Dreaming of traveling to Greece? Have you already made your plans but not finding the right flight to reach there? Well, if you are going through all these then you are in for a treat, because it’s Greece! Known to be the birthplace of democracy and the Olympics, and some will even say of the entire civilization, however today it is mainly known as a popular tourist destination thanks to known sites like Athens, Santorini Islands, Rhodes, Mykonos, and many more islands. While most people opt for highly recommended sites to visit, there are some lesser known places around that can be considered as real beauties. Here are some destinations that will make you want to go visit as soon as possible.
South Korea, Japan, these two countries are my two favorites in the East Asia part. I have always heard stories about Japan, its beauty, its structures, and its endless traditional architecture. Embarking on a journey to Japan is a dream of mine, and it’s soon to become a reality. From Tokyo to Osaka, this country never seems to end with the surprises while traveling. Japan is a unique country with its beautiful architecture and contrasting culture compared to the United States. I think we can all agree that Japan is an exciting and extraordinary trip. So, here is my list explaining why I want to visit Japan, and why you should too.
1. The Stunning Architecture
Japan has tons of beautiful and ancient temples and shrines. The city of Kyoto has around 2,000 Buddhist temples and shrines within the city limits. That number alone is impressive for just one city. Japan also provides thousands of endless Torii gates leading you up a mountain. Talk about getting a workout while exploring another culture. Japan is a perfect mix of culture, history, and modern comfort. There are skyscrapers, trendy restaurants, and everything else you can come across in the modern world. But, Japan does have it’s own unique, modern style and can’t be compared with any other advanced country.
2. How Clean Everything Is
You won’t see any trash or litter anywhere. The Japanese take great pride in their cleanliness, respecting their surroundings. Everything in Japan is super, super clean. You’ll never find any litter on the streets anywhere, for that matter. Every hotel and accommodation we stayed at always smelled rosy clean, and every restaurant table is efficiently cleaned before we sit down.
3. Their Food Is Cuter Than Your New Puppy
Have you even seen their food? It’s absolutely adorable! Just imagine some foods I’m about to describe to you: pandas made of rice in curry, marshmallow cats in your coffee, sleeping bear rice, cat donuts, bunny bread, and Chewbacca noodles (for all you Star Wars fans).
4. Kit Kats Come In SO Many Flavors
Being the huge Kit Kat fan that I am, just knowing the fact there are hundreds of flavors makes my mouth water uncontrollably. Let’s keep talking about food a bit longer. Because, well, I love food and Japan is an excellent place for foodies. KitKats are available in all kinds of flavors in Japan. Strawberry, pear, citrus golden blend, cinnamon cookie, strawberry cheesecake, wasabi and many more! Yes, also matcha! Really try out some of those crazy flavors!
5. The Beautiful Natural Landscape
Japan is perfect for nature lovers; the land looks like it was created by angels. Everything is perfectly placed as if it were planned, but nope. That’s just the beauty of Japan; including Mount Fiji, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, gardens, trails, and pretty much anywhere you look.
6. Seeing The Whole Country Covered in Cherry Blossoms
Cherry blossoms only last for two weeks in Japan, so I definitely need to go during that time. If you wanna experience a magical moment, go see those Cherry blossoms.
7. Experiencing The Weird And Wonderful Side Of Tokyo
Cat Cafes, Karaoke Bars, Pokemon Center, and Robot Restaurants… Do I need to mention more?
8. Ancient Japanese Culture
Next to the wacky side of Japan is the amazing culture that they hold so dearly to themselves. Their culture dates back to thousands of years ago; with many of the oldest aspects withstanding the test of time! Kyoto is the best place to witness geisha history, especially in the Gion district. The ancient Japanese culture is really interesting, and it has been around for thousands of years. Even now the culture and heritage is very prominent in the country. During your visit in Japan you can learn a lot about the history by visiting castles, temples, shrines and more. Especially Kyoto is a perfect destination if you want to experience the ancient Japanese culture.
9. The Toilets
Toilets?! I know. I know, but just hear me out on this one. The toilets are the most hygienic ones you will ever use. Yeah, I’ve heard it’s a little weird getting used to, but once you do, it’s a great experience. Of course, staying in a different country will need some getting used to. Plus, the toilets talk to you! (Only in Japanese, though!)
10. Getting Lost Is Half The Fun
Many people have said when you visit a different country it is best to lose yourself. Literally. You’ll end up finding things you’ve never imagined; see sites a lot of tourists haven’t. Just get lost and enjoy the magic that is Japan.
11. One of the safest countries
Japan is one of the safest countries to travel in the world. According to Worldatlas.com, Japan was in the top 10 of the World’s Safest Countries in 2017. What makes Japan so safe? For one thing, Japan puts a strong focus on crime prevention, with measurements such as ATM’s inside buildings or banks and the fact that firearms aren’t readily available.
12. Be a foodie in Japan
It is known that Japan is more than only ramen and sushi! Japanese food is all about taste, spices, and cooking. Japan has more amazing food than only ramen or sushi! For instance, try the Okonomiyaki pancakes, made with cabbage and topped with a variety of options. This can be anything from meat to seafood! Other food to try in Japan are Soba noodles, Yakiniku barbecue, Tempura, Sukiyaki, and Yakitori.
13. One of the most beautiful cherry blossoms
One of the most popular times to visit Japan is during spring. This is, of course, because of the amazing pink cherry blossoms that cover the streets. But not only the trees start to blossom when spring approaches, everything else in Japan turns into “sakura” mode. Think fake cherry blossom flowers in stores, cherry blossom drinks and even food.
Alright! So, that was my top reasons why I want to visit Japan and why you should too. If I missed anything, or if you have another reason to share, please let me know. Thanks for reading and have a kireina (Beautiful) Day!
Germany’s capital invites you to its vibrant 700 years of heritage culture, despite its gloomy past forged by World War II and the infamous Berlin Wall. If, like me, you wish to step outside your German class at school for a real taste of Germany’s Haupstadt, follow the guide below for the best sights of Berlin.
The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions the German capital is the Brandenburg Gate. It is not surprising as even Napoleon couldn’t resist it and took the Quadriga (a statue towering above the columns) with him to Paris. However, after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, the chariot statue with its goddess of victory was returned to Germany where it towers over visitors to this day.
It isn’t just the German Parliament; the Reichstag is in fact a major historical building. In May 1945, the Reichstag was the main target of the Soviet army which invaded Berlin. The walls still bear bullet traces and memorable inscriptions of Russian soldiers. The most popular part when visiting the dome is the roof terrace where you can lunch while admiring the impressive views of Berlin.
The cathedral is a majestic building with a luxurious interior decoration. It is the largest protestant church in Germany with a carved, gilded altar inside and colorful stained-glass windows. The church is also home to the sarcophagi of the members of the Hohenzollern dynasty (once a ruling family in Germany) and to The Organ in the dome, recognised as the largest in the country with its 7.269 pipes and 113 registers on 4 manuals.
The museum island consists of five museums, namely Pergamonmuseum, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. They all display ancient and valuable art works from Europe and the Middle East, such as the legendary bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, the jaw-dropping Pergamon Altar and the stunning Ishtar Gate.
Unter den Linden
The most famous boulevard of Berlin begins at the Bradenburg Gate. Unter den Linden translates to “under the lindens” and is the first avenue of Berlin dating back from the 17th century. Today the avenue is one the most beautiful spots of the city.
Berlin TV Tower
Choose to visit Germany’s tallest building on a sunny day to view Berlin from its observation deck and commemorate the event with a photo titled “Berlin at my feet”.
Are you eager to meet big cats, bears and pandas? Visit the Berlin Zoo and the Berlin Aquarium, which offer visitors a glimpse of the world’s biodiversity right in the middle of the city.
Berlin also makes us remember and reflect upon the largest tragedies of war. Anyone visiting the Holocaust Memorial walks in a harrowing space that does not sugarcoat the horrors of the event.
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace of Berlin. Built 300 years ago, its garden is an ideal place to wander during the summer. The palace’s stateroom and ballroom are quintessentially rococo in style, while silver, gold, glass and porcelain tableware are also on full display. The Porcelain Cabinet is a special room of the palace which displays a collection of the finest porcelain, all blue and white.
Pop into the Konzert Haus to find Berlin’s world-renowned art and culture. From ballet, opera to classical German music and theatre, there is something for everyone to revel in. There are also guided tours available to visit the famous concert hall.
Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church
Erected over a hundred years ago, the Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church was heavily bombarded during the second world war. As such the church is a symbol and memory of war tragedies.
Visit one of the laid back and hipster neighborhoods of Berlin. Kreuzberg isn’t a crowded tourist spot and is in fact also a cultural center. Dally along the many small and unique shops, restaurants and bars, and admire the street graffiti.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a massive stretch of the Berlin wall and features a plethora of paintings from international artists. The 1.3km section of artworks stands as an international memorial for freedom.
The Mauer museum and Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie has historical significance as it was set up in 1961 when the Berlin Wall was built to prevent Germans from the eastern side of Germany to flee to the democratic West. The Mauer Museumcomes with fake border guards outside and exhibitions relating to tales of escapees. You can even buy a piece of the Berlin wall as a souvenir.
It is one of the most iconic spots in Berlin famous for lively shopping areas, ritzy hotels and architecture. Visit the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden for a huge range of shops offering everything a shopaholic yearns for. Cafes, bistros and restaurants are open to recharge your batteries.
Have you been to Berlin or are you planning to visit the city? Don’t forget to grab a city pass to take full advantage of Berlin’s public transport system when moving around the sights. Comment below if you know other interesting spots of Germany’s capital city.
Romania is a country not so many people have ever heard about. For some fans of sport the word “Romania” gains a meaning only after hearing such names as Gica Hagi or Nadia Comaneci. Others have heard about it from Eurovision contests. However, Romania is a country which is worth being discovered. It is situated in the South-East of Europe on the coast of the Black Sea. Her neighbors are Moldavia, Ukraine Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. These countries and the complicated history have definitively let important signs and defined its variety and specific.
The first aspect somebody gets to know when coming for the first time to Romania is the language – Romanian. For those who have never studied it it is very easy to note that the language is very similar to Italian, French, and Spanish. You are probably wondering why, as Romania is far from being a geographical neighbor of Italy, France or Spain. The history gives us the answer. The former territories of Romania, once called Dacia and populated by Indo-European tribes with the same name, were concurred by the Roman Empire in 106 AD, after which followed an intense process of colonization and romanization. This process had such a great success for the colonists that the new Romanian language, born from fusion of Latin and Dacik, consists to 60% of Latin word, which makes Romanian the most approached language to Latin. So if you know at least one of the Latin languages, there should not be great problems for you to understand the locals. Other relatively long lasting conquests (Turkish, Russian, or Austria-Hungarian) also let their imprint on the Romanian language.
However, the language was not the only element which had been influenced along the history. Different people brought to Romania their culture, traditions, architecture, religion, and even their specific way of living and thinking.
Romania is divided in nine regions and each of them has something special, unrepeatable, which is not to be found in the other ones. For example the regions which were under the rule of Austro-Hungarian Empire are very similar to the authentic Hungarian ones. At the time of Austro-Hungarian control, the people used to live in communities and this influenced the architecture of the houses. Have you ever seen more than seven houses, wall to wall without any gap between them? If you are interested, the West and North-West regions are the right thing for you. Advancing from the country side towards the center of the cities closed yards for ten houses give way to paved roads and European architecture as you know it.
Another region where the houses have an interesting architecture lay in the North of the country. Totally different from those in North-West and West, each house attracts by its fairy tail aspect and the gardens around them remind you about Eden Gardens. Some people would like to rest there, for the others it is their home.
As long as some regions impress us by their houses, the coast of the Black Sea impresses us with its ruins. From here on once started the Roman colonization and parts of the towns built by the colonists can be seen until today. The coast itself does not differ from the Spanish or Italian ones and can comfort you at any time.
Whether the South-Eastern region reminds us about the Roman occupation the capital of Romania Bucharest offers us a flashback into the times of communism. The impressive House of the People built at the dictator’s order is the second largest White House in Europe. To visit at least half of it you would need more than one day.
Religion is neither to be forgotten. The Romanians are a very religious people. From the whole population, about 80% are orthodox Christians, and only a small part of it is catholic (especially in the former Austria-Hungarian areas). There is an uncountable number of orthodox churches and monasteries, which brings the people closer to God. Only in the cultural capital of Romania – Iasi – there are over 300 churches. Each monastery from the neighborhood of Iasi (region of Moldavia) has its specific color, although their construction and style are mostly the same. There are both men and women monasteries in Romania, but curious is the fact that these monasteries differ one from another. For example in the Eastern region you will be more welcome in a female monastery, but in a mountain area the monks are much friendly than the nuns, although there the monasteries are isolated and far away from civilization. How paradoxical it would not be, we should not make fun of religion and the people who dedicated themselves to it.
The large spread of monasteries in the Eastern area can be explained by its economy. This area is considered to be the poorest one from the whole country. There are neither natural resources, nor mountains nor sea. On the other hand this area is very developed from the cultural and spiritual point of view. The locals from this region are also much friendlier than those from the other ones. Their difficult situation has probably brought them together and made them help each other.
Tourism is well developed on the Black Sea coast and can easily compete with the coast of Mediterranean Sea. The central area of the country, crossed by Carpati Mountains, attracts tourists from all over the world not only because of the beauty of the landscapes or its thermal bays and salted lakes, but also due to the well-known legend of Dracula from Transylvania. Whatever Romania makes money from its tourism is not to be ignored and would definitively sustain it at any costs whenever I had the possibility to. Discover it yourself!
Planning a trip to the happiest country in the world? Here’s a few tips on how to make the most of your time in the Kingdom of Denmark.
Some Quick Facts
One of the oldest monarchies in the world, most people know Denmark as the home of the scourge of the seas and pillagers of land – the Vikings. Nowadays though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a scowling Dane. The country regularly tops the World Happiness rankings due to their stable government, low levels of public corruption, and access to high-quality education and health care, and most of all, Hygge – the pursuit of high-level social interactions.
Some of Denmark’s other claims to fame are the pastry of the same name and being the first country to legalize porn, all the way back in 1969!
The main part of Denmark is Jutland and the two islands Funen and Zealand. Jutland is connected to Germany by land, but the rest of Denmark is surrounded by sea, which probably explains how they perfected the art of building ships. For the most part, Denmark is flatlands with little elevation.
The biggest cities in Denmark are Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and is home to about 600 000 Danes. The official language is Danish, but almost everyone speaks English as well. A fair percentage of the population also speaks German, Spanish or something else, so you won’t have trouble making yourself understood.
When Should I Visit?
The absolute best time to visit Denmark is in the spring or summer (between March and August). Like most Scandinavian countries, autumn and winter in Denmark is cold and rainy, and most people stay indoors. That’s not to say winter doesn’t have its own appeal, just that you’ll probably enjoy yourself more when the sun comes out.
Getting Around in Denmark
With over 12,000 km. of sign-posted cycle routes, Denmark is made for cycling. Having said that, the public transport system is excellent as well. All transport companies offer tourist tickets, so you really won’t have any issues getting around.
Now, let’s dig into what you’re really here for. What is there to do in Denmark?
Things to do in Jutland
Jutland is mainly known for its endless beaches, big dunes and dramatic landscape. Every summer thousands of Germans and Danes go to Jutland for a week or two to swim in the sea and get some sand between their toes. North Jutland, the very top of Denmark, is known for its special light and raw nature. It’s also at the very tip of North Jutland that the two seas Skagerrak and Kattegat meet each other. The collision of the waves is clearly visible to the naked eye.
Grenen: A sand formation from where you can see Skagerrak and Kattegat crash into each other.
Skagen: The most delightful little town. You definitely want to spend a couple of hours in Skagen.
Råbjerg Mile: A colossal migrating sand dune. You’d never know this was Denmark.
The sand-buried church: It used to be a functioning church, but around the year 1800 it became increasingly difficult for the parishioners to dig their way to church services. Today only tower of the church is visible. The rest is buried in sand.
Aarhus – the City of Smiles: Aarhus is the second biggest city in Denmark, and it has a lot to offer in terms of food, culture and shopping.
Legoland and Lego House: Go brick-berserk. An absolute must for families.
ARoS: The biggest art museum in Aarhus and one of the largest museums in Northern Europe. One of the big attractions is the rainbow panorama, a 150-meter-long, circular panoramic path with views of the surrounding city, located on top of the museum.
Black sun: Black sun is one of the most impressive and exciting natural phenomena in Denmark. Every year hundreds of thousands of starlings meet in the marshlands in southwestern Jutland where they flit about and dance in the evening sky.
Things to do on Funen
Funen is the island squeezed in between Jutland and Zealand. It may not be big, but it is beautiful. There are loads of good reasons to spend a few days on H.C. Andersen’s birth island.
The South Funen Archipelago: A unique area of 55 islands easily reached from Funen. Keywords: tranquillity, salty sea air and slow living.
Everything H.C. Andersen: The H.C. Andersen Museum, his birth home, his neighborhood, the parade etc. In case you weren’t aware, we have Hans Christian Andersen to thank for most of our fairytales, like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.
Egeskov Slot: Europe’s best-preserved Renaissance moat-surrounded castle. A great day trip.
Odense: Denmark’s third-largest city is buzzing with life. Visit the old quarter with its crooked houses, the brand new harbor-quarter or the lovely Latin quarter.
Things to do on Zealand
Zealand’s claim to fame is largely Copenhagen, the nation’s very happening capital. When you’re in the midst of planning a trip to Denmark, don’t forget to reserve at least three days for Copenhagen.
Tivoli, Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid: The fifth most visited theme park in the world is found at Tivoli. Nyhavn is the waterfront district in Copenhagen that is jam-packed with culture and history. The Little Mermaid Statue needs no introduction.
Castles: Kronborg Castle (home of Hamlet) and Fredensborg Castle are both very impressive.
Roskilde: A city of kings and Vikings. In Roskilde Cathedral, no less than 38 Danish monarchs have been laid to rest for eternity. The cathedral is also on UNESCO World Heritage list. In Roskilde, you also find the Viking Ship Museum.
Møns Klint: An impressive 6km stretch of chalk cliffs that words cannot do justice to. Take our word for it and go see it in person.
We hope this guide to Denmark has helped you figure out where to go and what to see. Share your experiences in the comments below!
Located on the shores of the Aegean Sea, Izmir is Turkey’s third-largest city. Its Mediterranean climate makes Izmir a popular holiday destination for history, water sports enthusiasts and foodies.
Catch of the day
Izmir is an ideal place for those not seeking sandy beaches and resort facilities. Izmir is a quiet town, not too crowded even in the first week of August, when its historical sites, namely Ephesus and Pergamon, are filled with tourists. Visiting Izmir without some fresh fish isn’t complete, most restaurants offer the catch of the day grilled to perfection.
In antiquity, Alexander the Great began the construction of Izmir which was later finished by the Romans. As such the Roman and Greek Agora is worth a visit either early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid heat waves and the crowd. Statues of various Greek gods are displayed at the museum’s site. The Agora ruins are located in Konak, near the Kemeralti shopping area in the city. One wouldn’t expect to spot the agora of an ancient city next to a huge car park, but it is possible in Izmir! Alexander the Great’s fountain is still running after 2000 years and there are remains of a Muslim cemetery at the archeological area.
Asansor and the Clock Tower
If you wish to view the city of Izmir at an altitude of 50m while enjoying a coffee on top, take the Asansor lift. The historical lift of the city is located in the district of Konak and was built in 1907. The clock tower is situated in Konak’s spacious square and is a central element of the city since 1901.
Ephesus is a fabulous place in Izmir, with the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean region. Take a day trip to one of the seven wonders of the world named Temple of Artemis at Ephesus which is less than one hour driving from the airport.
In the olive grove
Excursions to Ephesus, often include visiting Sirince village, about 8 kilometers away in the hills smothered with olive groves and vineyards. A number of 19th-century houses have turned into boutique hotels. Locals make wine, olive oil and grow tasty peaches.
It is best to visit Izmir in the spring or fall to avoid hot temperatures. However, if you are visiting in the summer, you can travel the West coast to Cesme and Foca where one can enjoy the beautiful seaside, practice windsurfing and scuba diving.
For centuries Izmir was the starting point of some trade routes, which turned it into a valuable city of the old times. Izmir has lots of streets where you can wander, it offers good vibes, beautiful encounters and nice weather, especially in the spring.
The city of Athens is Europe’s classical capital, carrying mythical and cultural baggage. To help you plan your stay, below are the best places and things to do in and around Athens.
Athens’s Acropolis is one of the most well-known archeological sites worldwide. Visiting this antique limestone building is a must for anyone coming to Athens. Head down to the Acropolis area in the morning when the sites are just opening up. Stop at the Temple of Zeus to buy an Acropolis combo ticket. Go in only for a few minutes to see the ruins and the view up to the Parthenon. Pass by Hadrian’s arch as you walk up the Acropolis.
National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is situated in the Exarchia neighborhood. The museum holds the originals of all the Greek treasures you’ll recognize from textbooks and pictures.
Visit a Greek island
For the quintessential Greek experience, head to Hydra. It is beautiful, historical and no cars are allowed, with a feeling of going back in time. Take the fast, hydrofoil ferry there and back to maximize your time on the island. If you are visiting the peak summer season, be sure to reserve your tickets in advance. Leave in the morning and come back in the evening. The boats leave from Piraeus harbor which is only a few minutes walk from the last metro station. There are lots to see and do on the island: explore the old mansions and museums in Hydra town, hike up to the monastery, take a donkey ride, walk along the coast, take a boat taxi to a nearby beach or eat at many great cafes.
A closer island to visit is Aegina. Many ferries offer departures from Piraeus each day. The island is famous for pistachio nuts. Once in the small port town, rent a scooter or quad for the day to get around. There are a small museum, ruins and beach just north of the port. Drive your bike down the coast to the south and find a good beach to relax on. Head back up and through the island center to the east side and make sure to stop at the hilltop Temple of Aphaia, one of the most stunning Doric temples of Greece.
If you want to cram in as much as possible, a number of tour companies offer three islands in one-day cruises. You can visit Hydra, Poros and Aegina in one day.
The Peloponnese is a large peninsula southwest of Athens. Visit ancient Corinth, a famous Greek and Biblical city right where the peninsula joins the Greek mainland. The site of the old city has a small but excellent museum and ruins you can walk through in a couple of hours.
Do not miss the ruins of Mycenae, where king Agamemnon once ruled. There isn’t much left of the city but once can still notice the famous walls, the lion gate, the vast burial chambers and the small museum.
Visit the town of Nafplio, a beautiful city on the sea. It has been around since antiquity but shows heavy Venetian influence today. Walk around the old town to admire the views and stop at a Gelato (ice cream) store. Then drive up to the Palamidi fortress above the city. The fortress is a spectacular citadel, standing on a 216m high rock outcrop and was built by the Venetians in 1711. Hike along the walls to get more amazing views of the city and sea.
Athens is a fantastic city to visit and five days can be a good amount of time to see the sights. The best seasons of the year to visit the city are from March to May and from September to November.
South Africa is home to Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth. It is a country that is filled with natural beauty. It has many beaches, historical places, cultural centers, arts and crafts markets, and entertainment centers. South Africa is a country rich in culture and heritage, fast-paced, dynamic and cosmopolitan. It is renowned for its array of natural attractions – from the stretches of untouched beaches, to the rolling mountains and game reserves teeming with some of the world’s most magnificent bird and wildlife species. It is also known for gold mining and cities that bustle with life and activity.
It is recommended that a tour of South Africa should last at least 2 weeks – as this is the ideal amount of time to experience the diversity of the country and soak up the magic of this Rainbow Nation.
South Africa is a beautiful country to visit and one would never forget their holiday here. However, there is a normal crime rate here like every other country. Being a tourist city, South Africa does expose the visitors to some amount of dangers and the tourists should also make their own efforts to be safe and secure in a new country.
While crime statistics have improved over the past decade (though again rising slightly in 2009), South Africa still retains one of the world’s highest crime rates. It’s not simply the amount of crime that’s the worry, but the percentage of that crime that is violent in nature. In a recent address to parliament, South African President Jacob Zuma stated that South Africa has a greater problem with violent crime than any other country in the world (a statement made in the year South Africa is hosting the world cup). Traveling this country is an amazing experience but a journey that must be undertaken with caution.
The following 10 tips will help you to travel safer in South Africa.
10. Safety starts at the Airport.
The main terminal at Johannesburg’s international airport is not a particularly safe place. Thieves, pickpockets and other low life’s stalk the area looking for anything not nailed down. Be aware of your possessions and exit stage left as quickly as possible.
9. Rental cars are one of the safest options to get around.
Aside from an organized tour, probably the safest way to get around the country is to rent your own transport. Despite this everybody has heard the carjacking horror stories (there are 250 police dedicated to hijackings in Joberg alone), and precautions have to be taken. DO NOT drive at night, leave a gap of an inch or so on your driver’s side window (which makes it harder to smash the window), keep your doors locked (central locking is a must) and be vigilant at traffic lights as this is the usual spot for car jackings to occur.
8. Traveling in a group is no guarantee of safety.
While traveling in big numbers certainly helps, don’t assume you or your group will not be targeted. Always be aware of what’s going on and don’t stray too much from the pack.
7. Watch your possessions.
Theft of valuables from your hotel or hostel is very common (as in other parts of the world). Try not to take much to South Africa that you would not be too distraught to lose, and keep valuables safely hidden.
6. Avoid traveling alone.
Don’t wander off down quiet side streets, avoid deserted beaches and dark areas at all times and at all costs. South Africa is really better enjoyed with a friend or two to look out for you.
5. Don’t read the newspapers.
After a few months in the country I had to stop reading the local and national papers; it started to freak me out. Crimes that would be front page at home barely rate a mention, and the ones that are featured are pretty horrendous. Just a bit of ignorance here can be bliss.
4. Always ask the locals.
Keep a close ear for advice from locals and hotel operators on where and where not to go. From street to street the safety situation can change quickly. Local knowledge is really a key to staying safe as you travel.
3. Try to avoid public transport.
There’s a decent network of backpacker buses and renting a car is cheap and a safer way to go. The mini buses can be dodgy, with little to no safety standards (and maybe driven on behalf of local gangs). You might meet more of the locals on the bus but maybe this is better done in the pub.
2. If you plan to surf or swim be cautious.
Be aware that South Africa is home to a healthy and hungry population of great white sharks. Signs will be up at certain times of year advising against swimming or surfing at some beaches due to the ‘sardine run’, a time when great whites are especially active. Be aware!
1. Be alert but not alarmed.
While all this might sound off putting South Africa is still a great and memorable place to visit. Time spent here can be a life changer in the most positive way, as long as you keep your wits about you.
Always check your government travel advisory website before you go for the most up to date safety advice regarding travel in South Africa.
Often taken for granted by many travelers heading to India, Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination for cycling, with a wondrous coastline and beautiful highland scenery. Sri Lanka was previously known as Serendib and Ceylon. Now the island welcomes travelers with divine food, excellent accommodation, and friendly people. The cycling trip begins at the heart of the island in Kandy and finishes on the southern coast of Galle. The tea factories along the journey teach the traveler about the process of making tea, and one gets to sample a cup every time.
Tucked in between tea plantations, the roads of Kandy are packed with vehicles and tourists. Before undertaking the 10km cycling ride to Nuwara Eliya, do not forget to visit the holy site of the Temple of the Tooth, where Buddhist monks conserve and worship a tooth of the Buddha. Cycling from Kandy begins as a warm-up ride where you will get to enjoy the lovely views of the hills.
When you begin cycling the roads of Nuwara Eliya, they gradually get steep soon after leaving Kandy. It is a 45 km ride across Little England. Expect to see fewer people around and more of a gorgeous vista of tea plantations. There is a wide variety of road surfaces with minimal traffic. The rides end at Gampola railway station, where a train awaits you to head to higher elevations. You will require warm clothes in Nuwara Eliya, as temperatures drop at night. An operation tea factory around Ambewella is open to visitors seeking a cultural experience. Colonial-era accommodation is available in the region where you can enjoy a hearty meal sitting by the open fire.
The 60km ride from the Nuwara Eliya to Ella is a downhill route where you leave the high tea country and start penetrating the primary forest. Ella is rich in flora and fauna, and home to picturesque train bridges.
Embark on a scenic train ride from Ella to Heputale train station. From there on, follow the 25km of circuitous roads and a 10 km downhill ride, which flattens as you ride deeper into Udawalawe National Park home to a large Elephant population.
The final bicycle ride takes you to the old port city of Galle, where you can soak up the sun along the coastline. Enjoy a refreshing drink from a 300-year-old fort overlooking the ocean.
The peak season to travel Sri Lanka starts from December to January and July to August. It is recommended to meticulously plan and prepare your itinerary to enjoy the most of the rural and urban Sri Lanka.
There’s a wide array of misconceptions that trail behind Saudi Arabia, nevertheless, it is still a conservative and religious country that follows the Shari’a Laws.
Still, you’ll find that upon arriving at the country, it’s unlike its representation by the West. There is a multitude of things to do in the different parts of the country, and you’ll find that you’d have had an enjoyable trip.
Saudi Arabia’s laws comply with the Islamic Shari’a law since Islam is the official religion of the country. There are many restrictions, especially for women who are for instance banned from being behind the wheel. It is important for travelers to carry out early research about the country prior to travelling there. This is to avoid travelers from getting themselves into potential trouble which might lead to unwanted consequences. With that in mind and for your convenience, here are some travel tips when travelling to Saudi Arabia.
Gaining access to Saudi Arabia can be quite tough for some as there are many restrictions. Bear in mind that the currency, customs, and quarantine regulations in Saudi Arabia are updated regularly. It is therefore advisable to visit the nearest Saudi Arabian embassy or consulate to obtain the latest updates on its local news and laws. If you wish to perform Hajj, you must have a Hajj visa. Ask your travel agent about this before you travel. You may not be able to enter Saudi Arabia if your passport or luggage has any evidence of prior travel to Israel, such as Israeli entry or exit stamps. Make sure you also have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining prior to departing.
Whether you are a local or foreigner, you must respect the local laws of Saudi Arabia given the highly conservative nature of the country. Hence, you should always mind your behavior when travelling to the country to avoid yourself from offending others. Be careful when taking pictures. You wouldn’t want to get yourself into trouble by pointing your camera at Saudi Muslim women which is strictly forbidden. Alcohol is strictly prohibited and unavailable for purchase throughout the country. The spreading of religious views and teachings which are opposed to Islam is also not allowed under any circumstances.
Saudi customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the importation into the country of banned items such as weapons, non-halal items such as pork products and alcohol, pornography, and religious materials not pertaining to Islam. It is normal to shake hands with the locals when meeting them and on departing from a gathering. Kisses however are not permitted. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden. In this case, gay and lesbian partners would have to sleep separately. If you happen to visit the country during Ramadhan, bear in mind that all restaurants will be closed during the day and will only open in the evening once fasting is broken by the iftar (a meal or buffet).
Did you know that showing the soles of your feet to anyone in Saudi Arabia is considered a major insult? So, be careful of where you point your feet in public places. When it comes to women’s well-being, women are required to abide by certain rules and restrictions. They are not allowed to drive and must never leave home without wearing an Abaya. Whether you are a local or tourist, you too must put on an Abaya if you are a woman. Men and women are not permitted to attend public events together and are segregated in the workplace. Women cannot walk with men who are not their relatives. If you wish to ask for directions, it’s best to ask from people of the same sex.
Saudi Arabia evokes images of camels and deserts. It is a humid place indeed. Due to its extremely hot climate, it is advisable to wear sun block lotion when going under the sun. Always take a bottle of water with you to avoid dehydration and do not stay under the sun for too long. Saudi Arabia has many interesting malls to go to, so you can walk around in the air-conditioned malls. Trust me there is plenty to do both under and away from the sun!
People don’t steal in Saudi because stealing is immoral and committing such offence in Saudi Arabia can be your worst nightmare if you ever get caught! Never attempt to steal unless you don’t mind your hands and fingers getting cut off. Explore the country and you will be amazed with its buildings, food, malls, and vehicles. Most Saudi Arabians drive nice luxurious cars. Forget the camels! Believe it or not, the country has the world’s the greatest number of beautiful and luxurious cars. Don’t be surprised to see an average family driving a fancy car! Visit Saudi Arabia today and experience it yourself. Your trip to Saudi Arabia would be great, if you behave!