The Beautiful Beaches of Phuket, Thailand

If you are looking for soft white sand, aquamarine water nestled against a deep blue sky and the bliss of sun-kissed warmth caressed by a tropical breeze, then the amazing beaches of Phuket, Thailand are perfect for you! Phuket is an island treasure blessed by geography and geologic destiny, a masterpiece of steep mountains, clear waters and exceptional beaches and bays.

Tourists visiting Phuket find a wide range of amenities, ranging from fine restaurants to annual festivals and luxurious Phuket villa rentals. These features, plus the superb beaches, keep visitors coming back year after year.

Located just off the mainland of Thailand, Phuket is a 208 square mile island that stretches south into the clear waters that emerge from the depths of the Andaman Sea. Over the course of time the coral reefs and shells in the area have been ground down into very fine sand. This sand helped form over 30 picture-postcard beaches on the island, each offering different vistas and magnificent settings that will take your breath away.

Most Popular Beaches

Kata is famous Phuket beach with fine white sand that gently slopes to the sea. It is lined with Casuarina trees that offer shade to those sensitive to the sun. Swimming conditions are wonderful most of the year, and surfing waves appear during the monsoon season. There are numerous tourist amenities here including lounge rental, the Ska Bar built around a tree and restaurants along the beach. Local vendors are happy to serve you sandwiches, snacks and beverages right at your oceanfront lounge.

One of the best Phuket beaches is Bang Tao, where you will melt into bliss as you gaze along a 5 mile expanse of sand kissing the water’s edge. There are a number of upscale resorts in the center of the beach. The northern part of the beach is the most quiet and least developed. Dining choices include inexpensive, delicious food from Thai food stalls and offerings from high end restaurants.

If you are looking for a great place where you can swim at high tide venture over to Kamala Beach. It’s a popular destination with families and there are lounges for rent along the way. The fine white sand is beautiful and slopes gently toward and continues into the sea. There are restaurants, bars and shopping along the south end of the beach, while the northern part offers a more serene and quiet setting.

The sand of Karon Beach is exceptionally soft and fine. Because of the near perfect mix of silica, coral and ground shells, this beach is often chosen as a venue for the Asian Beach Games, sand building contests and other activities. In addition to the stunning sand, the water is crystal clear and the long beach is great for extended walks. It’s a great beach for singles, families and couples.

Gems off the Beaten Path

Your search for small, hidden gems should begin with Freedom Beach, which is one of the least accessible beaches on the island of Phuket. To reach the beach you will need to traverse six-tenths of a mile through thicker jungle on private land or go by boat. The setting is right out of a Hollywood movie, with a bay nested against hills of deep jungle and powder-like white sand. You can easily spend the day relaxing here, in a rental lounge under the shade of tall coconut palms.

Snorkeling is a popular activity at Kata Noi Beach, one of Phuket’s most gorgeous beaches. There are plenty of services and activities but the relative quiet of the beach will appeal to those who want to spend a day mesmerized by the sweet golden sand and the ocean waves. Drinks and snack stalls are available at the beach.

Nai Harn Beach is nestled in the most beautiful bay in Phuket, with lofty hills surrounding the sides and a coconut palm covered island immediately offshore. A Buddhist meditation retreat is there and the sacred monastic title of the land has kept development to a minimum. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the view and while away the sun drenched day.

Another hidden beach is Nai Thon, which is renowned because of it’s squeaky sand. As part of the Sirinath National Park it is immune from development and is located far from Phuket’s major tourist centers Here swimming conditions are wonderful and the fine sand extends into the sea. The local community here is small although there are some hotels across the street and back from the beach area.

If you find yourself yearning for endless ocean, beautiful sand and the feel of a timeless tropical beach, Phuket is the place for you. The variety of beach settings, beachside services and pure beauty is unparalleled. There’s a reason why travelers to Phuket always come back for more!

Discover The Artisans Behind The Scene – Private Shopping Tours In Barcelona

 

Are you planning a getaway this summer to the bright and bustling Spanish city of Barcelona? What better way to spend a week than strolling the lanes of the city, districts such as Las Ramblas or beautiful examples of architecture such as the Sagrada Familia? Barcelona is one of the hottest places in Europe for visitors, often seeing huge flocks of tourists in the summer months when the mercury sneaks up to higher temperatures and the sun seekers come out to enjoy the heat. Barcelona has a little something for everyone – especially for those tourists who like to get a bit of history, culture and shopping in on their trip away.

Tours Of The City

Throughout Barcelona there are numerous fantastic sights to see and areas to explore. Sometimes it can be a bit daunting to organise yourself to make sure you see absolutely everything that peaks your interest so you can take advantage of some of the amazing city tours to help you get a real feel for the city – and you can go one further and book a private tour that encompasses private pick up and drop off from your hotel as well as your own guide for the duration of the tour through the streets and sights of the city.

Private transport is included and you might find yourself learning a little something extra that those on public tours might not get to. There are additionally a plethora of group tours available for those who are happy to rub elbows with other fellow tourists. Most tours include the major sights of Barcelona such as Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s House as well as some of the other districts like Las Ramblas. Tours including Montserrat and other areas away from the city can be arranged as well.

Shopping Tours

A private shopping tour through El Born is simply one of the best ways to get a glimpse of true Barcelona culture and experience ‘behind the scenes’ of the artisans who create beautiful works of art that are available for purchase. A private tour through this shopping district will allow you to meet the artisans themselves and get a peek inside their studios where the creative process takes place. Pick up a souvenir for yourself or someone you love and know you are truly making a difference in the lives of these artists who have devoted their lives to the development of Catalan art and culture.

So if you’re coming to Spain for your next holiday – either as a family or as a group of friends – or for any reason, whether it’s a family getaway or a birthday celebration trip, bachelor party or bachelorette party, you should consider learning Spanish with a company like Zorro Spanish and take a private tour of Barcelona, Montserrat or El Born. No trip to the region is complete without seeing all the sights of the city and beyond. You may be surprised at what you learn and see! So choose one of their comfortable hotels and come to see Barcelona – you’ll be delighted.

Avoid Fatigue on Your Hiking Trip – Make the Right Preparations

Hiking trips are one of the most exhilarating holidays for the walking enthusiast. The sense of isolation and adventure mingled with the feeling of being one with nature, freedom from the stress of everyday life, and the thrill of depending only on yourself – every moment is an experience to be cherished. But, as every seasoned hiker knows, dealing with fatigue on your hiking trip is as real as the joy and excitement of the outdoors.

The fatigue and exhaustion of long hours on the road can take away from the enjoyment of your holiday. But by taking a few steps to prep your body, you can condition it to tolerate the strain you’ll be putting your muscles through. In addition to training your muscles and tissues, also take a few precautions on the road, so you reduce the stress on your body. Here’s how:

Check with Your Medical Practitioner for a Health Evaluation

Spending long hours on the road can exert your heart and lungs leading to fatigue on your hiking trip. Talk to your doctor about your plans so he can run the mandatory tests on you and clear you of any cardiopulmonary issues. He will also check you for diabetes, hypertension, and any other medical problems because of which you might not be able to tolerate exertion. If you’re over 35 years of age, he might ask if you’ve been noticing any signs of hormone imbalances. Depending on your answers, he could recommend that you get a hormone profile done.

Why Would You Want to Get Your Hormone Levels Checked?

Imbalances in hormones like estrogen and progesterone can cause a number of adverse effects that you can’t chance while on the road. For instance, fatigue and tiredness, disturbed sleep, and insomnia. You need your muscles to recover quickly from the fatigue on your hiking trip, and getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely essential. Proper rest can also ensure that you get back on your feet for the next leg of your journey. Remember, hormone variations can also cause weaker muscles and bones, and you need to feel strong to endure the long walking holiday. Digestive problems are other issues you don’t need as are headaches, mood swings, and depression, among other problems.

According to the experts at BHRC, the Newport Beach hormone replacement therapy center, you can correct the imbalances with a carefully designed supplement program. This program corrects the disparities with the help of plant-derived medication that has no side-effects and is safe to use. Begin the therapy a month or two before your scheduled departure so you can avoid the possibility of fatigue on your hiking trip.

Condition Your Muscles with Walking Exercises

Condition your upper and lower leg muscles as well as the gluteal muscles in your buttocks by going on walks every day. Cover short distances in the first few days, gradually building up to longer distances as your leg muscles tone and stamina levels improve. Buy the appropriate hiking boots according to the terrain you intend to navigate and practice walking in them. To strengthen your back muscles to bear the weight of your backpack with ease, start carrying it on your practice runs.

Learn the right stretching exercises under an experienced trainer so you can do them on the road and minimize the fatigue on your hiking trip. If you intend to go trekking in the hills, practice walking on inclines. You can also sign up with a gym and train on inclined treadmills. Learn to walk with the proper heel to toe gait that lowers the stress on your legs and back and saves on energy levels.

Choose the Right Pace to Walk In

The perfect pace to walk in is one that raises your breathing rate but does not make it difficult for you to talk. You should not pant or sweat too much. Give yourself a short 2-minute break after every 20 to 30 minutes. Sit down and set the backpack down to rest your back muscles. Having covered an hour or so, take a 10-minute break. Eat a calorie-dense snack and rest your back. When you need to stop for a meal, give yourself a generous hour. Fuel your body properly and rest your muscles giving them time to recover. Using these strategies, you should be able to lower the fatigue on your hiking trip.

Eat the Right Foods that Build Endurance and Stamina

Take care to eat the right foods that will make up for the calories you burn. You’ll also need adequate amounts of protein so that your muscles recover and rebuild after the strain of carrying you around. Aim for 0.5 to 0.75gms of protein per pound of your body weight per day. Look for dry foods that have a minimum of 130 calories per ounce of weight. These items include peanut butter, dried fruit, energy bars, nuts, beans, and cheeses, among others.

By eating adequate proteins and carbohydrates, you’ll lessen the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. In short, as an average 125-pound to 155-pound person, you’ll need to replenish 180 to 225 calories that you burn per 30 minutes of walking to keep away fatigue on your hiking trip.

Remain Hydrated

Dehydration is one of the major causes leading up to fatigue on your hiking trip. And, nothing replaces the hydration levels in your body better than good old plain water. Remember to drink at least half a cup of water every half an hour even if you aren’t thirsty. To make sure you’re drinking enough, monitor the color of your urine. It should be almost clear.

Hiking holidays can be incredible experiences that tax your body as much as they are rewarding. But, but taking a few precautions, building stamina and endurance, and preparing your body well, you can anticipate and avoid excessive fatigue on your hiking trip. And, when you stand at the end of your trail and view the world at your feet, the aches and pains will seem every bit worth it.

Have a wonderful holiday!

St Barth – A Truly Luxury Yacht Destination

If you are considering yacht charters for popular destinations, then St Barthelemy, or St Barth, has to be top of your list. This is where the rich and famous go, and for good reason. Sure, it is not as green as Martinique or Guadeloupe, but its exclusive, luxury feel, and stunning secluded beaches, by far makes up for that.

What Makes St Barth so Special?

St Barth is perhaps best compared to St Tropez. The difference is, however, that it doesn’t attract mass tourism, because it has stringent building regulations. All you can do here is shop, sun bathe, eat, and drink. It is a true paradise for those who can afford it.

Its location, in between the Virgin Islands and Antigua, makes it a particularly popular yachting destination. If you have a chance of being here with New Year, you will really be able to feast your eyes on some of the world’s most beautiful superyachts.

Interestingly, the geography of St Barth made it impossible to grow sugar cane here, which means it was never home to slaves either. Hence, it was settled around 300 years ago by Bretons and Normans, and people continue to be direct descendants of them. They quickly understood that this was an island to attract special people only, with its 22 beaches and other areas of natural beauty. In 1996, the Marine Park was opened, enabling people to access the island with more ease, while at the same time giving them the opportunity to enjoy the underwater world.

In order to become one of the most popular yachting destinations in the world, St Barth organized a number of yachting events. These include:

  1. The International Regatta.
  2. St Barth’s Cup
  3. Barth’s Regatta
  4. Barth’s Bucket Regatta

Going to St Barth also means going to the beaches, be that by hiring a 4×4 car or by yachting there. There are 22 beaches, each of which has its own unique personality. The most popular ones are:

  1. Anse des Flamands
  2. Baie de St.-Jean
  3. Anse de Lorient
  4. Shell Beach
  5. Anse de Colombier
  6. Anse de Grande Saline
  7. Anse du Gouverneur
  8. Anse de Grand Cul de Sac

One of the things that you can also do, either from the beaches or from your own yacht, is enjoy the marine life the St Barth has to offer. Snorkeling and scuba diving are fantastic ways to pass the time. You can see a variety of different fish, as well as crabs, shrimp, and lobster. Plus, there are small caves, ship wrecks, and coral canyons to enjoy for the deep-sea diver.

If you are considering chartering a yacht, but you are unsure about your destination, then you should really consider St Barth. It is about more than being able to rub shoulders with the likes of Johnny Depp and Simon Cowell. It simply is an absolutely beautiful gem of the Caribbean that is not to be missed.

 

Vacation Rentals- Questions to Ask to Avoid Disappointment

When you are staying in a vacation rental, whether it is run by the owner or by vacation rental professionals like the team at Elan Vacations, you get to enjoy a much more private vacation than if you are staying in a busy downtown hotel.  However, one of the advantages of staying in a hotel is that you have easy access to thinks like concierge assistance, extra pillows or bath supplies, and necessities that you may have forgotten to pack.  Even the best-appointed vacation rental will have difficulty competing with a major hotel on this front, and for that reason, staying in a vacation rental does require a bit of care with respect to making sure you will have everything you need.  Here are some questions that you should be sure to ask when you are choosing a vacation rental.

Is the neighborhood very noisy or very quiet?

Most vacation rentals will have guidelines prohibiting parties or loud activities on the property out of respect for neighbors.  But it is a good idea to find out what the “tolerances” are for noise in the area.  For example, if you are staying in a condo complex, you might find that there are rules about not playing music after a certain time, or you could find that a neighbor has complained about the fact that that you were on the balcony laughing or talking at normal levels at 11pm. Especially if you are travelling with a large group, you may find that your normal activities cause more noise than is normal in the building.  On the other side, you may find that there are lots of dogs in the area that bark at night, or local bars or restaurants that play loud music.  If any of these things are important to you, be sure to very clearly discuss your expectations with the owner or manager, and be sure you understand theirs.

Is there someone close by help if needed?

Any number of things can happen which require the assistance of the owner or property manager – electricity can fail, appliances can break, etc.  If such situations, you want to be sure that there is someone you can call who is able to respond in relatively short order.  You also want to know that there is someone that you can call more urgently, for example if you become locked out, or a pipe bursts and water is filling the kitchen.  Does the owner have a relationship or service contract with local tradespeople?

Utilities

Especially if you are travelling outside the US, you might find that electricity is pre-paid and that you may need to buy more if you go over. Be sure that you understand from your host whether this is the situation, and if so, who pays for additional electricity.  If you are staying in a vacation home for an extended period of time, be sure that you understand who pays the electric bill, and also the water and gas bills, if relevant.  If the owner pays these utilities, be sure to ask if there are any circumstances in which you may be charged for “excessive” use, and get clarification of what those circumstances may be.

These are just some of the many questions that you should ask your host before you arrive at your vacation rental to ensure that all goes well!

Actress Melissa Bolona Talks Skin Rejuvenation The Affordable Way

Spring has sprung and while we put away our sweaters and break out our sundresses, we must consider damage control from the winter long beat down of our skin. This is where good advice is not only welcomed, but desperately needed. If you must seek advice about how to heal your wounds from the winds of winter, you would be hard pressed to find better advice than skin rejuvenation tips from Melissa Bolona.

One of the best skin care tips Melissa has given is to use Argon Oil. This magical little bottle of liquid silk works wonders for your skin and will have you singing its praises at the top of your lungs when you’re done with it. Argon Oil is a super moisturizing oil that also works as an anti-aging oil. Bolona specifically suggests using Josie Marna’s brand of Argon Oil. Bolona also instructs that you use it as a night time serum.

Another suggestion Melissa gives is to use a mixture of ½ tsp of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, two capsules of Activated Charcoal pills, and 11.5 tsp of water. This home-made mixture will not only cleanse your pores, but it will also help to clean up pimples and remove blackheads all together. This detoxifying mask will get hard and begin to feel itchy and uncomfortable, but after the twenty minute wait is over, Bolona says that you won’t be sorry.

These affordable products can all be found on amazon.com, and if you follow these easy tips, your skin is sure to look amazing. Melissa Bolona is an up and coming actress and fashionista extraordinaire. For more information about the provider of these tips and more, check out Melissa Bolona’s imdb page.

A Guide To A Weekend In Cannes

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If you have been wondering where in France you should book for your next high flying and luxury getaway, you don’t have to look any further. The port city of Cannes is the ultimate in luxury city breaks, and if you’re going in and around the month of May, you get the added benefit of the Cannes Film Festival being on, which means the city turns almost into a mini-Hollywood, giving you the opportunity to see some of the best and brightest in the film industry. Read ahead for a quick weekend guide to this beautiful French city, simple and easy to get to from almost anywhere in Europe.

Getting To And Around Cannes

Most people from outside of France will have to fly into the Nice Cote Azur airport and transfer to Cannes. Likewise there are trains and buses from other areas that will come to Cannes, so it depends on your individual situation. Once in Cannes there are a number of options to getting to and from the airport as well as around town and the surrounding area. If you’re looking for that extra touch of luxury for your city break, why not consider booking a private car ahead of time to take your trip to the next level. With great services available and servicing the city and immediate area, there’s no better way to truly see Cannes like a celebrity.

Things To See And Do

Undoubtedly if you’re coming to Cannes, the ultimate thing to see and do is the world famous Cannes Film Festival which is held annually in May. This is a perfect chance to hobnob with famous celebrities and catch a glimpse of some of your favourites as they work the French red carpet. If that isn’t your thing though, Cannes has a fantastic marina, beautiful old town centre and luscious beaches that are fit for a king. La Croisette is a great place to stroll along the seafront enjoying different boutique shops and restaurants. For a truly unforgettable dining experience check out the covered market area of the city (Marche Forville) – a perfect place for people watching as well. Finally the Old Town has the standard winding and cobbled streets with interesting cafes and shops, leading to some old castle ruins atop a hill with some spectacular views. Check out a French Riviera cruise – you can enjoy some fantastic music while dining on the water for a flat fee.

Accommodation

Without doubt there is a whole host of accommodation on offer in Cannes, from the very exclusive and luxe down to some basic but decent hotels. There are a number of boutique hotels that have quite the style such as Le Mistral. For something on the high end, check out Hotel Martinez, which is where the celebs stay when they’re in town. On the cheaper less extravagant end of the spectrum is the Hotel Alnea, with basic but good facilities and rooms.

So there you have a quick run down to a weekend in Cannes. One thing is for sure – once you have checked out the French Riviera and all it has to offer the luxury minded, you’ll find yourself returning again and again!

Sharm El Sheik Uncovered

If you’re devoid of inspiration when it comes to selecting your holiday destination this year, and you’re looking for something a little bit different, Sharm El Sheikh, situated on the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, could be the answer to your vacation conundrum.

With year-round sun, and winter temperatures still often exceeding 25° C, Sharm El Sheikh is the perfect place to top up your tan this year. And with accommodation suited to every preference and budget, holidays to Sharm El Sheikh certainly cost a lot less than you might imagine.

The perfect place to relax

Located just twenty minutes from Sharm El Sheikh Airport, the sweeping, white beaches of Sharm are the perfect place to unwind and escape the stresses of everyday life. Indeed, throwing on your Ray-Ban glasses and reading a good book, sipping cocktails and dozing in the hot, Egyptian sun is the perfect way to begin any holiday.

Once you’ve had a little time to decompress, and you begin to crave something a little more exciting – that’s when Sharm El Sheikh really begins to come into its own.

 In search of adrenaline

Sharm El Sheikh’s beachside location, blazing sun and crystal clear waters, make it the perfect holiday destination for thrill seekers. Holidaymakers can try almost any water sport imaginable, from jet skiing and waterskiing, right through to parasailing.

If, however, you prefer dry land, Sharm El Sheikh continues to exceed expectations, providing guests with the opportunity to explore the Sharm desert on horseback or camel, while those who crave speed can enjoy thrashing around on quad bikes and in dune buggies.

 Underwater adventure

If Sharm El Sheikh has already succeeded in surprising you, its underwater scenery will take your breath away.

Sharm El Sheikh is a true diver’s paradise, attracting divers from all over the world. And with over 250 coral reefs and more than 1,000 species of fish, it’s not hard to see why.

The high visibility of the water surrounding Sharm El Sheikh offers superb diving conditions, and organised trips to the dive sites of Na’ama Bay, Ras Um Sid Cliff, and Sharm El Maya are some of the most competitively priced that you’ll find anywhere in the world.

A dive in the Red Sea will see you swimming with sharks, turtles and blue spotted stingrays; while more advanced divers can sample the delights of the Thistlegorm – voted one of the world’s top 10 wreck dives.

 Nightlife

After a long day of diving or some arduous relaxation in the sun, it’s time to find a bite to eat and enjoy a couple of cocktails.

Split into three distinctive areas, Na’ama Bay, Ras Um Sid Cliff, and Sharm El Maya, Sharm El Sheikh has a nightlife suited to every taste.

Sharm El Maya is the perfect choice for those looking for a romantic backdrop against which to dine on traditional Egyptian or international cuisine, while enjoying a bottle of wine. The more adventurous among you may decide to sample the lively nightlife of Na’ama Bay, where you can enjoy a lot more than a few quiet drinks.

Top Wedding Solemnisation Venues In Singapore

Bent down on one knee, he looks lovingly up to her as he asks that age-old question. With tears in her eyes, she exclaims yes, as he delicately slides the ring onto her finger and the champagne cork pops, flying high into the air.

While not all engagements feature that fairy-tale proposal, each and every one is special and unique, thanks to the distinctive, unbreakable bond each couple has. This bond is something to be treasured and celebrated throughout their life together, starting with that perfect wedding or solemnisation.

Singapore is simply full of wedding and solemnisation venues, each offering something unique, something special that will just ‘click’ with each couple when they see it. But to find the venue that works for them, loved-up couples need to see exactly what’s on offer.

Let’s take a look at some of the top solemnisation and wedding venues in Singapore, to reveal the best of the best.

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The Ballroom at The Fullerton Hotel

A fairy-tale proposal deserves a fairy-tale wedding, and there’s no better place to celebrate that fairy tale than The Ballroom. Set within the magnificent Fullerton Hotel, The Ballroom offers a lavishly refined setting for a truly unforgettable celebration.

With its sweeping staircases, elegant décor and exceptional service, this beautiful venue creates memories that will last a lifetime – and with a range of wedding and solemnisation packages available, couples can shape their Big Day to suit their exacting tastes.

While The Ballroom may be grand, some couples may prefer a smaller, more intimate wedding venue. Catering to every type of wedding and solemnisation, The Fullerton Hotel also offers the sophisticated Straits Room, once home to the elite Singapore Club, and the glorious The East Garden, perfect for garden parties under the stars.

 Sands SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands

With the world at their feet, couples can declare their love for each other as they gaze out onto the spectacular Singapore city skyline from the heights of Sands SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands.

Offering stunning views from 200 metres in the sky, this venue creates weddings that are not easily forgotten. Meanwhile, for those who perhaps don’t have such a head for heights, there is also the hotel’s charming Garden Walk and Bay View Foyer to choose from.

1-Altitude Bar & Gallery

For couples who have lofty ambitions, there is perhaps no better place to celebrate their Big Day than 1-Altitude. Perched high in the skies, this gorgeous venue is Singapore’s highest wedding and solemnisation venue, offering amazing 360-degree views from 282 metres up.

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Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa

Moving away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Shangri-La’s Rasa Resort & Spa offers a romantic waterside venue for couples looking for that idyllic beach wedding. Looking out onto the shimmering waters as the sunset throws dazzling colours into the sky, this enchanting location has seen many a dream come true.

Sheraton Towers

Another water-themed solemnisation venue, Sheraton Towers offers a perfectly picturesque backdrop in its landscaped water garden, complete with dazzling waterfall and koi pond. Surrounded by lush greenery, couples can say “I do” within this intimate setting, adjourning to air conditioned comfort in one of the hotel’s elegantly furnished function rooms.

6 Overlooked Backpacking Destinations In Eastern Europe

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If you’re an avid backpacker and you’re looking for the next great destination, look no further. Backpacking has been done throughout the world for years now and some of the destinations have been almost literally done to death. After all – how many more secret spots can be found in the places that have been frequented for years by thousands and thousands of people? One region of the planet that seems to be lesser visited than others is Eastern Europe, perhaps due to its relatively negative connotations as former deeply Soviet regions people think there may not be much worth seeing here, but as this article will show you – nothing could be further from the truth.

Belarus

Belarus maintains to this day a strict, enforced and almost militant border policy and government. A visa for most nationals, along with state issued medical certificates and a letter of invitation are required for a trip to Belarus and it could easily be considered one of the “final frontiers” of real adventure travel given its lack of any real tourist infrastructure, especially outside of Minsk. Internet is difficult to find in Minks and nigh on impossible in the countryside. If planning a trip to Belarus ensure you look into the visa situation for your own individual country of residence as it varies from nation to nation. Saying all this though, Belarus is home to a number of very unique experiences and sights, with some of the countryside featuring old world villages and very old world farming practices still used. The food, drink and language is similar to the culture of Russia and Ukraine, so you will find soups similar to Borscht and dumplings such as vareneky with ease. Crime is strictly punished, so street crime is low, however there can be theft from hotel rooms by cleaning staff so ensure you take all your valuables with you or lock them away somewhere safe.

Romania

Despite the fact that Romania is part of the European Union, travel seems to remain a bit wilder in terms of tourist infrastructure and simplicity in some parts. The cities are well equipped to host tourists of all levels of class and style depending what you’re looking for, while out in the countryside depending where you go you might be faced with home stays and local transport. It depends how off the beaten track you want to get, but Romanians on a whole are welcoming and helpful and will help you get from A to B with no worries. With a number of beautiful old world towns – many with their own castles to see – along with the Carpathian mountains you will wonder why you didn’t come to Romania sooner. Don’t forget to check out Dracula’s Castle – a hot tourist spot and a bit of a creepy stopping point for anyone in the country.

Ukraine

Ukraine gets a bad rap due to reports of its supposed rampant corruption, but nothing could be further from the truth. With their attempts to clean up their reputation for hopeful EU admittance, Ukraine has cracked down on former corrupt policies in its borders, police and government and is now a very warm, welcoming place. Kiev (sometimes spelled Kyiv) is the very spread out capital city where you won’t have trouble getting around or communicating your needs with the locals – even those whose English is poor can understand some and most wait staff in restaurants and bars speak at least some English. The food is absolutely top notch – we recommend ‘Shato’, a chain restaurant that features an impressive local and imported beer menu as well as traditional Ukrainian fare such as vareneky, borscht (beet soup), sausages of all kinds and cabbage rolls (holuptsi). Shato is also home to live music by night. Ukraine on the whole is a very affordable place to travel through, especially if you take local transport (Kiev’s metro costs 4 US cents per ride, regardless of how far you go), and longer bus journeys, although somewhat uncomfortable in marshrutkas can be under $10 depending where you’re going. Ukrainiain culture is very vocal and musical, so ensure you take in a show by a live band or dance troupe – you won’t regret it.

A side note to those interested in going to Chornobyl – the site of the nuclear disaster in 1986, ensure you book well in advance and get the checks started, As you’re going into a restricted area they do background checks on you prior to the tour, so you will need to submit for this about ten days before your scheduled tour. You will also need to take your passport with you for the checkpoints along the way into the exclusion zone of Pripyat and Chornobyl. Accommodation wise throughout Ukraine is that you would be better off staying in the likes of an Air Bnb or similar – you will get more for your money and get to hob nob with a local or two who might have some suggestions on absolutely top notch places to see during your trip – they might even join you too!

Moldova/Transnistria

Another unique region slightly similar to Belarus, Moldova and it’s “non-existant” neighbour Transnistria are unique and exciting places for any backpacker who might want to check out something new and unusual. Transnistria is a de-facto self-governing nation with no governmental ties to Moldova, however the sovereignty of the region is not widely recognised by many other countries. Transnistria is the region immediately east of Moldova, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine.

The general region of Moldova in itself is perfect for those who enjoy outdoor activities. With the steppes and wide open spaces featuring lakes and rivers, it’s a great place for hiking, kayaking, hill walking and generally getting out and about. The cities in Moldova feature beautiful town squares and the city of Soroca specifically is considered the home of the Romani Gypsy – so their buildings reflect this culture and are ornately decorated and colourful. The food of Moldova is similar to that of neighbouring Ukraine and Romania – soups, and a lot of use of root vegetables in many dishes as well as breads and dumplings with varying fillings with regional differences.

The Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

These three countries are tucked away in the north eastern corner of Europe, between Sweden and Russia and south of Finland. Tallin, the capital of Estonia is fast becoming a favourite locale for stag parties from western Europe, but still retains its classical, beautiful European charm and is a welcoming place for travellers of all ages. All three Baltic states are great places to travel through consecutively with a number of interesting and pagan-oriented festivals to be enjoyed throughout the year. Each of these three countries has their own unique flavour but one thing they all have in common is their twisting backstreets lined with cafes, their own regional beers and takes on various dishes such as dumplings, soups and breads as well as their skylines which consist of beautiful church steeples and Orthodox church domes sparkling in the sun. They also enjoy good, well scheduled train and bus links between them to make movement around the Baltics easier than expected.

Georgia

While not officially designated as Europe, Georgia is fighting for its inclusion into the EU and is making a large effort to attract a higher class of visitor as well as backpacker. The capital city Tbilisi is home to a number of high class hotels such as the Radisson Blu and a Marriott. Its low train and bus fares mean Georgia is not only cheap and easy to get around, but it offers links to almost every corner of the country too. From the sloping grape covered wine region of the east, with beautiful vistas over to the mountains around the Caspian sea and Azerbaijan, to the Black Sea coast that features strange cities like Batumi which is more like a Russian’s Las Vegas, Georgia is a peculiar but amazing nation. It’s something that’s come out of a time warp, with cinderblock villages set high in the mountains and roadside vendors selling snacks for almost criminally low prices. With so much to see and do, and multiple climate zones in one place, Georgia has something for everyone – not to mention its nearly 8000 year old wine making traditions!

So there you have six great places in Eastern Europe to explore on your next backpacking trip that each have their own unique flavour and history. So check out some of Eastern Europe next time – you won’t be disappointed!