Visiting Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa in Palawan is known as the City in a Forest and has many natural wonders.

Photo by IronChefBalara (Creative Commons)

With populations increasing all over the world, areas once left untouched are fast becoming targets for housing developments. Fortunately, there are still a few places where Mother Nature’s beauty is left untouched; and one of these places is Palawan in the Philippines.

Located in the South Eastern part of the Philippines, Puerto Princesa literally translates to “Port of the Princess” and is known as the City in a Forest because of its abundant natural beauty. It is home to several natural wonders such as the El Nido Marine Reserve, Honda Bay, Kayangan Lake, and the Tubbatah Reef. It is also where the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, can be found.

Based on data collected by the Department of Tourism in the Philippines, the country was visited by about 4.7 million tourists in 2013, representing an almost 10% growth rate from 2012. For East Asian visitors, Korea provided the majority. And as far as Europe is concerned, the United Kingdom was at the top of the charts.

Traveling to Puerto Princesa

While Puerto Princesa is home to several natural wonders, it is far from being an isolated group of islands. The Puerto Princesa International Airport services several carriers such as AirAsia, Cebu Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, and Tigerair. With the exception of Malaysia Airlines, all flights take place between Palawan and Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

For people coming from the United Kingdom, travel advice at the government’s website states that Philippine Airlines is the only certified carrier authorized to travel to the European Union. British nationals will need to board a flight at Heathrow Airport headed for the Ninoy International Airport in Metro Manila before taking a connecting flight to the Puerto Princesa International Airport.

Those intending to stay for a week or longer may prefer to park their own vehicles to the airport due to a larger amount of luggage they will be taking with them. Unfortunately, research found in the Telegraph indicates that a week’s worth of parking can cost as much as £377 and can still be unsafe for vehicles. An article at the Heathrow airport page on parking4less provides information on which of the three airport car parks offer the best options so long-term travelers can get on with the business of enjoying their trip.

Puerto Princesa is home to several natural wonders of Mother Nature and is becoming very popular. Apart from an international airport, the city has many comfortable places to stay in so visitors can enjoy all the natural wonders the place has to offer.

Things To Do in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon is located in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States. It is considered to be one of the best cities in the USA to live in, mainly due to its great climate, good quality of life, and cultural scene. Portland also has a great deal of wilderness and outdoor activities available within a close distance of the city. Here are some things that you can do to make your Portland vacation the best.

 

 

Parks and Gardens

There are more than 200 parks and gardens in Portland, so it may be hard to choose which to see first. The Portland Japanese Garden is one of the city’s most popular and most beautiful. At more than five acres it contains a Japanese Tea House, bridges, streams and walkways as well as some authentic Japanese trees and plants. Portland also has a traditional Chinese garden. The Lan Su Chinese Garden is built in the Ming style, it also has a tea house, as well as plants and walkways created in the traditional Chinese style.

Portland also offers several wildlife refuges to please the bird watchers in your group.

Food and Drink

Portland is well known as a culinary haven in the USA. There are many top chefs in the region who are ready to delight you with their wizard skills in the kitchen. While it might not seem like haute cuisine, Voodoo Donuts is a very popular donut shop. Arrive early as the lines can be long. There are also several farmer’s markets offering the best of local produce, flowers and prepared foods. Attending the market events is a great way to get a feel for the city and its residents.

You might think that Seattle is the coffee haven of the USA, but Portland can hold its own in the coffee wars. Try a cup and see what you think.

Portland also offers a great nightlife scene, and for those of you who are beer lovers, Portland has microbreweries galore. Comedy clubs and LGBT clubs round out the scene.

Museums

The Portland Art Museum is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest, and offers rotating exhibits all year around. The Oregon Museum of Science is another great place. It’s one of the top science museums in the country and has loads of interactive displays. It’s especially fun for kids, or to while away a rainy afternoon.

Sports

Portland has a long history of sporting events. Some of the events you could while you’re there are the NBA team, the Trailblazers, the Winterhawks hockey team, or the local roller derby team, the Rose City Rollers. Portland also offers soccer matches and horse racing. There is a lot to do in the world of Portland sports.

Whatever you do while you’re in Portland, Oregon, you’re bound to enjoy it. Come and visit this amazing northwest city and see what kind of fun you can have!

 

 

Saint-Martin? Sint Maarten?

Shared between two magnificent countries, French St Martin and Dutch St. Maarten, this divine destination is an island of dreams. Nature’s bounty can be seen at its best here. It is easily one of the most popular Caribbean destinations among Americans and Europeans alike.

St Martin is popular as a cruise destination and the city has also gained a lot of popularity for being a duty free shopping destination. As it offers a lot of shopping opportunities at reasonable prices, visitors who are shopping buffs can let themselves loose on the island.

Visitors coming here also enjoy superb dining and various forms of entertainment. Not only can you try cuisines that are specific to this place, one can also try delightful cuisines that are unique to other places like continental, Italian, Mexican, French, Thai and many more. Nightlife on the island is legendary.

US citizens traveling to the destination need to bring proof of citizenship and a photo ID. As tourists, admission for 14 days is guaranteed. Though a visa is required for longer stays, visitors coming from France may stay up to three months.
Euro is the legal currency in this destination, but US Dollars are accepted at most of the places. In case one needs to use banking services, the banks are open Monday to Friday.

At those hotels that are located on the French side, a 5% occupancy tax is added per person. Tipping is customary, and many hotel restaurants add the gratuity to your bill. It is customary to add a tip between 50 cents and a dollar for taxi drivers, while at the airport porters usually get $1 per bag.

When packing clothes, one should pack comfortable, neat and casual clothes. Swimming attire is a must. Since evenings are bit chilly, one should also pack shawls and jackets.

Make your way to this beautiful, tropical retreat and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime!

Berlin, Germany’s Hipster Haven

Berlin has come a long way in recent decades. Once harshly divided by the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the dark days of the Cold War, Berlin has emerged in recent years as the ultimate hip city in Europe. Its gained a reputation for having a somewhat rebellious and freewheeling attitude, and draws artists, writers and other creative types from all over the world. Berlin has also begun to see itself become a hotspot for entrepreneurs and people who make their livings online. In addition to the fact that prices here remain cheaper than in other parts of Europe, the abundance of co-working spaces makes it a great place to network and build something.

Photos of Memorial of the Berlin Wall, Berlin
This photo of Memorial of the Berlin Wall is courtesy of TripAdvisor

There is a great deal to do in Berlin, so whether you are working there or just visiting to see what all the hype is about, this is one city not to miss when you’re in Europe.

Despite its current status as a flourishing and cosmopolitan city, Berlin still very much bears the scars of the Cold War era, and there are many places to visit where you can learn more about Germany’s place in modern history.

The Memorial of the Berlin Wall stands as a testament to that infamous landmark, and to the nation – the families and friends – that were divided by it. It’s free to visit the memorial, and provides an opportunity to reflect on its historic significance. Past visitors have reported that it is a rather intensely emotional experience, so it is best to go alone or with one or two other people rather than in a large group, to allow yourself the chance to really take it in.

Take a step a bit further back in German history by visiting the Topography of Terror, which is described by TripAdvisor as “a permanent exhibition at the site where the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office were located during the “Third Reich”. Previous visitors have praised the thoroughness of the exhibit, in that it displays history honestly and humanizes the atrocities that took place during World War II.

One of the highest ranked activities on TripAdvisor is taking in a performance at the Berlin Philharmonic, so if you need something to lighten your spirits after visiting either of the above attractions, this may be the place to go. But you’ll want to plan this in advance, since tickets sell out ahead of shows and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to hear some of the excellent performances here.

Another must-see on the historic and cultural learning list is the Pergamon Museum. It is a world-renowned museum, and includes gems from the ancient world. Among them are the Altar of Zeus and Babylon’s Ishtar Gate. Other reproductions of historically significant landmarks and structures will leave you speechless and give a greater appreciation and a sense of connectedness with world history.

Island Wars: Where to Stay in Thailand

White sand beaches. Crystal blue waters. Green hills. Insane parties every night. Sound like paradise? It is, kind of.

The islands in Thailand’s south are notorious as romantic getaways and places to party until you drop. This is a gorgeous part of the world and most islands do offer, in one form or another, a bit of serenity, luxury and relaxation.

But a lot of other things go on there, too.

Koh Phi Phi is a particularly big draw for the backpacker set and it’s easy to see why. It’s fairly inexpensive – usually less than $15 a night for accommodations, the beaches are gorgeous (and going topless is allowed here, if you’re into that kind of thing) and there are plenty of day trips and booze cruises to keep you occupied during your stay. The bar scene is almost overwhelming, with establishment after establishment offering up drink deals and promoting their nightly parties, whether you’re looking for live rock music, a rave on the beach, or a beer pong tournament.

Photos of Ko Phi Phi Le, Ko Phi Phi Don
This photo of Ko Phi Phi Le is courtesy of TripAdvisor

But all the tourism has affected Phi Phi. Yes, it’s still pretty but it’s disheartening to hang out and see people littering the shoreline with empty beer and wine cooler bottles or seeing them bob along in the water. It takes just a little bit of the charm off of this paradise to see litter being thrown everywhere and be perpetually surrounded by drunk partiers.

Koh Phi Phi has its good points, including Monkey Beach, where you will find yourself surrounded by monkeys who are not shy about trying to steal away your food and drinks when you’re not looking. But for a more versatile island experience, Koh Phangan is a better bet.

The island is most often associated with the Full Moon Party and that certainly is a draw. But Koh Phangan is big enough that you can fully indulge in all the partying and debauchery, but still find quiet beaches to hang out on instead.

Haad Rin and Haad Yuan are two of the best known beaches on the island. Haad Rin is where the Full Moon partying takes place and is packed around the time of the full moon. It’s not the best place to stay, because while it is convenient for stumbling home at night, the odds of getting your things stolen from your guest house are high and you don’t want to find yourself in that position – puts a bit of a damper on the stay.

You can go diving and snorkeling on quieter parts of the island and find that balance of getting crazy and relaxing that everyone hopes a Thai island vacation will bring.

Koh Samui is another popular island, though it’s often described as being over developed and over commercialized. Many people stay at a resort on Samui and take a boat over to Phangan for the night of the Full Moon Party.

An alternative to the extreme tourism on these lovely and lively islands is Koh Samet. This island is only two hours from Bangkok, and is popular among Thai travelers. There’s a relaxed vibe here, with less crazy nightlife and more getting back to basics.

Whatever you choose, it’s hard to go wrong with a vacation on a Thai island, right? Decide for yourself, then come see what all the fuss is about!

Exotic Morocco

If you have never visited North Africa, you need to arrange for the vacation of a lifetime. Besides the Saharan climate, Morocco is privileged to have several mountains which highlight it as being among the most beautiful destinations across the planet.

Morocco holiday destinations

To experience the best of Morocco holidays, it is advisable to make sure that you choose from places with spectacular views where you can also enjoy the tropical sunlight. This will ensure that you enjoy the warmth as well as the breeze from the adjacent mountains.

Atlas & Rift Mountains

If you are not used to extremely hot climates, the ultimate place is none other than along the Atlas and Rift mountains. Extending from the Moroccan port to the Tunisian capital you have vast areas to cover to test your stamina in high temperatures. Alongside welcoming accommodation, you will be set for a thrilling experience in the company of desert guides who will ensure that you are do not get lost in the vast desert sands.

Moroccan Coast

One of the most striking features of the Moroccan coast are the fine sand beaches. With the warm weather common with Mediterranean climates, you are bound to enjoy various beach activities. The Mediterranean climate has not only made the Moroccan coast a major destination among holiday makers but has actually become a hub of activities, especially in summer. With the appealing sandy beaches amidst the blissful ocean, one cannot imagine a better place to spend a holiday in the company of family.

Sahara Desert

A wide range of Moroccan destinations is best to make sure that everyone has a great time. The variety of Moroccan cities alongside the desert terrain ensures that you have a unique experience as you move from Todra Gorge to Draa valley to Dades valley. At Dades valley, you will encounter a wild landscape of desert. This part of the desert is beautiful and is very popular for Jeep safaris and desert camping.

Come see why Morocco has become the top tourist destination in North Africa!

Beautiful Boracay

Boracay Island resort in the Philippines has one of the best beaches in the world. Boracay is a lush tropical resort visited by many tourists throughout the year. The island was the home of the Ati tribe before it became popular with tourists from around the world. It is a dream land for those who are looking forward to beautiful beaches and relaxation.

If you are really interested in full adventure and fun in your vacation, you must not miss the White Beach and Bulabog beach areas. The hills to the south and north of this water spot make beautiful conditions for kite boarding and wind surfing. SCUBA diving is very popular here, and divers from around the world journey here for the clear water and abundant marine life.

Enjoy beautiful Boracay

Those who prefer to stay on land will have plenty to do, as well. Multiple hiking trails and nature hikes are stretched across the island, and many hotels offer guides to accompany the guests into the jungles.

White Beach is the most popular area, and has numerous hotels that cater to every budget. The area is also home to numerous bars, restaurants, cafes, and sweet shops, as well as many shops selling souvenirs, clothing and art.

Bulabog Beach also has many cheap accommodation facilities and is the secondary tourism spot after White Beach. As we said before, this part of the island receives a lot of wind. This is great for wind surfers, but not great if you don’t like sand blowing in your face.

If you are so keen on visiting Boracay islands, it can be done anytime of the year but the best time would be during the ‘Amihan’ season. This is during the northeast monsoon season in the months of March to May when the place has a beautiful climate and a peaceful environment to relax and enjoy.

Italy’s Luxury Hotels

Italy has a gorgeously lush history to match its beautiful surroundings. And where better to experience the best that Italy has to offer than in one of the country’s luxury hotels? We’ve collected information on a few of the country’s most spectacular properties.

Hotel Romazzino 

An absolute charm on the famous Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, Romazzino is an amazing hotel at which to spend memorable European holidays. Each of its 78 guest rooms and 16 suites has a private terrace or balcony decorated in Sardinian style with handmade ceramics, fabrics and wood furnishings made by the island’s best craftsmen. The elegant restaurant found here serves truly regional cuisine, designed to delight your taste buds with the various available options. Located only 35 minutes drive from Olbia Airport, enter a realm of relaxation of Romazzino, a true pleasure be full of charming moments.

Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda

If you are looking for a luxury boutique hotel housing extreme elegance, offering complete discretion and tailored service, then Villa Feltrinelli is the place for you. The mere entrance into this posh property will enlighten your senses due to its wonderful atmosphere. The exclusive seclusion of this boutique hotel will make you go gaga, and you can feel true peace of mind.

Villla Mangiacane in Tuscany

Just 20 minutes away from Florence Airport and just 12 kms away from the Historic Centre of Florence, Villas Mangiance is the ideal place for discovering and relishing in Italy’s most stunning regions. There are 28 rooms and suites which are perfectly embellished and a Gourmet Restaurant is recognized for its Tuscan pasta and meat specialities. The Nadushka spa is constructed for the well being of the guests. Guests feel gratified to experience such a wide range of holistic and wellness therapies, one can also get a charming glow with beauty treatments such as manicures, facials and pedicures.

St Regis Grand in Rome

There are several luxury boutique hotels in Rome, but St. Regis Grand has managed to enchant the guests due to their exclusive services and mesmerizing ambience . Many national and international dignitaries, heads of state, business executives, and widely known celebrities love to fall prey to this lovely hotel’s charm. In addition, you can also dine in the the number one restaurant, Vivendo, nominated by Zagat and the Gold Key award winner for decor. Just 40 minutes by drive from Rome Fiumicino Airport will take you to this hotel.

Bulgari Hotel Milan 

Any trip to Italy accompanied with a stay in Bulgari Hotel takes splendor to the next level. The hotel’s 58 rooms are furnished using teak, oak and granite and are opulent and decent. Bulgari Spa is there to immerse visitors into serenity and is perfect way to unite the soul peace.

Why not make your next Italian vacation the height of luxuriousness?

A Private Tour of Turkey: Worth It or Not?

Traveling is a part of our life. We travel to places and get to experience the culture, climate and people. If you are an independent traveler and you wish to plan your own itinerary and add a touch of luxury to your trip, then a custom personal tour guide is the best.

Turkey is one of the breath taking Mediterranean countries that offers the best to tourists. It is laced with beautiful beaches, coves, mountains, waterfalls, bays, peninsulas and islands. Turkey’s location and the attractions there make it the best destination for individuals and families.

 

Advantages

 

Though there are many tour operators who conduct group trips to Turkey, you can opt for a private tour to enjoy the holidays in the exact way you wish. Combining your breaks, short stays in huge hotels, customizing your trip schedule, planning your own sightseeing agenda and more is possible with private touring.

 

A personal tour guide offers you the flexibility and freedom to choose the places you want to visit and plan your trip as you desire. If you are looking for the best hotels, guides, cuisine and anything different from what group visits offer, then custom touring is for you.

 

A private tour is a tailor-made package created to suit you and your family. It can include your close knit friends and affiliates too. Packages for private tours in Turkey are created depending on your convenience and requirements.

 

Why?

Basically, there are 3 main reasons why you must choose a private tour package for your family. First, you can choose the hotels, places of interest, mode of travel and other activities, including the number of days you stay, without any restrictions. You can revise or modify your schedule as per your preferences. Also, you can create side trips and itineraries yourself.

 

Your interests might vary from what the group packages include. If you love sports and adventure, then you must go in for a customize package to Turkey. Also, if you are inclined to a specific cuisine and food, you can always take the liberty of choosing your hotel based on the food you would like to enjoy during your stay. Also, you can choose activities and events as per your interests. The tour operator will have the details of the hotels, festivities and other things going on in Turkey at the time of your visit, cuisines served in various inns and so on. You can find more information on the Internet before deciding where you will stay.

 

Thirdly, they offer you professional and well qualified guides. You can know and understand the places you visit while they guide you through the tour. Furthermore, they are certified. They can, at times, go beyond guiding and help you to get a feel for the real Turkey by telling you about certain areas related to the place.

 

Bottom Line

Although private tours of Turkey cost more than group trips, there is something special you get through such a route. It is you who creates the tour based on your interests and preferences making it a highly personalized one. So the money you spend is worth it.

Shop Til You Drop in Beijing

The ancient city of Beijing is also the capital of China. It is thriving metropolis that not only boasts of beautiful and scenic spots and a vast array of monuments, it also promises exciting shopping expeditions. After enjoying the sights of the Forbidden City, the Ming Tombs, The Great Wall of China, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, a visit to the numerous shopping areas in the city are a must. Even if you are holidaying in some other part of China, you can always take cheap flights to the Chinese capital to embark on an exhilarating shopping expedition.

Thankfully, there are cheap flights to Beijing and this means that people can save a lot of money, which can be spent on buying beautiful Chinese silk, artifacts, pearls and much more. The city is teeming with markets and malls that offer great bargains, as long as you know where to go.

The Silk Alley Market is the most popular shopping area in the city. Until 2005 it was an open-air market, but now it is housed in a 5-storeyed building in Xiushuidong Jie. This place offers famous brands, such as Nike, Puma and Northface. The building is also popular for cashmere sweaters, linen, clothes, traditional Chinese toys, precious stones, shoes, luggage, and handicraft. Once you finish shopping, you can relax at the food court that the building has.

People should then head to Hongqiao Market. This market is located in Chongwen District and has several shops that sell seawater, cultured, pink, black, ivory and freshwater pearls. It is best to check a couple of shops before purchasing the pearls, as the price and quality vary from one shop to another. In addition, you can also pick up knockoff handbags in the market, if you cannot afford the actual brand.

Flea market lovers will get enchanted with Panjiayuan Market, which is located in Chaoyang District on the Third Ring Road. This market houses around 3,000 stalls that open at dawn and continue selling their wares until 4 pm. The market is popular for selling antiques and you can pick up beautiful Buddha statues, silk screen, porcelain vases and jade bangles. At times, you may be lucky enough to pick up genuine products back to the Chinese Cultural Revolution that took place in the 1960s.

Mall lovers should head to the Oriental Plaza, which boasts of an area of 12,000 square meters. Located at Wangfujing Street, the Plaza promises an exciting experience in dining, shopping and entertainment. The mall is categorized into six-themed sections, namely the Market Square, the Metro City, the Garden Court, the International Boulevard, the Wonderful World and the Sky Avenue. Here you can find original products from famous brands, such as Valentino, Burberry and Max Mara. It offers a completely different perspective to shopping in the capital city of China. There are numerous flights to Beijing and if you manage to get a cheap plane ticket, you will be able to save a lot of money, which can be spent in buying the beautiful and wonderful wares that this metropolis has to offer.