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Bali

Indonesia, Asia

Bali is a tropical paradise with an abundance of fresh fruit always available. Bali boasts lush green forests, beautiful beaches a...

string(5647) "Bali is a tropical paradise with an abundance of fresh fruit always available. Bali boasts lush green forests, beautiful beaches and incredible rice paddies that spill down the sides of dramatic mountains. It has a strong Hindu spiritual life, with thousands of temples and a rich culture of dancing, music, art, architecture, rituals and festivals. The capital Denpasar in the south is a lively town, particularly after dark, when locals visit Pasar Badung, the biggest and busiest market on the island. It is worthwhile hiring a car, jeep or moped, or chartering a private cab to visit the island’s villages. Among those worth a visit are Celuk, which is noted for its silver and goldsmithing, and Mas for its excellent woodcarving. Near the village of Kutri is Pura Kedarman, which has a hilltop shrine with a panoramic view and stone statue of the eight-armed goddess, Durga. Ubud, at the base of the mountains, is the cultural centre of Bali and home of much traditional Balinese dance and music. This is where most accomplished painters, dancers, musicians, carvers and weavers live and work, so there are a number of excellent museums, art galleries and shops selling quality handicrafts. Not far from Peliatan is Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave, carved into a rock face. Visitors enter the cave through the cavernous mouth of a demon. Also near Ubud, Tampaksiring is a small town where the most impressive ancient monument on Bali can be found: Gunung Kawi. The temple consists of 10, seven-metre high, rockcut memorials. The spectacular 16th century Tanah Lot is probably one of Bali’s best known and most photographed temples. Perched on a rocky islet and encircled by the sea, droves of visitors go to see it at sunrise or, more commonly, silhouetted against a brilliant red sky at sunset. On Bali’s western tip, the Bali Barat National Park covers nearly 20,000 hectares and includes 7000 hectares of coral reef and coastal waters. The region is ideal for trekking, has outstanding dive sites and pristine beaches. East Bali has Gunung Agung, and West Bali has the Gunung Batur crater, a magnificent sight at sunrise. Penelokan, on the edge of the crater, offers superb views of Mt Batur and down to the lake. The village of Batur used to be inside the crater, but after a violent eruption in 1917 when thousands were killed, the village was relocated onto the crater’s rim, with the village of Kintamani. Kedisan, by the lake, is the base from which you can take a boat across to Trunyan. Or walk for a couple of hours on the track around the lake to Toyah Bungkah passing through the old village of Songan. Nearly 1000 metres up the slopes of Gunung Agung is Bali’s most important temple, Besakih. North of Denpasar is the temple of Taman Ayun in Mengwi, spacious and memorable for its moat and large grassy outer courtyard; and Bedugul, which has a leisure park at the southern end of Lake Bratan and lovely botanical gardens. It is the south of Bali that is the real tourist mecca: the areas of Kuta, Tuban, Legian and Seminyak. Kuta has an incredible concentration of shops and services, as well as Bali’s most famous beach—the only place in Bali where the surf breaks over sand instead of coral. Kuta and Legian come alive at night, with shops and market stalls selling every Balinese handicraft imaginable. Various cultural performances are staged nightly, with one of Bali’s best Kecak (traditional dance) performances to be seen in Kuta. The increasingly busy area of Tuban is situated close to the attractions of Kuta and Legian but with a more tranquil beach. Safer swimming combined with Bali’s only watersports park, Waterbom Bali, makes it an appealing option for family holidays. Southern Bali, encompassing Nusa Dua, Sanur and Tanjung Benoa, is where most of the island’s international five-star hotels are located. Sanur has a palm-lined beach and its waters are protected by reefs making it ideal for watersports. Reasonably priced restaurants are found in Tanjung Benoa and Bualu village, and the nightlife is relatively sedate. There are other beaches at Lovina in the north, and Candi Dasa in the east. Popular activities on Bali range from surfing, scuba diving and sea walking to indulging at pristine spas or attending an exciting cooking school. As it continues to attract an increasing number of international visitors every year, dining in Bali is very cosmopolitan yet inexpensive. Bali has amazing fresh seafood and the local lobster, sold at prices that will have you coming back again and again, is not to be missed. A huge range of international cuisines including Chinese, Malaysian, Italian, Greek, Moroccan and Mexican, to name just a few, are available. Be sure to enjoy local delicacies such as nasi goreng and sate campur. Bali is also recognised as a shopper’s paradise. Whether you are looking for casual or tailored clothing, locally crafted jewellery, handicrafts, antiques and artefacts or leather goods including leather coats, jackets and handbags, you will find it all at amazing prices. Don’t forget, bartering is the local custom at the markets so have fun and get the best price you can. If you need a quieter pace, try the fixed-price department stores in Denpasar. Bali offers every standard of accommodation ranging from modest, yet charming bungalow-style hotels nestled in lush tropical gardens through to some of the most exclusive and sophisticated hotels in the world. There is without doubt something to suit every budget. The abundance of cultural and historical sites here makes for a fascinating holiday. "
Koh Samui Koh Samui

Thailand, Asia

Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Roughly circular in shape, the island...

string(2676) "Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Roughly circular in shape, the island is the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang and one of the most popular destinations for international travellers. The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable jungle where Samui’s highest mountain, Khao Pom, peaks at 635 metres. The various lowland areas are connected together by a single 51-kilometre road that meanders mostly along the coast to encircle the bulk of the island. The old capital Nathon is located on the southwest coast of the island and remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the regional government and for Samui locals is the recognised commercial hub. It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shophouses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history. Although Koh Samui is in southern Thailand where Islam has a strong inf luence, the original inhabitants of the island, known as Chao Samui, are predominantly Buddhist. In the past, most of the locals made their living in the coconut farming business. Today, however, most islanders work in jobs related to tourism because in recent years Koh Samui has developed into a popular, tropical beach resort destination. While still maintaining its unique charm, from coconut tree fringed beaches to tropical jungles and a vibrant nightlife, it has something for everyone. Accommodations range from bungalows and villas to five-star boutique resorts and are suitable for all budgets. There are fine dining restaurants that offer a wide range of international and exotic local Thai dishes. If pampering is high on your list, there are many day spas available. Koh Samui offers an abundance of activities including elephant trekking, canoeing, sailing, diving, golfing, fishing, cycling and almost anything else you can think of! Nature lovers will find it a paradise of waterfalls, temples and jungles. There is a butterf ly garden, aquarium, tiger zoo, monkey theatre, snake and crocodile farm to visit. Day tours to the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and the Angthong Marine National Park are also highly recommended. With direct f lights to Samui Airport from Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as ferry services from Suratthani, Koh Samui is conveniently accessible. Koh Samui boasts many popular beaches including Chaweng and with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees it is easy to see why travellers from all over the world make it their preferred holiday destination. "
Kosrae Strand Kosrae

Micronesia, Pacific

The State of Kosrae is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and, as well as the island of Kosrae, consists of ...

string(2972) "The State of Kosrae is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and, as well as the island of Kosrae, consists of several islands and islets, the most significant being Lelu Island. Roughly triangular in shape, Kosrae covers an area of approximately 110 square kilometres. The most eastern of the Caroline Islands, Kosrae has a population of approximately 7000 people and is located north of the equator between Guam and the islands of Hawaii. The coral reefs that surround the island are kept in a pristine condition through an extensive mooring buoy system and the area is becoming a favourite destination for scuba divers from all around the world. The island’s interior is covered with deep vegetation and steep mountains that keep it largely undeveloped. European contact with Kosrae in 1824 reported a highly stratified society that was typical of the surrounding islands at that time. Its cultural features included matrilineal lineage and clans with a feudal structure of nobles who controlled the land that was worked by commoners. The settlements consisted of small groups of relatives who shared a single cookhouse, usually with at least one earth oven. The first missionary post was established in 1852 after American missionaries felt the need to protect the people of Kosrae from the large numbers of whalers and beachcombers who had made the island, which they considered a paradise, their home. Even today religion plays an integral role in the culture of Kosrae. Sunday is considered a day of rest and most stores and shops are closed on that day. In 1874, the pirate Bully Hayes was shipwrecked on Kosrae when his ship, the Leonara, was stuck in Lelu harbour during a storm. During his stay of several months on the island, Nully terrorised the local people. He was finally arrested by Captain Dupuis aboard the HMS Rosario but managed to escape on a boat built of timber from the wrecked Leonara. Traditional foods on the island include breadfruit, coconut, banana, taro, yam and sugarcane. Woodcarving, traditional canoe and cottage construction, fishing, farming and fine weaving using hibiscus, pandanus and coconut palms continue to be an integral way of life on the island. The weather in Kosrae is warm and humid throughout the year with an average temperature of 25℃ and rarely exceeding 32℃. It has two distinct seasons, dry and rainy and during the rainy season, November to April, be prepared for showers everyday. Casual and summer clothing is worn throughout the year although swimsuits and shorts are not acceptable in the villages. Be respectful—cover your shoulders and knees, and don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Kosrae is a wonderful gem, yet to be discovered by most modern travellers. A visit guarantees the experience of a lifetime—from the unhurried, friendly lifestyle and warm, island hospitality that are as unforgettable as the magical Micronesian sunsets. "
Pacific Tahiti Papette Papeete

Islands of Tahiti, Pacific

Papeete is the bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, and contains the government offices, gendarmerie, hospitals, clinics,...

string(3548) " Papeete is the bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, and contains the government offices, gendarmerie, hospitals, clinics, banks, telecommunications centres, airline, travel agencies, boutiques and black pearl shops. With a distinct colonial feel, Papeete’s CBD is designed for walking despite the city’s rapid growth in recent years. The city curves along the Boulevard Pomare waterfront and sprawls several blocks inland. The sleepy ‘Papeete town’ of years gone by has been replaced with a modern municipality, which hums with business and trade activity, with a healthy dose of camaraderie. Cargo freighters, copra ships, luxury liners and sailing yachts share the harbour where ‘people-watching’ for travellers and residents alike from the many outdoor cafés and bars is still one of the most popular pastimes. The social set like to linger at lunch, share the latest gossip and watch as gaily painted pareu and tifaifai bed covers are sold at sidewalk tables, amidst the laughing atmosphere of the Tahitian artisans. Papeete comes alive at night when nightclubs swing into action and the sounds of disco and jazz compete with the pulsating rhythm of the tamure, Tahiti’s tantalising national dance. Renowned for their natural grace, innate pride, gentle beauty and warm hospitality, the Tahitians know how to live. Music, flowers, dance and song make up an important part of their lives and dominate the annual Heiva I Tahiti festival. This very popular celebration is also called the Tahiti Festival and is held each July. Traditional Polynesian competitions are held alongside European sports and Asiatic arts so that a festive carnival atmosphere pervades Papeete for the entire month. Papeete Public Market or Le Marché is the heart of the city, providing a central marketplace for local Tahitian families. It is also a photographer’s delight, with colourful displays of ripe fruit, together with chinese vegetables, strings of brightly coloured fish, farm fresh meats, squealing pigs and noisy ducks. A stunning selection of tropical flowers is on sale year-round, including orchids, anthuriums, marigolds and daisies, red ginger and jasmine, as well as locally made shell necklaces, woven hats and baskets. Upstairs is reserved for artisans selling pareus, tifaifai quilts, cushion covers and other handicrafts. Papeete offers a wide range of activities for the traveller, spanning the larger island of Tahiti Nui as well as Tahiti Iti, joined to the main island by the isthmus of Taravao. Helicopter and plane tours offer a great way of seeing the two islands. The 4WD tours around the island provide a more complete view of the islands. Explore the breathtaking Papenoo Valley and enjoy a swim in one of its many waterfalls, visit the Vaihiria Lake and the many maraes (Polynesian temples). Take a leisurely bushwalk into tropical jungle featuring giant ferns at an altitude of 1400 metres or climb Mount Marau for a spectacular view of Tahiti’s neighbouring islands. Tahiti also has a wide range of activities to keep the most active traveller entertained, with hang gliding, bowling and tennis, deep-sea fishing, sailing, surfing, and scuba diving, windsurfing, jet-skiing, waterskiing and snorkelling. The island’s mountainous interior provides challenging and unusual trekking tours into valleys and up mountains, as well as discovering lava tubes, burial caves and hidden grottoes. The islands of Moorea, Bora Bora and Tetiaroa are also all close enough for a day trip from Tahiti. "
papua new guinea port moresby Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea, Pacific

Port Moresby is home to 200,000 people, with 700 diverse languages and cultures. The town consists of a complex traditional soc...

string(2286) "Port Moresby is home to 200,000 people, with 700 diverse languages and cultures. The town consists of a complex traditional society formed by historical bonds between the traditional land owners, the coastal Motuans and the inland Koitabu. Port Moresby fluctuates from the hustle of commercialisation to the serenity of a country town. Downtown at the waterside is the nostalgic Port Moresby. At the entrance of Fairfax Harbour are Lolorua and Daugo (Fishermen’s) Islands, favourite picnic areas for sailors. Beautiful views from Paga Point overlook Ela Beach and Koki Point. Juxtaposed to the metropolis is the partly stilt-based Hanuabada Village. Burnt after WWII, the big village was rebuilt by the Australian Administration. Despite cosmetic changes, the character of the village is still there and is renowned for elaborate ceremonies. Koki market on the waterfront is a favourite for trade in fresh seafood and has a colourful fruit and vegetable market. Be sure to visit PNG Arts and Beyond Art, to see PNG’s largest collection of tribal artefacts. The National Parliament, a symbol of modern architecture, contrasts with the dignity of traditional design at The National Museum and Art Gallery. The first permanent display of local artefacts was established here in 1978 and is well worth a visit. Located on the slopes of Independence Hill at Waigani, it’s open weekdays and Sunday afternoons. In September join in the celebrations of the Hiri Moale Festival to commemorate the historical trade between villagers around the Gulf Province and the Motuans and Koitabuans of Central Province. The festival features canoe races, processions, choirs, string bands, sing-sings and the Hiri Queen contest. The Sogeri Plateau (46 kilometres from Port Moresby) is where the Kokoda Trail became the centre of war between Japanese and Allied Troops during WWII. Variarata National Park is a spectacular mountain region, with views over Port Moresby and the coastline. If you get up early enough, you can catch the mist blanketing the ranges. Westbound from Port Moresby is the Hiritano Highway, connecting the city with Bereina, home of the Kairuku and Mekeo people. The Mekeos are renowned for their strong chieftain system and grand traditional costumes. "
Modern Commercial City (Bangkok) Central Thailand, Bangkok & Hua Hin

Thailand, Asia

From bustling cities, serene temples and beautiful relaxing beaches, Central Thailand has something for every traveller. On the...

string(3671) "From bustling cities, serene temples and beautiful relaxing beaches, Central Thailand has something for every traveller. On the fertile plains stretching north from Bangkok are 21 provinces, sometimes called ‘the rice bowl of Asia’, that are responsible for producing much of the country’s rice. Ayutthaya was one of the greatest mercantile centres in Asia and its incredible temples and palaces are built around the confluence of the Chao Praya, Lopburi and Pasak rivers. Hundreds of visitors on day trips from Bangkok are drawn to the remains of monuments that stand among more modern buildings. At Kanchanaburi is the infamous River Kwai bridge and ‘Death Railway’, the Japan-Burma railway built by the Japanese during World War II, when thousands of Asian labourers and Allied POWs died. Nearby are two war cemeteries, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and Chong Kai Cemetery and the JEATH (Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland) War Museum is housed in a reconstructed POW detention hut. Bangkok Bangkok is a thriving, bustling capital city catering to all kinds of tourists. Taxis or minibuses take visitors directly to their hotel via the convenient new expressway. Bangkok proper seethes on the east side of the Chao Phraya River and can be divided in two by the main north-south train line. Old Bangkok glitters in the portion between the river and the railway and it is here that most of the older temples and the original palace are located while new Bangkok is east of the railway For a bustling city, Bangkok surprisingly offers quiet escapes. Step out of the street noise and into the calm of one of the city’s 400 temples and monasteries. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo complex is the city’s premier tourist attraction and home to Phra Kaeo, the small, sacred and renowned emerald Buddha, the most revered image of Buddha in Thailand. The Grand Palace is a must-see for visitors, with temples and pavilions shimmering in gold leaf, porcelain and glass while not far away is the Marble Temple, considered one of the country’s most beautiful buildings. The Dusit Zoo is near the Royal Plaza, where the Thai royal family live in the Chitralada Palace. Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn is one of the city’s major landmarks with its central monument symbolising Hindi-Buddhist cosmology. The Temple of the Golden Buddha houses a unique, gleaming, 18-carat gold, four-metre high, 13th century Sukothai Buddha. Other sights include the Wat Sai floating market in Thonburi, a boat trip through the city’s extensive network of canals, and the renowned Oriental Hotel. For a shopping indulgence, head to central Bangkok’s Siam Square. This bustling shopping mecca is littered with alleyways jam packed with cheap, independent designer boutiques as well as numerous major shopping malls. Hua Hin Hua Hin is a favourite coastal destination for Thais who flock there to enjoy its beaches, multicultural buzz and numerous cafés and bistros that offer a wide range of cuisine. It is situated in the southwest of Bangkok and is recognised as Thailand’s first beach resort and extends some kilometres to a headland where Buddhist temples cling to the cliffs. Powdery white sand, resort hotels lining the coastline and visitors enjoying numerous watersports give the beach town its distinctive ambience. Stunning Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, 45 kilometres south of Hua Hin is one of the best-managed protected areas in the country. Kaeng Krachan National Park, northwest of Hua Hin, is Thailand’s largest protected area and is home to elephants, tigers, leopards, gibbon and many species of birds. "

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