Category Archives: Travel

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Know the beautiful places in Vietnam that must visit

Here at Rough Guides we’ve always known that Vietnam is magical. The gleaming skyscrapers of the country’s booming cities have a singular kind of beauty that shouldn’t be overlooked, but it’s the natural landscape that is truly breathtaking. Picture rice terraces carved into steep hillsides, market days that are a riot of colour, limestone peaks jutting out from azure waters and white-sand beaches stretching for miles. Here are the most beautiful places in Vietnam – as voted for by our readers.

 

1. Cat Ba

Although the low-slung harbour town doesn’t have all that much – except location – to recommend it, the rest of the island is rocky and wild and begging to be explored. Half of Cat Ba is verdant national park and it’s a paradise for travellers who come here to hike, climb and kayak (the waters and coral reefs are protected too). For jaw-dropping views across Ha Long Bay, head up to Cannon Fort.

 

2. Da Lat

Nestled in Vietnam’s central highlands, Da Lat is a quintessential hill station centred on pretty Lake Xuan Huong, whose shore is lined with pine trees. Dotted with French Colonial-era villas and blessed with a cool and temperate climate, this is the Vietnamese honeymoon destination – an air of kitsch only adds to the genteel atmosphere.

 

3. Da Nang

A surprise entry in this poll, the modern riverside city of Da Nang is increasingly making it onto every traveller’s must-see list. It’s particularly attractive after dark when the neon light spills across the Han River; on weekend nights the quirky Dragon Bridge is illuminated and, astonishingly, it breathes fire. East of the city, a seemingly never-ending stretch of sandy beach extends 30km to Hoi An.

Southeast asia place guide at night

With eternal summer, thousands of kilometres of beaches and affordable prices, Southeast Asia is the perfect destination if you’re planning a trip around nightlife.

Truth be told, the region’s party reputation has been greatly tarnished by the excesses of Ko Pha Ngan’s full moon parties and drug- and alcohol-fuelled incidents at Vang Vieng’s tubing bars, Laos’ backpacker central. Yet the real picture is far from this portrayal of a gap-year-fool’s playground.

Southeast Asian nights hide many more vibrant and authentic experiences. Here are a few of the best.

 

1. Dive into Kuala Lumpur‘s music scene, Malaysia

Apart for the well-known Bukit Bintang, Bangsar and TREC entertainment districts, the Malaysian capital hides a polyhedric music scene. Around the Golden Triangle, you can start from ZOUK‘s trance and R&B-filled rooms to No Black Tie’s classy jazz ambience.

In the outskirts, Petaling Jaya’s Merdekarya hosts one-man-band blues wails, while Ampang’s Rumah Api and rehearsal space Live Fact are underground venues for alternative, metal and punk bands.

 

2. Sample Ho Chi Minh City‘s bars, Vietnam

When the sun goes down, the bustling energy of southern Vietnam’s megalopolis transfers to its many clubs and bars. Atmospheric rooftop lounges like Chill Sky Bar stay open until late, and besides drinking, there’s a small but exciting music scene to check out.

Acoustic Bar in District 3 has pop-rock cover bands, while Carmen in District 1 offers an odd selection of Spanish flamenco played by skilled Vietnamese musicians.

For a casual good time, the plastic tables along Bui Vien – also known as ‘Beer Street’ – in backpacker central Pham Ngu Lao are a must.

 

3. Take a bite of the Big Mango in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok never sleeps: the whole Sukhumvit strip, from Asoke to Thong Lor and Ekkamai, boasts every imaginable type of club, including an Arab quarter filled with restaurants and shisha bars.

The Khaosan Road area, Bangkok’s backpacker haunt, is where young Thais go to dance and drink, while the RCA (Royal City Avenue) area, Bangkok’s biggest nightlife district, is where well-heeled Thais and celebrities uncork expensive whisky bottles.

Alternative Bangkok haunts  include hostel-cum-bar the Overstay, who throw electro-dance parties and underground rock gigs, while Fatty’s and Immortal Bar host local and visiting punk and metal bands.

Best podcasts to listen when you are decide to traveling

Like it or not, podcasts are the ultimate travel companion of 2017. Whether you want to get gripped by a psychological drama with a Hollywood cast, nerd up on unbelievable facts, learn a brand new language or just have a good old fashioned belly-laugh, there’s a podcast out there for every traveller.

In fact we at Rough Guides are delighted to announce that today, we are entering the podcast-iverse with our brand new show The Rough Guide to Everywhere, featuring conversations with adventurers, comedians and eccentrics about their travel stories from around the world. You can listen to the first episode on Soundcloud here, and subscribe on iTunes or your favoured podcast app.

Here are nine other podcasts that will bring colour, inspiration and laughs to those occasional lonely or boring moments on the road.

 

1. If you’re a first-timer: Serial (series one)

For tens of millions of people, Serial was a deliciously addictive gateway drug into the world of podcasts. In the first series, launched back in 2014, investigative journalist Sarah Koenig delved into the mysterious 1999 murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee. It’s a true story, narrated with flair and compassion that will leave you yearning for answers.

 

2. If you like eavesdropping on funny conversations: The Adam Buxton Podcast

Dr Buckles is the undisputed duke of British podcasting; only he can make you laugh and cry with equal velocity in the space of one episode. His intimate, honest interviews leave you feeling like you’re listening in on a chat between old friends – which is often the case; Richard Ayoade, Louis Theroux and Sarah Pascoe are a few pals who have appeared on the show.

If you like this, try: old episodes of Adam and Joe’s BBC 6 Music Podcast

 

3. If you’ve ever thought about escaping to a desert island: Desert Island Discs

Simply one of the best podcasts out there, regardless of whether you’re on a desert island or not. In each episode, host Kirsty Young asks guests (or ‘castaways’) to choose the eight records they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. The BBC has put thousands of archive episodes online, with Louis Armstrong (1968), John Peel (1990) and Yoko Ono (2007) being a few of the landmark interviews.

The interesting on norways arctic

Norway isn’t short of incredible landscapes. This is the country of majestic lakes, lush meadows and snow-covered mountains. Yet one part of Norway continues to hold unique appeal – the wild Arctic north where the mainland fractures into an intricate coastline of twisting fjords and remote archipelagos.

At the heart of the region is one of the country’s most delightful small cities, Tromsø, situated 350km north of the Arctic circle. That’s more northerly than all of the Icelandic mainland, Inuvik in Canada and most of Alaska. Yet thanks to the warmth of the Gulf Stream, it’s an appealing, welcoming place home to more than 70,000 people.

This is about as far north as you can travel in Europe, and one of the best places to come if you’re looking for a winter adventure. Pack your mittens and dig out your snow boots: here’s our guide to visiting this compact city and the magical sights that surround it.

 

What are the best day-trips and activities?

Topping most travellers’ winter wish-lists are husky sledding, whale watching and aurora hunting – and there is a bemusing array of operators ready to whisk you out of the city. You’d be wise to do some research before you come. The tourist office website is a great place to start, with a well-curated list of excursions and reliable providers. Unfortunately Tromsø isn’t cheap; expect to pay upwards of 1200NOK for a day-trip.

Arctic Adventure Tours are one of the longest established local companies, offering both whale safaris and dog sledding. This is a family run and considerate outfit, demonstrated by the care they show to their hundred-or-so exuberant huskies. Visitors are invited to meet and play with the dogs before they’re harnessed, and then learn to drive their own two-person sleds through the snow.

Flying along the mountain slopes is an unforgettable experience, with the “musher”, or driver, standing to guide the sled and keep the huskies’ incredible power under control – step off, and they’ll happily speed into the distance.

Tallest building worth that you need to visit

One of Dubai’s main attractions and currently the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa draws in hundreds of people daily to marvel at the views from its dizzying observation deck. But does it live up to the hype? Here’s everything you need to know before you plan a visit.

 

The Burj by numbers

As the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa boasts some pretty impressive numbers. It’s 828m tall and it took over 110,000 tonnes of concrete and 22 million man-hours to build. There are over 31,000 tonnes of steel rebar throughout its structure, which, if laid out end-to-end, would stretch a quarter of the way around the world.

Its exterior is clad with around 26,000 glass panels; these give it its mirror finish and are regularly polished by 36 brave window cleaners. Thanks to one of the world’s fastest elevators, you can also travel from the ground floor to level 124 in around a minute (that’s a speed of 10 metres per second).

 

The essentials

There are three different observation levels open to the public. The first two are part of the misleadingly named At The Top, which includes floors 124 and 125 at 452m (not actually at the top, but just over half way up the building). Then there’s luxury lounge, SKY, on level 148, which sits at a height of 555m.

It costs 200 AED for access to At The Top during peak hours, and you can pretty much spend as long as you like up there. Aside from the height, the main difference between the two observation decks is that SKY tends to be quieter and has soft seating scattered throughout, should you need to sit down after peering over the edge. A ticket for SKY(which costs a princely 500 AED for just 30 minutes) will also get you into At The Top.

It’s advisable to book in advance to ensure you get the best time, and if you’re banking on seeing sunset, book a slot at least 90 minutes before to get the most out of it. There are also sunrise slots bookable on Friday and Saturday during winter.

Guide for traveling far away

The series is all about sharing untold travel stories. The kind of stuff you’d tell your friends when you return from a trip, but wouldn’t dream of publishing in a guidebook. It is hosted by Rough Guides travel editor, Greg Dickinson.

In this first episode, Just Like Riding a Bicycle, we talk to two people who have cycled huge lengths of the planet, fifty years apart. Legendary travel writer Dervla Murphy shares stories from her 1963 solo cycle from Ireland to India, disclosing how she accidentally become an arms trader in Afghanistan. And twenty-something adventurer Charlie Walkertells of the scrapes and psychological shifts that he experienced during a four-year cycle around the world.

In future episodes of The Rough Guide to Everywhere we’ll be hearing from our team of intrepid travel writers, with dispatches from across the globe – whether it be a buffalo round-up in South Dakota or a camel market in Rajasthan.

To make sure you don’t miss an episode, you can subscribe now on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you fancy an immediate podcast hit after tuning in to The Rough Guide to Everywhere, check out this list of our favourite podcasts to listen to while travelling.

Tribal tourism guide

Travelling is all about opening your eyes to new places, people and ways of life. But unfortunately, sometimes we’re so eager for an exciting experience that we can’t see the effects of our choices, and it’s all too easy to stop thinking about them once you’re back home.

While tourists are increasingly aware of the need to consider the environment when they travel, and to be aware of animal rights violations, fewer are informed about their impact on indigenous people. Here, we explain a little about what tribal tourism is, and why you need to take great care if you’re considering it.

 

What exactly is tribal tourism?

Tribal tourism is visiting a place in order to see or meet the indigenous people who live there. “Ethno-tourism” and “ethnic tourism” are sometimes used to describe the same thing. As the name implies, this isn’t the same thing as an expedition for anthropological research, but a trip for recreational purposes.

 

Why are people interested in this kind of tourism?

For some people, it’s an educational opportunity – travel is a way of learning more about the world and yourself, and meeting new people can be a part of that. Others feel that, in our globalised age, they’ll have a more memorable, authentic experience of a place if they see its indigenous cultures.

Inspiring architectural on tourism

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world’s most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you’re looking to wander lost ruins or explore lavish palaces, you’ll find inspiration here.

 

1. The Alhambra, Spain

Towering out of an elm-wooded hillside above Granada, a snowy Sierra Nevada behind, there are few more iconic images of Spain than the ochre-tinted enclave of the Alhambra. Over five thousand visitors wander through the restored complex every day. No amount of words, however, can approximate the sensual charge of seeing the Palacios Nazaríes, the best preserved palace of the Nasrid dynasty, for the first time.

 

2. Baalbek, Lebanon

One of the wonders of the ancient world, the Roman archeological site of Baalbek – a place that, in the words of Robert Byron, “dwarfs New York into a home of ants” – holds awe-inspiring temples, porticoes, courtyards and palatial stone stairways. The Greeks and Romans called it Heliopolis, “The City of the Sun”, a name it shares with another great Classical city in Egypt – but this phenomenal site has no equals.

 

3. Burj al Arab, Dubai, UAE

Dubai is a desert turned Disney. What was once a sleepy fishing village is now a futuristic cybercity, with sparkling skyscrapers, shopping malls, water parks, golf courses and hotels so flashy that Elton John would be proud to call them home. The iconic Burj Al Arab is a striking 28-storey symbol of new-world bling. One of the tallest hotels in the world, the gleaming building is built on an artificial island, 280m from the mainland, and is shaped like a huge billowing sail.

Some remember before you go

With its stunning beaches, friendly people, unspoilt countryside and tasty local cuisine, Portugal is, unsurprisingly, one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. If you’re planning a trip, here are 10 tips from Matthew Hancock, co-author of The Rough Guide to Portugal, to help you find the most authentic parts of the country, escape the crowds and get even more for your euros.

 

1. Go out of season

While it’s true that parts of Portugal – Lisbon and the Algarve beaches in particular – can be overcrowded and busy in high summer, they are surprisingly quiet out of season.

Autumn is a lovely time to visit – the sea is at its warmest (the Algarve average water temperature in October is 21˚C) while the sun still shines for an average of seven hours a day.

Most Portuguese assert that the sea is far too cold outside the self-imposed “swimming season” (usually just July and August), leaving the beaches more or less empty in the shoulder seasons.

 

2. Venture off the beaten track

In Portugal it pays to get off the tourist trail. Head inland to the border region, where fortified castle towns such as Marvão and Estremoz loom over the surrounding plains, and storks nest in spring above the olive and orange groves.

In autumn, go north to the Douro vineyards, where the vines are bursting with grapes – you can even join in with the harvest and grape-stomping at some wine estates.

If you just want some sun and swimming, head to the coasts of the Alentejo, the Centro district or the west coast of the Algarve, where the long sandy beaches are still relatively undeveloped.

 

3. Eat and drink like the locals

Portuguese food and drinks are usually excellent quality and very good value, so stick to ordering what is grown, caught or made locally. You’ll find a fine array of fresh fish and seafood everywhere, while Portuguese pork and local cheeses are hugely underrated.

The local house wine will almost certainly be excellent. Local beers and spirits will cost around half the price (and taste pretty much the same) as the branded international equivalents.