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Everyone dreams of visiting Thailand for the beaches, crystal clear waters and picture-perfect island living… but ask any seasoned traveler what it is that keeps them returning to Thailand again and again… and they’ll tell you: it’s the food.
Sure, we might have been inspired to first make the pilgrimage to paradise by Leo and his band of merry backpackers circa 2000 in The Beach. But after visiting the Beach for ourselves, our biggest question is… how did they all stay so happy on a diet of nothing but fish and rice, without a street food cart or steaming bowl of Thai curry in sight?! We’d be begging to go back to the mainland for our next foodie fix.
Without further ado, here’s seventeen of our absolute must-Thai dishes. Some of these will be available in the US, but to find them all, and indeed get a real, authentic taste of Southeast Asia, you’ll have to venture there for yourself…
(or, ahem, enter to win a trip there before April 16th here).
Creamy, spicy chicken curry? Check. Oodles of soft noodles? Check! This Burmese-inspired northern Thai dish is even topped with crispy noodles before being finished off with shallots, pickles and as much chilli as you can handle.
If you’re in Chiang Mai, be sure to head to Mr Kai’s restaurant on Chang Lor Road, where a bowl of the good stuff won’t set you back more than $3.
Southeast Asia’s staple salad is made from thin strips of green papaya drowned in lime juice, red chilli, fish sauce and even sugar. Stop by a street cart and watch as the vendor shaves you a portion fresh from the fruit before sprinkling it with peanuts, or order it as a side to a chicken dish in a restaurant. Best enjoyed from a banana leaf!
There’s more to Thai curry than the normal red and green varieties! Cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and copious amounts of beef, potatoes and peanuts are the main staples of this Middle Eastern hybrid. Yep – Middle Eastern – the word ‘Massaman’ is thought to translate to ‘Muslim’. Others believe it came across the border from Malaysia. Regardless of its origin, it’s sweet, warming and delicious.
Thought basil was for Italian cooking? You haven’t tried the Asian variety. Translating as ‘basil stir-fry’, this dish incorporates ground chicken or pork, rice, chilli, garlic, soy, oyster and fish sauce and handfuls of sweet, fragrant Thai holy basil leaves. Best served with a fried egg on top, there’s no brunch or lunch more satisfying.
This sweet and sour noodle soup is one you can find anywhere – on every street corner! It’s usually served plain with a side of chilis, ground peanuts and sometimes even sugar so you can go wild building your own flavour profile. Add fresh, meaty prawns, mushrooms and whatever else tickles your pickle, and you’re onto some pretty tasty, comforting broth.
‘Amok’ refers to cooking, and often (but not always) serving curry in either a hollowed out coconut or wrapped in banana leaves. Tender, sweet and often loaded with fresh seafood and piles of shaved coconut, save this one for a special occasion!
So, you’re a sucker for the duck when you head to a Chinese restaurant? We hear you. And so, it seems, are the Thais. Wander around any Bangkok market and you’ll surely come across a stand serving up this satisfying dish, made up of honey glazed roasted duck breast and egg noodles, served with a hearty portion of gravy which can be spooned over the top of it all, or sipped on the side.
Moo Satay or Khao Neow Moo Ping… chicken, beef, spicy pork, or scorpion… whatever it is you want, sweet or spicy, you’ll never be far away from delicious morsels of meat sizzling on an open grill. Perfect snacks for market meanderings, you’ll be able to load up on ample variations in-between big feeds.
Memories this one; you’ll need it! ‘Pad Kee Mao Sen Yai’ translates to ‘drunken noodles’. Sounds fun, right? They are. Drowned in soy, garlic, fish sauce, chilli and just about every other Thai flavor going, they’re a perfect taste sensation after a few too many Changs, and even better the next day to awaken you from the dead.
There’s a reason why you’ll see signs for cafes and hostels named after Thailand’s staple Banana pancakes everywhere you go… because there’s no other desert more satisfying, and backpackers live off them! Served hot from the griddle, full of squishy banana, melted chocolate, fruit and coconut, you’ll end up eating these for most desserts. Best enjoyed from a paper plate in the street!
Rice puddings’ more exotic cousin, Thai sticky rice has a slightly dried texture making it easy to pull apart using your hands. Generous helpings of coconut cream and sticky mango make it all the more appe-thai-sing. This is probably the most famous classic Thai sweet treat, and one you’ll no doubt master if you invest in a Thai cooking course.
These gooey balls made from sesame dough served in a ginger flavor broth or tea. They’re usually eaten at birthday or New Year celebrations – we say being in Thailand is cause for celebration enough, so you should definitely indulge your inner child and sip on a pot of these if you get the chance.
Thailand’s very own ice tea is full of super-sweet condensed milk – the perfect pick-up after a long, hot day of soaking up culture. The drink comes in all sorts of flavors and styles – pick one up from a street cart and you’ll likely have it served to you in a cute plastic carrier bag, complete with a straw. Head to a mega-mall in stylish Sukhumvit or a beach bar in the south, and you’ll find fruity flavors served in cocktail glasses.
What other insane Thai food have you tried that you feel needs adding to the list?* Leave your comments below or even better, tag your foodie pics with#EatYourWaytoThailandand mention @STATravel to be in with the chance of winning an all-expenses-paid trip to Thailand, courtesy of G Adventures. Find out more on how to enter here.
*We were tempted to give special shoutouts to durians, officially the world’s smelliest fruit, often banned from hotels and hostels, and 7-Eleven toasties. Life. Savers.
Whether you’ve woken up heavy-headed unable to function after last night’s antics, are seriously missing your go-to morning smoothie or are simply looking for somewhere it’s acceptable to start drinking at 11am, London is catching up on the brunch scene and has a whole lot to offer.
So if you’re venturing to the capital and wondering when on earth you’ll next be getting your breakfast-lunch combo, fear not we’ve rounded up our ‘best of the brunch’ to suit any occasion…
1. DUCK AND WAFFLE, City- Brunch with a view
If you like your brunch served with a sky-high backdrop of London, it doesn’t get much better than this. Based at the top of Heron tower, the food here is equally lavish. We recommend the house specialty: Crispy duck leg, fried egg, fluffy waffles smothered in mustard maple syrup. It was named after it of course.
2. ATTENDANT, Old Street – Brunch for coffee addicts
At Attendant, they take their coffee seriously. So if sipping on a quality blend surrounded by trendy interiors is your thing, this one’s for you. But let’s not abandon the food- as innovative as it’s coffee is its brunch selection. From Korean salt-beef sourdough baguettes to Dulce de Leche French Toast, need we say more?
3. BALLIE BALLERSON, Dalston – Brunch, balls and booze
This is where the Brunch fun truly happens… a weird and wonderful experience as opposed to just delicious food. Book your tickets in advance to London’s only ‘Bottomless Brunch’ that involves Fire, Ice & Helium cocktails as well as (wait for it) an LED Ball pit to jump/ dance your way into midway through!!! And people say London is eccentric…
4. REGENCY CAFÉ, Westminster- Brunch British ‘greasy-spoon’ style
There’s no pretence here just hearty full-english breakfasts that will take you from zero-to-hero in minutes. Large plates are piled high with the set breakfast deal costing just £5.50. Regency ‘caf’ is perfect for people on a budget and someone seeking a traditional English breakfast without the riff-raff.
5. THE BREAKFAST CLUB, Soho & others – Brunch all day, everyday
Failed to make it out of bed until 4pm? We’ve been there. But now you’re finally mobile get on down to 80’s themed The Breakfast Club where it’s breakfast at all hours of the day! It’s a popular place, anywhere that serves salted caramel banoffee pancakes should be, so expect to queue for your spot before browsing the 2-page menu for another 30mins (there’s too much we can’t decide!).
6. BEN’S CANTEEN, Battersea – Brunch with the crew
The Brits love their pubs and Ben’s canteen has managed to combine the English pub’s relaxed ‘let’s just stay here all day’ attitude with a killer brunch menu and bloody mary’s to go with. A local favorite, where you’ll find groups of friends hanging out, catching up and most likely telling anecdotes from the previous night.
7. FARM GIRL, Notting Hill – Brunch with a side of superfoods
If you know your cacao from your cocoa, Aussie run Farm Girl in the picture-perfect Notting Hill should definitely be on your to-do list. Optional superfood add-ons, acai bowls, vegan doughnuts AND coconut maple bacon (say whatttt?) are a treat for the taste buds and your camera #nofilternecessary.
8. DISHOOM, Kings Cross & others – Brunch with a cultural twist
Who said bacon and eggs shouldn’t be served in a soft, pillowy naan and that toast shouldn’t be topped with spiced pineapple jam? No one that’s who. If you like combining your brunch excursion with the taste and décor of Bombay, then Dishoom won’t disappoint!
Get ready to say goodbye to packing stress, and say hello to a featherweight backpack, full of stuff you actually need.
We asked our Facebook community to tell us which items they absolutely couldn’t live without when traveling. And along with some tips of our own, voilà! we give you — in no particular order — our top packing list essentials.
Don’t be that person who returns to the dorm room late at night and switches the main lights on; use a headlamp to make… your… way… quietly. As well as being helpful when crossing Dormland, it’s also good for hiking and exploring any caves.
2. Wet Wipes
They may seem a bit “middle-aged woman with a handbag”, but trust me — when you’re traveling, wet wipes are a gift from the travel Gods. Use them to clean up scrapes and scratches, mop dust off your flip flops, wipe the sweat off your face (nice), freshen-up if you can’t have a shower (double nice)… the list goes on! As Facebooker Ellie says, they are “the duct tape of toiletries”. Speaking of duct tape…
3. Duct Tape
Use it to patch up any rips in your backpack! Secure your mosquito net with it! Tape that annoying person in your dorm room’s mouth shut with it! OK, don’t do the last one, but the point I’m trying to make is: duct tape is really very useful. Take some with you. Thank you.
Not only will your memories be preserved forever, you know you’re just dying to be that person on Facebook who makes everyone jealous with their travel pics. Why not go one step further and make strangers jealous by sharing your photos on Instagram and tagging them #StartTheAdventure.
Unfortunately, you can’t go traveling without having a bit of money. Instead of carrying around a stack of cash, we recommend getting a card with no foreign exchange fees. When using it abroad make sure you pay with local currency to avoid stores/ restaurants dictating what the exchange fee is.
6. Driving License
While public transport will save you some dollars, sometimes to access that jaw-dropping scenery you’ve been dreaming about it’s going to require renting a car or moped which, surprise surprise, you’ll need your license for.
You won’t get very far without your passport, but before you pack it, remember to check that it isn’t about to expire! Lots of countries — including backpacker havens Australia, Thailand and Malaysia — won’t let you in if your passport expires within 6 months of your arrival date. It’s also worth packing a photocopy of your passport, and other important docs. Or if you’re feeling a bit 21st century, take Facebooker Meagan’s advice and “Email a copy of these to yourself so you always have them”. Great idea, Meagan! Remember to check whether you need a visa to get into the country you’re traveling to – our Travel Experts can help you out with one if you do need one.
8. Discount Cards
Are you either a student, under 26 or a teacher? Lucky you! You’re eligible for a discount card that you can use all around the world on up to 40,000 discounts; including things like eating out, guidebooks, and getting around.
No, not those kind of drugs – I’m talking about the medicinal kind! First up, we have the essential medicinal trifecta: Tums, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol. It’s worth taking a stash with you, since your usual brand will not always be available abroad. Secondly, we have Tiger Balm. If you haven’t discovered this versatile ointment yet, now’s the time. As our Facebook fan Lauren says, it’s “amazing for headaches and insect bites”, and you can also slap some (gently) on your aching muscles. It’s widely available in Asia, so you can pick it up on your travels. Thirdly, pack some diarrhoea medication. It’s likely that you will eat something… that, err… gotta go!
10. Sleeping bag liner
If you’re traveling on a budget, a sleeping bag liner is a must. It’s essentially a cozy thin sleeping bag, and it’ll protect you from any bed bugs that might be lurking in the slightly more questionable places you stay. Pop one in your backpack, and get a good night’s sleep instead of worrying about the state of the sheets. Pick up a nice silk one, and feel 5-star wherever you bed down.
11. Hand Sanitizer
This stuff is gold! After your first traumatic squat loo in the jungle experience you’ll be pretty thankful you brought this stuff to freshen up with. Plus, you’ll be everyone’s best friend on the bus when you mention the phrase “does anyone need hand sanitizer?”
12. Ear plugs
Whoever invented ear plugs has definitely spent their fair share of time sleeping in dorm rooms. These nuggets of genius are pretty much essential if you want a good night’s sleep in a hostel. They’re also handy for sleeper trains and buses.
13. Mosquito repellent and mosquito net
No one likes to itch, and no one likes to be covered in bright red splotches. Even if you’re one of those really annoying people who never seems to get bitten (I hate you), it’s worth spraying on some mozzy repellent and investing in a net, particularly in Malaria zones.
14. Mapsme App
This app is an absolute life saver when you’re whizzing off in a tuk tuk without really knowing what direction you’re meant to be going in. Mapsme allows you to download maps of the whole country that are then available offline – you can even save spots (eg. you’re hostel or that must-try restaurant you’re desperate to go to) and work out how to get there from you’re current location.
15. Notebook and pens
I guarantee that despite your good intentions to start a blog, by the time you get round to typing it up, you’ll have forgotten loads. Nothing beats lying on an isolated beach with a notebook in your hand, writing about your latest travel adventures and capturing how you’re feeling. As our Facebook fan Lisa says, “It would be a shame if all those amazing things will be forgotten… and you can’t capture every experience in pictures or remember every detail forever. so I write them down!”. Thanks Lisa!
16. Travel insurance
OK it’s boring, and yes, I sound like your mom, but it’s so, so important — not least because you can’t get it once you’ve left! Don’t let getting your iPod stolen or having to fork out for medical treatment ruin your trip. You can buy insurance from only $25 – especially designed with the young and adventurous traveler in mind. Get covered for over 100 adventure sports and adrenaline activities free of charge — just don’t tell your mum!
Or a similar smartphone with music-listening capabilities. Traveling without music on long bus journeys is no fun; plus, the songs you listen to will forever remind you of your travels – *wistful sigh*. Plus, you can use your smartphone to access wifi (technology these days, eh?) Take our Facebooker Amy’s advice: “Google maps was invaluable whilst I was away. Before moving to a new town I would load the map area so when I arrived I could never get too lost! Especially useful when arriving somewhere late at night.” Just remember to turn data roaming off, or risk being landed with a massive phone bill.
Take a couple of padlocks. They’ll keep your backpack secure, and you can also use them on lockers in some hostels.
19. Toilet roll
Stick some tee-pee in your bag, particularly if you’re traveling around Latin America or Asia, where the public toilets may be notably void of hallowed roll. On a toilet-related note; start practising your crouching skills, as the public bathrooms will probably be lacking in seats – squat toilets, anyone? You’ll soon get used to them.
No, not the woolly winter kind; I’m talking about a nice big lightweight scarf – we ladies call them pashminas. Gents, why not try a keffiyeh, or a less-politically-controversial-but-still-manly equivalent. Not only will a scarf keep you warm if the evenings get chilly, it can also double up as a beach blanket, and protect you against subzero air conditioning on a bus or train journey.
Make sure you’ve got your visas fixed up, or you’ll be waiting a long, long, long time at the border. If you have fewer than five days to go, no drama, that’s just about time to visit your local store and submit a fast-track visa service, for any entrance visas!
22. Shoulder bag
While backpacks are the bomb for hiking and outdoor adventures, a small shoulder bag or fanny pack is a must-bring for when you’re exploring bustling markets and busy cities – that way you can keep an eye on it and pickpockets wandering hands.
That’s it from us, but this is by no means a comprehensive list. Do you think we’ve missed anything super obvious, or do you have your own travel must-haves? Drop them in the comment box below!
The South Australian capital isn’t immediately thought of when it comes to backpackers – it’s often a city that’s visited on a trip to the Red Centre, or on a road trip across the Great Ocean Road. We want Adelaide to feel the love as we believe the place is underrated, so here we are, sharing the top 6 things to do to get the most out of your trip to RADelaide (and why you should visit in the first place).
You can’t visit South Australia without heading to at least one of the wine regions – it’s the largest wine-producing region in the country! So, whether you’re a wine connoisseur, just enjoy a glass of wine, or are only there for the cheese board, we recommend checking at least one of them out on a day trip from the city: Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, and Langhorne Creek. Think beautiful countryside, seriously tasty wine and slightly wobbly bicycle rides…
One for the foodies, Central Market is literally crammed full of boutique food stores, fruit and veg stalls, wine and cheese bars (and more!) just vying for your attention. And what comes with markets? Food samples! And this Central Market can literally be enjoyed just by the amount of those – from tasting fancy cheeses to trying morsels of flaky pastries, you can literally walk from stall to stall sampling the goods… it’s easy to see how it’s been around for over 140 years!
The fifth largest sports stadium (capacity wise) in Australia, the Adelaide Oval is primarily a cricket stadium where you can watch games for free. Or if you want to get involved in the local sport (Australian Football League, aka AFL) buy a ticket to the game and soak up the lively atmosphere. If you’re not into sports, they also host events like St Patrick’s Day celebrations and popular music concerts such as Ed Sheeran’s World Tour (March 2018).
Just under 10 miles east of the city, Mount Lofty is the highest peak of the Mount Lofty ranges in the Adelaide Hills. Totally worth it if you love connecting with nature and just want an escape from the city: the national park offers a ton of different bushwalking and hiking trails, like the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty hike – start by admiring the falls and then end the uphill hike to the peak with stunning panoramic views of the city down to the coast.
Less than 20 minutes from the city, Cleland Wildlife Park is a conservation sanctuary, where you can watch some of Australia’s most iconic animals in their natural environment: the perfect place to see Koala’s and Kangaroos chilling out.
Two neighboring streets right in the middle of the city, where Adelaide’s heart lies: it’s like a mixture of all the bigger Australian cities, with laneways and talented street performers like Melbourne, and chic wine bars and restaurants like Sydney. This is where you should head to enjoy those balmy South Australian evenings, with a drink in one hand and a gourmet burger in the other.
With its warmer year-round climate, chilled out lifestyle, stunning national parks, multiple wine regions, and foodie hub, Adelaide is bringing its ‘A game’ for sure. Check out our destination guide for any further information, or have a look at our tours that visit Adelaide!
While you might make every effort to plan your whole vacation down to the last minute, the beauty of a campervan trip is the fact that you don’t need to be so time strict on yourself. Sure, there will be the must-do experiences that can’t be missed and we advise if you’re travelling in the peak periods you book your vehicle and campsites ahead. Here’s our quick guide for the first-time rookie ‘campervanners’…
Get lost: This is how you find those hidden treasures! Throw your guidebook out of the window, drive where you want and stop where you want. And then when you actually do (and quite by accident) get lost, you can say it was all part of the ‘unplan’ of unbridled freedom and independence
Change your mind: Make a plan – and then break it. You get to be you at your most flaky and indecisive. Let the road be your guide!
Let your hair down: Roll the windows down, stick your tongue out and pretend you’re a dog
Check the camping regulations for each country
Freedom camp where permitted: It’s a benefit of carrying your bed with you!
Pre-book the things you don’t want to miss: High season can get busy!
Pack your luggage in soft bags instead of suitcases
Familiarize yourself with local road rules!
Leave your licence at home: Should be obvious. For some reason, it isn’t. National Drivers’ Licences should do, but check when you book
Have a plan: if you have too much of one, you may miss the magic
Under-estimate driving distances and times: Everything looks smaller on a map
Attempt undercover car parks: Open top might be cool in a convertible but your camper might struggle to pull it off
Drive on the beach: Campervans are HEAVY and you will sink like a stone into the sand. Not a good look
Forget to pull your curtains at business time
Shower: Wild swim instead. Yeh, we’re talking to you, princess! Forgo a powered site and a fancy shower block once in a while for a bracing morning swim or a bare-chested strip wash in a lake or river
Forget to download all your best driving music: Think 1980s family holiday, power ballads and anything with a dirty bandana and an epic guitar solo
Now you’ve got the list it’s time to hit the road traveller! Head to our campervan page for more info and inspiration.
You find it impossible to sit still when attempting to sunbathe.
You spot a tree or large rock ahead. It MUST be climbed.
And why walk when you can sprint?!
If it’s a solid or even an affirmative YES, there’s only one way for you to travel and that’s an active adventure. Traveling doesn’t have to be all strolling slowly along the streets, sipping beers and lounging in the sun (although that does sound great). Let’s raise the tempo and get exploring, no matter what your fitness level. Here are our favorite activities, worldwide, to get that pulse going.
Get back to nature and work those quads as you hike through one of the most magical corners of the world. This 4-day ‘W’ Trek has got the ‘X’ factor that’s for sure. Reflective turquoise lagoons, immense glaciers and a contrast of grassy fields with impressive grey mountains? That’s a yes from us!
Hike, bike and kayak your way through rice paddies, coral coves and white-sand beaches on this 14-day tour across the main sights of Thailand. Kayaking through mangrove jungles across a bright blue lagoon sounds like a dream we wouldn’t want to wake up from!
If you’re looking for adventure travel, there’s nowhere more suited to it than New Zealand’s South Island. Kayak through the Abel Tasman National Park, boat your way around the stunning Milford Sound and cruise the Rail Trail in Central Otago on this 15-day tour of exhilarating adventure.
Cycle through the small towns and villages of Vietnam for an authentic taste of this beautiful country. This 10-day tour will have you hiking, biking and paddling your way across the best of Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City up to Hanoi and the picturesque Halong Bay. We can’t imagine a better trip for the active adventurer!
Get your blood pumping on this 8-day active tour of Cuba. Pump those legs as you cycle from Havana, across the El Rosario mountain ranges for unmissable views and across to Viñuales in central Cuba. In between cycling enjoy a tobacco plantation tour, beach time and to finish it all off, a much-needed Havana rum!
Named the “Adventure Capital of the Americas”, thrill-seekers will find more than enough to keep them busy on this 13-day tour! From rafting down the mighty Pacuare river, bunking for the night in a remote rainforest cabin to surfing the waves in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, you’re going to be spoiled for choice in activities to do!
Head off on an a heart-pumping canyoneering adventure on the Mujib Canyon Trail, explore gorges and canyons on your way to Petra and climb, rappel and wade your way through the Wadi Mujib. But that’s not all there is to look forward to on this 8-day tour; get muddy in the Dead Sea, explore the Dana Biosphere Reserve and drive through the Deisah desert in a 4×4! If you’re not tired from reading all that, time to book!
So, whatever your fitness level or even if you’re not that into sports, don’t rule out an active tour! There’s sure to be something to match your tempo, just check out our full list of active adventures…
Colorful food has been making waves around the world of late, and 2018 will see no stop to that trend. But before Instagram came along, did you know that bright foods have been staples in many countries for years?
Red: Red Velvet Cake (USA)
First up in the rainbow, it’s red. And what could be more red than Red Velvet Cake? Honestly, the clue is in the name! Sure, it’s not really a naturally occurring shade, but the Cheesecake has been an American classic since the 1920’s, with its exact origins somewhat disputed. Was it pioneered by the Adams Extract Company? Or by the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York? Who knows – but what we do know, is that it’s delicious.
The tradition of making sauce from fruits dates back to pre-Columbian times. Mango salsa is simply a variation on fresh salsa (Spanish for “sauce”), that’s used across the region as well as generally in Spanish cooking.
This staple of Northern Italian cuisine, Polenta, is a pale yellow in colour. And it’s delicious. On paper, it doesn’t sound too great – boiled cornmeal, yum – but you have to trust us here! You can have it served hard and firm, or creamy and soft, and it’s found everywhere in the country; whether you’re looking for cheap eats, or something a little fancier.
Green ice cream? What sorcery is this? Who cares – it tastes amazing! Matcha actually originates in China, but it’s widely found across Japan and they use it in traditional tea ceremonies there. Of course, with Japan being famed for a culture that so easily blurs the contrast of modern and old, it’s now used to flavor ice cream, too.
Watching boring old tea transform into a beautiful blue is like watching a butterfly complete its transformation… so that’s how we like to think it got its name. In actual fact, the drink – which can be found across Thailand – is made by brewing tea made from the vibrant butterfly pea flower.
Move over “normal” corn. In Peru, you can actually get it of the purple variety! It’s hard to find elsewhere, but when you’re off on your travels, trying it in their signature pudding is a must. Mazamorra Morada uses purple corn, fruits, cinnamon and sugar to hit that sweet spot. Good news: it’s super good for you, too. The darker your food, the more antioxidants it contains. Who knew?
Want to “taste the rainbow” – quite literally? British favorite sweeties come in all kinds of colors, literally every color of the rainbow! Fun fact: they’re completely devoid of color during
Rainbow: Mermaid Drinks (Mexico)
Heading to Mexico? Starbucks created a mermaid drink, exclusive to the country. The reason why it’s so unique? Its blend of green melon crème and topped with blue vanilla whipped cream, blue and pink sugar crystals and iridescent violet pearls, probably means it’s a tad on the naughty side to be available everywhere!
When Starbucks released their drinks swirling all the colors in the galaxy, it only made multi-colored drinks mainstream – but the reality is, you can find unicorn inspired drinks all around the world if you know where to look! Check this one out from California.
We’re seeing more and more wild and wonderful rainbow food cropping up in the most unnatural – but awesome – ways. From rainbow layer cake to rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches, to donuts and even mermaid croissants?! The world’s food scene is getting a whole lot more innovative. And more fun, too!
New year, new you and new countries to tick off the list!
With data from our customers and our own sense of wanderlust driving us forth, we’ve pulled together our most lusted after destinations for 2018. Some are old favorites making a resurgence, and some are new, unchartered territories calling out to be discovered…
Why? At the time of writing this, Sri Lanka is ahead of any other country in our customer poll. This tiny teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean is the Asian hotspot of 2018, home to a diverse range of natural beauty and ancient wonders. It’s relatively new on the backpacker trail, and you travelers can’t get enough of its authentic culture and untouched landscapes.
Ride the winding train tracks through tea plantation-clad valleys between Kandy and Ella, frequently awarded the title of ‘the best train ride in the world’. *sigh*
Traverse Adam’s Peak. The 7000 steps are best climbed in time for sunrise – a popular pilgrimage for the residents of the island.
Head north to Sigiriya and the cultural triangle, full of ancient temples, city ruins and buddha-clad caves.
Hit the waves in the white sand surf meccas of Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa or Arugam Bay.
Get lucky with a sighting of grazing elephants and leopards in Yala National Park, or Minneriya, or have your own ‘Life of Pi’ moment aboard a boat, spotting whales at sunrise in Mirissa or Trincomalee. (Psst, there’s turtle nesting spots, too. You know we love turtles).
Why? You might think Netflix is responsible for a peak of interest in Colombia, but there’s so much more that makes this colorful, biodiverse country contender for South America’s most up-and-coming tourist destination.
Get to know the locals. There are certain countries that gain a reputation among travelers based on how happy, humble and welcoming the people are – Colombia is certainly one of these countries. English still isn’t that widely spoken, so brush up on your Español and ask the Colombians what they love most about their home. If your vocabulary fails, you can always share a smile or a laugh with them.
La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) needs to be on your bucket list. Colombia’s answer to Machu Picchu, but with far less tourists, the Lost City is the destination of the four or five-day trek into the steamy Sierra Nevada jungle
If hiking ain’t your thing, the port city of Cartagena surely will be. Think cobblestoned streets, colonial history, cocktail bars, rich culture and color everywhere. Culture hats on!
Jungles? Check. Cities? Check. Beaches…? Also, check. Tayrona National Park is your typical slice of Caribbean paradise. There’s amazing marine life, rainforests and plenty of palm-shaded beaches to get stuck on, Pina Colada in hand.
Why? This is an untouched world away from the well-trodden path of Australia’s East Coast. Bordered with an idyllic coastline, home to vast deserts blanketed by the mind-melting Milky Way and teeming with incredible wildlife,Western Australia is a marvel of its own. Go on, be a rebel and explore the less-frequented side of Aus…
Head to Rottnest Island, near Perth to meet the residents – the cheery, curious quokkas. They’ve got sloth, koala and pug-levels of cuddly charisma. (Google now, thank us later!)
Hire a camper van and tour Western Australia’s incredible national parks (Karijini, Kalbarri and the Pinnacles to name a few)
Stop off in Ningaloo Reef in Coral Bay – where you can swim with gentle, ginormous whale sharks and manta rays. Nearby, you can also meet wild dolphins on the shores of Monkey Mia.
The town of Broome, where you can ride camels across the extensive tidal flats, before blazing off in a cloud of red dust into the beautiful, unchartered territory of the Kimberleys.
The last few years, those lucky enough to be traveling to Europe have been banging down Croatia’s pristine, wave-lapped doors to get in, but this year, Croatia’s northern neighbor Slovenia where we predict a travel trend emerging.
When they said ‘hidden gem’, they actually meant to say ‘hidden-in-the-most-stunning-picturesque-paradise-in-the-Balkans-gem’. This impeccably beautiful country is a gift to the eyes… and the camera.
If you come to Slovenia for one reason alone, it would have to be Lake Bled. Nestled in the Julian Alps, this crystal clear lake houses Bled Island. Hike, swim, and marvel for a few days amidst one of Europe’s most picture-perfect spots on the map.
Spend 24 hours in the capital city, Ljubljana, which is full of cool clubs, riverside bars and a pretty epic castle.
Hop over the border to Italy… With Venice merely hours from the border, it would be rude not to.
Explore the 15 mile long Postojna Caves. These contain weird and wonderful rock formations and even a concert hall fit to hold 10,000 spectators.
‘It’s the cirrrrrrcle of liiiiifeeee!’. Need we say more?! Prepare to walk onto the set of ‘The Lion King’. This is a land of extremes, ruled by wildlife, where the African desert meets the ocean.
Explore the Sossusvlei desert, fringed on all sides by giant sand dunes.
Climb ‘Big Daddy’ – the largest dune in the world – then hike your way along the famous Dune 45. Extra brownie points for those who make it there for sunrise
Take a walk on the wild side, on the Caprivi Strip. You won’t find yourself sipping on cocktails or dancing the night away here – it’s not that kinda strip – but you will get to drink up a wetland wildlife paradise. Expect to see hippos, crocodiles and buffalo bathing in the blazing heat of the African sun.
Those who dare can blaze down the Skeleton Coast. Dotted with decrepit shipwrecks, this vast stretch of coastline feels like the end of the Earth.
Creep, climb and crawl (with your camera firmly in hand) around the eery and surreal sand-filled houses in the abandoned town of Kolmanskop.
Here’s us being super alternative. We’re not talking about the American state, here. Sandwiched between Europe and Asia, the country of Georgia is an unknown treasure and a dip into Eurasia’s humble local life amidst the mountains. Visiting a country like this will provide your travel-lusting soul with fresh perspectives, rugged landscapes, carpets of yellow and green meadows and unexplored valleys. And heaps to brag about to lesser-traveled friends who’ll have to Google whether or not it actually exists!
The Caucasus mountains are a travel photographer’s dream. Head to the foothills of them for hiking, skiing or straight-up chilling.
Georgian cuisine. Rich, comforting and varied, traditional Georgian cuisine blends traditional Eastern European food, such as beef stew and cheesy khachapuri (pancakes), with Middle Eastern spices. We came, we ate, we loved.
The country’s capital city Tbilisi is home to the mesmerising Narikala Fortress, and some seriously crazy nightlife. Who knew Georgia had nightclubs to rival Berlin’s!?
Why? Iceland, step aside. You’re so 2017 (but we still love you). Norway offers a dazzling mix of history and natural wonder. The old meets the new seamlessly within the surrounding mountains, fjords and gorges. You could allow yourself weeks of exploring here, but seven days will suffice for the best of this Nordic eden.
Iceland might have grown in popularity in the past few years due to the mysterious glow of the Northern lights, but you’ve got just as high a chance of spotting them in Norway from September to March, too. (#topofthebucketlist)
Head to Bergen, the picturesque southwest city and jumping off point for Norway’s famed fjords. Be sure to climb the most popular of many ‘city mountains’, Mount Floyen.
Cruise the fjords in the Geirangerfjord region, home to unmissable sights such as Seven Sisters waterfall.
Be careful and don’t look down as you pose for the ultimate travel’gram 3,600 ft above the fjords below, atop of Trolltunga.
Why? Guatemala is the beating Mayan heart of Central America. A hop over the border, you’ll find charming colonial streets, jungles, ruins, culture, history and some mad volcanoes. When it comes to adventure, this country is bursting at its seams. Are you ready to fall in love? We already did, yeaaars ago.
Play Indiana Jones amidst the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, deep in the northern rainforests. Get in early, wander through it while it’s still empty and feel like you’re discovering it for the first time.
Chill on the ginormous Lake Atitlan, fringed by cute hippie villages, three volcanoes and the Sierra Madre mountains. This could just become your favorite backpacker spot in the Americas.
Sharpen your salsa moves and gorge on delicious street food in the lively markets of Chichicastenango.
While its neighboring countries – Japan, The Philippines and China have long been popular for wanderlusters, the coolest traveler <amend:”travelers”> are starting to latch on to Taipei’s energetic city vibes and the inviting green landscapes that lie a short train ride out of it. If you’re planning on swinging by Taiwan for a few days, pack your swimsuit, your hiking boots and your appetite…
Discover sweeping mountain ranges and awesome hiking trails in Takoro Gorge.
With a capital city like Taipei, there is an abundance of history, tradition and modern architecture to uncover. Take in the views from Taipei 101, then head to the night markets or Yongkang Street to feast on some of the best and most varied traditional east Asian fare.
Taiwan is full of natural hot springs – our favorites are Chingchuan, Guguan, and Beitou – the latter is easily accessible, being just a short train ride outside of central Taipei
Because for starters, you won’t need a passport here! Utah is an up and coming ‘must-do’ for the Instagrammers, the nomads, and the adventure-lovers. It is a world-class outdoor recreation hub, with vast expanses of desert and national park. Hire some wheels or jump on a tour and prepare to hit the vast open road…
Who said rocks were boring? Zion, Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley National Parks all offer landscapes to rival their big, famous cousins over in Arizona. Be sure to also explore the Dali-esque melted rock formations in Goblin Valley.
Wasatch Mountain range, which offers a top of the range Skiing experience up in the snow-dusted peaks.
Kick back and enjoy the high-life dining and nightlife scene in Salt Lake City.
The last great Himalayan Kingdom, Bhutan is overflowing with more mystery than pretty much anywhere else on Earth. If you’re thinking of packing your bags and heading to uncover this spiritual land, $250 a day to stay… but that will provide you with an all-inclusive, once in a lifetime trip, complete with your own guide.
Get some zen. Be guided through the many traditional towns of the deeply Buddhist country, soaking up genuinely untouched, protected culture and customs. The open-minded people of Bhutan are ready to welcome you with open arms
Absorb the majestic fortresses and the famous monastery of Paro Takstang placed beautifully on the side of a cliff known as Leaping Tiger Gorge.
Do you have your heart set on a new destination? Maybe you’re in the flow of being inspired and want some more. Check out our new 2018 destinations hub to satisfy your wanderlust…
The world is a colorful place, and if you’re not out there exploring it, then sometimes it’s easy to forget! So if you’re cooped up in an office staring out the window at a bleak and dreary winter scene, here are some destinations from across the globe to brighten up your day and inspire you to #TravelTheRainbow
Red: Daigo-Ji Temple, Japan
Not only is this temple an absolute beauty, but it’s also of huge cultural significance to Japan. It’s a designated World Heritage Site, and provides the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism a place of community and worship. For travelers, it’s an amazing sight to behold. It’s situated on a mountainside and surrounded by a wealth of nature to complement its deep red hues perfectly.
There are so many colorful, orange places in Arizona’s vast desert that we struggled to narrow it down to just the one. However, the USA’s home of the Grand Canyon also hides some lesser-known secrets, such as the Vermillion Cliffs with their impressive swirls and twists.
It’s hot. It’s remote, but it’s a must-see. The volcanic hot springs of the Dallol volcano appears as a neon yellow color because of minerals and elements such as sulfur, iron and salt which are found among the hot magma. We can’t stress enough how important it is not to get too close, though. These pools can be acidic and toxic gases can even kill. Eeek – stay back!
This isn’t a filter – there are a few pink lakes in the world, and Lake Retba is one of them. If you’re lucky enough to be heading through this African nation, you’ll see its pink coloring thanks to a certain kind of algae. There’s true discoloration, which means that you don’t have to squint to see the hues. As a World Heritage Site, it’s becoming easier to visit (it’s only an hour from the country’s capital). And you can even swim in it – you might float though, due to exceedingly high salt content!
Making the pilgrimage to Indonesia? Seeing the rice paddies of Bali is like a rite of passage. Used literally for growing rice, they make incredible backdrops for all those Insta-snap memories you’ll keep long after Instagram stops being a thing.
Ah, Australia. Home to some of the bluest oceans in the world, and plenty of fishy friends living in there. Visiting the Great Barrier Reef should be on everyone’s bucket list; but it needs to be respected. In recent years, conservation efforts have been strong. Still, it’s worth moving this one up on your bucket list if you are dreaming of diving or snorkeling there. It might not be around forever. Sad face indeed.
While there are many colors of the Northern Lights, and a fair few places to see them, perhaps the indigo hues are the rarest and among the most beautiful. Venturing to Iceland doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll see them, but it certainly heightens your chances; and the landscapes are drop dead gorgeous as well.
Flowers are pretty, sure, but they rarely turn heads like the Lavender Fields of Provence in France. Not only do the fields look amazing, but there’s an incredible aroma here, too. France – just like a lot of Europe – is known for its rich and idyllic lush scenery. Just be careful that you don’t get nod off picnicking nearby. Lavender has long been used as a sleep aid!
So if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get out of your comfort zone, travel more and experience new cultures why not give one of these colorful and unique locations a try OR see them all and shape your own rainbow inspired travel adventure with STA Travel’s Multi-city flights!
To some of us, December is all about Mariah Carey Christmas tunes and digesting an obscene amount of food. Yet for others in the world, it’s all about steamy saunas and wearing outrageously bright underwear. In spirit of this, we’ve rounded up our 12 favorite quirky traditions and unique December events from across the globe. So, let’s get the bauble rolling…
1. Oaxaca, Mexico – Night of Radishes
If you thought pumpkin carving was bloody hard, how about trying to carve roses, animals and kings out of radishes? Eek! Noche de Rabanos is thought to have come about when merchants sculpted veg to attract housewives leaving midnight mass. Since then, it’s become kind of a big deal. The impressive vegetable sculptures are displayed in Oaxaca’s Zócalo (the main plaza) and judged on December 23rd, with the winners bagging a cash prize and serious street cred too.
Launched in the 1970s to satisfy foreigners Christmas cravings, queuing up on Christmas Eve to pick up the Colonel’s fried chicken party barrel has now become a popular tradition. With sides, cake and even champagne! Why slave in the kitchen for hours when you could please the fam with a pre-ordered KFC dinner package? Japan, we’ll take note.
What all fashionistas dream of hearing… in Icelandic folklore, it’s believed that unless you get a new piece of clothing for Christmas, you’ll be gobbled up by a huge black cat that scours Iceland come Christmas Eve. So, the more new clothes we receive, the safer we are right? Shopping spreeeee!
4. Philippines – Giant Lantern Festival
Star-shaped, brightly coloured lanterns, or parols, are a Filipino symbol of Christmas and can be seen hung up outside homes, along streets and even on palm trees on the beach. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, head to the Christmas capital, San Fernando City for their epic annual Giant Lantern Festival. Marvel at the individually crafted giant lanterns, made up of thousands of bulbs, twinkle and dance to the accompanying music. And we thought putting the lights around the Christmas tree was a mind-overload…
Watch the streets fill up with Santa lookalikes as they run across the finish line and raise money (and a beer bottle) for local charities. What begun as 40 mischievous, booze craving Santa’s in Philadelphia has developed into a national bar crawl with live bands, a short run and a whole load of drink specials. On your marks, get set, SANTA!
6. South Africa – Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival
For one week every December, Capetonian’s get together to celebrate something very close to their hearts: surf and ocean culture. This year, they’re highlighting the creative women of South Africa in a female dominated line-up of ocean-conscious events showcasing the talents of local photographers, activists and scientists. G’wan, ladies!
Preparing the house for family to arrive at Christmas can be a long task. But Estonians know the perfect way to appreciate the calm before the storm and reward themselves for all their hard work: a sauna sesh. So, let’s get hot and steamy and celebrate Christmas Eve the Estonian way.
8. Hawaii – Kauai Festival of Lights
Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a shed-load of twinkling lights and homemade decs, now would it? This festival began in honour of the awesome Auntie Josie who made Christmas decorations out of recycled materials and opened her ‘Christmas House’ up for visitors to come and marvel at them. Her multi-thousand dollars’ worth of art work can now be viewed by the public at the Historic County Building, as well as their own selection of illuminated Christmas decorations.
Travelling to Colombia during New Years? Well, we hope you’ve packed your yellow undies because when the clock strikes 12, you’re going to need them! But why? Well according to Colombian tradition, wearing these banana hued briefs will bring wealth and prosperity in the coming year. So, if you’re looking to get rich quick this could be the ticket.
10. New Zealand – National Secret Santa
In New Zealand they’re taking Secret Santa to a whole new level! Since 2010, anyone can enter the national Secret Santa via Twitter and be matched with another twitter user taking part. Participants tweet hints of their interests and what they might like, and then the rest is over to the buyer to nail the perfect pressie. You can even get matched with the Prime Minister or a celeb! Pressurrrre.
If you’re a bit of a scrooge, perhaps Austria’s Krampus is more your vibe? Santa’s evil companion is a terrifying beast; half goat, half demon with horns, fangs, a chain and bells. So, if you’ve been bad this year jeeez get ready to run for it because according to folklore this guy is headed your way! On December 5th men dressed in Krampus costumes can be seen parading in Austria’s town centres and you can even nibble on a choccie version of the best.
When it comes to sitting down at the dinner table to marvel at the in-sane spread of yummy delights before your eyes, the Brits have a bicep twitching task to complete before they dig in – crackers. With the help of the person sat next to you, hold one end and pull open your Christmas cracker to reveal a tacky ASF novelty gift, awful dad joke and paper crown to regal up your Xmas outfit.
Now you’re a pro on all things December, test your knowledge with our Facebook Live Quiz to be in with a chance of winning a travel voucher worth $500! What a way to start off 2018…For more details head here >