Posts Tagged With: Asia

Travelling through South East Asia

10 Things You Must Do in South East Asia according to aminearlythereyet.com

1) The Temples of Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

You cannot come to south-east Asia and not visit these world famous temples in Siem Reap. Beautiful architectural design on a mind blowing scale, you’ll need at least 3 full days to explore the major temples. The sense of history and the grandeur of a lost civilization is incredible. Sunset at the phenomenal Angkor Wat temple is not to be missed.

2) Buy a motor boat and cruise Vietnam

No other country in Asia has so many motorbikes! Ride down the truly amazing coastal roads of the famous Highway 1 and the less visited central highlands. With some of the best scenery in south east Asia, what better way to experience it then to ride at your own leisure through unspoilt countryside, villages and rice terraces.

An excellent motor bike infrastructure exists throughout the whole country. With spares and repair shops in every town and high quality 2nd hand bikes to be had. Make sure you are covered by your travel insurance and are experienced and confident enough to enjoy the ride.

3) Dance all night at the Full Moon party, Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

Backpacking in SE Asia would simply not be complete without getting your boogie on at the full moon party. World class sound systems, entertainment, and enough UV paint for a lifetime! Even if your not a party animal, there’s still plenty of fun to be had at probably the best party in the world.

4) Drink beer Lao watching the sun go down in Luang Prabang

Sleepy Luang Prabang, the jewel of the Mekong. Dripping with ex-French colonial charm; it’s the perfect a place to unwind with an ice cold Beer Lao (Possibly the best beer in Asia?). As well as the famous laid back Lao attitude, their favourite beer is also seen as a national institution.

5) Stay on Koh Rong Island, Cambodia

Blue sky, white sand, warm clear sea, Koh Rong Island is true paradise. If you want time alone with your book or to top up your tan you cannot get a more perfect place. Situated a two hour boat ride from Sihnoukville, Koh Rong Island is quiet, secluded and ideal for some peaceful solitude.

6) Try Muay Thai Boxing, in Thailand

Eaten too much Pad Thai? Drunk a few too many whiskey buckets?

If you want to get fit, learn a new skill or simply learn to kick ass, then this is definitely something worth doing in Thailand. There are schools all over the country that cater for all levels, from total novice to seasoned pro. It’s physically gruelling, but great if you want to get back into shape after going too crazy at the full moon party.

7) Relax in a hammock beside the Mekong River, at 4000 islands (Si Phan Don) Laos

Picture it. Can it get any better? Swinging in a hammock, head in a good book, total peace and quiet, listening to sound of the Mekong river below… Grab a cold Beer Lao and enjoy the an amazing sunset over the river.

8) Visit Maya Island, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

To get to Maya Island, first you must arrive on Koh Phi Phi. It’s much smaller and than Thailand’s other islands, but is home to some great bars and restaurants, beach parties and impressive fire shows. Maya island is unspoilt beauty at it’s best.

It became popular over night when the film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed there. The only way to get there is by boat, about an hour from Koh Phi Phi. Totally undeveloped; with no hotels or go-go bars in sight! Lets hope it stays like that.

9) Drink Bai Hoi in Hanoi, Vietnam

Pull up a little plastic stool with the locals and sink a few glasses of ‘Bai Hoi’. The Vietnamese have adopted a Czech brewing process to create an excellent beer that’s brewed daily. It’s light, very cheap and extremely drinkable.

10) Do a Thai cookery course

Undoubtedly one of the best cuisines in the world, and probably one of the best things about Thailand. Spicy papaya salad, massaman curry, pad thai; sooo many delicious options to choose from! Gain new culinary skills and take some of the country home with you. Impress everyone with your new mouth watering recipes.

 

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Best Beach Vacations (Asia, South Pacific, Mexico, & Caribbean)

These are the best beach vacations according to tripadvisor.com

ASIA:

1) Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is Thailand’s most popular island destination, and one reason is that its coastline is divided into bays that form intimate beaches. You can get a soothing massage right on the beach, the scuba diving is spectacular and the locals greet you with smiles.
 
2) Koh Samui, Surat Thani Province, Thailand
 
 
Koh Samui’s myriad beaches present everything you could ever dream of in a tropical beach. Picture-perfect sands, coconut trees and palm fronds adorn each one, but there the similarities end. Choose from busy beaches, teeming with vendors and cafes, or secluded strips with not another person in sight.
 
3) Bali, Indonesia
 
 
With some of the best waves in the world and reliably great weather, Bali is a surfing paradise. Beach lovers can take their pick from a wide array of choices from crowded to deserted, with white sand or black.
 
4) Boracay, Visayas, Philippines
 
 
During dry season, there are few better beaches to be found in this part of the world than the famed White Beach, a sparkling stretch of pristine, powder-white sands on the west of the island. Cafes and restaurants nestle demurely behind palms, providing tasty delights for hungry beach-goers.
 
5) Maldives
 
 
More than two dozens Indian Ocean atolls and thousands of islets comprise the Maldives. Idyllic beaches, such as South Ari Atoll on Nalaguraidhoo, the Sun Island, are a dream come true for sand lovers. Swim out to the barrier reef – or from some parts of the island, admire the reef right from the gorgeous white beach.
 
South Pacific:
 
1) Sydney, Australia
 
 
With dozens of stunning ocean beaches within half an hour of downtown, there are few better urban beach destinations than Sydney. Famed Bondi Beach sees up to 40,000 on busy weekends. If quieter beaches appeal, take the coastal walk past smaller strands all the way to Coogee’s calmer sands.
 
2) Bora Bora, French Polynesia
 
 
Although a fairly small island, Bora Bora offers visitors a multitude of activities. Go on a 4×4 safari, sunbathe and swim on white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat.
 
3) Moorea, French Polynesia
 
 
The world’s largest coral reef eco-system actually consists of 3000 separate reefs. Come face to face with the wonderful diversity of life that exists within it by snorkeling and scuba diving from pontoons or watch the parade of astounding creatures stream beneath your feet from a glass-bottomed boat.
 
4) Byron Bay, Australia
 
 
Byron’s legendary, lighthouse-dotted, white sand beaches are some of Australia’s best. Situated where the Coral Sea meets the Tasman Sea, these clean, unpolluted, laid-back beaches remain relatively undeveloped and are great places to spot bottlenose dolphins, rays, whales and sea turtles.
 
5) Great Barrier Reef, Australia
 
 
For a beach vacation, Costa Rica is hard to beat. Some of the world’s best sands sit on its coastline where water remains a delicious temperature year-round. Don’t miss Manuel Antonio’s picture-perfect crescent of sand, with its azure waters and jungle at its back or, for surfing, Playa Dominical.
 
6) Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia
 
 
A perfect little beach town of 18,500 on Australia’s east coast, 48 miles from Brisbane, Surfer’s Paradise sits amid seemingly endless stretches of pristine sand. Nature has conspired to create amazing conditions and the crashing waves teem with swimmers as well as novice and more advanced surfers.
 
7) Viti Levu, Fiji
 
 
Fiji’s largest island, home to capital Suva, offers some wonderful beaches. Palm-fringed Natadola Beach, reputed to be one of the best beaches in the world, is a picture perfect crescent of powdery sand leading to dramatic cliffs. Coconuts hang overhead and the striking azure lagoon entices swimmers.
 
8) Perth, Australia
 
Perth’s active beach scene is dominated by two main stretches: Civilized Cottesloe, just south of town, is the choice for families, swimmers and snorkelers. More lively Scarborough, just north of town, is by day popular with surfers (via water, wind and kite), and by night is a spirited beachside club scene.
 
MEXICO:
 
1) Cancun, Mexico
 
 
Cancun calls with its stunning aqua-blue waters and white-sand beaches. Despite its reputation as a spring-break paradise, anyone will find plenty to do here, too. Explore ancient Mayan ruins, the Xel-Ha waterpark and the thrilling Interactive Aquarium, or just enjoy beautiful beaches.
 
2) Playa del Carmen, Mexico
 
 
Bring your sunglasses and cool clothes to Playa del Carmen, where the hot sun lights up the white-sand beaches. This is heaven for beach-loving kids and those who enjoy swimming or just lounging under the sun.
 
3) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
 
On the second-largest natural bay on the continent, Puerto Vallarta has miles and miles of world-class beaches. The coastline is dotted with quiet coves and spectacular islands, and the water caters to all sorts of beach activities, from sunbathing to snorkeling to windsurfing.
 
4) Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
 
 
Cabo’s beaches are not just beautiful, they’re also incredibly diverse. On the Pacific Ocean, the waves are delightful to watch, but often too dangerous for swimming. On the Sea of Cortez, the waters are sheltered and calm and the sand is white and warm.
 
5) Cozumel, Mexico
 
Going to the seashore at Cozumel is fascinating because of the island’s diverse beach offerings. Although it has its fair share of typically beautiful white-sand beaches, it also boasts a number of rocky beaches that are not great for sunbathing or swimming but are ideal for snorkeling.
 
CARIBBEAN:
 
1) Dominican Republic
 
 
Distinguished by long stretches of glowing white sand and gorgeous blue water, Dominican beaches rank among the best in the world. From Puerto Plata to Punta Cana to Barahona, these beaches cater to bar lovers, sunbathers, jet skiers and scuba divers.
 
2) U.S. Virgin Islands
 
 
Swaths of powdery sand separate green hills from the crystal-clear Caribbean waters surrounding the U.S. Virgin Islands. Beach aficionados should beeline for idyllic St. John, home of windsurfer-friendly Cinnamon Bay, the beachside cafes of Cruz Bay, and less-frequented Francis Bay beach.
 
3) Jamaica
 
 
Blessed with miles of stunning natural coastline, Jamaica is a paradise for beach-lovers. Among the island’s best offerings are Negril’s Seven Mile Beach–rife with great snorkeling and diving, Treasure Beach on the South Coast and Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, which has sand that looks like sugar.
 
4) Aruba
 
 
Spectacular for water sports or just sitting on the sand and admiring the tides, Aruba’s beaches are truly special. Swimmers and sunbathers will enjoy the calm waters and white sand at Palm Beach, while water-skiers and surfers love the surf at Eagle Beach.
 
5) St. Martin
 
 
There is no shortage of beautiful shoreline on St. Martin, which boasts some 37 beaches. What sets these apart from other Caribbean beaches is their breathtaking environs–visitors will not only be stunned by the white sand and gorgeous water but also by caves, cliffs, palm trees and rock formations.
 
6) Barbados
 
 
Turquoise waters, fine and soft sands and picturesque rows of palm trees make the beaches of Barbados a true pleasure. Stick to the south and southwest coasts for calm waters and good swimming; for a surfing thrill, don’t miss the massive, competition-caliber waves off the south and east coasts.
 
7) St. Lucia
 
 
Most St. Lucian hotels are right on the island’s best attraction–its beautiful beaches. Visitors will find sands that vary from white to gold in color, waters that range from calm and placid to rough and dangerous and locales that can be crowded and lively or peaceful and romantic.
 
8) Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
 
 
Grand Cayman is known as a scuba diving paradise with more than 130 dive sites surrounding the island, including its most famous one, Stingray City. Deep-sea fishermen enjoy the island’s “national sport,” and the coral reefs can be explored in many ways. The island also contains one of the Caribbean’s best strands of sand, 7 Mile Beach.
 
9) St. Kitts and Nevis
 
 
Scuba divers delight in exploring hundreds of wrecks surrounding St. Kitts, some of which date back to the 1700s. This relatively undeveloped island features quiet beaches with volcanic black sand on the northern half and white sand on the southern half.
 
10) Bahamas
 
 
Whatever you look for in a beach, the Bahamas has it. With sands that range from pink to white to sugary, waters that are blue or crystal clear, waves that cater to water sports or swimming and sunsets that are always romantic, the Bahamian shores are brilliant and unforgettable.
 
11) Curacao
 
 
Thirty-eight small, gorgeous beaches frame the turquoise waters around Curacao, and each one offers a distinct experience, from secluded to surrounded by cliffs. Scuba divers and snorkelers will find this a world-class destination, as will windsurfers and boaters of all kinds.
 
12. Bermuda
 
 
Most famous for their pink sands, Bermuda’s beaches are so good for swimming and water sports that most visitors will find that the Bermudan waters match the brilliance of its shores. Take a dip in the tranquil waters at Elbow Beach or try snorkeling at Warwick Long Bay.
 
13. Antigua and Barbuda
 
 
With as many beaches as there are days in the year, Antigua and Barbuda make quite a splash. The northwest coast jostles with beach resorts, while harder to find, secluded spots dot the south and southwest coasts. Amazing pink and white sand beaches confetti the family-popular southeast coast.
 
14. British Virgin Islands
 
 
Tranquility is the watchword in the pristine and engaging British Virgin Islands. You can sunbathe, swim, snorkel or sail along the isolated coves and coastline. The ocean teems with exotic marine life, and the uncrowded beaches invite you to enjoy their natural beauty, sandy shores and clear waters.
 
15. Puerto Rico
 
 
Blessed with crystal-clear waters and gorgeous white or golden sands, Puerto Rican beaches have a lot to offer. Swimming is great at Luquillo Beach and Playa de Ponce, Playa Higuero is perfect for windsurfing and the breathtaking scenery and vegetation is everywhere.
 
16. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
 
 
Black and white sand beaches cling to the shores of St. Vincent, the largest island in this more than 30-isle chain. Its leeward coast is ideal for swimming and snorkeling, while the windward side has boogie-board worthy waves. Lovely, remote beaches populate the tiny isles of the Grenadines.
 
17. Turks and Caicos
 
 
Known for its amazing coral reefs and fascinating wildlife, Turks and Caicos is the ideal destination for the avid scuba diver or birdwatcher. The island’s crystal-clear waters will also not disappoint those who enjoy snorkeling, surfing and swimming, and visitors will find plenty to do ashore, from sunbathing to shopping.
 
18. Anguilla
 
Surrounded by turquoise waters, Anguilla offer a tranquil retreat of more than 30 beaches, seven marine parks and numerous diving sites where you can explore shipwrecks, caves and marine life. The atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, the beaches warm and the water dazzling at this Caribbean getaway.
 
 
 
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Best Adventure Vacations

These are the best adventure vacations for the thrill seekers who are studying abroad according to tripadvisor.com

1) San Juan, Puerto Rico

Aquatic thrills abound in Puerto Rico, from world-class surfing at Rincon where the swells reach 35 feet to relaxed scuba diving, particularly around Mona Island, Desecheo Island and Vieques. On terra firma, the tropical terrain yields prime hiking, horseback riding and rock climbing opportunities.

2) Bali, Indonesia

Take in the lush, volcanically active landscape of Bali while whitewater rafting on the Ayung and Unda rivers. Or get the heart pumping off-shore with an ocean-rafting sightseeing and snorkeling tour in boats that reach 44 miles per hour. Surfers hit the island’s western side for big-time swells.
 
3) Grand Canyon, National Park, Arizona, United States
 
At this behemoth of a canyon, whitewater and calm water rafting trips plunge along 277 river miles, fixed-wing and helicopter tours soar above its mile-deep maw and hikes and mule rides cover the terrain from rim to rim. Horseback tours operate from stables just outside the park’s south entrance.
 
4) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, United States
 
Located about two miles north of the airport, the Kona Coast State Park’s trio of tranquil, uncrowded beaches cater to swimming, kayaking, picnicking and snorkeling. It’s possible to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles among the arches and caves of the offshore coral reefs. Surfers congregate in the winter for the big surf.
 
5) Thailand
 
Thailand takes adventure to another level. The south’s beaches and islands offer sea kayaking, cave abseiling and climbing on stunning limestone stacks that rise from the Andaman Sea. Jungle treks and canopy tours await inland. In the north, mountains and rain forest backdrop exhilarating outdoor adventures.
 
6) Chengdu, Sischuan, China
 
Perched in a high mountain valley, Huanglong or Yellow Dragon National Park offers invigorating adventure options. The ambitious can trek to Lhasa, whitewater raft or embark on multi-day river journeys. Alternatively, a five-mile trot brings you to five terraced, temple pools glowing with stunning hues.
 
7) Yosemite National Park, California, United States
 
Within the nearly 1,200 square miles of one of America’s first national parks are top-notch hiking trails to waterfalls, giant sequoia groves, meadows and the iconic granite cliff, Half Dome. Three stables inside the park boundaries lead horse and mule rides that last from two hours up to a full day.
 
8) Vietnam
 
Vietnam’s famed jungles are amazingly alive. Jungle trekking reveals a near unimaginable wealth of flora and fauna. Nowhere offers more creature encounters than the country’s oldest national park, Cuc Phuong, home to a staggering 43 biodiversity hotspots and over 300 types of rare tropical birds.
 
9) Brazil
 
The wealth of flora and fauna and opportunities to observe them are unparalleled in the Amazon. Riverboats ply the waters of this fascinating wilderness, home to pink river dolphins, clamorous howler monkeys and raucous toucans. Photograph your adventure, run the rapids or stalk elusive jaguars by night.
 
10) Morocco
 
The Saharan dune field of Erg Chebbi undulates along the southern Moroccan border, near the small Berber village of Merzouga. Four-wheel-drive and camel safaris traverse this desert region, bringing you front and center with fine red sands piled up to 820 feet high and star-saturated night skies.
 
 11) Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
 
This tropical wilderness, home to more than 350 species of birds is a nature lovers’ paradise. Explore pristine rainforest where scarlet macaws and toucans swoop and howler monkeys cavort. Horseback ride through dense jungle and along remote beaches where high breaks are perfect for surfing.
  
12) Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Cusco Region, Peru
 
Hike the Inca Trail to the majestic Lost Cities of the Incas, hidden in dense Amazonian jungle, 7000 feet above sea level. This ancient road treks 25 miles from Cuzco through deep Andean gullies and is not for the faint-hearted. Climb up to overlook the ruins and the Urubamba Valley from Huayna Pichu Mountain.
 
13) Moab, Utah, United States
 
With three scenic byways, plus Canyonlands and Arches national parks close at hand, Moab inspires outdoor desert adventures. Cycle, climb or hike among sandstone cliffs and mind-blowing rock formations, raft the Colorado River or take a four-wheel-drive day trip through the arid backcountry.
 
14) Provence, France
 
Cycling through Provence’s rolling hills and charming villages, along twisting country roads and past 2000-year-old Roman aqueducts is by turns exhilarating and relaxing. Elsewhere in the region, a slew of activities awaits, from cliff climbing to skydiving to horseback riding or alpine skiing.
 
15) Ambergris Caye, Belize Cayes, Belize
 
Belize’s largest island and an often overlooked Caribbean gem offers astounding diving and snorkeling. This English-speaking nation is home to the second-largest coral reef system in the world. If you want to stay atop the waves, this Caribbean idyll provides fabulous fishing, sailing and kayaking.
 
16) Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, United States
 
A single road accesses the six million acres of wild landscape in Denali National Park, and few private vehicles are allowed to travel it. Instead, park shuttles transport visitors into the wild for backpacking, wildlife spotting and attempts to climb 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak.
 
17) Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
 
The wealth of wonderful wildlife in the Galapagos defies the imagination. Get up close to fearless sea lions, majestic tortoises and amiable iguanas by hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and diving. Evolve to another level entirely by cycling by cinder cones, lava flows and tunnels or multi-hued beaches.
 
18) Kruger National Park
 
A game drive in search of the Big Five – lions, leopards, cape buffalo, elephants, and rhinos – is only the start in this South African safari mecca. Hit one of four adventure trails in a 4 X 4 for a self-guided tour through the park, take a ranger-led bush walk or soar in a hot-air balloon outside its boundaries.
 
19) Nepal
 
When it comes to mountain climbing, Nepal is the big one, but the home of the world’s highest peak has got a lot more to offer than mighty Everest and its neighboring summits. The Himalayan kingdom also offers excitements such as the stunning Annapurna trek, wildlife jungle safaris, rafting and paragliding.
 
20) Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
 
With 1,400 miles of coral reef stretching along the Queensland coast and 1,500 fish species, the World Heritage List-designated Great Barrier Reef is a scuba lover’s dream destination. Accompany underwater exploration with coastal adventures like bungee jumping or rafting through rain forests near Cairns.
 
21) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii, United States
 
Ashy plumes of smoke and red-hot lava stream from the active craters in this Big Island park, 30 miles southwest of Hilo. Crater Rim Drive takes cyclists through deserts and rain forests and into the caldera of Kilauea volcano. More than 150 miles of hiking trails cover its 333,000 acres.
 
22) Scottish Highlands, Scotland, United Kingdom
 
Hike or mountain bike past castles, lochs, Highland Cows and purple heather in the romantic Scottish Highlands. Experience the beauty of the country as you trot north on the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William or explore the country’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
 
23) Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand
 
As one of the wettest places on earth, Milford Sound provides an emerald-green and waterfall-rich backdrop for hiking, biking and kayaking. The Fjordland stretches more than 124 miles south to Preservation Inlet, with an extensive trail network to support travel of the self-propelled variety.
 
24) Northern Norway, Norway
 
More than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle waits this land of midnight sun, Northern Lights and spectacular skiing. The Lygen Alps offer a slew of snowy delights, from off-piste skiing and snowmobiling to dog sledding and reindeer trekking. Once snows melt, glacier walks, kayaking and hiking top the bill.
 
25) Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia, Australia
 
In the Flinders Ranges, easily reachable from Adelaide, hiking and cycling trails criss-cross the southern region, caves and gorges carve a beautiful swath through the center, and kangaroos bound across red earth in the northern Outback. Four-wheel drive safaris delve into this designated National Landscape.
 
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