Kathu: Phuket’s Best Kept Secret

Feb 26, 2015 by

Kathu: Phuket’s Best Kept Secret

Bet you’ve heard of Phuket. What does it bring to mind? A beautiful tropical island, great food, excessively expensive cocktails and taxi drivers who rip you off? Well, good news: visit Kathu, the smallest district of the province of Phuket, and you can experience many of the positives with mercifully few of the negatives.

Although it’s only a 15-minute drive from the notorious party beach of Patong, Kathu could be a million miles away. Situated inland, it enjoys a lush landscape and slightly cooler climate than Phuket’s coastal resorts.  If you’re a savvy traveller, looking for an extended and varied vacation in the area, you could do worse than take a relaxing trip to Kathu after an exhilarating tour of Southern Thailand. Fortunately there is a wide range of Hotels in Kathu to suit all budgets.

Shop Like a Local

It’s not difficult to experience the real Thailand, especially in places like Kathu. Whilst it has its share of the ubiquitous ‘7-11’ and ‘Tesco Lotus’ stores it still has a flourishing daily market, one of the biggest in the province. There are no stalls selling souvenirs, but there is, instead, the chance to mingle with locals and buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, street food, clothes and much more. You are reminded, once again, that Kathu remains, at its core, a trading town.

Memories of Phuket’s Past

Phuket is now a renowned hub of tourism in Southeast Asia. However, prior to the 21st century, tin mining drove Phuket’s economy and the Kathu Tin Mining Museum celebrates that history.

The museum building is Sino Portuguese in style, with a large courtyard and domed windows decorated with stucco designs and large arches. Inside you’ll find demonstrations of tin smeltery and a reconstructed Kathu village, complete with shops.

Cool Off at Kathu Waterfall

While not exactly on a par with the mighty Niagara Falls, Kathu Waterfall is well worth a visit, especially if you are in the area during the rainy season. It’s not so much a waterfall, as it is a series of beautiful, cascading drop pools.

The climb to the top is a steep one but, fortunately, there are shaded stairs most of the way with plenty of places to rest and enjoy a picnic during your ascent.  And if it gets to be too much, you can always stop half way up and just take in the view. Right at the top there’s a large pool in which you can bathe, as a reward for your efforts.

A Very Important Shrine

‘Kathu Shrine’ shares a long history with Phuket’s legendary ‘Vegetarian Festival’; indeed, Kathu was the original home of this event.

Legend has it that when Chinese opera singers came to the town to perform, many centuries ago, they started falling ill. Their health was only restored when they began to follow a strict vegetarian diet and worship at the Kathu Shine. The original structure is long gone, but a new one has taken its place. Today, vegetarians and meat eaters alike are welcome to visit, pray and make offerings.

This article is written as part of the #hipmunklove project. All opinions are my own and I would never recommend anything I didn’t believe in or use myself.

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What to do in Melbourne when not cheering for your favourite team!

Feb 23, 2015 by

What to do in Melbourne when not cheering for your favourite team!

The Cricket World Cup in Australia this year seems to have stolen the limelight! With millions of cricket fanatics spread across the world, this event will be the center of innumerable discussions and debates for a long time to come. Hidden behind the excitement enveloping the World Cup is a plethora of events and festivals that are being hosted in Australia. So if you are not a cricket enthusiast or if you are looking for something to do while not cheering for your favourite team, then take a pick from the best Australia has in store for you:

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Date: February 27 – March 15

Spread over 17 days, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival has an array of activities that showcase local culture and heritage alongside celebrating culinary delights and skills. Participate in the opening event of Bank of Melbourne World’s Longest Lunch along the banks of Yarra River. Learn recipes and attend cooking classes conducted by renowned and celebrated chefs. Enjoy a ride along ageing wine barrels and experience exotic meals in splendid locations that could range from a balcony to narrow lanes and rooftops. The festival is conducted annually and hosts a staggering 250 thousand visitors each year! Unique and exciting, this festival is not one to miss. You can get yourself a car rental which helps you travel all across at a pace suited to your convenience. Rental agencies like Hertz are a good and reliable option to hire a car in Melbourne and attend these festivities in and around the city. 

Surfest

Date: February 6 – 22

If you enjoy surfing, then this is the place to be! Held at the stunning beaches of Newcastle, the event sees participation from more than 700 enthusiasts. This 11-day surfing fiesta is marked by competitive games among men, women and juniors. Exciting and thrilling, this fest is the ideal place for adventure lovers and sport-buffs alike.

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Australian Sand Sculpting Championships

Date: February 1 – 28

One of the world’s most celebrated beaches, the Gold Coast will host an event that celebrates artistry and imagination. Be amazed at intricate sand sculptures as artists from all across the world come together to give shape to unimaginable portraits and representations. You will be astounded at what 200 tons of sand, creatively designed can look like!

Australian Grand Prix

Date: March 12 – 15

One of the only 5 street circuits, the Australian Grand Prix Formula 1 is an event to look out for. Witness participants race across at head-spinning speeds as they compete severely for the winning title. Should you come to possess a ticket to the Formula One Paddock Club, you will be treated nothing short of royalty here! Strategically placed above team garages and overlooking the pit lane, you will feel the action as it unfurls right before your eyes! Try your luck for an autograph at the Autograph Stage on Thursdays and witness a cocktail of acts and events that are lined up to make your visit all the more worthwhile!

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A world of choice

Feb 9, 2015 by

A world of choice

When it comes to sitting down and picking your summer holiday destination, you’re looking at a rather tough decision to say the least. The world is huge, and you might have several places in your mind that you want to visit, but you have to take into account the time of year you’re travelling, cost, what’s going on in the world at the time, and ease of travel. Sometimes this makes it too easy to simply book the same place you always go to, because it’s familiar and you know there won’t be any problems, but you’re missing out on so much if you continue to visit the same place!

How to pick your destination isn’t an easy task, but there are a few ways to narrow it down.

Long-haul problems?

Many people don’t like long-haul flights, simply because it’s a) boring, b) tiring, and c) the inevitable jetlag. Whilst all this is true, some of the world’s best destinations are a long-haul flight away, and once you’re there, the flight itself will be a distant memory. You can make such a flight easier on your mind and body by looking at extras to make your travel easier, such as driving yourself to the airport, and saving money and stress by using Airparks. I can’t recommend this idea highly enough, having booked parking at Manchester Airport countless times myself. I find cutting out unnecessary hours on a train or coach certainly helps my travel day state of mind, and gives me a better foundation to build on. Basically, if you can find ways to make long-haul travel easier, it opens up a world of opportunities.

The time of year

We briefly mentioned this earlier, and it is an important consideration to take into account. Not everywhere in the world follows the same seasonal pattern as back home, so you need to research when is the best time to go. You don’t want to rock up in the middle of rainy season, expecting wall to wall sun, and equally, you might not want to visit when the sun is at its hottest. Do your research and adjust your plans accordingly.

What is there to see?

If you’re someone who likes to get out and explore a destination, you’ll want to choose somewhere you can easily get around, either by public bus, or somewhere that offers many excursions to local ruins, markets, resorts etc. Again, this is all down to research, and maybe Trip Advisor is a good place to head, to get real opinions on what’s hot and what’s not around your possible destination.

Child friendly?

If you’re travelling with children, you’ll want to pick a destination, and indeed a hotel or apartment, where children are made welcome, with facilities to suit, such as water-parks etc. This means finding out whether there is entertainment for your little ones in the evening, and again, what there is to do around the resort for children. You don’t want to spend your holiday with bored children, because nobody is going to enjoy their time away if this is the case.

Picking a destination sounds easy in theory, but there are many different considerations to take into account, even more than the ones we’ve listed. Make a short-list and narrow it down from there, but research online will always be your best bet.

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Fascinating things to see in Budapest

Feb 8, 2015 by

Fascinating things to see in Budapest

As you probably know, Budapest is the capital city of Hungary – a small Central European country with a language, culture and history apart. The Hungarian capital city is unique in Europe. Initially it was two separate settlements – Pest and Buda – divided by the Danube, which were later unified to form an integral city. For 150 years it was occupied by the Ottoman empire – the whole country became a part of the Empire for a century and a half, and this period left a mark on the local culture, too.

Here are a few things worth to see in this unique European capital instead of just playing your games at www.europalace.com.

1. The bridges over the Danube

Budapest, divided by the Danube, has a number of bridges worth seeing. The first major bridge to be built over the river is the Lánchíd (Chain Bridge). The plans for the bridge were created by civil engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839 and built by Scottish engineer Adam Clark, who stayed in Hungary even after finishing the project. The bridge was bombed during World War II, but it was re-built in its original form in the late 1940s.

Another notable bridge over the Danube is the Szabadság híd (Freedom Bridge), opened to traffic in 1896. The bridge was built almost entirely using an iron structure – it is a must-see for those fascinated by engineering.

2. The World Heritage Sites of Budapest

There are several sites in Budapest that have been declared by the UNESCO to be part of the World Cultural Heritage. Some of these are the banks of the Danube between the Szabadság híd and Margit híd, the building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Buda castle (complete with the “labyrinth” underneath, the Szentháromság Tér (Trinity Square), the Hősök tere (Heroes Square) and many more.

3. The Városliget (City Park)

The Városliget is the second largest public park in Budapest, with a surface of almost 100 hectares (250 acres). The Városliget was the first public park in Europe open for every citizen. It was first opened in 1896 to celebrate one thousand years from the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin. The park includes the Municipal Zoo, the Municipal Grand Circus, the city’s Amusement Park, the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths and Swimming Pool, the Transport Museum of Budapest, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Palace of Art and the Gundel Restaurant, the most famous one in the country, founded in 1879.

There are plenty more sights to be seen and explored in this crowded European capital that combines old and new. Guided tours are available, but the sights can also be explored individually – and it is much more fun that way, right?

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Top 3 Luxury Travel Destinations

Feb 6, 2015 by

Top 3 Luxury Travel Destinations

Living in the lap of luxury, is that not the dream after all? Beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels, and more class are just a few of the traits of a luxury destination. These days people are expecting more, wanting more, and boy, are they getting it! Big fancy hotels with high quality food and the ability to live the glamourous life. Let’s take a minute to talk about the top 3 luxury travel experiences in the world. cc

  1. New Zealand

New Zealand beholds some of the most beautiful scenery on the face of the earth. From beautiful pristine beaches, to the glorious pinnacles of Milford Sound, New Zealand is a sight to behold. If you are a luxury traveler who loves to take trips to adventurous places then look no further. Mountains, volcanoes, forests, give the adventurer in you a run for its money.

If you enjoy more of a big city view, travel over to Auckland for the luxurious dining and one of the best art scenes in the entire world. The most visited park in the country is the Abel Tasman National Park. It is filled with vivid colors everywhere your head turns. Whether you enjoy taking hikes and enjoying the view or you simply want to enjoy the big city life and a fancy dinner, New Zealand has it all.

  1. Paris

Of course Paris is on the list, it is romantic, luxurious, and full of wonderful highlights that would leave a luxury traveler’s jaw dropped. Paris is known for some of the most elegant and grand hotels that you will never want to leave. The restaurants in Paris are to die for because of the many options that are available to travelers. Whether you are looking for a classy high-end restaurant or a quaint little café, Paris has it all, and you are sure to find it!

  1. London

London is culturally breathtaking and is one of the top spots for luxury travelers. They are extremely classy and civilized in London and will make you feel like family the moment you arrive. Many luxury travelers consider the trip to be simply a jump across the pond and a quick and fun way to add some culture to their lives. There are a number of beautiful sights to see in London, as well as many locations to go and see shows, concerts, and events. The hotels are luxurious and so are the people.

There are so many luxurious travel destinations in the world but I could not name them all. Some of the other locations that just missed my list are Italy, Las Vegas, the Caribbean, and Thailand. If you are craving some luxury in your life, look no further. Fly off to wherever your heart desires, and make sure you stay in some place fancy and eat a delicious meal or two, or three. You will never run out of exciting things to do no matter where your heart takes you.

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