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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. "
Island of Hawaii

Hawaii, Pacific

The Island of Hawaii is the youngest, the most diverse and the grandest of all the Hawaiian islands. Aptly nicknamed “The Big...

string(3508) "The Island of Hawaii is the youngest, the most diverse and the grandest of all the Hawaiian islands. Aptly nicknamed “The Big Island” it is larger than all the other islands put together. It’s a land of amazing contrasts with lush rainforests, monolithic cliffs, spectacular ocean vistas, white, black and even green sand beaches, plunging waterfalls, deserts, plains and active volcanoes. First discovered more than a millennium ago, the Island of Hawaii is where Polynesian mythology says Madame Pele, goddess of fire, dwells. She is said to live in the firepot of Halemaumau in Kilauea crater on the slopes of Mauna Loa, from where she actively pours new lava almost daily Hilo is the seat of government and near it are rainforests and black lava rocks hugging a serrated shoreline that is expanding thanks to Kilauea Volcano, the world’s most active volcano Volcanoes National Park is best accessed from Hilo. You can safely explore lava tubes and hiking trails around this amazing site. Nearby is Punaluu Beach Park with picturesque black sand beaches. North of Hilo the highway snakes between mountains and sea to Waipi`o Valley and Waimea through kilometres of fields where sugarcane once grew. Hidden amongst the mountains are a multitude of waterfalls including the impressive Akaka Falls. A must is a visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden where you can see more than 2000 species of tropical plants. Across the island, near Kawaihae, is Heiau, built by King Kamehameha, which is now an historical site. In Waimea, the Parker Ranch’s historic homes house a magnificent collection of Italian and French period pieces and more than a hundred original paintings by masters such as Renoir and Degas. In this region you can learn about a different side of Hawaii that is also home to paniolos, or Hawaiian cowboys. Lapakahi State Historical Park, north of Kawaihae, was once an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. A short drive from the park is King Kamehameha’s birthplace and Mookini Luakini Heiau believed to have been constructed about 480 AD. The Kohala Coast is home to magnificent resorts with breathtaking views of lava flows. Anaehoomalu Bay, with its picture postcard beach, curves between the shallow bay and an ancient Hawaiian fishpond once used by royalty. Once home to Hawaiian royalty, Kailua-Kona is now a vibrant resort and shopping precinct with a rich cultural heritage. It is also a great base from which to explore Kona coffee country and the unique Painted Church where columns form the trunks of painted palm trees. The Island of Hawaii produces 39 percent of the world’s macadamia nuts and Kona is the only place in the US where gourmet coffee is grown commercially. It also has the world’s largest anthurium and orchid flower industries. There are 20 golf courses on the Big Island, many with green fairways carved from ancient lava fields. Activities include fishing for marlin, a helicopter or small plane ride over red flowing lava and diving at night with giant manta rays. Getting around the Island of Hawaii is convenient and easy. The most popular mode of transport for international visitors is to hire a car and explore the island at leisure. There are also bus tours, shuttles and taxis. There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation on the Island of Hawaii. From charming bed and breakfasts to hotels, condominiums, lodges and five-star resorts, there’s something to suit every traveller and budget."
Upolu

Samoa, Pacific

The gateway to Samoa, Upolu is home to the international airport, the capital city, Apia, and the bulk of the country’s populati...

string(3096) "The gateway to Samoa, Upolu is home to the international airport, the capital city, Apia, and the bulk of the country’s population. Upolu’s coast is surrounded by white sand beaches and blue lagoons. One of Samoa’s most pristine beaches, Lalomanu Beach on the southeastern tip of the island with its translucent lagoon, is a protected marine reserve, teeming with a magnitude of tropical fish species and marine life. Just a little further north, head off to Namua Island and swim with the endangered green turtle in its natural ocean environment. South of Lalomanu there’s even more fauna to explore, including the seabird nesting grounds on Nuutele Island. From behind the hospital at Lalomanu you can take a short guided walk to an extinct volcanic crater, which happens to be home to a whole army of flying foxes. Upolu’s interior exudes a very special and mystic charm. There are numerous tracks that lead deep through lush rainforests to a number or rivers and dramatically beautiful waterfalls. O Le Pupu-Pui National Park contains Samoa’s highest mountain, Mt. Fito at 1100 metres as well as Togitogiga Falls and some good hiking trails. Papapapai-Tai Falls, with a 100 metre drop makes these very spectacular falls. The Papase’ea Sliding Rocks are just six kilometres southwest of Apia. Soft vegetation under the water makes it possible to easily slide down the falls into the natural pool below. The idyllic To Sua Ocean Trench attracts those keen to enjoy a surreal swim in a giant swimming hole. Samoa’s capital, Apia is home to 38,000 inhabitants. Situated on a natural harbour, just 40 kilometres from Faleolo International Airport, Apia is the perfect place to acclimatise to island life, pick up some souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage and proud history of Samoa. The colourful Maketi Fou (food market) on Apia’s Fugalei Street, is a good place to stock up on fresh fruit like pawpaws or a bunch of sweet little ladyfinger bananas. About a 10-minute walk from the food market is the flea market, the perfect souvenir haunt where you’ll find everything from clubs and kava bowls to lava lavas (the Samoan sarong), baskets, jewellery and authentic Samoan music. The famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, famed for classic books such as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, spent his final years in Samoa. He was known by the local people as Tusitala, Samoan for ‘teller of tales’. His beautiful mansion Vailima has been converted into a museum set within lush gardens and is open to the public. Visitors can also visit his grave located at the top of Mt. Vaea, along a trail named by the locals as “The Road of the Loving Heart”. The locals are famously hospitable and the city is easily explored by foot. Apia has a great nightlife, everything from busy pubs, nightclubs to cultural shows and excellent restaurants, where you can sing, dance and enjoy fresh Samoan cuisine. In addition to hotels in Apia there are some good resorts, guest houses and fales on the island."
Waipio Valley Lookout Big Island

Hawaii, Pacific

Hawaii’s Big Island is the youngest, the most diverse and the grandest of all the Hawaiian islands. Larger than all the other...

string(3447) "Hawaii’s Big Island is the youngest, the most diverse and the grandest of all the Hawaiian islands. Larger than all the other islands put together, it’s a land of amazing contrasts with lush rainforests, monolithic cliffs, spectacular ocean vistas, white, black and even green sand beaches, plunging waterfalls, deserts, plains and active volcanoes. First discovered more than a millennium ago, the Big Island is where Polynesian mythology says Madame Pele, goddess of fire, dwells. She is said to live in the firepot of Halemaumau in Kilauea crater on the slopes of Mauna Loa, from where she actively pours new lava almost daily. Hilo is the seat of government and near it are rainforests and black lava rocks hugging a serrated shoreline that is expanding thanks to Kilauea Volcano, the world’s most active volcano. Volcanoes National Park is best accessed from Hilo. You can safely explore lava tubes and hiking trails around this amazing site. Nearby is Punaluu Beach Park with picturesque black sand beaches. North of Hilo the highway snakes between mountains and sea to Waipi`o Valley and Waimea through kilometres of fields where sugarcane once grew. Hidden amongst the mountains are a multitude of waterfalls including the impressive Akaka Falls. A must is a visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden where you can see more than 2000 species of tropical plants. Across the island, near Kawaihae, is Heiau, built by King Kamehameha, which is now an historical site. In Waimea, the Parker Ranch’s historic homes house a magnificent collection of Italian and French period pieces and more than a hundred original paintings by masters such as Renoir and Degas. In this region you can learn about a different side of Hawaii that is also home to paniolos, or Hawaiian cowboys. Lapakahi State Historical Park, north of Kawaihae, was once an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. A short drive from the park is King Kamehameha’s birthplace and Mookini Luakini Heiau believed to have been constructed about 480 AD. The Kohala Coast is home to magnificent resorts with breathtaking views of lava flows. Anaehoomalu Bay, with its picture postcard beach, curves between the shallow bay and an ancient Hawaiian fishpond once used by royalty. Once home to Hawaiian royalty, Kailua-Kona is now a vibrant resort and shopping precinct with a rich cultural heritage. It is also a great base from which to explore Kona coffee country and the unique Painted Church where columns form the trunks of painted palm trees. The Big Island produces 39 percent of the world’s macadamia nuts and Kona is the only place in the US where gourmet coffee is grown commercially. It also has the world’s largest anthurium and orchid flower industries. There are 20 golf courses on the Big Island, many with green fairways carved from ancient lava fields. Activities include fishing for marlin, a helicopter or small plane ride over red flowing lava and diving at night with giant manta rays. Getting around the Big Island is convenient and easy. The most popular mode of transport for international visitors is to hire a car and explore the island at leisure. There are also bus tours, shuttles and taxis. There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation on the Big Island. From charming bed and breakfasts to hotels, condominiums, lodges and five-star resorts, there’s something to suit every traveller and budget. "
Jimbaran & Uluwatu

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

The Bukit Peninsula offers stunning ocean views and white sand beaches. The quiet fishing village of Jimbaran lies on a narrow ...

string(3794) "The Bukit Peninsula offers stunning ocean views and white sand beaches. The quiet fishing village of Jimbaran lies on a narrow isthmus connecting the Bukit Peninsula to the rest of Bali. Jimbaran is unique in that it borders two different coasts lying less than two kilometres apart. The geography around Jimbaran is distinctly different to the volcanic fertile soils found elsewhere in Bali. The Bukit Peninsula is comprised of a large limestone plateau offering stunning ocean views from its clifftops and white sand beaches. On the west coast is Jimbaran Bay and the Indian Ocean while the east has the shallow and sheltered Benoa Harbour. The region has remained sparsely inhabited due to the landscape and was at one stage a place of banishment where undesirables were sent. The Jimbaran area is a far less crowded alternative to Kuta or Legian thanks to careful planning by local authorities. The beauty of the beach has led to a number of luxury hotels being built along the shore. Budget accommodation is limited in Jimbaran, but the region is easily accessible from Nusa Dua or Kuta by taxi, bemo or bike. The sea temple of Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is the region’s most significant sight. The temple is one of several dedicated to the spirits of the sea along the south coast of Bali. Precipitously perched atop sheer limestone cliffs, the temple is certainly a dramatic sight, especially at sunset. Sunset at Jimbaran Bay is another popular sight. Seafood restaurants and warungs line the beach and tourists arrive in the late afternoon to witness the brightly coloured fishing fleets prepare for departure. An outlying reef protects the beach at Jimbaran quite well, however some of the world’s best and most dangerous surf beaches are located nearby at Uluwatu and Padang Padang. The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (GWK) is situated overlooking the South Bali tourist region and is one of Bali’s premier venues for performances, exhibitions, conferences, sightseeing and relaxation. Jimbaran has three major temples that draw tourists from around the world, Pura Dalem, Pura Puseh and Pura Desa. The anniversaries of the temples occur within four days of each other. At this time of year Jimbaran is vibrant and full of ritual activities. Although the number of tourists visiting Jimbaran is increasing, it’s still a relatively tranquil haven, offering many unique sights. Uluwatu Located on the western shore of the Bukit Peninsula on Bali’s southern coast, Uluwatu is famed for its spectacular rock formations, world-famous surf break, and dramatic cliffside temple. Heralded ‘the most famous wave in Bali’ Uluwatu is a surfer’s paradise, however there is plenty of other things to see and do in Uluwatu for the non-surfer. Uluwatu boasts one of the oldest and most impressive temples in Bali, Pura Uluwatu, built by Javanese priest Empu Kuturan in the 11th century. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, the temple is an architectural wonder, carved in black coral rock and perched high on the cliff side, 70 metres above the Indian Ocean. The best time to visit the temple is in the afternoon, so you can watch the evening traditional Balinese Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performance (held at 6pm every evening) on the cliffside stage as the sun goes down in the background. When visiting the temple, it’s advised to be mindful of your belongings, as the cheeky monkeys that reside here may take off with your sunglasses and hold them ransom in exchange for a banana! This large limestone peninsula is just a short drive away from Kuta Bay, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua. Renowned for its spectacular sunset views its dramatic location, perched high on the cliff’s edge, provides the perfect locale to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. "
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. "

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