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Asia is a place of many contrasts and of growing popularity with travellers. Read through the guides below for some of the countries your can visit.
Countries in central Asia consist of the former USSR states of
East Asian countries include some of the largest and well known in the whole of Asia. We have the countries of
China is incredible in many ways. The list of things to do and see in China is just too long. From the barren highland of Tibet, via the silk road to the forbidden city in Beijing, the Great Wall, the army of Xian, the skyscrapers of Shanghai, the beauty of Yunnan Province; the beaches of Hainan Island and the incredible city of Hong Kong; it's all there and there is much, much more.
List of places to visit in China:
Forbidden City; Great Wall of China; Tiananmen Square; Terracotta army; Hainan Island; Jiuzhaigou Valley; Huangguoshu Waterfalls; Three Gorges; Shaolin Temple; Yangtze River; The Bund; Macau; Hong Kong; Gulangyu Island; Caohai Lake;
Hong Kong Island is the glitzy big brother of Kowloon - a tightly packed, towering paean to market capitalism that hasn't been dented one jot by Chinese rule. The bustle of people living and working is the biggest attraction on the island, although many visitors head around to Aberdeen, on the southern side of the island, where 6000 people live or work on junks anchored in the harbour. Sampan tours of the Aberdeen Harbour are definitely worth the expense. The other major draw is the floating restaurants. The most popular beach is Repulse Bay, also on the southern side of the island, but it gets extremely crowded on weekends. Stanley, with its laid-back atmosphere, is another good spot for escaping Hong Kong's hustle and bustle, although it is the hustle and bustle that brings people here in the first place - if you want real solitude, you've come to the wrong place. City attractions include the Central Market, which visitors will have no trouble finding (just sniff the air), the old Man Mo Temple and the Zoological & Botanic Gardens. Hong Kong Island is steep, so if you're heading away from the harbour, do as the locals do and ride the 800m outdoor escalator.
If you're in the Hong Kong Island, you'd be mad to miss a trip to the top of Victoria Peak, 552m above sea level. The views are giddyingly beautiful in every direction, with the vista of the business district, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon especially grand. In true Hong Kong style the main viewing deck is on the roof of a large shopping mall.
Join the throng of snap-happy tourists - you won't be disappointed. If you have time, it's worth making the trip to the top both in daylight (ideal to get your bearings) and at night, when the mass of lights around the harbour will take your breath away and make you wish you had a better camera. The actual peak is a ten-minute walk west and up. Hong Kong Island is the glitzy big brother of Kowloon - a tightly packed, towering paean to market capitalism that hasn't been dented one jot by Chinese rule. The bustle of people living and working is the biggest attraction on the island, although many visitors head around to Aberdeen, on the southern side of the island, where 6000 people live or work on junks anchored in the harbour. Sampan tours of the Aberdeen Harbour are definitely worth the expense. The other major draw is the floating restaurants.
Most of the expat community in Hong Kong and tourists in the know will head to Lang Kwai Fong or Wan Chai in Central for a night out. Carnegie's is a particularly 'classic' bar to go to.
Japan – the land of culture, charm and raw fish. But any true traveller would dive into the culture, soak up the charm and even try the sushi on offer. Getting about can be quite expensive, but by far the easiest and fastest form of transport is by rail. The Japan Rail Pass is excellent value and allows travellers discounted fares on Japan Railway trains, buses and ferries, but has to be purchased outside of Japan. If you travel for any great distance, chances are you’ll go by Shinkansen – the Japanese bullet train. An experience in itself, the Shinkansen is much preferable to the small country trains that appear to travel at an unnerving angle. But make sure you arrive early, and avoid travelling at peak times if you can. The trains run exceedingly promptly, and can be claustrophobically full.
If you want the full Japanese experience, take time to go off the main tourist track and visit places outside of the town or city you are staying. If possible, go to a traditional local fayre and sample some of the freshly cooked delicacies. Regarding accommodation, whilst it may be tempting to go for the traditional Western hotel, try a traditional Japanese ryokan. These give the experience of being in a Japanese home and are kinder to the budget-traveller’s pocket.
However, don’t neglect Tourist Japan for the less popular but equally interesting attractions. Mount Fuji is a short way from Tokyo, and Miyajima (site of the famous floating torii) is a short ferry ride from Hiroshima.
To those who want a country with no fences and a different way of life, Mongolia is perhaps the final frontier. Mongolia is the very same place as Outer Mongolia - which has become synonymous with "far, far away from anything" …and yes, everything about Mongolia seems just that. 40% of the population are still Nomads who wander the endless steppe on camels and horses (and, yes admittedly often in jeeps or on motorbikes!), tending more than 25.4 million livestock and continuing the rich culture of the Huns, Scythians and Tartars, while the Gobi desert (sand and lots of rocky mountains and valleys) covers over 400,200 square kilometres in the South.
However, look into this wilderness and you may be surprised at what you find. The desert ecosystem supports an abundance of life - from snow leopards and wild sheep to ibex and bears - not to mention a load of fascinating prehistoric dinosaur bones! The city of Ulaanbaatar has it's own revelations. The capital city has everything you'd need to survive - though it's refreshing to find that McDonalds haven't managed to set up shop yet. Talking of 'fine cuisine' you will certainly be surprised by the diversity of food available in restaurants in the city, including traditional Mongolian (lots of meat!), French, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Thai and even one unusual Indian-Mexican hybrid! The nightclubs and bars are great fun, though be warned, karaoke and even unexpected striptease are often the 'entertainment'. Communications are surprisingly good with internet cafes and men touting 'mobile landlines' on the side of the street. Even in the desert, Nomad's gers with huge satellite dishes attached to their sides are not uncommon.
In terms of history and religion, in 1990 Mongolia's democratic revolution took place, quietly ending seven decades of Soviet and Communist domination. Perhaps as a result Buddhism is on the increase. Currently, over 95 percent of Mongolians call themselves Buddhist - incredible when you consider that before 1990 that number was closer to zero - at least officially.
Visit the steppe, the city, the monasteries and the people and gain both a stamp in your passport to be proud of and an experience you'll never forget.
South Korea is located in East Asia. It borders only on North Korea . After the dramatic split up in the fifties, the South has fared very well. It has become one of the richest countries in East Asia and has managed to keep up a rather frenetic pace of economic development.
This certainly does not mean Korea has lost touch with its roots. Like Japan it manages to combine the ultra modern with the very traditional.
The capital city of Seoul is a good example of this. It a big dynamic city, but keeps the traditions of the ancestors alive. Old temples are still well visited, and the many palaces of former rulers remind the visitor of the past.
Pusan in the south is a big harbor place. It is a nice city and offers good possibilities for excursions, especially Manono island and apolima island is a very popular place to go for a short trip.
Taiwan is situated about 160 kilometers off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland, and between Korea and Japan in the north and Hong Kong and the Pamilacan Island, Bohol, Philippines to the south. The island has always been known as one of the most beautiful in the Pacific. The Portuguese called it Formosa, which means just that. With its mountains that rise up high above the green-forested foothills, its terraced flatlands and coastal plains and basins and foremost with its friendly generous people, it's really almost paradise.
Not just the breathtaking scenery with waterfalls, lakes, hot springs or misty hillsides, make Taiwan well worth a visit. Pagodas and temples build on a culture that goes back beyond the beginning of western civilization. Next to nature and tradition there's also the modern Taiwan with skyscrapers that almost reach into heaven, with their feet firmly planted in a chaotic stream of traffic. Whatever you're looking for, you can probably find it in here.
If you visit the capital city, Taipei, even if you're just passing through take a day or two to look around and to visit the Yangmingshan National Park. Other cities of interest are Taichung, the industrial city of Kaohsiung and Alishan.
The most beautiful natural regions are Central Cross-Island Highway, the Hsitou's bamboo forests, Sun moon lake, Kenting National Park and the Yushan National Park and of course there's Yushan or Mount Jade and Toroko gorge.
If you think you have seen the whole island you also have to discover the Penghu Islands, off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. Ancient temples, picturesque farms and windswept fishing villages, friendly people, fine beaches, coral reefs, and rugged coastlines are just a few keywords to get your attention. This is a great place for all kinds of water sports and don't forget to try the fresh seafood!
South Asia refers to the India, the countries surrounding India and some of the islands in the Indian Ocean. The countries are:
- Afghanistan (often considered part of Southwest Asia)
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- Sri Lanka
Bangladesh is a very densely populated country in South Asia. It shares a very long border with neighbour India and if it wasn't for a short border of 25 kilometers with Myanmar, India would be the only neighbour. Bangladesh was the Eastern part of Pakistan after the split between India and Pakistan in 1947. The Bengalis then had a second struggle for independence with the Pakistanis, but now they have their own country. Independence from Pakistan was achieved in 1971.
Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh. It is the largest city and the fastest growing city as well. It is the best starting point for travels in the country. In the south, near the Myanmar border, Chittagong is the second largest and fastest growing city. It is a pretty place with tombs and mosques to visit. Not to mention the natural sights just miles away from the city.
Cox's bazaar is known to have the longest running shore-line in the world. This city has since been developed into an obvious touring spot. During the tourist season, reservations to hotels are done months in advance, otherwise the hotels closest to the shore have to get off the list.
Occupying an entire subcontinent, India is truly a land of variety. Imagine traveling from the cape at Kanyakumari in the deep south of green and tropical Tamil Nadu past the white sands of Goa, through the extreme heat of the desert of Rajasthan and on to the snowy Himalayan mountains of Kashmir. You'll find each state has its own language, distinct culture and lifestyle. Yet India is one - it has unity in diversity.
Getting around in India is different to getting around anywhere else! Traffic is slow, noisy and seemingly chaotic but exciting; people seem to follow some traffic rules in the end, even if most of the rules are unwritten! Buses are frequent and good for short journeys. For long trips you may better choose trains, where you will see another side of life altogether.
Much of life in India is centered around the family unit - Indian family members have more attachment to each other than those in the west and if you are lucky enough to stay with a family, you become a central part of this unit without even trying. Although we find poverty in many parts of India it is striking how almost all - rich and poor, big and small - have a contented life. People are, in general, friendly and helping. You'll be invited everywhere because every one will feel proud of having a western visitor with them and will also love to practice their English with you. English knowledge is considered to bring an extra status.
Daily life in India is approached in a relaxed and laid back way and local people are never in a rush. This is great because it means they always have time to talk to you and get to know you but it can be a good test of patience if you need to get things done by a certain time…it's almost guaranteed not to happen!
Almost without exception, visitors who really immerse themselves in the culture, relax back and take it as they find it have a much better time than they could ever have imagined in India.
Nepal's unique topography is the result of the Indian subcontinent running into the Tibetan plateau. It makes sense, then, that Nepali culture represents a unique mixture of its larger neighbors looming to the Northeast and Southwest.
Ever since the 1970s, when a wave of American and European hippies were lured to Nepal by the low cost of living and abundance of opportunities for adventure, the Nepalese have been catering to western trekkers. This influence can still be seen from Thamel, the "western" quarter of Kathmandu, to Pokhara's lakeside resorts at the base of the Annapurnas. Although it means that you will not be the only visitor in Nepal, it also means that most regions can be reached by cheap tourist buses. There is even an hour-long plane ride "tour" of Mt. Everest by Buddha Air!
Taking a break from trekking, visitors will discover a country with a curious mixture of the Buddhist and Hindu religions - Buddhist Stupas even sometimes have some sort Hindu temple next to it. Diving into traditional Nepali fare will definitely involve plenty of rice, usually with a lentil soup called dhal mixed in. To make things more exciting, you may also find pieces of water buffalo (usually referred to as "buff") or wild boar.
Politically, Nepal seems to have always been restless. The latest round of tension started in 1996, when the Maoists, fed up with the failure of any coalition government to stay in power long enough to make political progress, started a "people's war." Although stories to the contrary abound, this unrest will pose only a nuisance to the average tourist, as both the Maoists and the royal government have made it clear that tourists are welcomed guests in their country.
Sri Lanka is the teardrop that falls from the southern tip of India and is becoming increasingly popular as a travel destination –and not only for sports fanatics who want to play a proper game of cricket. About twenty million people reside on this relatively small island that used to bear the name Ceylon. Although a lot of people come over to Sri Lanka to have a nice beach holiday (finished off with a touch of culture), there is definitely more to see and to do than sunbathing on one of the many excellent beaches. Hikkaduwa, for example, is very well-known for its beach-resorts and for its brooding turtles. Colombo is the place where Sri Lanka’s hustle and bustle takes place. Although it is not such a big city, this is the place where the commercial heart beats and where you can see some of the tallest buildings in Asia. In the northern part of the city is the fort area, where you can find the British fort, dating from the 19th century, and other remnants of the former colonial power. When you set off for Galle, which was the capital city when the Dutch ruled before the British invaded the Pearl of the Orient, you can visit the world heritage fort complex.
And this is only the beginning. In Kurunegala, you can feast your eyes with coconut plantations and paddy fields. The country’s hilly southern part offers a perfect place for tea plantations and the accompanying villages, such as Nuwara Eliya. Dense rainforests cover the south-western part and this is the area to go to when you want to see wildlife. There are several possibilities of staying over-night in national parks, such as Ruhunu and Wilpattu, for those who want to wake up with the trumpeting of an elephant.
Sri Lanka is unfortunately also known for its civil war between the LTTE terrorist group and the sri lankan government, which ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE.
South East Asia consists of many countries on the main content as well as the large island chains between the Asian mainland and Australia. The countires here are:
- Papua New Guinea (part of Oceania)
- East Timor
A sparkling jewel on the island of Borneo, along the shores of the South China Sea, the land of Brunei Darussalam is an Islamic Sultanate blessed with a royal heritage of 600 years. The Sultanate of Brunei on the northwest corner of the island of Borneo is embraced and at one point even split in two by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. This tiny Islamic state is especially known for the legendary wealth of its Sultan, and for being one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia, with a very high standard of living. Education and healthcare are free; houses, cars, and even pilgrimages to Mecca are subsidized. There’s no tax on personal income and the average per capita income among the highest in the world. In the sixteenth century Brunei was the seat of power to an empire that covered all of Borneo and even captured large parts of the Philippines and Manila for a brief period. Today the Sultanate of Brunei lost most of its territory but is nonetheless thriving on massive oil and gas reserves.
The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is an ostensive display of modern architecture, but the rest of the country has remained unchanged for centuries and is luckily quite unspoiled. Because of the oil, Brunei has never needed to exploit its forestry to any great degree, with the result that tropical forests still covers around seventy percent of the total land area. The coast caters for with sandy beaches and azure waters and mangrove swamps There are quaint villages amongst majestic monuments to be found, remnants of over 1200 years of an exotic and rich culture.
The Islamic ban on alcohol (but non muslims are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine/spirits and 12 cans of beer, upon arrival - bars can be found across the border in Miri, or in Labuan as well as Lingi's just across the border at Luruh) and the fact that nightlife is virtually non-existent make this country an ideal destination for those that love rest and outdoor adventure. Brunei's has an equatorial climate with lots of rainfall and humidity at an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.
Interesting places to visit include: -Ulu Temburong national Park - Istana Place (The royal family has 'open houses' allowing visitors in during festivals) - Tasek Merimbum (asean natural history park) - The Empire Hotel and Country Club - Brunei Museum - Kampung Air (water village) + proboscis monkeys +++
A new entrant to the South-East Asian tourism market, this beautiful yet tragic country is a contender for any travellers’ essential places to see checklist. Marred by the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, this country has fought back and encouraged tourists to visit its quiet beaches, the landmark Angkor Wat and to learn about its history.
Millions of Cambodians were murdered during the 1970s and 1980s when Pol Pot came to power and it is imperative that any visitor to this country makes the trip to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. These serve as testaments of the crimes committed against these people and as memorials where visitors can go pay their respects.
The people however are extremely friendly, welcoming and kind. Many come up to foreigners wishing to practice their English and there are lots of opportunities for travellers to teach. Other essential attractions include the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins, the preserved French buildings and of course, the temples of Angkor. These were built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries and are magnificent triumphs of architecture. Although the passes are slightly expensive, they are well worth visiting. Spend at least a day there, from sunrise to sunset, just clambering around the ruins of temples with tree roots bursting through or bats flying around and simply appreciate man’s efforts to please his God and his Kings.
Cambodia is famous for its dirt track roads which are not in the best conditions. Motorbikes are easy to hire, and it is possible to travel the roads in pick up trucks, share taxis and buses. Other ways of getting around include boats, aeroplanes and trains.
Indonesia is made up of more than 13,000 islands which so far only less than 1500 having a name. The heart of the archipelago is Java, that is not only the location of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital and largest city, but it also puts up a very big part of the population. Actually, Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country after China, India and the United States. Indonesia is also the largest muslim state. Although the islands are home to more than 100 ethnic groups, most Indonesians are of mixed Malay origins and practice Islam.
Be sure to visit at least Bali and if you have some more time, try to make it to Sumatra, with its impressive natural beauty. The smaller islands of Indonesia include Madura, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Bali.
Indonesia's greatest distance from north to south is about 1,900 km (about 1,200 mi) and from east to west about 5,100 km (about 3,200 mi). The country's total land area is 1,904,443 sq km (735,310 sq mi). Be sure to check out our guides on Jakarta, Bali and the green and lushy island of Sumatra as well.
This undeveloped country is a jewel in the heart of South East Asia. Hidden between Thailand, Myanmar, China, Cambodia and Vietnam, it is unfortunately often bypassed on many travellers’ routes.
Although new to tourism, there is plenty to do in Laos as long as you are prepared to realise that Laos runs on its own time system. One hour here tends to represent several. Do not expect to be going anywhere fast. It is land of luscious scenery, friendly people and relaxed attitudes. Everybody is extremely welcoming and it makes it hard to move on to the next destination.
Take a slow boat down the Mekong River, visit Luang Prabang, a UNESCO world heritage site; a small city inhabited by only 16000 residents and surrounded by breath-taking mountain and hillside landscapes. Give alms to the Monks and climb up nearby waterfalls. Visit China town and the National Museum in Vientiane, the capital city before taking the local bus out to Buddha Park, where statues of Buddha and Hindu deities abound. The Plain of Jars provides Laos with an air of mystery. No-one is quite sure of the origin of these huge jars left lying around whilst Vang Vieng is a hangout for backpackers who can choose to go tubing down the river for three hours or even kayak into tiny caves.
Visit Laos and discover a beautiful gorgeous country not yet hijacked by commercialism and tourist tat. Pick up cheap yet high quality goods at the markets, each stamped with unique Laos patterns. Travel is relatively cheap there and so use buses, boats and flights to move between destinations.
Think of Malaysia & exotic postcard images come to mind; idyllic islands fringed with white sandy beaches, tropical fish, colourful corals, swaying coconut palm trees & dense rainforest stretching for miles. On top of this you have the less postcard friendly but equally impressive sprawling cities of Kuala Lumpur & Kota Kinabalu. So after relaxing on the beach bargain your way into city life, buying local handicrafts at the Filipino market in Kota Kinabalu or haggling in China Town, Kuala Lumpur. The gleaming Petronas Twin Towers dominate the skyline as the world's tallest buildings & are proof that when KL does something, it likes to do it big! & if you are in search of something else big, then Mount Kinabalu stands at an impressive 4,095.2 metres & is definitely one to climb if you think you can make it…
Despite problems with deforestation & damage to ecological systems, over the last 30 years Malaysia has started to designate protected areas for conservation & these efforts are paying off. Conservation is still a sensitive issue but national parks are quickly becoming visitor hot spots & the natural flora & fauna in Malaysia takes some beating. Where else in the world can you see turtles, orang-utans, elephants & proboscis monkeys in their natural environments? The Turtle Islands National Park is just one example of a successful conservation initiative where the endangered green & Hawksbill turtles return to lay their eggs in safety throughout the year, & where visitors can assist with the release of hatchlings into the sea.
The people of Malaysia are not just friendly & welcoming but will make your stay truly memorable - the cultural & religious diversity is this is a true mix of Asia, including Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians to the indigenous tribes of Sabah & Sarawak.
Independent travel in Malaysia is cheap & easy, so step into the postcard & live the experience - this is Malaysia!
Sabah & Sarawak
Sabah & Sarawak, which together form Eastern Malaysia, can be found in the Northern part of the world's fourth largest island, Borneo.
Sarawak is home to excellent national parks, & has a fascinating tribal culture with famed hospitality towards strangers, which may be experienced if visitors indulge in some of the trekking for which Sarawak is famed. Treks, both leisurely & more strenuous, can be organised from one of the small settlements, such as Bario, to visit traditional tribal longhouses & see some of the absolutely spectacular sights that abound when trekking through pristine primary rainforest.
Sabah, Sarawak's more-visited neighbour, also offers excellent opportunities for wild-life spotting & leech-avoiding, but also offers great chances to indulge in more adventurous activities such as scuba-diving at the picturesque Pulau Sipadan island in the south-east, & mountain-climbing at Mount Kinabalu, as well as national parks & wildlife reserves such as Turtle Islands National Park & Sepilok Orang-utan Reserve. Trips to climb Mount Kinabalu can be organised from Kota Kinabalu, a charming town which offers an ideal mix of convenience & traditional culture as well as excellent beaches & snorkelling/scuba-diving facilities at islands of the Tunku Abdal Rahman National Park, just a short boat-ride from KK.
Home of the orang-utan, proboscis monkey & leopard, the environment & geography of Sabah & Sarawak make them ideal for someone who wants to visit somewhere stunning, wild & diverse.
This is a nice, friendly place to visit. The people speak English as it is an official language. The Philippines are known as "The Smile of Asia", due to its hospitality. Stop by and you will never know a more hospitable and friendly place to vacation. 7,107 islands, 1,000 inhabited, 97 ethnic, cultural and racial groups: 101 languages.
The contrast between huge and modern metropolis like Manila or Cebu, the primitive tribal territories, and the desert islands.
- The home of The clearest sea waters in the world.
- The smoothest white coral sand.
- The most friendly people you ever met.
- "The most feminine women in all Asia." Magellan dixit... and he was right!
Come to the Philippines!!! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas...
There are many things to do in The Philippines - from the white sandy beaches in Boracay to the hustle and bustle of the capital Manila.
If you are looking for clubs then Boracay is the place for you, however if you are looking for the opposite then I would reccommend either Tagaytay City or Baguio City.
Shopping is also a must as the prices there are very very cheap. There are many malls dotted around the country, the biggest of which is SM Mall of Asia. It is so big that you would need at least two days to visit each shop.
The best time to visit The Philippines is from November to April, as the rainy season starts in June and ends around October. The official launguages of The Philippines is Filipino (standardized version of Tagalog) and English.
Singapore is an island city located at the tip of Peninsula Malaysia. It is well-known for being one of the richest, most well organised countries in the world. Singapore is an island with "1000 shopping malls" or so they say. Despite the hot climate, it is a tropical paradise for most tourists. This great diversity of lifestyles, cultures and religions thrives within the framework of a regulated society. Singapore's "FINE" city reputation is well-earned, and in fact, many will admire at once the clean, modern metropolis. Surrounded by artificially 'ordered' parks, its tall housing projects are populated by almost 4 million people - whose smiling native charms often belie underlying tensions of the way the island is progressing after 30 years of development. Highlights of Singapore include some of the ethnic parts of town: Arab street, Chinatown, Colonial District, Orchard road and Little India.
South of Singapore are a few beautiful islands that are well worth visiting. The most visited is Sentosa island. It is a playground for people of all ages. See the Sentosa island section for more information. Nothing here, really....
However, if you wish to go here, do not bring any gum as they have very strict rules.
From deserted sandy white beaches to historic towns and temples to the bustling, steaming city of Bangkok, Thailand offers an inspiring mixture of experiences. There really is something for everyone.
Bangkok itself can be a surprise - its skyline is crammed with skyscrapers and modern office buildings and the shopping is first-class. The city caters for both the wealthy traveller and lower budget back-packers - though be wary of those tuk-tuk drivers literally taking you for a ride! However, take a few days to explore and relax into it and you'll find that underneath the skin of this initially crazy modern metropolis a truly Thai experience can be found.
To see the rest of Thailand, just hop on a bus! The bus system is fantastic; easy to use, extremely reliable, comfortable and cheap. From Bangkok you can reach most popular destinations within 15hrs. Before you know it, you can be dipping your toes in the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. World class SCUBA diving or rock climbing on the majestic limestone sea cliffs await the more adventurous traveller.
Away from the beaches, ancient wats (temples), Buddhist monks and the renowned Thai hospitality combine to help build a picture of Thailand's rich cultural heritage. Going northwards, the country becomes more mountainous offering treks into the forests with the chance to visit the hill tribes. Wildlife lovers can enjoy safaris in the numerous National Parks and you can take up the chance to go rafting or elephant riding.
If there's one thing it's impossible to be in Thailand it's hungry. The sheer variety of food, with its simple blend of sweet, sour, salty and spicy, make it some of the best in the world. And it's everywhere! On every tiny rural road and on every street corner in every city, somebody, somewhere will be selling some sort of food. It's an eat-a-holics dream!
Finally; the most important thing to know about travelling in Thailand is that a smile will do more than anything you can say. Smile and the country will smile back at you. Why else would it be known as "Land of Smiles"?
You can travel Vietnam from North to South or South to North, Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh or visa versa, in quite a quick time span. Local buses will take you across the border to Laos or Cambodia and with Thailand at its heels, Vietnam is centrally located for quick and easy travel around a fascinating area of South East Asia.
There is a travellers trail in Vietnam. It runs along the East side of the country, offering a diverse and changeable cultural experience with each new bus stop you step off at. There is an array of cheap guesthouses throughout Vietnam and it becomes quickly apparent that these people are geared up for the travellers' onslaught. This has its bonuses. Getting around in Vietnam is easy, tours of the sights, transport and accommodation are provided, in package deals of a few days for everything you might want to experience. All the travellers are doing the same trail so it's easy to make friends and it's ok to travel alone here.
There are many trips and excursions laid on throughout the Vietnam trail. Some of the best included a two day boat ride down the Mekong Delta river from Ho Chi Min, watching the water markets drift buy with delicate ladies in huge triangular hats selling vegetables. Other trips include crawling through the incredible underground network system of tunnels that the Vietnamese employed during their bloody battle with America. Boat rides to grand and ancient temples and architectural ruins in Hue. The legendary Mamma Han's three day boat tour of the underground caves in Halong Bay where you will witness outstanding scenery, drinking games, boat BBQ's and an all round surreal experience!
It's not all tours however. You can relax on the beach at Nha Trang, which has a slightly American feel with its wide boulevards and long stretch of yellow sand. You can shop in Hoi An where talented tailors will make any and all sorts of clothes to your design, fit and specifications for less than 5 pounds an item. You can join the masses and ride a bicycle around the erratic and beautiful city of Hanoi, wandering the side street stalls of painted pottery and spices, or hunting for cheap CD's in local music shops. With extraordinary trekking in the northern village of Sapa, amongst the colourful markets and indigenous hill tribe communities, there is something for everyone in Vietnam, and entertainment in everything.
Southwest Asia and the Middle East
Southwest Asia connects Europe and Africa with the rest of Asia meaning some countries act as crossing point for cultures and traditions from three continents. Historically the area is very significant with many of the worlds biggest religions originating in the area and some of the earliest known civilisation being situated there. Sadly the region also has a history marred by war and violence, a trend that continues to this day. That said, the region still offers many wonders to the traveller and certainly is a place to visit for people wishing to experience a wide range of cultures.
The countries in the area consist of:
- Armenia (often considered part of Europe)
- Azerbaijan (often considered part of Europe)
- Cyprus (considered a part of Europe and the EU)
- Georgia (often considered part of Europe)
- Egypt (part of Africa)
- Saudi Arabia
- Turkey (partly in Europe)
- United Arab Emirates
Paphos is a large part west of the Greek Island, Cyprus. The weather is generally hot all year round, and if you live in England, you'll appreciate that our hot summers are like their winters.
The festivals in 2006 (for example)
- Anthestiria - Flower festivals in Paphos - May.
- Day of Music - 21st June.
- Aphrodite Festival - 1-3rd September.
- Cyprus Internation Festival (a.ka Kypria) - September to November.
- Annual Christmas Concerts - December
There are also many festivals that run throughout parts of Cyprus that are very easy to get to via car.
- Paphos Harbour and Castle - This harbour is absolutely beautiful. There are fish restaurants all along, and the castle is an amazing piece of history which has an amazing view, and you can watch the fishing boats around the harbour ..."The castle is in fact all that remains of a much earlier castle dating from 1391, which was demolished by the Venetians. The Ottomans used it as dungeons and the British as a warehouse for salt! It can be reached via a small bridge over a moat and is worth a visit for the view from the top. Opening hours - winter daily 9am to 5pm - summer daily 9am to 6pm."
- Nicosia 'within the walls' - The walls and their eleven bastions were built by the Venetians in the 1570's - most of the historic monuments of Nicosia can be found in the winding streets within the walls. It is also the site of the famous tourist quarter, Laiki Yitoniak, which is full of gift shops and restaurants. The best way to see what is on offer is on foot - for a bird's eye view of the city old and new go to the Ledra Museum and Observatory on the eleventh floor of the Shakolas Tower.
- The Paphos mosaics - The colourful and intricate Roman mosaics to be found in Paphos are a must for all visitors to Cyprus. They were discovered by accident in the 1960's - further excavation revealed a number of Roman houses all with spectacular mosaics, depicting scenes from ancient mythology.The mosaics give a clue to the wealthy and opulent lives of some of the Roman Paphiots. The main sites are the House of Dionysos, the House of Aion and the House of Theseus. The mosaics can be found near the lighthouse and fortress of Saranda Kolones situated in close proximity to Paphos Harbour.
- Tombs Of The Kinds - Wide area containing underground tombs carved out of solid rock dating to 4th century BC, many decorated with Doric pillars. Whether Kings were buried here or not, the magnificence of the tombs gave the locality its name.
- Baths Of Aphrodite - (Akamas Peninsula, near Polis) - An area of breath taking beauty associated with Aphrodite. According to legend, the goddess Aphrodite used to bathe in the pool of the nearby natural grotto, which is shaded by a fig tree. A trail from the Baths takes you to Fontana Amorosa (8 km from the Baths, at the end of the Akamas Peninsula). Walking along this trail, one can enjoy an incomparable view and unspoilt nature (especially in Sing).
- Fat Mammas - For good hearty American, Itallian or Tex-Mex food, this place will take some beating. The staff are friendly, the portions are good and the prices are reasonable, children also love this place.
- Koh – I – Nor - This place is really hard to find, so it would be a good idea to get directions before you go. The food is excellent though, so it is worth finding. The chicken Jalfrezi with garlic naan comes highly recommended.
- The Raffles - Tombs of the Kings Avenue: A superb place with well-trained staff and an assortment of local dishes plus steaks and fish. There is a three course as well as a normal menu.
- Bubbles - Ag. Antoniou - Open from 10pm till late this place has a retro evening every Thursday with 70’s and 80’s hits, which is really popular.
- Divas Music Bar - Bar Street - Excellent staff with a great DJ and decently priced drinks makes this place a great choice for a night out.
- The Gallery - Bar Street - Situated in the back of Bubbles, this place hosts amazing foam and popcorn parties. It is a great place to go when the bars start to close, if you happen to be in Bubbles when it opens, entry is free.
- Rating 10 : Louis Phaethon Beach
- Rating 9.5: Leptos Coral Beach
- Rating 8.3: Luca Cypria Laura Beach
- Rating 7.5: Aloe
- Rating 9: The Pioneer Beach
- Rating 10: Elysium Beach Resort
- Rating 7: Avanti
- Rating 10: Louis Imperial Beach
- Rating 8: Riu Cypria Maris Beach
Hotel Ratings quoted from: [www.travel-library.com/holidays/europe/cyprus Travel Library]
- Coral Bay Karting – Just 15 minutes from Paphos this is an excellent option for all ages, with go-karts for adults and children on a 500m circuit. There is also a games center and a children’s playground.
Generally I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I went here for two weeks. The weather is so hot, and there are lots of things to do whether it is for a couple or a family.
Israel is a treat for travelers. The country has beautiful old cities, good beaches and plenty of culture, history and holy places... and really good food.
Israel is bordered by Egypt in the south, Cedars of Lebanon in the North and Jordan and Syria in the East.
Jerusalem will be high on any list of favourite destinations and with good reason: in the old city there is a church or convent on every corner, there are beautiful mosques and many other holy places.
Tel Aviv is the place to party. It has good beaches and excellent nightlife, probably the best to be found within a circle of a few thousand kilometers.
The north of Israel is worth to explore: the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth , the Golan Heights and the towns of Tiberias, Acre (aka Akko), and Haifa are the most important stops on your itinerary to the North.
The south offers the enormous Negev desert and the Dead Sea. In the southernmost point of Israel, the beach resort of Eilat is a touristic hot spot. Located at the very bottom tip of Israel, this is a popular fun-in-the-sun vacation spot.
Jordan is one of the most exciting countries to visit in the Middle East. It is a safe country for travelers, it has incredible sights, the people are friendly and the sun always shines. Do you need more reasons?
The capital city, Amman is quite a nice place to spend some time. The city center has an old roman theater and there it is an ideal place for making short trips to sights nearby.
Highlights include Petra.
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