May 28, 2015

West Hollywood – Los Angeles

West Hollywood is at the cultural and geographical heart of the Los Angeles region, surrounded by must-see hotspots in every direction. If you want to experience Los Angeles, booking a hotel in walkable West Hollywood will give you convenient access to everything—and situate you in one of the metropolis' hottest neighborhoods.

Go west to the beaches, north to the Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, south to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits on Museum Row, or east to Downtown’s Disney Concert Hall and LA Live. In the mood for a hike? Travel a few miles east to Runyon Canyon, nestled into the famous Hollywood Hills. No matter if you walk, bike, drive or take public transit, WeHo is the perfect jumping-off point to see LA’s hottest attractions. After a day of adventures, come back to West Hollywood's thriving restaurant and nightlife scene—and go wherever the night takes you!

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May 27, 2015

Top 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam

Take a Canal Tour

No visitor should miss out on a water-borne tour of the splendid canals of Amsterdam. The canals, which were declared a UNESCO monument in 2010, aren't just a picturesque attraction, but were essential to defense and transport in 17th-century Amsterdam. With the arrival of the automobile, hundreds of canals were filled in nationwide to accommodate the new mode of transport, but Amsterdam has retained 165 of its historic canals, more than any other Dutch city.A canal tour makes for a wonderful first impression, as the tour boats take in much of the monumental architecture that lines the Canal Belt, the four concentric semi-circles that loop around the the historic Center. While any canal tour will be an experience to remember, the options are plentiful: hop aboard an open-top boat from the  St. Nicolaas Boat Club , or charter a private boat or a special themed or catered tour.

Explore Dutch Art, from the Old Masters to Mondriaan

Dozens of Amsterdam museums are devoted to the fine arts, which the Netherlands has pioneered for centuries. Rembrandt, a household name, has his own dedicated museum, the Rembrandt House Museum (Museum het Rembrandthuis), whose restored interior reproduces the atmosphere of the artist's former residence. But it's the Rijksmuseum, one of Amsterdam's top museums, where his classic De Nachtwacht resides, beside thousands of invaluable masterworks across the scope of Dutch art history.Amsterdam promises just as much for lovers of modern art: its most-visited museum, the Van Gogh Museum, is a tribute to the post-impressionist painter whose inventive technique and sympathetic subject matter has earned him countless admirers. The Stedelijk Museum, recently re-opened for another temporary exhibit despite its renovation, is another can't-miss destination for modern art enthusiasts; its Erezaal ("Hall of Honor") is bedecked with classic canvases from Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Yves Klein and other celebrated artists.

Remember Anne Frank and the Dutch World War II Experience

The Netherlands was not exempt from the horrors of World War II, and its memory remains in the minds of all those who experienced it. World War II memorials like the Dutch National Monument, the Homomonument and others commemorate the victims of this war, and three spectacular museums are devoted in whole or in part to this period.

The Anne Frank House is one such museum, where visitors can explore the "secret annex" where Anne hid for years with her parents, sister and three others as she composed her famous diary.Even the Gestapo soldiers who found them could scarcely believe the cramped existence lived out in these clandestine rooms. Brave individuals like the couple who harbored the Franks were part of the Dutch Resistance movement, and to them a museum is also dedicated: the Verzetsmuseum, voted the best historical museum in the Netherlands, which documents the tireless attempts of the resistance members to thwart the Nazis. The Jewish Historical Museum, too, retells how the Holocaust devastated Jewish communities in the Netherlands, and how these communities have rebuilt themselves in its wake. Few visitors are left unmoved by the powerful exhibits at these museums.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Tulips and other bulb flowers are the pride of the Netherlands, and nowhere is this more evident than at Keukenhof, the world-famous bulb flower park in Lisse (35 to 40 minutes by bus from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol). Stroll past rows upon rows of vibrantly-hued tulips in this outdoor wonderland, where flower lovers come from far and wide to admire the seasonal blooms.

Explore De Wallen

Take a stroll in De Wallen, Amsterdam's red light district, to see what all the fuss is about … and learn that there's more to this fabled district than the sex tourism it attracts. The red-lit windows where sex workers primp are often attached to historic townhouses, and monumental architecture abounds in this sliver of the city. The Oude Kerk (Old Church), established in 1306, presides over its own square, while Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder ("Our Lord in the Attic" Museum), a former clandestine church sequestered in a townhouse attic, testifies to a time when Catholic worship was forbidden — before the Netherlands became known worldwide as a beacon of tolerance.

De Wallen is also home to a number of fine restaurants, and just a stone's throw from the diverse eateries of Amsterdam Chinatown.

Hop on a Bicycle

Just about everyone cycles in Amsterdam, and not just for fun: 50% of Amsterdammers use their bikes daily, and rush hour bike lanes teem with office workers in suits, students headed to class, and parents with tots piled onto children's seats. Join the locals for a taste of this daily ritual, and discover the city on its favorite means of transport.

Rental bikes are available all over town, from inconspicuous Dutch omafietsen (also known as "Dutch bikes"), to ones that clearly hail from a rental company — an effective device to warn locals of the possibly inexperienced cyclists behind the handlebars.

Specialized bike maps, like the Amsterdam op de fiets map ("Amsterdam by Bicycle"; available for EUR 4 at the VVV tourist information center), are an indispensable resource for first-time cyclists in Amsterdam.

Taste Traditional Dutch Cuisine

Traditional Dutch cuisine typically consists of comfort food to warm one's insides in the cold season, which on some years can feel eternal. Favorites like erwtensoep (split pea soup) and stamppot boerenkool, mashed potatoes streaked with curly kale, are eaten year in and year out. Pancakes are treated like pizza, loaded with extras like ham and bacon; wheels of artisanal Gouda stare out at window-shoppers from the best cheese vendors; and French fries are consumed in abundance.

For all this splendor, sometimes it's nice to dip into more exotic fare. This is where two of the Netherlands' former colonies, two vastly distant countries, come in: Indonesia and Suriname. The rijsttafel, a Dutch colonial invention that assembles dishes from all over Indonesia, is a veritable attraction in itself; dozens of tapas-sized portions allow diners to sample a variety of Indonesian recipes. Surinamese, by comparison, is a South American cuisine spiked with Afro-Caribbean, South Asian, Indonesian and Chinese flavors, courtesy of its intensely multicultural population; Surinamese eateries are typically casual affairs that dole out impossible portions for moderate prices. Both cuisines are rare outside their home countries, and the opportunity to experience them is one that shouldn't be missed.

Get out of Town

The most populous cities in the Netherlands are concentrated in the central west, the so-called "Randstad", and train travel to these cities — Haarlem, Delft, Leiden and others — is a cinch.Most cities in the Randstad are less than an hour from Amsterdam by train, while hardly any city in the Netherlands is further than three hours; this makes the capital a convenient hub for day trippers to anywhere in the country.

One day trip I like to recommend to first-time visitors is Zaanse Schans, a town that's chock full of traditional Dutch crafts and architecture, with six windmills, a wooden shoe workshop, a cheese farm and more. Travelers who are here for tulip season will want to take the bus to Lisse, site of the Keukenhof tulip and bulb flower park. Ceramics lovers shouldn't miss the historic center of Delft, where the beloved "Delft blue" porcelain is produced. The list of wonderful cities and towns to see in the Randstad alone is endless, so read up in advance to find your ideal day trip from Amsterdam.

Experience the Cannabis Coffeeshop Culture

Amsterdam is one of the rare places where you can purchase reputable quality weed and/or hash, in a public transaction, and not be branded a criminal for it — a fact that clearly holds wide appeal. Almost half a million travelers come to Amsterdam each year expressly because of its cannabis coffeeshops, and a quarter of all visitors step into a coffeeshop at least once on their trip.

But these establishments haven't turned the city into a den of depravity; far from it — for cannabis smokers, coffeeshops are simply a laid-back alternative to cafes, where you can relax with a joint and a cup of coffee, share a "space cake" with friends, or sometimes even have a full post-smoke meal.

Buy Yourself Happy at Amsterdam's Retail Hot Spots

Paris and Antwerp, but it sure is fun place to shop. From the exclusive labels whose retail outlets line the P.C. Hooftstraat — think Prada, Gucci, Versace — to the unique, independent boutiques of the Nine Streets area, Amsterdam administers retail therapy to shoppers of all stripes.

Besides fashion, Amsterdam also has an abundant share of specialty shops — from toiletries to interior decor.
Stroll down Nieuwendijk and Haarlemmerstraat, both just minutes from Central Station, for a sample of the fine specialty food stores in town — from cheese, oil and salt specialists to international importers.

Some locals will claim that there's no better place to drop a few euros than at the beloved outdoor markets of Amsterdam. From fashion, to art and antiques, to food, there's a market for it. Most markets are open year-round, but April to September is obviously peak market season thanks to the abundance of sunny days.

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May 26, 2015

Art museums, boat trips and Sunday brunch: Five things you must do in Zurich

 

Zurich is the best city in the world in which to live. It's good for tourists, too – visitors can buy a single ticket to make use of Zurich's extensive tram system and gain entry to museums and galleries.

1. JUST THE TICKET

Buy a ZurichCARD after landing at the airport and use it to travel by train to the city's central station, the Hauptbahnhof – a splendid neo-Renaissance sandstone building with elegant lobbies and halls. A 72-hour ZurichCARD costs 48 Swiss francs (£33) and will also give you access to most museums, trams, cable trains and regular boat services on the 22-mile-long Lake Zurich. Smart and slick trams rule in Switzerland's largest city, while cars creep meekly behind. The consequent low traffic levels in the city centre contribute to a noticeable lack of stress.

2. EASY GOING

Zurich is very visitor-friendly. Swift public transport lets you tick off attractions easily.Wander through the twisting Old Town, with Alpine swifts chirruping high above us, to find two exceptional examples of stained glass. Fraumunster church has windows by Marc Chagall, while Sigmar Polke's work in the Grossmunster is equally striking. St Peter's Church boasts Europe's largest clock face. Meanwhile, the Kunsthaus is a world-class art museum that holds the largest collection of paintings by Munch outside Norway.

3. TAKE TO THE LAKE

Zurich is a city on the water. The Limmat river bisects it, distinguishing many a view in the Old Town, while the Sihl river refreshes Zurich West. This area was once derelict but now boasts a host of specialist shops, boutiques and lively restaurants. Look out for Viaduct, a parade of shops under 36 arches. For pure relaxation, try a 90-minute boat trip on Lake Zurich (use your ZurichCARD).

4. COACH CLASS

The first thing you see in the Swiss National Museum is an original, bright yellow Gotthard stagecoach, from the days of epic travel through high mountain passes. The museum's eclectic collection also includes a Christ figure astride a wooden donkey from a 1,000-year-old Palm Sunday procession, and an introduction to the Swiss financial system. Star items from the archaeological collection feature one of the heaviest gold bowls ever found in Europe, and golden amulets pressed into a rock thousands of years ago to win favour with the gods' during those perilous mountain passages.

5. HIGH TABLE

For Sunday brunch, take the steep hillside railway to the fabulous Dolder Grand and ask for a table overlooking the lake. In the city centre, Confiserie Sprungli still rules the roost with its sumptuous macaroons and hot chocolate. At Restaurant Zeughauskeller, built in 1487, we were served wholesome local fare by smiling waitresses, while at the more formal Zunfthaus zur Waag, a marvellous set menu costs 45 francs (£31).

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May 22, 2015

Reasons Which Make Ladakh Completely Irresistible

 

Leh-Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. The beauty of the place can not be expressed in words. Right from gompas to the sensational momos, the superabundance of attractions to visit makes this city make it heaven on earth. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time. The place holds so many surprises together that one can’t help but be awed.

The large mountain ranges of Zanskar and Ladakh will be your companions through most of your trip to Ladakh. They may even be intimidating at times. These huge mountains can make anyone feel small. However, the key is to enjoy the beauty that these mountains have to offer. The steep terrains covered with snow reflect the heavenly skies. The loud rivers rush through these mountains making for an absolutely beautiful combination of view and sounds. Every point here is an echo point so if you find yourself in a safe area, you may want to risk a shout to hear the echos ricocheting from the hills.

Remember the breathtakingly beautiful lake from 3 Idiots where Chatur lost it all? It’s the Pangong-Tso lake that traverses the boundary international boundary to stretch from India to Bhutan. The lake offers awesome site for camping and is the current hotspot for all people traveling to Ladakh. The rules do not allow boating on Pangong-Tso Lake but when the lake freezes in the winters, if you’re feeling too brave, you might want to ice skate at just the bank of the lake.

Managed by the Border Roads Organization, Kardung-la Pass is the gateway to the north and can be considered by many as a tourist spot in itself. However, being at such a height, one has to take extreme care of health while traveling through the pass. On the fun side, the numerous Tibetan flags that are said to ward off bad spirits and keep you safe set up a beautiful contrast with the white snow.

A desert is probably the last thing one expects while planning a trip to Ladakh but there it is. The sand dunes of the Nubra Valley offer the tourists a very much Arabian Nights like experience. The famous two-humped camelsare also found in the region and are often the highlight of the trip for those interested in animals. The origin of the desert is supposed to be from the Tethis Sea from the depths of which the Himalayas are said to have risen.

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May 21, 2015

Chicago

Poet Carl Sandburg described Chicago as the "City of the Big Shoulders" in 1916, and the city carries that moniker proudly to this day. With world-class museums and cultural attractions alongside thriving commercial and industrial ventures, Chicago hums with energy.

Shedd Aquarium

With more than 2 million guests every year, John G. Shedd Aquarium is Chicago’s most visited cultural attraction.

What to Do
Curious explorers can roam through more than 80 habitats, acquainting themselves with some 1,500 species.

What to See
The recently "reimagined" Abbott Oceanarium, which brings beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Alaska sea otters and California sea lions up close, while the 90,000-gallon (340,687 liters) Caribbean Reef installation offers a 360-degree view of the sea life found in warm waters.

Art Institute of Chicago

Well-known treasures beckon inside the Art Institute of Chicago.

What to Do
Devote an entire day to this magnificent Beaux-Arts building — with two stone lions guarding its Michigan Avenue entrance — that is home to works of art that span 5,000 years of human history, as well as the globe.

What to See
The recently unveiled Modern Wing, which opened in 2009, that houses contemporary art and modern European paintings and sculpture in a breathtaking setting. This is one of the places to visit in Chicago that you just have to take the time to see!

Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium, which appears ready to launch itself into Lake Michigan from its lakeside perch, brings the universe to its visitors.

What to Do
Spend time in an exhibition where intrepid explorers can occupy a life-size model of a Mars rover.

What to See
The Galaxy Wall — the largest and most complete view of our Milky Way. The Adler encourages us to break the bonds of earth and look to the heavens.

The Field Museum

The Field Museum is your passport to travel the world and back in time with 4.5 billion years under one roof.

What to Do
Journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth in the Evolving Planet exhibit and marvel over precious stones — from their rough beginnings to sparkling jewelry — in the Grainger Hall of Gems.

What to See
The remarkable Sue — the world’s largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex. Find her holding court in The Field Museum’s grand Stanley Field Hall. Every trip to Chicago should include a date with Sue.

Skydeck Chicago

The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere beckons with its eye-popping views of Chicago and beyond. Located atop the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Skydeck Chicago attracts nearly 1.3 million visitors each year to its 103rd floor observation deck, which rises 1,353 feet (412.4 meters) above street level.

What to Do
The brave of heart can step out onto The Ledge, a glass-enclosed balcony, for a view unlike any other.

What to See
On a clear day, you can spot many of Chicago’s landmarks and scan the horizon to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

360 CHICAGO

Located in the heart of the Windy City’s tourist district, 360 CHICAGO — with its one-of-a-kind open-air Skywalk — is open until 11 p.m. daily. The fastest elevators in North America zoom to the 94th floor — 1,000 feet (305 meters) up — in only 40 seconds.

What to Do
Guests can enjoy a multimedia Sky Tour and can contemplate Chicago’s history on the 80-foot (24 meters) history wall. CityPASS holders can take in the view while sipping a complimentary coffee from the on-site café.

What to See
The real fun is spotting Chicago landmarks, such as Wrigley Field, Navy Pier, and glamorous marinas.

Museum of Science and Industry

The largest science center in the Western Hemisphere, the Museum of Science and Industry was the first museum in North America to offer visitors the chance to touch and interact with exhibits.

What to Do
Continue that tradition to this day with exhibits that encourage people to do more than spectate: you can make a giant heart beat in time to your own or open a Chicago River drawbridge for a model train.

What to See
Examine your moves on the basketball court with the help of a virtual instructor.

Navy Pier

Encompassing more than 50 acres (20 hectares) of prime Chicago lakefront territory, Navy Pier is truly a city within the city. With shopping, restaurants, parks and gardens, museums, stages and attractions galore, this Chicago landmark attracts millions every year.

What to Do
Ride the 150-foot (45.7 meters) Ferris wheel operates year-round, weather permitting.

What to See
Fireworks light up the Chicago skyline twice a week during the summer months. It's no wonder that Navy Pier is often considered one of the top things to do in Chicago.

Millennium Park

With hundreds of free concerts and performances offered throughout the year at the dramatic Jay Pritzker Pavilion, this may be one of Chicago’s newest places to visit, but Millennium Park has quickly become a destination of choice for travelers and locals alike.

What to Do
Explore a 5-acre (2.2 hectares) garden, which confirms that Millennium Park lives up to the Chicago’s official Latin motto: Urbs in Horto — City in a Garden.

What to See
An immense, walk-up-and-touch sculpture known affectionately as "The Bean."

The Magnificent Mile

Aptly named, the Magnificent Mile is a mecca for tourists and business people, and bolsters Chicago’s claim as one of the great cities on the world stage.

What to Do
Try not to miss a single storefront! -Start on Michigan Avenue, at the Chicago River and head north for, yes, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to Oak Street.

What to See
Observe this district of architecture, shopping, dining and business that has few peers.

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May 19, 2015

Best beaches in Vietnam

Bai Sao beach, Phu Quoc Island, southwest coast
Ringed by bright white sands, the triangular island of Phu Quoc down in the Gulf of Thailand, is home to some of Southeast Asia’s best beach beauties. Bai Sao on the south of the island might be tricky to get to – ask an ever-friendly local – but the isolation of this tropical treat is exactly what makes it worth the trip. Add to the island’s blindingly beautiful beaches some of its stonking seafood – with Phu Quoc’s famed fermented fish sauce – and you have a seriously scrumptious beach break.

My Khê aka China beach near Danang, east coast 
Just south of the city of Danang, China beach found infamy when hordes of US Marines set down their GI boots here, stomping history, and their entrance in the Vietnam War, into its white sands. Almost 50 years on and free from the shadows of one of Vietnam’s darkest periods, China Beach is a place for glistening green waves and postcard-perfect soft sands. If you want to do a tad more than top up your tan, bring your board – the waves here pull surfers from around the world.

Lan Ha Bay, Halong Bay, northern Vietnam 
The archipelago of Halong Bay, with its iconic limestone karsts – the towering natural sculptures that rise out of the below to define its landscape – is the stuff that Southeast Asian dreams are made of. Saying that, decent beaches are far from plentiful. But nestled in the surrounding Cat Ba National Park and a half-hour boat-ride from its main, eponymous island is little Lan Ha Bay. More than 130 bijou beaches dust the island, most of them too tiny to be weighed down by an official name. So take a kayak and paddle your way from one nameless speck of sand to the next, and claim each one as your own.

Minh Chau beach, Quan Lan Island, northeast coast
North of Halong Bay and a four hour sail from the mainland (or a two-hour speedboat ride if you like to live in the fast lane) brings you to the cluster of islands of Bai Tu Long Bay, and it’s every bit as beautiful as its big sis. Unpolluted and undeveloped, think amazing karst formations, 11th-century Buddhist pagodas and, when it comes to little sliver of Quan Lan Island, secluded, silky beaches. Our favourite, just 6km from the Quan Lan’s major (but in reality, very minor) town, is Minh Chau. It’s all a tropical paradise should be – chalky-soft sand fringed by wild pines, views of rocky outcrops protruding from the shallows and a collection of coral coves that can’t be missed.

Ong Dia beach, Mui Ne, south-central coast
Tipped as Southeast Asia’s next big beach spot, the palm-lined stretch of Ong Dia beach, takes the suitably-sparkly crown in this Mui Ne parade of local beach beauties. In an area that sees some of the lowest rainfall in Vietnam, the Mui Ne coastline is famed for its rolling red and gold dunes – take a jeep ride over them, take a sand-sledge down them (avoid the temptation to smile or you’ll get a mouthful) or simply stand on top of one, sea-breeze sweeping your face as the coconut palms sway and the sun sets.

Non Nuoc beach, Danang, central coast
Stretching to the foot of the majestic Marble Mountains and touching the shade of an age-old forest is Non Nuoc beach, one of the most stunning in the Danang coastline. It’s a stretch of gently sloping sand where you can spend all day and night, safely sleeping beneath the jade branches of the native shrubbery once the sun sets. Amongst Non Nuoc’s claims to fame is its rare seaweeds. Perhaps you can make a nice facemask while you’re there.

Ca Na beach, south of Nha Trang, south-central coast
Ah, the lovely Ca Na beach. So good they named it twice. Well, three times actually. Legend has it that an ancient kind and queen came here to bathe in its crystal-clear waters, and believed the place to be so magical, they christened it ‘Fairy Fish’. Nowadays it more commonly goes by the nickname ‘Sleeping Princess’, awarded because of the sheer grace and beauty of the place. Its 10km of white sand slopes into the glimmering green waters, and flanked by the mighty Truong Son Mountains, come spring its undulating backdrop is out in full apricot-blossom bloom.

Thuan An Beach, near Huế, central coast
They say that the original is usually the best, and in the case of Thuan An beach, near the UNESCO-hailed city of Huế, they were right. A strong storm more than a decade ago, left a section of Thuan An wiped out and the locals thinking that it was a particularly unlucky spot of sand – so they decamped further down the coast. Frankly their loss is our gain, and this virtually empty beach is well worth seeking out. Ask the locals to point the way, and then stretch out on the smooth, neighbour-free sand.

Cua Dai beach near Hoi An, central coast
The literal translation of Cua Dai means ‘Big Sea Mouth’ – the Big part being particularly relevant (so is Sea, admittedly. Mouth, not so much). The sheer, sweeping breadth of Cua Dai, and its 20 miles of sweet, silky sand, means that this is a beach where personal space comes as part of the package. It starts at the ancient, romantic, lantern-lined town of Hoi An and threads along the coast to the city of Da Nang. Kick back, fresh pineapple in hand, taking in the awesome panorama of white sand and tranquil waters.

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May 18, 2015

TOP 10 AMAZING THINGS TO DO & SEE IN MONGOLIA

Mongolia is one of the world’s last unspoilt destinations. It is a land of mystery, of extremes, of immeasurable space, where shamanism is still practised and people hunt with eagles. This is a land as diverse as it is dramatic, from the rugged mountains and dense forests of the north, to the lush grasslands of the central plains and the rolling desert dunes of the south. This is a land where culture, history and landscape are inextricably entwined, where nomadic herders still roam the vast steppe as they have since the time of Genghis Khan, and where the hospitality of its people is as boundless as its terrain.

These are Top 10 Amazing Things to Do and See in Mongolia:

1. Countryside Naadam Games at Khatgal

This is favourite Naadam – none of the queues or crowds of the big festival in UB. The atmosphere is fantastic, buoyed by the legendary hospitality of the Mongolian people. In traditional dress, the colourful spectators watch competitors take part in the three ‘manly’ sports of archery, wrestling and horse racing.

2.Camel Riding at Khongoryn Els

Khongoryn Els (the Singing Sands) are some of the largest sand dunes in Mongolia, 180 kilometers long and up to 800 metres high. A climb to the top gives amazing views across the surrounding desert. This area is inhabited by traditional camel herders and is a great place to learn about these fascinating animals and ride a ‘Ship of the Desert’ in their natural habitat.

3. Stargazing in the Gobi Desert

This has to be the ultimate experience of peace and tranquility. Enjoy time and space to think under a glittering canopy of endless stars…

4. Visit the Tsaatan Darhad Valley

Home to the Tsaatan Reindeer People, the Darhad Valley is in the remote Northwestern corner of Mongolia but boasts the most spectacular scenery – crystal clear lakes and rivers, lush green meadows and the larch and pine forests of the Siberian Taiga. The tiny nomadic community of reindeer herders number only about 60 families and have an ancient culture which depends on the reindeer for all aspects of survival.

5. Fishing on the Mongolian Rivers, Khentii Aimeg

While away a few hours on a sunny afternoon, fly fishing for Trout, Grayling or the elusive Taimen, known as the Siberian Salmon. Relax beside meandering rivers in the valleys below the Khentii Mountains and enjoy the magnificent landscape, truly an anglers paradise.

6. Climbing Altan Ulgii, Khentii Aimeg

The second highest mountain in the Khentii range, at an elevation of 2646m, Altan Ulgii (meaning Golden Cradle) offers hikers unforgettable walks through large forests of pine and cedar, past clear mountain streams and meadows of wild flowers, and affords breathtaking views of the protected Khan Khentii from its peak.

7. Riding Horses at Lake Khovsgul

Explore the beautiful countryside around the shores of Lake Khovsgul . Ride through peaceful forests with spectacular views, and enjoy discovering the incredible landscape on horseback, as Mongolians have done for thousands of years.

8. Tsaagan Sar with a Mongolian Family, Terelj National Park

Celebrate the Mongolian New Year – Tsagaan Sar – with a nomadic family at our refugio in Khentii. Enjoy their legendary hospitality and being part of their community at this time of great festivity. The traditional Tsagaan Sar feast includes dairy products, mutton and horsemeat, rice with curds, buuz (dumplings) and a ‘mountain’ of cookies stacked high and of course, airag (fermented mare’s milk). Immerse yourself in the Mongolian culture and experience first hand the ceremonies and customs of this special festival.

9. Watching Mongolian Horsemen round up horses in spring ,Countrywide

Nowhere is the relationship between man and horse as celebrated as in Mongolia, where it has been central to the nomadic culture for thousands of years. Watching Mongolian horsemen round up the herds of wild horses in the spring is both magical and humbling. Testament to the extraordinary skill and horsemanship of the herders, the experience will leave you in no doubt that their nomadic culture still thrives and that their understanding of all things equine is truly remarkable.


10. Eagle hunting with Kazakhs on horseback, Bayan Ulgii

The ancient art of falconry as practised by the Kazakhs has remained unchanged for millennia. Admire the speed and power of the noble eagle and marvel at the close relationship that exists between her and her master. Set against the majestic Altai mountain views, this is an experience that truly epitomizes Mongolia.

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May 16, 2015

6 Great Day Trips from San Diego

San Diego is a great place to visit year ‘round, especially in the winter with its balmy days. This southern California city offers great golfing, miles of Pacific Ocean beaches, a quaint historic district, a first-class zoo and fine dining. San Diego also makes a great base to explore the region, from the desert to wine country to the Mexican border city of Tijuana. For sure, this city and its environs, easily reachable on day trips from San Diego, have something for everyone.

Borrego Springs

Borrego Springs, located in northeast San Diego County, is a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of big city life. This town offers a slower pace of life, a community that is not defined by how many big-box stores it has (none), and where the nearest stop light is 50 miles away. It is surrounded by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, making it the county’s only desert community. Placed in the open stretches of land, visitors will find large, metal sculptures of prehistoric animals. Built by sculptor Ricardo Breceda and financed by benefactor Dennis Avery, the fanciful sculptures have become popular tourist attractions.

Legoland California

Located about 30 miles (50 km) north of San Diego, Legoland California is an amusement park in Carlsbad that is mainly geared for children ages 2 to 12. The park is based on Legos, a children’s toy that originated in the 1930s in Denmark. Legoland does, however, have more than 60 rides the whole family will enjoy as well as plenty of hands-on exhibits. The themed resort also offers lots of shopping opportunities and a chance and a SeaLife Aquarium that is designed to teach children (adults, too) about the sea and its inhabitants.

Julian

Julian is an historic town in San Diego County, famous for the California gold rush of 1870. Soon after, a settler brought in a wagonload of apple trees for an orchard; today, Julian’s apple pies are world-famous. Located about an hour drive from San Diego, it is also well known for being a mountain resort town. Exploring Julian’s old mines is a top tourist activity as is visiting the California Wolf Center, which provides an opportunity to see wolves in a controlled environment. Other fun activities include visiting the Julian Pioneer Museum and local wineries, hiking in the Cuyamaca Mountains and going horseback riding.

San Diego Whale Watching

Visitors with sturdy sea legs might want to cruise out into the Pacific Ocean on a whale-watching expedition. While whales swim along the San Diego coastline throughout the year, the best time to see gray whales that are as wide as a basketball court is December through April as they migrate between Alaska and Baja California. Blue whales, the largest creature on earth, can be seen from mid-June through September. Good places for landlubbers to see the whales are Birch Aquarium and Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Temecula Wine Country

Wine aficionados won’t want to miss the opportunity to taste wines in Temecula Wine Country, located in Riverside County about an hour from San Diego. Southern California’s wine country vintners produce award-winning wines in more than 50 varietals – white, red or in between – so everyone is sure to find a wine that matches their taste. Most tasting rooms are open daily, usually from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., providing an opportunity to taste wines produced at the winery from estate vineyards. Most tasting rooms charge fees for sampling their wines.

Tijuana

Located right across the border, this Mexican city of 1.3 million people is a shopper’s paradise, especially in the downtown Zona Rio. The historic district is located in the Zona Centro. Its proximity to the US has made it a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers. Taking a taxi to Baja California’s largest city is one way to get there or visitors can take a Blue Line trolley from San Diego to the border crossing at San Ysidro. American citizens can just walk across the border on a day trip from San Diego, but need passports or passport cards to return to the United States.

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May 15, 2015

Famous Underground Caves in the World

Eisriesenwelt Cave

The Eisriesenwelt (German for “World of the Ice Giants”) is largest ice cave in the world, extending more than 42km (26 miles). The cave is inside the Hochkogel mountain in the Tennengebirge section of the Alps in Austria. Eisriesenwelt was formed by a river, which eroded passageways into the mountain. The ice formations in the cave were formed by thawing snow which drained into the cave and froze during winter.

Reed Flute Cave

Reed Flute Cave known as “the Palace of Natural Arts” is located in the northwest of Guilin in southern China. According to a legend, Reed Flute Cave got its name because people believed that the reed by the cave’s mouth could be made into flutes. The limestone cave offers a majestic fairyland of stalactites, stalagmites, stone pillars, stone curtains, birds, plants and animals in fantastic shapes and colors.

Cave of the Crystals

The Cave of the Crystals was discovered in 2000 by miners excavating a new tunnel for the Naica Mine in northern Mexico. The main chamber contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found in any of the underground caves around the world. The cave’s largest crystal found to date is 11 meters (36 feet) in length, 4 meters (13 feet) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. The crystals became so large because of the extremely hot temperatures inside the cave, reaching a steamy 58 degrees Celsius (136 degrees Fahrenheit), that allowed microscopic crystals to form and grow. The result is an underground cave that  Superman fans  have been looking for.

Puerto Princesa Underground River

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is located in a jungle covered mountain range on the northern coast of the island of Palawan in the Philippines. Until the 2007 discovery of an underground river in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was reputed to be the world’s longest underground river and is still the longest navigable underground river. The underground river is 8.2 kilometer (5 miles) long that winds through a spectacular cave before emptying into the South China Sea.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves are one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions, located just outside the main Waitomo township. The underground caves are home to the famous Waitomo glowworms, tiny creatures that radiate their luminescent light. These glowworms are found exclusively in New Zealand and around the size of an average mosquito. Formed over 30 million years ago, Waitomo Glowworm Caves have majestic and ornate cave decorations, deep limestone shaft known as the Tomo and the equally magnificent Cathedral cavern known for its superb acoustics.

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May 14, 2015

10 Best Luxury Resorts in the Maldives

Perhaps the ultimate luxury destination, the Maldives has become a synonym for paradise whether it is for honeymooners, sun worshipers or scuba divers. Aside from the capital Male, there are no hotels in the Maldives, only resorts. Most resorts take up their own island, so the ratio of beach to guests must be one of the best in the world.

Soneva Gili Resort

The Soneva Gili Resort offers 45 luxurious over-water villas, including several villas that can only be reached by boat. Every villa has been designed and built with the utmost attention to detail. Each has its own private water garden and sun decks. The bathrooms have a separate shower accessed along an open-air walkway. Guests have the option to dine on the villa deck under moonlight and enjoy the sunset.

Lily Beach Resort & Spa

The Lily Beach Resort & Spa offers piece, serenity and beautiful natural surroundings combined with excellent resort facilities. After an extensive renovation the resort was reopened in 2009 as an all-inclusive 5 star luxury resort.

Naladhu Resort

Naladhu is a small Maldives Resort with just 19 villas. The villas feature lavish floor to ceiling glass sliding doors and a large living and bedroom area. Rooms are equipped with bathrooms that have their own outdoor area with both a rainshower and infinity edge terrazzo bathtub.

Veligandu Island Resort

The Veligandu Island Resort is the only 4-star hotel on this list of luxury resorts in the Maldives. The designs of the resort’s architecture, right down to the final touches, are authentically Maldivian. The resort offers 76 rooms, including 54 Jacuzzi Water Villas, 10 Water Villas and 12 Jacuzzi Beach Villas.

Mirihi Island Resort

Perhaps the most affordable on the best luxury resorts in the Maldives, The Mirihi Island Resort offers 36 villas that are equipped with the standard amenities of a 5 star-hotel. Blessed with white beaches, turquoise blue waters and one of the most amazing house-reefs, this is truly a great resort.

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa contains several thatch-roofed bungalows stretching over a pristine beach. The resort offers several swimming pools, water sports, restaurants, lounges, a library, and spa facilities. Many of the guest bungalows at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa offer glass floors for observation of the sea below. Each guest room boasts a balcony or terrace with views of the Indian Ocean.

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru offers 44 acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of the Baa Atoll, the only UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives. Snorkel with turtles, manta rays and whale sharks in one of the Maldives’s largest natural lagoons. Guest accommodation is in thatched beach villas and over-water villas. Resort facilities include 3 dining options, an infinity pool and a serene spa located on its own island.

Taj Exotica Resort And Spa

Most of the Taj Exotica Resort And Spa’s luxurious villas are perched over the lagoon with nothing but blue ocean waters and glorious sunsets to block the view. All the villas are palm-thatched, and the interiors are designed in classic Maldivian style. The villas offer sun-decks, and some offer private plunge pools, outdoor showers, and verandas with day beds and private spa rooms.

Baros Maldives

There are 75 wooden villas at the Baros Maldives Resort which are comfortably styled and all offer a variety of amenities. Guests of the hotel will have many amenities offered to them, including an on-site spa that offers Swedish massage, body wraps and tropical fruit facials, waterfall plunge pools, in-house restaurants and bars and scuba diving lessons.

Cocoa Island Resort

Rated as the best luxury resort in the Maldives, Cocoa Island Resort is ideally located along crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and breath-taking sunsets. Most of the rooms are uniquely inspired by dhoni boats, the style of vessel used by local fishermen in the Maldives. They are adjoined by simple wooden walkways built above the shallow lagoon. The view from the wide platform bed is directly out to the ocean. The bathrooms share the horizon views.

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May 13, 2015

10 Best Islands in Thailand

The islands off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Siam are some of the most popular places for tourists to Southeast Asia to visit. Some of these islands are famous throughout the world for their beautiful beaches and party atmosphere. But the best islands in Thailand also offer numerous opportunities for recreation, spiritual exploration, and relaxation.

Ko Lipe

Settled by sea gypsies, Ko Lipe is located in the Adang-Rawi Archipelago in southwest Thailand. It is a small island and visitors can walk around the island in little over an hour. Ko Lipe is just outside the jurisdiction of Tarutao National Park, and as such is exempt from certain laws prohibiting development. Its three main beaches have plenty of accommodations ranging from grass huts to air-conditioned bungalows.

Ko Lanta

Ko Lanta is made up of a group of islands off the coast of Thailand in the Krabi province. The largest island of the group is called Ko Lanta Yai also known as simply Ko Lanta. Several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows. This region is an important destination for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts, who come to the islands to view the coral reefs and the ocean life, including manta rays and whales. There is also an abundance of tropical plant life, including the remnants of the ancient rainforests.

Ko Samet

Ko Samet is known for being a favorite respite from the bustle of Bangkok. Though the majority of the island is a national park, there are a number of vacation spots located there with different amenities depending on the type of experience sought. One of the great attractions of Ko Samet are its white sand beaches. Visitors can choose from peaceful and relaxing settings or popular beaches with lots of activities. Ao Noina, Ao Phutsa, Au Nuan, and Ao Wai are known for being more serene, and feature cozy accommodations and stunning sunset views. Hat Sai Kaeo and Ao Hin Khok are busier, and visitors to these beaches frequently come to sunbathe, swim, windsurf, or enjoy nightlife.

Ko Tarutao

Ko Tarutao is one of the 51 islands that belong to the Tarutao National Marine Park archipelago in southern Thailand. This island offers accommodations including campsites and bungalows that can be rented. Tourists to this island can enjoy the pristine and quiet atmosphere of the area, and can also view the rugged mountain and jungle scenery, including the limestone cliffs for which this part of Thailand is famous. Visitors can have a good chance of catching a glimpse at some exotic wildlife, particularly if they visit the beach on the western part of the island, which is frequented by large turtles.

Ko Samui

Ko Samui is one of the most visited islands in Thailand. There are abundant accommodations for travelers ranging from small bungalows to exclusive villas on the island. There are several festivals that take place every year on Ko Samui, including the Buffalo Fighting Festival, the Ten Stars Samui Art Party, and several street fairs with vendors selling local delicacies, clothing, and souvenirs. Sailing enthusiasts also gather for the yearly Samui Regatta, and triathletes and their supporters flock to Samui for the annually Triathlon Event.

Ko Phangan

Ko Phangan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, halfway between the islands of Ko Samui and Ko Tao. It is a famous destination for the backpacking community, who come to immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty including rainforests and beaches. Every year the island holds an electronic dance festival known as the Full Moon Party. Those tourists who would like a more serene getaway are keen to visit Ko Pha Ngan’s numerous Buddhist temples. The island is also known for its spas and meditation retreats.

Phuket

Phuket is the name of both a Thai province and the main city of that province. The province of Phuket covers a large island and several smaller islands off the western coast of the mainland. Outside of Bangkok, it is the most popular tourist area in the country, and many of its scenic beaches feature numerous resort accommodations for visitors. Close to these beaches, tourists will find thriving nightclubs and shopping areas. Some of the other attractions on Phuket include golf courses, historical museums, and monuments.

Ko Chang

Located near the border with Cambodia, Ko Chang is the third largest island in Thailand and the biggest in the Ko Chang Marine Park archipelago. It is a mountainous island known for several waterfalls, thriving coral reefs, rainforests and long white sandy beaches. In less than ten years, Ko Chang has become a major tourist destination in Thailand although still far quieter than islands like Phuket or Ko Samui.

Koh Tao

Ko Tao is fast becoming the favorite destination of those who come to Thailand for recreational purposes. The island’s caters especially to scuba divers, rock climbers, and hikers. Around 7000 new divers get certified on Koh Tao each year making it one of the most popular destinations in the world to learn to dive. Fishing enthusiasts also visit the island in increasing numbers, hoping to catch a specimen of one of the abundant marlin, snapper or barracuda. With the exploding tourist population of Ko Tao, a number of resorts, bars and nightclubs have opened up, though it is still possible for those seeking a more relaxed vacation to find quieter, less developed areas of the island.

Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi is a small archipelago in the Krabi Province in Southern Thailand. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants while the smaller Ko Phi Phi Leh is famous as the filming location for the 2000 movie “The Beach”. Ko Phi Phi was severely hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island’s infrastructure was destroyed. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services are back with building regulations in place to limit the height of new hotels and other buildings to preserve the island’s stunning views.

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May 12, 2015

10 Top Tourist Attractions in Chile

Cerro San Cristóbal 

Cerro San Cristóbal is a hill in northern Santiago with a beautiful view over the city and, on a clear day, the Andes. At the peak, there is a church and a 22 meter (72 feet) statue of the Virgin Mary. The summit can be reached by cable car or a long hike. Cerro San Cristóbal houses the Parque Metropolitano, Santiago’s largest public park. In the park there is also a botanical garden, zoo and two swimming pools.

Los Pingüinos Natural Monument

The largest penguin colonies in southern Chile, Los Pingüinos Natural Monument is home to more than 120,000 Magellanic penguins. Located on the small Magdalena Island, just one square kilometer and topped by a pretty red lighthouse, it lies 35km (22 miles) northeast of Punta Arenas. In September or October each year, the birds migrate back here and find their mate. By the end of March the penguins have returned to sea again.

Chiloé Island

The Chiloe archipelago is an isolated group of islands, best known for a number of unique churches that boast a particular architectural style called Chilota. This style is a very unique combination of aboriginal and European Jesuit influence, and was reflected in more than a hundred wooden churches in these islands that were created in the seventeenth century. The churches fell into disrepair, but almost two dozen restored sites are now available to tour, and serve as a gorgeous representation of this unique mestizo style combination.

Valparaiso

Located on the Pacific coast of the central region of Chile, Valparaíso is known for its brightly colored houses, bohemian culture and beautiful seaside views. Built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Valparaíso boasts a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways, embodying a rich architectural and cultural legacy.

San Rafael Glacier

Located within the Laguna San Rafael National Park, the San Rafael Glacier is a giant glacier that calves into the Laguna San Rafael. The glacier is accessible only by boat or plane. The journey by boat is a spectacle in itself, passing through the narrow channels of the isolated Aisén region. What you can see from the boat is in fact just the end of the glacier’s, which extends some 15km (9 miles) from its source.

Valle de la Luna

Valle de la Luna is located in the Atacama Desert. This breathtaking desert landscape is the result of centuries of winds and floods on the sand and stone of the region. The large sand dunes and stone formations mimic the surface of the moon, giving the region its name, which translates to “Valley of the Moon”.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine is a national park in the Extreme South region of Patagonian Chile and features mountains, lakes and glaciers. The centerpiece of the park are the three Towers of Paine, three spectacular granite peaks shaped by the forces of glacial ice. The highest peak is about 2,500 meters (8200 feet).

Pucon

Pucón is a small touristy town in the middle of the southern Lake District. The unrivaled location by a beautiful lake and imposing volcano makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chile. Pucón offers a variety of sports and recreational activities including water skiing, snow skiing, white water rafting and kayaking, horseback riding, natural hot springs and climbing the Villarrica volcano.

Lauca National Park

Lauca National Park is located in Chile’s far north, in the Andean range and is one of the top tourist attractions in Chile. The most spectacular feature in Lauca is the beautiful Lago Chungará, one of the world’s highest lakes. Looming over it is the impossibly perfect cone of Volcán Parinacota, a dormant volcano with a twin brother, Volcán Pomerape, just across the border with Bolivia.

Easter Island

One of the most isolated islands on Earth, Easter Island is located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Officially a territory of Chile, it lies thousands of miles off the coast roughly halfway to Tahiti. The island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people centuries ago. Not surprisingly, the well-publicized moai have overshadowed the island’s other tourist attractions. But Easter Island also offers some great diving and surfing as well as two volcanic craters and several sandy beaches.

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May 11, 2015

15 things to do on Isla de Ometepe

 

Isla de Ometepe is made of twin volcanoes that rise dramatically from Lake Nicaragua. Lava flows created a base that joins them. Local legend would have you believe that the volcanoes were formed from the breasts of Ometeptl, a daughter of the Niquirano tribe who fell in love with Nagrando from the rival tribe, Nagrandando. In that time, the area was a dry and fertile valley. When the lovers decided the only way they could live in peace together was to die together, they slit their wrists. As Ometepl died she arched her back in pain and despair, her breasts swelling to form the twin peaks, and the valley flooded, forming Lake Nicaragua.

The northern-most volcano, Concepción, is a near-perfect cone rising to an altitude of 1,610m above the lake. It is still active and emergency evacuation routes are signposted around the island, although the last major eruption was in 1957. To the south, less-impressive Maderas reaches a height of 1,394m. Its slopes are covered in cloud forest and there is a popular hiking route to the top for the view of Concepción.

The volcanoes are ringed by a rough road that is only paved in parts and plied by slow buses or expensive taxis, horses, bicycles, mopeds and cattle. Small villages are dotted around the island. The affable locals make a living from farming, fishing and tourism.

15 things to do on Isla de Ometepe

1. Laze away an afternoon in a kayak on the River Istian.

2. Go horse riding to San Ramon waterfalls, canter along one of the island’s beaches or trot the ring around Maderas Volcano.

15 things to do on Isla de Ometepe

1. Laze away an afternoon in a kayak on the River Istian.

2. Go horse riding to San Ramon waterfalls, canter along one of the island’s beaches or trot the ring around Maderas Volcano.

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May 8, 2015

Best Attractions & Activities in Santiago

Cerro San Cristobal
Named for Catholic Saint Christopher, this hill in the centrally located Parque Metropolitano offers a choice spot in the city for panoramic views on clear days when the smog that often blankets the region dissipates. Walk or ride to the summit where the views of Santiago below are a patchwork quilt meeting the breathtaking peaks of the Andes beyond. Travelers will want to be sure to visit the Virgen de la Imaculada statue at the peak and stop by the zoo and wine museum on the trip up.

Parque Forestal
Santiago's city planners built this expansive and welcoming preserve along the Mapocho River as a bastion from the neighboring concrete jungle for residents and visitors alike. A variety of flora and fauna is planted here and draws scores of people on weekends for relaxing walks and people-watching. The park is also home to the Estacion Mapocho train station and is just a short jaunt from nearby dining, shopping and sightseeing destinations. Take a couple of hours to sightsee here on nice days and escape the bustle of the city.

Plaza de La Constitución

This plaza's claim to fame is the Moneda Palace that borders it. Moneda is the seat of Santiago's government and is an architecturally appealing symbol of the history and development of Chile. After a walk around the Plaza, go on a short tour of Moneda and the surrounding grounds. Be sure to begin the visit here promptly before ten in the morning to ensure seeing the rousing changing of the guards.

Bellavista
This chic neighborhood on the south bank of the Mapocho River is a lovely locale to enjoy Santiago's culture and social life all mingling along colorful tree-lined streets. By day, visitors to the area can shop and barter for trendy items in the small shops and boutiques that populate the street, while at night, socialites can party into the wee hours of the morning at the clubs and bars that are quickly cropping up in the area. Bellavista is also awash in the creative scene from neighborhood theaters and art houses. This diverse neighborhood is also home to Parque Metropolitano (the largest green area in Santiago with 2 public pools), La Chascona (the house of Pablo Neruda), and the National Zoo.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Designed to mimic a Parisian palace, this art gallery and museum is one of the finer architectural displays in traditionally sedate Santiago. This oldest arts museum in South America displays pieces from a range of regional and international artists. The museum also houses extensive archives and reproductions of artworks from around the world. There are also regularly changing traveling exhibits that represent some of the best schools of world art as well as a high-quality study of South American artists' work.

La Chascona
One of Chile's most famous native sons was Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. This popular tourist attraction situated in the Bellavista neighborhood was one of the famed wordsmith's homes. Modern architecture distinguishes the residence, and tourists can experience the world of Neruda through its design. Neruda's home showcases art and craft pieces he brought back to Santiago from his international travels. Guided tours (offered in Spanish, English, French and German) give visitors the best opportunity to get the back-story on this fascinating landmark.

Estación Mapocho
This turn-of-the-20th century former railway station is a massive structure that today hosts a diversity of live concerts, cultural events and festivals. In addition to playing host to events throughout the year, the converted station houses a show space where local and regional artists often display their work. There are also an on-site café, bookstore and shop selling handcrafted items. The Mapocho Station is located across from Santiago University.

Iglesia San Francisco
The Church of St. Francis is among the oldest and most historically significant buildings in Santiago and is a centerpiece of the city and a definite must-see for visitors. The church dates from the earliest Spanish settlements in the late 1500s and is representative of Spanish Colonial architecture. The church's tower dates from the 19th century and is the most striking feature of the historic site. A museum showcases historic works of art and artifacts. The legendary statue Virgen del Socorro carried by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia when he arrived to colonize the region is prominently displayed.

Plaza de Armas
This city-center square is a must destination for travelers to Santiago, whether visiting for a weekend, a week or longer. The plaza was founded in the mid-16th century by conquering Spaniards and was designed to be the heart of the city. As Santiago grew, the Plaza continued to be the center of urban life. The square is surrounded by the Palacio de los Gobernadores, the Palacio de la Real Audiencia and the Municipalidad de Santiago. While here, take a bit of time to relax amid the trees and watch the mix of people who make this South American capital an ever-growing, well-traveled d1 estination.

Museo de Arte Precolombino
Arguably the best cultural showplace in Santiago, the Pre-Colombian Art Museum is housed in a restored government building and showcases historic artifacts from the rich history of the area. The museum showcases artifacts from both Central and South America and includes textiles and ceramics, art and metalwork. There is also an on-site café and museum shop that sells reproductions of pieces displayed here. History buffs will thoroughly enjoy an afternoon here, especially on a Sunday when there is no entrance fee and most restaurants and shops are closed.

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May 7, 2015

Top ten places to visit in Venezuela

 

Venezuela has countless beautiful beaches because it has a Caribbean coastline of 2,800 km (1,740 miles) – the longest of any nation. However this country is not just a beach bum’s paradise. Inland there are areas of astounding biodiversity and awe-inspiring landscapes. Here is my top ten list of traveller destinations in Venezuela.

1. Angel Falls and tepuis of Canaima National Park

Angel Falls, or Kerepakupai-Meru as it was officially renamed in 2009, is one of the natural wonders of the world; a waterfall which drops from a table top mountain of over 1000 meters. The park has many other table top mountains or tepuis and is located in the jungle and savanna region of Gran Sabana in the south west of the country. The park, which can only be accessed by air, is home to diverse fauna – such as the giant anteater and the giant otter – and the Pemon indigenous people.

2. Los Roques Archipelago National Park

With clear blue waters and white sands this archipelago of 350 islands is a hidden gem of a destination for scuba-divers and snorkelers. The string of coral islands is home to a wide variety of bird and sea life and is located 170km (106 miles) north of Caracas.

3. Coro and the Sand Dunes

Coro is one of Venezuela’s first colonies and here colonial earthen construction buildings can still be seen to this day. The town houses over 600 building which demonstrate a fusion of Spanish and Dutch architectural techniques. Close by are the sand dunes which are located between Coro and the Paraguana Peninsula. The dunes, which can reach 40 meters (130 feet) in height, are the habitat of cactus and a small number of animals such as lizards and foxes.

4. The Orinoco Delta

The longest river in Venezuela reaches the Atlantic Ocean at the eastern tip of the country and split into numerous smaller rivers or distributaries at the Orinoco Delta. On a boat trip you can see piranha catfish and small crocodiles, and the Warao people who live in houses built on stilts.

5. Margarita Island

With Margarita Island, visitors get two destinations in one place. The eastern part of the island is famous for its clubs, duty free shopping, big hotels, colonial towns, and beaches to suit everyone from surfers to sunbathers. The western side however offers travellers a paradise of arid mountains as well as mangrove swamps and lagoons abundant in wildlife like seahorses and turtles.

6. Mochima National Park

The little village of Mochima and the big city of Puerto la Cruz are the jumping off points for boat trips around the countless islands of Mochima National Park. The activities on offer in Mochima include dolphin-spotting, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving.

7. Henri Pittier National Park

The country’s first national park – created in 1937 – is a favourite weekend getaway for capital-city dwellers or Caraqueños. Choroni, a coastal village, is a popular starting point for treks into the park which stretches from the coast to Lago Valencia. The highest point in the park is 2430 meters (80,000 feet) and there are many bathing pools throughout the park if you get tired from climbing all those hills.

8. The Plains – Los Llanos

The grassland and woodland plains, which stretch from Colombia into Venezuela, act as a geographical buffer between the Andes and the Amazon. Los llanos are home to the hardy llanero cattle herders, as well as anteaters, capybara, caiman or small crocodiles, river dolphins, monkeys, anacondas, and numerous birds. It is worth visiting in the wet season (May-October) which is the best time for bird-watchers and again in the dry season (November-April) when the animals huddle around the few remaining drinking holes.

9. Sierra Nevada National Park and Merida

Merida, is the main city of the Venezuelan Andes and the most tourist-friendly metropolis in the country. It is also where visitors set off to ride the world’s highest cable car which ascends 4,776 meters (15,700 feet) to Pico Espejo. Throughout the Sierra Nevada National Park there are treks to various peaks ranging from a few hours to a few days. During these hikes visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery of lakes and snow-capped peaks including Pico Bolivar, the county’s highest at 4981 meters (16,300 feet).

10. Caracas and El Avila

Some might say that Caracas is best appreciated from a distance which is where Monte Avila, which borders the city to the north, comes in handy. Visitors can either hike up one of the three trails, take the cable car, or a 4WD to the sealed up Hotel Humboldt at the summit. There you get an amazing view of the city and the air is refreshingly cooler than it is in the capital.

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May 6, 2015

Things to do in Toronto

1. Go over the edge
It may be a 90-minute drive from Toronto, but Niagara Falls is well worth the trip. Watching close to 750,000 gallons of water a second hurtle down the curved cliffs is sure to impress. Take in the view from the top – the Table Rock site allows you to stand barely a metre from the edge of Horseshoe Falls – or head into the falls themselves with the Journey Behind the Falls, descending 38 metres through solid rock in a lift to stand next to the curtain of water. If that still doesn’t grab your attention, take flight with Niagara Helicopters and soar over the falls. As an added plus, you’re standing on the Canadian- United States border, the longest international border in the world.

2. Survey the wide blue yonder
It’s impossible to visit Toronto without seeing the CN Tower, mainly because at 553.33 metres high (1,815.4 feet) it dominates the landscape. Once the world’s tallest tower, it’s still impressive. Take in the view from the LookOut Level at 346 metres (1,136 feet), walk on air on the Glass Floor and outdoor SkyTerrace at 342 metres (1,122 feet), at check out the views from the highest perch of all: the SkyPod at 447 metres (1,465 feet) above the city!

3. Root for the home team
Hockey is more than a sport in Canada, it’s a national obsession, and Toronto is no different. And even though they’re currently having the longest dry spell in NHL history (the last time they won the Stanley Cup was in 1967), the Toronto Maple Leafs still draw a crowd. Maybe if we cheer hard enough, Torontonians will get to see the Stanley Cup somewhere other than the Hockey Hall of Fame.

4. Then join a home team
Every winter, over 50 outdoor ice rinks take over the city, the most popular in Nathan Philips Square where the fountain becomes a skating spot. So get your skates on.

5. Take in some history
Toronto is full of museums, like the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses a massive collection of cultural and historical items, as well as rotating exhibitions, or the Bata Shoe Museum, with over 13,000 footwear items in their collection.

6. Scare yourself fit
But why not get out and explore? It might not be 100 per cent the truth, but the Haunted Walk offers up some spooky tales and gory facts from days gone by. It’s also a great way to acquaint yourself with the place’s nooks and crannies.

7. Shop until you drop
Toronto has a handle on shopping. Toronto Eaton Centre is jammed with shops, from high street brands to more chi chi designers. Grab some fresh produce and antiques at the St. Lawrence Market, before scouring Toronto’s many independent bookstores for a good read. Still looking for that special buy? Twice a year the One of a Kind Show, the largest consumer craft show in North America, takes over. Everything sold at the show is hand made in North America, much of it local, and all of it awesome.

8. Eat your way around the world
Almost half the population of Toronto was born outside Canada, so it is entirely possible to take your tummy on a trip around the world without ever leaving the city limits. Head to Chinatown, Little India, Little Italy and more to stuff your face, or sample fusion cuisine like the Hungary Thai. It’s so popular, every summer Taste of the Danforth celebrates it’s Greek history with a celebration of everything Greek—especially the food. But make sure to leave room for that oh-so-Canadian favourite, poutine.

9. Behold delusions of grandeur
Every city needs a castle, and Casa Loma is Toronto’s! Designed by grandiloquent architect EJ Lennox for Sir Henry Pellat and finished in 1914, this ostentatious masterpiece includes marble floors in the stables and room after lavish room. And if you’re still craving the lifestyles of the rich and famous, check out Spadina Historic House & Gardens , financier James Austin’s lavish manse.

10. See a big show
Toronto bills itself as ‘North Broadway’, and with many touring companies coming through town, the city has an impressive theatre scene. There are theatres aplenty but two of the most popular are Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre, North America’s only double-decker theatre complex and Young Centre for the Performing Arts – three stages in 19th-century tank houses in the Distillery District.

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May 5, 2015

Things to see and do in Cuba

Baracoa
A visit to this lost-in-time corner of Cuba is a must for history and nature buffs. Getting to the quaint seaside town and nearby sites was made feasible only in the 1960s with the construction of 'La Farola' – one of Cuba's most scenic roads.

Bask on the beach
Soak up some glorious sunshine from one of Cuba's beautiful beaches, including Playas del Este near Havana, where the locals play, to exclusive island resorts like Cayo Coco. Just 20 minutes from downtown, the beaches of Santa María, known as the Havana Riviera, offer the soft sand and turquoise waters for which the Caribbean is famous. Other picture-perfect beaches include Playa Ancón near Trinidad; Cayo Coco north of Ciego de Ávila; and Playa las Tumbas on the Guanhacabibes Peninsula, a UNESCO biosphere on the island's western tip. Varadero is a particularly lively resort that combines beach life with nightlife.

Bay of Pigs
Take an emotional journey to the museum at Playa Girón, scene of the US-backed 'Bay of Pigs' invasion in 1961.

Capitolio
Take a tour of the Capitolio in Havana's centre. Built by a dictator to mimic Washington DC's Capitol (though the detailing on Havana's version is finer), it housed a puppet parliament until the Revolution.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza
Wander around the Castillo de la Real Fuerza and its new shipwreck museum. The oldest of Havana's three forts is still standing because it was, to all intents and purposes, built in the wrong place. Raise a glass to Hemingway at his old haunt La Bodeguita del Medio =

Climb Torre de Manaca Iznaga
Enjoy outstanding views of the Valley of the Sugar Mills from the Torre de Manaca Iznaga – a former slave watchtower by an old plantation house-turned restaurant.

Daiquiris in El Floridita
Follow in Hemingway's footsteps with a pub crawl to his favourite haunts, having a daiquiri (or three) at El Floridita and a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio. Follow up with a visit to his suite at the Hotel Ambos Mundos, where he penned part of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Dive into the deep
There are 30 dive sites at Varadero alone and more reefs around Isla de la Juventud – Robert Louis Stevenson's inspiration for Treasure Island. With few crowds and teeming marine life, the Hotel Colony on the Isla de la Juventud makes a great base for a dive vacation. Wreck diving is also possible here. One of the world's biggest reefs is offshore at Cayo Coco, and the underwater eye candy at María la Gorda, a dive camp in the western extents of Pinar del Río, is spectacular.

Explore mountains and caves
Pinar del Río is arguably Cuba's most beautiful province, and its most outstanding feature must be the mogotes: oddly rounded limestone mountains, covered in lush vegetation. The caves here are awash with stalactites and stalagmites, and underground rivers.

Feel the beat
Experience the country's best musicians and dancers hard at work in Santiago de Cuba. Unmissable are Ballet Folklorico Cutumba: their Afro-Cuban performances are simply spectacular (www.cubanfolkloricdance.com/cutumba.php).

Horse riding
Saddle up and gallop through the scenic sugarcane fields around Trinidad and the Valle de Ingenios, or the hills, tobacco fields and valleys of Pinar del Río. Kids love pony rides offered at bigger Havana parks like Parque Almendares.

Meander the Malecón
Join fishermen, families and couples, and take a stroll along the Malecón, the sea wall that links Old Havana to the western edge of Vedado. Careful though: during high seas and storms, the surf surges over the wall, the boulevard is sometimes closed to traffic as a result.

Museo de la Revolución
Visit the Museo de la Revolución for a historical context of modern Cuba. Outside is the Granma, a cabin cruiser built for 12 people. In 1956, 80 exiled rebels (both Castros and Ché among them) came perilously close to sinking the overcrowded yacht, as they sought to return to Cuba.

Museo Emilio Bacardí
Visit the Museo Emilio Bacardí in Santiago de Cuba ('the heroic city'). It contains the rum magnate's collection of antiques and fine art and the Moncada Barracks, where Fidel Castro launched an abortive uprising in 1953. The Castillo El Morro is now a museum of piracy.

Palacio de los Capitanes Generales
Head to the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana for a glimpse of colonial majesty at the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former residence of the Spanish Crown's representatives, and now the Museo de la Ciudad.

Party in Havana
Live the high life in Havana's Vedado district. The Hotel Nacional (www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com) has hosted gangsters and film stars and is well-placed for Carnaval processions along the Malecón.

Relax on Cayo Largo
Cuba's most pristine beaches ring this small island off the southern coast developed exclusively for tourism. Accessible only by plane, the beaches here are also sea turtle nesting areas.

Santa Clara
Visit revolutionary Santa Clara, and the monument, museum and mausoleum of Ché Guevara. His body was only returned from Bolivia in 1997, 30 years after his capture and execution. In 1959, he and 300 rebels defeated 3,000 of Batista's troops here, leading to the dictator's flight just days later.

Trek tropical paradise
Walk in the footsteps of the revolutionary army, including to Cuba's highest peak, Pico Turquino (1972m), in the Oriente's Sierra Maestra range. Other hiking gems include the Sierra del Rosario and Viñales areas of Pinar del Río province and around Baracoa in Guantánamo.

Trinidad
Feel the history in colonial Trinidad, founded in 1514. Locals ride horses down cobbled streets, past houses painted in pastel colours. Elegant mansions are now museums in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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May 4, 2015

10 Top Tourist Attractions in Panama

The original meaning of the word “panama” means “abundance of fish,” and fishing is just one of the many water sports and activities that visitors to Panama can enjoy. More highly developed than neighboring Central American countries, Panama enjoys a modern infrastructure, making travel through the tropical paradise easy and convenient. Here are the top tourist attractions in Panama that are well-worth visiting.

Playa Las Lajas

Playa Las Lajas is a beautiful beach that extends for more than 13 km (8 miles) along the Gulf of Chiriqui on the Pacific Coast. With little current and perfect water temperatures, Las Lajas is ideal for swimming and bodysurfing. Rustic shacks and cheap restaurants are clustered on the beach at the end of the road. For now it remains a hidden treasure still undiscovered by the large hotel chains and hordes of tourists.

Isla Taboga

Located about 20 kilometers from Panama City, Isla Taboga is Panama’s favorite escape out of the city to bathe in its sandy beaches, ride Jet Ski’s, speed boats and fishing charters. First settled by the Spanish in 1515, Isla Taboga has a charming village with the second-oldest church in the western hemisphere, a few narrow streets with a few restaurants and great views to Panama City from the top of the Island.

Pearl Islands

Indigenous peoples populated the Pearl Islands until Spanish Conquistadors discovered the archipelagos’ wealth of pearls in the 1500s. The islands gained new popularity after being featured on the reality television show Survivor. The islands feature lush forests surrounded by white sandy beaches. Contadora Island is the most developed of the Pearl Islands, with several resorts and an airstrip. Visitors can charter private yachts to cruise and explore the islands.

Amador Causeway

The Amador Causeway connects the three islands by the entrance to the Panama Canal to the mainland. From the causeway, there is a terrific view of Panama City, and the Bridge of the Americas. Many Panamanians like to spend their weekends jogging, riding a bicycle or rollerblading down the causeway, or having a meal or drinks in one of the many restaurants and bars on the islands.

Sendero Los Quetzales

Sendero Los Quetzales near the small town of Cerro Punto is one of Panama’s most beautiful trails. The 9 km (5 miles) route starts east of town and takes between four and seven hours. The trail winds through the cloud forest of Parque Nacional Volcán Barú and follows the Río Caldera, crossing it several times en route. It ends in the mountains above Boquete. The trail can also be hiked in reverse, but it’s entirely uphill from Boquete. Because the trail is not well marked it is recommend to hire a guide or join an organized tour.

Santa Catalina

The international surfing community has tried to keep this idyllic spot a secret, but the word is out that Santa Catalina offers world-class surfing. Located on the Chiriquí Gulf, the town doesn’t offer a lot in the way of amenities, but its beautiful beach surrounded by jungle forests makes it an ideal destination for those who wish to enjoy Panama’s natural beauty.

San Blas Islands

Located in Eastern Panama, the San Blas Islands is the best place to explore the rich culture of Panama’s indigenous people, the Kuna. The Kuna people view this area as their own but are warm and welcoming to visitors. One member of the tribe is stationed on many of the area’s tiny tropical islands, and for a nominal fee, they allow visitors exclusive use of the island for the day.

Coiba

The waters of Panama are unmatched in their level of marine diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Coiba National Marine Park. The island of Coiba is the largest island in the park, as well as the largest island in all of Central America. More than 800 species of marine life are present in the area. The park is known as one of the best places to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving on the Pacific Coast.

Bocas Town

The capital of the Bocas del Toro Province, Bocas del Toro is a favorite spot for scuba divers, and as the dives are shallow, it’s particularly suited for particularly for beginners. An extensive coral reef features colorful varieties of tropical fish. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, the area remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Panama. In Bocas del Toro, visitors routinely hike through the lush rainforest to enjoy empty stretches of beautiful shoreline.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal stands as one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering. Visitors can take either a partial or complete crossing of the canal. Crossings take four to eight hours. Many visitors choose to explore the canal by visiting the Miraflores Locks Museum. From the restaurant located at the top floor of the museum, visitors can watch transiting vessels in the canal below.

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May 2, 2015

Bermuda Attractions & Things To Do

World’s most beautiful pink sandy beaches, breathtaking marine life, wonderful scenery & architecture, warm weather, exciting recreational activities & tours, dining, shopping, nightlife.Numerous operators in the island offer all sorts of motorized and non motorized water sports, guided island tours, boating & sailing, nature walks, cultural & heritage tours etc. And the island is full of great places to visit like museums, caves, forts, aquarium, lighthouses, churches, lovely parks & gardens, harbors, nature reserves, and lovely villages. The pastel color houses with slanted white limestone roofs look picture perfect on the lush island landscapes.

(1) The Lovely Beaches : Almost everybody keeps the beaches in their list of must visits.  There are 34 of them and all are so beautiful and unique!! We visited and spent long many hours in each one of them. Some of the south shore beaches have unbelievable pink sands. While some are vast stretches of sands, some are tiny secluded coves.

(2) Top Sightseeing Places: Bermuda is not just about beaches. There are many wonderful tourists places that capture the flavor of the island, its history, culture, tourism offerings, and life in general. Such sites include forts, caves, parks & gardens, aquarium, museums, historical buildings, lighthouses, churches, harbors and more.

(3) Great Tours & Excursions: One of the best ways to experience & explore Bermuda is by taking guided or self-guided tours. You can take such tours by bus, boat, taxi, van or just walk.

(4) Activities & Entertainment: You can remain immersed in numerous recreational & sporting activities in Bermuda and your time will literally fly. Swimming & snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, birding, golfing, fishing, whale watching, diving, riding … the list is endless.

(5) Great Dining: We have dined in many restaurants of different types in Bermuda. American, Continental, Italian, French, Indian … there is no end to culinary skills in the island. Bermudian cuisine itself has so much to offer. And when in mood to indulge, Bermuda's own cocktails like Rum Swizzle and Dark n' Stormy have no parallels.

(6) Shopping: At the minimum you will plan to buy a small gift or souvenir item. Best buys in Bermuda are the unique local products like art & craft items, glass ware, jewelry, gifts & souvenirs, perfumes & cosmetics, clothes and lot more.

(7) Nightlife – Bars Pubs Nightclubs: There are so many bars, pubs and nightclubs in the island that you will need to spend good amount of time making a selection for yourself. In fact one of the oldest pubs in Hamilton city was the inspiration for 'Cheers Pub' of Boston and another one invented a unique island drink which has almost become synonymous as Bermuda's national drink. And most bars and pubs offer great live music & entertainment in the evenings during the high season.

Other than the parishes, there are three places in Bermuda that are of great tourist significance: 1) Hamilton City which is the capital of Bermuda and the main hub of commercial activities, 2) St. George's Town which is a UNESCO world Heritage site and steeped with history, and 3) Kings Wharf Port or the Royal Naval Dockyard which is the largest port area in the island and also a complex with many historical buildings, craft centers and other tourist attractions.

Hamilton City: Being the port capital of Bermuda, Hamilton city is really the heart of the island. Starting from many glittering shops and great restaurants, to some of the finest hotels and sightseeing, are all here.

St George's Town: A town steeped with history and located in a parish with the same name. St. George's was once the former capital of Bermuda and is now a designated world heritage site.

Kings Wharf & Royal Naval Dockyard: Kings Wharf is the original cruise berth in Royal Naval Dockyard where the large cruise ships dock. The dockyard is a place with great historical significance and also a large complex with many tourist attractions including National Museum, Dolphin Center, Art & Craft centers, Shopping, Pubs & Restaurants etc.

Here are the parishes of Bermuda from west to east:

Sandys Parish: This is the western most parish in Bermuda where the dockyard is located. The parish comprises of several islands that are joined by bridges and offers wonderful landscapes and scenic beauties.

Southampton Parish: Southampton has a perfect mix of everything – pink sandy beaches, best of hotels and restaurants, and great sightseeing places.

Warwick Parish: Warwick Bermuda is a great place to stay with some of the greatest hotels, sightseeing attractions and above all some of the best beaches of Bermuda.

Paget Parish: Paget is a centrally located parish with many great hotels and attractions.

Pembroke Parish: A central parish where Hamilton City, the capital of Bermuda is located.

Devonshire Parish:
Devonshire has flourished mainly based on farming. It has beautiful landscapes and other attractions.

Smith's Parish:
For a tourist, the parish offers delightful country rides and charm. It has its boundaries on north shore, south shore as well as on the southern part of Harrington Sound.

Hamilton Parish: This is the second most eastern Parish of Bermuda connected to St. George by a causeway.

St George Parish: St George parish is located at the eastern end of Bermuda and comprises of two large islands – St George's Island and St. David's Island. The historic town of St. George is located in this parish.

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May 1, 2015

8 Places in Haiti

Haiti is a vibrant and fun place to visit.

1. Marigot

Located near Jacmel, its a great city to visit with nearby mountains Loma La Peloma, and Mt. Pico Duarte also known as Massif du Nord, which is the highest peak in all the Caribbean. During the summer months fruits such as mangoes are the sweetest and abundant in the region.

2. Petionville

Petionville is a tourist magnet with a bustling nightlife and business scene. It’s a hillside suburban town, that’s so normal, you almost forget that your in Haiti. There are lots of nightclubs and plenty of restaurants to choose from. Its very safe and stable.

3. Jacmel

Also known by its original Taino inhabitants as Yaquimel this beautiful port town with it’s beautiful white sandy beaches hasn’t changed much. It’s one of the safest places in Haiti to visit. It’s a tourist magnet with a music as well as film festival. The carnivals are a blast to attend. Also while in Jacmel be sure to visit the beautiful Bassins Bleu.

4. Les Cayes

Les Cayes is home to one of Haiti’s major ports. It’s the world’s largest supplier of vertiver, which smells incredible. It’s a peaceful yet bustling town. It’s four hours by car from the capital.

5. The Citadelle Laferrière

The Citadel the largest structure in the western hemisphere, it was the first monument built by slaves after they had won their freedom. Its a popular tourist destination. Bring your hiking shoes and lots of water if you plan on visiting this mammoth fortress. There’s a seven mile hike (all uphill) that’s not for the faint at heart.

6. Cap Hatien

Cap Haitien is the second largest city in Haiti.  It’s a tourist magnet because there’s plenty to do. It’s where you will find Labadee, and The Citadel, Sans Souci, and Ramiers monuments.

7. Camp Perrin

Be sure to visit the beautiful waterfalls of Saut Mathurin, beautiful natives, it’s a laidback town where at night the stars seem to be just at your reach. The waterfalls of Saut Mathurin alone are worth the visit.

8. Kenscoff

Located in the SE regions at an altitude of 1500 meters just 10 kilometers of the capital. Kenscoff is a beautiful city with a vivid nightlife, beautiful restaurants and  friendly locals. Bring your sweater it gets chilly up here.

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