Bucketlist Travel Review - Yellowstone NP, USA

 
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Contributor:
Kayla and Silas

Nationality:
USA

Social Links:
Adventures of Kayla and Silas

Website: www.adventuresofkaylaandsilas.com
Instagram: @kaylaandsilas

Age Group:
19-30 years
30-40 years

Gender:
Couple

Travel Style:
Spontaneous
Explore
Food

 

Destination: Yellowstone National Park, Late September, 5 days

Inspiration:

A friend of ours ask if we would go with him to Yellowstone. Having never been there before, we both quickly agreed! We all wanted to get in some hiking, enjoy the quiet of nature, and have fun hanging out together.

Getting There:

Yellowstone is not easily accessible. We drove there (17 hours!), but you could fly into a nearby city and rent a car or R.V. It seemed nearly half the cars on the roads inside the park were R.V.s, so that is really common.

Local Knowledge:

Yellowstone and Grand Teton are both unlike anything else I've ever seen! Here's what I already wrote about how amazing these places are:  https://www.adventuresofkaylaandsilas.com/single-post/2017/10/02/12-Reasons-to-Visit-Yellowstone

 

Where To Stay:

We stayed at an Airbnb in Driggs, ID. It was delightful, however we had a pretty long drive into the parks every morning. I think it would be preferable to stay inside the park unless you only need a couple hours of sleep. We found everything was booked when we were looking, so you'll need to make a reservation as early as a year in advance of your trip if you want to stay in the park!

What To Do:

We packed a lot into our time at Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Here's our recommended itinerary: https://www.adventuresofkaylaandsilas.com/single-post/2017/10/09/A-Week-in-Yellowstone-and-Grand-Teton-National-Parks

Join our Patreon community here: www.patreon.com/kaylaandsilas Subscribe to our channel! http://bit.ly/2FFgx6E Earlier this year we took a road trip with our...

Must Do:

You need to watch at least one geyser BESIDES Old Faithful. They are just amazing.

Must See:

Grand Prismatic Spring!

Number 1 Travel Tip:

The park is BUSY. Bring as much as you can -- toilet paper and sanitizer for unkept bathrooms, picnic lunches for when restaurants are busy or you get too far from a main service hub (or you just want to save money), and a map so

5 Word Travel:

Gorgeous, interesting, unbelievable, breathtaking, exercise

Excess Baggage:

Don't get close to the animals! We saw a lot of tourists putting themselves in dangerous situations, but park rangers suggest keeping 25 yards distance to all animals and 100 yards to wolves and bears.

Rome, Italy - Where ancient meets modern

 
Giorgia Pase - IMG_20170425_174610-01.jpeg
 

It was almost a year ago when I first went to Rome, the capital of my lovely Italy, with my camera. It was not the first time, I’ve already been there, but I was too young to remember anything. These photos were taken in some beautiful days in December 2016 (quite cold but sunny) and in April 2017. In a few days I’ve had the opportunity to see and explore many places in the city and I’ll come back soon, at the end of September.

 

Contributor:
Giorgia

Nationality:
Italian

Social Links:
Instagram: @gi.throughthelens
                  @mainormale

Age Group:
19 - 30

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Tourism
Discovery
Exploring

 

Destination: Rome Italy

Inspiration:

I went there because my boyfriend lives in Albano Laziale, in the so called area of “Castelli Romani”, at about 25km south of the city centre. In that occasion, I could also visit the Capital and its marvellous pieces of history, like the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, Villa Borghese and its gardens etc.

Getting There:

If you live in Italy, the easiest way to reach Rome is surely by train. With high speed trains as Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca or Italo Treno, you’ll reach it in few hours. Obviously you can use your car, but it’s easier moving around the city using subway, bus or tram. If you live in another country I recommend to come by plane to the airport of Roma Fiumicino or Roma Ciampino and then to use public transport.

Local Knowledge:

Not all knows that Rome was built on seven hills: Aventino, Palatino, Esquilino, Quirinale, Viminale, Celio and Campidoglio. There’s another one city in Europe built on seven hills: Lisbon. Lisbon was part of Lusitania after the punic wars and there’s a clear recall to the structure of Rome right because of its position over the hills.

What To Do:

As many others did before me, I like defining Rome an open air museum. This city has unique characteristics you cannot find anywhere. It’s a special mix of ancient and modern. Here are some of my favourite places:

- The Colosseum
This monumental ancient roman theatre is a “must see” in Rome. Take a look around it, and be sure you have booked tickets to enter and visit it some days before you’ll be there (if you want to come during summer, it’s better book them some weeks before your visit). Once inside, you’ll be totally transported in the Ancient Rome atmosphere and you can usually walk inside at all levels and different heights. Be prepare to make some stairs!

 
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- The Imperial Forums
As yet said for the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums are something magical if you want to be transported in the Ancient Rome atmosphere. You can walk through the ruins, and imagine how was life during the period of Roman Empire. Somewhere you can see the rests of a little temple, or some columns and the majestic Arch of Septimius Severus. Then I recommend to make some stairs and reach the top of Palatino hill inside this archeological area: there you’ll find a terrace with a stunning view over all the Imperial Forums. The best moment of the day to come here is when the sun is almost down and all the ruins around have some special golden shades.

- Giardino degli Aranci (The Orange Garden)
This little public garden over the Aventino hill is a beautiful place for couples and generally for all the people who want to see Rome by an unconventional point of view. From the terrace over the river Tiber you can take a look over the rooftops of the Capital and see the giant St Peter’s Basilica’s dome, the white walls of Altare della Patria with its rampant horses on the top, and many others domes (Rome is famous for its domes, everywhere you look for you’ll find at least one of them. It’s something incredible!). This place has a special atmosphere at the sunset, it’s really romantic.

- St. Peter’s Basilica
It is formally part of Vatican City, but it’s another “must see” when you’ll come and visit the eternal city. This is the heart of Catholic Church, where all the Popes are buried. I like defining it as a precious jewel made by the genius of many important italian architects: my favourite one is Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who designed the square in order to embrace people. His circular colonades are one of my favourite pieces of art (you can find many other works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini all over the city, one of my favourite is the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona). You can enter the church for free but you always have to wait in a queue (sometimes your wait may be very long, especially during the festivities and summer) to undergo a security check: as it’s usual in the airports, you have to pass your bags o backpacks to X-rays so pay attention at what you bring with you! Glass bottles and any kind of weapon are severely forbidden.
Once passed this security check you can choose what you prefer to visit for first: I strongly recommend to visit the dome before the church. There’s a secondary entrance on the right of the basilica where you can have access at the stairs to go on the dome. This experience is not recommended if you have some kind of heart or respiratory disease because you’ll have to make nearly 350 steps if you use the elevator for the first part, and nearly 600 if you don’t. It’s not free, you’ll have to pay a ticket but it’s not expensive. Personally I want to assure you that you’ll arrive on the top tired but happy: some parts of the stairs are really difficult and tight but the stunning panorama will be a great satisfaction for you. From this special place you can see the entire city: starting from the wonderful St. Peter’s square and Via della Conciliazione, you’ll see Castel Sant’Angelo, river Tiber, the greatest gardens of Doria Pamphili, Vatican Gardens, Monte Mario and all the magnitude of this wonderful city.
Then you’ll come down and visit the basilica. It’ll be the greatest church you’ll ever see: all the things in it are big and majestic. There’s gold almost everywhere and works of art of immense valour. Stunning.

- Last but not least, the Trastevere district
This district is the centre of the roman movida and during the summer is populated by young people who want to have fun and eat together. These streets are the most characteristics of all Rome. I have loved to spend my summer nights here.

Eating:

When in Rome, It’s important to choose as well as possible the places to eat. Generally I prefer pubs or taverns because you find the real recipes of the tradition and friendly people. My favourite recipes are “Pasta alla carbonara”, “Spaghetti cacio e pepe” and “Supplì”.

Must Do:

Every traveller should go to Trevi's Fountain and throw a coin in the water. The legend say if you do that and don't see where the coin fall, you'll surely come back to Rome one day. So throw the coin behind your back!

Must See:

Maybe I should be banal, but I would pick a photograph of Colosseum.

 

 

Kuching, Malaysia - Review of the Kuching Festival

 
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Frequent contributor to The Travel Hub, Jane Hsu, talks about an amazing food event that takes place every August in Malaysia - The Kuching Festival. This is definitely one to put in the diary.

 

Contributor:
Jane

Nationality:
Malaysian

Social Links:
Instagram: @jojadan

Age Group:
19 - 30 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Food

 

Destination: Kulching, Malaysia - August 2017

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When one mentions the city Kuching, what comes to mind? Have you ever heard of Kuching?

Kuching is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. It is a charming, diverse city of old colonial buildings and modern towers and noted not only for its interesting historical landmarks but also its rich multicultural society, numerous fascinating natural attractions and of course, a haven for glorious food!

Kuching means means “cat” in Malay. There are a number of stories as to how this name came about but it is unlikely that it has anything to do with cats. Haha! The two more likely explanations are that it derives from the Chinese word "Kochin", meaning “harbour,” or that it is named after the Mata Kuching or “cat’s eye” fruit, a close relative of the Lychee that grows widely here.

Kuching Festival is an annual event organised by Kuching South City Council to commemorate Kuching being elevated to City status on 1st August 1988 and held to boost local tourism and food industry.

Every August each year, Kuchingnites and tourists from near and far would look forward with much delightful anticipation to the annual Kuching Festival which has been happening for the past 29 years.

It is without a doubt the biggest food event that happens without fail in the city of Kuching. 

Do you know what you can get in Kuching Festival? 316 stalls selling exceptionally wonderful variety of food and drinks! One would definitely have to go on an empty stomach as there are simply too many choices of yummylicious food to buy and enjoy. Let's just say one will be spoilt for choices!

A one time visit to Kuching Festival, which lasts for only 3 weeks, is seriously not enough! Highly recommended that one has to go several times (yes, several times!) just to try as many types of food and drinks available every evening from 5pm till late at night which finishes at 11pm.

Besides the bustling sale of food and drinks at Kuching Festival, there are also a beautiful Garden Show of local flowers and plants, Fun Fair for kids and those young at heart, cool Exhibitions and awesome nightly Performances which are free of charge such as singing and dancing by local talented performers to entertain those going to the Food Festival.

This is why there is an average of 40,000 visitors going every day! Trying to find a parking spot can be a hassle but when one thinks of all the amazing delectable food and drinks waiting for you to savour, one can't help but exercise patience just to satisfy your tummy! Haha! 

However, if you are a tourist coming and seeking to indulge in an array of food and drinks at the convenience of one huge place ie. the Kuching Festival and you prefer to stay near, there are a few hotels at reasonable rates to accommodate you. The hotels are within the vicinity of the Kuching Festival and it takes just about 5 mins to walk which practically saves you transportation fee!

To end this review, I will just have to let the photos, taken during Kuching Festival, speak for themselves. So here's to good food! Enjoy! :)

Milan, Italy - Travel Guide to Milan

 
 

A really informative travellers guide to Milan - the important places to see, where to stay and what eat! If you are in Europe this Summer, Milan is one of the cities you simply need to visit.

 

Contributor:
Paula

Nationality:
Argentinian-Italian

Social Links:
web: www.travelwithpau.com
Instagram: @travelwithpau
Facebook: @travelwithpau

Age Group:
19-30 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Budget

 

Destination: Milan, June 2017

Milan is elegance mixed with a pinch of the chaos and messiness that characterize Italy. It’s the second richest city in the European Union, the banking capital of Italy and one of the world’s fashion capitals. Don’t be surprised if you run into a photoshoot on the street! I found it to be quite unique when compared to other cities in Europe, and even very different from it’s national neighbor, Rome.

It may not be in the typical Italian itinerary, but even if just for a day, it should be. There indeed are less attractions than in Rome, Venice or Florence, but some very interesting. It’s majestic Duomo attracts millions of visitors every year, as does Da Vinci’s Last Supper, also in Milan.

Milan’s best experiences

Duomo di Milano

This marvelous Gothic cathedral is undoubtedly the main attraction of the city. And I bet you’ll agree! Its intrinsic design is one of a kind. It’s also the third largest cathedral in the world.

 
 Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele

Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele

 

Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele

One of the worlds oldest shopping malls, this beautiful gallery which is now the home for the most luxurious brands, is a few meters away from the Duomo. It’s seriously so beautiful! The windows of the luxury stores here are also a spectacle themselves.

Da Vinci’s Last Supper or Cenacolo Vinciano

One of the most well known painting of all times is here! However it’s not at all straightforward to see it. The official website sell tickets but they get sold really in advance. Book them as soon as possible.

Brera District

The artistic heart of Milan. Its ancient streets are beautiful to walk through, eat, shop and photograph. The Pinacoteca di Brera is also here.

Pinacoteca di Brera

The main gallery in Milan, containing a wonderful collection of Italian paintings that will fascinate any art lover.

Parco Sempione & Arco della Pace

The beautiful Parco Sempione, is the main park in Milan and has lots to offer. It’s layout is beautiful and if you are lucky to go in summer as I am, you’ll enjoy seeing ducklings running around, turtles bathing in the sun, and musicians playing some tunes in the open air. Moreover on one side of the park you’ll find the beautiful Arco della Pace (or Peace Arch) and on the other extreme the Castello Sforzesco.

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Castello Sforzesco

A 15 century castle now home to various art and history museums, including the Rondanini Pietà Museum, which contains Michelangelo’s last sculpture.

Bosco Verticale

This won’t be present in any other guide, but in my opinion is totally worth looking at. It’s a building complex literally covered in trees. I saw it by chance, but I’m so glad I did. It’s not only super environmentally friendly but also very photogenic.

Navigli District

Milan also has canals! The main one is the Naviglio Grande which gives the name to this district. Sip on an aperitivo while you enjoy the sundown and take pictures of the canal. There is also great authentic Milanese cuisine here for a post aperitivo dinner.

Milan’s best food

Milan’s signature dish is the risotto alla milanese. It’s best version can be found at Ratana or at the Trattoria Masuelli San Marco.

For your pizza fix, try MaruzellaPiccola Ischia or Pizza AM for the napolitan version. For a thin crust version try S.P.I.B Pizza. You must also try panzerotto, a deep fried calzone, which you can do at Luini.

Last but not least, ice cream! Try La Gelateria della Musica and Gelato Giusto. For chocolate filled ice cream cones, try Cioccolatti Italiani. For organic and vegan flavors, try Ciacco. The vegan pistachio was a dream come true!

Where to stay in Milan and how to get around

Staying in the centre is recommended but not at all essential in my opinion. For instance, I stayed here, which is a bit north as I needed to be close to a concert venue and it worked out more than perfectly for me. It was cheaper, and getting to the centre using the metro was super quick and easy.  You can search for highly rated cheap hotels in Milan here.

The metro is cheap and easy to get around. I found taxis (and also Uber) to be super expensive, so try to avoid them.

 
 

Milan, Italy

 
 
 

Contributor:
Anna

Nationality:
New Zealand

Social Links:
Instagram: @imannaroberts
Website: www.imannaroberts.com
Twitter: @imannaroberts
Facebook: @imannaroberts

Age Group:
30-40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Casual, luxury

 

Destination: Milan - Italy. June 2017

Milan is a gorgeous cosmopolitan city in northern Italy with everything you could want; stunning facades and historical buildings, the crossroads of business and innovation, designer shopping galore (get your VAT back!) and of course, another Michelin rated restaurant with unrivaled views. Milan was the final stop of out Italian road trip, check out the vlog for a behind the scenes exclusive!

 
 Duomo

Duomo

 

First and foremost, where’s a good place to check in to? STRAF Hotel is literally 50 meters from the Milan Duomo and has stylishly designed rooms with modern amenities and breakfast to get you started for the day. Explore the inner city and tourist hot spots before sitting down to dinner at Felix Lo Basso restaurant, a one start Michelin rated restaurant that has this stunning view from the dining room, scroll down!

 
 

Tromso, Norway - The Northern Lights

 

Contributor  : Keith
Nationality   : United States of America
Social Links  : Instagram - @khtravelblog @keithrhollis
Age Group    : 19-30 years
Gender          : Male
Travel Style   
Destination   : Tromso, Norway. March 2017 for the Northern Lights

Inspiration:

I was traveling in Europe already and had an extra week to kill.  I orginally wanted to hike but at that time most all trails in central Europe are closed or too dangerous.  I tried to think of something unique and that I could do that time of year and came across Norway.  I heard about it by researching Northern Lights destinations and this seemed to be the best for all sorts of activities.  I was primarily just going for the Northern Lights, but found a lot of great things to do.

Getting There: 

I had a long flight path: Venice->Munich->Oslo->Tromso.  I believe there are direct flights to Tromso from Frankfurt, London, and Oslo.  Either way, it's a pretty long hall.

Local Knowledge:

Tromso used to be called the Paris of the North, and has pretty much the most northern everything in the world (most northern university, most northern brewery, etc).  It is the 3rd most populous city north of the Arctic Circle and actually isn't that cold!  The ocean currents keep it fairly warm...

Where To Stay:

I stayed at the Radisson Blu which was awesome for a few reasons:  most tours meet there making it super convenient, everything is walkable from it, great (and FREE) buffett breakfast, and an awesome gym/sauna overlooking the bay.  I would highly reccomend it.

What To Do:

The obvious answer is going on Northern Lights chases.  That's Tromso's claim to fame however there are a lot of things to do!  I went on chases 4 nights but during the day did a fjord tour and a snowshoe hike in Kvayola, a nearby island.  People also come to dogsled, ski, and go see reindeer however I explored the city a bit.  Check out Mack brewery and the Polaria museum, an Arctic wildlife museum in the city. Also, the Fjellheisen is a cable car to the top of a mountain overlooking the city.

 Morning tea stop

 

Eating:

I ate at a few places that I would reccomend:

Emmas Dreamkitchen is the most famous one.  Delicious.
Riso is a small cafe with a great Nordic vibe.
Huken Burger had delicious burgers.
Arctandria where I had whale and reindeer meat.  Norway is one of only 3 countries in the world where you can legally eat whale meat.  

All of these places were fantastic.  Note: Norway is expensive!!!

Must Do:

Go on at least one Northern Lights chase.  They don't really come to you, you have to find them.

 You need to go chasing the Northern Lights

You need to go chasing the Northern Lights

Must See:

Obvious answer is again, the Northern Lights.  However, I would say you need to get outside and take the Fjellheisen to see Tromso light up at night!

5 Word Travel:

Tromso - A beautiful Arctic paradise

TravelTip:

My advice would be to be friendly and chatty with the locals!  They are all very welcoming and speak perfect English.  Don't be shy and afraid to chat them up a bit.

Excess Baggage:

Note about the aurora:  You may not see the lights by simply going to Tromso.  It is often cloudy there and in order to see the lights you need luck, solar activity, and clear skies.  Chases will take you out to clear skies and different locations to find them.  If that is your goal going there, go on a chase every night and make sure you have a camera that can get to ISO 1000+, F2.8, and 4-10 second shutter speeds.  Most of all, don't give up!

 

 


Lake Balinsasayao, Philippines - Experiencing Mother Nature with the Family

 

Contributor   : Jancy
Nationality    : Philippines
Instagram      : @jancy_uy
Age Group     : 19-30 yo
Gender           : Female
Trave Style     : Family travel
Destination     : Lake Balinsasayao, Philippines
Date                : May 2017

Inspiration:
Lake Balinsasayao - is one of three crater lakes rising 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level located within the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, an 8,016.05-hectare (19,808.1-acre) protected area covering the municipalities of Valencia, Sibulan, and San Jose in the province of Negros Oriental, Philippines.

Been there twice with group of friends but on the third time, I wanted to be with my family and let them experience mother nature at its best.

Getting There:

Since I was with my family including my grandma (70+ y.o.) and relatives I hired a Van and may cost you 3,000 Php (w/c I already bargained) for a whole day tour. For those who are bringing their own car, you can just pass through the National Highway going all the way to Amlan. Turn left at the La-Laan San Jose juncture and drive all the way up until you reach the registration point. From there the lakes are just a few minutes away.

Other ways to get there: From Dumaguete you can ride a PUJ (Public Utility Jeep) going to Amlan and get off at the juncture in La-laan in San Jose. Fare is approx P20 and may take just 15 minutes. From there hire a motorcycle (locals call it habal-habal). 2-way fare is P400 good for 2 people.

From San Jose juncture, there is just one concrete road leading to the lakes. There are sections where you will encounter blind curves so be extra careful with your driving. You will pass by 2 small villages before you reach the registration point where you will have to pay entrance and parking fees. Motorcycle ride may take 45 minutes but depending on the speed.

Local Knowledge:

History: Lake Balinsasayao, Lake Danao, and Lake Kabalin-an are part of Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, a protected area totaling 8,016 hectares (19,810 acres).

As a protected natural park home to an expansive ecosystem and biodiversity, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes National Park is one of the major tourist attractions in Negros Oriental. The lake has a rich fish fauna and the surrounding dipterocarp forests are rich in bird life. However, invasive fish species such as tilapia, common carp, mudfish, shrimp, mosquito fish and milkfish have been introduced in the lake.

Where to Stay:

Hotels are affordable in Dumaguete City. You can stay in Harold's Mansion; Hotel Palwa, World View Pension Plaza, Go Hotels or any of your choice. 

No need to worry and it is a fact that the city is nicknamed The City of Gentle People. On top of that, Dumaguete is listed 5th in Forbes Magazine's "7 Best Places to Retire Around the World".

What To See & Do:
Tourism: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) manages tourist activities in the natural park. The bureau allows swimming, sightseeing, mountain trekking, camping, birdwatching, paddle boating in Lake Balinsasayao. The natural park has a concrete view deck, umbrella cottages, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, restrooms, and a visitor center.

Where To Eat:
Try their famous chicken adobo and chicken tinola (soup) in Lake Balinsasayao restaurant. 

In Dumaguete, try Lab-as and Hayahay if you want seafood.

Dessert: Sans Rival (Try the signature dessert, the famous Silvanas and Sans Rival cake) Nobody can resist these sweet delights and it is good for pasalubong (small gift).

Must Do:The place is very peaceful and serene so just relax, distress and enjoy the scenery. (Don't forget to take pictures though)


Sapa, Vietnam - The Rice Terraces of Sapa

 

Contributor: Iwi
Nationality: German
Instagram: @dream__catch3r
Age Range: 19-30
Gender: Female
Travel Style: Leisure
Destination: Sapa, Vietnam
Date: April 2017, 4 days

Inspiration:

The reason why we wanted to go to Sapa is to see those beautiful rice terraces. We didn’t check the weather before we departed from Hanoi and we arrived to a wet, cold and foggy Sapa. We weren’t prepared for that at all and had to buy some warmer clothes first. 

Local Knowledge:

It is located very close to the border to China. The town is 1500m high up the mountains. It was a French hill garrison back in 1922. It overlooks a steep valley, with mountains towering at the sides. Most of the locals live of tourism. 

Where To Stay:

We stayed at “Go Sapa Hostel” which was about 10min by foot away from the center. We stayed in a private room for 3 nights. Pricewise, there were only a few Euros difference in either taking a private room or a shared room. The room was very clean and very big. They also had a big common room where you were able to make your own food. But they served food as well. 
Because the hostel was located further up a hill, it offered a beautiful view of the valley below us.

What To Do:

The first thing we did in Sapa was exploring the city. We also went on the Cat Cat Village trek. You have to pay a small entrance fee to do the hike. It can get quite touristy as well. 
Sapa market is also very recommendable to have a look at. They sell all kinds of fresh products there. As well as the crafts and fabrics shops.

Where To Eat:

We tried some delicious local food and stayed away from the western restaurants because well, its nothing new for us and they are mostly super expensive in comparison.

Must Do:

We are city walkers, so I would say, take time for a whole day to just walk around the city and discover it. Don’t just use the main roads, use the back alley’s as well. And of course, go hiking!
I also heard from fellow travelers that they recommend home stay at the local’s villages and towns but we didn’t have enough time to do it. 

Must See:

The terraced rice fields when they are at their full boom. 

Number 1 Travel Tip:

Check the weather app before you decide to go to Sapa. We arrived unexpectedly to a very foggy and rainy weather which prohibited us to do much. At time you couldn’t even see the end of the street. 

5 Word Travel:

Beautiful, Moody, Landscape, Natives, Worth it

Excess baggage:

A lot of locals will be selling their things to you. You should always answer them with a definite “yes” or “no”. Else they will follow you until you buy it. On the first day, we told a group of women that we will think about if we want to buy something they offered. After an hour that group of women found us and started to complain that we promised them to buy their stuff. It felt very uncomfortable especially when they started to speak their language and giving us mean looks. 
Most of the locals, travel by foot to Sapa in hopes to sell their homemade products to tourists. With the money they receive they support their families back in their villages.


Venice, Italy - The Floating City

 

Contributor: Dinu
Nationality: Romanian
Instagram: @ioanasimonadinu
Age Group: 19-30
Gender: Female
Travel Style: Leisure
Destination: Venice, Italy
Date: late April 2017

Inspiration:

Finding motivation to travel to Venice is not a hard thing. It is a well-known unique destination, very promoted on social media and placed on the top 10 destinations in many blogs and reviews. That means I came across with a lot of Venice photos on Instagram and other social networks, that I have always admired. Also, some years ago I got to see Venice for half a day and I knew there was so much more to discover. That's how I included Venice in a beautiful trip in the north of Italy this spring. 

Getting There:

Vicenza was the start point, as we have also visited other cities in Veneto. From Vicenza, Venice is very easy reachable by train, in about 45 minutes.

Local Knowledge:

The unique fact about Venice is its location in the Venetian Lagoon with the amazing system of canals, linked by bridges and its water transportation. It is called "The Floating City" and is situated at only 3 m above sea. That's why, in its rainy periods, Venice is often flooded and Venitian people call it "aqua alta". It is said that Venice could dissapear in nearly 20 years, so you better hurry up if you want to visit it!

Where To Stay:

It is not a secret that Venice is an expensive destination. So, if you want to save on the budget avoid central locations. That is why we have chosen to stay in Venice Lido, at Hotel Atlanta Augustus, a very nice hotel, easy to access from the ferry station in Lido. The ferry station is next to San Marco Square and it takes only about 10-15 minutes (working non-stop) to Lido. We enjoyed very much staying at this hotel, nice and comfortable room, with beautiful balcony and rich breakfast. You can find many offers on Booking.com.

What To Do:

There are a lot of things to do and see in Venice. Some of them are so popular, filled with many tourists, but, in my opinion, the best way to feel the vibe of Venice is getting lost on the little stretts, bridges and taking a gondola ride, or more convenient the ferry no 1 on the Grand Canal.

1. Saint Mark's Square- wander across the square and take pictures with the beautiful Saint Mark's Basilica; 
2. Saint Mark's Basilica- you must enter the basilica, the interior is amazing and for a panoramic view you can go up to the terrace (nice views of the St. Mark's Square and Saint Mark's Clocktower). Tip 1: don't queue if you haven't let your bag/backpack at the specific place that is written at the entrance of the basilica. The place for bags is easy to find and you can let there your baggage for 2 hours and it's free. Tip 2: don't rush to visit it in the morning, because the queues are bigger (also available for Saint Mark's Campanile)
3. Saint Mark's Campanile - seeing Venice from above is impressive and the campanile offers views to all the 4 directions (north, south, east, west) at the price of 8 euro ticket per person; I think the best time of the day to go is afternoon (good light and smaller queue).
4. Doge's Palace - unfortunately we only had the chance to see it from the outside, but the inside must be amazing too, as you also get to cross the Bridge of Sighs.
5. The Bridge of Sighs - beautiful architecture and magic athmosphere watching the goldolas pass under it at any minute.
Tip: Everybody tries to take shots with this bridge sitting on Ponte della Paglia, you will see how crowded Ponte della Paglia can get, so you need to know that there is a spectacular place from where you can take even more beautiful pics with the Bridge of Sighs behind you. You just need to get down from Ponte della Paglia on its right side (as you are looking towards the Bridge of Sighs), go left and approach the canal under Ponte della Paglia (bassicaly you need to go "under" Ponte della Paglia).
6. Dorsoduro and Cannaregio- just put the map away and get lost
7. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute - amazing location with great history. It is said that it was constructed during the plague epidemy in order to ask the divinity for help; there are some statues in the basilica telling this story.
8. Ponte dell'Accademia- not to miss, offers great views to the Grand Canal
9. Rialto Bridge- beautiful architecture and views over the Grand Canal
10. Fondaco dei Tedeschi- not so touristy, the roof offers spectacular views over the Grand Canal and its surroundings
11. Church of Madonna dell'Orto
12. Small and cute bridges : Ponte delle Tete, Ponte Chiodo, Ponte delle Guglie, Ponte dei Tre Archi
13. Burano- the last, but not the least; the candy of the Venice Islands; colourful houses, seagulls, small canals and boats make you feel like being in a fairy tale; I higly recommed it! Stay here at least half a day.

Eating:

There are many places to eat in Venice... Usually the central spots offer dishes at very high prices, but you can grab a sandwich or something on the go for a reasonable price even in the center, if you want to save time visiting. In Burano, we ate good at Su&Zo.

Favorite "Must Do"

I think is the ferry ride on the Grand Canal, because seeing Venice from water gives you an unique feeling, you can admire all its palaces alligned over the canal, you can hear the gondoliers sing Italian songs, you can smell the salty water and go under the beautiful bridges. We took it on our way back to the train station and it was a special moment, a magic conclusion of our trip to Venice.

Favorite "Must See"

It's hard to think of a favourite must see, but I will peak the Bridge of Sighs, from the spot I mentioned about.

Number 1 Travel Tip:

If you are willing to travel by ferry in Venice, buy Venezia Unica travel card. It also covers the routes to Burano and Murano islands and is very convenient.

5 Word Travel:

magic - bridges - canals - gondolas - architecture


Ha Giang City, Vietnam - Riding the most northern loop

 

Contributor : Milan
Nationality  : The Netherlands
Instagram   : @milan_travels
Age Group  : 19-30
Gender        : Male
Trave Style  : Backpacking by motorbike
Destination :Ha Giang City, Ha Giang province, Vietnam  
Date            : 29th january 2017

Inspiration:  

I was already planning to explore Vietnam by motorbike. Why? To be ultimately free and go wherever I want to go. Explore those beaten tracks not every backpacker has taken yet.

I heard about this most northern loop from another backpacker I met in Laos. After a little google session about the area, I realized where I was about to plunge myself into. I was sold.

Stunned by the pictures of the amazing scenery and roads yet to be discovered. Let's go!

Getting There:

After buying my beloved new motorbike I took off from Hanoi and was heading for my first stop. Ba Be Lake. I would recommend this place to everybody who is heading for Ha Giang. Stunning views and very welcoming people. Plenty of homestays where you can spend the night with the still remaining ethnic Tay people. The road is long and curvy to Ha Giang. Planning ahead and picking your towns to stay the night is crucial.

Local Knowledge:

Still interested? Well, the more north you go the more mystical the landscape gets. You will find yourself driving alongside massive limestone peaks in the mountains and looking down into giagantic valleys people built villages in. The people talk different, eat different and dress different. Ha Giang is the most northern province of Vietnam and the last frontier bordering to China.

Where To Stay:

Bong Backpacker Hostel, Ha Giang City:

Dorm rooms and clean facilities. They organize family dinners where you can eat local dishes with the staff and locals. Most popular in town and great for running into other backpackers.

Thanh Thao Motel, Yen Minh:

Affordable private room with 2 beds so even cheaper when sharing the room.

Lam Tung Hotel, Dong Van:

Private room which I shared with some other bikers. Private bathroom, TV and Wi-Fi included.

After a long day of riding the only thing I cared for was a bed and a shower.

What To Do:

Overall this is about the whole experience of riding the most northern loop of Vietnam.

Getting to know the true north of Vietnam. Enjoying the unreal sights from the edge of a cliff. Interacting with the shy but friendly ethnic groups living in the mountains. Tasting their local dishes. Playing with those colorful dressed children. Wanting to stop every 10 minutes to make a better picture of the scenery than the last one. Because really, the environment seems to change every blink of an eye. From driving in the clouds to braking your way down a steep hill and an endless amount of U-turns until you suddenly drive in the most rural village between massive pinnacles of limestone. 

Eating:

Think about this: Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, McDonalds, milkshakes, pizza, hotdogs, pasta.. 

Now back to reality.

Not there.

Think more like rice in every form (steamed, sticky, noodles, pancakes, porridge).

Look for Bahn Mi. Delicious sandwiches with fillings like pork belly, fish cakes, meatballs and not-messing-around chilies. 

My everyday lunch was Phở Ga. Noodle soup with chicken, herbs and spices, lemon and chili.

Number 1 "Must Do":

A must do is definitely climbing The North Pole. A gigantic tower carrying the flag of Vietnam.

After climbing the staircase to the base of the tower, the views were already magnificent. Climb up to the very top of the tower and you'll have a spectacular 360 degree panorama view over the Yunnan province of China.

If you made it this far. Congratulations! You made it to the most northern part and last frontier of Vietnam.

Number 1 "Must See":

During my trip there was this annual festival down in the valley. A small and simple village was packed with people from all kinds of tribes. All the women were dressed up as colorful as they could with their traditional tribe clothes on.

When I drove a little bit further I noticed the men showing off their strength by competing in games like rope pulling to impress the ladies. Or should I say future wifes?

Top Travel Tip:

Take - your - time. 
Explore, taste, play, see and enjoy your time in the present. Because by the time you have left the north and start heading somewhere else, you are going to think back about this beautiful and remote place.

Excess Baggage: 

Be aware of the weather conditions in the time of the year you're planning to visit Ha Giang Province. It can get pretty chilly up in the mountains in contrast to the warm and tropical south of Vietnam.


Dubrovnik, Croatia - Game of Thrones

 

Contributor  : Elise
Nationality   : Australian
Instagram    @elisejbutler
Age Group   : 19-30 yo
Gender         : Female
Trave Style   : All :)
Destination  : Dubrovnik, Croatia
Date              : Middle of July 2016 for 4 days and 3 nights

Inspiration:
We went to many Island around Croatia and thought it was only fit to visit the capital city. Saw many amazing pictures lots of people said how amazing it is. 

Getting There:
We drove from Split which is about 3 hours away, however it is very easy to fly there. However you cant fly to Dubrovnik from Dubai. 

Local Knowledge:
Where Game of Thrones was filmed! 
Beautiful old city surrounded by the a giant wall which was built in the 13th centuary to protect to city. Stunning location on the cliff tops, reasonable prices, great food and amazing views.

Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Rixos Hotel which is just outside the main square/old town, because the old town is extremly busy and hotels are a lot smaller. However it was only about a 10 -15 minute walk. 

What To See & Do:
We did lots of walking around the old town as there is a lot to see. Dubrovnik’s old town is surrounded by defensive 2 kilometer wall and forts which you can walk around. The walls were built to protect the city in the 13th century. The views are amazing and there are many quant shops and cafes to visit. Another must do to get that perfect scenery shot is the Cable Car, which over looks the whole city. There are also many day boat tours out to different islands which is a great way to see the coast, do some snorkeling and swim in the clear blue waters. Driving around the coast is also another great way to see the city and we even drove to Montenegro. For all those Game of Thrones fans there are many tours as it was filmed in Dubrovnik

Where To Eat:
There are so many restaurants to choose from in the main square. The seafood is amazing, very fresh and cheap. 

Must Do:
Visit the old town, could differently spend a whole day there

Must See:
Scenary, panaromic view over the cliffs and old town


5 Word Travel:
Stunning scenary and delicious food


Tokyo, Japan - Cherry Blossom Season

 

Contributor   : Sarah
Nationality    : Australian
Instagram      @travellinglikeanaquarius
Age                :  19 - 30
Gender           : Female
Travel Style    : Casual, luxury
Destination    : Japan Tokyo / Cherry Blossom Season
Date               : 04 July 2017- Shinjuku Gyoen

Inspiration: 

As I am a flight attendant I am only on layover for 24 hours at a time! I was lucky enought to get a trip at the same time as Cherry Blossom Season. You can explore alot in 24 hours! 

I decided to travel into Tokyo since we stay in the country town of Narita. I was looking for the beautiful and inspiring Cherry BLOSSOMS! Everyone has heard about them and it was my time to adventure out and find these beautys. I wanted to see for myself what everyone else is talking about since they are so famously beautiful. 

Getting There:

Catching the Train is the quickest and easiest way to get there.
Shinjuku Gyoen has three gates: Shinjuku Gate is a ten minute walk east from the "New South Exit" of JR Shinjuku Station or a five minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line.

Okido Gate is also a five minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line. 

Local Knowledge

Unique facts: 

  • Largest and most popular park in Tokyo 
  • Has a combination of three different gardens. The oldest garden is a tradional landscape 
  • garden, the two other gardens are French and English in style. 
  • Cherry Blossom viewing takes place late March and early april. 
  • Cherry blossom flowers are Japan's national flower, they stand for renewal and hope. 
  • There are 200 different varieties of cherry blossoms ( So they arn't always PINK) 

Where to stay:

Honestly, Since I am a flight attendant I can not disclose my hotel accomodation, also I did not stay in Tokyo and we change hotels frequently. 

Eating:

I actually ate inside the Shinjuku train station at this "Ramen noodle" resturant. Shinjuku station is so popular and I was amused at how you could even go shopping down below. 

Favorite “Must See”:

The Cherry Blossoms of course! 

Number 1 Travel Tip: 

  • Pricing - 200 Japanese Yen for Adults, 50 for child
  • Get up earlier as it can get very busy!
  • Don't purchase a one way ticket. The crowds in the station are insanly busy.. buy a travel card. - Don't just stop at the first tree keep walking towards the back of the park. Basically dont follow the crowd ;)
  • Bring something to snack on, there is street food but its a huge park! Also pack water. 

5 Word Travel:

Tradional - Stunning - Relaxing - Calm - Peaceful 


Santorini, Greece - A Dream Come True

 

Contributor : Marijke
Nationality  : New Zealand
Instagram   @marijkevandillen
Age Group  : 19-30
Gender        : Female
Trave Style  : Leisure
Destination  : Oia Santorini, Greece
Date             : June 2016. 4 days

 

Inspiration:

I had seen the beauty of Santorini portrayed in so many movies and images that I decided I had to see it for myself.

Getting there:

We flew there from Athens, a super short flight and easy to organize.

Where to Stay: 

We stayed in the budget friendly villas Marcos Rooms. Our room was traditional, with round ceilings and the beautiful white and blue colour scheme. Being an old establishment however meant that we had a hilariously small bathroom. Our host wouldn't let us leave for the day without eating her orange cake though, which was a treat.

What to do:

Our time in Oia was mostly spent exploring the village. There is an abundance of shops to look through, and we found a gorgeous pool side bar to spend the day at. And it goes without saying that the sunsets are perhaps the most beautiful moment you can have on the island. Just find a position early as it gets very crowded in the best photography spots.

Eating:

We had so many incredible meals in Oia, but the stand out was our dinner at Floga. The staff were attentive, the seafood delicious and we were given complimentary wine, purely because the waiter wanted to know if we liked the new addition. We desperately wanted to go back but decided that we needed to spread our visits around the village.

Favorite must do:

My highlight in Oia was our trip down the cliff to Amoudi Bay. You pass through the tiny, charming port and swim over to the islet for an afternoon of cliff jumping. On the way back up we got a ride with the local mules, which was hilarious and a great story to add to our collection.

Favorite must see:

There's a lookout at the top of the village with an incredible view of the surrounding cliffs and ocean. When I walked up there, a local man was playing guitar and singing traditional Greek songs, which made the view even more heavenly.

Number 1 travel tip:

Be prepared for a lot of tourists in the peak season, it was busier than I expected. Also, the pathway stones can be slippery at times.

5 word travel:

Beauty - tranquility - friendliness - elegance - warmth


South Coast Sri Lanka - Beach Escape

 

Contributor : Felicity
Nationality  : British
Instagram   @felicity.stokes
Age Group  : 19-30 yo
Gender        : Female
Trave Style  : Leisure
Destination  : South Coast Sri Lanka (Welligama, Galle, Marissa) for 6 days.   September 2016

Inspiration:
We wanted a location close to Dubai, which offered plenty of activities for a big friendship group.  Our priorities were beach, learning to surf and a fun party scene. We were also inspired by Fly Dubai's options and friends who had been before. 

Getting There:
Fly Dubai

Local Knowledge:
The spice, cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka.  We visited a cinnamon farm and were shown how to make Cinnamon by a local family. 

You will see fisherman fishing on tall stilts, above the ocean. This is a stunning view, especailly against the sunset. You are likely to find them along the Ahangama Beach area close to Weligama.

Where to Stay:
We stayed at Elsewhere Surf Camp - this is recommend if you are wanting to have a hippy style holiday and learning to surf is your highest priority! The owners are your surf teachers and are a great bunch of welcoming people. They also supply you with healthy breakfasts and dinners which are yummy! 

On the more luxury side, we stayed a couple of nights at the stunning Kahanda Kanda Boutique Hotel. The hotel is situated on a hill of a tea plantation. The views are breathtaking and you are well-immersed in the nature of Sri Lanka. Most of the villas have their own private pools and have really fantastic interiors. Our bathrooms were located completely outside! I highly recommend this hotel, it's spell-bounding!  

What To See & Do:
Surfing mostly! In the evenings we would indulge in amazing fresh seafood dinners and plenty of cocktails, beach parties by campfire. 

The hidden gem I would have to say is the Kahanda Kanda Boutique Hotel, I had never felt so calm, relaxed and disconnected from the world for just a couple of nights. It was heaven. 

Galle has a fort... I don't recommend planning to see the fort for a full day but to drop by for just a few hours to have a mooch around the town. 

Where To Eat:
We ate mostly from restaurants on the beach front in Weligama. The seafood is displayed on tables right next to the ocean, as you walk along the beach you are enticed by the large range of lobster, prawns, mahi mahi, and so much more! The fish goes straight from the sea - to the restaurant - to your plate. There's a great night life scene, but also gorgeous candle-lit, mellow places to talk on beach bags and sip on delicious cocktails.

Must Do:
Surf! There are beaches that suit all surfing levels, and fantastic teachers that are so friendly and warm and will most definitely become your friends! 

Always travel by tuk tuks - its the way to go! 

Must See:
The fisherman on stilts - wow - so beautiful against a sunset.

Number 1 Travel Tip:
Don't bother bringing anything but your comfy hippy clothes - its the perfect place to really get back to basics. For a girl living in Dubai, it is rare you ever go makeup free, I rarely opened my makeup bag. It was bliss! Nature through and through.

5 Word Travel:
Carefree - Active - Fun - Hippy - Friendly 

Excess Baggage:
A rashie if you are surfing - and take your yoga pants as well as, bikini bottoms are a nightmare.


Africa - On an Enfield Motorbike

 

Contributor    : Luke
Nationality     : Australian
Instagram      @shotsfromthebar (www.shotsfromthebar.com)
Age Group     : 19-30 yo
Gender           : Male
Trave Style     : Leisure, Adventure
Destination    : Africa

 

Inspiration:
There was never a set destination in mind. I just booked a one way ticket to London, bought a motorbike when I got there, and then made the rest up as I went along...

I started in the UK, and then, running away from a European winter, I rode my bike down to Spain. When I ran out of Europe to ride the bike south to, I jumped across the Gibraltar Strait, and then, basically, moseyed on down to Cape Town, all down the West Coast of the entire continent. It's been one hell of a journey.

I just wanted to ride my bike. There was, however, a catalyst, an enabler, in the form of an Australian I met in a Barcelona hostel. He'd travelled all up the east coast of Africa and then into the middle east and then, finally, to Europe by hitchhiking. The stories this guy had...

Essentially, I adopted him, put him on the back of my motorbike, and we rode down to West Africa together. I wonder if I would have done Africa in quite the same way if he wasn't there to "show me the ropes..."

Getting There:
I could have only done it one of two ways: on my own two wheels, or hitchhiking. Doing with four wheels - four wheels that I own... - in Africa would be a nightmare. There are some roads that you just can't do on 4 wheels... If I was hitchhiking it would be fine, if the car breaks down or cant go any further you can always hitch on a motorbike! Of course, my preferred way is by motorbike, but you need to be prepared to put in an insane amount of time in the saddle...

Local Knowledge:
I had to learn French. It's either that or be very good at charades... Most of the countries down the west coast speak French (a hangover from the colonial days) and there are a sprinkling that speak English, and even Portuguese. As for what's unique about Africa. It's Africa. There's no place in the world like it.

Where to Stay:
My standards for accommodation gradually dropped the more I travelled through the continent... I would, in the vast majority of cases, stay in a cheap hotel wherever I ended up at the end of the day. And when I say cheap, I mean cheap. Somewhere in the range of two to ten dollars... There were a few cases where cheap hotels weren't an option. In which case I either stayed with locals, pitched a tent (you'd know I had a bad day if I was pitching a tent...) or, even, staying in a brothel (there were no other options in Monrovia, Liberia... link: here.

What To See & Do:
Just be there and do what the locals are doing. You can watch Senegalese wrestling in Dakar, or go hiking in the mountains of Guinea, or surf in Sierra Leone, or hike in Gabon, or drink wine in Cape Town. It's an enormous continent, with massively varying people and landscapes. Just being there is enough!

Where To Eat:
My biggest hurdle... Took me a while to get over it (and to trust it), but the way to go is to eat what the locals eat. That means sitting on a street corner with the frest of the locals, getting spooned something mysterious by a "big mamma". It's always delicious. And, yes, you're going to get crook often, but you'll get used to it. It's a great way to meet locals too. They love it when a foreigner eats the food that they're eating, and it's always a conversation starter. My advice would be to eat anywhere that's popular, never mind what it is that they're serving, if it's popular, then the turnover is high and it's likely that your getting something fresh. It's your best bet...

Must Do:
I loved Guinea and Gabon. The nature in these places is insane. The locals are very friendly (particularly in Gabon). Couldn't recommend these places highly enough. It's not a "shallow dive" into Africa, but you'll certainly get a genuine, African experience. I'd avoid Ghana, which, bizarrely, is rather touristy and feels a little cheap to me.

Must See:
The Fouta Djallon mountain ranges of Guinea. Incredibly diverse, we hiked for hours, for days. It was superb, you couldn't stop me grinning. More here.

Number 1 Travel Tip:
Don't take a MasterCard, it won't work. Visa card will. I had to learn this lesson the hard way...

5 Word Travel:
Hold on to your knickers....

Excess Baggage:
Don't be scared. And don't plan. Planning is futile. Just go, be open ended, and make up your own story as it comes.