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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. "
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. "
Phuket Ko Samui Ko Pha Ngan Ko Tao Holiday Beach Resort Villas Phuket

Thailand, Asia

A holiday in Phuket gives travellers the chance to escape to pristine beaches, crystalline waters, sumptuous cuisine and a pulsa...

string(3041) " A holiday in Phuket gives travellers the chance to escape to pristine beaches, crystalline waters, sumptuous cuisine and a pulsating nightlife. Phuket has it all. Dubbed ‘Pearl of the South’ by the tourist industry, Phuket is Thailand’s largest, most populous and most visited island. A whirl of colour and cosmopolitanism, Thailand’s only island province revolves around and thrives on tourism but still retains a spark of the real Thailand. Phuket has a long history. In centuries past, it was an important trading post. Two centuries ago, extensive tin mining drew thousands of Chinese labourers to the island and their influence has remained, leaving the province of Phuket with the highest percentage of ethnic Chinese in the country. The southern and coastal areas of the island were predominantly inhabited by Muslim fisherman. Whether it’s world-class diving in the Andaman Sea, golf at the world standard championship courses or exciting eco-adventures in tropical forests, it is the place to extend your horizons. Take an exhilarating speedboat ride to the surrounding islands or enjoy a serene cruise around mystical Phang Noa Bay. Or why not enjoy the vibrant nightlife at legendary Patong Beach with its bewildering mix of restaurants, bars, discos, live music clubs and cabarets. Inexpensive deals abound for this stunning destination and there is a wide variety of holiday packages available that need not break the budget. Phuket is more than a provincial capital; it is also a fascinating location for enthusiastic shoppers with all kind of budgets. You will find items ranging from antique Asian art and crafts, clothing boutiques, household knickknacks to bolts of famous Thai silk with bargaining the order of the day. With its idyllic tropical weather, Phuket is a favourite with beach lovers. There are, broadly speaking, two seasons: the dry and the wet. The dry season begins in December and lasts until April, when the rainfall increases. Wet or dry, temperatures remain remarkably consistent, nestling around 30°C and always with a dash of humidity. Just a 45-minute speedboat jaunt and a 90-minute ferryboat ride from Phuket are the towering limestone outcrop of the twin Phi Phi Islands. The larger and inhabited island, Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores. It is paradise perfected with beautiful beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life. Without roads, there is no hustle and bustle, no reason to hurry. Longtail boats make the many secluded beaches around Phi Phi Don accessible. The sheer limestone walls of the smaller Phi Phi Leh are dotted with caves and passages and the island’s shallow blue-green lagoons and coral gardens are a snorkeller’s paradise. So whether you want to snorkel the day away, relax in the sun, dance ‘til dawn at a club, or indulge in Thai specialty cuisines, it’s not difficult to see why Phuket is considered the ultimate holiday destination in Thailand. "
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. "
Seminyak & Canggu

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

With its central location, burgeoning nightlife and accessibility to major tourist attractions, this area is a perfect alternative...

string(2344) "With its central location, burgeoning nightlife and accessibility to major tourist attractions, this area is a perfect alternative to Kuta. To the north of Kuta and Legian, are stylish Seminyak and Canggu. There are no shortage of villas between Seminyak and Canggu luxe villas paired with five-star services and facilities offering you your own private piece of paradise. Seminyak Seminyak, has a reputation among tourists for being more sophisticated and having a more stylish nightlife than Kuta. The shopping centres and busy streets of Kuta are just 15 minutes to the south, and the more rural area of Canggu is just a 25-minute drive to the north. Seminyak has also become extremely popular for its wide range of world-class restaurants featuring all cuisines and eateries lining the beach. The multitude of upmarket boutiques, galleries, shops and markets make for fascinating shopping trips. Seminyak has become the luxury spa destination in Bali. By local standards, treatments may seem expensive but are probably half the price, or less, than you would pay at home. Most hotels offer an in-house service and in-villa treatments are widely available. Canggu Further north of Seminyak is Canggu that is widely used to refer to the eight-kilometre coastal stretch running north from the village of Berawa, just north of Seminyak, to the village of Cemagi, just south of Tanah Lot. The once rural farmland full of green rice paddy fields is now packed with luxury villas, yoga studios, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and beach clubs. Its beaches draw in surfers from all around the world. Most of the action can be found near Batu Bolong, a beach best known for its longboard-friendly break and Old Man’s, a lively beer garden and surf club. Just north of Canngu, one of Bali’s most important temples can be found. Over thousands of years, the tiny island of Tanah Lot was gradually formed as a result of erosion by ocean tides. Surprisingly modest, it comprises of two shrines with tiered roofs, two pavilions and a few small buildings. Access down to the temple is through a sideshow alley of souvenir shops and market stalls. It is a highly spiritual place, and visitors will often see people making the trip to meditate nearby or walking to the water in order to receive the ministrations of priests. "
Malaysia

Asia

Geographically divided into two, Malaysia has a peninsula stretching from Thailand to Singapore, and is blessed with enchanting is...

string(8689) "Geographically divided into two, Malaysia has a peninsula stretching from Thailand to Singapore, and is blessed with enchanting islands, beautiful mountains, tropical flora and fauna, as well as modern, thriving metropolises. Capital and major centres Malaysia consists of six major regions with Kuala Lumpur the capital city. Peninsular Malaysia’s central region is made up of the states of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca, while the north is occupied by Penang, Perlis, Perak and Kedah. Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang make up the east coast, and in the south is the state of Johor. The states of Sabah and Sarawak are on the northern third of the island of Borneo. Each region has unique qualities in terms of features, local culture, food and historical sites. The people Malaysia is a fascinating mix of ethnicities, ranging from the Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous Orang Asli (Original People) of Peninsular Malaysia to the diverse tribal communities of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia. Although the national language is Bahasa Melayu (Malay), English is widely spoken amongst the population of around 31 million. Nature Malaysia has a precious collection of national parks and wildlife reserves, which have been established to protect flora and fauna unique to the region. More than 60 percent of the country is under rainforest cover, home to over 8000 species of flora in Peninsular Malaysia alone, as well as 2000 tree species. The fascinating wildlife in the country includes elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, leopards, tapirs, sun bears, orangutans and gibbons. The designated Permanent Forest Estate covers 3.8 million hectares of virgin jungle, and more than 1.49 million hectares of conservation area. Peninsular Malaysia’s great Taman Negara National Park is one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. Taman Negara National Park straddles the borders of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, the latter part being the most visited. Endau-Rompin, which covers the boundary between Johor and Pahang, boasts many unique and endemic varieties of plants that were discovered within the centuries-old forest. These include the magnificent fan palm, climbing bamboo and the slender stemmed walking stick palm. Moths and butterflies of every kind, and deer and wild boar can be found in this lowland forest, one of the few remaining in Peninsular Malaysia. On the Borneo side of Malaysia, Gunung Mulu National Park in North Sarawak is one of the state’s most popular sites. It boasts an extensive limestone cave system— including the largest cave chamber in the world, the Sarawak Chamber—and is home to the second highest mountain peak in Sarawak as well as many plants and animal species. Kinabalu Park has the Poring Hot Springs, and Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Another cave site, Niah National Park is one of the largest limestone caves in the world. On the wild side, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary is set in a virgin equatorial rainforest and has rare plants, animals and birds. The sights Kuala Lumpur (KL) delights visitors with its colonial architecture, which still manages to stand out against the shining office towers and multi-lane highways. Further south, waterfront developments are changing the face of Malacca (Melaka), Malaysia’s oldest town. The island of Penang, the oldest British settlement in Malaysia, is one of the country’s top tourist attractions. It is renown for its beach resorts and the historical George Town, noted for its cuisine. Penang Hill offers a spectacular view of the island, and is particularly popular at dusk. Langkawi’s archipelago offers stunning beaches and resorts, as well as myths and legends. There are also many spectacular mainland beaches such as Cherating in Pahang, where you can watch for turtles. Over on the east in Sabah, Mt Kinabalu, the Turtle Islands, Sipadan and the national parks are the main attractions. Sarawak’s capital city is ideal for travellers, with landscaped parks and historic buildings. Where to stay There are plenty of hotels, condos and apartments in Malaysia. There is plenty of budget accommodation such as traditional Chinese hotels and dormitory-style guesthouses that can be found in most cities. The homestay concept is still relatively new, but is a great way to learn first hand the Malaysian way of life. Getting around Taxis are very common in Malaysia, and although meters are often used, it is always helpful to agree on a price beforehand. For trips to airports and railway stations, purchase coupons at the taxi counter stationed at both places. Several car rental agencies offer self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars. The national KTM train runs from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar in the north, Singapore in the south, and up to Tumpat on the east coast. Buses are fast and economical, and seats can be reserved fairly easily. Food and entertainment The food in Malaysia is nothing short of fantastic. There is a choice of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Western. Nyonya cuisine is probably the most famous of these fusions and is a blend of Chinese ingredients and Malay spices. Malay food uses seafood, meat, coconut and other indigenous fruits with rice. Street stalls or hawkers are where the best local cuisines can be enjoyed cheaply. The theatrical ambience of these hawkers is like no other, with continuous demonstrations of wok tossing, teh tarik (tea pulling), the artful skill of flipping rotis (Indian bread), and barbecuing of satay sticks. As a Muslim nation, there are restaurants offering halal food prepared in religiously approved conditions. Malaysia is famous for its wide variety of tropical fruits, including rambutans, mangosteens, jackfruit and durians. Sights of roadside vendors selling fruits and other snacks are common and the prices are usually cheaper than in supermarkets, especially when the special skill of bargaining is employed. Although Malaysia is a Muslim country alcohol is widely available in bars and nightclubs, especially in capital cities and tourist areas. Nightlife in Malaysia is anything but boring. Kuala Lumpur offers a wide choice of nightspots with entertainment ranging from cultural shows to Western-style bars and discos. Hot spots include Petaling Street, Jalan Alor, the Asian Heritage Row, Bangsar and many neighbouring suburbs. Activities For those without much time in Kuala Lumpur, a city tour on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to see the highlights. The huge Batu Caves will give tourists an unforgettable cultural experience. Golfing is on offer at 200 courses in diverse settings such as hill resorts, islands, beaches, cities, towns and off the beaten track. The diving and snorkelling off Tioman Island and Redang Island is superb, both islands boast underwater caves and incredible coral reefs. Sipadan Island, off the coast of Sabah, is said to have some of the best diving in the world. Trekking through the jungle trails of Taman Negara Park, visitors may see elephants, tigers, panthers and rhinos, although sightings are rare. A hike up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is amazing as tourists can watch the sunrise from beneath the clouds that surround the peak. Shopping Kuala Lumpur is very good value, with a variety of fashionable products and handicrafts available from shopping complexes, department stores, boutiques and markets. The Central Market in Chinatown is a centre for handicrafts, antiques and art. Here visitors can employ their bargaining skills to get the best prices on ‘branded’ merchandise. There is also the Chow Kit Market, a Malay market with many roadside vendors lining Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (also known as Jalan TAR). On Saturday nights, some streets are closed to traffic and host lively night markets. Visitors should be prepared to negotiate a good price and go home with a bargain! Currency The Malaysian Ringgit is usually written as RM. Tipping is not expected although much appreciated. Climate Temperatures range from 21°C to 32°C with cooler temperatures in the hills, particularly during the evenings. The east coast, Sabah and Sarawak have heavy rainfalls during November to February. The west coast of the peninsula is wet from April to October. Cool, lightweight summer clothing is best with medium-weight woollens at night in the cooler highland areas. Entry requirements All visitors need a valid passport/travel document with minimum validity of six months beyond the period of intended stay. Visa requirements vary for different countries so be sure to check. "

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