world-class restaurants, Tulum has established itself as one of Mexico’s Premier tourist destination. Blessed with powdery sands, azure waters and looming palms trees, Tulum truly is a paradise.’ – Cristian, @armenta.c85
Why we like it: Travel photography isn’t only about capturing nature at its most dramatic, it’s also concerned with documenting travellers themselves. This image is a great example of that, what with the sun-worshipping beach bums populating the lower third of the image. With the palm tree acting as a central focus and the dazzling, turquoise sea a picturesque backdrop, this is a real moment-in-time shot, showcasing a typical day by the sea in Tulum.
‘The power of sunlight. Everything in the shadows is grey and dark, the sun makes everything warm and beautiful.’ – Raphael, @raphael.fyi
Why we like it: Raphael’s image is real proof that sometimes the simplest shots have the most impact. These gloriously sun-burnished trees of England’s Peak District act as a canvas of colour, with the light changing at exactly the right point of the photograph for maximum effect.
‘I was born in New York City. I lived in New York City. I had my 16th birthday dinner at Windows on the World. I worked at the World Trade Center. This is the first time I have been able to bring myself to see the Oculus and to visit the 911 Memorial. While staying at a hotel nearby I was so close, just three blocks away, and made myself go. I am glad I did.’ – Danah, @danahfreeman
Why we like it: Danah’s poignant capture of New York’s Oculus WTC is a masterclass in image framing, and a beautiful perspective of one of the city’s most important memorials. The Oculus’ fluted ceiling is rendered all the more stirring thanks to the camera angle, which also creates a reverent sense of calm.
‘We had a family holiday here over Christmas and whilst a lot of the time we were busy skiing, we also had plenty of time to enjoy the serenity of the place. On a morning walk, just past the village looking over to the Swiss Alps, we captured this beautiful shot. The scene embodied our feeling of peacefulness and anticipation of a fresh new year dawning.’ – Michelle and Lars, @lifejourney4two
Why we like it: What better way to welcome in the new year than with that untouched, pristine, glorious blanket of snow? The calming purple and blue hues of the streaming sun coming in from the edge of the frame make it appear all the more magical, and as for those mountains… they’re the kind of vista you’d want to wake up to every morning.
For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.
The beginning of a new year is a time for both reflection and preparation, and this month’s blog post submissions from our Pathfinders left us with a lot to think about. We’ve been wowed by offbeat wildlife encounters in Mexico, humbled by the sight of mighty eagle-assisted hunters in Kyrgyzstan and left pondering over current issues pervading the online travelsphere.
Though it was a tough task to narrow down our favourites, here’s our pick of travel blog posts from our Pathfinder community in January.
It’s always refreshing to read a travel yarn that manages to completely capture the imagination, and Jessie’s piece on the monarch butterfly migration in Mexico sent us into a flutter. A lesser-known wondrous wildlife experience is brought to life through crisp, colourful images and engaging writing, with Jessie doing a great job of stressing the sustainability of the current infrastructure surrounding the phenomenon – an aspect of the experience that will hopefully endure as the spectacle grows in popularity.
Jessie is a blogger from the USA hoping to inspire everyone to get out and see the world. Sample more of her stories at slyharbison.com.
Javi’s photos are exceptional, and while the images in his visual journey across the Atacama Desert take centre stage, there’s also something enjoyable about his clipped, stringent prose-style that makes for great reading. Like any good inspirational post, his piece left us wanting to pack a tent and bed down for a night under the star-punctured Chilean skies; though our photos would likely pale in comparison.
Born in Madrid, Javi travels far and wide in search of the perfect shot. Keep tabs on his latest adventures at adventures.javilorbada.com.
For most of us, one of the major joys of travel is witnessing customs so different from our own they instil you with a sense of awe. This sensation is embodied by Cynthia’s post on the eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan: nomadic people who spend years training wild eagles to hunt for them as part of a practice dating back generations. A fascinating and informative read about humanity’s bond with the natural world is enhanced further by striking imagery of the hunters and their winged accomplices.
Cynthia and Niko are currently on an epic overland trip crossing six continents from Ireland to Alaska. Follow their journey at journalofnomads.com.
Taking a delicate issue and exploring it with a sense of humour and poise, in this post Annika voices her thoughts over what she perceives as a lack of diversity among leading female Instagrammers in the travel industry. Annika is proactive in her approach, creating a campaign to showcase a selection of more eclectic female Insta-stars, with links to a number of wanderlust-inducing accounts included.
Annika is an self-confessed ‘truffle pig’ when it comes to rooting out destinations ideal for both adventure and luxury travel. Read more of her insights at midnightblueelephant.com.
The innovative format of Dan and Lauren’s article could spice up any topic, but its appeal is heightened when considering its subject matter. Penang’s George Town is a magnificent blend of whimsical street art and fantastic food stalls, which makes the pair’s decision to paint what they’ve eaten in the city a stroke of genius. By no means a gimmick, the post’s content is substantial, highlighting a selection of Penang’s celebrated eateries in addition to the excellent illustrations.
Dan and Lauren bring their travels to life through stories and scribbles. Keep track of their experiences at pocopilgrims.com.