Southern Thailand Culture in Photos: From Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands

Located in the southern province of Thailand, Phuket is home to many of the world’s finest beaches and is beaming with culture. It is a gateway to the nearby tropical islands including the famous Phi Phi islands and is a must-visit destination in Southern Thailand. 

Phuket is home to the famous Big Buddha statue. Built in 2004, the statue’s whole body is constructed with reinforced concrete and layered with beautiful Burmese white jade marble, which glistens under the hot sun.
The Big Buddha is located on the highest point in Phuket and is a great spot to to enjoy views over Phuket Town, Chalong Bay, Rawai and Andaman Archipelago. The surrounding atmosphere is peaceful and the views are breathtaking.
Nearby, you will find a smaller Buddha statue and although it is gold in colour, it is actually made of brass.
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A great way to explore Phuket’s coastline is by Quad Biking adventure tour with prices starting from 700THB including a 1-2 hour tour and pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.

 

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The tour allows you to ride your own quad bike to various view points, stopping off as you go to take photos and admire the scenery.
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Phuket’s south coast features over 30 stunning beaches including some of the most popular beaches in Thailand such as Patong Bay, Kata, Karon and Kamala.
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The quad bike tours often include a short 20-minute ride through the jungle, which is not for the faint hearted. Don’t forget your sun cream and ensure you have had your vaccinations prior to travel if this is something you would like to do.

 

 

From Phuket, you can easily hop over to the idyllic islands of Koh Phi Phi. The six islands are approximately 46km from Phuket and Krabi and  offer the perfect island retreat to relax and unwind. 

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To reach the Phi Phi islands from Phuket you can take either a ferry or speedboat. The ferry is the cheapest option and takes around 90 minutes from the main departure and arrival port, Rassada Pier, which is located in Phuket Town.
You can buy tickets at Rassada Pier to Tonsai Pier (featured) for around 800THB. Find the ferry schedule here.
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The Phi Phi Islands are famous for its limestone cliffs, emerald green waters, and white powdery beaches. The culture comprises the various recreational activities such as diving in the forested hills, rock climbing, scuba diving and swimming, and dancing around the campfires at night.
Just like any other island escape, the Phi Phi islands offer a wide range of accommodation from local budget stays to more high-end luxury resorts that mostly grace the coastline. Phi Phi Don is the main island and you can find affordable accommodation such as PP Princess Resort, which offers a range of accommodation to suit many budgets.
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Located right on the beach front, this hotel serves a delicious breakfast and a pool with sea view.
There are many spots to grab a bite to eat with sea view such as Charlie Bar located on the beach front ahead of PP Princess Resort.
It’s easy to keep fit and healthy on the island as smoothies and healthy dishes made with local produce are abundant.

 

From Phi Phi Don, you can explore the nearby islands including Phi Phi Leh, which is home to Maya Bay, famous for its feature in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach”. However, Phi Phi Leh is currently closed while its coral reefs are salvaged as they have been damaged by over tourism.
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Still, you can check out Bamboo Island, Khai, and Yao Yai Islands from Phi Phi Don and there are many local tour operators offering a “Phi Phi Island Tour” inclusive of swimming, sightseeing, and snorkelling around the stunning islands.
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After spending a week or so exploring the Phi Phi Islands, you can easily head to Krabi from here for more stunning beach such as Railay Beach.
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Given that the Phi Phi Islands are now a tourist hotspot in Thailand, you will likely get the chance to meet people from all around the world. The locals are often happy to share their stories and provide you with insights into the history and culture of the island and local life now compared to generations before.

 

15 Incredible Photos of Dubai and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Dubai is the most populous and well known city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Located in the heart of the desert, Dubai is unique with its skyline of architectural marvels and some of the most unique and modern attractions in the Middle East and around the world.  

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Nowadays, the city of Dubai is associated with luxury, cultural experiences, and futuristic designs. Dubai leads the way in cutting-edge design and the city’s latest innovation is a 3D printed office fully equipped with water, electricity, telecommunications and AC that was printed in just 17 days. The skyline boasts some impressive architecture and is best known for the worlds tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa.
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The best way to admire the skyline is by taking a traditional Dhow Dinner Cruise from the Marina. Here, you can enjoy local cuisine often served buffet-style while the boat sails slowly around the harbour for two hours, allowing you to take in the view.
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There are many malls in Dubai where you can leisurely stroll around designer boutiques and high-end restaurants. For more budget-friendly shopping, head to the traditional souks where you can uncover hidden gems. For example, The Gold Souk is easily reachable by metro and the stores here offer a wide range of jewellery, gold, and precious stones. But its not just jewellery you will find here, there are many other shops selling traditional ornaments, keyrings, scarfs and accessories so its the perfect place to pick up some gifts.
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Dubai Marina is packed with luxury yachts, which are a staple of the high-life here. Take a wander down the Marina where you will find several restaurants. The heat can be slightly overwhelming to say the least, so we recommend taking a taxi boat in the day and enjoy a leisurely walk in the evening when it’s slightly cooler.
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The Yellow Boats Tours are also a great way to tour the marina by day. Catch the best sights from the water including The Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, and Burj Al Arab while being informed on Dubai’s history and culture from a local tour guide.
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Take a day or overnight trip from the city into the desert via a desert safari and enjoy activities such as dune bashing in a 4×4, camel rides, sand boarding, quad biking and more. There are many tour operators providing a variety of packages such as Rayna Tours, which is the company we booked with during our last trip.

From Dubai you can take a day excursion to Abu Dhabi, the capital and second most populous city of the UAE. On the city tour you will get the chance to visit a selection of popular attractions including the Heritage Village, the Handicrafts Centre, Ferrari World, Emirates Palace, and the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s most famous attraction. Millions of visitors from all over the world flock here each year and although it can be busy at times, there always remains a wonderful sense of calm around the majestic grounds.
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In 2017, it was ranked the world’s second-favourite landmark according to TripAdvisor and during the same year, a staggering 3.4 million visitors came here.
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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest and most ornate place of worship in the UAE that took 12 years to complete, costing around $545 million.
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At 22,412 square meters, about the same as four football fields, it is now the third-largest mosque in the world and holds more than 40,000 worshippers.
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It also has three Guinness World Records for the largest handwoven carpet, the biggest chandelier, and the largest dome of its kind in the world.
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Traditional dress for women is required and men are reminded to cover tattoos when visiting the mosque. If you book with a tour operator back in Dubai, traditional dress will be included in the price of the tour. The mosque welcomes visitors from around the world each day and remains closed for worship only on Friday mornings.
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The mosque features imposing structure of marble and gold surrounded by manicured gardens and tiled pools. In total, there are 82 domes and 1,000 marble pillars.
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Islamic designs and elements feature on modern architecture throughout the mosque and city of Abu Dhabi.
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Abu Dhabi is one of the most interesting places in the Middle East that is full of culture, laid-back elegance, and cosmopolitan atmosphere and is well worth a visit while visiting the Middle East.

Although both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are known as luxurious destinations, they can also be visited on a budget too. Hotels are not as expensive as you might think and because they are newly built, even cheaper hotels can feel quite luxurious.

There are many affordable places to grab a bite to eat outside of the main areas so make sure you shop around and do your research before heading out there. You could even ask the team at your hotel for recommendations. If you are heading to the more local areas, be sure to dress and behave accordingly to respect the local people and their culture.

Lastly, to visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi on a budget, you might find our other articles useful including How to Fly to Asia on the Cheap and Visit More Destinations,  How to Find the Best Hotel Deals Anywhere in the World, and How to Live the High Life while Travelling on a Budget.

A Photo Journey Sailing Through Ha Long Bay by Boat and Kayak

Vietnam is a land of natural beauty that is increasing in popularity among tourists for its intriguing culture and stunning scenery. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quang Ninh Province, which is easily reachable from the capital of Hanoi. 

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Located in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border, Ha Long Bay features surrealistic scenery, which has led to the UNESCO site being featured in endless movies.
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The site is easily reachable by car, minibus or bus from Hanoi, which is only 170km away.
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In Hanoi, you can book on an affordable day excursion, which includes return minibus and a boat trip around the bay with lunch included.
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There are more than 1,600 islets in the bay with limestone worn down by 500 million years of tropical downpours.
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The islets are covered by thick jungle growth, which presents a wonderful green landscape.
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Included in the boat trip is a tour of the majestic caves where you can take a hike to the top of the hill to explore inside the hollow islands.
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Take a moment to enjoy the view from the top, which is much different compared with sailing in and out of the small islands.

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When booking on the day excision, you also have the option to take part in an activity at an extra cost such as Kayaking or rafting.
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Taking to the emerald green waters via kayak is an unforgettable experience and lots of fun.

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You can explore the caves at your own leisure under the hot sun.

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You will also get to see the unique fishing village which dates back to the early nineteenth century. These communities are comprised of 400 households with approximately 1,700 people living on the boats and floating wooden houses.
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The communities main livelihood is fishing and agriculture. Each boat represents a separate household where one whole family lives.
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However, the boats are not only a home for the families, they are a a means of transport and a source of income.
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The traditional villages represent a unique feature of Vietnamese culture.
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Back in the vibrant city of Hanoi, there are many affordable things to do such as exploring the old quarter, sampling the street food, strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake, and indulging in some relaxation at a top hotel. If you plan on seeing more of Vietnam, check out our post on How to See the Best of Vietnam in Less than 10 Days

 

 

 

 

12 Beautiful & Cultural Photos of Bali & The Gili Islands

Bali is Indonesia’s most popular island known for its pristine beaches, rice paddies, waterfalls, and forested volcanoes. It provides a haven to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life where you can sit back and relax with relaxing incense, Balinese music and nothing but good vibes.

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Kuta beach is popular among tourists and locals. There are many restaurants to choose from along the coast road including one of our favourites, Rosso Vivo Dine & Lounge, which offers laid-back poolside dining from day to night and some of the best fruit juices and cocktails we’ve ever had.
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You will find locally hand-crafted goods in abundance in the markets on the streets of Kuta and Ubud selling a variety of clothing, bags, accessories, buddhist ornaments, and dreamcatchers, among other things.
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There are many temples to explore in and around both Kuta and Ubud offering an insight into Balinese history and culture. Check out our 7 Stunning Photos of the Locals Worship at Balinese Temples,  3 Must-see Temples in Bali and Top 5 Cultural Experiences in Ubud, Bali for more.
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Both tourists and locals flood the beach each evening to catch the golden sunset. There are many cafés and restaurants offering beach front seating where you can enjoy a dinner by sunset.

The Gili Islands are a trio of idyllic islands located off the Northwestern shore of Lombok. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three islands and is popular among groups, followed by Gili Air, then Gili Meno, which are both popular for couples and travellers seeking a quiet retreat. 

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Boats run on a daily basis from Padang Bai in Bali to the Gili Islands. A bus trip is required from Kuta/Ubud to Padang Bai and there are many local tour operators providing a package deal of return bus and ferry so make sure you shop around for a good price. Like everything else in Bali, the trip is inexpensive and you are expected to bargain for a lower price. 
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Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant on the island which makes it super easy to stay healthy. Fruit juices and smoothies are a great start to any morning and are ideal to keep energised and hydrated throughout the day. 
The locals throughout Bali and the Gili Islands are some of the most friendly we have come across throughout our travels.
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On the Gili Islands, there is no motorised transport, which is great for the preservation of such natural beauty.
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Instead, there are many horse and carriages around the island, however, we wouldn’t want to support this and recommend hiring a bicycle instead. The islands are small enough with flat roads so you can easily cycle around. Plus, it is more fun and will keep you in good shape so you can enjoy all the delicious local foods.
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The islands are highly popular among divers and you can even become PADI qualified here. We recommend Blue Marlin on Gili Air, which is where we achieved our Open Water Diving Certificate.
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If diving isn’t for you, there are many restaurants along the beach front on all three islands serving local dishes from day to night. You will also find local boutiques on Gili Trawangan and regular Yoga classes on all three islands.
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Bali is one of our favourite places because of the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Both the island of Bali and the Gili Islands are a great place to unwind, relax, and have fun.

 

15 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Tokyo

Tokyo has been the capital of Japan since 1869 and is now the worlds most populous metropolis. There is so much to see and do in this vibrant city such as  visiting the famous Shibuya Crossing, exploring Sēnso-Ji, the oldest buddhist temple in Tokyo, and admiring the view of the stunning skyline from the observation deck at Tokyo Skytree.

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Visit Shibuya for the famous Shibuya crossing, which is the busiest intersection in the world.
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In Shibuya, music shops, cheap apparel, restaurants, and arcades are abundant.

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Piss Alley
Omoide Yokocho “Memory Lane” is located just outside Shinjuku Station and comprises several small bars, yakitoro grills and food stalls.
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It’s nickname as “Piss Alley” came from the post Word War 2 days, which tells a story all of its own.
Sensō-ji Temple
Sensō-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo located in Asakusa, was founded in 645AD. The temple is just a five minute walk from Asakusa Station and is open from 6am-5pm in the summer (Apr-Sep) and 6.30am-5pm in the winter months (Oct-Mar).
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It’s entrance path is lined with hundreds of stalls selling traditional gifts and local foods to thousands of visitors.
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Buddhism is one of the main religions in Japan and Buddhist temples have become an important part of the Tokyo landscape.

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Shinjuku Gyoen
Shinjuku Gyoen is a large park and garden in Shinjuku and Shibuya, which is open to the public as a national park.
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It provides a great resting place to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
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The beautiful grounds have several major gardens including English Landscape, French Formal, Japanese Traditional (with teahouse), and the Mother and Child forest.
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In late March and early April, cherry blossoms are in season but only for a short period of time.
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Take a picnic lunch and rest in the grounds surrounded by nature.

 

7 Stunning Photos of the Locals Worship at Balinese Temples

Photographic insights into the locals worship at Balinese Temples Goa Gajah, also known as Elephant Cave Temple, and Pura Tirta Empul Temple, also known as Holy Spring Water Temple.

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Locals after Worship at Pura Tirta Empul Temple
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Exploring the Grounds of Pura Tirta Empul Temple
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Local Praying at Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Local Ceremony at Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Local Ceremony at Pura Tirta Empul Temple

8 Beautiful Photos of the French Alps & Chamonix Town

To show you the beauty of the French Alps and Chamonix town we have put together ten of our favourite photos from our trip here at the beginning of the New Year. If you are inspired to visit after viewing our images, read more about our trip from Geneva to the French Alps here.

The French Alps is truly breathtaking. We will take you on a backwards journey from the top of the mountains down to the bottom and into the quaint town of Chamonix in just ten stunning photos.

First, the view from the top. Even if you aren’t going to take part in any snow sports, it is definitely worth a trip up the ski lift to enjoy this incredible view and watch as the skiers and snowboarders breeze on by.

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Meanwhile, you can grab yourself a warming hot chocolate from this cafe featuring outdoor seating while you admire the view… img_8847

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Best spot for an authentic bite to eat? Perhaps. IMG_9129

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Back on the ground the views are unbelievable, and how cool is this pizza van!?img_9029

In Chamonix town centre you will find an abundance of quaint shops and cafes such as this. IMG_3047

Chamonix town centre is set in the heart of the vast mountains, it is hard not to be in awe of natures beauty here.

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The French Alps and Chamonix have so much to offer and not just for the adrenaline junkies and their snow sports. Check out some of the other activities you can take part in here.