Tuesday, November 25, 2008

China Tours - Yangshuo - Paradise For Outdoors Trip

Yangshuo is a famous and beautiful small town set among the limestone pinnacles. It lies in the northeast of Guangxi Province and to the southeast of Guilin. Most visitors reach Yangshuo by taking a cruise down the picturesque Li River. With a long history of 1400 years, Yangshuo has been a dream place for many tourists who want to see the beautiful natural landscape and the real Chinese countryside life.

When everyone comes to Yangshuo, he will be inspired by breathtaking views of peaks and pinnacles, crystal-clear waters, picturesque pastoral views of rice paddies and water buffaloes.

The best way to see the countryside up close is to take a bicycle. Bicycles can be rented from almost every hotel in Yangshuo.

There are many cycling routes around Yangshuo countryside. The most popular route is to head out towards Moon hill on the main road. But after 20 minutes moderate cycling, you can divert off on a local path and explore the picturesque rural scenery sightseeing. Along the way, you can visit the big banyan tree which covers an area of 1000 square meters with a long history of 1,000 years. And you can also pay a visit to the Moon Hill with a hole in its peak in the shape of a half moon, from where you can look through the sky as well as the old village.

On a Yangshuo tour, you also can see many other interesting things besides cycling:

Bamboo boat rafting in Yulong River: Yulong River is the biggest tributaries of Li River in Yangshuo. If you wish to go the relaxing and idyllic retreat, a bamboo raft ride down-stream the Yulong River is the best choice. Sitting in a chair on a raft and floating down the clean and clear Yulong River, you will be impressed by the dramatic scenery along the way.

Hot air ballooning: Taking a hot air ballooning is one of the highlights for a visit to Yanghshuo. You can fly for 15 minutes or one hour. The balloons fly either early in the morning to catch the sunrise approximately at 5:30 am or in the evening to watch the sunset (5:00 pm). On the hot air ballooning tour, you can have a fantastic view of Yangshuo. The scenery in front of you is just nothing short of breathtaking.

Mud bath in Buddha Water Cave: There are many water caves in Yangshuo due to its unique limestone geology. Buddha Water Cave is one of the most exciting natural caves to explore here. The whole cave is about 3km long and runs through 3 mountains. Taking a mud bath inside the cave is a great experience for the most adventurous travelers in Yangshuo. In the cave, you can see different shapes of stalactites and stalagmites. Besides these, you can try out the mud slide and slide into the mud bath. The mud is good for your skin health.

Cormorant fishing: In the evening, you can take a short boat ride to see the cormorant fishing, which is a unique and interesting activity in Yangshuo. The fisherman rows slowly on a simple bamboo raft with several trained cormorant birds. A piece of grass is loosely tied around the bird neck so the bird can't swallow big fish. When the cormorant catches fish and stores fish in its mouth, the fisherman will hook the bird on a stick and empty fish from the bird mouth and then put the bird back in the water to continue fishing. You will be amazed to see this traditional Chinese way for fishing.

By Huiya Chen

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Traveling with Children - Learning Activities for the Road

Traveling with children can be fun as well as very trying. Our family has been traveling with our children since the children were babies. Our children are in their middle school years now, but over the years we have come up with some fun travel activities that keep the children’s attention and teach them something in the process.

While on long trips, it can be very tempting to use the portable DVD player to provide entertainment for your children, and don’t think for a minute that we don’t use that form of entertainment…. for parts of long trips…. but there are so many simple, fun games that you can play with your children that will help make the trip smoother and more enjoyable. Here are some examples of activities that we have used to make travel time smoother.

One of my children’s favorite games is what my husband calls “Toss Ups”. In Toss Ups, my husband simply tosses questions up. For instance, “Who was the first president of the United States of America?” or “If I had 5 apples, and I gave 3 apples to Tom , how many apples do I have now?” Now, as you can see, the questions can be very simple depending on your children’s ages. If you have a larger age span between children, you might toss up general questions to all, but throw in…. Now, this toss up is just for Adam… and then ask a question tailored for the younger child. This game was a huge hit with our children when they were ages two through five, but even now that they are 11 and 13, every now and then we hear – Hey Daddy – give us some toss ups…. Believe me, trying to come up with questions for smart middle-schoolers is tough!!

Lately, we have tailored the game of “Going on a trip” to our family. “Going on a trip” is a fun game where everyone in the car tells that they are going on a trip and bringing something along. That “something” has to begin with the first letter of the person’s name. You keep going along in that fashion until everyone guesses the first letter - first name connection. Now that our children are older, we have adapted that game to a pretty intricate game of logic…. For instance…. “I am going on a trip, and I am bringing an apple, a banana, and a cat.” The next person might then say (if they know the correct connection) “I am going on a trip, and I am bringing a mop, and napkin, and an octopus.” The play continues until everyone gets the connection. In this case, it was that all of the things that I am bringing start with consecutive letters of the alphabet. The person who begins each game selects the connection.

These activities are simple and fun. The idea is for the entire family to be involved and enjoy the thrill of guessing the answers. Each of these activities can be played with just about any age group and best of all, there is no cost involved. Any piece of information can be used in the toss ups game from social studies, science, history, math, or trivia… you name it. The idea here is to have fun with your children and make travel time a little easier.

By Teresa Mills

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Désolé, je suis American...please cook my steak again

I love the Eurostar. Whoever decided to build a tunnel under the English Channel is brilliant, and I shall a raise a pint in their honor next time I'm at the Anchor. I love the thought that I can take the RV1 bus from Bankside to Waterloo train station, hop on the Eurostar, and arrive in Brussels or Paris within 2:30 hours.


In January I took the Eurostar to Paris and a few days ago I took it to Brussels. Moira and I left London around 8am and got into Brussels before noon. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went to Grand Place, which is the main square of Brussels. Absolutely beautiful and, of course, full of tourists.

Our first task was to find an ATM that would give us Euros (seeing as Britain has stuck firmly to the pound sterling, our currency with the Queen's portrait was useless). Now, you would think that this would be an easy task, right? Well, it wasn't. NONE of the ATMs within walking distance of Grand Place had money. Let me repeat, THERE WERE NO EUROS IN BRUSSELS, THE CAPITAL OF EUROPE. We decided to check out the EU area, where all the EU government buildings are, and perhaps find an ATM that would dispense Euros so that we could purchase waffles and Belgian fries.

Luckily, we managed to find a working ATM in the EU area, and then went off in search of the seat of European power. We stopped in front of the European Commission:

and then headed to the European Parliament, which is home to this funny looking statue:

We also walked through a huge park, which has, among other things, a street named "Avenue John F. Kennedy." How cool is that?

After touring the EU area, which was really not that impressive, because, well, I don't know, modern glass buildings just don't scream powerful like the Capitol or Kremlin, we headed back to Grand Place for dinner. Now, this is where the trip takes a turn for the worse, because it was then that the Belgians tried to kill me. You may recall that when I was in Paris, the French tried to kill me with bad cheese. Well, the same thing (food poisoning) happened in Belgium, which makes me suspect that the French speaking countries of the world have some vendetta against me. You see, this time, I decided that it would be ideal to order a traditional Belgian dish, moules et frites (mussels and fries). BAD IDEA. I love mussels, but these mussels did not return my love. I ended up puking my guts out throughout the city of Brussels, starting at the Grand Place and eventually ending up in front of some official consulate type building that belongs to the French government (Fitting, no?), in full view of four CCTV cameras. So, watch for footage of me on "Belgium's Funniest CCTV Videos."

When I woke up the next morning, though, I felt absolutely fine, so we headed off to Bruges, a city that is a one hour train ride away. It's cute...sickeningly cute, actually...see for yourself:

Canals, old buildings, boat rides...absolutely beautiful. The city seemed like a Disney theme park, it was that perfect. And, to prove how good I felt the day after my food poisoning episode, I had a belgian waffle covered in cherries and whip cream for breakfast, a portion of fries drenched in mayonnaise, gnochi gorgonzola, and numerous Belgian beers. A little food poisoning won't stop me from enjoying Belgian food (OK, granted the gnochi isn't Belgian, but whatever). And for those of you who think "fries with mayonnaise? gross!" then I urge you to try it. The mayonnaise won me over in December, after a trip to the Lowlander in Covent Garden. Ketchup? No thanks, bring me they mayonnaise!

Oh, and the citizens of Bruges love their bikes:

Some other random stuff about Brussels...

They have a huge atom statue:


But, the most well known Brussels feature is apparently this fountain, which is called Mannekin Pis:

I kid you not, every souvenir shop has tons of products with this fountain on them (mugs, bottle openers, shirts, whatever). In Paris, all the stores have mini Eiffel Towers. In Brussels, they have mini Mannekin Pis statues. So weird. And has anyone else noticed that all the souvenir stores in Western Europe are the same? You can walk into a store in London, Paris, or Brussels, and no matter what, they will all have the same Brazil soccer scarves and 2Pac and Che flags. It's quite annoying, actually. Why would I want to buy a 2Pac flag in France???

Oh, and another weird thing about Brussels is the metro. They play Britney Spears and Mariah Carey over the loudspeakers in the metro...swear to God, "Hit me baby one more time" was playing while we were waiting for a train. I quite liked it, too. Also, you can basically ride the metro for free - there are many stations with no staff, and there are no gates to stop you from entering the metro without a ticket. It is the oddest thing I have seen in terms of public transportation. (Of course, being good Americans, we actually purchased a metro pass).

The rest of my Belgium photos are here. Nothing too exciting, though.

Brussels is a great city to visit, especially if you like chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer (Belgian beer = best beer ever? Yes, I think so!). Just be sure to stay away from the mussels. Ugh.

Author URL: http://www.lindsayfincher.com/

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Seeing Alaska by Ferry - The Alaska Marine Highway

The Alaska Marine Highway is without doubt the most unique highway in the world. Its scenery is certainly mesmerizing.

How many other highways can you drive along and see, often at the same moment, snowcapped mountain peaks, ice-age glaciers, hillsides blanketed with spruce and hemlock, tranquil fjords, beaches and streams?

Where else could you see otters feeding on kelp beds, fur seals, killer whales breaching almost within touching distance, sea birds and bald eagles perched on their nests gazing into the distance?

The Alaska Marine Highway System has ferried cars and passengers to some 32 communities in Alaska, British Columbia and the state of Washington for nigh on 50 years. The 11 ferries are a lifeline for the isolated fishing and logging communities along the south-eastern Alaskan shoreline. Other popular destinations visited by many Alaska Marine Highway travelers include Anchorage, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

But the route is more than that. It is a cheaper alternative to the expensive cruises in these waters. The ferry service gives passengers greater freedom than they would have on a cruise ship. The Matanuska carries 499 passengers, and provides 4 four-berth, 21 three-berth, and 80 two-berth cabins. The cabins may not be as luxurious as a cruise liner's, but it's a lot cheaper, although meals are extra.

The ferry car deck holds about 88 vehicles (these numbers vary from ferry to ferry). Drivers can plan their own itinerary and connect with other ferries to explore off the beaten track. Take your car to Skagway, Alaska, for example, and drive home via the Alaska Highway.

So come aboard the "Matanuska", named for an Alaskan glacier, at Bellingham, Washington State, about 80 kilometers south of Vancouver, British Columbia, for the eight-day return trip along the Inside Passage, stretching 1,700 kilometers and wending its way along the coast through more than 1,000 islands.

The first voyage of discovery is the ferry itself: a cocktail lounge, a gift shop, a cafeteria, and a huge forward observation lounge.

The upper deck has a glassed solarium and a lounge with reclining seats used by travelers who don't want to spend their money on a cabin, or by those doing a short hop. The airline-style chairs are comfortable enough for a night's sleep. and there are showers in the washrooms. (Public showers are available on all vessels except the Lituya, Chenega and Fairweather.) In summer, campers even pitch their tents on the upper deck.

The Matanuska does not have dining room service but the self-service lineup in the cafeteria moves quickly (the M/Vs Columbia and Tustumena have full-service dining rooms). The menu is vast and reasonably priced; portions are also large (for size, try the omelettes for breakfast). There are at least three main dishes every lunch and dinner, often the freshest of locally caught salmon, halibut or red snapper, as well as fresh salads, sandwiches, soup and fast-food orders such as burgers and French fries.

We're at sea for 36 hours before touching on the first port of call - Ketchikan, Alaska's southernmost city. It is strung out for kilometers along a waterfront, most of it supported on pilings above Tongass Narrows. The cross streets are often simply wooden steps climbing the steep hillside.

If the ferries are running a bit late, you might not have more than an hour or two ar each stop. Keep this in mind. The ferry does not wait on slowpoke passengers.

Ketchikan tourist sights include wonderful shopping, Dolly's house on Creek street, the home and working place of the town's last "madam" and a museum. Along the waterfront are seaplanes and boats serving the logging camps and other settlements.

Most of Sunday is spent at sea relaxing and sightseeing - often with calls from the bridge to alert you to the occasional killer whale or other sights.

The next stop is Wrangell, the only community to have the flag of three nations flying over it. Wrangell began as a stockade built by the Russians in 1834, was leased six years later to the British Hudson's Bay Company, and finally bought by the US in 1867. Gold miners headed from there for the Klondike and Cassiars. One stop worth making is at the beach to see the petroglyphs carved by prehistoric Indians.

Later the ferry stops at Petersburg, home of the largest halibut fleet in Alaska and proud of its Scandinavian heritage. Early next day it's Juneau, capital of Alaska - and you can see the Mendenhall glacier as the ferry approaches the terminal.

The terminal is 22 kilometers north of Juneau, but there is a good minibus and taxi service to town, a bustling community long before gold was discovered in 1881. A walking tour will take you past many historic sites; you can stock up on gold nuggets and fossilized walrus tusk jewelry. The world's largest concentration of brown bear lives on Admiralty Island, located just 10 minutes from Juneau.

Later in the morning the ferry heads to Haines, originally a trading post. From here, it's only an hour to Skagway which, wonderfully preserved and restored, today still resembles the gold-rush town it was at the turn of the century - the main gateway to the Klondike, 800 kilometers to the north.

From Skagway, the ferry retraces its route to Haines and Juneau, then detours to Sitka, once the Russian capital of Alaska. Mount Edgecombe, an extinct volcano, towers in the background. The Russian influence can be seen everywhere in Sitka: Visit the onion-domed St. Michael's Cathedral, for instance, a fine example of rural Russian church architecture.

Many of the Alaska Marine Highway's ferries have theater areas that show films of general interest and documentaries on Alaska and the outdoors and often provide special educational and entertainment programs.

As though there isn't enough to see and do on the way.

By Eldrid Retief

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ecotourism Vacations - The Heart Of The Matter?

For many committed ecotourists, it is not enough to simply take part in low-impact, educational vacations to unique locations. Some are interested in going further, to get at the heart of what ecotourism really is. Total immersion in the concept is certainly one way to understand this growing industry and how it affects everything on the planet.

Ecotourism may be new to many in the general public, but the concept has been around for a number of years. In the 1980s, some enterprising travelers with an environmental consciousness began to develop projects that would take travelers to remote places on the globe or to locations where the natural or cultural resources were particularly threatened.

Sometimes these locations were in or near cities, but for the most part the destinations were natural resource treasures abroad that were threatened by development of commercial entities or mass tourism. One goal of these early ecotourists was a wider understanding of just what ecotourism involves. Some were looking for a definition of the term, so that they could explain it to others. In any case, knowing about this important segment of the travel industry is necessary, whether the individual takes part in ecotourism trips or not.

For many, the idea behind ecotourism is simple: human beings should give up mass/recreation tourism and participate in activities that help preserve natural resources and unique cultures around the world. The primary goal is to learn about these cultures and the way wildlife survives, so that trips and projects can be devised along those guidelines.

Ecotourism, as defined above, includes some of the following items:

Eco-lodges - Areas of land, with or without structures, that are purchased or leased then opened to ecotourists for lodging near natural habitats of interest. These sites provide accommodations that more closely resemble camping than a night in a lodge, however. They have become quite popular for ecotourism proponents, even to the point of being essential factors in a true ecotourism experience.

Preservation - This concept is certainly at the heart of ecotourism, whether the impetus comes from a company or individual operating an eco-lodge or from the travelers themselves. Preserving natural resources, in the form of animals, plants and open land is a key tenet of ecotourism (some would say the primary tenet of the industry). This concept is truly a two-way street. If there was no preservation, there could be no ecotourism. If there were no ecotourists, there could be no preservation.

Distant Lands - Many consider the distant locations and their unspoiled natural resources to be at the heart of ecotourism. Many of these sites have become preferred destinations for ecotourism trips, though a few years ago they were considered unreachable, even with modern transportation. Communities in the area of these sites have taken up the ecotourism banner, in many cases. Local leaders have found methods of providing economic stability to native populations through careful use of ecotourism.

With all of this in mind, ecotourism remains to be discovered by each individual really. Ecotourism, after al, is what the conscientious traveler makes of it.

By Peter S. Mason

Friday, April 11, 2008

Medical Tourism Top Destinations

The countries which are generally preferred over all other countries in the world for medical tourism destinations generally provides a wide array of medical facilities in a low cost packages. As the experts believe that the medical tourism destinations will have a positive impact on the economy of these distinctive countries and benefits the traders and patients alike. The medical tourism destination phenomenon may also encourage the foreign investors who hold an interest in those countries.

You have the best of medical services and attendance in these countries with reasonable prices. Some of the hospitals in these countries tie ups with various recreational facilities to provide the patient the best of all the time. According to your budged you can pay to hospitals which arrange the best available treatment package for you. If you want any other luxurious treatment the hospital of these medical tourism destinations will also provide you with this .Such as five star services with a round a clock nurse what is more do you need in your medical tourism destination it is the best you can get in these destinations.

The best of the medical tourism destination is Belgium. This country has doctors specializing in various medical fields such as surgery of heart, health services, cosmetic surgery, and surgery of knees, orthopedic surgery, and transplant of kidney and in care of teeth also called dental care. You will get to have the best of your treatment in Belgium according to your budged with pleasure and amusement. This just you need in your medical tourism destination.

The top 5 of the medical tourism destination which provides the most attractive opportunities for patients and investors for there a medical tour is as follows. These medical tourism countries are being selected on there quality and affordability of care as well as openness to foreign investment.
1. Panama
2. Brazil
3. Malaysia
4. Costa Rica
5. India
While some people took the options of only those medical destinations which offer low cost treatment, but these are the countries where you will get your medical treatment with relax and peace of mind. These are the top medical treatment destinations where you will find the best doctors and surgeons for you treatment. You will get to have a great time in the superb beauty of these countries which is considered to help the patient to recover and hell quickly. It should also be noted that the medical staff in these countries are largely and highly English speaking so the conflict of the language do not pose a major obstacle for the foreign patients in visiting these countries for there medical treatment.

There are some goals of each of these countries on which these countries are working. For example Panama represents a wide range of opportunities for real estate investments and as well as investment in the medical tourism industries. And goal of Brazil is to become one of the most dominating economies in the world in terms of medical tourism and this favorable for the foreign investments. Malaysia is doing progress in medical tourism by leaps and bounds. Malaysian medical tourism has grown from 75,210patients to 296,687patients from 2001 to 2006 which bring about a total revenue of $59 in the country through this act. Malaysia attracts foreign medical tourists and investors alike for its favorable exchange rate, political and economic stability and due to high rate of literacy. Costa Rica like Panama has become a popular medical destination for the foreign peoples due to its High-Quality medical facilities.

Most of the patients come across to Costa Rica on there medical tour for its low costs of dental work and plastic surgery. The countries political stability, high educations levels and its policies for free trade among medical tour have also attracted the foreign investors. While India, arguably has the lowest and the highest quality of medical facilities available for medical tourism. According the report of the world travel and tourism council India was ranked as one of the top ten emerging destinations due to its highly skilled and equipped doctors and hospitals.

By Radha Kishan

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Prague - From the Past to Nowadays

Prague seldom visited by tourists until the 1989 is now one of the most popular visited destinations in Europe. Millions of people from all around the world visit the city every year - almost three and a half million in 2004, according to official figures just released by Czech Tourism. Prague was the sixth most visited city in Europe last year, with the greatest number of tourists coming from the United Kingdom.

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, is situated in the very heart of Europe, on a place that has been an intersection of continental merchant routes since time immemorial. It was the seat of Czech princes and kings from the tenth century A.D. In the mid-14th century, Prague was the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and Europe's third largest city in terms of population. As part of the Hapsburg monarchy, Prague remained the capital of Czech lands, which became the strongest part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in terms of economy during the 19th century. Prague was developing as an important centre where Czech, German and Jewish cultures met and mingled. Following the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, Prague became the metropolis of the new country. It experienced a growth of its territory and a great building boom. Currently, Prague is a large city of more than one million people, spreading over almost 500 square kilometers. Following the social and economic changes in 1989, Prague enhanced its historically strong ties with other cities in Central Europe, and has gradually been gaining a continuously improving position within the continental structure of big cities. Prague therefore deserves its recognition as being a high quality city.

Because of such a big amount of tourists visiting Prague, the range of hotels in Prague is provided for all budgets from comfortable, low-cost hostels, to the most luxurious hotels in Prague. You can find fast efficient services and the largest choice of accommodation in exciting Czech Capital - Prague. Professional expertise is an absolute must when visiting the beautiful City of Prague - and elsewhere in the Czech Republic. Good translation of your personal requirements in Prague hotels is paramount for a successful and enjoyable stay.

Walking in Prague you will be impressed by a unique complex of old buildings dominated by the world-famous Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock and apostles, the monument to the preacher Jan Hus, the church of St. Nicholas, the Týn Church, and a number of palaces. You are in the very "historic heart" of the town.

Through one of the typical narrow Old-Town streets, full of ancient houses and palaces, cafés, shops, and galleries, we will walk towards the Charles Bridge, which was established in 1357 by the Roman emperor and Czech king Charles IV at the place of an older bridge. Here you will enjoy the unforgettable view at the beautiful panorama of the Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral. Relishing the walk along the bridge, crossing the Vltava river, you will reach the Lesser Town, situated below the Prague Castle complex. We will pass the Lesser Town Square with its representative buildings and the church of St. Nicholas, a historical building from the 18th century. Then we will walk up the famous Nerudova street all the way to the Prague Castle. At the Castle, which is surrounded by royal gardens, you will find the Old Royal Place with the Vladislav Hall, the with picturesque houses from the 16th century, the St. Vitus Cathedral from the 14th century, and the ancient royal stairway.

By Angelina Adams

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How To Get A Passport In 7 Easy Steps (USA)

Passports are internationally recognized documents which authorize and identify you for travel abroad. A passport is a must have travel document absolutely crucial for entering and returning to the US from most countries. Learn how to obtain your US passport quickly and easily.
  1. The first thing you need to do is get your hands on the government forms you'll need for a US passport. You can get a hold of these forms for free at your local US post office or you can download them at the US Department of State's website.
  2. Second, just follow the instructions on pages one and two of this form. If you downloaded this form, (recommended) just print and complete page 3 and be sure to read page 4. Make sure when you print the forms that you print in black ink on white paper and that you use standard 8 ½ by 11 inch paper with no holes or perforations.
  3. Now you need some proof that you're a US citizen. Any of the following would work according to the US Department of State:
    • Certified US birth certificate issued by the city, county or state (you will need to get an official version with a notary's seal.)
    • Records of birth abroad
    • Naturalization certificate
    • Certificate of citizenship

  4. Get photographed. You will need to have two photos taken. Word to the wise, wear your normal, everyday clothes. Don't wear uniforms or anything on your head. You can get these photos taken at any local post office or even convenient stores.
  5. If you have your Social Security number memorized, great, otherwise you'll want to write it down and add it to the passport application materials you have put together. You are going to need this during the application process.
  6. Gather the money you will need to pay for the US passport application and execution fees. These figures change on occasion, so check the amounts online for updates.
  7. Get your passport! Find the passport office nearest you and provide them with your departure date. You can expect to receive your passport in about two weeks to two months. For an additional fee of around $60 bucks you can rush through this process and potentially receive your passport on the same day you apply.

By Aaron Leonard

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Holidays - A Guide to Tokyo

When deciding where to go for your holiday this year why not consider Tokyo, it is Japan's largest city and one of the busiest in the world and with its stylish shops, boutiques and use of highly modern technology you will never be lost for things to do.

Shopping in Tokyo is an experience, the numerous department stalls, the malls and of course the trendy and exclusive boutiques that Harajuku is famous for, all mean that if you enjoy shopping, Tokyo is definitely the place for you. As well as the upper market shops, you can also find very reasonably priced stores, such as the 100 Yen shops which are equivalent to our £1 shops, this could allow you to have the cheap holidays that you were after because Tokyo is an expensive place to visit, however, there are ways that can help you get around it. Tokyo is also the place to go if its electrical goods that you are interested in. Akihabara in Tokyo is a haven for anything electrical, here you can find anything from computers to air conditioners and if you are one of the many that has gotten caught up in i-pod craze then the area of Ginza would be the place to go as it has an Apple shop amongst its art galleries.

Tokyo is a place with a lot of culture and it therefore has many museums. As well as museums, shrines and temples are also common in Tokyo and are well worth a visit for their spectacular beauty. The Meiji Jingu Shrine and the Sensoji Temple are a few of the magnificent religious buildings around Tokyo that are on offer for you to visit if you were to choose Tokyo for your holidays this year.

Incredible restaurants are on offer all around Tokyo and you won't have to travel far in order to find high quality cuisine and world class drinks. Of course when travelling to Tokyo, you have to try the sushi, which is very popular and therefore widely available.

To round off the day, you could taste the very entertaining night life on offer. The night club; Velfarre offers a very exciting and appealing evening, as here you will be treated to some stylish and elegant fashion shows and be entertained by live performances from Japanese singers. The blend of light and music, create the ideal ambiance for dance and party, this is perhaps why Velfarre also hosts a Cyber Trance show.

If none of the above excites you then there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained. If you are a fan of the more relaxing holidays then why not visit the Asakusa Kannon Onsen where you can relax whilst being pampered and enjoy rejuvenating massages. During your time in Tokyo, why not try your hand at some traditional Japanese martial arts and visit the Aikido World Foundation. If you'd prefer a less exerting activity, then there are interesting tea ceremonies held at Seisei-an and Chosho-an.

By Gill Critchley

Monday, March 03, 2008

Researching the World with the Pleasure of Ecotourism

You will find that there are a lot of people who have recently because in rage with ecotourism and the concept of vacationing, but also being able to mix fun with social awareness. You will find that there are a lot of celebrities who will travel with eco-tourism in mind. You will also find that when it comes to having fun, you will be able to have plenty of fun when you know that you are taking care of the area, but enjoying the natural beauty. This was something close to mind when we recently stayed in a Benidorm hotel. Keep in mind that that a lot of people who are still unclear of what ecotourism is and that there happens to be some confusion.

You will find that it is very important to be caution about the world, however you will also find that it really depends on how well you perform and what the object of your care is. There are many significant perks to eco-tourism, but there are also a lot of misconceptions that have brought a negative cloud over eco-tourism. Before you go ahead and make your choice on where you stand, then you will want to make sure that you think about the agenda of being an eco-tourist, but you will also be able to make a good judgment on rather or not ecotourism is right for you.

When it comes to the research for eco-tourist, you will find that there are many purposes of the concept for eco-tourism, but you will be able to learn about how precious the natural world is and how difficult it is to preserve it. When it comes to the concept of eco-tourism you will be able to pinpoint some of the things that will benefit you, the community, and the future generations of tourists. You will also find that when it comes to the subject of eco-tourism that it is something that you can do for yourself. You don't have to keep everyone else in mind; however, you will find that there are people who like to do good needs in hopes of feeling good about ones self. There is a lot of ways that you will be able to see the benefits and the community will appreciate it as well.

Eco-tourism is a way for you to travel without hurting the world, however, when you research the concept of eco-tourism, you will find that you may end up hearing how hurtful it can be for the earth. There are cons to everything, but there is more damage to be done if everything is just ignored.

By Ken C. Morris

Make Reservations for Learning While Traveling

If you are thinking about being up the topic of ecotourism, you will need to explain yourself a little bit because there aren't a lot of people who realize exactly what it is. You will find that this is a hard subject to talk about because everyone has their own opinion about the goodness of the community and of the world. You will need to make sure that you talk to others and teach others to be more open minded about the world and about the possibilities that eco-tourism could bring to their people. You will want to present your arguments in forms of points. You need to start some of the pros and some of the cons so that others realize the magnitude and power of the eco-tourism. This is true when thinking of fishing in Alaska or hiring a car in Alicante, Spain.

For those who are thinking about presenting some of the facts on ecotourism, you may wan to think about describing the power of eco-tourism. It really can make or break an community, but you will also need to state that it is truly the local people who make eco-tourism to work. You will want to make sure that they all understand that it is not about entertainment or feeling good about yourself (even though there are some personal side effects), you will need to tell them that it is a proper way to deal with the common economical and ecological issues that tend to arise.

Keep in mind that there are going to be a lot of people who look at you like they are puzzled or confused, however, you will need to take you time to discuss and teach others about this topic, however, you will also find that it is very important that you learn how to get your audience's attention and maintain it. To teach others you will need to find out the things that bother than and learn how to work through the issues.

You will need to make sure that you stress how serious eco-tourism is. You will need to make sure that you get them to understand both the pros and cons to eco-tourism. There are some bad side effects and you need to get them to understand how you end up with negativity. This way you can get others to believe in the cause without hiding any information from them.

Above all you need to avoid preaching. You need to tell others about the concept, but you can't make the decision for them. This is something that people need to be willing to give participation with.

By Ken C. Morris

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cathar Castles Of France

France has an extraordinary and rich heritage which has left its mark on much of the country, nowhere more so than in its castles.

The oldest and most fascinating castles in France are perhaps the so-called cathar castles, found in the Languedoc region. The date when they were constructed is unclear, although it was generally around the 10th century. The castles were built on high rocky needles, in inaccessible and remote places.

These castles owe their notoriety to the peace loving cathars who become established in the region around the 11th century, in a movement that gained popularity very quickly.

The catholic church at the time felt threatened by the cathars, who preached values of chastity, vegetarianism, and equality of women, but had little time for the pomp of the church.

Eventually the church felt a need to put an end to the cathars, and they commanded a crusade, much like the earlier crusades to the Middle East, to restore order and Catholic values.

Led by a cruel man called Simon de Montfort, the crusade spent many years hunting down and killing the cathars. Whole villages and towns were laid to waste, and the inhabitants butchered. On one famous occasion when attacking a town he was asked how the soldiers would recognise the cathars, so they could kill them and leave the innocent.

"Kill them all, God will know his own" was de Montforts reply.

The hilltop castles became a place of refuge for the cathars, where they could hold out against the barbarity of the crusades. Even with a large army the castles were almost undefeatable. As a result the crusaders resorted to other tactics to persuade the castles to surrender.

On one occasion, at the Chateau de Lastours, the siege had gone on for a long time without success. In an attempt to force the cathars to leave the castle, de Montfort rounded up the local villagers, cut off their lips and ears and gouged out their eyes - all except one prisoner who was left with one eye - and tied them together. The one eyed man was then forced to lead the others to the castle doorway. On that occasion it only strengthened the resolve of the cathars to stay in the castle!

After this terrible period of history the castles found themselves on the frontier with Spain and were used as army barracks for several centuries - until a peace treaty in the 17th century moved the border further south. From that time on the castles were left abandoned, and fell into disrepair.

During the last few decades some of the castles have been partially renovated, and can now be visited by the public. Peyrepertuse and Queribus castles are among the most popular, and provide a fascinating and poignant insight into life as it was 1000 years ago.

By Marcus Smith
By Marcus Smith

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kaziranga National Park At A Glance

Kaziranga national park, homeland of the Eager Soldier One Horned Rhino, is one of the maximal covert wildlife areas in Bharat. It is populated by the experience's maximal collection of one-horned rhinoceroses, as wellspring as some mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds. The bowl is settled on the cant of outstanding river river in the far of northland easternmost bharat. The adventurer lies in an atlantic of 430 sq kms between golaghat and nagaon regularize of Assam. It included - 51.92% of sess industrialist, 29.13% of moist mixed broadleaf set, 7.21% sandy expanse, 6 .62% of food bodies, and 5.21% of swampy/ muddy extent of parks. The parcel was basic habitual in 1908, as a military wood. It is asylum in 1950 and declared a federal commons in 1974. The lot was enlisted in the move of mankind attribute place in December 1985. In august 2006, the lot is declared as a tiger stockpile under the externalise soul scheme.

Wildlife in Kaziranga national park: Likewise one horned rhinos (Perissodactyl unicornis) kaziranga eff a larger accumulation of tigers, elephants, leopards, Leopard cat, Metropolis, Gaur, Hesitancy make, Illegal bear, Malayan Sun include, Hoolock, Macaque macaque, Vulgar Langur, Capped Langur, Flood deer, Sambur, Barking Deer, Hog cervid, Vulgar otter, Clawless otter, Ferine boar, Python etc

Kaziranga national park is also mate for thin and exotic birding region. Few commonly birds generally seen in the common are emotional egret, tuffed score, seek raptor, sight billed pelican, darter, heron, brahmini score, pied hornbill brahmini duck, unintegrated necked adjutant stork, organization quail, pheasant, cormorant, individual turtlenecked officer stork, bengal florican, lesser adjutant stork, and camp meat, etc.

Human Clip to call Kaziranga national park: Mid November to Apr is the somebody measure to explore untamed animals and wildlife expedition in Kaziranga national park.

How to get There: Air: The close airfield is jorhat, fair 97 kms inaccurate from the tract. Other airfield is guwahati, the grapheme of province, is fair 270 kms gone create the common. Quetch: The nearest railway position is furcating, 75 kms forth from the parcel. Way: An voluminous mesh of roads connects Kaziranga to different notability cities in State. Guwahati, Tezpur and some new cities are adjunctive to Kaziranga by moving.

by Johnson

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Siena Travel Guide

Florence Airport "Amerigo Vespucci" connects with all major Italian airports and 13 European destinations. From the airport there is a direct coach bus service for Siena offered by Train or take the train from Florence S.M. Novella station. Pisa International Airport "Galileo Galilei" is the most important in Tuscany: it links the city with major Italian and European destinations. Pisa is connected to Siena by many trains (app. two-hour trip) with a change at Empoli.

Siena is well connected to Rome and Florence by train. From Rome there are many connections, which take about three hours, with a change at Chiusi or at Grosseto. From Florence there are several runs that last 1.5 and 2 hours, in some cases with a change over at Empoli. For times please consult the Trenitalia site. There are other options and companies that link small Tuscany localities and major Italian cities.

From Rome and the South generally take highway A1 to the exit at Valdichiana/Bettolle and continue on Statale 73 up to Siena. From Milan or Bologna take highway A1 towards Florence, exit at Firenze Certosa and continue on Superstrada Firenze-Siena. From Venice and the Northeast take A13 Padova-Bologna and continue A1 up to Firenze Certosa. Those coming from Genoa, Pisa or Lucca, must take A11 Pisa-Firenze, and then take A1 towards Rome, and exit at Firenze Certosa, to get on the highway for Firenze-Siena.

History and Culture
According to a legend, Siena was founded by Senio, Remo's son, one of the founders of Rome. The origin of Siena's name is still today an object of research: some historians attribute it to the Etruscan Saina family, some others to the Roman Saenii family. Certainly, the development of this town increased only in the Middle Ages, when the town expanded in various directions.

Siena was pre-eminently a Ghibelline town and it often “crossed its swords” with the Florentine Guelphs in epic and bloody fights, that marked the history of the Italian Middle Ages. One of the most famous battles took place in Montaperti, on 4th September 1260, when the Sienese defeated the Florentine. Siena reached its full splendour in 1300, when the most part of the civil monuments was built and it was made an attempt to build the new Duomo. With the tragic coming of the pleague in 1348, Siena had a very difficult period, that led to its annexation to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and to the loss of its independence.

The people of the city soon rebelled against the rule by Gian Galeazzo Visconti and managed to make him leave the city in 1402. For the next century, Siena was rules by the Medici and then by the Lorena families: from the 16th century, the city went through a very prosperous period, both artistically, culturally and economically. 1656 was the year when the traditional Palio Race was started. From that moment it has been organized every year in the city, attracting tourists from all over the world.

Between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, Siena fell under the rule of Napoleon, just like other cities in this region. Napoleon proclaimed Florence as the capital of the new Kingdom of Etruria. The Austrians arrived after Napoleon, who ruled until 1859. They were then defeated by the Franco-Piedmont army. In 1860, the temporary government of the newly liberated Florence joined forces with the Kingdom of Sardinia and then, the year after, with the Kingdom of Italy.

Churches and Museums
The Duomo
The Duomo of Siena, begun in the 12th century, is one of the great examples of Italian romanesque architecture. Its main facade was completed in 1380. Its campanile and baptistry make a fine group. It is unique among Christian cathedrals in that its axis runs north-south. This is because it was originally intended to be the largest cathedral in existence, with a north-south transept and an east-west aisle, as is usual. After the completion of the transept and the building of the east wall (which still exists and may be climbed by the public via an internal staircase) the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned.

Chiesa di Fontegiusta
1482-84 by Francesco di Cristòforo Fedeli and Giàcomo di Giovanni. In the brick facade is a fine marble doorway by Urbano da Cortona (1489). The church contains a beautiful marble tabernacle (16th century) and, on the left-hand wall, a fresco by Baldassare Peruzzi, “The Sibyl announcing the Birth of Christ to the Emperor Augustus”(c. 1528).

Battistero di San Giovanni
The Battistero di San Giovanni is in Piazza San Giovanni, near to the Duomo. It dates back to the first half of the 14th century. The interior has a nave and two aisles, with walls that are full of frescoes by Vecchietta and with a baptism font in the center that is made from golden panels that show the life of John the Baptist.

The Church of Sant'Agostino
The construction of the Church of Sant'Agostino dates back to 1258. Among the many pieces inside, there are two important works of art: the famous “Crocefissione” by Perugino and “La Maestà” by Lorenzetti.

Museum of Metropolitan Work
The Museum of Metropolitan Work is inside a building that dates back to the 14th century. It should originally have been a new cathedral for the city, but was never completed. Inside there are works of art from the Duomo including the famous sculpture “della Maestà” made by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

Siena Civic Museum
At Palazzo Pubblico, the Museo Civico holds masterpieces of Sienese art. The astronomical frescos in the Sala del Mappamondo and the Sala della Pace are not to be missed. Frescos from the 19the century, which depict Italy's first king, can also be found there. You can climb to the top of the bell tower (Torre del Mangia), for a stunning view of Il Campo, Siena and the surrounding countryside.

Pinacoteca Nazionale
The National Picture Gallery is inside Palazzo Buonsignori. This museum holds the largest collection of Sienese paintings, including great masters from the 12th century through the first half of the 17th century and works painted on backgrounds of gold leaf. Discover masterpieces by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and other artists of the Sienese School here.

Historical buildings and monuments
Palazzo Pubblico
The Palazzo Pubblico, itself a great work of architecture, houses yet another important art museum.This wonderful building was completed at the beginning of the 14th century.Included within the museum is Ambrogio Lorenzetti's series of frescos on the good government and the results of good and bad government, there are also some of the finest frescoes of Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti.

Archbishop's Palace
This wonderful building stands just a short distance from the Duomo and is home to the splendid panel by Lorenzetti that depicts the “Madonna del Latte”.

The Mangia's Tower (Torre del Mangia)
The famous Torre del Mangia and the Palazzo Pubblico form one of the sides of Piazza del Campo. The tower, built in 1848 and 102 metres high, gives excellent views over Siena and the surrounding countryside. It was called by this name in honor of the nickname given to its first bell-ringer, known as Mangiaguadagni. The top of the tower can be reached by climbing 400 steps.

Santa Maria della Scala
The building Santa Maria della Scala takes up an area of about 350,000 square meters and was originally built as a city hospital, one of the first to be built in Italy. Today, many parts of the building have been recovered thanks to a massive restoration program, and exhibition spaces for Siena and international artists are now available. Inside the building it is possible to see three chapels, the Cappella del Manto, the Cappella della Madonna, the Cappella del Sacro Chiodo and the Church of the Santissima Annunziata.

Places of Interest
The Botanic Gardens
The Botanic GardensThe Botanical Garden, Orto Botanico, was founded in 1784 by Biagio Bartalini. The entrance is located by Piazza Sant Agostino. The garden of two and a half hectars lies in a small valley just inside walls located by Porta Tufi of Siena. Starting from the second half of the 18th century, several plants from all over the world were added to the garden, which was then turned into the “University Botanic Gardens”. Today the area dedicated to the garden is more than three times that of the initial garden, and holds thousands of exotic and non-exotic plants.

Piazza del Campo
The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, which houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, is another architectural treasure, and is famous for hosting the Palioi in August. The square, more commonly known as “il Campo” locally, is surrounded by Medieval buildings, open-air coffee shops, restaurants and trattorias.

Palio di Siena - July, August
The Palio di Siena goes back to far off times: each summer, starting in the 14th century, a big horse race was organized that crosses the entire city, starting from Porta Camollia and ending at the Duomo. Around 1500, all 42 “contrade” of the time were called upon to take part in the Palio, each characterized by different colors and standards. In the 17th century, the event was transformed, from a horse race across the city to a race around . Only 10 of the several contrade could take part, in order to avoid dangerous accidents. The Palio is still an event that involves all the Siena inhabitants, who get busy with the preparation many months before the race, which attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world each year.

International Short Film Festival - November
The International Short Film Festival was set up in 1995 with the aim of promoting short films by Italian and foreign artists. This event is now so successful that it attracts not only many cinema industry workers from all over the world, but also a large crowd of enthusiasts.

The oil and wine week - February
In February there is a traditional gathering in Siena for extra-virgin olive oils and quality wines from Tuscany, organized by the Enoteca Italiana and the National Oil City Association. A whole week is dedicated to oil and wine, during which workshops, free tasting and conferences are organized.

Ferie delle Messi in San Gimignano - July
A celebration from the Medieval period that is held in the streets and squares in the city: stalls are set up with food and wine products such as oil, wines and saffron, and also with local crafts products; there are story tellers, traveling theaters, archers and lots more too. On the last Sunday afternoon of the festival, a horse-riders' parade is organized with a final tournament.

by Giuseppe

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Top 21 Northern Territory Hot Spots

1. Darwin
The capital of Northern Territory, Darwin is the base for incredible natural attractions such as Kakadu and Litchfield National Park. You can travel along the Arnhem Highway into Kakadu, or visit the Territory Wildlife Park closer to town. The weekly markets are a perfect position for the beach sunsets and attract plenty of locals and tourists. There are fantastic bike tracks along the coastal road into Darwin city, which has become a vibrant and relaxed holiday destination.

2. Kakadu National Park
There is no place like Kakadu. With an abundance of wildlife, including crocodiles of course, and birdlife, you will need a week to enjoy all this region has to offer. Located east of Darwin, the stunning wetlands, Aboriginal art sites and magnificent scenery will keep you enthralled, and there are fantastic, safe camping grounds throughout the area. Yellow Water is popular for croc spotting, as well as the stunning Jim Jim and Twin Falls. This is an Aussie top spot you won't want to miss.

3. Katherine
Katherine is an ideal base for its nearby majestic attractions, and is the biggest town between Darwin and Alice Springs. Katherine Gorge has swimming holes, walking tracks and waterfalls. Canoeing is safe as there are no crocodiles and is one of the best ways to see the Gorge at its best. The thermal pools of Mataranka, located 100km south of Katherine, are a welcome spot to relax and unwind in the hot springs. There is also amazing scenery at Keep River National Park. Truly an oasis in the desert.

4. Alice Springs
Known as the Alice, this isolated town in central Australia is a stone's throw from the stunning East and West MacDonnell ranges and many natural attractions. Often used as a base to explore the rugged horizons, there is still so much to see within its borders. The Alice Springs Desert Park is a must, as well as the Frontier Camel Farm. Also known for the Henlen-on-Todd Regatta, which is a boat race without water, it is a unique town which will keep you captivated.

5. East MacDonnell Ranges
Not a far distance from Alice Springs, you will find the East MacDonnell Ranges. There is so much to see in this beautiful region and there are plenty of bushwalking trails that will take you to some incredible viewpoints. The Trephina Gorge Nature Park has a number of walks and amazing scenery, and you can camp here if you like. Further along is the Ross River Homestead where you can rest in comfort, and you have the choice of horse or camel riding for some more adrenaline. This is the most accessible of the ranges and a 'must do' especially if you are already in Alice Springs.

6. West MacDonnell Ranges
West from Alice Springs are the amazing Western MacDonnell Ranges. You could spend weeks here and still not see everything. The Desert Wildlife Park is one of the first attractions you will come across, followed by Simpsons Gap and the Standley Chasm which is worth a visit if you can. The Wallace Rockhole is a a great place to see Aboriginal rock followed by the Finke Gorge National Park. The rest of this region is spectacular, but you need to hire a 4WD.

7. Finke Gorge National Park
Located about two hours drive west of Alice Springs, this oasis can be visited as a day trip, but is best to stay for a few days with the Palm Valley camping ground as a base. Palm Valley is best known for its many palms and lush vegetation. The Gosse Bluff Reserve is also worth a visit as it is the site of crater and well known internationally. There is also a fantastic bushwalk which leads to Karalanga Lookout, and the Mpaara Walk give you a fascinating look at the Aboriginal culture, which is ever present in this region.

8. Simpson Desert
Although vast, remote and mostly inaccessible, the fringes of the mighty Simpson can still be reached from the Alice as a day trip. There is some spectacular scenery, including Rainbow Valley in the James Ranges, and Chambers Pillar known for its Aboriginal carvings. For the adventurous, tours are available further into the desert to visit desert communities. There are bushwalking and camel treks, as well as 4WD treks available. This is one of the most untouched and isolated places in the world, and a true hot spot.

9. Tennant Creek
A few hours north from Alice Springs is the friendly town of Tennant Creek. An ex gold mining town, there is a lot of history and opportunities to do some fossicking. There are plenty of attractions outside of town too. The famous Devil's Marbles are about 100km south from Tennant Creek. The Barkley Tablelands also surround the town, with cattle stations dominating the landscape, and plenty of beautiful scenery in every direction.

10. Barkley Tableland
If you are looking for big skies and far horizons you will find them here. Located east from Tennant Creek towards the Queensland border, the Barkley Tableland does not have many facilities for tourists. It is almost all cattle stations and long stretches of uninhabited land, but the remoteness of this area still draws many travellers to experience its remoteness, sunsets and rugged beauty. The only main tourist stop is the Barley Homestead, which also offers camping facilities and is a great place to get to know the locals.

11. Litchfield National Park
This is the day trip with a difference, and is certainly one of the Territory's hidden treasures. Everything you would expect to see at the Top End seems to be compacted into one gorgeous area, with waterfalls, plunge pools, termite mounds dotted along the drive into the Park, and thick rainforests in every direction. The Butterfly and Bird Farm is a great place to visit at Batchelor, the closest township to Litchfield. As it is only ninety minutes from Darwin, you will be glad you added this region to your itinerary.

12. Mataranka
An easy drive south from Katherine, Mataranka is known for its thermal pools, and travellers visit from all over the state to experience the warm, clear waters. It is one of the most pristine environments you could encounter, with palms and trees lining the pools and softening the suns rays. There is a place to sit and unwind for everyone, as there are a number of pools to choose from. Elsey National Park is also in this area, with the Mataranka Homestead a favourite tourist spot. Bitter Springs is not as well known, but is located north of Mataranka.

13. Adelaide River
Most people are familiar with the cruises that entice a crocodile into the air with a piece of meat. This is where it happens. Located just off the Arnhem Highway and just an hour South of Darwin, there are a number of cruises to choose from, and there is so much to see. There is plenty of birdlife and stunning scenery along the Adelaide River which stretches for miles. This is a spot you really need to include in your Top End itinerary.

14. Berry Springs
Berry Springs is such an easy day trip from Darwin that you need to take the trip, just for the experience of the cascading rock pools and crystal clear springs that are like an oasis in the desert. Bring your goggles as there are plenty of small fish (no crocs!) that nibble at your feet. Many travellers leave in the morning, picnic at the pools and return at dusk as there is so much to see in this one area.

15. Territory Wildlife Park
If you have never been to Darwin before, this is the best way to introduce yourself to the Top End wildlife, birds and reptiles. You need at least half a day to see everything, as the number of exhibits is extensive, with a number of shows and displays that all have to be seen. It is located in the same area as Berry Springs, just under an hour from Darwin and is an amazing experience.

16. Seven Spirit Bay
This would have to be one of the most remote regions in the world, yet is listed for the sake of its sheer beauty and vastness. Located in Arnhem Land, on the Cobourg Peninsula, there is only a wilderness lodge to stay in which is accessible only by plane. There is birdwatching, fishing and bushwalking available, and the sunsets are unbelievable.

17. Arnhem Land
This is the real Top End. Most of this land is owned by the aboriginals, but there are still sections that can be visited which are beautiful. The East Alligator River, Cobourg Peninsula and Gove are all worth visiting, as is the drive from Kakadu to Oenpelli. You will need to get a permit to get through to the Cobourg Marine Park and Gurig National Park, but if you have the time to visit this untouched, unique region of Australia it will be well worth it.

18. Simpson Desert
Great for a day trip from Alice Springs, the Simpson Desert has red dunes that seem to go on forever. You can not see too much of the desert except by 4WD, unless you have planned a trek through the desert. The Old Ghan Heritage Track follows the train tracks left by the Ghan, and has plenty of fascinating viewpoints. You also can't miss the Rainbow Valley, named for its rainbow colours that stretch out like bands. This is one of the most isolated but well known spots in the Territory, and there is so much you can see in a few day trips from Alice.

19. Ayers Rock (Uluru)
Towering majestically out of the red desert floor, Ayers Rock is known world wide as a symbol of the Northern Territory. There is nothing like the colourful sunsets and sunrises that change by the second, and the climb to the top is worth it although it is very steep at times. You can fly from Alice Springs or drive over 300km passing excellent scenery. There is a cultural centre at the base of Ayers Rock, and plenty of resorts and camping sites for the many tourists that flock to the area.

20. The Olgas
Located about 50 kilometres from Ayers Rock, many compare the stark beauty of these rock formations to the wonder of their great neighbour, and they are just as majestic. With walks available through the gorges and outcrops, it is well worth squeezing in a visit here if you are in the area. This region is a photographers paradise, and all the information you need can be found at the cultural centre at Ayers Rock.

21. Kings Canyon
As impressive as it sounds, Kings Canyon is located in the Watarrka National Park and offers majestic scenery. The walk around the canyon can take a couple of hours, but is worth it as you will visit the Garden of Eden pools, and rock formations called the Lost City. There are certain times of year this walk should be attempted, but the incredible views from the canyon make it worth planning into your vacation if possible. The walk into the canyon only takes an hour.

by Jenny Brewer

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dubai at Easter - The Perfect Time to Visit

Getting away for some sun in Europe this Easter break may be touch and go because this year the holiday falls rather inconveniently in the last week of March, much earlier than it has in the last few years. However, only six hours away by air the United Arab Emirates offers a marvelous family holiday alternative that includes guaranteed sunshine and lots to do for everyone.

Unless you've had your head under a rock for the last ten years, you'll be aware that Dubai has grown considerably to become one of the region's biggest tourist draws, with gorgeous five-star luxury hotels such as the Grand Hyatt and the impressive 'wave-breaking' Jumeirah Beach hotel being dazzling features of the Emirate. Indeed a United Arab Emirates holiday is fast making it onto more people's 'must-do' lists as more details emerge of exactly what is on offer in the region.

The ideal time for visiting Dubai is during the winter months of December to March when temperatures are pleasantly warm, averaging 24°C during the day and around 16°C in the evening; ideal for this year's Easter holiday. During the oppressive heat and humidity of summer temperatures can reach the mid-40s, often proving too hot for European tourists. There are occasional showers during March but with only 18mm rainfall in total falls during the month when the sun shines, it does so for an average of 8.5 hours each day.

As well as the climate being ideal for a Dubai Easter holiday, the region also offers a whole host of diverse and fantastic activities for the entire family. Beaches are sandy and very well-maintained in Dubai, with many being attached to the beach side hotels which also offer excellent kids' clubs and leisure facilities designed to appeal to the entire family.

A Dubai family holiday also offers plenty of excursions if you fancy some time away from the beach or pool, such as the immensely popular 4x4 desert safari adventure. This exciting day trip, which also treats participants to dinner at a Bedouin village, is considered by many as the number one organised trip and a 'must-do' on any UAE holiday.

But, it's not just super sun activities that you can enjoy on a Dubai holiday because incredibly, winter sports enthusiasts can also ski and snowboard in the heart of the desert. At the Mall of the Emirates in the heart of Dubai is a 22,500 square metre indoor ski resort - Ski Dubai - where you can also enjoy tobogganing or simply playing in the snow. There are five ski runs, the longest being a black run 400 metres in length with a 60 metres drop, and in addition there's a massive 90 metre quarter pipe for snowboarders to show off or perfect their skills. At Ski Dubai you can hire everything, so don't worry about packing any skis, snowboards or ski suits as they are all available at the resort.

But even if it's not possible for you to enjoy a luxury Dubai holiday this Easter keep it on your 'must-do' list for the future. It is a fantastic holiday destination at any time of the year apart from during the oppressively hot summer months - unless of course you can stand the heat!

By Elisha Burberry

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sharm El Sheikh Holidays - Take the Plunge

As exotic locations for holidays go, Egypt is right up there but aside from the typical tourist locations like the Pyramids and Cairo there is another City proving more and more popular in recent years: Sharm El Sheikh.

Sharm El Sheikh is located on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsular overlooking the Red sea and is much more than can be expected in the searing, desert landscape that Egypt is associated with. With anything from shopping malls to yacht clubs to large chain hotels Sharm El Sheikh has a lot more to offer holiday makers than meets the eye.

One of the most popular attractions in Sharm El Sheikh is deep sea diving in the Red sea, near to the city is Shark's Bay and Naama Bay with many diving centres offering chances to experience the amazing coral reefs on the edge of the Sinai peninsular. 30 Million years in the making the Red sea was formed when Arabia drifted away from Africa and the resulting rift was filled with the surrounding seas and formed the Red sea.

The diving business has boomed in this part of the world with many people organising diving holidays last year in the area; it was surprisingly popular last month over Christmas! The courses offered range form beginners all the way up to instructor level and if a day is not enough to get your fix of the underwater world there are even "underwater safaris" where you live on a boat for a few days and can see rarely visited reefs in small groups away from the usual spots.

Once you're done with sight-seeing under the sea it'll be time to get back on dry land, when near the coast many hotels have attractive private beaches and accommodation ranges from modern smaller hotels to larger chain hotels offering all modern perks. There are even golf resorts, casinos and night clubs. You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd gone to Las Vegas and not Northern Africa only 200 miles from the real pyramids!

The beauty of Sharm El Sheikh and the surrounding area is that the Egyptian tourist board has marketed it as an all year round resort. Obviously very hot during the summer months, it is pleasant and warm during the winter months too. Locations near to Sharm El Sheikh have become popular spots for beach holidays such as the previously mentioned Naama Bay, a lot of tourist friendly businesses have cropped up around this area that up until 1968 was a quiet fishing community.

Those seeking a quieter more historic trip are not left out too; there are many national parks with mountains and valleys to visit as well as locations such as St.Catherine's Monastery.

The city is often called the City of Peace or the City of The World as it has attracted many visitors from all around the world, due partially to its afford ability and surge of cheap holidays in the area. It is an ideal getaway for people who want something different from their usual holiday destinations whilst still having the usual beach resort comforts in a breathtaking location that many have gone back to again and again!

By Andy Adams