The Best of Bangkok

Sep 28, 2015 by

The Best of Bangkok

Bangkok is a place like no other. Its tale is one of grandeur and glory, of a vibrant, sprawling underworld and fantastical palaces, colourful life, and transcendental creations. Linked by a meandering network of canals, its gaudy street sellers once stood in the shadow of shrines and sacred temples to call their wares. Holiday companies like Round The World Experts offer tailor-made holidays there, so it’s now easier than ever to plan a trip.

Today, it has grown to become a modern metropolis, but both the grandeur and the grit of its illustrious past still prevail. Adorned with magical palaces and fantastical floating markets, colourful back alleys, and a dazzling royal district, it is a place that must be seen to be believed, and if you’re fortunate enough to venture amongst its streets, here are just three of the places that you have to visit…

#1: The Grand Palace 

The Grand Palace is the heart of the breathtaking city of Bangkok. Built in 1782, it was home to the Thai royal family, their dazzling court, and the core of the government for over a century and a half. Today, its function is more ceremonial than autocratic, yet its beauty endures. A stunning ode to Thai architecture and craftsmanship, it is an exquisite confection of jewelled opulence, gold-capped domes, and breathtaking colours. Once seen, it can never be forgotten.

#2: Damnoen Saduak Market

Bangkok’s floating market is one of its most famous attractions, and for those fortunate enough to have visited it, it’s easy to understand why. It is like a scene from a storybook, delicate wooden boats piled high with brightly coloured tropical fruits. Ready-to-drink coconut juice is on sale for a pittance, and the vendors peer out from beneath traditional broad-brimmed hats. With local food cooked up on deck before your very eyes, a trip to Damnoen Saduak offers a unique and unforgettable culinary experience. 

#3: Wat Pho

For those looking to soak up a little Thai culture, a visit to some of the city’s beautiful temples is a must, and Wat Pho is the jewel in Bangkok’s crown. Tucked in behind the famed Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is one of the largest temple complexes in the city. Famed for its leviathan statue, the reclining Buddha is a stunning ode to religion, decadence, and artistry. It’s well worth your time to explore the whole of the massive complex, as it’s also considered to be the leading school of massage in the country, and is a fantastic place to enjoy the traditional Thai experience.

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Restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen – Fine Dining on a Budget

Sep 28, 2015 by

Restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen – Fine Dining on a Budget

Culturally diverse and ethnically rich yet slightly rough round the edges, Hell’s Kitchen is a bit of all the neighborhoods in Manhattan rolled into one . With a colorful past full of notorious gang den’s, dance halls,prohibition era speakeasys and small businesses of all kinds Today, this neighborhood boasts luxurious apartments, condos, classic walk ups stylish bars and restaurants, and a diverse community of immigrants and locals who add character and eclectic style to this corner of the city.

A well known spot for many types of eateries, and a destination that is packed with lively nightclubs, lounges, comedy clubs and cabarets. It is also a place that offers a great chance to just wander around discovering the city

The Intrepid Sea and Space Museum ,the West Side waterfront and so many little hidden places to explore along the streets and avenues all within easy access to Hell’s Kitchen holiday rentals, with convenient access to the finest restaurants and attractions. Here are the three best restaurants in this neighborhood, allowing you to enjoy scrumptious meals on a budget!

Don Antonio Starita

At Don Antonio, you will find mouthwatering snacks and meals. It is a restaurant that works in collaboration with famous chefs like Roberto Caporusico and his mentor Antonio Starita. With appetizers like Frittatine, which is spaghetti that is deep fried into a cake that oozes béchamel sauce and prosciutto cotto,stellar wood fire baked pies that start from a standard range like the simple Margherita to complex creations like Rachetta, which is a pizza that has a racket shape with a handle that is all made out of ricotta cheese stuffed soft dough.this location is a sure bet to fill you up.


This is the most creative and slickest choice in Hell’s Kitchen. The menu takes its inspiration from the southern seaside Italian cooking, which ranges from spaghetti with fresh fried lobsters to the signature antipasti (raw) known as Crudi. Further, you can enjoy tasty bites of pastas with some fresh grilled fish, sea urchin, crab, and lavish seafood stews.


This is another excellent restaurant known for its fine dining experience in Hell’s Kitchen that serves the most delectable Italian and French meals. The interior is stylish, with lavish dining tables and chairs. The dishes vary from Chickpea crepe (thick), socca, to mouth watering pastas that have toppings of walnuts and fresh herbs.

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Must Try Cannes Restaurants

Sep 23, 2015 by

Must Try Cannes Restaurants

The French Riviera is a dream vacation for most people around the world, and if you are lucky enough to book a trip here, we want to help you make it the best vacation possible. Cannes — with it’s famous film festival, boardwalk, and nightlife — is a great place to explore is this part of the world. With so much to do, you’ll work up an appetite, for sure. We have compiled a list of the best restaurants in Cannes to help make your planning a bit easier. Don’t be surprised if you gain some weight though.

La Colombe d’Or

A rustic experience with amazing food is what you’ll experience in this hotel restaurant. There aren’t many places you can sit where famous artists used to eat, but here is one of them. Matisse, Miro and Picasso were all patrons of this place, and their artwork graces the walls for your enjoyment while you partake of the scrumptious fare.

Seeing as this restaurant is in a hotel, this is a good place to start your search for some luxury properties in Cannes. The area can’t be beat, and the experience you’ll have will be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of vacation.

Le Palais Oriental

If, after having eaten traditional French food, you want to mix things up a bit, Le Palais Oriental is a great place to head. This is a Moroccan-style restaurant which features the traditional fare of this North African country. Think fresh couscous and flavorful tagines. You can even catch a belly dancing show if you time your trip well. You’ll get the best of both continents with a stop here.

While we are talking more about food now, you can’t miss out on the world-class wine produced in France. You should consider booking a wine tour of the region to help you explore all the area has to offer.

La Palme d’Or

Want luxury? Don’t mind paying for it? This decadent, yet worth it, two Michelin-star restaurant is the place to go. Another restaurant inside hotel situation, you’ll be surrounded by art deco while dining on world-class fare. The signature dishes include salade de pigeonneau, which is well-known in the area. Make sure you dress appropriately for this high-class experience.

Da Laura

Those wanting a taste of Italy can’t afford to miss out on a stop at Da Laura. With outdoor seating which allows you to appreciate the beautiful French sun, the place is fairly busy, especially at lunch. Don’t let this deter you, though. You’ll walk away full and satisfied by this moderately priced restaurant.

La Guerite

You have to head out on a boat to get to this restaurant, and the adventure is worth the experience. Located on one of the Iles de Lerins, you will love the 10-minute boat ride to get to La Guerite. The seafood you can get here is some of the freshest around, and the view of the harbor can’t be beat. There is a lot to do on this little island, which means you should consider spending a day exploring all it has to offer.

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11 Travel Accessories Every Adventurer Needs

Sep 21, 2015 by

Suitcase with first-aid kit

The number of travel accessories designed to make life easier on the road just keeps growing. From electronic luggage scales to portable Bluetooth speakers, there are so many things that can come in handy while traveling. Take a look at these 11 travel accessories that help you no matter where you go.

1. Neck Pillow

You can’t rest at five-star hotels in Miami every time you’re tired. A neck pillow can make sleeping in random places, like a train stop, much more comfortable.

2. Travel Packing Aid

A travel packing aid can help you neatly organize toiletries, travel documents and currency, ensuring important items are easily accessible and secure.

3. USB Utility Charge Tool

Even if you’re looking to be unplugged for your next trip, you’re still going to need to charge your smartphone, laptop, camera and so on. A USB utility charge tool means you only have to bring one product to charge all your devices.

4. Smart Luggage

Smart Luggage has arrived, and the features are amazing. Fingerprint locking mechanisms, built-in GPS systems, digital scale sensors, anti-theft systems, shape-changing abilities and more are available right now to make traveling safer and more convenient.

5. Shoe Bag

Why stink up the rest of your bag? Shoe bags are a great way to keep your luggage clean, and are a necessity for most vacations as you may need sandals for some activities and gym shoes or boots for others.

6. Self-Sealing Dry Bags

Clothing or other belongings occasionally get wet. That’s just part of traveling. A dry bag ensures that those wet items don’t soak the rest of your stuff.

7. Wine Bag

This can serve two purposes: one is to actually store wine and bottles of liquor; the other is to store glass items and other fragile things.

8. Waterproof Travel Backpack

Rolling around luggage can get annoying, especially if you’re on the move a lot and not just chilling in hotels in Paris or wherever else. Go with a sturdy, waterproof backpack that protects your belongings and is easy to carry.

9. Waterproof Phone Case

A phone is a necessity for most travelers, so using a waterproof phone case to protect it from water damage and accidental drops just makes sense.

10. Umbrella

It rains almost everywhere in the world at some time or another. Bring an umbrella.

11. First Aid Kit

Whether you’re backpacking your way through southeast Asia or sleeping in one of those luxurious hotels in Dubai, you never know when an accident could happen. So be prepared.

More travel accessories are being created all the time. Use the ones on this list, but also keep an eye out for new travel items to make your trip perfect.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 27, 2015

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A Bookworm’s Tour Through Tennessee’s Best Bookstores

Sep 16, 2015 by

A recent survey examining the U.S. states with the most bookstores had a few notable surprises. While large states like California and Texas have the largest total number of stores, when it comes to bookstore per capita, those two states were nowhere to be found! For travelers wishing to explore more of the U.S.’s literary heritage, a glance at the list should be the first step in planning your next vacation. Rounding out the top five (with Montana coming in first) is Tennessee, which boasts 369 bookstores for about 6.5 million residents.

It’s safe to say bookstores and literary pursuits are not the first things that come to mind when thinking of the Volunteer State, so nicknamed due to the large number of Tennesseans volunteering as soldiers during the War of 1812. Instead, visitors flock to Tennessee every year for reasons musical (Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion and museum and Nashville’s many country music venues), nature-related (the Smoky Mountains) and an all-around good time (touring the Jack Daniels Distillery). While it may not seem the obvious choice for more reserved bookworms, the following stops show that for book-loving travelers there is a quieter, more literary side to the state that’s well-worth exploring!

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The third-largest city in the state, and the homebase of the University of Tennessee’s legendary Vols, Knoxville boasts a locally-owned, independent gem of a store called Union Ave Books. Located in the heart of downtown, Union Ave Books offers a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, young adult and children’s books. The store owners aim to please, going so far as to order books you might want that are not available in-store. The store also hosts a variety of local and nationally known authors for readings and book signings so be sure to check their event schedule before planning your visit. For those wishing to stay nearby and explore more of what Knoxville has to offer, the affordable and comfortable Crowne Plaza Hotel is just blocks from the store, and the bustling downtown area.

Nashville, a.k.a. Music City, almost had no independent bookstores left after the 2010 closing of independent store Davis-Kidd and the 2011 closing of a Borders located near Vanderbilt University. Thankfully for book lovers in the country music capital of the world, bestselling author Ann Patchett and veteran publisher Karen Hayes stepped in to save the day by opening Parnassus Books, an “independent book store for independent people.” Named for Mount Parnassus, the home of literature, learning, and music in Greek mythology, the store aims to provide a “refuge for Nashvillians of all ages,” with Patchett and Hayes declaring Music City to be the “Athens of the South.” With a well-stocked collection of literature, non-fiction, children, and art books as well as author events and book clubs, Parnassus Books is a must-visit for any book lover. Visitors to the area looking for affordable lodgings can check out the Holiday Inn Nashville or the Hutton Hotel, both just a 10 minute drive from the store.

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If driving away from Nashville and towards Memphis, be sure to stop by Madison’s Book Attic, a beloved local establishment specializing in used and out of print paperbacks, hardbacks, and audio books. Operating since 1987, Book Attic’s staff pride themselves on having the knowledge and experience to track down any book that its customers might desire. Anyone looking to settle down nearby for the night should consider the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, located in Goodlettsville, and just a 5 minute drive from Book Attic.

A trip to Tennessee is incomplete without visiting Memphis, one of the early homes of blues and rock and roll. A trip to Memphis is likewise incomplete without a stop by Burke’s Book Store, founded in 1875. Its current owners boast that the store today encompasses “the best of the old, the latest of the new, and hard to find collectibles.” Its kind and knowledgeable staff includes an expert devoted solely to locating out-of-print works. For out-of-towners looking to stay in the heart of the action downtown, a booking at the hip, boutique Madison Hotel (just a 15 minute drive from Burke’s) is a must.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 1, 2015

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