The Solo Travel Guide To Vietnam – For Women

 

Source

Heading out on an adventure to a far flung country can be exciting and a bit terrifying if you’re going solo, especially if you’re a woman. It can be dangerous out there in the wider world for women travelling alone, and in some places women on their own is significantly looked down upon or an invitation for unwanted attention. This isn’t the case everywhere though and some places like South East Asia are actually ideal places for women to travel solo, due to its fantastic connections to other areas and also the laid back atmosphere which is great for meeting other fellow travellers – something that happens almost seamlessly if you’re travelling solo. Check out the rest of this article for the woman’s solo guide to Vietnam.

Getting In and Ho Chi Minh

Depending how you want to start your trip, the most likely city you will fly into is either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Additionally, depending how you’re getting into Vietnam it’s likely you’d start in either of these cities – Hanoi to the north, perfectly located for those coming from China or northern Laos, and Ho Chi Minh to the south, ideal for those coming from Cambodia and the Philippines or Malaysia. Most people would probably come from the south, so this is how we will approach it.

Ho Chi Minh is a great place to start off, it’s a bustling, busy city but no more than Bangkok or other cities in the area, which means it’s easy to get around and renting a scooter for yourself is probably one of the best ways to do this. Likewise, motorcycle taxis are popular – literally a scooter or motorbike you hop on the back with to go to your destination (not advisable with all of your bags, but still doable). Stick with a regular taxi if you’re carrying a lot of bags.

If you’re looking for some secluded island life, Ho Chi Minh offers ferries to a lesser known Vietnamese island of Con Dao – a small clump of islands off the south coast which boasts luxury and budget places. This is likely to be off the tourist trail by quite a bit, so it’s worth checking out if you want something off the beaten trail, quiet and pristine.

Ho Chi Minh is a great city to get lost in – it’s got a large collection of fantastic buildings, museums and boasts some great “foodie tours” – literally a walking tour you can join that takes you around to some of the street stalls selling delicious Vietnamese cuisine. Don’t miss the fresh spring rolls!

Da Lat and Further North

Da Lat is a small city a bit further north and slightly inland – it’s on the tourist trail, so you won’t be able to miss it, unless you choose to. It’s home to the “Crazy House” – literally a guest house made out of a tree house and other strange building, and acts as an art installation by day that welcomes visitors to have a poke around. Da Lat is a beautiful city, with a lake right in its centre and is significantly more laid back than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city. It’s a place that travellers like to stop off at to relax for a day or two before hitting the road towards Hoi An and Da Nang, so you will likely run into other travellers at some of the local bars and hangouts.

The Coast

Heading further toward the coast you will find the smaller, beautiful coastal centres of Hoi An and Da Nang. It’s likely that you will want to stop off before Hoi An if you’re driving yourself – perhaps in the smaller centres of Qui Nhom or Tuy Hoa – both around five to seven hours drive from Da Lat. Regardless of how you do it, Hoi An and Da Nang are two places that command a few days on any journey through Vietnam. Hoi An particularly is a beautiful coastal stop, and is fast becoming the “it” place for travellers of all kinds. You will likewise find a number of expats here who have fallen in love with it and chosen to stay to teach English and the like. Maybe you will, too!

Hanoi and Beyond

Hanoi is in the very north of the country and is the next logical main stop after Da Nang and Hoi An. It’s a bustling, busy city, similar to Ho Chi Minh. From Hanoi it’s possible to head to a number of other locations (China, Laos), and also to do tours of Halong Bay. Tours can involve a cruise over the course of a few days, or just a couple hours around the bay, it just depends on your budget and what you’re looking for. From Hanoi, instead of having to go back to Ho Chi Minh City, it’s possible to get flights onward either to return home or to head to other further away locales in places like Malaysia, India, China, Philippines, etc so make sure you look into the possibility of flying out of Hanoi or heading onwards from there or flying back to Ho Chi Minh on one of the local airlines that would make it fairly cheap, depending on how much time you have.

So there you have a great travel guide to Vietnam for women. Vietnam is a great place for solo female travellers – it’s interesting, safe and welcoming and is a hot spot for travellers and tourists that you can meet and enjoy the company of. Always remember to exercise common sense and general safety such as not accepting drinks from strangers or leaving drinks unattended. By following your own code of safe conduct but being open minded and open to new experiences and meeting great new people, you will surely have the most amazing time on your own in Vietnam.

Must Sees And Do’s In The Dominican Republic

 

Source

If you’re heading to the Dominican Republic for your next holiday, you might be wondering what there is to see and do that you shouldn’t miss while there. Depending what you like to do and your various interests, the Dominican Republic is perfect for both history buffs as well as beach bums, budget travellers and luxury seekers. Read ahead to find out more about the Dominican Republic and the things you should make time for when you’re on the island.

La Aurora Cigar Factory

Cigars have long been a tradition of the Caribbean, from the Dominican Republic to Jamaica and especially Cuba so it stands to reason that the cigar factory in the Dominican Republic at Santiago de los Caballeros is one of the best in the region. Come and experience the history first hand of one of the Dominican Republic’s best cigar brands and learn about all the work that has gone into making it the well known brand it is today. Purchase a sample for yourself to take home from the gift shop and enjoy a bit of the Dominican Republic anytime you want.

Alcazar de Colon

This building, now museum, is the oldest Viceregal building in the Americas and is a shining example of historical Spanish colonial architecture in Santo Domingo. While it’s only around half the size it originally was, it’s still an impressive building nonetheless with numerous rooms, gardens and a colourful history, having been build by Diego Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus.

The Ruins of Monasterio de San Francisco

A keen piece of heritage in the Santo Domingo colonial zone this former monastery was built by the Franciscan monks in or around 1508 and was the first monastery built in the new world following initial colonisation. A few hundred years later, the monastery was used as a mental asylum but when it was damaged by a hurricane it ceased its use for that purpose. These days it’s seen as one of the most historic sites in the city and is used for various events. It’s also protected under law.

Beaches, Seas and Sands

The Dominican Republic is, of course, home to numerous beaches and therefore also home to numerous outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, swimming, water sports, fishing, and just plain old sun bathing. Day trips can be arranged to snorkelling and diving sites from most hotels on the island, and they’re well worth it. Some of the coral gardens and sea life in the area are stunning in their beauty and are definite must sees.

So there you have a couple of great suggestions for things you have to see and do on the island of Dominican Republic. With so many things of historic significance, paired with water activities and a generally beautiful position in the Caribbean, this makes the Dominican Republic the ideal place for any sunny holiday.

Dubai Travel Guide

Source 

If you’re thinking about heading off to somewhere a bit unusual and different to your usual vacation destination, but you aren’t quite sure where to go, why not check out the gateway to the east in the form of the unique desert city of Dubai. Dubai is one of the hugest hubs of travel in the world, acting almost literally as the gateway between east and west – with London being only around 4 hours west and India/Bangkok being about 4-5 the other way. Dubai in itself though is a hub of activity and makes for an interesting holiday alone!

Getting There, Getting Around

Regardless of how you’re getting here, chances are you will be flying into the Dubai International Airport, although you can also enter via the neighbouring Sharjah Airport in Abu Dhabi. Dubai is well-serviced by a modern metro system which can be one of the most affordable ways to get around the city. There is also an extensive local bus network, trams and also a monorail, but despite all this Dubai remains a primarily car based city, and in truth you will undoubtedly see some of the worlds best and most beautiful high end cars here due in part to the money that can be and is made in Dubai. Buses are available if you’re interested in visiting the other areas of the UAE such as Oman and Abu Dhabi.

What To See/Do

It can be easy to think of Dubai as just a huge mix of glass and sand, but nothing could be further from the truth. It has some amazing high end shopping and dining options along with the Burj Khalifa building – the highest in the world. Hotels and shopping adorn the crown of Dubai, and the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa needs to be seen to be believed. Check out the network of souk markets strewn throughout the city which mix modern shopping with old world traditional markets, and visit the district of Old Dubai to see how the city looked before it was injected with the money it has today. Save up your pennies and spend a night being pampered in luxury at the Burj al-Arab hotel, the only (although self-proclaimed) seven star hotel in the world. You can stay for a night or just come for afternoon tea or a meal, either way, do not miss this piece of pure luxury in the lap of the Middle East.

Things to See Around Dubai

You can book a few different tours around the city itself, perhaps a boat trip along the Dubai Water Canal or take a stroll down to the Dubai Marina, both fantastic opportunities to get out and around Dubai in a different way. There’s also Ski Dubai – an indoor ski slope for those who miss the white stuff while they’re in Dubai as well as a number of great sand safaris and even Wild Wadi – a great adventure park for the whole family.

Likewise there is always the beach as well as the exclusive Palm Islands – the artificial island that were created off the coast of Dubai in the shape of palm trees where many of the worlds rich and famous have homes or property. There is ultimately something to do for everyone in Dubai.

So there you have a quick run down of everything there is to see and do in Dubai, proving that it’s not just a city of sand and skyscrapers. Come on over to Dubai, even if it’s just a stop off on your way to somewhere else. You will be left in awe at Dubai, and plan to come back again. We promise!

Cape Town To Cairo – Planning It

Source

So you’ve travelled extensively and you’re looking for your next great adventure, but aren’t sure where or what to do. If Africa is calling, and surely it will at some point, you should consider maximising the opportunity and taking a road trip throughout the continent, perhaps from Cape Town to Cairo, which would be the most obvious choice. That being said, despite the fact that it’s been done before, it isn’t for the faint hearted. This route is around 12,000 kilometres long and includes driving on some rather… interesting roads. Depending on the route you take as well, it could take you through some very unusual and perhaps even not-so-safe countries, so it’s important to plan well in advance.

Which Route?

Depending on your adventurous nature, the route you take is up to you. There are three main possibilities, although one of these is not advisable in the present day due to serious security issues experienced in some of the countries. The routes are as follows:

Route One: Cape Town – Namibia – Angola – Republic of Congo – Gabon – Equatorial Guinea – Cameroon – Nigeria – Niger – Algeria – Libya – Egypt.

Route Two: Cape Town – Botswana – Zimbabwe – Zambia – Tanzania – Uganda – South Sudan – Sudan – Egypt.

Route Three: Same as Route Two, but substitute South Sudan for Kenya and Ethiopia.

Some of the countries mentioned above have issues these days – Libya, South Sudan and to an extent Nigeria all suffer from issues surrounding terrorism and general aggression towards westerners, so it could be advisable to swap these for other countries that are more friendly.

How To Pull This Off

Firstly you’re going to need a really reliable vehicle, preferably a four wheel drive that is good for off-roading as well as in possession of four good tires. It’s advisable to also have some basic car repair skills under your belt too as well as an extra tire to change in case you get a flat (and that’s a very real possibility on some of the roads you could encounter). The second thing to think of is whether you will camp on the roadsides or if you will stay in hotels/hostels along the way. In some places it’s possible to camp, but it can be dangerous so be prepared to drive off-road a length to find a spot that will be unlikely to be seen from the road.

Also make sure that you stock food and water as well as extra blankets, clothes and the like in your car or van in case you get stuck roadside with more than one flat. It could be awhile waiting for someone to come by that can help out – even if you phone roadside assistance!

How Long Does This Take?

It depends entirely on how long you want it to take. Driving straight through it can take between a week and ten days, which allows for quick restful naps, but if you want to stop off wherever and whenever you want with time allowed to explore and just sit and appreciate where you are, a more reasonable kind of time frame would be 2.5-3 weeks, if not longer.

What Is There To See And Do On The Way?

In a word, tons. Between stopping off at beautiful, picturesque points such as along the Nile in Uganda to see some stunning waterfalls and rapids as well as stopping off at view points, museums, small dusty roadside villages where people are welcoming and life seems to go by at a snails pace, you won’t be disappointed. You can even stop off to go on a professionally led game drive safari, so as you can see, there is almost an endless number of things to see and do, it just depends what your interests are and what you’re looking to experience.

So there you have a couple of great ways, including routes to use to plan your trip from the very southern tip of Africa all the way up to the north. With such a diverse and beautiful continent it will be easy to find things to see and do along the way for both you and anyone you’re travelling with. Stay safe and have fun on this almost once in a lifetime trip!

A Foodie’s Guide To Istanbul

Source

Any visitor to Istanbul is surely going to head to the likes of the harbour front or the Hagia Sophia and the many back streets and cute, kitschy cafes that are on offer to sample the likes of Turkish beers and the famed Turkish coffee (and Turkish delight!). What about those of us who are absolute foodies though? What are the top places and foods to try in Istanbul? Read ahead to find out which are the best haunts for those of us who love food.

Menemen

A typical Turkish breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs cooked with vegetables and served warm with bread for dipping. Great on its own or with a side dish. Common throughout the region.

Kofte

Not coffee – but think instead a falafel type dish made with ground beef or lamb instead of chickpeas. Served typically either stewed or in pitas, sandwiches, as an accompaniment to salads or on its own with a side of yogurt for dipping.

Kuzu Tandir

A delicious lamb dish, it’s usually slow roasted meat served with rice, potatoes and yogurt.

Lahmacun

A flatbread that is served crispy and can either have a topping of vegetable spread or ground beef, salad and lemon juice, usually available along the street, it makes a perfect snack or light meal for those on the go.

Pide

Turkish pizza, essentially. A rugby ball shaped crispy flatbread with different toppings ranging from mixed meats to salads. Perfect for a meal.

Now that you have seen some of the foods, what about some of the top restaurants in the city?

The Old Ottoman Cafe

Ideally situated in the centre of Istanbul, the Old Ottoman Cafe is a favourite among locals and tourists alike, serving up the best in Turkish cuisine and offering a fantastic location to sit on their terrace and people watch over a Turkish coffee or meal.

Olive Anatolian Restaurant

Right near the Guhlane Park, this is a perfect location to catch a quick meal on your way around the centre of the city. One of the most top rated restaurants in Istanbul, the Olive Anatolian will have you coming back for more, especially with its fantastic terrace overlooking the area.

Buhara Ocakbasi Restaurant

The number one rated restaurant in all of Istanbul according to TripAdvisor. This makes the Buhara Ocakbasi the stop for meals at least once during your stay in the city. With a varied menu featuring all the Turkish dishes you could hope to try, this is the ultimate in do not miss restaurants.

So there you have a couple of great suggestions on dishes and the places to try them in Istanbul for those traveller who love to try all the fantastic dishes that are local to a place. With these suggestions you won’t go wrong – Turkish food is some of the best in the world.

8 Reasons To Visit French Polynesia

Source

French Polynesia, a collection of over a hundred beautiful, luscious and paradise-like islands strewn across a region of the Pacific Ocean is everyone’s dream for the ideal holiday away. While some of the islands in the area conjure up images of hotels featuring four figure room bills or dinners beach side with three figure costs, it remains nonetheless a region of dreams and heavenly thoughts and actually is accessible for those of us who don’t have bottomless wallets! Read ahead for 8 reasons why you need to visit French Polynesia!

The Diving

French Polynesia, hands down has some of the world’s best diving opportunities. They almost seem endless and can actually include things like swimming with sharks, turtles and more. If diving isn’t your thing, snorkelling is just as popular with some of Earth’s most beautiful and colourful coral gardens. Do not miss these, regardless of how you prefer to see them.

The Islands

The Islands of French Polynesia include Marquesas and Tahiti – two well known islands that attract the rich and famous from far and wide for holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind. Both are paradisical, allowing true relaxation either on their snow white sands or in one of their many lusciously appointed spas. Other islands in the chain are equally huge draws for those looking for sandy, sunny solitude, so pick the best for your holiday!

The Hotels

Hands down, the hotels throughout the region can vary in style, size, price and luxury. Some of the most luxurious and luscious hotels include bungalows set over the water, so you can listen to the surf gently under you at night. Other hotels can be set amid jungles, just metres away from the beach, and many are between 3 and 5 stars with spas on site to unwind after a day of pure bliss.

The Prestige

The prestige alone is worth coming to French Polynesia. Imagine telling your friends that you went to Tahiti for your holiday. That’s some true prestige right there, given Tahiti’s reputation for being a playground for A list actors to musicians and everyone in between.

The Shops

Shopping in French Polynesia can be one of the best experiences. Here you can pick up some of the luscious jewellery made from local pearls and other minerals for a fraction of the cost they would be elsewhere. What better way to show off your recent trip – or your love for someone – than bringing them back some Tahitian pearls?

The Wildlife

The wildlife in the area is second to none, with some of its own unique species of birds and fish being found only in this region. This makes French Polynesia a wildlife lover’s dream come true. Birdwatching in the morning is a common past time here when their morning song wakes you gently to the terraces of your luxurious hotel.

The Adventure

French Polynesia, being made up of hundreds of islands is perfect for those who are interested in getting out and exploring either by plane or boat. A various number of activities are available from wild life safaris, diving trips, snorkelling day trips and more to take advantage of everything the area has to offer. It’s non stop activity – or at least, the option to have non stop activity.

The Weather

Finally, the weather is one of the main reasons to come to French Polynesia! With glistening seas, great surf, turquoise waters, light breezes and almost endless sun, what could be better? For island lovers and sun worshippers, French Polynesia is the ultimate in perfect getaways. Come see for yourself!

So there you have eight great reasons why you need to come check out the region of French Polynesia. This isn’t your typical getaway either, and with most travellers opting for the more tourist tracks, French Polynesia still has its adventurous and lesser known regions just waiting to be found! Pack your bags – these islands won’t visit themselves!

Five Tips For Feeling Fresh On A Long Haul Flight

Source

Let’s face it – travelling is amazing and an unforgettable experience, but those long flights that are sometimes upwards of eleven (or more!) hours in length can really pack a punch on your ability to stay feeling fresh as a daisy. Read ahead for a couple of fantastic top tips to keep you feeling fresh, even on the longest of the trips you will take.

Keep The Face Clean and Clear

In order to keep feeling fresh, it can be a great idea to keep your skin free of make up, or to go light on it. You aren’t trying to impress anyone on the plane anyway and truthfully a lot of people come looking more like they’re at a pyjama party than they’re going on a trip somewhere. If you’re wanting to be looking your best when you land, take your make up in your carry on and apply it shortly before landing after having wiped your face off with a face wipe of some kind. This will stop your make up from taking on that “been wearing it for sixteen hours” kind of look.

Water, Water, Water (and no alcohol)

Water is a great thing to consume if you want to stay feeling fresh on the plane. Hydration is always key to looking and feeling your best, so it stands to reason that staying hydrated is also key to feeling great on a flight too. The airline probably won’t provide adequate water to keep you hydrated so it’s a good idea to bring a bottle with you when you get on board. Most kiosks in the airport will have bottled water in varying sizes to purchase for the plane, but taking your own favourite water bottle and filling it up before boarding is a good idea to help save plastic.

Wipes and Anti-Bacterial

Taking face or body wipes of some kind can help you do a quick wipe down in the bathroom when you are feeling a bit less than fantastic which goes a long way to making you feel fresher than before. Having a shower of course isn’t possible, but having a wipe down is and can really help freshen you up.

Fresh Clothes

Having a change of clothes you can hop into at some point in the flight can really help you stay feeling fresh and great. If you’re heading somewhere hot and humid it can be a good idea to take your summery clothes in your carry on to change into before you get to your destination so you can hit the ground running and not be walking around in your bulky jeans and t-shirts or sweaters.

Getting Some Beauty Rest

Perhaps the best way to stay fresh on a flight of any length is to get some rest. While this is a difficult task for some, taking some sedating antihistamines will help you nod off as well as keep your sinuses cleared which can be an issue for some people on air planes as well. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try to time your sleeping in the day or two previous to your flight depending on the time of the flight itself so that you will be tired enough to sleep easier. Sleeping on flights can be incredibly useful to keeping fresh and energetic, especially when you get to your destination.

So there you have five great suggestions on how to stay feeling fresh on a long haul flight. Most of these are common sense, but for first time fliers they can be incredibly useful tips. Always remember to stay hydrated and rested – both on and off the plane. It’s the best way to always feel in tip top shape. Enjoy!