Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia.
Travel Photos: Kota Kinabalu Photo Gallery
Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia.
Travel Photos: Kota Kinabalu Photo Gallery
It’s often said that variety is the spice of life, and I’m inclined to think there’s a fair bit of truth in that. Personally, when I go on holiday, I like destinations that have lots of different things to offer. That’s why I’m particularly keen on taking a tour of the Indian state of Kerala.
You see, Kerala has a seriously impressive selection of things to do, see and experience. It’s not everywhere that gives you a chance to spot incredible wildlife, enjoy traditional massages, go on backwater cruises and hit the beach – to name but a few.
To give you a better idea of what makes Kerala so perfect for varied holidays, I’ve put together a quick list below. Enjoy!
Traditional culture, boutique hotels
One of the most interesting things about exploring Kerala is the fact that this is where you’ll find India’s oldest and most traditional culture. Expect to see as many people here wearing traditional dress as those in more modern clothes, and for religion to play a hugely important part in locals’ day-to-day lives.
What I find particularly fascinating, though, is that Kerala is also where you can see the first areas in which European colonisers began to put down their roots centuries ago. If this interests you too, make sure you visit Fort Cochin. Here, Dutch merchants’ houses, Jewish synagogues and churches stand side by side.
These days, many of the old buildings here have been converted into boutique hotels or cafes. In fact, while the culture in Kerala is largely traditional, there is some truly lavish accommodation to choose from, making it a good choice if you’ve got your eye on a luxurious getaway.
There’s nowhere better to experience India’s ancient health system, Ayurveda, than Kerala. The state is home to so many places where you can try it out, to the extent where you really don’t have to look too hard to find somewhere.
You see, it’s so ingrained into the local culture that most hotels – and particularly the fancier ones – have a spa attached to them. Even the more modern establishments tend to incorporate Ayurvedic principles into their treatments, so you can feel good about experiencing some authentic local culture while also pampering yourself.
I think if you’re going to Kerala – especially for the first time – then you really can’t miss taking a cruise through its famous backwater region, Kuttanad. The ultimate experience is spending a day and night cruising along in a converted rice barge, so look out for that on any itineraries you’re thinking of following.
Converted rice barges have usually been lavishly transformed, which means you can expect utter comfort as you travel. In fact, some are even kitted out with things like Jacuzzis, while others have air-conditioned bedrooms!
As well as seeing amazing scenery and soaking up local culture, you can see some wonderful wildlife during your trip. If I was heading to Kerala this year, I’d definitely go to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
This is the region’s best loved wildlife sanctuary, and with good reason. It’s home to a thriving population of elephants, for one thing, while you can even be in with a chance of spotting a tiger!
Finally, a huge draw of coming to Kerala is its beaches, and I think fitting in a few hours relaxing on the sand is a great way to add yet more variety to your itinerary. There are some stretches that are particularly well known and worth visiting – Kovalam Beach, which you’ll find near the capital Trivandrum, particularly springs to mind.
Think I’ve missed something? Leave a comment and let fellow travellers know what you think makes Kerala such a good spot for an exciting, varied break.
South Africa attracts holidaymakers for lots of different reasons. For some, it’s the chance to explore countless vineyards; for others, it’s to hit the beach and catch some serious sun. And for me? Personally, it’s the wildlife that enchants me the most. If you’re considering taking a break here this year, read on for my top travel tips.
When to travel
One of the burning questions when organising a holiday is ‘When is the best time to travel?’. Luckily, South Africa’s pretty much a year-round destination, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to give any thought to when you book for.
For instance, school holidays play a huge part in establishing peak times here (which I suppose is true of a lot of destinations, but trust me, it’s a big deal here). Generally speaking, the Christmas period – which is during the South African summer – and Easter are pretty packed. So, if you’re averse to crowds, you might be best off travelling at another time.
Now, while the cities tend to be very busy during the school holidays, it’s the winter period (June to September in South Africa) that gets the most hectic in the national parks. Why? Well, this is the time when the most water is available, which means the animals come up to sup from shared pools – a fact that makes them much easier to spot at this time of year.
In terms of getting a good overall balance between enjoying some nice weather and avoiding the crowds, spring – which is mid-September to November – and April and May (autumn) are decent times to visit pretty much anywhere in the country.
Handy hints for first-time safari-goers
If you’ve decided that you want to go on your first safari this year, let me recommend a trip to Kruger National Park. Now, South Africa is hardly short of national parks and wildlife reserves, but Kruger is the ultimate destination – hence why I think it’s such a good place for experiencing your first safari.
A word of warning, though – while fantastic and beautiful, Kruger tends to get pretty busy. There is scope for spreading out and finding quieter corners, but it is worth bearing in mind that you’re unlikely to feel like you’re venturing into an undiscovered wilderness.
As I mentioned briefly above, the best time for safaris here is between June and December, so time your visit for this period if you can. A lot of wildlife spotting takes place very early in the morning and, as it can actually get quite cold at that time of day and at this point in the year, it’s worth layering up to keep warm – you can then shed a few layers when it heats up later on.
Attractions not to miss in Cape Town
Cape Town is, arguably, South Africa’s most exciting city and definitely one of its top destinations. So, if you can either base yourself here or at least spend a day or so exploring its attractions, you’ll really add something to your holiday.
There is just so much to see in Cape Town that it’s hard to narrow it down, but, in my opinion, Table Mountain, Boulders Beach and Robben Island really shouldn’t be missed. You can ascend to the top of Table Mountain, which forms the city’s backdrop, in just five minutes with the Cableway – and be rewarded with 360-degree views.
Robben Island, meanwhile, is a fantastic living museum that tells you about some of the most important points in the country’s history. Perhaps even more interestingly, it was once where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Lastly, Boulders Beach is a great place to relax and catch some sun. My favourite thing about it, though, is that you can also see African penguins here!
As a final tip, if you’re still looking for accommodation for your holiday, you can check out a great range of options with companies like Wanderforth.
When it comes to relaxing, I think there’s nothing quite like an all inclusive break. Why? Well, these let you unwind without having anything to worry about, as with most packages your food, drinks and use of the hotel’s facilities will all be prepaid. So, you can just lay back and enjoy yourself.
The question is, where’s the place to go for this kind of holiday? Destinations all across the world offer all inclusive packages these days; below, you’ll find some of the destinations that I think are the best.
Turkey is a wonderful place for an all inclusive getaway, with flights only taking around four hours from the UK and a gorgeous climate and landscape awaiting you when you arrive. Of course, a key ingredient any decent all inclusive destination has to have are hotels that offer this kind of package, which Marmaris has in abundance. Since this is such a defining factor, I won’t focus on hotels for the other destinations, unless there’s something particularly remarkable about them.
Anyway, back to Marmaris. This is a resort on the Turkish Riviera – and one that is famous for its jagged inlets and gorgeous sandy coves. Particularly perfect for couples and families, this port town is also great for water sports fans – especially if you love scuba diving and snorkelling (head to Aquarium Cove and Chimney Sea Cave if you do).
Another Turkish destination well suited to all inclusive breaks is Bodrum. Known across the world for being a really lively holiday hotspot, it’s also got a rich heritage that gives it as much to offer culture vultures as sun seekers and partiers.
To see some of the amazing historical discoveries that have been made here, make sure you visit the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. To soak up some more contemporary culture, meanwhile, I recommend going to some of the local bazaars (which are open six days a week) or the street between Iskele Square and Halikarnas Disco. This is where you’ll find countless handicrafts on sale, from jewellery and beads to embroidery and leather.
3) Costa Blanca
Turning our attentions to Spain, the Costa Blanca is an obvious contender for a top all inclusive destination. You’ll find the famous ‘white coast’ – which has long been a place popular among Brits for holidays – perched on the Mediterranean in the province of Alicante.
What’s so great about the Costa Blanca is that it has a smattering of everything. For instance, it’s home to the well-known resort of Benidorm, which is famous for offering us visitors from the UK a home away from home, alongside a healthy dose of great nightlife. Over in Torrevieja, though, you can have a much more authentic Spanish experience. Taking a stroll through its narrow streets and finding fantastic tapas joints is an essential part of holidays here.
4) Sharm el Sheikh
My next suggest is Sharm el Sheikh, one of Egypt’s loveliest holiday resorts. Located on the Sinai Peninsula, this destination is particularly famous for providing amazing scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities – especially in Ras Mohammed National Park – so if you’re keen to try one of these activities, this is definitely a place to put high on your to-visit list.
Receiving up to 11 hours of sunshine a day, this gorgeous resort is a sun seekers’ dream. Alongside its great water sports facilities and beautiful beaches, it offers loads to do inland, like taking camel safaris in the Sinai Desert.
5) The Maldives
Last, but definitely not least, I recommend the Maldives – an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. In my opinion, this is the ultimate choice if you’ve got your heart set on a luxurious all inclusive breaks, since the resorts here are famous for providing an exceptional service and stunning accommodation.
Plus, when you come here, as well as enjoying paradise-like scenery and excellent service, you can also expect lots of privacy. This is because, by law, each island is limited to having just one resort.
As the Maldives is such a luxurious option, it’s worth remembering it can, therefore, be pretty expensive. So, you’ll need to shop around to get a good deal.
The Silversmith Hotel & Suites reflects the spirit of downtown Chicago, with its historic backdrop of blended classical architectural styles coupled with a high degree of welcoming service visitors have come to expect in the Midwest.
At this downtown Chicago, Illinois hotel, guests are surrounded by a unique, historic setting that blends comfort, luxury, and charm with a welcoming attitude from our staff as well as incredible amenities and services.
Address: 10 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Travel Directory: Chicago Hotels
Goa is home to many beach destinations, each of which has its own charms. If it’s unbridled luxury you’re looking for, though, Sinquerim in the north of the state could tick all of your boxes.
You’ll find Sinquerim to the south of bays like Candolim, Calangute and Anjuna, which are among Goa’s busiest stretches of sand. By contrast, Sinquerim is relatively quiet, making it perfect if you want to relax and unwind on your holiday.
If you’ve got your heart set on a luxury break in Goa, here are a few reasons why I think Sinquerim could be the right destination for you.
One of the basic components of a luxury break is high-end accommodation – something that you can easily find in Sinquerim. The famous Taj Holiday Village Hotel and its sister establishment, the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, are among the top options here.
In the former, you can stay in garden cottages, all with their own en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, air-con and mini bar, among other features. The facilities at the Taj Holiday Village Hotel are extensive and include three restaurants, a mini golf course, tennis courts, a gym, two swimming pools (one specifically for children) and a billiards room.
A further bonus to booking a room in this hotel with a company like Jewel in the Crown is that you’ll have access to the luxurious Taj Spa, where you can be pampered with all manner of treatments, from pedicures to massages.
The Fort Aguada Beach Resort has a similarly impressive range of amenities for its guests to make use of. What makes it really stand out, though, is its location on top of the 16th century fort from which it takes its name. There are amazing views of the beach from its swimming pool.
While Goa has a reputation for having stunning beaches, it’s certainly true that some are more picturesque than others. Sinquerim is regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of sand on the coast, so if you love soaking up the sun in glorious surroundings, it’s a good spot to choose.
The sweeping sand is fringed by palm trees and the shores are lapped by the Indian Ocean – it’s a picture-perfect crescent bay. It is safe to swim here, so if you get too hot while lounging in the sun you can cool down with a dip in the sea.
Although being active isn’t something everyone wants to do on a holiday, it’s nice to have the option to try a new sport or indulge in a favourite pastime if you want to. Sinquerim is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with all manner of activities on offer.
If you’re looking for some high-speed action, you can hire a jet ski, go parasailing or try your hand at water skiing. For something a little slower-paced, but no less adventurous, delve beneath the waves in scuba gear.
There is a dive school by the beach where you can book a try-dive, sign up for a course or, if you’re already qualified, arrange a package of dives.
Of course, if you’re staying at one of the luxury hotels near Sinquerim, you can get active on dry land by playing a game of tennis or squash on one of the courts or simply heading to the gym for a workout.
With the Vindhya Mountains welcoming you, North India is a combination of vast plains, grassy hills, and snow-capped peaks. Comprising 12 of the nation’s states and featuring more moderate temperatures than its tropical cousins, the northern region of the country offers numerous options for India holidays. This includes many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that cannot be missed.
The northernmost UNESCO World Heritage to take a look at on one of your India holidays is Qutb Minar, situated in the state of Delhi. The largest minaret in India, construction of the sandstone tower began in the late 12th century. Though struck by lightning several times in its history, the five-story tower has survived through a number of restorations. Today, the Qutb Minar is surrounded by other buildings and monuments that have cropped up over the centuries. These include the 13th century Alai-Darwaza Gate and the Alai Minar, a minaret that was supposed to top Qutb.
Another is Fatehpur Sikri, located not far from the India-Pakistan border in Uttar Pradesh, Agra District. Established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the city was the short-term home to the Mughal Empire capital in the late 16th century. While just a small part of the city has been preserved, the buildings that survived, and the monuments outside of its walls, provide visitors with a prime example of architectural styles between 1571 and 1585. Some of the more significant sites of Fatephur Sikri are the Diwan-i-Am, where city officials handed out sentences to citizens, the Buland Damaza, a monument honouring the taking of Gujarat in 1572, and the Jama Masjid – considered one of the roomiest mosques in India.
Another site to consider when planning your India holidays is located in the northern city of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jantar Mantar, constructed towards the end of the Mughal period of rule in the early 17th century, was designed for the purpose of observing the position of astronomical objects using only the naked eye. A prime example of sturdy Indian architecture, UNESCO declared this a Word Heritage Site due to its set of 22 unique astronomical instruments and its application as both a scientific and theological building.
Combined with stays at some the areas luxurious and historic hotels and stops for unique shopping and dining, visits to these three must see UNESCO Word Heritage Sites should be staples of any India holidays. By mixing ancient history with modern amenities, one will get a full understanding of India’s history.
Split is a Croatian city located on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea and which is built around the ancient Roman palace of Diocletian, the roman emperor. There are a lot of things to see and do in this city, and with a cheap airfare from destinatios across Europe, you too could be seeing these following sites:
1. Admire some Meštroviæ
The greatest sculptor of Croatia spent much time in Split and the villa and studio he used have today been converted into the Meštroviæ Gallery and Kastetet – two major attractions in the country. The former is a representation of the variety of his works while the latter is a beautiful 28-piece of wooden reliefs showing the Christ’s life. All these are located in a leafy boulevard that overlooks the seafront. You can also find the Statue of Grur Ninski in the centre of Split.
2. Go barhopping near Diocletian’s palace
This palace in Split is the ideal backdrop for the best bar crawl in Croatia. Some bars stand out though the matter is whether you can locate them for another night. Check out Planet Jazz, Bifora, Po Bota and Ave. If all you want is to sit for several minutes and see for yourself, the small hub situated on Majstora Jurja should be best for that.
3. Take a breakfast fry-up
So you’ve barhopped around the palace, danced the night away on Baèvice, and all you need is a good English breakfast? Don’t worry! The Bistro Black Cat off Riva is the best place for that. It is a convenient and affordable restaurant specializing in sturdy breakfast, quality snacks and light bites. There’s a lot to order from pancakes to eggs and bacon.
4. Climb the cathedral in Split
At the center of the palace in Split is the Katedral Sveti Duie which was had been a site of Diocletian’s mausoleum .Admire the sumptuous pulpit at the cathedral and for a small entrance fee ,climb up to the bell tower for a beautiful view of the city, the palace and beyond the sea.
5. Savor some of the finest seafood
Strategically placed near the main fish market in Split is Noštromo, an upscale restaurant, which offers some of the best seafood. Managed by Zlatko Marinoviæ, its chief owner, this popular establishment offers a contemporary wit for traditional Dalmatian recipes. You will get the batter-fried sea anemone and ray-fish stew. The atmosphere is informal since locals often have birthday or anniversary celebrations at the place. Carry plenty of cash since they don’t take credit cards.
6. Relax at the Le Méridien Grand Hotel Lav
This hotel is located just outside the city and offers you some of the best luxury in Split. Relax your mind in the truffle or wine therapies at the Diocletian spa or just gaze at superyatchs in the marina; there’s so much to do. Le Méridien is among the most luxurious hotels that have opened in or around Split and has given back the city the limelight following years of openings of high-end hotels at the coast in Dubrovink. You’ll also find a casino, nightclub, champagne bar and restaurant at the hotel.
7. Visit the Archaeological Museum
Before the emergence of Split, the largest communal hub in the area was Salona, the then roman capital. Located near the national Theater in Split is the Archeological Museum which has a unique collection of mosaics and objects. These will give you an idea of how life probably was during the roman times. There are also discoveries from ancient periods like the Greek era and you’ll also see Neolithic artefacts found near the Dalmatian hinterland.
The small town of Pollença in North Mallorca has a rich and colourful history. Following destruction of the settlement by vandals way back in the 5th century, Pollença as we know it was not founded until the 13th century, when King Jaume I introduced the Catalan culture that it currently adopts.
The town’s captivating history is plain to see in the exquisite architecture and surrounding culture, and if visiting the area, there are a number of must-visit places that really capture the essence of this old town.
Dominated by the 18th century Parroquial church, the Plaza Mayor is worth a visit to experience its Sunday fruit and veg market. Here you’ll find stalls selling traditional fare, such as olives, Sobrasada and a variety of Mediterranean vegetables.
If you enjoy arts and crafts, wander through the markets to discover the town’s artistic tradition.
Finca Son Brull
For a piece of history, visit Finca Son Brull, a convent dating back to the 18th century. Once there, treat yourself to a gourmet meal in the top class restaurant, take part in one of their acclaimed cookery classes, or chill out to some of the live Jazz played frequently.
El Calvari Chapel
Climbing the 365 steps to the El Calvari Chapel is a tiring but worthwhile pursuit. Not only does the chapel boast impressive 18th century architecture, but the views over Pollença and Puig on the horizon are stunning.
Another steep climb, the walkway up Via Crucis comprises around 400 steps. At the top stands the 13th century statue of Mare de Deu del Peu de la Creu (Mother of God at the Foot of the Cross), and the views over the surrounding countryside and coastline are incredible.
Puig de Maria & Monastery
Last but by no means least, the ‘Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Puig’ hill is worth embarking on yet another climb to witness the spectacular views of Majorca countryside from the top. The Puig de Maria is home to a stunning 1348 medieval chapel and monastery overlooking the city of Pollenҫa.
If you make it to the top, the restaurant at the peak is the ideal pit-stop for a meal or drinks.
So, if you’re heading to Mallorca this year, be sure to take time out to get to grips with the rich cultural history of this fascinating and picturesque town.
This article was contributed by Aurora Johnson on behalf of Puerto Pollença’s charming Hotel Sis Pins.
There is nothing like taking photographs of the natural wildlife while on holiday to create a memorable souvenir of the trip. Wildlife in its natural habitat can be remarkable, but it can also be difficult to capture in a photograph. If you have an interest in photography during your Borneo holidays or Tanzania safari, here are some wildlife holiday photography tips that can help you get some great shots.
Take a Guided Wildlife Tour
Many holiday destinations have specially crafted wildlife tours for the tourists visiting their area. For Borneo holidays, there may be a tour available that travels deep into the rainforest to seek out wildlife that others rarely get to see. A guided tour for your Tanzania safari can help you get to great places to see action in real life, not animals asleep under trees. If you are taking Galapagos holidays, your guided tour should probably be conducted by boat with a guide that can easily navigate around the islands. When booking your Galapagos holidays, ask the representative assisting you whether they can recommend a guided wildlife tour that has received good reviews from previous tourists.
Take the Right Photography Equipment
Different holiday destinations will require different types of equipment on your camera to get great shots. For example, for Borneo holidays, many of the animals you are seeking are in the trees or darting into the foliage so a high zoom capability is important to capture the animals without scaring them away. For a Tanzania safari, a camera that is good at taking action shots would be great for photographing wildlife performing their natural actions. For Galapagos holidays, you may want to consider a camera that can take pictures underwater since there is some beautiful wildlife located beneath the waves.
One of the hardest things about wildlife photography is being patient enough to capture great shots. Great shots are normally captured during the most active time for the wildlife you are seeking. Animals do not adhere to the same schedules as humans, so it will take some careful manoeuvring to get you and the animals into the same place at the same time. Once the wildlife is in your sights, take your photographs quickly because they could be gone in a flash. Use multi-shot as this way, you are unlikely to miss a shot even when an animal does move.
Edit Your Photographs
Photography software programs have made it very easy for anyone to edit their photographs within a matter of minutes. The photographs that you have taken can be re-sized, cropped, or re-centred and the tone can be changed to bring out the colours or the features of the photograph. Once your wildlife photos have been edited with a photography software program, they may well look like they have been taken by a professional photographer! Don’t forget to share them with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.