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As Queenstown is the adventure capital of the South Island, Rotorua is definitely the North Island equivalent, with the added bonus of geothermal activity and a strong connection to its Maori cultural roots.

Growing up in the North Island, I can’t tell you the first time I visited, but it was somewhere we frequently took holidays and it’s still a favourite with locals and travellers from overseas, thanks to all of the things to do in Rotorua. There are so many great Rotorua attractions and even having visited countless times over the years, I always find something new to do!

These are the top things to do in Rotorua and the top Rotorua attractions you should plan to visit during your stay.

Skyline Rotorua

Skyline Rotorua encompasses a range of activities found on the hill behind Rotorua. I’ve been going here since I was a child and it’s still one of my favourite places in New Zealand! Jump on a Gondola and head up the mountain for beautiful views over the city and Lake Rotorua. From there you can do zip lining, mountain biking, wander natural trails or enjoy wine tasting and food overlooking the view.

But by far my favourite thing to do is the luge! I honestly don’t know why this hasn’t caught on more in other places around the world. Basically, you sit in a black luge-like cart with bicycle-like handlebars and wind your way down tracks on the side of the mountain. Hard to explain but it’s awesome!

The Luge - Rotorua, New Zealand - Migrating Miss - YouTube

White Water Rafting

The Kaituna River is rated a Class V for white water rafting, mostly thanks to two large waterfalls, one of which is 7 metres high and the tallest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. I can’t say it’s something I’ve dreamed of doing, but since it was our honeymoon in New Zealand my husband convinced me to give it a go. It was terrifying but exhilarating and amazing at the same time! We went with Kaitiaki Adventures and the guys who were our guides were so great the whole trip. Highly recommended!

Explore the Geothermal areas

The first thing you will probably notice about Rotorua is the smell. Thanks to the geothermal activity in the area the smell of sulphur is strong in the city. There are plenty of different Geothermal areas to explore, where you can see geysers shooting into the sky, natural to springs and pools, and Mars-like landscapes with hot steam pouring from vents into the air. Some options are Kuirau Park, Te Puia, Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Hells Gate Geothermal Park. They all offer something a little different.

We really enjoyed visiting Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, which is about a half an hour drive from the city. The Champagne pool with it’s turquoise-blue waters edged with flaming orange rock was a sight to behold for sure!

Check out Rotorua’s geothermal attractions here

Maori villages and performances

Rotorua is a great place to learn more about Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, and their culture. This is something I grew up with and even took part in Maori cultural group performances at school, and I forget how amazing it can be for visitors to have an insight into a culture they may have previously known nothing about.

There are several Maori villages where you can take a tour, learn about culture and traditions, enjoy a meal and watch a cultural show.

Rotorua Lake adventures

While you’re in Rotorua, don’t neglect activities on the lake. The Lakeland Queen is a steam-paddled cruiser offers daily breakfast, lunch, or coffee cruises around the lake. There’s also stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking tours.

Check out adventures on the lake here

Redwoods at Whakarewarewa Forest

Whakarewarewa Forest is home to a huge number of towering Californian Coast Redwoods, surrounding beautiful walking tracks and some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. The forest was decimated by the Mount Tarawera explosion as well, and although native New Zealand trees were planted these can take around 200-300 years to mature, so the much faster growing Redwoods were also used.

Buried Village

Te Wairoa, or the Buried Village, is the most visited archaeological site in New Zealand. It sits close to the banks of Lake Tarawera, 20 minutes drive from Rotorua, and was once a thriving community that saw many visitors on their way to the Pink and White Terraces, a natural wonder similar to Pammukale in Turkey today. Sadly, both were destroyed and buried in the 1886 eruption of the volcano, Mount Tarawera. The village has since been excavated and provides an insight into life in New Zealand at the time. The beautiful green and blue lakes nearby are also worth a visit.

Thermal Swimming Springs & Pools

While many of the geothermal areas have pools of water far too hot for swimming, there are also designated hot pools and free natural hot springs where you can enjoy the thermal waters. Kuirau Park and Kerosene Creek are areas where you can dip your feet in and swim for free, but there’s also the Polynesian Spa on the Rotorua lakefront. We loved relaxing at the end of the day in their natural pools with views out across the lake.

Velocity Valley Adventure Park

Want to try bungy jumping, jet boating, or take a giant swing? Head along to the Velocity Valley Adventure Park. They offer six different speed-related adrenalin activities for both children and adults.

Rotorua Museum

The Rotorua Museum is housed in the Old Bath House in the Government Gardens, dating from 1908. This building is an icon in pictures of Rotorua, and somewhere I remember playing outside of as a child. Unfortunately, after recent earthquakes, the building was found to be below current earthquake standards and is currently waiting to be repaired. It is still possible to view from the outside and the Rotorua Museum are still running events, daily tours of the gardens and education programs in the meantime.

Rotorua Night Market

Every Thursday night on Tutanekai Street is the Rotorua Night Market. We stumbled across it by chance and are SO glad we did. So much so that we still talk about it months later…

You’ll find a mix of food vans, craft stalls, and entertainment. The dumplings are to die for, just look out for the massive line!

Rotorua Agrodome

Just 10 minutes from central Rotorua is the Agrodome, a 350-acre working farm open to visitors. For anyone looking to learn more about what it’s like in rural New Zealand or who just wants to step into a sheep farm, then this is your chance! They have an hour long Farm Show that can introduce you to farming life, or you can take a Farm Tour too.

Rainbow Springs: Rotorua Wildlife & Nature Park

If you want to meet the elusive Kiwi then Rainbow Springs is a great addition to your list of things to do in Rotorua. Although Kiwi are our national bird it’s extremely rare to see them in the wild outside of Stewart Island. At Rainbow Springs they have a nocturnal enclosure where day and night is flipped, so you can see the Kiwi at their most active. The rest of the park offers plenty of opportunities to see other native New Zealand wildlife too.

Mount Tarawera Hike

As well as white water rafting with Kaitiaki Adventures, you should check out their Mt Tarawera tour. You’re transported to Mt Tarawera up a bumpy mountain road, before walking to the summit of the volcano across loose volcanic rock. From there it’s a sliding run down the scree into the crater, before a hard slog of a climb out the other side.

The views are stunning, and it’s also kind of like an alternative to the much busier and longer Tongariro Crossing.

Ziplining

For another adventurous outdoor activity in Rotorua, there are a couple of different ziplining courses, including the one up Skyline Rotorua and the Rotorua Canopy Tours. The forests you’re ziplining through often contain native trees and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the landscape while having some fun!

Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton is not in Rotorua, but at an hour away many people visit on a day trip while they’re staying in the city. The former movie set was used originally in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, before being dismantled and then rebuilt before The Hobbit films. And lucky for us, it’s now here to stay!

We absolutely loved visiting the set, which is so well maintained it looks like you’ve literally walked into Middle Earth. We would have loved to linger for hours, but tours are separated into time slots with guides who show you around the Hobbiton homes before finishing the tour at The Green Dragon Inn where you can enjoy one of their specially made brews. From the moment you get on the bus, it’s an amazing adventure!

Check out Hobbiton tours here

Rotorua Essential Travel Tips The best time to visit Rotorua

Summer is the best season to visit Rotorua as temperatures will be the warmest for any outdoor activities you intend to do, especially water-based ones. However, even in winter, it’s still worth visiting the city for the cultural experiences, geothermal areas, and many of the activities like the luge or ziplining are still available. Having said that, many of the attractions like white water rafting will still be available and you’ll be given extra gear to stay warm.

How long to spend in Rotorua

How long you should spend in Rotorua depends on how many of the awesome attractions you plan to do! I would suggest a minimum of 2-3 days, extending it out further if you want to travel more around the area using the city as a base or do a lot of the activities listed here.

Plan in advance and book Rotorua activities here

Where to stay in Rotorua

Rotorua is a fairly small and walkable city, although a lot of the attractions are located outside of the city centre as well. If you don’t have a car, I would recommend staying in the centre to allow you to easily reach any pickup places for activities and tours. If you’re travelling with a car you can really stay anywhere! We enjoyed staying in the centre for the ease of going out to eat in the evening, and walk around the lakefront.

Since Rotorua has long been a hub for tourists, there are many established hotels at good prices. We stayed in the Millennium Hotel, although I have also previously stayed in the Novotel and many other smaller motels.

Check out hotels in Rotorua here

Check out more tours, attractions, and activities here:

I hope when you visit New Zealand (or if you live there!) you consider Rotorua as a destination to get your adventure-fix and learn more about Maori culture and the history of the amazing area.

Sonja x

Read more and plan your New Zealand trip:

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The following is a guest post by Shivani, a blogger at The Wandering Core and working a full-time job in IT sector. A native of Delhi, India, Shivani has a keen interest in travel and loves to explore not only far off places but also her home city.

As the capital of largest democracy in the world, Delhi is the perfect mix of history and urban culture. With a history going back to the 6th century, and now the capital of India, Delhi is an enchantment for all. As a metropolitan city with lots of places to visit, not all can be covered in Dehli in 2 days. But I’m going to present a detailed itinerary about how to spend your best 48 hours in Delhi.

Old Delhi perfectly blends with New Delhi while maintaining its culture and charm. Delhi has a number of ancient architectural buildings, but it is slowly catching up with an urban city feel alongside the impressions of colonial buildings built by the British. Old Delhi still attracts a lot more tourists than its later version, thanks to the largest spices market in Asia, oldest cloth market of Chandni Chowk, the largest mosque in India, and 17th century Red Fort built by Shah Jahan.

What to do in Delhi in 2 days Qutub Minar

Start your first day early with Qutub Minar – the tallest brick minaret in the world. Qutub Minar is the symbol of the start of the Mughal empire rule in India and is the location of the first mosque in India. When Qutb al-din AIbak began his reign of Delhi Sultanate, he perceived the minaret and this is how it received its name. Despite being the largest minaret, it is still few inches shorter than the Taj Mahal.

Humayun Tomb & Nizammudin Dargah

Humayun Tomb is like Delhi’s own red sandstone Taj Mahal. Even the iconic Taj Mahal got its inspiration from Humayun’s Tomb! Compactly located in the South Delhi, the tomb is a photographer’s playground.

The Mausoleum holds the graves of Humayun Kabri & Haji Begum and attracts millions of tourists every year. So, if you wish to create unique pictures, then I would advise heading to the tomb either in the early morning or late evening. Near sunset, the crowds will disperse and you’ll be able to capture amazing pictures.

Nizammudin Dargah is another of the most-visited places in Delhi, located just across from the Humayun Tomb entrance. Spend an hour soaking in the ambiance of some of the most sacred places in Delhi.

India Gate & Connaught Place

India Gate is the largest war memorial in India. It is a triumphal arch built in a similar tone to ones in Paris & Rome. The arch is surrounded by a huge array of gardens and small canals perfect for an evening picnic. India Gate is closely connected to Rashtrapati Bhavan through Rajpath. If time permits, don’t miss out on photographing another architecture marvel from the national capital.

India Gate is closely located to Connaught Place which is visited equally by locals and tourists. It is a large shopping junction, restaurant hub and a great place to feel Delhi’s culture. If you want to stay for lunch or dinner, try Farzi Cafe in the inner circle.

Old Delhi

I would advise keeping the second day for old Delhi. It’s huge and extensively crowded so if you wish to cover all four places in a day, you must start early.

Red Fort

Start your tour with Red Fort. Once an official residence of Mughal emperors, the Red Fort is now famous for hosting the Indian PM on Independence Day. The fortified monument is a huge complex flaunting a design of intricate Mughal and Islamic architecture.

Jama Masjid

After visiting the Red Fort, head to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Another stunning Mughal monument, it is one of the most sacred places in India. It’s a place of prayer, so be careful to respect the culture and don’t disturb people offering their prayers.

Explore not only the main monument but also head to the top of the minaret for amazing views of Delhi. The ticket counter for both is near Gate 2, and the entry for the Minaret is near the same gate too.

Chandni Chowk Market

After covering both monuments, prepare yourself for the large and bustling crowds in the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk’s market. Hold tightly to your belongings including wallets, handbags or camera, it’s better safe than sorry!

The market is divided into various sections, Dareeba for gold/silver jewelry, Kinari Bazaar for decoration, artificial jewelry, or laces etc, Meena Bazaar for Indian wedding lehengas (dresses). It’s difficult to cover or shop from all in a day, so I say wander through the alleys and enjoy the vibe before heading out.

Before ending your day, I would highly recommend trying out Dahi Bhalla (a sweet Indian snack) from Natraj Dahi Bhalla walla. Ask any local, they will point in the right direction. They serve the best Dahi Bhalla in Delhi and are must-try from my personal experience.

How to get to Delhi and around

Being the capital of India, Delhi is well-connected through air, rail, and roads.

By air

Delhi’s international and domestic airports are located on the very outskirts of the city. Delhi International (IGI) airport is locally known as T3 airport and T1, including 1C & 1D, cater domestic flights. If you’re covering the Golden Triangle of India (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur), then most likely you will land in Delhi’s T3 airport. T3 is well connected through a special section of the Delhi Metro – Airport Express. The Airport Express will take you directly to the central Delhi, ending at New Delhi Railway station.

By rail

Delhi is a major junction for covering Northern India and it has more than 6 railway stations. Out of these the New Delhi Railway station and Old Delhi railway station are the most used.

By bus

Delhi has 2 major bus terminals – Kashmere Gate and Anand Vihar. Comfortable Volvo buses are available for nearby states. For Agra and other parts of Uttar Pradesh, Anand Vihar is the best place. For Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana, and some of Uttar Pradesh too, Kashmere Gate is the place to head to.

Getting around

Travel in Delhi in the metro is the safest and fastest to commute. Autorickshaws and uber/ola are available too, but watch out for traffic if you choose these options.

Where to stay in Delhi

For a short duration of two days in Delhi, I recommend staying near Central Delhi, CP or Lutyens Delhi. There are various hotels available, from 3 – 5 star. I would not suggest staying in South Delhi as it’s usually tied up with heavy traffic and the commute time will seem never-ending. Airbnb or homestays are also good if you choose areas like Jor Bagh, Sundar Nagar, Khan Market. But beyond these areas in South Delhi, almost everything is located in a high traffic area.

Day trips from Delhi

Agra is a 3-hour drive from Delhi thanks to the new Delhi-Agra expressway. If you’re spending more than 2 days in Delhi, I recommend taking a day out to visit the Taj Mahal. However, the Taj Mahal is closed on a Friday, so bear that in mind.

Mathura and Vrindavan are also on way to Agra. Vrindavan is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Vrindavan has some famous temples including Iskon temple, Bankey Bihari Temple and the Nidhi Van aka a small garden.

Delhi is a big metropolis but it is also the historic capital of India. Two days in Delhi might not be enough to cover all the historic places and see the modern part of the city, but you can get a feel for the vibe of the city and experience at least the highlights and top things to do. Nervous before traveling to Delhi? Read my top tips about first-time travel to Delhi.

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The following is a guest post by LC, an ex-expat who is currently re-exploring her home country of Australia and writing about her travels on her blog, Birdgehls. Her life’s aspiration is to one day live in Tasmania with a Shetland pony, miniature pig, and several pygmy goats.

It would be a shame to journey to the Land Down Under and not spend at least a little bit of your trip in one of Australia’s biggest and best cities.

Two days in Melbourne is just enough time to scratch the city’s surface. It’s a place rife with culture, art (urban and otherwise), a pumping nightlife and some of the best restaurants and cafes in Australia.

What to do in Melbourne in 2 Days

Melbourne in 2 days is a proper challenge, but you can at least cover most of the highlights within the city centre. Around five days to a week is a recommendable amount of time to spend in the city so that you can go exploring beyond the city centre. However, if two days is all you have to spare, then this is what you should prioritise.

Day One Itinerary Check out Federation Square and Flinders St

Flinders Street Station is the beating heart of Melbourne’s city centre and the building housing it considered one of the most beautiful and historic within the city.

It’s a regular meeting place amongst locals – instructing one another to “meet under the clocks” above the station’s main entrance.

From Flinders Street, you can stroll across to nearby Federation Square, which is home to some lively bars and eating areas, outdoor entertainment screens and ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

There are regular exhibitions held at ACMI concerning art, culture, and film. You can check out their website to see if there is anything of interest on during your own visit.

Tour the MCG (for sports enthusiasts)

Melbourne is considered to be the sports capital of Australia and the home of much of the fanfare is the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, also known as The MCG, or simply The “G”.

The MCG is the largest stadium in Australia and the tenth largest in the world. It’s big.

It’s here that cricket and Aussie Rules fanatics journey to, to watch their teams play off against one another. Or in the case of cricket, drink beer in the sun whilst the teams on the grounds do seemingly not very much at all.

It’s worth trying to nab a ticket to an AFL game, because the atmosphere in The G is incredibly. If no games are playing and you’re still keen to check it out, you can tour the MCG and learn all about Australia’s great and passionate sporting history.

If you’re into that kind of thing.

Visit the National Gallery of Victoria

One place I thoroughly recommend heading to is the NGV.

Located a short stroll south from Flinders Street, it regularly holds some of the best art exhibitions in the country.

Some cost coin to get into, but others are free. Just make sure you get there early, to avoid the crowds.

Poke around the laneways

After this, you can head back into the city and start exploring!

Melbourne’s laneways are world famous, playing host to some fabulous urban art, cute cafés and restaurants serving the most delicious food. You can eat very well in this Australian city, for a range of prices.

For art, I recommend checking out the ever-changing Hosier Lane, or AC/DC Lane, which bears tribute to the famous Australian rock band. For food, explore Tattersalls Lane (there are excellent dumplings to be found along here) and Meyers Place. I enjoy simply walking down Flinders Lane as well, to see what’s on offer in terms of art, drinks and eats.

Visit the Shrine of Remembrance for stellar views of the city

This tribute to Australia’s fallen soldiers is free to enter and well worth a wander around, to learn about the country’s history and involvement in the world’s wars over the last century.

A climb to the top will provide you with an excellent and more importantly free view of Melbourne’s cityscape, looking back from the south.

Day Two Itinerary Go Shopping on Chapel St

If you asked any Australian why they’d make a trip to Melbourne that wasn’t event specific, they’d probably answer “to shop”. The city is packed full of boutique shops selling interesting and varied clothes, homewares, art and other knick-knacks.

Chapel Street in the city’s southeast, stretches through the suburbs of South Yarra, Prahran, and Windsor. It’s a popular destination for good food, entertainment and a spot of shopping.

You can swing by Prahran Market to grab a bite or ogle at gourmet delicacies if you’re there any day other than a Monday or Wednesday when the market is closed.

Visit the Brighton Beach Boxes

Despite being located outside the city, the Brighton Beach boxes are one of the most iconic and photographed images of Melbourne. They comprise of 82 colourful boxes lining the sand of one of Melbourne’s most affluent suburbs. Considered a status symbol, owning one comes with a price – a box that went up for sale was sold for over $326,000 in 2017.

The easiest way to get there via public transport is to catch the train on the Sandringham line to Middle Brighton. From there, it’s just over a kilometres walk down to the beach.

Stroll along St Kilda Beach

One thing Melbourne is admittedly lacking in is a decent beach. There are many beautiful stretches of coastline and sand from about a half hour drive out of the city in either direction, but the metro beaches leave a lot to be desired.

It is worth heading south to St Kilda beach, if only to explore the historic pier.

If you’re in the mood for a bit of fun and it’s the weekend, you can have a stroll around Luna Park. Opened in 1912, it’s the oldest continuously running theme park in the country. Its most famous ride is the Scenic Railway, a rollercoaster that runs around the park’s perimeter. And the giant face that serves as the entrance to the park is both terrifying and worth a gander at.

Go bar hopping

After your day exploring Melbourne’s southeast, chill out with a bit of revelry in the city itself. As far as cities in Australia go, Melbourne probably has the best nightlife (certainly more so than Sydney, which has been crippled by lockout laws).

I’d start at either Berlin Bar on Corrs Lane or Madame Brussels on Bourke Street. From there, just head to wherever takes your fancy – there are interesting and varied bars right across the city, including a handful of rooftop bars.

How to Get to Melbourne

In an act of minor insanity and a major inconvenience, Melbourne doesn’t have a train line that cuts straight out to Tullamarine International Airport from the city.

What it does have is a rather expensive coach known as the SkyBus. These buses arrive at the airport at regular intervals (ten minutes or so), taking travellers back and forth from Southern Cross Station in the city.

You can transfer to a smaller coach at the station, which will drop you off at your hotel. Tickets are cheaper to book online – $18 for a one-way adult and $36 for a round trip.

Uber and other ride-share apps, as well as taxis, are also an option. But if you’re heading to the city, the SkyBus is probably the best and “cheapest” way to get there.

Where to Stay in Melbourne

If you’re wondering where to stay in Melbourne, the surrounding suburbs can offer a glimpse into a local’s life within the city. Melbourne is comprised of many interesting suburbs, with their own varied activities and individual vibes. If you’re short on time, however, I’d recommend staying in the city.

There are a range of hotels and hostels sprinkled around the CBD (Central Business District) that will suit any budget, whilst keeping in mind that Australia is quite an expensive country to travel through.

If Airbnb is more your style, there are plenty of studio apartments on offer around Docklands, which is a stone throw away from Southern Cross Station (and so conveniently, the Skybus).

Day Trips from Melbourne

Australia is a big country. Like, sixth largest in the world big. There’s only so much ground you can cover in a short space of time, particularly when our public transport system leaves a lot to be imagined.

It would be a real shame to journey all the way to Melbourne and skip driving the Great Ocean Road. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the country, taking you through small coastal towns and past beautiful beaches. It’s also easily doable as a day trip from Melbourne.

The standout attraction of this route is the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park. They’re a three-hour straight drive from the city. It takes around two hours longer if you travel along the coast. I would recommend doing the scenic route on the way there and then hammering home via the highway on the drive back to Melbourne.

If you’re travelling by train and want to check out what regional Victoria has to offer, take a trip out to the smaller cities of Ballarat and Bendigo. Both are relics of the state’s gold rush era and there are a plethora of activities to do in each.

It’s impossible to see and do everything with only 2 days in Melbourne, but this list will help you scratch the surface of what this fantastic Australian city has to offer. And perhaps encourage you to return for a longer trip, one day!

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The following is a guest post written by Cat Lin, a Canada-based food and travel writer. She loves adventure travel and enjoys sampling the local cuisine while visiting foreign countries. You can follow her stories at For Two, Please.

Taipei might not be on your travel radar, but should be! As the capital of Taiwan, Taipei has an infectious energetic vibe and a fascinating mix of Chinese, Japanese and Western cultures. And then there’s the food! Known for its street food and night markets, Taipei is home to one of most exciting street food scenes in Asia – if not the world.

For first time visitors to Taipei, I have to warn you that Taipei is very addictive! Two days in Taipei are certainly not enough to explore the entire city, but it will give you a brief taste. If you want to sample what the city has to offer and plan a Taipei itinerary for in 2 days, below are my personal recommendations and insider tips!

What to do with 2 days in Taipei – Day 1 Traditional Taiwanese breakfast

Start your day in Taipei with a morning breakfast at LoCo Food. This breakfast joint serves up mouthwatering pan-fried crispy egg rolls, a traditional Taiwanese breakfast staple, with many different filling options! Pair it with soybean milk and that will give you the energy to jumpstart your day!

Malls of interest and shopping

Head over to Huashan 1914 Creative Park. This early 20th-century brewery has been remodelled and converted into a cultural hub for exhibitions, performances, restaurants, and shops. Here, you can find boutique shops selling items designed by local artists. It also has many cute corners for photo-shoot! Pop-up markets are sometimes hosted on the weekends.

Nearby, there is Syntrend Creative Park – a 12-story mall that has anything and everything tech-related, from latest smartphones to gaming devices. Definitely a paradise for tech enthusiasts!

If that’s not up your alley, check out Taipei’s upscale shopping center – Xinyi District. Home to a dozen shopping malls such as ATT4fun, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Uni-UStyle, and Breeze Songgao, Xinyi District is a top shopping spot to visit during your trip to Taipei. Don’t forget to stop by the Elite Bookstore Xinyi Flagship Store. This 7-story bookstore is the largest in Taiwan and sells a variety of lifestyle products in addition to an expansive range of books.

Taipei 101

Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world, is located in the vicinity. Stop at the Observatory Deck on the 89th floor for spectacular city views. Afterward, have a coffee break at the highest Starbucks in the world (located on the 35th floor in the same building). You’ll need a reservation to get in though so make sure you ask your hotel concierge to book it for you in advance!

Dinner of dumplings

While you’re in Xinyi District, don’t miss out on Din Tai Fung, a famous restaurant known for serving xiao long bao (soup dumplings). Expect to wait in a long line, but the food is worth waiting for!

Elephant Mountain

After dinner, take a hike to the top of the Elephant Mountain. A quick 20-minute hike will take you to the top where you can enjoy spectacular night views of Taipei City!

What to do with 2 days in Taipei – Day 2 Explore Beitou and the natural hot springs

Spend the morning in Beitou, an area that is known for natural hot springs. You can take the MRT to XinBeiTou station, which will take you directly to the area. When you arrive, you will find a walking route to the different attractions Beitou has to offer.

I strongly recommended making a stop to Taipei Public Library (Beitou Branch). This library is Taiwan’s first green library and is made primarily of timber. Resembling a large treehouse, it blends in with the surrounding lush environment. Its unique design attracts many visitors and makes it a popular photo spot!

The Thermal Valley, nicknamed “Hell Valley,” is another must-see. It is a volcanic crater filled with boiling hot sulphuric water that has a temperature between 80 to 100 degrees Celsius! Although you can’t swim in it, it is still very scenic. You can actually see the smoke and mist rising up from the surface!

Of course, you cannot leave Beitou without soaking up in the hot springs! Millenium Hot Springs is an outdoor public bathhouse. For NT$40, you get admission to 5 pools of varying temperatures! It is an incredibly affordable option. Please note that because it is a public hot spring, you need to bring your swimsuits. Alternatively, you can visit the hot spring hotels nearby for privacy. Those are usually charged at an hourly fee and offer private hot spring bath in your en-suite bathroom.

Enjoy lunch at Beitou Market, just a few minutes’ walk from Beitou MRT station. There, you can find many traditional eats, including spare ribs noodles, steamed spring roll, braised pork rice, and meat dumpling soup.

National Palace Museum

In the afternoon, pay a visit to the National Palace Museum. Home to the world’s largest collection of ancient Chinese artifacts (nearly 700,000 items!), the museum is the best place to learn about China’s imperial history and culture.

Shilin Night market

Later in the evening, have a feast at Shilin Night market. This night market is the largest and most famous one in Taiwan, featuring an amazing array of mouth-watering street food! It’s also good for shopping as there are plenty of stores selling clothes and accessories.

Where to stay in Taipei

For upscale accommodation, I would recommend Xinyi District. Most luxury hotels like Le Meridien, Grand Hyatt, and W Taipei are located there. This area is safe, close to metro stations and convenient for shopping and dining.

Day trips from Taipei City

Once you’ve seen Taipei City’s main attractions, why not get out of the city for a day and get some fresh air?

Yangmingshan National Park is a popular scenic destination that is easily accessible from Taipei City. It is known for its unique volcanic terrain and spectacular mountainous landscape.

Jiu Fen is another popular day trip option. This old gold mining town is a charming and delightful gem. Red lanterns fill the narrow cobblestone streets. Can you believe that this place serves as an inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away? If you have time, plan to make a stop at Shi Fen for the beautiful cascading waterfall, and Ping Xi for sky lanterns!

Utilize these 5 tools to help you plan trips around Taiwan.

How to get to Taipei from the airport

There are several ways to get from Taoyuan International Airport to downtown Taipei.

MRT

The Taoyuan Airport MRT is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Taipei. MRT, short for Mass Rapid Transit, is the Taiwanese version of a subway system. Accessible from both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, the express train will take you straight to Taipei Main Station in only 36 minutes! A one-way ticket is NT$160 (equivalent to approximately USD$5.47).

Once you arrive at Taipei Main Station, you can easily transfer to Taipei MRT that takes you to other parts of Taipei city.

For more information on how to take the MRT, check out this post on getting around Taipei by subway.

Bus

Buses are also available from the airport. They leave frequently, have long operating hours, and are slightly cheaper than MRT – fares are around NT$140 one way.

Kuo Kuang Bus, Evergreen Bus, and CitiAir Bus run many different routes between the airport and the city. 1819, for example, operates 24 hours and departs from both terminals to Taipei Main Station. 1840 travels to Songshan Airport, making several stops along the way. 1960 East services to Taipei City Hall.

Taxi

If you’re traveling in a group, taking a taxi might be more cost-effective. Fares are based on the meter. Depending on where you’re traveling to the city, the ride costs around NT$1000 to NT$1200.

So there you have the best things to see and do if you have 2 days in Taipei. The city is packed with delicious offerings, fantastic shopping hotspots, and fascinating cultural sites. You’re gonna love it!

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Driving from Edinburgh to Glencoe is one of my absolute favourite road trips in Scotland. There are plenty of amazing stops along the way, and a fantastic mixture of scenery with green and lush lowlands, lochs, picturesque towns, hidden gems, and the stunning change of entering the highlands with it’s more rugged scenery. And that’s before you even get to Glencoe!

Why drive to Glencoe?

Many people travelling to Edinburgh or Glasgow do so without a car and rely on organised tours to see the rest of Scotland if they have extra time. While there are some fantastic tour companies offering great tours, I also love the freedom of having your own car and really think it’s the best way to see Scotland. Especially on the Edinburgh to Glencoe trip since there are SO many places to stop, and tours tend to try to include Glencoe on a much bigger tour heading towards Loch Ness or the Western Isles. There’s so much more to see on the way there and beautiful stops in the glen itself that I think it’s worth doing it with a car for the freedom!

How long does the drive take?

It is possible to complete a roundtrip from Edinburgh to Glencoe in one day, but it does involve a lot of driving! One way to Glencoe is around 3 hours, so you’d need to allow at least 6 hours of driving time, plus all of the stops. It’s best attempted when the daylight is longer in the summer months, or better yet plan to spend the night somewhere along the route, or around Glencoe.

Renting a car in Edinburgh

Recently, Avis Car Hire asked me to help them create a road trip guide to some of my favourite places within one day’s drive of Edinburgh. Avis have a car hire location at Edinburgh airport and in the city centre so it’s easy to hire a car for a day or two and see more of Scotland!

For the one day road trip from Edinburgh guide, I decided to focus on Glencoe as the ultimate destination since that’s where I always recommend people to go when they want to see Scotland outside of the city. I chose some of my favourite hidden gems and well-known spots along the way.

You can check out the finished Avis guide here! My favourite stops along the drive to Glencoe The Kelpies

A Kelpie is a mythical creature that could be found around waterways across Scotland and has now been immortalised in the 30-metre high horse-head sculptures at the Forth and Clyde Canal. The Kelpies can be seen from the M9 as you drive from Edinburgh towards Stirling, but if you do have a little extra time they’re worth a closer look too!

Photo by Phil Bolger at Phil Bolger Writes

Stirling

Although it’s tempting to skip past Stirling on the motorway, catching just a glimpse of Stirling Castle as you do so, I’d really recommend a pit stop in this historic city. If you want to learn more about the way historic buildings and sites and preserved and maintained in Scotland then The Engine Shed has interactive displays that will allow you to do just that.

There’s Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument just outside the town of course. But make sure you wander downtown and visit Made in Stirling, an amazing shop that supports local artists and designers, showcasing all the beautiful art and things made in the area. It’s the perfect spot to get a unique gift or keepsake to remember your epic road trip!

Just outside of Stirling is the Blair Drummond Smiddy Farm Shop, Butchery and Cafe. It’s a great place to stop for a break since there’s plenty of parking, a beautiful shop crafts, and delicious foods from around Scotland, a butchery and a cafe where you can grab something to eat in or take away. The toasted sandwiches and hand cut chips are divine!

Doune Castle

I love this castle. It’s not the grandest, biggest, oldest, or even the most beautiful, but I love it all the same. Aside from featuring in some prominent moments in history, the medieval castle has featured in several films and TV programs. The commentary in the audio guide is by Monty Python member Terry Jones and Sam Heughan of Outlander fame. Don’t miss going all the way to the roof for the views!

Callander

If you haven’t stopped yet, then Callander is a great option. At the boundary of the lowlands and highlands of Scotland, it’s just before the scenery gets much more dramatic. The town itself has lots of places to grab a coffee or something to eat, including Mhor Bread with their delicious steak and haggis pies. Get something and then continue along the road to the picnic spot at Loch Lubnaig, a beautiful scenic area where you can relax and enjoy a break.

Loch Lomond

If you’re starting out from Glasgow, or planning on coming back the same sort of way, then I’d highly recommend driving further through Loch Lomond National Park than you would if you stick to the route through Callander. From the loch it’s north to Glencoe. When you return you can go through Callander instead! This is really only recommended if you’re staying overnight on the trip since it does add time to your drive, or if you’re not making too many other stops.

You can turn off at Stirling (or backtrack slightly after Doune, since it’s only just up the road) and drive towards Luss on the western shore of the loch. Its a picturesque lochside village with views across to Ben Lomond and of the surrounding mountains.

My favourite new discovery is the Luss Smokehouse, where they smoke locally caught sustainable trout and salmon onsite. The new store sells packets and sandwiches to take away, as well as coffee and other Scotland made goods. I always leave wishing I’d brought more smoked salmon!!

Culross

Culross, pronounced (Coo-Ross, because Fife), is a little bit of an anomaly on the list. It’s located across the Firth of Forth north of Edinburgh, not too far from the new Queensferry Crossing. You’ll pass through here if you choose to go north straight out of the city before heading west for Glencoe, or if you want to take a different route on your way back instead of going through Stirling and along the M9. It’s a chance to see a little more of Scotland and Fife, a rather underrated area.

The charming village was recently used in the filming of the popular Outlander TV series, thanks to its well-preserved medieval looking streets and buildings. Culross Palace with its distinctive yellow colour is a beautiful spot, and there’s even a tearoom named after Lallybroch, a location in Outlander. The Red Lion Inn is lovely on a sunny day with its outdoor tables, or if you can get a spot in the cosy inside. They serve some traditional Scottish pub grub and sticky toffee pudding for dessert!

Glencoe

And now for the star of the show, Glencoe itself. Here are some of my favourite spots to stop for photos and you drive towards and through the glen.

Buachaille Etive Mor

You’ll spot this distinctive pointy mountain as you drive across Rannoch Moor towards Glencoe. There are some great spots on the side of the road where you can take pictures. After you’ve passed the mountain, be sure to look back (not if you’re driving of course!) to see the totally different view from the other side. You’ll spot a small white cottage, the first of two in the area that feature in many photos of Glencoe.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters are three steep ridges stretching down from Bidean nam Bian, and they form a prominent feature in Glencoe. After Buachaille Etive Mor the road narrows as you pass through Glencoe. Watch out for waterfalls and marvel at the steep mountain ridges, before it opens up slightly as you drive alongside the Three Sisters. There are several bays where you can pull over and admire the view, and also some small paths that lead you on a walk between the bays. I like getting off the roadside and further down into the glen for different views.

As you near the end of this stretch you’ll see the second white cottage in a picturesque spot below the mountain ridges.

Glencoe Visitor Centre

Just at the end of the glen is the Glencoe Visitor Centre. You can stop here if you want to learn more about the area, the wildlife, and some of the history. There’s also a cafe. If you go right through behind the Centre there are some short walking paths that take you to see another angle looking back at Glencoe.

Glencoe Folk Museum

The Glencoe Folk Museum is a labour of love that brings together historical items and exhibits of Glencoe and the surrounding area. It’s a real step back in time, especially since it’s located in a traditional thatched roof cottage along the main street of Glencoe.

Glencoe Massacre Monument

Glencoe has a tragic past, which you can learn more about in the Visitors Centre, Folk Museum, or this post about stories of Glencoe. In the small town, you’ll find a monument dedicated to those affected by the Glencoe Massacre in February 1692, which came about as a result of tensions after the Jacobite rebellion.

Tips for driving in Scotland

In Scotland we drive on the left, and outside of the main motorways the roads can be very narrow. So here are some general tips to help you out if you’re not used to driving here!

  • Be prepared for the weather. Slow down in wet conditions and watch for sun glare if it’s sunny but winter when the sun is low. Don’t drive in weather you’re not comfortable in, for example snow.
  • Watch out for animals on the road, especially in more rural areas where sheep aren’t always fenced in.
  • Be careful where you stop for photos. You’re going to want to stop a lot, but make sure you pull over somewhere that is fully off the road and watch when you open your doors!
  • Realise it’s probably going to take you longer than Google Maps tells you. Partly because it’s just inaccurate and the roads take longer, and partly because you’ll stop all the time for photos!
  • If you have a rental car check if it’s diesel or petrol so you fill it up right
  • Automatic rental cars will be much more expensive than a manual car
  • Don’t pass on or near corners. This should be a given, but for people used to driving on multi-lane roads it can be forgotten.
  • Stick to the speed limits, that also means trying not to go too slowly. Although you should drive comfortably, if you’re holding up traffic make sure you look for somewhere to pull over and let it pass.
Want to read more about the locations? You can check out the finished Avis guide here!

Have you ever dreamed of driving to Glencoe?

Sonja x

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There are so many amazingly beautiful places in Thailand, from the beaches in the south to the jungle of the north and everything in between! Although I’ve been to Thailand several times, I never stop finding new places to explore.

I decided to ask my fellow travel bloggers to tell me what they would rank as the beautiful places in Thailand, and together we came up with this epic bucket list! Putting this together really made me want to book my next trip to Thailand…. read on and see if you do too!

Railay Beach

By Allison from She Dreams of Alpine

The Thailand coastline has some of the most dramatically beautiful beaches in the world, and Railay Beach is among the most jaw-dropping. Railay Beach is not accessible by land, but it is only a short boat ride over from Ao Nang. You can also get there by boat from Phuket or Krabi.

When you get to Railay Beach you will be swept up in the energy that surrounds it. People come from all over the world to enjoy this area, and particularly rock climbers who come to climb on the steep dramatic coastal cliff faces in Railay as this area is some of the best rock climbing in Thailand.

There are also several iconic caves to explore around Railay including Princess Cave and Diamond Cave, or you can just enjoy the relaxed beach vibes and the local bars. However you decide to spend your time here, you will not be disappointed!

Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is most well-known for the dark history of the Death Railway built by prisoners of war in WWII from there across the River Kwai and beyond. While I would highly recommend a visit to the museums and cemeteries, and even a ride on the Death Railway itself to understand more about what happened there, it is also home to some beautiful places too.

There are beautiful forests and easily accessible waterfalls, including the most accessible Erawan Falls, said to be some of, if not the most, beautiful waterfalls in Thailand. There are seven tiers to the falls with great spots for swimming, just make sure you watch your belongings or lock them away as monkeys might come looking for food amongst them!

Koh Lanta

By Nate from Travel Lemming

If you’re tired of the crowds and hustle of Krabi and Phuket, grab a ferry and head on down to Koh Lanta, a large and still largely untouched island filled with an endless array of gorgeous vistas.

There’s plenty to do and see in stunning Koh Lanta. Spend an afternoon snorkeling out on the water, or head inland to hike through the thick jungle to visit some bubbling waterfalls.

The most beautiful places on this wonderful island, though, are – you guessed it – the beaches!

Most visitors spend their beach time on the aptly-named Long Beach, which stretches for kilometers along the island’s most developed coast.

But for a unique and isolated experience, hop on a motorbike and ride an hour to the smaller secluded beaches that dot the southern tip of the island. The views are particularly stunning from the cliffs over Nui Bay Beach.

Whether you’re traveling Thailand solo, visiting as a couple, or have the entire family along for the ride, there’s something for every type of traveler in gorgeous Koh Lanta.

Nan

By Allan from Live Less Ordinary

Nan Province is one of the lesser known “Lanna” provinces in northern Thailand, bordering Laos, where the capital Nan once was known as the “Middle City”, due to its location roughly halfway between Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Luang Prabang (Laos).

However, unlike the more popular backpacker destinations in the north such as Chiang Mai, Pai, and even Chiang Rai, Nan has been mostly overlooked by tourists in the past, and the heart of the old town still shares that “Ta Ton Yon” feel, which in Lanna is a phrase meaning chilled and laid back. The streets are still quiet, and the old town is small and close-knit, meaning it easy to navigate and explore, with free bike hire often offered at the local hotels and guesthouses.

A tour of the ancient Buddhist temples and old town sites is a must, and I suggest starting at Wat Phumin temple, located centrally to the pedestrian night market which sets up on Phakong Road on each night of the weekend (06:00 PM, Fri-Sun).

Koh Tao

By Inma Gregorio from A World To Travel

On top of getting certified in diving, the Turtle Island (aka Koh Tao) offers many more things to its visitors. Named one of the most beautiful Thailand islands in countless listicles, Koh Tao has a few spots that make it an unbeatable destination for those looking for stunning landscapes and some island time. Like the viewpoint – a 20min hike – where you can admire the nearby Nangyuan Island and its pristine beaches, Chalok Baan Kao or Sairee beach, a great location for sunset. Can’t wait to go back!

Chiang Mai

By Lauren from The Downlo

The largest city in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is where you go “if the mountains are calling.” Once the capital of the kingdom of Lanna, the Old City is still an important cultural and religious center. Home to more than 300 dazzling temples, hill tribes, and natural wonders, Chiang Mai is everything chaotic, harried Bangkok is not.

Of particular interest is the incredibly ornate Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Doi Inthanon National Park, home to the highest peak in Thailand, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, where you can learn to care for the majestic creatures and the vibrant night markets.

The city is a place to immerse yourself in Thailand’s rich culture, connect with locals whose families have been there for centuries, marvel at ancient architectural, and embrace a slower way of life than the big urban sprawl. You can chase waterfalls, shop for local handicrafts, and peruse the ruins and ancient villages.

Lod Cave

By Mike of Live Travel Teach

Lod Cave is a tucked away just past the popular Pai in Thailand and makes a beautiful day trip from there or an even better idea is to drive the whole Mae Hong Son Loop and see stunning rice terraces, mountains, and villages on your way to and from Lod Cave. Be careful though, reading more about the Mae Hong Son Loop and Lod Cave will have you booking a flight to Thailand today!

Giant stalagmites climb up from the floor in this natural wonderland as bats roost among the stalactites high above. The river running through this cave has carved out many smaller caverns and created some truly magnificent rock formations making Lod Cave one of the most beautiful places in Thailand. The best way to visit Lod Cave is by renting a motorbike but there are tours that leave from Chiang Mai and Pai too. The cave is 1,666m long and depending on the season can be explored by boat or on foot.

Koh Samet

By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

Thailand has lots of beautiful islands but one of my favorites would have to be Koh Samet. North to South, Koh Samet measures just 7 kilometers, so it’s not very big. But there is plenty to do and I love the laidback vibe of this small island in the Gulf of Thailand.

You can go on a snorkeling trip and walked around the island. The main village is Hat Sai Kaeo where you can find restaurants and shops. If you prefer peace and quiet I highly recommend the beautiful bay Ao Prao. With luxury resorts and stunning sunsets, it’s the perfect place to wind down after visiting busy Bangkok. And the great news is, you can travel from Bangkok to Koh Samet in just 3-4 hours!

Koh Yao Yai

By Andra from Our World To Wander

Thailand has plenty of islands to choose from. With white beaches, turquoise water, palm trees watching over you, plenty of fish to play around with, cliffs rising from the water and covered in greenery. However, Thailand also has tons of tourists. And this is how we get to the island of Koh Yao Yai. One of the islands where you can still enjoy some peace and quiet, escape the frenzy of touristic places.

One might think that there are not so many tourists because there aren’t so many things to do there. But no, that’s not true. Located half-way between Krabi and Phuket, Koh Yao Yai offers a wide range of activities. From day trips in the famous Phang Nga Bay or the Phi Phi Islands to kayaking around the island, wandering around its plantations on a scooter, getting mesmerized by the mangrove forests. So go ahead and discover Koh Yao Yai, enjoy its serenity!

Khao Sok National Park

By Kavita from Kavey Eats

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Thailand has 127 National Parks, protecting swathes of the country’s land and marine habitats. Khao Sok National Park is one of the most popular ones, not least because of its accessibility; you can reach the park easily from Phuket or Surat Thani airports, both a little over an hour’s flight from Bangkok.

As well as verdant jungle and towering limestone mountains, Khao Sok National Park is known for the beauty of Cheow Lan Lake, a man-made lake created in 1987 by the building of Ratchaprapha Dam.

Although there is wildlife to be seen in the jungles of the park, including many species of monkeys, deer and birds, a huge attraction is the lake itself. Boat trips allow visitors to appreciate the beauty of the exceptionally clean and clear water – which appears emerald green in the sunlight – and the imposing limestone hills jutting upwards.

Visitors can stay overnight at many locations within the park including a number of options in the forest. I loved our experience at one of Cheow Lan Lake’s floating camps, its tents built on platforms that float on the water at the lake’s edge. Swimming and kayaking are key activities, as well as walks in the jungle itself. Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty and peaceful relaxation offered by this experience.

Ayutthaya

By Laurence from Finding the Universe

Found just north of Bangkok (around an hour to ninety minutes journey time), Ayutthaya is a must when in Thailand. For a time, this was the world’s largest city, with over a million inhabitants. Dutch and French explorers called it the most beautiful city they had ever seen.

Unfortunately, Ayutthaya was a victim of its own success, and a slightly jealous invading Burmese army burnt the place to the ground in 1767.

Thankfully, while most of the city was destroyed, the stone-built temples survived. It is these temples that give a glimpse into the majesty of the city, and are the main attraction for visitors today. The city has grown back up around the temples, so there is more to see here than temples, but these are undoubtedly the main draw.

Ayutthaya is an easy day trip from Bangkok, but to fully immerse yourself, I’d advise spending a couple of days exploring. For more ideas, check out what to do in Ayutthaya.

Koh Wai

By Claudia from My Adventures Across the World

Koh Wai is one of the nicest places to visit in Thailand. This lesser known island is incredibly beautiful. It takes a 20 to 45 minutes boat ride to reach it from Bang Bao harbor, on the more famous Koh Chang.

What makes this small island special is the blissful feeling of isolation one gets, thanks to the complete lack of traffic and noise. There are no roads on the island – and hence no cars. There’s just a dirt footpath that goes from one beach to the other, through the forest. Lack of electricity means that the commodities are basic, but the other side of the coin is that there are significantly less tourists compared to other places in Thailand.

Yet, the main feature of Koh Wai is the gorgeous beaches: fine, powdery white sand; a backdrop of thick palm trees, and the clearer, most azure waters one can think of, populated with incredibly colorful fish and where it’s a real pleasure to swim.

Koh Ngai

By Paul from Global Help Swap

If you want to find an island away from crowds that will blow you away with its beauty then this is it! Ko Ngai is the perfect island to get away from it all.

Ko Ngai is part of the Trang Islands in Southern Thailand. You can get to it by boat from Trang Province (which also has an airport). If your idea of the perfect Thai beach is white sand, crystal clear waters and Karst formations protruding from the sea then Ko Nagi is the island for you. It’s simply stunning.

It’s a very small island with no inhabitants so all the hotel staff come from the mainland. The beach was the best we found in all Thailand. As we woke on Christmas morning..

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Vietnam is one of my favourite countries to visit. From my first few days in the country, I was absolutely hooked! There are so many beautiful places in Vietnam, amazing things to see and do, not the mention the delicious food and the epic coffee (make sure you try it iced!).

It’s been a little while since I visited, and I’d love to go back to Vietnam, so I asked my fellow travel bloggers to tell me what they think the most beautiful places in Vietnam are to see what awesome places I haven’t yet been to.

And here’s what they think should be on your Vietnam bucket list!

Mai Chau

By Elizabeth from Compass and Fork

Beautiful green rice fields dominate the Mai Chau valley in Vietnam. With a little elevation, the heat and humidity which can zap your energy in Vietnam is not as oppressive in this lush, picture postcard perfect valley.

About 4 hours’ drive southwest of Hanoi, the Mai Chau valley provides a perfect way to experience rural Vietnam. There are a few hotels available in the valley or homestays with a local village family are popular in the area. Many of the local villagers have Thai heritage and the wooden homes are built on stilts.

Biking and hiking are popular activities for visitors, but the real attraction of Mai Chau is the scenery and a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of nature especially if you have been in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.

Phu Quoc Island

By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

Phu Quoc is the largest island of Vietnam, however, surprisingly enough it’s actually located just 15 kilometers off the coast of Cambodia. When I visited this lovely little island back in 2015 it was still unspoiled, with beautiful beaches, little villages, and red dirt roads.

I rented a scooter and explored the island for three days. I drove the Southern, Western and Eastern loop, which were all beautiful and showed me a different side of the island. In Duong Dong you’ll find lots of restaurants and accommodation, but also the night market which is fun to visit.

The Northeast of the Island is where you can find Phu Quoc National Park, a dense jungle with tropical trees and monkeys (if you are lucky!). In the South, you can find famous Sao beach, with crystal white sand and a beautiful blue ocean. Altogether Phu Quoc is a wonderful place to spend a couple of days!

Hoi An

By Kathy Marris of 50 Shades of Age

Out of all of the South East Asian cities or towns that I have visited, there is nowhere prettier than Hoi An Old Town and An Bang Beach. Although the town and beach are a mere 6 kilometres away from each other, if you stay at one or the other you get the best of both worlds – a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach and a world heritage-listed ancient town that exudes charm and grace.

Strolling around Hoi An Old Town is an absolute delight. The streets are blocked off to cars and motorbikes, but you do need to watch out for cyclists and rickshaws. There are striking bougainvillea vines draped off historical buildings and ferny leafed trees that provide a little shade as you walk along the streets.

Hoi An’s historical buildings reflect a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences). Most of the old wooden buildings now house shops selling everything from silk fabrics, brightly coloured paper lanterns, artworks to souvenirs.

Once the sun sets the streets of Hoi An take on a whole different look. Paper lanterns light up the streets and reflect off the river transforming the town into a shimmering wonderland like you’re in some sort of fairytale.

Halong Bay

By Jessica from Independent Travel Cats

Halong Bay is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam known for its emerald colored waters, hundreds of vegetation-topped limestone islands, and numerous caves. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Vietnam. In addition to the scenery, the area offers kayaking, SCUBA diving, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. One popular hiking area is Cát Bà National Park on Cát Bà island.

Halong Bay is located about 3.5 hours from Hanoi and most people choose to visit Halong Bay by taking a tour, shuttle, or taxi to Halong Bay, and then exploring the bay by cruise. Cruises range from a few hours to a few days in length. We ourselves took a 3 day Halong Bay cruise and we definitely recommend taking a longer cruise to have more time to relax and see more of the scenery offered in both Halong Bay and nearby areas.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is located in the south of Vietnam and is a warren of rivers, rice fields, and floating markets. Much of the transportation in the area takes place on boats. It’s easily accessible as a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, but staying overnight will give you more of a taste for the “rice bowl” of Vietnam and all it has to offer.

Bustling towns contrast with the calmness of floating down the rivers that maze across the lush green landscape. Take a boat trip to the working floating markets and see floating and stifled houses. Life in the Mekong revolves around the waterways. Don’t forget to try a freshly cut coconut!

Sapa

By Owen of My Turn to Travel

Located in Lao Cai Province, Sapa has been hailed as one of the best trekking spots in Southeast Asia. It is home to five main ethnic groups – the H’mong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. Homestays with the tribes have been a popular choice for travelers, as you get to understand the culture of each tribe and trudge through the iconic rice paddies with an amazing mountainous view at the same time.

During the homestay, the H’mong tribe will whip up a delicious home cooked feast, and share life experiences over bottles of ‘happy water’, allowing you to immerse into the local culture almost immediately. A choice of a 3-day, 2-night tour may bring you to Ban Ho village where you stay with the Tay tribe – which exposes you to a completely different experience relative to the earlier homestay.

Hiking past villages and a wide array of farm animals, you will be rewarded with a scenic view of green rice paddies at Ban Ho village where the skies are clearer at a lower altitude.

Nha Trang

By Round the World Guys

Visiting large cities in Vietnam can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to them. You may need even a getaway from the hectic pace.

One good escape is the town of Nha Trang, located in the middle of the country on the coast. It’s well-known for having some of the best “beach culture” in the country and is also a diving destination for scuba divers looking for decent diving in Vietnam. Years of poverty and wars have turned the once pristine Vietnam coastline into somewhat of a less-desirable diver destination. However, there are still plenty of places to dive in Nha Trang, where enthusiasts will find everything from small critters to turtles and cuttlefish.

Not a beach person? Head out to see some of Nha Trang’s historical sites, like the famous Big Buddha. Immerse yourself in the cultural experience and take a Vietnamese cooking class at Lanterns Restaurant. You’ll cook great food and visit a busy market the locals use – all while learning more about Vietnam’s daily life.

Hanoi

By Michael from Time Travel Turtle

Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, has been used over the centuries as the centre of power for both local and foreign rulers. For almost 800 years, until 1802, Vietnamese dynasties ruled from here. Between 1883 and 1945, the French used it as the de facto capital of French Indochina
It means that today you’ll find a city where Asian and European influences blend together with historical sites, cultural centres, and modern national monuments to create a beautiful urban landscape.

The prettiest parts of Hanoi are around Hoan Kiem Lake. To the north is the Old Quarter where markets take over the streets, lanterns hang between trees, and decorations cover the wooden balconies.

In the French Quarter to the southeast of the lake, you’ll find wide facades with balconies surrounded by wrought ironwork, impressive government buildings painted with pastel yellows, and even French-style cafes.

With green parks, lots of lakes, and the large Red River cutting through the city, there’s also plenty of nature to give this chaotic Vietnamese city a calmer atmosphere than you might expect!

Mui Ne

This beach resort is located within an easy travelling distance of Ho Chi Minh City, making it a popular choice for a weekend getaway or for travellers taking a coastal route on their Vietnam trip. Mid-range resorts are spread along the beachfront, with a few cheaper guest houses also available. Mui Ne is the perfect destination for adventure-seekers, as it has world-class windsurfing conditions throughout the dry season from October to April.

The sand dunes in Mui Ne are also a uniquely beautiful destination in Vietnam, giving the appearance of a desert, with both white and red dunes nearby. Tours include options to ride across the sand dunes in an ATV or to try sandboarding down them.

Son Tra Peninsula

Located near Da Nang, the Son Tra Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. It has escaped the development of other coastal areas after being named a natural reserve in 1997, making it a beautiful scenic trip from nearby resorts.

Motorbike is the best way to see the Son Tra Peninsula, as the roads are narrow but can also be very steep, so good brakes and some power are a must! There are plenty of sites to stop and see, including the Linh Ung Pagoda, a 1000-year-old Giant Banyan Tree, and Monkey Passage with its stunning views.

There’s too much to see in one day, so if you do want to stay over then you would need to stay in one of the two resorts at the beginning of the peninsula.

Ha Giang Province

By Emily Lush of Wander-Lush

Located in far-northern Vietnam, northeast of Sapa along the Chinese border, Ha Giang Province is the country’s ‘final frontier’. It was the last part of Vietnam to open up to tourism, and foreign visitors still require a special permit to enter the border zone. Isolated and rugged, Ha Giang offers some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the region.

Motorcycling is the transport mode of choice in Ha Giang—beloved by young Vietnamese and growing in popularity among backpackers. Most travel by the Dong Van Loop, a 350km circular road that leads you through Ha Giang’s precarious rice terraces, lush valleys, limestone karst plateaus and deep gorges. Heaven’s Gate and the Ma Pi Leng Pass are two of the most picturesque areas. It’s also possible to do the Loop by car or explore Ha Giang on foot by trekking between ethnic Tay, Dao and Flower Hmong villages.

Con Dao Islands

By Shweta from Zest in a Tote

A 45-minute flight away from Ho Chi Minh city lie the pristine islands of Con Dao. Think green forests, sandy beaches and secluded bays, and a good variety of coral reefs and marine life in Vietnam Sea that will make snorkelling or diving worthwhile. These islands have a violent history, they were used as a prison for thousands during the French rule in the mid-20th century, but now they are protected as a national park.

Con Son is the largest island in the chain with an airport, where we spent 4 blissful days, lying on the beach, having a thrilling time on mountain bikes exploring the stunning views, diving near the coast to see all the colourful corals and fish and taking it slow. I had an amazing experience at the Luxury beach resort – Six Senses, Con Dao.

Ninh Binh

By Mary of Move to Vietnam

Vietnam is already known for its world-class cuisine, those who are foreign to this country probably don’t know yet that this place is also a must-visit destination. After living and travelling on and off in Vietnam for the past three years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my favourite place here is Ninh Binh.

Ninh Binh offers a lot of things to everyone who..

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Spain holds a special place in my heart, as I used to live in Andalucia and spent a lot of time travelling around as much as I could while I did so. There are so many beautiful places in Spain to explore! Although Spain may conjure up images of sun, sand, siestas, and sangria, there’s beautiful green spaces, mountain villages, and architecturally beautiful cities as well.

When I asked my fellow travel bloggers to tell me their most beautiful places in Spain, I was overwhelmed with the response and the diversity! So here’s 27 beautiful places in Spain that you should be adding to your list!

Almería

I’d never heard of Almería before I signed up to a program to teach English in Spain and I was placed in the city. Located in the southeast corner of Spain, Almería city is a little out of the way, allowing it to retain its authenticity and Andalucian culture. Although some of the towns nearby are very popular with those looking for a package holiday, the city itself seems to often be overlooked. But in my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Spain, with so many things to do, and I miss it all the time!

Surrounded by dusty mountains, and with a strong Moorish history evident in the Alcazaba, a fortress which sits on a dusty hill overlooking the city, it’s somewhere I will always return to. The colourful houses of the older part of town are charming, and the promenade along the beach offers beautiful views of the sunset for walkers or those partaking in some drinks and tapas.

And speaking of tapas, I swear you can’t find any better than tapas in Almería! You have a menu to choose what tapa you would like complimentary with your drink, with traditional Spanish dishes as well as fusion influences from cultures around the world, and the standard is high. So why not try somewhere different next time you visit Spain, and go to Almería?

Galicia

By Inma from A World To Travel

I will never get tired of praising my land. Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain, is also one of the westernmost points of Europe. Its particular orography kept it free of influences unlike the rest of the country. Therefore, Galicia is today a raw and not so populated, wonderfully perfect destination.

With more than 1500 km of coastline, not everything in Galicia is wonderful beaches, cliffs like those of the Death Coast, and islands that come out, year after year, named among the best in the world. Galicia is much more. There are rivers and waterfalls, mountains – even a ski resort! – and starry skies like those of the Starlight destination, Trevinca.

There are medieval cities like Santiago de Compostela, industrial metropolis such as Vigo, and fishing villages like my base Noia. There are pilgrimage routes that go back to the Middle Ages, legends, traditions and even its own language, Galician. And, finally, there are Galicians like me, happy to live in such a paradise. Trust me, Galicia will not disappoint you.

Córdoba

By Emily from Kids and Compass

Córdoba, in Andalucia, was once the most important city in Europe. It was a centre of learning for Moorish, Christian, and Jewish scholars, and all this history has left its mark on the city today.

The main attraction in Córdoba is its utterly beautiful and unique Mezquita-Cathedral. This building was originally a mosque which was later turned into a cathedral. Inside and out the two architectural styles have been mixed to a stunning effect. The candy cane stripes of the arches inside are unforgettable.

Other picturesque historic attractions in Cordoba include the Roman bridge and the Alcazar of Christian Kings. But you can also spend a very pleasant afternoon just strolling through the whitewashed streets of the old Jewish quarter and looking at the flower displays on patios of private homes.

Córdoba is an easy journey from Seville or Malaga. Many people visit for a day trip but two days will give you more time to soak up the atmosphere, and perhaps catch a flamenco show in the evening.

Mallorca

By Arzo from Arzo Travels

Mallorca is one of the most popular travels destinations in Spain. Unfortunately, it has gotten the reputation of being a party island where you can drink alcohol en masse for cheap.

However, the government has taken severe steps to end this reputation and so you will find the most beautiful places in Spain! When you get to visit this beautiful island yourself you will realize that this place is one of the prettiest islands in Europe!

The calas (little bays), the tranquil beaches and gorgeous uphill towns – this place has it all and with 300 sunny days a year it is perfect for a trip throughout the year.

So whenever you plan a trip to Majorca (or as it is called in Spanish: Mallorca) make sure to plan in enough time for the beaches as they are numerous and just stunningly beautiful, do boat tours and explore the pretty towns like Palma de Mallorca (the capital) or Valldemossa – one of the romantic and gorgeous little towns that want to make you pack your bags and move there forever.

Segovia

By Marta from Learning Escapes

A beautiful destination worth adding to any Spanish itinerary is the historical city of Segovia. Located less than 2 hours from Madrid, Segovia is one of the most popular day trips from the Spanish capital and with good reasons.

Perched on a hill overlooking the vast Castilla y Leon countryside, the city was nominated UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and is filled with culturally significant and beautifully preserved buildings. The most famous are an imposing Roman aqueduct and the Alcazar, a fairytale looking castle complete with turrets and protected by vertigo-inducing ravines, but the list goes on an on and includes an old Jewish quarter and many of the city churches.

You can explore Segovia in one day or two and the best way to experience it is to allow yourself to get lost in its perfectly preserved medieval lanes.

Ronda

By Dannielle from While I’m Young

Andalucia is dotted with white-washed towns, but the largest and most romantic of these is beautiful Ronda. The city’s dramatic landscape is carved into two halves by a deep gorge, making it one of the most visually unique places in Spain. Ronda is just over an hour from Malaga and while it doesn’t boast a whole lot of typical tourist attractions (aside from one of the oldest bullfighting rings in the country), just walking around Ronda’s tranquil streets is the perfect way to spend a day in Spain. The city also has fantastic restaurants serving local favourites, and keen rock climbers can tackle the gorge above the Guadalevín River. Between the Instagram-worthy white houses that teeter atop its sandstone peaks, the sweeping vistas, and the old-world feel, Ronda is definitely worth exploring.

Cadíz

By Erin & Ryan from downbubble

Our vote for beautiful places around the world had to go to Cadíz, in the southwest of Spain. Although seen by the world in the James Bond film Die Another Day (it’s coastal promenade was used for the Havana scenes!) it is often overlooked by visiting international tourists.

However, remains a popular destination for intra-national Spanish tourists due to its 83 sandy beaches with kitesurfing and snorkelling; alfresco restaurants beachside, parkside and square-side serving up fresh local seafood, tapas and wine; and some incredible history and monuments including endless warrens of medieval old-town streets, the second-largest Roman Theatre ruins in the world and a castle in the sea!

If you love history, beaches, eating/drinking and just generally relaxing then take a train just 45 minutes from Seville and don’t leave this incredible gem off your next Spain itinerary!

Toledo

By Parampara & Parichay from Awara Diaries

Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in the world & I say it because I had to visit it twice to see & experience more of it. This time, when I visited Spain, I wanted to explore a new place. The best way to get to know about a new place is (not by Googling) by asking for recommendations from locals. On asking locals, I got only 1 answer – Toledo.

Toledo is about 45 mins away from Madrid. You can reach Toledo by train (fastest), bus (cheapest) or taxi (expensive & not so fast). The medieval architecture of Toledo makes it stand out. It is definitely one of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever been to. Toledo can be a little tiring in case you are not fond of walking (read hiking) because it is located on top of a hill. You have to keep walking up & down even when going from one monument to another.

The best thing to do in Toledo is to turn off Google Maps & get lost in the streets of Toledo. Second best thing? Well, visit the cathedral of Toledo, witness the sunset from Puente de San Martín & buy some pretty souvenirs from the quaint shops of the town.

Whenever you are in Madrid, keep an extra day to take a day trip to Toledo!

Bilbao

By Claudia from My Adventures Across the World

Bilbao, the capital of the Basque Country, definitely is one of the nicest cities to visit in Spain. Hardly more than a large, industrial city at the beginning of the 20th century, it underwent major works that brought it to full life.

The main attractions are the lovely city centre, with the beautiful Plaza Mayor; the Mercado, which is foodie’s paradise and where there are several upscale eateries and a few restaurants; and last but definitely not least the incredible Guggenheim Museum. A work of art of architect Frank Gehry in and of itself, the fantastic museum attracts visitors thanks to the interesting, enticing exhibits – a few permanent ones and some temporary ones. One of the latest exhibits has been that by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, throwing mist right outside the building at regular intervals and giving it an even more mysterious aura.

Besalú

By Gabor from Surfing the Planet

Catalonia is filled with beautiful medieval villages, and one of the most picturesque villages is the tiny Besalú, situated in the county of Garrocha. Besalú is perfectly conserved and looks like a place that has just come out of a fairy tale. The most impressive landmark in Besalú is the large medieval bridge that takes you from the road to the interior of the village. We really recommend you stop in the middle of the bridge and enjoy the picture perfect view of the village and the river.

The main sights to visit in Besalú are the Collegiate of Santa Maria and the church-hospital of Sant Julià, but the most gratifying experience is a walk on the riverside, while you enjoy the unique atmosphere of this medieval gem.

Besalú is found at 130 km distance from Barcelona, and it’s easily accessible from the Catalan capital on a day trip. The public transport is not ideal, so it’s recommended to rent a car.

Ávila

By Karen from World Wide Writer

High in the mountains to the west of Madrid, Ávila is known as the “Town of Stones and Saints”. The stones are the picture perfect walls, and the saints include St Teresa of Ávila, the town’s most famous resident. Most visitors come here to see the walls, a complete circuit with eight gates and numerous towers and turrets. They have been extensively restored, so that you can walk around most of them, enjoying views of the hills on one side and the old town on the other. Or climb the hill to the viewpoint of Cuatro Postes in the early evening to see the stone gleaming in the sunlight, like a medieval fortress that has defied time.

The whole of the walled city of Ávila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a place of pilgrimage: both the Camino de Santiago and the newly created “Footsteps of Saint Teresa” tourist route pass through the town.

Madrid

By Jamie from Crashed Culture

Madrid, Spain is beautiful for so many reasons. There’s its fashionable Europeans, deep history, amazing architecture, and the complex culture that has developed both through centuries of different religious and cultural influences and through the people that come through its international core today. As the capital of the country that was flooded with riches after the discovery of America and the expansion of the Spanish kingdom that occurred because of it, Madrid is beautiful not only because of its architecture but also because of its fascinating history.

Walking around Madrid, you can see evidence of this throughout the city center, with Muslim-style buildings that still exist even after its people were chased off, and the hams hanging off the ceilings in bars and restaurants after the Spanish Inquisition when this tradition could possibly save your life.

And even if its history and culture don’t make Madrid beautiful to you, just looking at it will!

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The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know!

In the two years I’ve been interviewing expats around the world, Germany has always been a popular expat destination. With previous interviews in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Bavaria, and Regensburg, I’m excited to add Frankfurt to the list for anyone looking to move to Germany! Read on to find out why Alisa from Alisa Jordan Writes decided to make the move from London to Frankfurt. 

Why did you decide to move abroad?

Living in my home city London was great, but there was always something in the back of my mind telling me that there’s even more out there to discover. So I listened to that voice in the back of my head, packed my life into two suitcases and relocated to Frankfurt, Germany.

Why move to Frankfurt?

Honestly, because this is where I got a job. My main aim was to move to Germany and I was happy to relocate to any major city to get here. But as Germany’s most international city Frankfurt has expats from all over the world, and I have never looked back since. I work at an international business school and my team consists of a Londoner (me), a German, a Mexican and an Australian. Whilst English is our working language, we have a bilingual work environment, which adds even more diversity to the team.

What is it like working in Germany?

Whilst Germany isn’t too far from England in terms of culture, it definitely has it’s differences. The main difference for me is that Germans generally like to keep their work life and their home life separate. I struggled with this at first because when working in London it was almost expected that you’d get to know the people you sit with for 35-40 hours very well and my colleagues became my friends. However, Germans don’t tend to have the same mentality, which means people can come across as being unfriendly or cold. I have however met some of my closest German friends at work, so this could be something that is changing amongst younger generations.

How else did you make friends in Germany?

Making friends wasn’t hard as living in Frankfurt there were many other people who had been in the same boat as me. I pushed myself out there a lot. I joined Facebook groups, would openly mention that I wanted to meet new people, always asked others to meet up, and purposely chose to live in shared accommodation. I met so many people when I first got here and wasn’t afraid to turn up to parties on my own. Of course, I didn’t make best friends and stay in contact with every single person that I met, but it certainly helped.

There were also times when I felt lonely and had to adapt to no longer being surrounded by numerous friends from different friendship circles, but the benefit of this is that I have learnt to enjoy my own company and I spent a lot of the time on my own discovering the city by taking walks and going to exhibitions.

I also had to adapt to different personalities in that Germans can be quite reserved and sometimes take a little longer to let down the barriers. I initially found it a lot easier to connect with other internationals who come from cultures where people are very open from the get go. However, saying that there are also some situations where I don’t think that German’s are reserved at all! I’ll stick to the topic for now, but feel free to read more on this in my post “Shaking hands and getting naked: culture shock at its finest.”

What is it like living in Frankfurt overall?

People often ask why I chose Frankfurt over London but I like to think I chose Frankfurt in addition to London. Frankfurt isn’t the most popular holiday location but a lot of people come here to work- it’s Germany’s business hub after all. As wonderful as London is, Frankfurt certainly has its specialties too: A beautiful skyline over the river Main, numerous festivals throughout the summer, countless museums and very good restaurants. If you like Thai, I would recommend Aroydee. It may not look spectacular from the outside but the food is mouth-watering, the portions are big and the prices are very reasonable.

Another thing that I love about being in Frankfurt is the location. Being in the centre of Germany means it’s easy (and not too expensive) to travel the country and even go abroad to France, Italy and the Netherlands by train or car. As well as having visitors come here to see me, I often meet friends in other countries so that I can have a holiday too.

What’s the quality of life like, and cost of living in Frankfurt?

Frankfurt is Germany’s 3rd most expensive city but coming from London, I don’t find it too bad and my quality of life has definitely improved. I like that it’s a relatively small city in comparison to London, which means it’s quick and easy to get around to meet people and the trains aren’t too packed during rush-hour. You can travel from one side of the city to the other in about 30 minutes by train and if you want to explore the city centre, then you can do it all by foot.

Frankfurt is a popular expat city so you’ll need to be dedicated to your flat hunt. My personal favourite places to live (I moved three times in my first 6 months due to having temporary accommodation) are Bornheim, Nordend and Westend. I also have a few friends who live in Sachsenhausen, which is nice. You can expect to pay around 500 EUR including bills for a shared apartment, 600 EUR for a studio flat and around 850 EUR for a one bedroom apartment. For being located directly in the city, I don’t find these prices too bad at all.

What’s your best advice for someone moving to Frankfurt?

If you’re thinking of moving to Frankfurt but are still in two minds, my advice is to come! I wasn’t even familiar with the city before I moved here, and although I miss my friends and family in London, moving to Frankfurt is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. An international city with open-minded people and a high quality of life that is easy to travel the world from. What more could you ask for?

Find out more about Alisa’s experience in Frankfurt on her blog, Facebook page or Instagram!

The post Expat Stories: Moving From London to Frankfurt appeared first on Migrating Miss.

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The Philippines is a dream destination, with over 7000 islands surrounded by stunning beaches. Not to mention the alluring green rice fields and diverse history to discover. There are so many beautiful places in the Philippines! So when I put the call out to my fellow travel bloggers to send me their favourite beautiful places I wasn’t disappointed. If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines then you wouldn’t be disappointed if you start with this list!

Ready to start your Philippines bucket list?

Bohol

By Anastasia of Gallivant Girl

Bohol has an abundance of beautiful sights, but the island is perhaps most famous for it’s Chocolate Hills. The Bohol province has 1000+ hills are covered in grass which turn a rich brown colour (like chocolate!) during the dry season, which gives the hills their name. Bohol is also well known for its population of tarsiers – tiny and terrifically cute fluffy tree-dwelling primates which you can see at the island’s Tarsier Sanctuary.

The island has activities and sights for everyone. The stunning area of Alona Beach is a popular hangout and makes a good base to explore the island. The serene forest at the centre of the island is home to beautiful caves, rivers, waterfalls, and several adventure parks offering ziplining, caving, river cruises, and many people choose to stay overnight in this area.

The island is easily explored by a cheap day tour which departs from most hostels and travel agencies. The tours take in most of the island’s main sights in one day for around $5, not including entrance fees and activities. You can also easily explore the island by renting a moped for ~$10 per day.

Sambawan ­Island

By Katherine from Tara Lets Anywhere

Sambawan Island is one of the many hidden gems and beautiful places in the Philippines. Located in Biliran province in the Visayan region, this paradise is made up of interconnected islets, featuring towering rocks and a white-sand beach.

Its main island is home to visitors, with a single resort and camping tents as well as cottages for day trips. Here you can beach bum or dive in the nearby coral gardens, have a seafood fest, or climb up to the viewdeck, which provides a good view of both ends of the island as well as a spectacular spot for watching sunrise or star gazing at night. My boyfriend and I had been to a lot of unspoilt beautiful places in the Philippines, and we honestly think that Sambawan Island is one of the best among them.

Sambawan Island can be reached via a short boat ride from Kawayan Port or Maripipi Island in Biliran. From here, it’s possible to island hop to other islands in Biliran as well.

El Nido

By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

El Nido is one of those places on earth that is difficult to describe. It’s just too beautiful to find the right words to do it justice. The sharp limestone cliffs, the incredible blue crystal-clear water, the dreamlike beaches, El Nido pretty much is paradise on earth.

Well, actually the area around El Nido is what you need to explore. While the village itself is nice too, I highly recommend going on a tour to explore this unbelievable place. El Nido is also a great place to get your PADI, the underwater world is just as beautiful as the world above the surface.

Sagada

By Eloise from Ms Meeting Adventures

This small town in the Mountain Province is definitely one of the most beautiful places that I have been. It is the perfect “out of town” getaway if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. Eight hours away from Manila, Sagada is where you can find challenging caves, magical waterfalls, and exotic dishes.

The culture also adds to its charming aura. For example, the locals in Sagada still practice their burial tradition of stacking coffins against a limestone wall when an ancient Igorot elder dies. Igorot is what you call the ethnic group living in the mountains of the Cordillera Administrative Region. These stacked coffins or most commonly known as the “Hanging Coffins” can be found in the Echo Valley. It symbolizes the rich culture of the Igorots. The sea of clouds is also one of the highlights of this beautiful place. To witness this breathtaking phenomenon, head over to the Kiltepan Peak before the sun rises and watch the thick sea of clouds in front of you.

Siquijor Island

By Craig from Vagabond Disposition

Of all the beautiful places in all of my travels thus far, Siquijor Island in the Philippines definitely takes the cake! From idyllic island roads bordering crystal-blue coastline to long stretches of gently sloping mountains dotted with palm trees, to incredibly gorgeous waterfalls and amazing underwater scenery, Siquijor’s beauty is certainly undeniable.

By motorbike, driving the Siquijor Circumferential Road will lead you to the sleepy beachside town of San Juan, where just off the shore features some truly impressive snorkeling to rival that of Panglao and El Nido. I really could not believe my eyes!

Going further will bring you to the township of Lazi, home to what is, in my opinion, the most beautiful waterfall in the Philippines: Cambugahay Falls. This 3-tier waterfall features some seriously unbelievable powder-blue colors, completely surrounded by rich green palms and fun vines to swing with. There is even a makeshift wooden tower, in which to relax and soak in the scene for yourself. If you’re after the most beautiful place in the Philippines, then surely add Siquijor Island to the list!

Coron, Palawan

By Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

Palawan has been recognized as the most beautiful island in the world multiple times by Travel + Leisure. But Coron is the gem in Palawan’s crown, and every Filipino we met in Manila cracked a big smile and said they were jealous when they found out we were spending a week there.

Coron itself is a bit confusing: It encompasses the town of Coron (located on Busuanga Island), nearby Coron Island, and over 50 minor islets in the Calamian archipelago. But all of it is beautiful, offering a diverse array of things to do in Coron, particularly for nature lovers.

If it’s action you crave, you can climb 723 steps to reach the stunning view from the top of Mount Tapyas, hike to Kayangan Lake (which is considered the cleanest in all of Asia), or snorkel Twin Lagoon (which is surrounded by dynamic karst landscapes).

If wildlife is your thing, you can Scuba dive (we saw 13 sea turtles in one dive!), snorkel with dugongs (a relative of the manatee), or visit the 14-square mile Calauit Safari Park.

But if all you want is some R&R, Coron is the perfect place. You can chill on remote private beaches, soak in the Maquinit Hot Spring, or savor the inexpensive massages available at nearly every resort in the area. Whichever approach you choose, you’ll leave with a deeper understanding of why Coron is considered one of the world’s most wonderful islands.

Malapascua

By Megan from Red Around The World

Malapascua is a tiny island north of Cebu, just an hour flight from Manila and a few hours by bus, boat, and tricycle from Cebu City. It is most famous for it’s diving with thresher sharks. Most people go to this little piece of paradise for diving, even if they don’t plan to see the sharks.

However, even if you don’t dive, like me, there is still plenty to keep you busy on the island of Malapascua like walking around the island, finding the lighthouse, searching for your own private beach, joining a snorkeling trip, island hopping, or just laying around in a hammock, enjoying the sun and a book. It’s the perfect place to spend two days or two weeks on your vacation while avoiding some of the crazier crowds in the Philippines.

Batanes

By Darlene from Point and Shoot Wanderlust

Batanes, the northernmost province of The Philippines, is composed of ten islands, the biggest three of which are the only ones inhabited. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in the Philippines.

Flights to the province are pricier compared to other destinations in the country which sometimes deters a lot of travelers. Bad weather also affects transportation to the province. It is a good thing to help preserve the province’s untouched beauty.

When I think of Batanes, I remember its rolling hills, its verdant landscape, unspoiled beaches, the fresh air, the honest and hospitable people (zero crime rate!), turquoise blue waters, and breathtaking views of the horizon.

While you’re there, take the time to learn about the interesting culture of the Ivatans and try their local food as well. Allot more time on your trip so you can also visit Itbayat, the biggest inhabited island in the province and one of the country’s last frontier. The boat ride there will be one of the most memorable you’ll take in your life!

Banaue

By Slavi from Global Castaway

When thinking of The Philippines, most people imagine tropical beaches, desert islands, and coral reefs. And while places like Boracay, Bohol and El Nido are swarmed with tourists, one of the most breathtaking places, not only in The Philippines but the whole world, remain relatively unnoticed. Just a night-bus distance from Manila, situated in the mountain rainforests up north is the small town of Banaue – home of 2000 years old rice terraces. Often called the 8th wonder of the world, this UNESCO World Heritage site is located approximately 1500 meters above sea level and is still used for rice planting.

No matter how many beautiful views you have under your belt, nothing can prepare you for the first glimpse of the terraces. They are so massive; it’s said if all of them were put end to end, they would equal to half the circumference of the earth.

Siargao

By Ron of Red Pill Rebellion

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful places in the world, look no further than the island of Siargao in the Philippines. This remote location is most famous for surfing and yoga, but has so much more to offer.

The surfing spot, Cloud 9, is world famous and it attracts international and local travelers alike. It was even the inspiration for the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song, “The Longest Wave.” It does get a bit crowded during the surfing season which is why locals sometimes call it “Crowd 9.”

In addition to surfing, there are many other activities to partake in that will quench your thirst for adventure. You can go to Sugba Lagoon that offers paddle boarding, kayaking or run and jump from the 10-foot diving board into the crystal blue water down below.

You can also enjoy island hopping, cave pools, different types of waterfalls, as well as some local food, music, and culture. If you want to center yourself and make the most of this relaxing island, you can practically find a good spot to do yoga on every corner.

Siargao is one of my favorite places in the world! The laid-back attitude, amazing food and the sheer untainted beauty it has to offer will certainly draw you in. Most visitors limit themselves to the activities in just the General Luna area. However, it has so much to offer, I highly recommend exploring the whole island. Don’t miss this one!

Boracay

By Mike of 197 Travel Stamps

Boracay is definitely not an off-the-beaten-path destination anymore. It has been named the best island in the Philippines for several years. And the fact that many tourists have traveled to the island before is what makes a visit so relaxing and stress-free.

Whatever you may feel like doing on your perfect beach vacation, you will find the right activity on Boracay. The north coast of the island is one of the best places in the world to learn kite surfing while White Beach on the southern side invites its visitors to relax, snorkel and dive.
What makes Boracay a very special place for me are the incredible sunsets that happen on most evenings. Once the sun starts to sink into the ocean, the sky lights up in the most beautiful color while the last boats make their way back to shore.

The range of evening activities is just as broad as during daytime. If you are looking for peace and quiet, you will find a wide range of exquisite restaurants and if you need something wilder, you can join one of the pub crawls.

Note: Boracay is closed for six months from April 2018 to allow the island to work on their infrastructure and environmental policies, to continue to allow future visitors to experience this beautiful place. 

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