The Land of the Rising Sun

The Land of the Rising Sun

As a westerner travelling to Japan, it can provide some of the most spectacularly exotic, alien environments and cultures to check out and explore, with a rich history, booming tech industry, amazing arts and culture, as well as a beautifully defined and delicious cuisine. It can really make for a stunning holiday, and exploring Japan can be an incredibly rewarding and exciting experience, especially on your own. When touring Japan on your own you’re really immersed in the culture, and it can be the ultimate way to get to know such a spectacularly interesting, proud and exciting nation and country.

Outdoorsy?

Japan isn’t just for those who love exploring cities. With spectacular landscapes in the form of mountains, beaches and woodland, Japan can make an excellent hiking, skiing and snowboarding, scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing or cycling destination too. With the vast, spectacular and breath-taking hiking trails of Northern Japan (Hokkaido), there’s plenty of places to walk and cycle, as well as the magical and ethereal Oirase National Park. If you love being outdoors, you’re going to love Japan.

Into History?

If you’re into your history, and have got a real interest in the local histories and traditions of a place, then Japan is basically ideal. With an ancient history of Buddhism, early Japan was separated out into clans, which were proud and warlike, and birthed the legendary samurai. This is a culture that helped found the whole concept of the warrior monk, the samurai, and the ninja, along with a lot of the rest of the Far East, and these concepts absolutely litter western films, video games and literature. Modern day Japan has plenty of museums and galleries for you to explore, with the galleries filled with relics and artwork from Japans long history of craftsmanship and artistry.

Tech Minded?

If you’re interested in technology, Japan should be a veritable heaven for you. With some of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and a booming tech and video game industry, if you like your cities modern, Japan is not going to disappoint. With cityscapes that look like scenes from sci-fi movies like Blade Runner, and the famous vending machines selling literally everything, you’re going to feel like you’ve time travelled a couple hundred years into the future.

Japan’s world-renowned tech really is something to behold, and nothing more so than the famous bullet-trains. The Shinkansen train lines are among the most technologically advanced in the world, and allow you to travel at speeds of 150 to 200 miles per hour, which makes getting around the country and between the many islands very quick and simple, while letting you see the many sights that Japan has to offer.

Enjoy Eating?

Here’s the big one; cuisine. We all love eating, it’s a fact. But here in the west our diet is very, very different to the Japanese one. For one thing, we consume milk, which simply isn’t a thing over there. While that might seem a random point to raise, you’ve got to think about the differences that allow Japanese cuisine to be quite so different. With a huge focus on fish and vegetable based dishes and ranging from sushi to their exotic fast food options, Japanese cuisine is always going to be an experience a million miles from what we have here at home.

Discover South America

Discover South America

The Americas are one of the most varied, interesting, exciting and cultural continents on the planet. On the one hand you’ve got the North American history and culture that we all know and love, and then you’ve got South America. From Brazil, to Colombia, to Chile and Peru, you’ve got a veritable smorgasbord of different tastes and settings.

With virtually every biome and environment imaginable, and every kind of trip catered for, South America is perhaps one of the less travelled, but none the less, amazing places in the world to check out. If you like cities, culture and nightlife, you’ve got Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and San Paulo, all with a spectacular mixture of heritages, cuisines and sights.

If you’re more into your nature, then you’ve got the biblical sights of Argentina’s glaciers and mountains, or Brazil’s Amazonian Jungles, as well as all the wildlife and flora that come with. Here’s some great destinations and countries that you absolutely have to enjoy while you’re out there.

Colombia

While Colombia might have once had something of a bad rep, it’s become much more well-travelled and tourist-friendly over the last thirty years. This is a place that was previously mainly enjoyed and explored by just the singularly bold backpackers, but is now much more open to everyone. Colombia boasts stunning and pristine Caribbean beaches, with golden sands and crystal clear waters stretching away as far as the eye can see, for those who enjoy the archaic and sacred, ancient hidden ruins abound, and for everyone else you’ve got the spectacular and vibrant cities, veritable centres of culture waiting to be discovered.

With Leticia’s spectacular Amazonian jungles, ancient and beautiful walled cities like Cartagena and the nightlife hubs of Cali, everyone is going to find something in Colombia. With a colourful and fascinating history of indigenous peoples, ancient civilisations, Medieval Spanish colonisation and more, Colombia is one for the history buffs too, with an inviting array of museums and galleries to attest to its past.

Brazil

Being that Brazil is South America’s largest nation, you might have high expectations and hopes for a holiday set within its borders, and you’re not going to be disappointed. With a stunning and sometimes overwhelming array of options and destinations, Brazil has literally got everything you might hope to see and experience in South America.

From cruises into the Amazon Jungle, to white sand beaches, to spectacular, happening and vibrant cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, there’s literally no end to the sights and experiences to witness and absorb. The cities buzz with culture, in the form of museums, festivals and art galleries, all attesting to Brazil’s rich and interesting history. More into your clubbing? You’re going to find everything you need in Brazilian nightclubs, discovering Latin rhythms and learning to party like a Brazilian native.

Argentina

If you like your cities diverse and fascinating, Argentina is the place for you. With a potent French, Italian and Spanish influence, the cities reflect these European influences in their architecture, their cuisines, and their culture.

With the beautiful and spectacular Iguazu Falls, to the stunning lakes, mountains and glaciers to be found, Argentina has a lot more to offer than just Buenos Aires, although that’s a perfect place to start your South American adventure.

A Weekend Break in Paris

A Weekend Break in Paris

For a short weekend city break it doesn’t get much better than the beautiful city of Paris. With more than enough to explore and only a short hop from the UK, you really can’t go wrong.

Getting there:

Getting to and from Paris is straight forward and convenient. Although low cost airlines are the more popular method of travel (with flights taking just under an hour from most London airports) it is worth considering the Eurostar. It will take you to the heart of Paris in just over two hours from St Pancras International. For the more adventurous traveler you can of course drive yourself to Paris (with the aid of the Eurotunnel or using the ferry). It might take longer; with average journey times around 6 hours from London, but it is by far the best option for someone on a budget. And once you are there you will find secure Paris parking close to most of the major metro stations and tourist attractions with monitored and patrolled car parks widely on offer.

Where to stay and what to see:

As you can imagine the options for accommodation are near enough limitless in Paris, with every area bringing its own atmosphere and ambiance. It will be impossible to discover all that Paris has to offer in one weekend alone so the best advice is to plan what you want to see beforehand. Once you have a rough idea of the must-see attractions you want to visit, you can book your accommodation in the surrounding areas.

The Latin Quarter on the left bank of the river Seine is the best place to jump right into the heart of French culture. Home of the La Sorbonne University, you will find plenty of cafes, libraries and other meeting areas. This is a spirited, tourist friendly area with plenty of places to eat, drink and immerse yourself in the French way of life.

If you want a more remote, romantic break, Montmartre is just the place for you. Built on a hill, this is the highest point of the city. Guarded by the Sacre Coeur basilica, the views are spectacular. It’s no wonder artist like Picasso favoured this area. Close by is Tertre square where you can still watch artist paint and draw.

For those looking to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, Le Marais on the north bank has just what you need. The carefully preserved historic centre serves as a launching pad for young fashion designers, many of them going on to become internationally famous.

If you are after beauty and architecture (including the Arc de Triumph monument), Champs Elysees is where you want to stay. This area might be a bit pricier than other areas but is definitely worth it. You will struggle to beat the glitz and glamour of Champs Elysees.

These are just some of the places to visit in Paris, merely the tip of the iceberg! We will leave the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Moulin Rouge for your next weekend mini-break to Paris.

Get a little sneak peak here:

Fancy Something Different Next Summer?

Fancy Something Different Next Summer?

Have you ever visited a holiday destination for the first time but felt like you’ve been there before? Hotels and resorts have become the backbone of our summer holidays abroad but along with it came the ‘standard’ mentality and the tourist traps. So if you are bored of the usual holiday, below are a few UN-usual suggestions of places to visit on your next summer break.

Sichuan, China

Located in Sichuan, China is the Leshan Giant Buddha. Chiselled straight out of the mountainside in the 8th Century, it measures 233 feet tall and is one of the largest known Buddha images in the world. Whilst in Sichuan, the unique Panda Inn makes for an interesting stay, featuring panda images everywhere including on the walls and the furniture. Even the staff dress up as pandas for added fun!

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

If you are after an authentic African experience, consider climbing Kilimanjaro as part of your next summer holiday. Located on the border between Tanzania and Kenya, Kilimanjaro is in fact a dormant volcano. Sleeping in a tent on the mountain with only basic communal amenities is not the definition of a perfect holiday for most people, to say the least. But rest assured that the view and experience of climbing Africa’s tallest and most famous mountain, more than makes up for it. There are different routes to choose from, all offering something special and distinctive.

Desert Nomad House, Tucson

For a no frills, no disturbance holiday, this hidden retreat is perfect for getting away from everything. And we mean everything. Situated in the Tucson desert, Arizona, it gives new meaning to the word tranquillity. It is completely and splendidly isolated, except for the ever watchful Saguaro cacti. Consisting of two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and a dining area, this is ideal for a romantic getaway.

Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Florida

Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo truly is a unique experience. Guests have to scuba dive down to a depth of 21 feet to enter the hotel through an opening at the bottom. Although starting out as a research laboratory, it was converted into one of the world’s only underwater hotels and has two rooms on offer. Each room has a large round window from which you can gaze out into the see. What makes it even more special is that the lagoon in which it is located, is a natural nursery area for various different species of fish. It is the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure.

Rent an Island, Fiji

If we’re honest, we’ve all dreamed of living on our own Island. Nothing says luxury like waking up to your own private chef, on your own private suite, on your own private beach. Just a short helicopter ride from Nadi International Airport, Wadigi Island Resort combines absolute privacy with gourmet dining and pristine beaches. What more can you wish for? Wadigi is one of a number of islands in Fiji that is rented out privately for an unforgettable holiday.

The road less traveled definitely leads to higher rewards when it comes to holidaying so go on, try something different next summer!

Have You Considered Croatia?

Have You Considered Croatia?

When planning a summer holiday or break, most of us instantly think Spain, Italy or even Portugal. But unless you really plan to holiday off the beaten track, these go-to destinations rarely offer anything new or exciting. There are beautiful alternative holiday destinations across Europe which is just as accessible. One of these lesser known alternatives is Croatia.

Set against a scenery of rugged hillsides, lush green forests and beautiful coastlines, Croatia has something for everyone. From camping to luxury Croatian villas, you are bound to be pleasantly surprised about what’s on offer. Below are just a few examples of what a Croatian experience might look like.

Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s finest cities, with its imposing sea walls, mass of terracotta-coloured rooftops and sensational cliff top location. It’s the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, known for its marble streets, grand baroque churches and elegant 16th century Sponza Palace. Catch the cable car to the peak of nearby Mount Srd or take a stroll along the City Walls for the best views.

For nature lovers, Plitvice National Park is one of the most visited inland attractions. Steep forested hillsides are enveloped by blue lakes and rumbling waterfalls. A network of footpaths and wooden bridges runs through the park and boat rides across the lakes are also available. You can even do a spot of wildlife viewing as the park is known for its variety of animals. There are several hotels and resorts located on the edge of the park if you want to stay the night but you can also visit the park on an organised tour from the surrounding towns.

No holiday to Croatia will be complete without spending some time along the beautiful coastline and on one or two of its famous islands. Some choosing will have to be done on the latter as Croatia has more than a thousand islands! One of the more famous islands is the island of Pag. With the longest coastline of any of the Croatian islands, Pag has plenty of bays, coves and beaches. Although a large percentage of the island features a rocky landscape, visitors will find open grassy fields and lowlands ideal for winegrowing and cultivating olives. Pag also provides ample dining and accommodation options, from upmarket resorts to simple, child friendly hotels, showing again that whatever your catering need, you will find something suited for you.

In recent years Pag has become an increasingly popular island to visit. Apart from being the easiest island to reach (it’s connected by a bridge to the mainland at its southern tip), it is also considered one of Croatia’s prime party destinations. With a fair amount of clubs, Novalja plays host to several summer music festivals. If you are a party animal or music fan, you cannot afford to miss out on a Novalja festival! Of course there’s plenty more to do than clubbing day and night, so don’t be put off coming to Pag if that’s not your kind of holiday.
Make Croatia your new go-to summer holiday destination, you won’t be disappointed.