5 Truly Vietnamese Coffee Drinks to Try in Hanoi

It was the French that brought coffee and coffee culture to Vietnam, but the Vietnamese have found ways to make it well and truly their own. The country is known for its strong robusta coffee, a bitter and intense coffee variant that most locals temper with the taste of sweetened condensed milk in a drink called cà phê nau in the north and cà phê sữa in the south.

Indeed, Vietnam has become a mecca of sorts for people who love their cup o’ joe, but the country has so much more to offer by way of coffee drinks. If you love coffee in all its forms, a visit to its coffee capital of Hanoi on a combo tour package with Traveloka should prove both meaningful and enjoyable. Book one today by visiting https://www.traveloka.com/vi-vn/packages/vietnam/region/ha-noi-city-10009843 and read on for some of the best Vietnamese variations on your favorite beverage.

Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Iced Milk Coffee)

Iced drinks are prevalent in Vietnam, where the climate is somewhere between sultry and temperate. The most popular coffee-based beverage in the country is cà phê sữa đá (known as cà phê nâu đá in the north), where Vietnamese-grown coffee meets sweetened condensed milk, ice, and water. This is also the basis for many other Vietnamese coffee drinks.

Why condensed milk? In the old days, fresh milk was hard to come by in Vietnam. The dairy farming industry was only just getting started, and access was restricted to those who could pay for the privilege. Additionally, condensed milk can be stored for a long time without spoiling, which used to be an advantage in a hot and humid country. It also was—and still is—the perfect counterbalance to the extremely dark and strong robusta coffee and the way it’s preferred by many Vietnamese: coarsely ground and filtered through a phin or a French drip. The result is extremely concentrated and almost impossible to drink without sweetening. Vietnamese iced milk coffee is sold everywhere, from the major cities to the coastal towns. Just nip into any establishment that sells coffee, and it should be the first listed item on the menu.

Cà Phê Trứng (Egg Coffee)

Cà phê trứng is a uniquely Hanoian specialty, an improvised concoction borne out of necessity in 1946, during the Anti-French Resistance War. Hard times brought on a milk shortage in the city, which forced a bartender named Nguyen Van Giang to devise an innovative solution to continue serving his regulars at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel. He added whisked chicken egg yolks as a milk replacement, and it proved enough of a hit that the drink continues to be served all over the city even today, long after the end of the war.

Modern cà phê trứng has come a long way from its frugal origins. Robusta coffee is topped with whisked eggs, sugar, and condensed milk to create a beverage that is closer to a sip-worthy indulgent dessert reminiscent of custard or Italian tiramisu. Certain establishments even go as far as to serve cà phê trứng with other creamy ingredients such as cheese and butter, further upping the “dessert” factor. In Hanoi, it is said that this coffee is made best at the Giang Café, which is owned by the family of its inventor.

Cà Phê Dừa (Coconut Coffee)

In this variation, robusta coffee is blended with condensed milk and coconut cream to create a beverage that’s distinctly tropical in flavor. There’s nothing more refreshing if you order it with ice or as an ice-blended beverage on a hot day in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

For the best cà phê dừa or cà phê cốt dừa in Hanoi, head to The Note Coffee in Hoàn Kiếm, a well-respected establishment when it comes to Vietnamese coffee. There’s also Spacebar, a co-working space-slash-café, if you’d like to get a bit of work done while enjoying your cup. Coconut coffee is also well-enjoyed as a beachside drink For the best cup and a phenomenal view, head to Cộng Café in Da Nang, where it is one of the specialties.

Sữa Chua Cà Phê (Yogurt Coffee)

Yogurt was also brought to Vietnam by the French, and it has been incorporated into many a dish and dessert here. Vietnamese yogurt is creamy, rich and luxurious, making it the perfect base for toppings such as fresh fruit or granola. In Hanoi, however, an 83-year-old café has mixed it with coffee, and thus sữa chua cà phê was born.

Created in 2012 by the proprietor of Duy Tri Café, sữa chua cà phê is a straightforward concoction that consists of a full glass of thick yogurt topped with a layer of coffee that’s black as night. You can have it with ice if you so choose, but the yogurt has already been frozen beforehand, so all you need to do is stir and enjoy.

The establishment creates their own special blend of coffee by roasting their own mix of robusta andarabica beans, setting them apart from other shops in the area. Visit them in Yen Phu or just search for sữa chua cà phê—they’ve become so popular for this drink that Google maps will lead you straight to them.

Cà Phê Bạc Xỉu (Saigon-style Coffee Milk)

Described as “coffee for people who don’t like coffee,” cà phê bạc xỉu is a variation on the more famous cà phê sữa đá. The ingredients are the same: dark robusta coffee, sweetened condensed milk, water, and ice. What differs is the proportions; where cà phê sữa đá is still recognizably a cup of coffee, cà phê bạc xỉu is better described as a glass of condensed milk, flavored with a bit of coffee and loaded with ice. The specific ratio is about 3 parts condensed milk to 1 part coffee—or even less.

Bac Xiu is a truncated Chinese expression commonly used by the people of Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City. The full expression is “Bạc Tảy Xỉu Phé,” which roughly translates to “white glass with a little coffee.”  It’s a good start for people who aren’t yet fond of the beverage, and is often given to little children. You can order it anywhere you can order a regular iced milk coffee.

With so many cà phê variations in Hanoi alone, no coffee lover will ever be bored—perhaps just a touch over-caffeinated. Be sure to drink plenty of water between your cups of Vietnamese joe! Also, keep in mind that most traditional Vietnamese coffee shops do not serve food; the local custom is to eat elsewhere and then relax and unwind at a café after a meal, so fill up before heading out.

Author: I’m  Jaylin: SEO Expert of Leelija Web Solutions. I am a content manager, and the author of travelforu.info and a full time blogger. Favorite things include my camera, travelling, caring my fitness, food and my fashion. Email id: editor@leelija.com

Day Tours from Perth

If you are looking for something exciting to do while in Western Australia, don’t forget there are many exciting opportunities available to tourists just a short drive from Perth. Western Australia hosts many festivals and special events every year; here are some highlights for the remainder of 2019 and tours ready for 2020 that are all day trips in Perth:

Collie River Cruise Day Tour

Short drive from Perth to Eaton to board the “Elandra”. Cruise the Collie River where the dolphins, birdlife and many forms of wildlife unique to South Western Australia are abundant. Elandra explores many hidden spots, that other vessels cannot reach, taking passengers drifting by modern day mansions, then back through time. After the cruise enjoy lunch and free time in Bunbury WA’s third largest city with almost 70,000 people.

Christmas Fruit Picking Day Tour

Driving south on this short drive from Perth this morning heading along some beautiful National Park countryside we will be heading to Caraholly Orchard to pick our own Nectarines, Plums and Cherries, all the magnificent stone fruit in time for December’s Christmas feasts. On the drive home we will stop into the Pinjarra Bakery for a well-deserved gelato before heading back into Perth.

Manjimup Cherry Festival Day Tour

With an early start with the Day Tour departing Perth travelling to the picturesque town of Manjimup, set within the Jarrah / Karri Forests of the South West of WA, offers an authentic country destination with a rich experience to all who visit. Manjimup is the place to be during the cherry season. The town receives thousands of visitors during the annual Cherry Festival, providing the opportunity for the community of Manjimup to celebrate the cherry season and harvest. The Cherry Festival Carnival is held on the Saturday, including displays, markets & stalls and much more. In the afternoon there is free time to wander the Manjimup Timber Museum and historic gardens.

End of Year Christmas Mystery Day Tour

Less than two weeks short of Christmas day we celebrate the end of the touring year with a special Mystery Day Tour from Perth. Including a visit from jolly old bell chiming, big belly, big beard old mate Father Christmas, Morning Tea and Hotel Lunch. This is a great day tour to catch up with past traveling companions and enjoy summer in the Australian bush.

Summer Fruit Picking Day Tour

Driving south this morning from Perth for this unique Day Tour heading along some beautiful National Park countryside we will be heading to Caraholly Orchard to pick our own Nectarines, Plums and Cherries. At the Orchard they have a market selling a number of other local products and produce. On the drive home we will stop into the Pinjarra Bakery for a well-deserved gelato before heading back into Perth.

Penguin Island Wildlife Cruise Day Tour

A short drive from Perth down to Shoalwater for morning tea on the foreshore before we board our first ferry to transfer to Penguin Island. On the island we get up close with the penguins in the discovery centre and keep a look out for the other wildlife of the island. Later board a glass bottom boat for a cruise of the Shoalwater Bay wildlife sanctuary, taking in the rugged islands, nesting bird life and the rare Australian sea lions basking on the beach and frolicking in the water. Return to the mainland to wander the redeveloped Rockingham foreshore and City Centre.

Arizona Itinerary: A Perfect Trip to the Grand Canyon State

Are you dreaming of a not-so-white Christmas? Are you planning a summer vacation around sunshine, heat and gorgeous scenery? Then Arizona has you covered.

The Grand Canyon State is a perfect blend of dramatic landscapes, bustling cities, comfort food and exciting activities. But you need to know how to do it right. If you go to Arizona without a varied itinerary, you can end up missing a lot of what makes the state special.

In this article, let’s dive into all that Arizona has to offer. The five stops that follow make up the perfect itinerary, whatever time of year you plan on going.

Hike the Grand Canyon

You can’t go to the Grand Canyon State and miss its titular attraction, nor would you want to. The best way to experience this American treasure, though, is to get out of your car and walk around.

There are numerous hikes to be experienced in the Grand Canyon, but the most celebrated are the South Rim Trail and the Bright Angel trail, both near the South Rim. If you’re afraid of heights, this might just be the tonic your brain needs – the sweeping, descending rim offers a bird’s eye view of some of the most beautiful formations in the Canyon.

Learn History at the Heard Museum

American Indian culture is on impressive display at this must-see Phoenix museum, located conveniently on North Central Avenue.

For a modest $15 admission, you get an engrossing tour of the native art, craft and history. There are always new exhibits cycling through the museum, so if something on the website piques your interest, consider planning your Phoenix trip around current exhibit dates.

Go Axe Throwing in Scottsdale

Scottsdale, just east of Phoenix, is a gem in its own right, but the real highlight here is the plethora of activities, chief of which is axe throwing. Before you head out for a night on the town, go axe throwing in Scottsdale and get the true frontier experience.

Drop-ins are welcome, but in order to secure a spot at an axe throwing facility, it’s best to book ahead. Whether you go axe throwing with friends, as part of an axe throwing bachelorette party, or just solo, this is can’t-miss Arizona experience.

Soak in Tucson’s 4th Avenue Hipness

The hippest street in all of Arizona (a claim that many Arizonans might argue) is 4th Avenue in Tucson.

Grab a coffee at one of the many cafes, grab a drink at one of the many (hip) dive bars, and take in the Avenue’s art. Close to the University of Arizona, the Avenue skews young, but it’s inclusive of all walks of life.

Take Pictures at Monument Valley

Why buy a postcard when you can just take a picture at the source. Monument Valley, one of the most iconic landmarks in the Southwest (if not the entirety of America) is beautiful any time of year.

Whether you’re looking to create the perfect Instagram post, or you just want stunning pictures for your personal collection, the mesas and rock buttes of Monument Valley deliver in spades.

If there’s one takeaway from this post, it’s this: visit Arizona. The heady mix of natural beauty, culture and exciting activities makes the Grand Canyon State mandatory visiting for anyone interested in the American Southwest.

Top 7 Reasons to Visit Dalmatia in Croatia

If you are thinking about your holiday destination, we recommend you Dalmatia region in Croatia. The name Dalmatia exists ever since the first century and its named by the Delmats (Dalmatians), a tribe of the Illyrians. Today it is one of the most popular destination in the world where you will spend your dream vacations. Beautiful nature, rich culture, vivid lifestyle, Adriatic Sea and coast, Mediterranean climate, islands and historical cities will charge your batteries for the whole year. Let’s talk about Dalmatia!

Weather

If you don’t like the cold, come to Dalmatia and feel the benefits of the Mediterranean climate. Dalmatian winters are mild, and summers are hot and dry – the best combination for excellent vacation. You have probably heard that the island of Hvar is the sunniest island in the Adriatic Sea, with more than 2,700 hours of sunshine a year. In Dalmatia, many people swim during the winter, so do not hesitate to do the same. Only Bura, the cold and dry northwest wind, can stop you. Thanks to the great Dalmatian climate, you can have an active holiday fulfilled with Sun throughout whole year.

Dalmatian Coast, Sea and Islands

One of the reasons why a lot of tourists come to Croatia is the Dalmatian coast which is becoming more popular from year to year. That long coast is backed by mountains with a lot of islands. You can choose between secluded places or some trendy hotspot such as the Hvar or Novalja. The connectivity between the land and islands is excellent so you can visit it all in short time. Islands are a lovely destination for a fabulous and unforgettable vacation. You will make the best decision if you reserve accommodation in a villa with a private pool and make many side trips. There are Southern, Central and Northern Dalmatia, and every part of it is exciting and have a rich history. You will find everything that you need for a perfect holiday – beautiful nature, viewpoints, promenades, great restaurants, long and secluded beaches, and more.

Dalmatian Cuisine

One of the most essential things and questions for Dalmatians is what to eat! Maybe the secret of their beauty is superb and healthy food. Dalmatian cuisine includes the best of the Mediterranean way of cooking. Start with seafood and meat. Try fish meals like a baked octopus, different kind of grilled sea fish, fish stew (brudet), black risotto etc. You should also enjoy in lamb, pasticada with gnocchi, Dalmatian ham, cheese, olive oil, soparnik… If you relish sweets, you should choose a local dessert like fritule, krostule, rozata etc. If you order dry white wine such as Posip or a red one like Dingac, you will certainly not go wrong. Bon appetite!

Old Cities

The Dalmatian coast is home to many old, historic cities. As you maybe know, Croatia has 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, eight of them are cultural sites, and two are natural. From Zadar to Dubrovnik you can visit many, smaller and bigger, charming old towns that have its own unique flair. You’ll see cathedrals and churches, spacious squares, massive walls, and a romantic promenades. Some reflect the Roman Empire and some Venetian Republic; some have a multitude of modern cafes and bars, some are quiet and romantic. The old city centres of Split and Dubrovnik, which are protected by UNESCO, are ones of the most visited in the Dalmatia. Ston is a small town with the longest stone wall in Europe (5,5 km).

Cultural Events and Nightlife

Dalmatian people like to party a lot. This region has become one of the favourite places for those who are in search of the best party destination in Europe. You can enjoy unforgettable parties and festivals such as Ultra Music Festival. There is a lot of clubs where you can chill and drink your cocktail.

In Dalmatia, you will find many traditional events during summer, like fishermen’s evenings, holiday celebrations, traditional festivals, theatre festivals, film screenings and street entertainment.

Peljesac Peninsula

Peljesac is the second largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. It is the perfect place to indulge in food, red wine, gorgeous lovely sandy and pebble beaches and ancient history. This peninsula is in the south corner of Croatia. It offers some unforgettable experiences and adventures like olive oil tastings, wineries tours, food (oysters from Ston), history, countryside, beaches, biking, diving…

Dalmatian Hinterland (Zagora)

Dalmatian hinterland or Zagora is located not far away from the coast. There you can enjoy in traditions dating back hundreds of years (e.g. in Sinj), adrenaline tourism, natural beauties (like Blue Lake and Red Lake in Imotski), unique indigenous wines and gourmet delights. It’s, also, a perfect place to escape from the daily hustle and bustle. If you need peace and quiet – a place to give your body and soul chance to recover, come to Zagora.

No matter what you are looking for, you can find a perfect place for you in Dalmatia and forget all your worries.

Why You Should Visit Colchester

Photo by George Gastin. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Britain’s oldest recorded city and a market town with a rich history, some of Britain’s landmark events have taken place in Colchester.

A must-see for history fanatics, Colchester was founded by the Romans and was at one point the capital of Roman Britain. Today, visitors can enjoy exploring the oldest Roman ruins in the country, as well as Balkerne Gate, the largest surviving Roman Gateway in Britain. But what else does this fascinating town have to offer? Keep reading to find out.

Yet more historical discoveries can be made with a visit to the Roman Circus, Britain’s only known Roman chariot racing track, where you can access free indoor and outdoor displays as well as a guided tour.

Who doesn’t love a good castle? Colchester’s will not disappoint – it is, after all, England’s largest surviving Norman keep – bigger than the Tower of London! In previous years, it’s been a royal residence, a prison and an air-raid shelter, and now retains its glory as a museum. Here, you can take a tour of the 2000-year old vaults, go up on the castle roof and view interactive displays such as building a Norman archway, dressing up as an Iron Age Briton and steering a Roman chariot.

For lovers of the great outdoors, the Grade II listed Castle Park spans 11 hectares, is home to award-winning horticulture and is a great place to visit on a sunny day, be it for a picnic, games with the family or simply a nice walk. Offering stunning views, this is a great place for little ones, with a boating lake, play area, café and even friendly squirrels!

Another great family day out is Colchester Zoo. With over 270 species set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland, you can watch gorgeous animals from across the world roaming around, being fed and even see a training session with their keepers. Best of all, Colchester Zoo offers you the chance to feed the elephants and walk through a 24-metre tunnel where you can see sealions swimming overhead!

Overall, Colchester is a lovely town complete with hidden gems, including a modern arts centre and secret gardens, and it’s no wonder it’s so popular with visitors from near and far.

In Colchester, you’ll never be far away from beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture and rich culture – so book your visit now.

If you’re interested in security services in Colchester, check out Stage Security, a leading SIA security company that can provide a bespoke solution tailored to your requirements.

4 of Jamaica’s most beautiful best-kept secrets

Source: Unsplash | Sébastien Jermer

Jamaica’s sublime sun, sea and sand pigeonhole it as a typical tropical tourist getaway.

But add wild waterfalls, majestic mountains, rebellious history, reggae culture and feisty locals into the mix, and you might begin to understand why the land of wood and water is truly unique.

Take a package tour to Jamaica where you seldom venture far from the high walls of your compound resort and the closest you’ll get to experiencing The Rock in true living colour is returning home with a tan and a few tacky tourist trinkets.

However, provided you plan ahead, there are plenty of ways to experience this idyllic and inspirational island nation in a much more immersive and enriching manner.

So without further ado, here are four of Jamaica’s most beautiful best-kept secrets.

1. Reach Falls

Fancy splashing around in the same sumptuous waterfall where Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue filmed 80s classic Cocktail?

Then take a few minutes to watch this Knotty Maria Reach Falls video and you’ll understand why a trip to these romantic waterfalls in the John Crow Mountains is a must-do.

Clamber up the natural stone staircase to the main falls, slide into the rabbit hole at the top of the porous bread loaf rock and then chill out in the pool below – brilliant!

2. Trident Port Antonio

When he first sailed into Port Antonio, the late lothario Errol Flynn declared that it was more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen.

And perhaps the best way to relax in rarified luxury near the capital of Jamaica’s stunning Portland parish is by booking into Trident Port Antonio – an elegant white castle complex that perches on a promontory overlooking the cool Caribbean sea. Reserve your exclusive villa at thetridenthotel.com.

3. Firefly

After enjoying huge success on stage and screen, English polymath Sir Noel Coward liked nothing better than entertaining Hollywood Royalty at his house at Blue Harbour in St Mary parish.

However, check out this film of his second home at Firefly and you’ll understand why he kept this nearby private pad spot largely to himself.

Gaze out across islets in the the Spanish Main from the hillside spot where Sir Noel took his postprandial stroll and it’s obvious why this is one of Jamaica’s most desirable wedding locations.

 

4. Accompong

In the 18th Century, a group of rebel runaway slaves called the Maroons fought a series of (largely successful) guerilla wars against the British Empire, with the results that some of their descendants still live in autonomous communities deep in Jamaica’s interior.

One such settlement is Accompong in Cockpit Country and it’s well worth a visit if you want to learn about the proud traditions of a great underdog people who took on an empire and, thanks to guts, guile and guerilla tactics, won against overwhelming odds. Find a tour at undiscovered-destinations.com.

Getting there

Find direct flights to Jamaica from main London airports at kayak.com and if you’re getting there in your own vehicle, book airport parking at Looking4.com for Heathrow, Gatwick and elsewhere.

That’s our list! Share your own Jamaican travel tips in the comments section.

How to mix the old and new on a Japanese holiday

Japan is a juxtaposition of ancient and modern life. From zen gardens and Buddhist temples, to flashing neon signs and bullet trains. The culture in this magnificent country is truly unique as the old and new blend seamlessly into one another. If you’re travelling to Japan in the near future or you’re looking for inspiration for your next holiday destination, you’ll want to make the most of everything the country has to offer.

Below we’ll look at how you can get the perfect mix between ancient culture and modern living in some of Japan’s top destinations. This guide will discuss the must-see sites, best dining experiences and the perfect places to stay during your visit. Read on to learn more about this cultural, and equally futuristic nation.

Visit ancient historic sites

In order to get a feel for the culture of Japan, you absolutely must visit some of its best ancient and historical sites. Below are just some of the temples, landmarks and cities you should visit in order to experience traditional Japan.

  1. The Atsuta Shrine

The most important shrine in Japan, the Atsuta Shrine can be found in the city of Nagoya. Attracting more than five million visitors a year, this religious site dates back to the first century and is most famous for its preserved Imperial insignia.

  1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial

While technically classed as modern history, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who hasn’t heard about the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing back in 1945. The city has since been rebuilt and there has been a memorial placed at the centre of where the bomb exploded, to commemorate all those who lost their life on that fateful day.

  1. Kyoto

The city of Kyoto was unspoiled by WWII and as a result has remained relatively unchanged over the last 1000 years. For this reason, it attracts more than 10 million visitors each year. You can really get a feel for Japanese culture here as you explore the old streets and traditional architecture of the Imperial family.

  1. Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace can be found in the nation’s capital, Tokyo, and is one of the most famous landmarks there. Dating back to the 17th century this beautiful palace is surrounded by parks, walls and even a moat.

  1. The Island of Miyajima

You’ll need to take a ferry from mainland Hiroshima, but Miyajima Island is well worth a visit. Known as the Shrine Island, it is home to the Itsukushima Shrine built for the princess daughters of the wind god Susanoo. Many of the buildings here are built up out of the water and the shrine itself dates back to the eighth century.

  1. Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle was built in 1586 by Japanese warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At this time the castle would have been the largest and most important fortress in the country. Though it has since been rebuilt, what you see today stays true to the original building.

Experience modern life in Japan

In contrast with the ancient and historical sites, you should also visit some of the modern wonders of Japan. Again, we’ll outline a few of the must-see spots and experiences below.

  1. Akihabara

Also known as ‘Electric Town’, Akihabara is a haven for electronics and second-hand gaming stores. When it’s all lit up at night you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that it resembles the giant billboards and big lights of Times Square.

  1. Shibuya Crossing

The busiest intersection in Japan can be found in Tokyo. With as many as one thousand people crossing at any one time, you can imagine just how bustling this area of the city truly is. This is the pinnacle of modern life in a busy Japanese city and you can watch in awe as the sheer number of people pass each other almost seamlessly going about their day. It’s also been featured in many movies, including Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.

  1. Tokaido Shinkansen

This is the name given to the high-speed ‘bullet train’ which runs between Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Travelling up to 200 kilometers per hour this is one of the most iconic feats of engineering in Japan. Despite its speed, it is famous for being extremely safe to ride.

  1. Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island is also known as ‘Art Island’ and is a remarkable hub for arts and architecture. Covered in sculptures, museums and installations you can experience the nation’s most creative forms of expression.

Experiment with cuisine

Whenever you visit a country that isn’t your own it’s always nice to try the traditional and local cuisine. It’s no secret that Japanese food is delicious, the growing popularity of sushi and other dishes across the world speaks for itself. But how you dine when in Japan can really give you a taste of the old and the new.

Of course, you should try traditional dishes such as sushi, yakitori, miso soup, tempura and ramen, but you can enjoy these in very different ways. If you don’t fancy anything too crazy, just a traditional Japanese restaurant will do. However, in true Japanese style you can also dine in some of the most eccentric and unique experiences the world has to offer. The country has everything from high-tech dining with iPads and conveyor belts, to robot run restaurants and railway themed eateries where your food arrives on a model train.

Mix up your accommodation

You can even mix the old with the new when it comes to choosing your accommodation. Why not spend a few days in an authentic Japanese inn called a Ryokans. There are plenty of these all over the country, so you won’t struggle to find one you love, but these are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the culture.

What’s more, as with the futuristic (and just plain crazy) dining experiences, there are some pretty unique places to stay in Japan too. You can stay at a Godzilla themed hotel, or a hotel in which you’re checked in solely by robots, and these are either female androids or a scary dinosaur. But if it’s relaxation you’re after there are also a number of eco-friendly hotels out there that offer quirky and tranquil stays.

Written by Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at MyBaggage.com a luggage delivery company who have helped many travelers make their trip to Japan stress-free.

4 Ideal Locations for a Family Vacation in Indonesia

Source: Unsplash | Christopher Alvarenga

Family vacations are great. Family vacations abroad are even better! Not only do you get to bond and create new moments to remember, you also get to explore new places.

That being said, one of the most popular destinations for Southeast Asian families going on vacations abroad is Indonesia. It has ancient monuments, natural wonders, exotic flora and fauna, and, of course, plenty of gorgeous beaches. It doesn’t matter if your family is laid-back or adventurous, or if the children in your group are younger or older. Indonesia is a country where every member of your family can enjoy.

Here are some suggestions for places to see on your next family vacation in Indonesia.

Ocean Park BSD Serpong

If you’re looking for a no-fuss, fun-filled day in the pool with your little kids, Ocean Park BSD Serpong in Tangerang City is the perfect destination. This water park (or waterboom, as they’re called in Indonesia) is more or less just 45 minutes away from Terminal 3 Soekarno Hatta Airport, so you can immediately jump in and have some fun! It’s a little smaller compared to similar attractions in Indonesia, but you’ll get more attentive service in return. What’s more, the place rarely gets crowded so you can enjoy the pools, slides, and rides better. There’s a wave pool, too, if you prefer bouncing with the water. Meanwhile, young children will have lots of fun in the huge splash area. Finally, to satisfy your hunger pangs, there’s a food court with personnel walking around and carrying copies of the menu. You can order directly from the staff, and they’ll “deliver” the food you ordered.

Borobudur Temple

Does your family love touring historical and cultural sites? Then Borobudur Temple is arguably the best place to visit in Indonesia for you. Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Indonesia’s most visited tourist destination. It’s also a popular pilgrimage site during Vesak, drawing thousands of Buddhists from all over Indonesia. Made of volcanic stone, it was built in the 9th century under the Shailendra dynasty. Borobudur has nine platforms and three tiers: the base, body, and superstructure. These three tiers match the spheres of the universe according to Buddhist cosmology: kamadhatu, rupadhatu, and arupadhatu.

On top of the temple is a central dome surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each with their own stupa. Other decorations include 2,672 bas relief panels, considered to be some of the most elegant in ancient Buddhism. These bas reliefs depicting mythical beings in the Buddhist tradition and various facets of daily life in 8th-century Java have all been used as references for research.

Pemuteran Beach

Bali is world-famous for its many beautiful beaches, which means the island can get a little too crowded with tourists at times. Don’t fret, though. There are parts of Bali that aren’t as “touristy” as other beaches. This includes Pemuteran Beach on the northern coast. This black-sand beach is home to the largest artificial Biorock reef project, which aims to help restore coral reefs, protect the seas against global warming, and prevent beach erosion, among others. On the western end, you can climb a small peak to catch a view of the coastal area. Other popular activities in Pemuteran include snorkeling, diving, and even hiking in the nearby hills.

There’s also a Monkey Temple just a couple of kilometres to the east of Pemuteran. The monkeys here are quite friendly and, if you want, you can try feeding them with fruits. Just be careful to hold your bags firmly since the monkeys can be quite naughty and are known to snatch people’s belongings to play with them! Your family may also want to participate in regular clean-ups of the beach, where tourists pick up trash left on the beach. This is a great activity to help instill in your children the value of taking care of nature.

Green Village

For a more educational vacation, you can visit Green Village. Located by the Ayung River in Bali and founded by Canadian artist John Hardy, Green Village is a compound with 13 bamboo houses and villas. All of these are hand-constructed by the IBUKU architectural team using black and white bamboo. Everything in these structures are made from these sustainable materials, from the floors and walls up to the ceilings and roofs. These houses and villas are also designed to withstand both sun and rain and have been treated with boron, a natural chemical element. This makes the bamboo inedible to insects.

While at the Green Village, you can also visit PT. Bamboo Pure or the Bamboo Factory, where you can see how bamboo is prepared to become strong materials for building sustainable houses and furniture. There’s also the John Hardy Jewelry Factory, an open-air workshop where artisans create beautiful jewelry.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone in Indonesia. It’s indeed an ideal location to treat your family to a fun and worthwhile vacation. So what are you waiting for? Book that trip now and have a blast with your family!

What Should You Look for in a High-Quality Hotel?

Source: Unsplash | Christian Lambert

As you make your travels from place to place, no matter if it is for business, pleasure, or leisure, there are going to be a lot of things that you pay attention to when you plan your stay. When you are planning on staying at a hotel for more than just a place to sleep, you will want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your stay in Abu Dhabi; thankfully, there are ways to make sure of that.

For instance, you might want to begin thinking about what is most important to you for your hotel stay. Do you want to have a large room with more than enough space for you to stay comfortably? Or do you want to spend your time in a hotel that offers food, drink, and even leisure activities for you so that the hotel is truly the destination of your stay? These are all very important things that you will want to think about when you are looking at the many hotels that dot the city of Abu Dhabi.

Thinking About What You Want From Your Room

Of course, the room is going to be a very important part of your stay in a 5-star hotel in Abu Dhabi. After all, you’re going to be sleeping there. This means that when you begin looking at which rooms are available, you will want to think about a few things. First, you will want to think about how much space you will need. Some rooms are going to be smaller than others with an area of 42 square meters as compared to the larger rooms that might be closer to 60 square meters. Being comfortable in your room is important as nobody enjoys being cramped in his or her room.

You will also need to think about other amenities as well. Some people place a lot of importance on things such as pillow menus, which allow you to choose exactly which pillows you want in your room. Other people will want to focus more on the view and the floor-to-ceiling windows that come in certain rooms. Whether you want the daily and international newspapers or magazines to keep up with events or you want to make the most out of the minibar in your room, you will want to think about what room amenities will be important for your stay in Abu Dhabi.

Thinking About What You Want From the Hotel

Just as the hotel room itself is very important, the overall features of the hotel are also important to consider. Some people might want to spend the entire day in the hotel, taking advantage of the restaurants that are located within. Other people will want to spend their time in a spa, relaxing the day away and coming back to the hotel room feeling more alive than ever. No matter what your focus is during your stay, you will ultimately want to make sure that your stay is a comfortable one when you are spending the money on a 5-star hotel.

When it comes to dining, you will want to think about what kinds of food are offered and if they fit your tastes. Some people do not enjoy steakhouses or eating meat in general, which would be a problem if a hotel’s only restaurant was a steakhouse. However, high-quality hotels are going to have more than one option for you and you will be able to choose from sophisticated cuisines and bars that have whatever you could want to drink.

Look Online For Big Savings on Your Orlando Trip

A family trip to Orlando isn’t cheap and whilst every penny spent will be worthwhile, it makes sense to try and find as many ways to save as possible. My family and I have taken this trip about 5 times in the last decade and each time we go we manage to find more cost effective ways to make this trip. If you want the best and biggest savings then you need to fire up your laptop and get searching, and here are just some of the places where you can save big.

Theme Parks

Beyond your flight prices and accommodation the biggest outlay you’ll be likely to make is on the entrance to the theme parks themselves. You can however find huge savings on a variety of discount websites, as long as you know which parks you want to go to and on which days you want to visit. Our favorite park here in Orlando is Universal Studios and you can find Universal Orlando tickets online with huge discounts. Sometimes you’ll find these on 3rd party sites, other times you’ll find heavy discounts on offer on a variety of coupon sites. The key is to get hold of these tickets as soon as they are released because they are almost always limited, if you don’t want to miss out then check in daily to ensure that you are first in line.

Car Hire

Renting a car during your time here makes so much sense, it gives you the freedom to go where you want and when, and it also makes access to the attractions far more flexible for you and your family. As you can imagine competition is high when it comes to getting the car you want and this is why it makes sense to book up early. Furthermore you can count on some great discounts and offers if you get in early, particularly from coupon websites. As soon as you have booked the trip, hit the coupon websites each day and keep an eye out for some of the big discounts you can find for companies such as Avis, Herz and Budget, to name just a few. Not only can you secure a great price but you can also ensure that they have availability for the make and model of your choice.

Restaurants

During peak season there is fierce competition between restaurants to get tourists through the door and beyond their daily menu promotions they will also offer sizable discounts online. More often than not you’ll find these discounts and offers directly on the restaurant’s website. Bear in mind that restaurants put these deals on for future dates so you will need to know where you’ll be on each day. Once you know where and when you want to eat simply grab a deal, get your booking in early and count on some heavily discounted meals and some of the city’s best restaurants.

Orlando may be pricey but you can find ways to bring those costs down.