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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. "
North Bali & Other Regions

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

Renowned for its variety of picturesque landscapes, lovely beaches and villages where traditional ways are preserved. There are...

string(2859) "Renowned for its variety of picturesque landscapes, lovely beaches and villages where traditional ways are preserved. There are a number of other regions on the island of Bali which are popular with travellers. On the northeastern coast lies the small village of Tulamben which has a friendly atmosphere and wonderful food. Tulamben is best known for spectacular dive spots including a drop-off and the sunken American ship, Liberty, torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942. Now encrusted with marine flora, it is home to thousands of tropical fish. The area boasts picturesque rice fields with massive black rivers of volcanic rubble from the 1963 eruption of Gunung Agung. As Bali’s highest and most revered volcano, it dominates the easternmost district of Karangasem which is not only renowned for its variety of scenic landscapes and lovely beaches but also for villages such as Manggis where traditional ways are preserved. The mountainous region of Kintamani is located in the northeast of Bali and centres around the spectacular caldera of Gunung Batur with its deep crater lake and hot springs. Kintamani has a range of accommodation but is easily accessible for day trips from Kuta. It is great for trekking, sightseeing and shopping. Gunung Batur is still active but much of the crater is farmed by villagers with water from Lake Danau Batur. Every three days, a colourful market is held where fresh produce and handmade clothing is sold. In the northwestern corner of Bali is Pemuteran, a small village untouched by tourism. Bordered by the Java Sea and jagged mountain ranges, the area is too dry for rice cultivation so the local people traditionally live off the sea. Following years of destructive fishing around the offshore coral reef, a conservation project has been instituted. This has resulted in greatly increased numbers of marine life, perfect for snorkelling and diving. Visitors to Pemuteran may also be interested in Menjangan Island just off the coast, the dramatic Pulaki Temple which is perched on the side of a cliff, the botanical gardens at Bedugul and Sing Sing waterfall. Natural wonders continue to be a drawcard in the west of the island. The Bali Barat National Park is renown for its dive sites, flora, fauna, great trekking and pristine, beautiful beaches. Off the east coast is Nusa Lembongan, a small island covered with coconut trees, mangrove forests and small farms. Most people visit Nusa Lembongan to enjoy its quiet beaches, surfing or diving on day cruises from Bali. The village of Jungutbatu is charming with quiet lanes and a few temples. A popular temple is Pura Segara, which has an enormous banyan tree within its complex. About four kilometres away is Lembongan Village where visitors can take a tour of the eerie underground house where a man excavated his cave with a spoon."
Vietnam

Asia

Vietnam has incredible scenic beauty, featuring two main cultivated areas of the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River...

string(7144) "Vietnam has incredible scenic beauty, featuring two main cultivated areas of the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River Delta in the south. It is made up of equatorial lowlands, high, temperate plateaus and alpine peaks. Stretching over 1600 kilometres along the eastern coast of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is bordered by China to the north and Cambodia and Laos to the west. Capital and major centres Whilst Ho Chi Minh City is the country’s largest population centre, the capital, Hanoi is the political and cultural centre of Vietnam. Haiphong is the Northern region’s main industrial centre and a major seaport, while Da Nang in the Central region, is promoted as the gateway to Indochina. Other major centres include Dalat in the Central Highlands, renown for its cool climate and beautiful mountain scenery and Kontum in the Central Highlands. The people Vietnam’s population is about 90% Viet (Kinh) ethnic people and the rest are 53 other ethnic groups such as Tay, Nung, Muong, Cham, Khmer, Ede, and Hoa. The native language is Vietnamese with the northern and southern dialects differing slightly from each other. Now many Vietnamese young people can also speak English, French, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity have all served to shape the rich spiritual life of Vietnam, along with the indigenous religion of Caodaism. The main temple for Caodaism is in Tay Ninh city, 90 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. It offers daily ceremonies and educational tours. Nature Vietnam is lush and tropical with much jungle and vegetation ranging from the green Mekong River Delta to forests containing an estimated 12,000 plant species. The country’s wild fauna is enormously diverse and includes elephants, rhinos, leopards, black bears and a variety of monkeys, birds and reptiles. Ho Chi Minh City’s zoo and botanic gardens are a delightful place for a stroll, as are the tree lined avenues in the Cultural Park (Tao Dan Park). Food and entertainment Vietnam offers the opportunity to sample some truly amazing cuisine. There are said to be nearly 500 traditional dishes, ranging from exotic meats such as bat and cobra, to a variety of fish, vegetables, spices and sauces. As a guide, food in the Central region tends to be spicy, while the Northern region cuisine is mild. The Southern region has an understandable accent on pepper, as Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of the spice. ‘Pho’ is the noodle soup eaten at any time of day and ‘com’ means ‘rice dish’. Because Buddhist monks of the Mahayana tradition are strict vegetarians, many dishes contain tofu, mushrooms and raw, cooked and fermented vegetables. While Vietnamese desserts such as pastry, sticky rice and beans tend to be a little sweet for foreign palates, the selection of local fruits is amazing. Try green dragon fruit, jujube, longan, pomelo, three-seed cherry and water apple. A word of warning, smoking is still allowed in most hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, so it’s advisable to get a table outside or by a window. In Ho Chi Minh City, entertainment can be found at discos and hotel nightclubs, while bars and cafes are popular throughout the rest of the country. For a local experience, enjoy a ‘Beer Hoi’ at a road side bar. It’s cheap, refreshing and a great way to meet the locals. The sights Vietnam’s national parks include: Cat Ba, Ba Be Lake and Cuc Phuong national parks in the north; Bach Ma National Park in the Central region (sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund); and Nam Cat Tien National Park in the south to name a few. In 2003, another national park, Phong Nha-Ke Bang was recognised as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO. Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park offers mountains that are ideal for climbing and exploring and it is also home to archaeological and historical relics along with a range of geographic attractions. The most recent to find favour with visitors is the Son Doong (Mountain River) Cave. Discovered in 2009, it is claimed to be the world’s largest cave. The other UNESCO recognised sites in Vietnam are Halong Bay, the imperial city of Hué, the ancient quarter of Hoi An and the My Son Sanctuary, the Trang An landscape complex, central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi, and citadel of the Ho Dynasty. Getting around There is a major airport serving each of the three major tourism zones: Ho Chi Minh City serves the Mekong River; Da Nang serves Hué, Hoi An and My Son; and Hanoi provides access to Halong Bay and the mountains. Travel between the three gateway cities is available by air, train and bus. Overnight travel by train or bus is a popular choice for visitors and is inexpensive and relatively comfortable. Chartering a minibus or hiring a car and driver are other viable alternatives. Cabs (some metered, some not) operate in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and most of the major cities. As a rule, it’s best to avoid travelling by car in major cities during peak hour unless you are not in a hurry. Visitors can hire cyclos (pedicabs) to get around, or there is the option to travel the way the locals do and hire a motor scooter. With a population of about 95 million, it is easy to think that all Vietnamese people own a scooter. The roads are full of them. Traffic in the major cities is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Despite the vast numbers though, scooter traffic moves like water. It is constantly flowing, sometimes fast, usually slow and occasionally it will pool due to an obstacle, but then find a way to break through and move on. Walking can prove to be a bit of a challenge, as most footpaths are lined with parked scooters, left there by the locals while they shop or eat. Shopping Vietnam is known for its handicrafts, including lacquerware, mother-of-pearl inlay, ceramics, bamboo products, jewellery, silk goods, intricately carved statues and paintings. In Hanoi, two popular areas are Hang Gai Street and Hang Bong Street which stock embroidered tablecloths, greeting cards with traditional hand-painted silk covers, water puppets, clothing and antiques. In Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market is a good place for shopping. (Vendors will willingly bargain but as a courtesy, do not ask the price of something unless you want to buy it.) Dong Khoi Street is an arts and crafts tourist bazaar. Currency The currency is the Vietnamese dong. The US dollar is widely accepted and several big cities accept Euro. Traveller’s cheques are easily exchangeable in banks and credit cards. Climate Vietnam has three climatic zones with temperatures ranging from 22oC to 27oC. In the north, the best time to visit is between October and March. Central Vietnam is protected by the Hai Van Pass Mountains and travelling is recommended year-round. In the south, there are two seasons—dry and rainy. March, April and May are the hottest months. Lightweight clothing is sufficient for the south all year round but warmer clothing is needed during winter (November through April) in the north and in the highlands."
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."
palau pacific development inc Northern Mariana Islands

Micronesia, Pacific

The Northern Marianas Islands are a tropical paradise offering magnificent beaches and crystal clear waters, as well as the lively...

string(5140) "The Northern Marianas Islands are a tropical paradise offering magnificent beaches and crystal clear waters, as well as the lively bustle of nightlife, shopping, a world class casino, a wide range of restaurants, golf and a multitude of outdoor activities. A commonwealth of the United States, The Northern Mariana Islands consists of fourteen islands with a majority of the population residing on the Islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The weather is comfortable all year round. Short, direct flights to Saipan are available from Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Guangzhou and Busan. Scheduled inter-island flights connecting Saipan to Rota, Tinian and Guam operate daily. Saipan The largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan boasts gentle beaches and a lovely lagoon on the western and southern coasts, a rugged and rocky eastern coast, a hilly interior and dramatic cliffs in the largely undeveloped north. Plunge into a variety of watersports including swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking, banana boat rides, parasailing, kiteboarding and windsurfing. Discover underwater wonders and hidden wrecks with a shore, boat, wreck, or cavern SCUBA dive. Managaha Island is a short boat ride away where the crystal waters of the lagoon offer award-winning snorkelling. The cavernous Grotto is rated as one of the top dive spots in the World. The CNMI Museum of History and Culture is a good starting point for first time visitors to grasp the expanse of this island’s 4,000-year history. The American Memorial Park offers a look at the island’s World War II history. Don’t miss a stop at the ‘Last Command Post’ of the Japanese Imperial Army or the other historic and natural wonders of the Marpi area. Garapan is where many of the restaurants, bars, and shopping centres are located. Relax and rejuvenate mind, body and soul by indulging in one of the many top spas on the island. Golf, deep sea fishing and sporting events of all kinds abound, and Saipan boasts the only International Standards Casino operating in Micronesia and the fourth largest grossing casino in the World. Tinian Tinian is the closest island to the capital of Saipan, and is easily accessible by air via a 10-minute flight. History abounds on Tinian, from huge prehistoric stone monoliths called Taga Stones to the very runways and loading docks that put atom bombs aboard the Enola Gay to stop WWII. Tinian is all that and more with temple ruins in the Jungle and quaint, boutique hotels to accommodate your visit. Tinian also has many clean and beautiful white sand beaches. The pristine water, colourful marine life and coral reefs surrounding the island offer an ideal environment for snorkelling, scuba diving, and bountiful fishing. Rota Known as ‘the friendly island’, beautiful Rota possesses a unique character and charm that wins over just about everyone that goes there. On the western side of the island, take a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water at Rota’s famous Swimming Hole. Take some great photos at Tweksberry Park with its perfectly lined rows of coconut palms. Continue east along beautiful Sasanhaya Bay and get a great view of Wedding Cake Mountain. See two well-preserved Japanese swivelling cannons and other interesting sights in an awe inspiring back road driving tour. No trip is complete with sampling local delicacies, from in-season ayuyu (coconut crab) to kadun pika (hot spicy beef soup), the choices abound and are served best in the company of newfound friends in this friendly community where everyone waves at visitors.Along the beautiful western coastline, this sprawling oceanfront resort boasts a sugar-white sandy lagoon and aquamarine waters. Facilities include a spa, tennis courts, fitness centre, four restaurants and three refreshing pools. At the beach, join a playful game of beach volley ball or bask on the shoreline and gaze at the blue, pink and purple hues of the horizon. You’ll be delighted with the activities including relaxing outdoor pools and a kid’s only pool for younger guests. Don’t miss exquisite sunset dining Saipan’s best cultural show featuring artistic Polynesian and Micronesian dancers or indulge in a cocktail at the World Café and authentic Japanese cuisine at Mai Teppanyaki, along with its special events calendar, make it a gathering place for visitors from around the world as the local community. The resort presents exquisite oceanfront accommodations and superior service with a selection of 416 rooms and suites that feature private balconies with splendid views of Saipan’s white and beaches, as well as a range of amenities and friendly team of staff. For special occasions and events, the resort has established itself as one of the best meeting locations on island with expansive venue space and expert on-site planning services. Whether you choose to simply bask in the sunshine, be surrounded by the tropical landscape or enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea or pools, Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan ensures the finest services for a complete gateway."
Micronesia Pohnpei Holiday Pohnpei

Micronesia, Pacific

This is the largest island in the Eastern Caroline Group and the capital of the FSM. It fits the typical South Sea island image...

string(3558) " This is the largest island in the Eastern Caroline Group and the capital of the FSM. It fits the typical South Sea island image with lush vegetation, abundant rainfall and tumbling waterfalls. Unlike other Micronesian islands it has tropical jungles, mist-covered mountains, one of the healthiest mangrove swamps and exotic f lora in the Pacific. Situated in the northwestern Pacific, it is 880 metres high, 21 kilometres wide and shaped somewhat like a circular tent. Also known as the garden island of Micronesia, its boldest landmarks are Sokehs Rock and Nan Madol. Nan Madol is an ancient stone city built on the tidal f lats of the eastern part of Pohnpei. There are approximately 100 artificial islets constructed of basalt logs of various sizes up to 70 tons each, making Nan Madol the largest and one of the most mysterious archaeological sites in the Pacific. The first European to visit the island group was Spaniard Diego de Rocha in 1526. The islands were originally called the New Philippines until 1696 when they were renamed the Caroline Islands. Occupied by Spain, Germany, Japan and the USA, Pohnpei experienced 100 years of foreign rule because it proved to be an ideal supply stop for the Pacific expeditions. Pohnpeian is the native language, however, both English and Pohnpeian are used in business. Archaeologists and engineers are attempting to discover more about the race which constructed the island city of Nan Madol. The stone fortress was built on a reef south-east of Temwen Island by the rulers of Pohnpei around 500 AD until it was taken over by Isokelekel, the warrior who installed the present traditional system in the 1520s. Nan Madol is reached by boat from the main town of Kolonia about 45 minutes away. It’s a full day boat tour which includes a visit to the spectacular Keprohi Waterfall and snorkelling in the lagoon. A 20-minute ride out of Kolonia takes you to the Nanpil River where further along are the spectacular Liduduhniap Twin Waterfalls, complete with thatched huts where you can picnic in a jungle setting. A day trip to privately owned Black Coral Island in the lagoon is the perfect way to safely snorkel the reef and, for a family day, visit Langer island with its simple cottages where visitors can stay overnight. In Kolonia you can see the Spanish Wall, built in 1889 as a boundary for Fort Alphonso XII. Nearby is the Catholic Mission Bell Tower, all that remains of the old German church torn down by the Japanese during WWII. Also take a stroll into the Polynesian village and watch the craftsmen whittle ornaments from locally grown ivory seed. Most tours operate from Kolonia, and many of the waterfalls and areas of historical and ecological importance can only be reached by guided tour. Accommodation is in both traditional Pohnpeian thatched roofed bungalows with garden showers, and Westernstyle hotels. There is no public transport, only taxis and rental cars, but most hotels offer shuttle services. Tourist facilities are clean and the service is friendly. A visit to the Pohnpeian cultural centres is a must for anyone wishing to experience traditional Pohnpeian life. Each centre has a distinctive program and performances include traditional dancing, singing, music, ceremonial sakau making, handicraft arts, and food preparation. The village shops specialise in handicrafts and popular items include carvings of sharks, fish, dolphins and canoes. When it comes to relaxing, try sakau, the numbing local drink which is used in ceremonies and also sold in bars. "

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