7 Great Tips to Planning a Round-The-World Trip

The RTW traveler: a breed of road veteran surpassed in experience perhaps only by the steely-eyed, scarf-wearing newspaper foreign correspondent.

The idea of round-the-world travel has been gaining traction in recent years, with more and more people, from a widening variety of age ranges and backgrounds, deciding it’s not only possible to add a big trip to their life-plan but to do it with an economy that doesn’t force them to struggle for survival when the trip comes to a close.

I’m going give you a few tips (seven to be exact) to help you better arrange your planning, to you show you how to kickstart your RTW trip with an ease you may not have recognized.

To more easily break it down, I’ll put the process into chronological steps you can tick off one by one.

 

Step 1: Finalize where you’re going.

This process of deciding where to go may have started when you first discovered there was a world out there to travel to, when you first saw images of places like the Great Pyramids and Machu Picchu, when words like Burma, Bali and Buenos Aires only just began to capture your imagination.

The final decisions about destinations should take place about six to eight months before you want to leave. This way you’ll still have a couple months before you lock down your route by buying plane tickets. 

If you need to, hang a world map on your wall, put some pins or stickers on it, and reinforce the idea that you’ll actually be in these places soon. Adjust them if your itinerary strategy or motivation changes. If anything, this process will serve to coalesce your vision, not to mention sharpen you geography skills – which is great since you’ll be needing them later on.

 

Step 2: Create your budget (and stick to it).

The financial aspect of round-the-world travel planning may be the most challenging and least fun part but someone’s going to have to pay for the trip, and if it’s you, set a budget. It could be the one thing that keeps you on the road when others are running out of money.

There are ways to determine how much things are going to cost; the Internet is rife with information about the costs associated with round-the-world travel, so use the resource to formally assign some costs to your budget plan.

Make yourself comfortable and physically write down your numbers based on your personal traveling style. Use a spreadsheet if necessary, some expensive budgeting software, an abacus, whatever works best for you because you’ll want to be able get a complete overview as you work your way through the process.

Here are some categories to get you started:

  • Plane tickets – see step 4.
  • Accommodations – you’ll need a place to stay every night, but this doesn’t have to be expensive. If this is a concern, extend your stay in countries where the cost of living is cheaper, and lower your room standards in countries that are more expensive. Look to homestays, couchsurfing, long-term rentals to keep costs down.
  • Food – if you’re a self-proclaimed epicurean, budget for lots of restaurants, otherwise set you food budget lower by vowing to eat cheaply.
  • Entertainment – i.e. tours, shows, activities. Things like white water rafting, ziplinging, Zorbing come up via circumstance and you might not want to miss out. Keep money in this category so you can actually thrill yourself once in a while, perhaps with a jetboat ride around the fjords of New Zealand.
  • Transportation – trains, cars, taxis, ferries, tuk-tuks, bike rickshaws. This is absolutely essential to have in the budget; you’re going to be covering a lot of ground outside the plane, make sure you have money to get places.
  • Purchases – things like souvenirs, specialty items. Keep this small since you’ll quickly grow weary of carrying things around or else shipping them home.
  • Minor incidentals – give yourself a big buffer on this because things come up, many things and you don’t know quite how things will be on the road. You can adjust it a few weeks after your trip starts to see how you’re doing resisting overspending.

 

Here’s a read on ways to avoid what I call the Great Traveling Money Bleed. It has a number of unexpected items to keep in mind when planning the incidental budget category.

 

Step 3: Plan what you’ll be doing when abroad.

Even at this point you should have a pretty good idea about how you’ll be spending your time while you’re on the road. This helps dramatically when alloting how much time to spend in each place. Take it from me, a place can get pretty dull when idly passing each day by.

Will you be:

  • Sightseeing
  • Volunteering
  • Relaxing
  • Working
  • Taking part in adventure activities

Each of these requires different time commitments. You’ll also need to know how long for reasons such as visa stays, setting dates for departing flights, aligning dates for planned events down the road.

Revisit your budget to include these details.

 

Step 4: Pick up your tickets.

There are a variety of places to purchase round-the-world plane tickets. I won’t go into them here suffice it to say some are better than others. But certainly don’t stop at the first place you see. Also know that the airlines are not the only game in town. As a matter of fact, my recommendation is unless you’re using airline miles, look elsewhere. The Alliances’ websites may be slick and easy on the eyes but it doesn’t mean you’re doing yourself a favor by using them to buy your tickets. There are numerous rules, restrictions and pigeonholes that aren’t immediately clear but that force into traveling a certain way, and quite unnecessarily. Perhaps get a price from the airlines to set the bar and buy the trip elsewhere.

It’s actually possible to have the ticket purchasing process be fun, not riddled with frustrations, headaches and uncertainties. Choose your patronage based on the following:

  • Value
  • Service
  • Pleasure of experience
  • Gut instinct

Do-it-yourselfers, remember: a couple hundred dollars more spent to have someone else book your tickets may be the difference between unsolveable logistical road snafu and an effortless journey around the world. The choice is up to you.

The best time to buy plane tickets is 4 – 6 months before your departure.

 

Step 5: Organize your life.

You’re taking the trip, you’ve already decided that. In order to keep everything on track, you’ll need to make sure the time leading up to your departure is spent making smooth transition into your traveling life. I’ll call this your “exit strategy”.

Think of this strategy as a straight line to your departure day, and then think of a puppy trying to walk that line. Every time the puppy strays off the line (due to sparkly objects, the smell of cooking steak, someone trying to make him do tricks) pick him up and put him back on. Always remember, at the end of the line is you getting on the plane!

Your exit strategy will function best if you write down a timeline of when you need to do things to get done by the time you leave. A written timeline will make it 100% easier to remember what you’ve forgotten. If you need help putting a timeline together, there are options online.

Some major parts:

  • Set up your job sabbatical
  • Deal with your pets, house and car.
  • Get passports/visas
  • Buy plane tickets

 

Step 6: Book a couple nights of accommodation in the first few cities you’ll be traveling too.

Give yourself smooth arrivals in foreign cities by knowing where you’ll be going when you get off the plane. Book a couple nights accommodations before you leave for the first few cities (you can always extend the stay if the location and price were right) then book accommodations further along as you get better at predicting your needs. It’s probably not a good idea to book stays more than a month or two ahead since things may change dramatically on your itinerary and canceling or changing reservations is often trickier than booking them.

 

Step 7: Get ready to leave.

This may arguably be the most angst-ridden time you’ve ever known. There are a million things left to do, and that’s okay. You can’t change that. What you can change is your approach to them. If you’ve been using a planning timeline, you should be perfectly set up to slide right into traveling. You’ll have purchased all the items you need to buy, you’ll have set up your vitals for your absence, you’ll have kissed the dog goodbye.

 

Organization is key, make it a habit and it will help you dramatically once you’re on the road.

That should do it.

Seven steps to get you juiced to start achieving your travel dreams!

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Craft Beers You Need to Try in Ireland

Ireland is famous for its Guinness and brewing a good pint.

But since 2012 the craft beer scene in Ireland has exploded. In 2015, Ireland’s craft beer sales accounted for 2.5% of Irish beer consumption with over 197,000 hl of craft beer produced in 2016.

Although a fraction of the amount of US craft breweries, Ireland now has 62 craft breweries.

When traveling to Ireland, the Irish have a lot more to offer than their national beer, and although the Irish won’t admit it themselves, some of their craft stouts might even offer more flavour.

 

The Irish Craft Beer Scene

Bru Rua

Brú Rua is a red Irish ale made by Brú Brewery.

The brewery is located in Trim, County Meath and was founded by two best friends whose goal was to brew a quality hand crafted beer consistently.

The beer offers a red berry and light hints of orange peel flavours, balanced by the bitterness of the new world hops. It’s not just popular amongst the Irish craft beer enthusiasts, back in 2016, it went on to win a gold medal in the world craft beer awards.

 

Franciscan Well – Rebel Red

The Franciscan Well Brewery based down in Cork is one of Ireland’s most popular craft beers.

The brewery has gone on to win 23 major craft beer awards for its outstanding flavours.

The rebel red is no exception. A malt driven craft beer style, balanced by the hops and caramel undertones. A smooth beer to drink that has hints of sweetness.

 

Wicklow Wolf IPA

As the name suggests, this beer howls from Wicklow, the south east of Ireland and has a very strong hop presence as you would expect from an IPA.

All the hops that they use in their beer are grown on their own plant farm. It pours a cloudy, dark orangey-golden colour with a thin white head.

Very similar to the American style of IPA, very hoppy on the nose with some grapefruit aromas. The taste drives a fierce punch and the hops and citrus flavours need to be tried to be appreciated.

This is definitely not a beer for the faint hearted. But a definite craft beer you need to try when you are in Ireland.

 

Galway Bay Buried at Sea

This beer is an Irish stout that goes well outside the boundaries of the classic Guinness.

A complex tasting beer that is both refreshing and very drinkable. As expected with a stout it possesses rich flavours and goes down very smooth. As the beer is brewed with chocolate its great for matching with sweeter dishes or desserts.

 

White Hag – Session IPA

The White Hag Session IPA is brewed in Sligo, in the west of Ireland. The beer gets its name from Irish Mythology.

According to legend, The White Hag was a witch and a spiritual force of nature, who was one of three hags who lived in a cave in the side of Kesh Corann.

The beer is an American-style IPA dominated by passion and grapefruit. Using clean Irish malt in its production creates an intense, yet balanced hop-forward beer. One not to be missed when visiting Ireland.

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10 Ways to Visit Europe on a Budget

There is no question that travel in Europe can be expensive. Transportation, accommodation, food and souvenirs add up each day. 

However, there are a number of ways that you can save money yet still have a wonderful and memorable experience. 

 

10 Ways to Visit Europe & Save Money

1. Travel During the Off-Season

Summer (June – August) and the holiday season (December) are the most popular times to visit Europe and therefore the rates are highest.  Choose to travel during the spring and autumn months when crowds are thinner, the weather is nicer and prices on airfare and room rates drop 20 – 50%. It is often less expensive to fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to boot. 

 

2. Visit a Country or City Off the Beaten Track

Paris, Rome, London, Prague…if you haven’t visited these cites, one day you certainly need to go.  But if traveling on a budget is your current focus then these are not the cities to visit now.  Instead, consider dozens of remarkable destinations that are not nearly as expensive such as countries in Eastern Europe (Romania, Hungary) or Portugal.  If you prefer to visit Western Europe, simply travel to cities that are less popular and more cost effective.  For instance, the Loire Valley just outside of Paris is draped with ancient castles amidst rolling hills of wine country.  Or, visit Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, known as a “pocket-sized” Prague with half the tourists and a fraction of the cost.

 

3. Holiday Apartment Rentals

In lieu of pricey hotels, seek out holiday apartment rentals.  The best resources online are AirbnbCraigslist or Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO).  You can also find some apartments on Booking.com. These websites offer photos and information on thousands of independently owned apartments in cities all over Europe.  During the off-season, remember to negotiate the price and you’ll be surprised how many rentals owners bite.  Think about it: it’s better for them to rent to you for a lower price than have their rental go empty for a week or weekend.  Remember that most apartments will have a kitchen, so go to the local supermarket and cook to save even more! 

Or, if you’re up for something slightly different, try out HomeExchange.

 

4. Picnic

All over Europe there are thousands of beautiful plazas and parks to relax in with a picnic lunch.  Shop at the local markets for bread, cheese, salami, fresh fruit and a bottle of wine.  Ask the shopkeepers for the local specialty and try it.  The price is right, the taste is delicious and the memory unforgettable.

 

5. Buy Local Beverages

Each region in every European country is known for a particular wine, beer, liqueur or other specialty beverage.  Reference your tour book, an information center or simply read a menu outside a restaurant for an idea of the local indulgences. Armed with these tips, there is no doubt that you can get a delicious mug of beer or bottle of wine for a just a few dollars. Remember that soda is often very expensive.  Also, the tap water is fine to drink (and free).  Refill and reuse your water bottles.

 

6. Seek Out Discounts and Free Activities

There are a number of free activities across the pond.  During warmer months, there are hundreds of complimentary outdoor festivals and other interactive events. Wine tasting is generally free as well.  If you are an outdoor enthusiast, hiking trails are at your fingertips all over the continent.  Some cities even offer city tours with the sole expectation of just a few Euros for a tip.  For example, museums in London are free.  Check museum websites in advance to find out which days and times discounts are offered.  Often there are group, student, senior and child discounts and if you don’t see it mentioned, just ask.

 

7. Package Ticket Purchases

If you love museums, cities such as Paris and Amsterdam offer a “Museum Pass” that allows entry into multiple museums with a discount.  You can do the same thing in many cities with a subway and a train. There are many websites online that sell these bundled tickets, GetYourGuide has a huge range of packaged tours/tickets in most of the European cities.

If you are planning to visit multiple countries, check out the Eurail website see if a bundled train tickets are right for you – there is a potential to save you hundreds of dollars!

 

8. Use Public Transportation 

The European Union invests quite a bit of money into its infrastructure.  The end result is public transportation that is quick, efficient and cost-effective.  We all know how pricey taxis can be.  Instead, spend 5 minutes and figure out how take the subway, bus and/or train.  It’s much more relaxing, too! If you’re in London, then make sure to get the London Visitor Oyster Card. 

 

9. Eat and Shop Away From the Main Tourist Trail

There is no doubt that in European cities the shopkeepers know where the tourists go.  Just venture off the main streets a block or two and pop your head into a restaurant to see if they are speaking English or the local language.  Chances are if you hear locals, the prices will be lower and the food much better.   With regards to shopping, you will find better prices on many of the same items if you walk a few blocks away from a main tourist street or attraction.  In some areas, bartering is acceptable so if you do not see a price posted, name a price and negotiate down from there.

 

10. Volunteer or Couch Surf

There are a handful of volunteer organizations that exchange work for room and board.  For instance, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) an organization that promotes organic farming .  A traveler works for 4 hours a day on an organic farm in exchange for a place to sleep and eat.  Another way to sleep for free (and not work) is Couch Surfing.  Check out their website for details.  

 

With these tips in mind, you can thoroughly enjoy a holiday in Europe and save money

Simply create a budget, stick to it and you will have a vacation filled with memorable experiences – and Euros left in your pocket.

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Hiking Rainbow Mountain by Yourself

Discovered just over a couple of years ago due to melting of the glaciers, today visiting Rainbow Mountain is nothing, but the pinnacle of the hiking tourism around the area of Cusco

Up above at 5100m over sea level, the seven different colours in display are an incredible sight for all those looking to see a natural wonder.

Even though you might not believe at the over-saturated images found in the internet, you’ll be amazed by how gorgeous the coloured landscapes will be. Honestly, some people say the northern lights, the Grand Canyon etc… but it won’t be that long before Rainbow Mountain gets included in the “must-visit” places in someone’s lifetime. 

In town, pretty much every tour agency offers the hike to the Rainbow Mountain and even though prices, times and such can differ a lot, the service is usually exactly the SAME. Imagine hundreds of people all heading up Rainbow mountain at the same time… not that appealing uh. 

So is it really worth and feasible to go on your own?

 

Rainbow Mountain – A Short Overview: Tours or Do It Yourself

The typical tour will cost you anything between 50-100 Soles (15-30$/pp) and will usually start with a big van picking you up in the early morning. More expensive companies will usually pick you up at 2.30-3am, will include a small breakfast, a guide, potentially oxygen tanks and/or coca leaves for altitude sickness and usually “small” groups (15 people). 

Less expensive companies will usually pick you up at 3-4am, will include a guide, small breakfast, no sickness remedies and mostly put you in groups of 30 people. Oh, did we mention that if you go with tours you’re allowed 20min max at the top?

The easiest way to do this on your own is to rent a car, but you should be considering doing this, if you’re at least 2 people. Even though it might sounds taunting at first, if you’ve got some experience in driving and are ready for an adventure this is the way to go.

In Cusco there are many car rentals (like Hertz, Europcar and Sixt), but we suggest going to Cusco Rent a Car, which for just 40$/day gives you a decent car with insurance included. The great thing about this is, that you can get there at pretty much whatever time you want but more than that, you won’t have to wait for anybody on the hike.

No prepping, no unnecessary breaks: its gonna be you and the mountain on a race to endure the longer. 

WARNING: In any circumstance, make sure that the day you’re planning to go, whether on a tour or by yourself, the weather forecast must predict a sunny day. If it’s forecasted a cloudy, foggy or rainy day, don’t even start thinking about Rainbow Mountain. Even if you have limited time in Cusco, trust us, don’t make the mistake of being ok with whatever the weather is. You won’t enjoy it at all and are going to have an awful experience!

 

Driving to Rainbow Mountain

The drive to Rainbow Mountain to Cusco is a long 3h15min, something like 2h on asphalt and 1h15min on mountain dirt roads, where having a map app like maps.me is a must. In order to avoid crows and enjoying the fullest we suggest you leave Cusco at 2.30am.

The first step is to get to Checacupe, a decently sized town that is conveniently located at the turn with the dirt road. After finding the right dirt road (maps will be the only way to find it), you’ll pass a big town (Pitumarca), several small villages (Huito, Llaulliri, C. Karwi, Labraco, Ocefina, Japura) and just after the last one (Hanchipacha) there’s gonna be the second and last turn off that will lead you up to the entrance and parking lot of Rainbow Mountain. 

If everything goes as planned, you should be getting at the trailhead (starting from the parking lot) to Rainbow Mountain by 5.45am, which is roughly when the first rays of sunrise should start to light up the valley. Just after a small break we started hiking and the only people we could see in front of us was another couple with about 30min advantage on us. Needless to say that the landscapes, views and everything else was something unique.

 

Hiking to the top of Rainbow Mountain

To give you a short summary of the hike, in the first section you’ll be walking in a valley. Then you’ll start to hike up a slope, then a small flat and then the final push on a very very steep slope to get you to the mirador of the mountain. 

In the first part is where, should you have any, you’re going to start feeling the strength of the altitude having effect on your body. As said above, if you’re going with the tour they will provide you with oxygen tanks or coca leaves to chew on but if you bring along some coca-chocolate that should make the trick.

In total the hike up took us 2h30min, but could also take you up to 4h, it all depends to how used you are to walk at high altitude. Usually the hardest part is toward the end where the last push of 200m altitude kills your lungs! Don’t forget that you’ll be hiking between 4400m and 5100m so oxygen in the air will be much less than what your body would expect. 

If you’re not feeling good or are not willing to walk, you can also opt to take a horse (60 soles), but even in this circumstance you’ll still be dropped down at 4900m and have to walk the last hard bit by yourself. In the past horses were allowed to get to the top, but lately they decided to stop that because of the constant flow of tourism.

A couple of months ago, it was discovered another way to get to Rainbow Mountain which, on many guides opinion, is supposed to be easier in terms of steepness, faster with just 2h of hiking instead of 3-4h and start in the opposite direction of the “official” path. Currently, the majority of tour companies seem to be preferring that route over the old one so to allow tourists more time on the top but individuals travellers (especially locals) prefer using the old route because of its beauty. 

 

Rainbow Mountain – Expectation vs. Reality

Overall, doing this hike and having a chance to see Rainbow Mountain was one of the best hikes we’ve ever done so far in our trip to South America. The desolated landscapes full of llamas, the snowy peaks and the incredible colours were just something you don’t see every day. Even though the hike up top was much harder than expected, it’s impossible to say it wasn’t worth!

In terms of how enjoyable staying at the top was, well that is a different chapter. By doing this trek yourself, you can obviously expect to see other tourists on the top even before you start planning the hike. Thankfully, by knowing this, the view at the top shouldn’t be spoiled that much. 

That said, if you like us are planning to get at the top by 8.30am then you’re in for a surprise. In fact, at that time we were sharing the views only with some other 20-30 people in total, which was much better than anything we’ve ever expected. But don’t relax too long cause at around 9.30am its when all the tours and masses of tourist will start to invade the place and your moments enjoying nature will be long gone. People screaming, group guides yelling the do’s and dont’s… in other words you feel like you’re back in the main plaza of Cusco.

Not pleasant at all! 

The funny thing was that during the whole time we were at the top it was sunny and not a single cloud in the sky (ok maybe literally 2), but as soon as the first group arrived and we start walking down, the sky started to become very very cloudy. And as you can imagine, at 5100m if you’re chilling by the sun the temperature is OK but as soon as the sun goes away there’s a huge temperature drop and it become freezing. Especially when you take into consideration the horrible sidewind coming up from the valley below!

 

Looking back, there wouldn’t be a single thing I’d suggest you to change, if you were to plan the same self-guided hike to Rainbow Mountain like we did it by ourselves. Leave at 2.30am from your hostel/hotel in Cusco, get at the parking lot & entrance of the park at 5.45am, start hiking the trail at 6am, get to the top by 8.30am, enjoy the views for an hour and then head back down when the majority of the people are heading up. 

If you’re really thinking about being the only one hiking and getting to the top before anybody else’s does, than we suggest you to leave Cusco at 1.30am. Though, consider that whoever will be driving for the whole trip might end up pretty tired for the hike (Max drove there & back and was shattered by the end). So take that into consideration before planning the trip.

We couldn’t repeat that enough times, but hiking to the top is a killer even for experienced hikers!

 

Travel tip shared by Connected Horizons
connectedhorizons.co.uk

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Top Sites to Get Your Next Snow Report

Scared of missing the next day of fresh powder?

We know that devoted skiers and snowboarders are checking snow reports regularly. You could be looking for the best weekend of snow weeks from now or checking what tomorrow has in store.

 

This List Will Provide Some of the Best and Most Reliable Forecasting Sites:

Snow-Forecast

Simple and straightforward, Snow-Forecast is easily one of the most accessible forecast sites around.  With Snow-Forecast you get a range of free features. If you’re a die hard, you can depart with a measly $7 a year for full access to the great site.

Forecasts are detailed and informative. You can have it broken down into a top, mid and base altitude brackets if you desire. Alerts, webcams, live weather, history, maps, snow depth, piste, resort information and more. This is a one stop shop. You can even get email alerts for a single resort for no cost.

www

 

OpenSnow

OpenSnow detailed and informative without being complicated. The site is easy on the eyes and well set out.  Over 1.5 million skiers and snowboarders head to OpenSnow to get their forecast. The site prides itself on accurate forecast and its grass roots foundation. 

Joel Gratz, the founder and CEO is based in Colorado; however, the site reports come from a network of local meteorologists scattered throughout North America’s biggest ski resorts. This means you are getting accurate reports wherever you are located.  For $19 a year, you will get 10-day forecasts, no ads, time lapse snow cams, powder alerts and more. Combined with great sites like SnowPak, you can have all the information you need for your next ski trip.

www

 

Mountainwatch

This is the site for information that is easy to access. Expected snowfall from around the globe and in more specific regions is laid out in an easy to read table. This site may lack some of the more detailed info the dedicated skier wants, but it’s perfect for quick overviews.

The information you get is coming from the Australia Bureau of meteorology, so it’s fairly reliable.  Some people may not like the fact the information is coming from a non-local source.

This site does provide great information about each resort. Mountain guides, trail maps, lift numbers, terrain parks and more, you also get information about anything resort related.

www

 

Snowforecast.com

Another site run by a local snowboarder Chris Manly. Only selected resorts gain forecasts predicted by Chris and his dedicated team. Having said this, the site does offer detailed and easy to read forecasts, condition updates and more on all mountains around North America.

A 6-day forecast is standard on this site. Chris prides himself on detail and accuracy, and that explains a lack of detailed long-range forecasts. You get a bit of accurate long-range prediction in a verbal format alongside the complete written weekly snow forecasts. Get forecasts for specific mountains and see a range of snow forecast maps. A great site if you’re looking for more info about snow conditions on and off piste.

If that doesn’t impress you, this site has ranked #3 most visited among ski and snowboard sites on the web. This site is run by a passionate local professional. Remember, snowforecast.com shouldn’t be mixed up with snow-forecast.com!

www

 

Go forth and never miss a day of powder again!

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Where to Stay in Bali: Our Bali Accommodation Guide

Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali is one of 17,500 islands in the Indonesian archipelago.

It’s a popular tourist destination due to its incredible beauty, high diversity of marine species, coral reefs, culture, active volcanoes, wild jungles, and growing infrastructure. The island is well accustomed to travelers, with many available places to stay in Bali.

Accommodation in Bali varies from private villas and five-star resorts to bungalows in the rice fields and homestays. The options are diverse. Our Bali accommodation guide covers everything that you need to know about where to stay in Bali, including the best family resorts in Bali, boutique hotels in Bali, Bali honeymoon villas, as well as a few unique places to stay in Bali.

 

Where to stay in Bali: Best areas in Bali

For most people, Bali is seen as a tropical island mostly made up of beautiful beaches. Though, the island is actually characterized by diversity. There are many beautiful beaches, but there is also agricultural landscapes (the famous rice paddies), mountains, quiet villages, and a few raucous party towns.
 
To get the most out of your vacation in Bali, you need to understand the different areas and pick one best suited to what you want out of your trip to the island. We’ve highlighted some of the best areas in Bali and where to stay in each. They are all in the southern half of the island as this region is the most popular amongst tourists.
 
The Kuta and Legion areas are the most touristy places in Bali. Both Kuta and Legion are packed with shops, markets, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. If you’re keen for partying, then these areas are for you. It’s also easy to find cheap accommodation in Kuta and Legion if you’re on a budget. You’ll also find great beaches and surfing spots.

 
Ubud is popular amongst digital nomads and travelers looking to experience the interior area of the island. It’s also yoga central, with loads of yoga studios. It’s great to stay in the village to be close to the shops, restaurants and local markets. But if you’d prefer to spend more time relaxing and taking in the natural beauty of this area, then rather look for somewhere on the outskirts. A taxi into the village is easy enough to get.

 
Seminyak is quite a trendy area of Bali, with boutique shops, sophisticated bars with live jazz, soul and R&B, and a wide range of restaurants. It’s quite far away from being an authentic Bali neighborhood and appeals more to the high-end, luxury traveler. 

If you want to be close to Seminyak but prefer to be a bit more remote, then head to Canggu. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Seminyak.

 
Nusa Dua is a closed-off area reserved for luxury hotel chains and resorts – like a hotel bubble. Its security checkpoints make it the safest place in Bali, which appeals to wealthy tourists and families. You won’t experience the real Bali here.

 
Located on the eastern side of Bali’s southern isthmus, Sanur has a laidback beach vibe. It was originally a fishing village and they have managed to keep its original charm. This is a great area for families visiting Bali and tourists looking for a more mature, European atmosphere.

 

Where to stay in Bali: Our Bali Accommodation Guide

We’ve broken our Bali accommodation guide into the main tourist regions of the island. You’ll find the top places to stay in each neighborhood, including a range of different accommodation options. If you’re not too concerned about which neighborhood to stay in, but rather after a specific feature (like a family-friendly resort) then check out our other options towards the bottom.

Where to stay in Kuta and Legion

Some of the top places to stay in Kuta and Legion include:

Alam Kulkul Boutique Resort

Located a five-minute walk from Kuta Beach and steps away from Legian Beach, this hotel offers two outdoor pools, traditional spa treatments and an Asian restaurant. The hotel is modelled after a traditional Indonesian village and is surrounded by tropical gardens.

 

Bread and Jam Hostel

For those on a budget, this is the perfect option for you. Bread and Jam Hostel is a modern boutique hostel just a 10-minute walk from the center of Kuta (and 11 minutes from the beach). Rates include a daily breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and a free tea and coffee all day. The dorms are air-conditioned and kept clean and tidy. Double rooms are available for those looking for more privacy.

  • Rates start from $8 for a dorm and $19 for a double room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Sadasari Gg. Kelapa No. 11, Kubu Anyar, 80361 Kuta, Indonesia

 

Grand Istana Rama Hotel

Grand Istana Rama Hotel has an idea location just a minute walks from Kuta Beach, and within walking distance from Kuta Square and the buzzing nightlife of Jalan Legian. The hotel has its own swimming pool with a sunken bar and the all day restaurant serves local, Italian and seafood dishes – along with stunning Kuta Beach views. The Tequila Bar features a DJ and live band entertainment. To top if off, the hotel offers weekly cultural activities like cooking classes and Bahasa Indonesia language classes.

 

Kuta Lagoon Resort and Pool Villas

Kuta Lagoon Resort offers luxury retreats in private villas, each with their own balcony and swimming pool. The resort is an eight-minute walk from the beach and there is also a free shuttle service to Kuta Beach. Each villa is decked out with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, minibars and beautiful décor. There is also a spa and four dining options.

  • Rates start from $50 for standard double room and $110 for a pool villa
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Raya Legian No. 363, 80361 Legian, Indonesia

 

Where to stay in Ubud

Some of the top places to stay in Ubud include:

Viceroy Bali

This five-star hotel offers luxurious villas with private pools overlooking the Petangu River. The main infinity pool overlooks the jungle, offering the most breathtaking atmosphere. It’s just a five-minute drive from central Ubud, and offers a free shuttle to guests. The rooms are lush as is the entire hotel, including the Lembah Spa, which offers a variety of body treatments.

  • Rates from $1,000 (includes breakfast)
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jalan Lanyahan, Br. Nagi, 80571  Ubud, Indonesia

 

Alaya Resort Ubud

Surrounded by rice fields in the heart of Ubud, Alaya Resort Ubud offers affordable luxury. Rates include breakfast and afternoon tea, and the on-site restaurant serves delicious local dishes along with some fusion and international meals. Alaya Resort Ubud is 200 metres’ away from the Monkey Forest and 700 metres’ away from Ubud Market. Features include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and spa.

 

Chapung SeBali

Chapung SeBali offers eight villas perched on a hill overlooking the river, each with their own private pool. It’s tucked away about a 10-minute drive from the center of Ubud, making it quiet, peaceful and secluded. The design is modern, hip and Nordic – making it a hipsters paradise.

  • Rates from $282 for a Deluxe Suite
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Raya Sebali No.5 Keliki, Tegalalang, 80561 Ubud, Indonesia

 

Kampung Ubud Ibunda Bungalow

Kampung Ubud Ibunda Bungalow offers Balinese-style accommodation set in lush gardens. Each room is decorated with a typical Balinese style, featuring a private terrace/balcony, free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. Hotel features include an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, spa, and other basic conveniences. The hotel is located a 10-minute walk from Monkey Forest and Ubud Art Market.

 

Where to stay in Seminyak

Some of the top places to stay in Seminyak include:

W Bali – Seminyak

Located on the Seminyak Beach, though a seven-minute walk from the beach. The hotel features a large outdoor pool and full-service spa. The five-star accommodation includes balconies with garden or sea views. There are two restaurants, one offering BBQ while the other offers Pan-Asian dishes. Sunset drinks, and a bit of a party, are offered at the hotel bar. 

 

eqUILIBRIA Seminyak

Named after “peace and tranquility” in Indonesia, this property lives up to its name. It’s a bit more hidden away in downtown Seminyak, being a 17-minute walk away from the beach. Each of the eco-friendly villas feature private pools (not all units), a full butler service, iPhone concierge app, and luxurious beds with 300-thread count pure bamboo sheets. Relaxing massage and beauty treatments can be enjoyed at Equalize Spa. Guests can also take the free transfer to Finns Recreation Club and Finns Beach Club – A 25 m outdoor pool, tennis courts, gym and yoga rooms are available there.

  • Rates from $250 for a one-bedroom villa with private pool
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jalan Wirasaba No.5, off Jalan Kayu Aya, 80361 Seminyak, Indonesia

 

Kosta Hostel

Kosta Hostel offers basic, budget-friendly accommodation in Seminyak. The hostel is located 1.7 km from The Seminyak Square Shopping Mall. Dorm rooms are classic and modern, with a simple and fresh approach. There is a small outdoor pool available, with a few surrounding chill spots amongst the greenery. Guests can also enjoy the on-site restaurant which serves up delicious local and international meals.

 

M Boutique Hostel

M Boutique Hostel offers modern and Instagram-worthy accommodation in Seminyak. It’s a five-minute drive to the famous Potato Head Beach Club and a seven-minute drive from Batu Belig Beach. The dorms are comfortable and modern with air-conditioning and ample personal space with each guest getting an assigned locker, universal electric socket and reading lamp. The property features an outdoor swimming pool along with a shared kitchen and lounge. 

 

Where to stay in Canggu

Some of the top places to stay in Canggu include:

Komea Villa – by Karaniya Experience

For a boutique offering, Komea Villa is an ideal option. Located within the rice fields of Batubelig, this property is a five-minute walk from Kayu Putih beach and Canggu Club. The Seminyak area is a 5-minute drive away. Accommodation options include one and two-bedroom villas with free Wi-Fi and a private pool (decked out with spa jets). Each villa also includes a dining area and kitchenette.

  • Rates from $230 for a one-bedroom villa (breakfast included)
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Subak Sari No. 7, Br. Tegal Gundul, Ds. Tibu Beneng, Kuta Utara, Bali, 80361 Canggu, Indonesia

 

KTS Day Spa & Retreat by Ngeluwungan Group

For a more secluded getaway, KTS Day Spa & Retreat is a great option. Situated in the pastoral area of Canggu, the property is a 10-minute drive from the property to the famed surfing spot at Echo Beach, and around a 15-minute drive to the iconic Tanah Lot Temple. Each room offers air-conditioning, a TV, balcony and dining area with a fridge and electric kettle. The property features an outdoor swimming pool along with a shared lounge to relax in.

  • Rates from $61 for a Queen room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jalan Beringin Gang Untung No 71 Br. Pegending, Dalung, 80361 Canggu, Indonesia

 

Canggu Beach Hostel

Located just a three-minute walk from the beach (both the Pererenan Beach and Echo Beach) and a 10-minute drive to restaurants and shops in Canggu. The property has two outdoor pools with beach bar along with a terrace and garden, as well as being surrounded by beautiful rice paddies. Canggu Beach Hostel offers a fun and lively vibe.

 

The Apartments Canggu

Located a 15-minute walk from the closest beach, and five-minute drive from Echo Beach. The Apartments Canggu offer one-bedroom and studio apartments with a living and kitchen area. Some apartments have views of the rice fields, pool, or the garden. The property features an outdoor swimming pool and garden as well as offering free use of bicycles, surfboards and Yoga mats.

  • Rates from $37 for a studio and $57 for a one-bedroom apartment
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jalan Padang Linjong No. 85, 80361 Canggu, Indonesia

 

Where to stay in Nusa Dua

Some of the top places to stay in Nusa Dua include:

Grand Hyatt Bali

Grand Hyatt Bali is one of the top picks among the elite resorts in Nusa Dua. It’s a massive luxury beachfront resort with five outdoor pools, a large spa, and eight dining options. The rooms are ultra-luxurious, stocked with batik robes, slippers and free amenities. A variety of water sports, a tennis court and a fitness center are available.

  • Rates from $500 for a standard double room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Kawasan Wisata Nusa Dua BTDC, Bali, 80363 Nusa Dua, Indonesia

 

Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa, Bali

This property is a six-minute walk from the beach. Set in lush tropical gardens, the 5-star Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa, Bali features three outdoor pools and a private beach. Rooms are decorated with Balinese furnishings and feature a balcony/terrace with views of the tropical gardens or beach. Facilities include a spa, fitness center, and tennis and squash courts. Guests can go on a Balinese fishing tour or try canoeing, rafting and snorkelling. It also has a children’s playground and game room.

  • Rates from $166 for a double room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Kawasan Pariwisata Nusa Dua, Lot North 4, 80363 Nusa Dua, Indonesia

 

Rantun’s Place

For those on a budget, Rantun’s Place is a good option. Situated in the Sawangan district in Nusa Dua, the property is a nine-minute walk from Geger Beach. Rooms are basic with flat-screen TVs and breakfast is included. An outdoor swimming pool, spa, restaurant, free Wi-Fi and free on-site parking is available. 

  • Rates from $13 for a double room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Nusa Dua Selatan, Br. Sawangan, 80361 Nusa Dua, Indonesia

 

COOEE Bali Reef Resort

COOEE Bali Reef Resort is located steps away from Tanjong Benoa Beach. The resort offers bungalow-style accommodation with traditional Balinese architecture and décor, along with private balconies and garden views. There is an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and all-day massages by the beach. 

 

Where to stay in Sanur

Some of the top places to stay in Sanur include:

Segara Village Hotel

Segara Village Hotels offers typical Bali villas set within a tropical garden. It’s a three-minute walk to the beach and offers three outdoor pools. In-house The Beach Restaurant overlooks the ocean and serves Asian and international dishes. There’s also another cocktail bar overlooking the beach. Rooms have private balconies overlooking the gardens and are fitted with all standard amenities. Other features include a spa and free yoga sessions.

 

Little Pond Homestay

Little Pond Homestay is a great option for travels on a budget. The excellent location is about one minute from Jalan Danau Tamblingan, Sanur’s main drag; five minutes’ from the beach (via a shortcut) and less to Pasar Sindu night market. The rooms are basic, though are kept clean and offer good value for money. There is an outdoor swimming pool and all of the rooms have a small terrace looking over the pool.

  • Rates from $8 for a standard double room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jalan Danau Tamblingan No. 19, Sanur – Bali, 80228 Sanur, Indonesia

 

Artotel

Artotel is a funky four-star hotel that will appeal to contemporary art and architecture lovers. Designed by Jakarta architectural firm Studio TonTon, the hotel is a canvas for notable Bali-based contemporary artists and a visual feast for guests. The hotel is situated a two-minute walk from Sanur Beach and guests can find an array of shopping and dining options within a short stroll to the Sanur main street. The rooms are comfortable, each featuring unique graffiti artwork on the walls along with modern amenities.

 

Kamuela Villas and Suite Sanur

Kamuela Villas and Suite Sanur is a five-minute walk away from the beach, with ample shops and eateries within close walking distance. The suites are bright and airy, with spacious interiors including living and dining spaces. They come decked with modern amenities and include a private butler service. Villas have private gardens and pools, along with fully-equipped kitchenettes. A full restaurant and spa are available, and guests can join in on cooking classes.

 

More options for where to stay in Bali

Bali honeymoon villas

Berry Amour Romantic Villas

Located just outside of the high-end beach town of Seminyak, Berry Amour Romantic Villas offers 20 private luxury villas. This spot is ideal for a honeymoon in Bali as it’s an adult-only resort. The villas each feature their own design: Temptation, Mystique, and Desire. The classic and elegant décor oozes romance with candles, luxury sofas, and cove lighting. Each also come with their own swimming pool, sun deck, jacuzzi, and fully-equipped kitchen – there’s no need to leave!

 

Bali villa with cooking lessons

Kubu Kusuma Guest House

This private house is set amongst the forest in North Bali, offering complete privacy for guests. The guest house features two spacious bedrooms with a large bathroom. There’s a beautiful infinity pool, garden room and private massage area. Guests can enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast each morning. The hosts offer guests Indonesian cooking lessons, which is always enjoyed.
 

  • Rates from $41
  • Where to book: Airbnb
  • Location: Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia

 

Best family resorts Bali

Padma Resort Legian

Located a three-minute walk from the Legian Beach and a 10-minute walk from Seminyak’s shops, restaurants and entertainment. The resort includes two beautifully landscaped pools with sunken bars. A kids pool with slide as well as another with volleyball net is available. There are seven dining options – with enough kid-friendly options. Rooms are spacious and include private terraces. Additional resort features include a spa, departure lounge, tennis court, and live entertainment.

  • Rates from $240 for a double room and $400 for a family room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jln. Padma no.1 PO BOX 1107 TBB, 80361 Legian, Indonesia

 

Adult-only hotel in Bali

The Bale

The Bale is an adult-only luxury resort in Nusa Dua. The property is a six-minute walk from the beach, 10-minute drive from Bumbu Bali Restaurant and a 15-minute drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. The exclusive villas include private pools, a 24-hour butler service, and a free daily minibar. It provides free shuttle services by private cars to its exclusive beach clubs at Geger Beach and Nusa Dua areas. The resort includes a spa, fitness center, yoga rooms, and four restaurant/bar facilities.

  • Rates from $450 for a one-bedroom villa
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Raya Nusa Dua Selatan, 80363 Nusa Dua, Indonesia

 

Boutique hotel in Bali

Katamama

Katamama not only offers spectacular five-star service and amenities, but they source locally and help support the local community. All the décor is bespoke and has been handmade by local artisans and craftsmen – from the bricks to the bathrobes and ceramic cocktail beakers. The 57 rooms are spacious with large windows letting in plenty of natural lighting.

 

Unique places to stay in Bali

Amankila

The 34 free-standing Suites at Amankila are set atop stilts amid the treetops, creating a Balinese treehouse vibe. Each of the suites have a private outdoor terrace. Besides from the treetop suites, the resort features wellness spa and a restaurant, where all food is locally sourced and grown. 

  • Rates from $589 for a garden suite (breakfast included)
  • Where to book: HotelsCombined 
  • Location: Bali-Manggis Indonesia, Manggis, Indonesia

 

Romantic wellness retreat in Bali

Spa Village Resort Tembok, North

Hidden away in the least developed part of Bali, Spa Village Resort Tembok is a spa village before it is a resort. Guests are welcomed with a massage at check-in – ensuring complete relaxation from the start. Located in the north of Bali, the area is more rustic and un-spoilt. Guests can explore the nearby heritage villages, climb waterfalls, stroll around lakes and go dolphin spotting. The spa is phenomenal, and the resort has also launched Solo Female wellness retreats.

  • Rates from $250 for a standard double room
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jl. Singaraja – Amlapura No.100 Desa Tembok – Kec. Tejakula, Buleleng, Singaraja, Bali, Indonesia

 

Health Retreat in Bali

Ubud Sari Health Resort

Ubud Sari Health Resort is all about yoga, healthy eating and being surrounded by relaxing jungle vibes. The outdoor swimming pool looks out onto the adjacent rice paddies and the various ponds around the property aid in creating a relaxing atmosphere. There’s a restaurant at the property that serves healthy organic meals and raw food. Some rooms have a terrace with pool views, others feature a balcony with views of the green surroundings. The resort offers various detox and cleansing workshops (read more on their website).

 

Bali hotels with private pool

Hanging Gardens of Bali

There are some absolutely breathtaking pools in Bali, but the infinity pool at Hanging Gardens is possibly one of the best. The pool is perched on the side of a hill and looks out into the surrounding jungle and Ayung River. It’s truly breathtaking. The only thing is that this is one of the most photographed pools in Bali, so to get your Instagram-worthy shot you need to line up early in the morning.

  • Rates from $629 for a villa
  • Where to bookBooking.com | HotelsCombined 
  • Location: Desa Buahan, Payangan, 80571 Payangan, Indonesia

 

Bali Eco Resort

Alila Uluwatu

Alibla Uluwatu is an eco-friendly resort in Bali, in Uluwatu. The resort is built on a limestone cliff, surrounded by scenic beauty. Its minimalist and understated design fits in perfectly with its surroundings. Along with keeping eco-friendly, the resort offers five-star service and facilities including personal butler service, sleek design, infinity swimming pool, and a fitness center with yoga and pilates studio. The modern Balinese-style villas feature an elevated outdoor pavilion that overlooks the ocean. Each villa has an outdoor dining area and oversized bathroom.

  • Rates from $868 for a villa
  • Where to book: Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
  • Location: Jalan Belimbing Sari, Br. Tambiyak, Desa Pecatu, Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia agoda

 
 

Still didn’t find what you were looking for?

Browse all hotels in Bali
 
Booking.com | Airbnb | Hotels Combined | Agoda
 
 
We hope that you now know where to stay in Bali, and have an amazing trip to this breathtakingly beautiful spot.
 
 
Travel tip shared by Bridget Langer for Travel Dudes
 

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Visiting Vancouver: Relax & Have Fun for Free

Vancouver is the largest and the most picturesque city of the province and one of the main ports of North America.

How to explore the city, relax and have fun, if funds are limited?

We prepared a list of the most interesting free things to do in Vancouver.

 

Free things to do in Vancouver

Climb to Grouse Mountain

The mountain, which offers a view of Vancouver, has all the conditions for winter sports (skiing, snowboarding, winter hiking, ice-skating), as well as for walks and hikes in the summer. It is possible to climb here in two ways – on a gondola lift or by overcoming a path called “Grouse Grind”. Do you want a real challenge? Try this trail, which is 2.9 km long. It is worth saying that this test is not for beginners – you will have to sweat, but the result is worth it.

 

Visit Lynn Canyon National Park

This reserve, accessible to public transport, is great for spending a day in the fresh air far from the city bustle. The terrain can be crossed both on foot and by bike. Hanging bridge is a local point of interest.

 

Relax on the beaches

Living in Vancouver means having a luxurious opportunity to enjoy magnificent beaches. It is noteworthy that right in the center of the city you can find more than one beach. Vancouver has about 18 km of beach shorelines located right in the city.

 

Visit Gastown

Gastown is one of the highlights of the city. This is an old district of salons and brothels serving the nearby port, which eventually turned into a shopping center, and then the historic part of the city and in reality occupying several streets. A short walk is quite entertaining. Here, except for “old buildings”, you can find both small shops, cafes and restaurants where you can sit and relax after a cup or a glass of something and a very good snack. Nearby there is a viewing platform and a bay where also there is something to see.

 

Go through Chinatown

Chinatown is a special place, which you cannot miss when visiting Vancouver. There is an authentic Chinese atmosphere, outlandish goods and of course the lowest prices. Territorial Chinatown begins with the intersection of Pender and Taylor streets with huge gates decorated in Chinese style. In Vancouver’s Chinatown, there is one of the most beautiful Chinese parks in North America. The entrance is free and therefore there are many people even in rainy weather.

 

Attend Queen Elizabeth Park

The magnificent, luxurious park of Queen Elizabeth is located in the highest point of Vancouver, from the height of which opens a completely delightful panorama of the city. In the park you will find a marvelous arboretum, a quarry garden, the famous greenhouse “Bloedel”, with more than 500 kinds of exotic plants and live tropical birds, a rose garden, picturesque ponds, fountains, golf course, tennis courts, bowling club, excellent observation deck and much more.

 

Try the local cuisine for free

In Vancouver, there are a lot of places where you will be given free food for your birthday! There is one nuance – in some places you need to register beforehand in order to get free food. Do you want to eat the whole day long and pay nothing? Then try to visit all these places on one birthday! Steamrollers, Milestone’s, Yaletown Brewing Company, Denny’s, Cannibal Café, Starbucks, Old Spaghetti Factory. In some cafes, you should simply provide an identity card.

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Five Beaches that are Hot Year Round

On to the beach! With rushing waves and lying on warm sand, while looking in the blue sky. A cool drink within easy reach. For many this is the dream holiday experience.

In summer it is not difficult to reach the nearest beach. Whether it’s the Baltic Sea, North Sea or Mediterranean – most places can be accessed by train, car or bicycle.

But as long as bad weather prevails in Europe, an air journey must already be considered.

But then the goal must be really true: Here are tips for beaches that may not be completely secret but can still fulfill dreams – from January to December.

 

Five Beaches that are Hot Year Round

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is famous for its breathtaking nature – in addition to rainforests, waterfalls and volcanoes, it also includes diverse wildlife and plenty of beaches.

Particularly beautiful are the sheltered bays of the National Park Manuel Antonio. The Playa Manuel Antonio is just a short walk from the park entrance: the sand is white and fine, capuchin monkeys are playing in the palm trees, sloths and toucans can be discovered in the treetops. 

How warm?

  • Air: 26 degrees

  • Water: 30 degrees

 

Sanibel Island On Florida

A soft crunching and crackling, a constant rustling and clacking welcomes the beach visitors in the tropical natural paradise of Sanibel Island on Florida’s southwest coast. There are supposed to be more than 350 different types of mussels in different shapes – more than anywhere else in the world. On the kilometer-long beach, young and old look for precious specimens such as the speckled olive snail or the tiger-crowned scallop – Sanibel’s greatest treasure. 

How warm?

  • Air: 25 degrees

  • Water: 24 degrees

 

Seychelles

Of course, beautiful bays and beaches are many. But anyone who has ever visited the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean knows paradise – or what some people imagine. One of the most beautiful bays is the Anse Lazio on the island of Praslin. With palm trees over clear water that laps the rocks, this place is a popular photo wallpaper motif – and capable of causing terrible wanderlust. 

How warm?

  • Air: 28 degrees

  • Water: 27 degrees

 

Thailand

In the water colorful fishing boats rock, in the shade of the palm trees the fishermen sit and mend their nets. Coconut farmers peel the marrow from the fruits. The sea shines in all colors between ink blue and turquoise green. On the Thai island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Siam, such holiday dreams come true – and especially on the quiet double beach Tong Nai Pan. 

How warm?

  • Air: 30 degrees 

  • Water: 29 degrees

 

Majorca

Three densely wooded headlands stretch into the sea, and in between are two white-yellow sand bays in the Cala Mondragó on the southeast coast of Majorca. The two beaches Ses Fonts de n’Alis and S’Amarador are connected by a narrow trail. Aleppo pines and holm oaks are reflected in the various shades of blue in the sea, while rare birdsong can be heard in the bird protection zone of the Parc natural de Mondragó. 

How warm?

  • Air: 22 degrees

  • Water: 17 degrees

 

The above five hot beaches are the wonderful places where you can go in any season. 

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Top Tips for Walking the Camino de Santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences in life, from a variety of points of view; and anybody who’s passionate about travel should do it at least once in their life.

The Camino de Santiago is meant to be a religious pilgrimage, with a series of ancient pilgrim routes that from various places in Europe take pilgrims to the the burial ground of apostle Santiago (Saint James), which was found in 814.

The hundreds of thousands of people that every year embark on this difficult journey, do so for the most varied reasons. There obviously are those that do it for religious reasons; others that do it for spiritual ones (which doesn’t necessarily imply being religious); some do it for the physical challenge; while others for the sake of adventure, companionship, and tourism.

 

Those who are up for the challenge may benefit from a few tips on how to better experience the Camino de Santiago:

Pick Your Route Wisely:

Most people opt to walk the Camino Frances. This is the most crowded one, something to keep in mind if what one is looking for is meeting a lot of people. Here, the scenery does get a bit monotonous, especially in the summer months when everything is dry. Of all the routes to Santiago de Compostela, the Camino del Norte – which crosses some of the best places to visit in Spain from the Basque Country, through Cantabria and Asturias, before arriving in Galicia – is thought to be the most scenic one, with the landscape varying from beautiful coastal paths that offer breathtaking views of the ocean, to mountain trails and beautiful villages scattered along the route. Yet, it is the most challenging one – which explains why less people opt to walk this way.

 

Carry a Map and a Guide:

Although the routes are clearly signalled with the cockle symble, a map may be useful at times, and even more so a guide, which helps planning and has information about the pilgrims’ hostels and restaurants. It is also useful on a day to day basis as it explains the various difficulties one may meet along the way.

 

Choose Your Dates Wisely:

The classic route is better walked in the shoulder season – either in spring or in the early fall (October) as it does get too hot in the summer months. The North of Spain is typically colder and gets much more rain than the rest of the country. This means that the scenery is much greener and soothing to the eyes, yet it may be uncomfortable to walk if the weather conditions are not favourable. The best month to start walking the Camino del Norte is June.

 

Aim to Walk Around 20 km Per Day:

This means having a fairly good speed and at the same time being able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the pretty villages along the way. Do stop for a few days when feeling tired or in need of a good rest. Lots of hostels do take in volunteers!

 

Get Travel Insurance:

Fingers crossed nothing will happen and there won’t be any need, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry and nowadays travel insurances cost as little as €1 per day. World Nomads offers a good variety of travel insurance policies.

 

Pack Lightly:

This tip actually applies to any of the trails. In fact, it applies to any other hiking trip one may take in life. Walking for tens of km for one day is tiring. Doing this for days and days on end is even more tiring. The last thing one wants is to carry a heavy backpack for the duration of the pilgrimage. A small backpack of no more than 7 kg in total is more than enough for the trip. Keep it to the bare essentials: a pair of convertible pants, an extra pair of lightweight pants, 3 t-shirts, a fleece, a rain jacket, 3 pairs of socks and underwear and a pair of flip flops that can be used to get in the shower and to give the feet a good rest at night. Throw in a quick dry towel, a poncho that can be used to also cover the backpack in case of rain; a headlamp; a swiss knife and a first aid kit, a good sunblock and a few pairs of ear-plugs – they will come in handy to light sleepers when sharing a dorm with tens of other pilgrims.

 

Do Laundry (Almost) Every Day:

Most hostels along the Camino have laundry facilities and dryers. If they don’t, it is a good idea to wash clothes every day, at the end of the day, with some laundry soap. If the clothes aren’t dry by the morning, they can be tied to the backpack with safety pins and they will dry during the day.

 

Wear a Good Pair of Hiking Boots:

Investing in a good pair of hiking boots is the way to go. Not only they have to be comfortable; but especially in the case of the Camino del Norte they have to be hydrorepellents too. Even in the summer months, it may rain and the terrain does get very muddy at times. A good pair of hiking boots keep the feet dry and warm even in the worst weather conditions, and will provide good ankle support and good grip even when it is muddy. The best thing is to actually use the shoes a good bit before starting the camino, to make sure that they adapt to the feet and that any issue they may cause (hurting the toes, blisters etc) may be addressed.

 

Always Keep Your Camino Documents on Hand:

Make sure to obtain the pilgrim’s passport, a document that can be obtained at any church, police station or municipality in Spain. This is needed in order to be able to use pilgrims’ hostels for free (a small tip is however recommended).

 

Don’t Worry About Money:

The Camino is meant to be for all budgets and the accommodation and eating options along the way are plentiful and range from pilgrims’ hostels to more comfortable bed and breakfasts and hotels. The same goes for eating: most hostels offer meals to pilgrims; but there are plenty of places to eat along the way that vary from markets to up-scale restaurants. What one spends is really a matter of personal choice.

 

Where to Sleep:

Most pilgrims opt to stay at pilgrims’ hostels, known locally as albergues. The range of accommodation there varies from private rooms to large dorms; some have a bathroom per dorm; in other cases showers will be completely open. All hostels have a kitchen. There also are bed and breakfasts and hotels along the way. Picking the right place to stay is just a matter of budget: albergues are free for pilgrims (except in Galicia where they cost around €5 per person). Beds are assigned on a first come first serve basis and if they are full, pilgrims who walk the route are given precedence over those who bike it, as it is assumed that these will need less time to get to the next available place.

 

Where to Eat:

The best thing to do is to carry some dry fruit and nuts, and some cookies and water to munch on the go during the day. There are plenty of eating options along the way anyways. For dinner, lots of restaurants have special offers for pilgrims – they can be recognized as they have the symbol of the Camino and usually offer a “menu de peregrino” (pilgrim’s menu) which for around €10 usually consists in a starter (rice, pasta or soup), a meat dish (most likely chicken) with a side salad, a dessert (usually a flan), water, wine and coffee. In any case, hostels always have kitchen and most of the time groups of pilgrims that travel together share the expenses to cook a meal.

 

Make Sure to Eat Properly:

Have a good breakfast, as this sets up your metabolism for the rest of the day; lunch should be light, but snacks should be consumed along the way – bananas are great as a source of potassium, and dried fruit and nuts are also a good source of energy and essential oils; dinner should be filling but not heavy.

 

Talk to Other Pilgrims Along the Way:

other people are usually the best source of first hand information when it comes to accommodation options and places to eat along the way.

 

Keep an Open Mind:

as already said, walking the Camino is a convivial experience. Many people are afraid of going alone. Others prefer this. Either way, it’s incredibly easy to meet other pilgrims and most people end up walking at least part of the route in good company. The Camino is about sharing the good and bad experiences; about providing each other useful tips; and about helping each other. It is an emotional and spiritual experience as much as a practical one. Just make the most of it.

 

More than anything else, don’t forget that walking the Camino de Santiago is meant to be a fantastic experience, and it should be enjoyed throughout!

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3 Things You Have to Do on Vacation in Madrid

Madrid is a thriving city of art, fashion, food, and fun.

There is something to appreciate around every corner. As great as this is, it can easily become overwhelming to decide how to spend your time.

There’s no need to go to every single museum or park in the city, and good luck trying to eat at all the top restaurants in one visit. Trust me, there are plenty.

But, there are a few things you definitely can’t miss while on vacation in Madrid.

 

I Make it a Point to Hit These Three Stops Every Time I Go:

1. Eat and Drink at el Mercado de San Miguel

El Mercado de San Miguel is the pinnacle of European markets.

Surrounded by all-glass walls, you can enjoy all the sights of the city center in the comfort of a controlled environment. Take off your heavy coat or escape from the summer sun as you stroll through stands of all kinds of eats.

The Mercado is home to classic tapas, fresh fish, tender meats, wine selections and charcuterie boards, and more.

There are coffee and dessert stands to top everything off, too.

Be sure to walk around the whole market as you decide what to eat, and try to snag some seats while you’re at it!

El Mercado is perfect for a quick bite or a full meal, depending on how much time (and cash) you have. Either way, this is definitely one of the most memorable places you can dine in while on vacation in Madrid.

Located in the central district, you can get here easily on foot or with the help of public transportation.

 

2. Catch the Sunset from el Templo de Debod

Just to the west is the Arguelles district.

This is a relatively quiet neighborhood in the city, bordering the Palace of Madrid and Sabatini Gardens. These are popular attractions for good reason.

But, something even better is a little further up the road – El Templo de Debod.

This monument dates back to the 2nd century BC. It was a gift to the Spanish from the Egyptians in the 20th century, transported and rebuilt brick by brick. The Spanish even kept the temple’s original design, building from east to west.

Today, it is an ancient wonder in the heart of a modern city. The temple looks a bit misplaced to some, but many locals and visitors alike appreciate its presence.

One thing no one can deny, though, is the epic sunsets you can see from here (picture above facing AWAY from sunset).

The temple rests high on a hill overlooking the western horizon. From its garden, you can sit back and watch the sun slowly creep away, painting colors I can’t even describe.

 

3. Take a Stroll through el Parque del Retiro

There’s no question el Templo de Debod is a gem of Madrid’s western area, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t head east.

There, you will find el Parque del Retiro.

This massive natural escape offers something for everyone who needs a break from the city. It has many classical and modern gardens, running trails, lush green fields, and even a lake.

Some locals frequent el Parque as a workout or date spot. Others go to sell their art or perform a street show, like this classic Flamenco dancer and her musician.

Whatever your reason for exploring this outdoor oasis, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Make the Most of Your Vacation in Madrid

At the end of the day, it’s really hard to have a bad time in Madrid.

In fact, the city made the cut on National Geographic’s best trips of 2017!

 

If you’re thinking of adding it to your travel itinerary, don’t wait any longer. Book your flights, see the sights – then share your experiences below.

Buen viaje!  

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