Category Archives: Destinations

Everything to Know About Bangkok



Here’s how to plan the best possible trip to Thailand’s culture-rich capital.


AMONG GOLDEN TEMPLES and glitzy bars, Bangkok fuses its past with a vibrant present, with world-class cuisine and nightlife available for everyone— no matter your budget. Because of the rapid expansion in the 20th century, modern skyscrapers stand tall next to food shacks and traditional wooden huts. Cars crowd the streets alongside motorbikes and bicycles in a chaotic buzz, but the noise and the activity rarely feel overbearing.

When to Go

Bangkok is popular year-round but it’s most comfortable between November and March. That’s when the temperatures (though still hot) will be more manageable for exploring the city. In the off-season, April to October, it’s still great to visit (especially for incredible hotel deals), but be prepared for regular rainstorms and a lot of humidity.


The annual Songkran festival, a celebration of the Thai New Year, takes place in April each year and usually marks the end of the tourist high season. During the three-day festival, locals and tourists alike throw water on one another. Some of the more festival-like areas, such as Silom, turn into giant water parties with people using water guns to make the most mess. Be prepared to get wet!

What to Eat

Beyond the tourist sites, Bangkok is perhaps best known for its street food markets and roadside vendors. Thai food classics such as Pad Thai (noodles with chicken or shrimp), Som Tam (papaya salad), and Tom Yum (hot and sour soup) are available just about everywhere. And despite the ban on street food vendors announced in April 2017, many still operate along side streets, and some specific markets have still been allowed to continue running.

Souvenir to Take Home

Be mindful of what souvenirs you choose to take home from Thailand. While many Buddhist temples are happy to accept visitors from any faith, billboards throughout the country (and even on the way in from Bangkok Sukhumviit Airport) will remind you to not buy souvenirs featuring the Buddha’s likeness, as it’s considered disrespectful to the faith. Instead, look for original art and fashion from Bangkok’s many independent shopping centers, especially the Chatuchak Market open every weekend.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Bangkok’s metro and Skytrain (the BTS) is an efficient and easy way to get around the city. Trains run frequently and connect riders to all of the most important hot spots. No matter the weather, it’s a useful way to get around and avoid Bangkok’s congested traffic.

Instagram-Worthy View

Take in spectacular panoramic views over Bangkok from the rooftop Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar, located 61 stories (198 meters) above the city. A former helipad, the rooftop offers 360-degree views with an elegant restaurant, though you can also opt to just grab a drink at the open bar. Note that there’s a “smart casual” dress code.

(National Geographic)

Bali As Prime Destination



(Tour Viewers)

Bali is a popular tourist destination, which has seen a significant rise in tourist arrivals.  The island is the province of Indonesia with the biggest Hindu population. The province includes the island of Bali and a few smaller neighbouring islands, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Its capital, Denpasar, is located in the southern part of the island.

Tranquility In Twin Lakes, Beratan-Bali (By Tour Viewers)

It is renowned for its highly developed arts, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ready for various tourist attractions such as traditional and modern dances, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.

In March 2017, TripAdvisor named Bali as the world’s top destination in its Traveller’s Choice award.



Cheerfulness During Sunset Time

(Kuta Beach, Photograph  by Tour Viewers)


The island of Bali lies 3.2 km (2.0 mi) east of Java, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. Bali and Java are separated by the Bali Strait. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km (95 mi) wide and spans approximately 112 km (70 mi) north to south; administratively it covers 5,780 km2 (2,230 sq mi), or 5,577 km2 (2,153 sq mi) without Nusa Penida District;[37] its population density is roughly 750 people/km2 (1,900 people/sq mi).

Bali’s central mountains include several peaks over 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) in elevation and active volcanoes such as Mount Batur. The highest is Mount Agung (3,031 m, 9,944 ft), known as the “mother mountain”, which is an active volcano rated as one of the world’s most likely sites for a massive eruption within the next 100 years.[38] As of late 2017 Mount Agung has started erupting and large numbers of people have been evacuated, the airport in Bali has been closed.

Sunset Beach, Kuta-Bali ( Video By Tour Viewers)


Luxurious hotels are available for visitors among others Bali Beach Hotel in Sanur after they have arrived at the Ngurah Rai International Airport. The tourism industry is primarily focused in the south, while significant in the other parts of the island as well. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta(with its beach), and its outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak (which were once independent townships), the east coast town of Sanur (once the only tourist hub),Ubud towards the center of the island, to the south of the Ngurah Rai International Airport, Jimbaran, and the newer developments of Nusa Dua and Pecatu.

The Island has received awards for its attractive surroundings (both mountain and coastal areas), diverse tourist attractions, excellent international and local restaurants, and the friendliness of the local people. The Balinese culture and its religion are also considered as the main factor of the award. One of the most prestigious events that symbolizes a strong relationship between a god and its followers is Kecak Dance. According to BBC Travel released in 2011, Bali is one of the World’s Best, ranking second, after Santorini, Greece.

How To Get There

Bali is accessible by flight, roads, and ships.


Ngurah Rai International Airport or Denpasar International Airport is located in South Kuta district and is just 13 kilometres from Denpasar, the capital of Bali.

The capital of Bali. Flights from major international cities regularly fly in and out of the Denpasar Airport. It is also well connected to most of Indonesia and has regular domestic flights connecting it to major cities within the country. From the airport, you can easily hire a taxi to your destination. Please note that buses might not always be available from the airport.

While buses are not a very common form of transportation in Bali, some run on longer routes, connecting the regencies of Denpasar, Singaraja, Gilimanuk and Amlapura. These long-distance buses have at least one terminal in each town. Fares can go up to IDR 10,000. More expensive tourist shuttle buses are also available.


You can take a bus from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) to Bali, but only if you can brave the 23-hour bus journey.

Sea Transport

The sister islands of Bali can be accessed by local cruises. Since these come in elaborate tour packages, inclusive of meals and a short stay, they can be quite expensive. Traditional, inexpensive boats can be used for shorter distances, however.

Bali is quite a popular port for most cruise liners traversing through South East Asia. To get into Bali through the sea route, take a flight to Singapore, Sumatra or Java and take a ship for your onward journey to Bali. The information desks at the airport will guide you thoroughly.


They say that the best way of getting to know a place is on foot. However, Bali, despite its pristine beaches and rice terraces has rather poor roads and damaged sidewalks. Walking therefore is quite a task around the island. Guided walking tours are, nonetheless, available for the countryside and they include Mount Batur and the villages of Ubud.


Taxis are the most reliable form of public transport in Bali with ‘Blue Bird’ being the most popular company, replete with a fancy phone app and a calling system. These taxis are plenty in number and impossible to ignore owing to their distinct blue colour and the bluebird logo. The drivers can speak good English and the fares are usually around IDR 70,000. Avoid taxis that have broken or no meters at all as you might get cheated. Uber is also operational in Bali and is usually cheaper than radio taxis with fares coming to anything around IDR 40,000. Cash payments are accepted.

Car and Motorcycle Rentals

Travelers who can drive or ride a bike are at a massive advantage as the best way to move around in Bali is with your own vehicle. Scooters, also known as ‘motors’ can be rented for a day. Several tourist agencies in Kuta and Seminyak offer these bikes for rent. Wearing a helmet is vital. An even cheaper alternative is renting a bicycle. If your budget is on the higher side, you could hire a car along with a driver. If you intend to rent a self-drive car, you must carry your international driver’s license. Remember that the Balinese drive on the left hand side of the road. Check prices of renting and fuels with various vendors before committing to one, to avoid overpaying, as these prices keep changing.

(Tour Viewers)

Know Before You Go: Mexico City



(National Geographic)

Experience the best of Mexican traditions in the cosmopolitan capital of Mexico City.

One of the best times for a visit to Mexico City is during its Día de Muertos celebration. This lively holiday centers on November 1 (traditionally honoring deceased children) and 2 (honoring deceased adults), but spans from late October through early November. You can see and do everything you could the rest of the year, with the added spirit of Mexico at its festive finest. Look for ofrendas everywhere. These altars of remembrance hold flowers, candied skulls, toys, and sometimes bottles of tequila; some can be quite elaborate. You’ll also encounter plenty of catrinas—skeletons dressed to the nines.

While you’re in the city, or if you plan to visit Mexico City at other times of the year, take time to visit some of its UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Historic Center, Xochimilco, UNAM (Mexico’s largest public university), and architect Luis Barragan’s House and Studio. Mexico City has more museums than any city in the world except London. In 2008 UNESCO added Día de Muertos to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Here are some ideas to get you started.

WHEN TO GO: Perched at 7,382 feet, Mexico City enjoys pleasant weather year-round, with summer and autumn high temperatures in the low 70s. In the dry months of winter, the thermometer ranges from the low 40s to around 70F, while spring can climb into the upper 70s. It’s a good idea to use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and, on your first day or two, take it easy. To enjoy Day of the Dead activities, plan to visit Mexico City from mid-October to the first week in November.

Distance from Mexico City: 30 miles, ~1 hour

How to Get There: Take a bus from Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte, Gate 8.

Don’t Forget to Pack: Bring cash for bus and entrance fee, water, sunblock, snacks, camera, and athletic shoes.

(National Geographic)

The 6 Best Places to Stargaze in Australia

australia 1

(National Geographic)

Australia’s vast outback is dotted with world-class telescopes, giving tourists an extraordinary window on nearby planets, stars, and galaxies.

Want to explore the wonders of the universe without the light-years of travel and gravity sickness? Welcome to the exciting world of astro-tourism, where terrestrial astronomers and their telescopes take you on a journey to the stars. Australia’s clear skies and vast tracts of uninhabited land make it the perfect location for some of the world’s most significant astronomical observatories and telescopes—and a great destination for travelers who believe the sky isn’t really the limit.


When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, the Parkes radio telescope was watching. Fondly known as “The Dish,” this 210-foot-wide telescope stands proudly in a grassy paddock that in 1969 was also full of sheep. Located around 220 miles west of Sydney, The Dish is one of the largest single-dish radio telescopes in the southern hemisphere, and has been involved in the discovery of more than half of the 2,000 known pulsars. Visitors can enjoy the monumental vista from the viewing area, or explore the universe in a high-definition 3D experience while kids complete a scavenger hunt.


Nestled in the eucalyptus-covered slopes outside the Australian capital is the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Its relatively small size belies its global significance as a listening post in NASA’s Deep Space Network; most recently, it caught the final signals from the Cassini spacecraft as it plunged into Saturn’s dense atmosphere last year. The four active antennas loom over a display-packed visitor’s center with exhibits on the past, present, and future of space exploration.


The outback Australian town of Narrabri, five hours northwest of Sydney, is home to a population of around 6,000 people, plus plenty of kangaroos, emus, and koalas … and six enormous radio telescopes. The Australian Telescope Compact Array’s 70-feet-wide telescopes have helped study stars that are surrounded by glowing clouds of diamond dust, and been used to image spectacular supernova remnants and near-invisible ghost galaxies—an impressive array visitors can enjoy with daily free admission.


If you’re after the “classic” telescope—the hemispheric dome that slides open to allow access to the heavens—then Siding Spring Observatory is the place for you. It’s home to eight research telescopes, including Australia’s largest optical telescope, which observes hundreds of galaxies and stars simultaneously. On the 310-mile trip from Sydney to the observatory’s home near Coonabarabran, visitors can also take in the world’s largest virtual solar system drive.


Not far (at least in Australian distances) from the future site of the international Square Kilometre Array—the largest radio telescope ever built—is the Gingin Observatory. The dark Western Australian skies provide visitors the perfect spot for stargazing—with astronomers’ expert guidance—through the observatory’s telescopes. Visitors can also learn about Aboriginal astronomy from local Noongar elders, and explore gravity and cosmology at the Gravity Discovery Centre.


The center of Australia’s largest city might seem an odd place for an observatory, but the Sydney Observatory has stood, perched on a grassy hill overlooking Sydney Harbor, for more than 150 years. The warm sandstone building houses the oldest working telescope in Australia (first built to observe the transit of Venus across the face of the sun in 1874) which visitors can experience with a night tour.


(National Geographic)

Here’s How Disney Inspires Our Love of Travel


Before visiting the originals, experience five of the world’s most iconic sites in the Disney Parks.

No matter where you travel or who you meet, you learn something new that changes your perspective in a positive way. Interactions with different cultures in iconic, far-flung places, or even with people of diverse backgrounds in your own city, ultimately teach you more about yourself and the world around you. For many Americans—like myself—our first introduction to foreign lands happens in Disney–“the Happiest Place on Earth”–which offers a fascinating cultural melting pot of people from across the globe.

Walt Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in 1955, and later welcomed visitors to a larger park resort—Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida—in 1971. He wanted to build a place for adults and children to share in cultural exploration, with a bit of imagination.

“Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning, together with every variety of recreation and fun designed to appeal to everyone,” Walt Disney said.

Disney Parks’ visitors can discover more about different cultures than ever before during Disney World’s Incredible Summer celebration and Disneyland’s Pixar Fest—this is where you can see the lights and fireworks show Together Forever—A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular(Spoiler Alert: My favorite part is when the skeletons from Coco dance on Main Street’s rooftops for Día de Los Muertos).

And while you’re there this summer, Disney will inspire you to seek adventures. As Walt Disney said: “Here you leave today—and visit the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” See the Disney interpretations first, then book a trip to these five iconic destinations.



(World Atlas)

Located in the Himalaya of Nepal, the world’s tallest and most famous mountain attracts thousands of courageous and highly experienced climbers in April. Everest presents dangers in an extreme environment, but its beauty and mystery captivates many—even from a great distance. Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom takes adventurists to the tallest attraction in all of the Disney Parks, traveling around the fictional “forbidden mountain” guarded by theyeti, or the creature that is said to inhabit the Himalaya, according to folklore in Nepal. Adventurists discover interesting facts about Everest and the local culture of the Tibetan-inspired village decorated with prayer flags.


The world’s largest coral reef system expands over nearly two thousand miles, and includes the largest collection of coral, tropical fish, dolphins, birds, and other marine life off the coast of Australia. Not only is it one of the seven wonders of the natural world, but it’s the only living thing on earth visible from space. Nemo, arguably the most beloved clownfish, lives in the Great Barrier Reef and the Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot highlights his home and the EAC, or the East Australian Current, which transports his friends and family of sea creatures to save him. Here, you can learn what you can do to protect coral reefs and its marine wildlife—but remember you can save their habitats even from your own home.


National Parks are America’s greatest natural treasures. The world’s tallest trees on Earth grow in Redwood National Park, but lesser-known prairies, oak woodlands, and wild riverways also fill the park. Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure Center pays homage to our great outdoors, particularly California’s vast landscape. Young adventurers can participate in the Wilderness Explorer program with Up’s Russell and Dug as they explore the Redwoods, just in time for National Parks Week.


The most iconic American highway, also known as the Main Street of America, opened in 1926 in response to the great migration west to California. The historic road runs through cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; and Los Angeles, California, where drivers can still see the famous neon signs and quirky, rustic hotels. Take a step back in time to Cars Land in Disneyland where the fictional town of Radiator Springs pays tribute to Route 66 with the looking Cadillac Mountains (inspired by the Cadillac Ranch roadside attraction). Flo’s V8 Café references the vibrant diners cene well known to Route 66 travelers, and visitors get a glimpse of some of the thousands of roadside attractions found along Route 66.


It’s one of the liveliest cities in the world—if not the most animated in the U.S. every Mardi Gras season—and NOLA celebrates its 300th anniversary this year with even more events, festivals, and exhibitions to entertain locals and guests. New Orleans Square welcomes guests with traditional jazz and spicy food, while the haunted mansion awaits those who dare to venture through its eerie hallways. If you escape the ghosts, then take a tour through NOLA’s flowering courtyards surrounded by architecture influenced by French, Creole, and Cajun design.

(Natianal Geographic)

Hidden Pleasures on Private Isles


New properties offering the ultimate in seclusion, space and solitude are cropping up everywhere, from the Maldives and Madagascar to Fiji and Indonesia. What’s driving the boom?

A PRIVATE ISLAND is a modern-day king’s castle, with palm trees for turrets, and an empty ocean for a moat. Each offers a sense of privileged isolation that says more about the word “exclusive” than any first-class lounge or luxury hotel. To rent one all to yourself is to own a piece of the earth, even if just for a few days. But they don’t come cheap. Musha Cay, part of the Exuma islands in the southern Bahamas, for instance, costs $210,000 for five nights (the minimum stay for up to 12 people). More accessible is a suite on a private island resort—expect to pay closer to $1,000 per person a night—with more choice available than ever before.

At the head of the private island trend was Amanpulo (rooms from $1,100;, the first private island property from cult hotelier Adrian Zecha, which opened in the Philippinesin 1993 with fewer rooms than usually found at resorts, on a piece of land 1,650 feet across at its widest point. Several resorts followed suit, including Soneva Fushi (rooms from $1,036) in the Maldives and Fregate (rooms from $4,000; in the Seychelles. Guests could lie back in hammocks in these isolated parts of the world, safe in the knowledge that they were alone save for the person on standby to make them margaritas.

“It was like backpacking for billionaires,” says Alice Daunt, of Daunt Travel. “Except the sheets were blissful and the taps gushed hot water.”

In the Maldives alone, there are now nearly 120 private island resorts, with a record number of visitors reported last year. It’s a trend that has spent the past decade spreading into even the most remote corners of the world, from Song Saa Private Island (rooms from $890) in Cambodia, to Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort (rooms from $565 ), in Mozambique. “The growth is remarkable,” says Farhad Vladi, of Vladi Private Islands, a German broker who has sold more than 2,500 in his career. “A few decades ago private islands were extremely rare, like diamonds. Today, everyone wants a piece.”

Part of the allure is the opportunity a private island presents to cut oneself off from the world, and sometimes ven from technology. At &Beyond Mnemba Island (rooms from $1,270), in Zanzibar, rooms have been designed without televisions. It’s a way for guests to escape, to live out the ultimate Robinson Crusoe fantasy.

For some, just being on a private island isn’t enough; they hanker after the bling of Dr. Norather than the simplicity of Crusoe. “Instead of a 60-minute massage, guests want a masseuse for the week. Instead of a one-off yoga class, they want an expert yogi to work with them every day,” says Four Seasons’ regional vice president, Armando Kraenzlin. Fiji’s Laucala Island(rooms from $4,800 ) has a submarine for its guests; Manta Resort (rooms from $248;,off the coast of Zanzibar, has an underwater bedroom that floats 270 yards from the shore.

Philanthropy is also a factor in private island life. Many want to be seen helping both their communities and their changing environments. When Song Saa opened in 2012 it was considered a pioneer in fostering a sustainable operation in collaboration with locals, which it supports through its Song Saa Foundation.

In 2014, The Brando (rooms from $3,190)  opened on French Polynesia, promising Marlon Brando’s vision for an entirely carbon-neutral resort. American entrepreneur Chris Burch’s Nihi Sumba (rooms from $795), on a world-class surf break in Indonesia, followed a year later with a foundation-driven model similar to Song Saa’s. In 2017, the big news was Time + Tide Miavana (rooms from $2,900), in Madagascar, protecting the native forests, oceans and unique species that inhabit them. In 2018, all eyes are on Wa Ale (rooms from $500 in Myanmar, opening in October, as a conservation effort for Lampi Marine National Park, with 20 percent of net annual profits going back into the Lampi Foundation.

Vladi reports that the motivation for buying private islands to focus on conservation and sustainability has rocketed in the last decade. “It’s unbelievable how quickly it’s gone from ownership to protection,” he says.


(National Geographic)

America’s Coolest Drinking City


By Patrick Thomas (National Geographic)

It’s actually two: The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to award-winning beverages.

WITH A SURPRISING number of Fortune 500 companies (17) for such a small metropolitan area (Minneapolis and St. Paul together have only 725,000 residents), there’s a good chance you’ve been to the Twin Cities for a meeting. But you may have missed their greatest asset: drinking innovations that come from a long winter. When temperatures drop below freezing, locals at these bars get busy developing award- winning beverage programs to spark their homegrown spirits.


Look for a bouncer working a crossword puzzle next to the basement door of the James Beard Award-winning The Bachelor Farmer restaurant, and you’ve found Marvel Bar. Order the Oliveto, a drink featuring gin, lemon, Licor 43, extra-virgin olive oil and an egg white. Developed by the founding bartender, Pip Hanson—who went on to oversee the beverage program at London’s famed cocktail bar Artesian—this unexpected—ahem—marvel will win over the most hesitant client. For a more recent creation, try a Fashioned By The North, a gin-and-rye-based cocktail.


Once you break through the crusty exterior at this aptly named dive, the bartenders will provide insider’s expertise on local liquors like J. Carver Distillery’s Runestone Straight Rye and unmissable craft brews like Surly Brewing’s Furious IPA. Plus, you’ll likely run into local legends from the music scene (Grumpy’s owner runs a small record label), including Soul Asylum or punk legends Dillinger Four.


Not everyone is a cocktail aficionado. For a stand-out wine list, grab one of the 12 seats at Alma’s restaurant bar, and James Hirdler, the sommelier since the restaurant’s opening in 1999, will take you on a journey through unexpectedly excellent pours, possibly including Carlos Creek Winery’s Vidal Blanc from Alexandria, Minnesota, which he describes as tasting of peach, mango, and apricot with Trockenbeerenauslese-like bright acidity.


When your Lyft finishes bouncing over the scattershot potholes in the alley behind the historic Thorp Building, the dimly lit tools of the trade behind Tattersall Distilling’s bar will banish any doubts about this out-of-the-way gem. Don’t miss the house-made, award-winning Aquavit—what they call the “Scandinavian rival” to their equally award-winning gin.


While St. Paul may be older, its younger (but bigger) brother across the river has it beat in the cocktail game. The former’s Saint Dinette is looking to turn those tables, however, by drafting a team from two highly decorated restaurants that closed too soon: La Belle Vie in Minneapolis (RIP 2015) and The Strip Club in St. Paul (RIP 2017). General manager Laurel A. Elm—acolyte of the godfather of the cocktail movement in Minnesota, Johnny Michaels—leads a team with something to prove and the means to do it. Try a classic whiskey sour, with their house made sour, or the Well Dressed Man, made with Campari, Dolin Dry, Lafleur Mallet Sauternes, herbes de provence and oleo saccharum.


By Jessica Flint


New York City

Before Dinner The Club Room at the Lowell hotel, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is hidden away in the back of the recently rebuilt property’s first floor. Designed by interior designer Michael S. Smith, it’s reserved for hotel guests until 5 p.m.; any time after that (up until midnight) the public can sit in the intimate, living room-style lounge and order cocktails and light bites.


Dinner and Drinks The city’s beloved back-lane wine bar, Love, Tilly Devine, recently underwent more than just an interior makeover: It also got a new executive chef, Ben Abiad. In doing so, the bar tightened up its wine list to focus on more up- and-coming Australian producers and made the menu more local and vegetarian-friendly.


After Dinner Like the Club Room at the Lowell, The Duc de. Morny Library at the La Réserve Paris hotel, a short walk from both the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Palais museum, is reserved for guests only during the day; they can drink afternoon tea and enjoy an honor bar. But come evening, the antique-book lined library turns into a jazz bar that recently became open to the public.


Late Night In a town where finding a drink past midnight can be a challenge, Joe’s, in Camden, stays open until 3 a.m. Yes, it’s a dive bar. Yes, it has a retro theme. Yes, it has…hot dogs. But it’s a place where you can sing along to rock ‘n’ roll into the wee hours every night of the week.

(National Geographic)