The Best Asian Travel Destinations for Summer 2017

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Asia is home to some of the most beautiful sights to be seen in the world. However, many people visit the continent during the winter months. Perhaps they are scared off during summer due to the potential for excessive temperatures and an impending rainy season. But that’s not enough reason to completely strike Asian travels from your list of potential summer trips. There are many beautiful parts that are at their peak from July to September, and it would be an awful shame to miss them. So here are a few different destinations you might like to check out in the summer of 2017.

Bali

Bali’s sees most of its visitors pass through from July through to August. Unlike many parts of Asia at this time of year, the region is dry during this time, making summer the ultimate season to visit. Because of its summertime popularity, you might want to avoid busier areas and tourist traps. Try seeking out the alternative side of Bali: trek rice terraces, seek out waterfalls and skirt the edges of temples. Head out early in the morning to secure good spots at beaches and book into restaurants you might like to try out early during your stay.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is urban, making it suitable to visit at any time of the year. The bustling country has so much to offer. From historic sites and temples, such as Tian Tan Buddha and Wong Tai Sin Temple, to Disneyland. There’s something to suit everybody. We’d recommend, as with most urban city breaks, to book into a reputable hotel, such as hotel causeway bay. Hong Kong is a highly popular destination, and you don’t want to leave your accommodation down to chance once you get there, as all hotels in the local area may well be fully booked.

Malaysia

If you’re drawn to the sea and sand, Malaysia might well tick all of your boxes for the holiday of a lifetime. The Tioman and Perhentian islands are highly recommended during the summer months, as the islands’ climes during this period result in calmer seas, which allow for extraordinary snorkeling experiences. If you have your heart set on a more urban retreat, visit Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital. Book day trips and excursions in advance to avoid disappointment on the day.

Ladakh

Ladakh is a Himalayan region located in North India. It is a summer favorite, with azure blue skies and beautiful weather throughout the summer months. Try exploring the stunning landscape and visiting Buddhist temples along the way. Roads in the region are closed from October to May, so make the most of them being open. Hire a vehicle and take a drive through one of the most spectacular mountain ranges known to man.

Koh Samui

If Thailand has captured your heart, you might fancy taking a trip to Koh Samui. Better known destinations, such as Phuket, are located in the Andaman Sea and experience wet seasons during summer. But Koh Samui lies in the Gulf of Thailand, which has sunny and dry weathers at this time of year.

Surprise Your Taste Buds in Thailand – 5 Must-Try Thai Dishes

If you are heading to Thailand in the near future, keep in mind that you are going to have to eat. While there are McDonald’s restaurants and other fast food in Thailand, that’s a terrible way to experience the local culture. The cuisine in Thailand is something that you simply won’t find anywhere else on earth; the Thai food in the United States is often a poor imitation of what actual Thai cuisine tastes like so don’t forget to try these five amazing dishes during your next visit to Thailand.

Red Pork Noodle Soup

First up is Red Pork Noodle Soup, one of the most delicious Thai dishes that you will ever eat. You won’t be able to find this in the restaurants in Bangkok, but you can find it throughout the market at street vendors. The way that it is made might give you pause (the broth sits for a really long time) but it is absolutely delicious. The broth is made of boiled pork bones and onions, and it is combined with noodles, slices of red pork, sprouts and bok coy. You can eat it with sugar, fish sauce or even chili. You definitely need to check it out at least once while you are in Thailand.

Spicy Beef Salad

Beef salad is pretty amazing on its own. You can find it in restaurants throughout Thailand and it is made of succulent strips of beef that is combined with a whole bunch of things to give it a unique flavor like coriander, spearmint, lime, dried chili and onions. This salad can be enjoyed on its own but that’s definitely not the best way to eat it. As your Thai friends will tell you, you must experience spicy beef salad with warm delicious bread and covered in fish sauce. You can even make spicy beef salad at home if you want to fondly remember your time in Thailand.

Som Tam

Som Tam is one of the most prevalent foods in the Thai diet and you will find it being sold everywhere around you among the street vendors. The way that this dish is made is with shaved papaya fruit combined in a mortar and pestle with things like sugar, fish sauce, lots of chilies, peanuts, tomatoes and more. It is really spicy and if you can’t handle it, then get it made without the chilies. Even so, the mortar has a bunch of chili seeds already present when they start making yours, so you will get a little spice regardless.

Banana Pancakes

These aren’t your dad’s banana pancakes and you will be surprised just how prevalent this dish is within the marketplaces that you visit. The Thong Lor market in Bangkok has dozen of stalls selling this stuff. What is actually consists of is friend dough that is much more similar to a scone than a pancake, which is filled with chopped up banana and then topped with chocolate, or sugar mixed with condensed milk.

Krathong Tong

Our fifth dish on this list is the absolutely amazing Krathong Tong. This is an appetizer that you won’t be able to resist once you taste it for the first time. Fried appetizers have become more and more common in Thai cuisine and this is one of the best things to come from the Portuguese cuisine that has introduced them to the area. You probably won’t be able to find them unless you visit one of the nicer restaurants in Bangkok but they are very thin fried shells filled with chicken, corn, carrots, potatoes and a delicious, creamy mystery sauce.

Your Malaysia And Singapore Itinerary Sorted!

Malaysia borders Singapore to the south, and many people choose to visit both countries as part of the same trip. It’s easy to navigate your way around if you know how. Multi-stop holidays are an excellent way to see the world, enjoy different types of holiday and explore various cultures. Here is a sample itinerary to enable you to discover the wonders of Malaysia and Singapore.

Days 1-6: Kuala Lumpur and Penang

Fly into Kuala Lumpur Airport and spend a couple of days seeing the sights. Highlights include Merdeka Square, the Bird Park, Bukit Bintang and the Batu Caves. For the best views, check out the Kuala Lumpur Tower or the Petronas Towers. When you leave the city, head for the beaches of Penang to soak up the sun and recharge your batteries.

Days 7 and 8: The Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands are home to endless stretches of verdant tea plantations. Organize a tour to learn all about growing and harvesting, and taste some of Malaysia’s finest teas. A caffeine hit will come in handy for your next exploit: a hike in the hills. Walking is an excellent way to enjoy the scenery and catch sight of local wildlife, flora, and fauna.

Days 9 and 10: Johor Bahru

Often proclaimed as the gateway to Singapore, Johor Bahru is a popular base for tourists. There is plenty going on, and it’s worth taking a day or two to have a look around before crossing the border. Book a budget hotel near Legoland in Johor Bahru for easy access to the theme park, shopping malls, and restaurants. The Royal Abu Bakar Museum is also well worth a visit.

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Days 11-14: Singapore

Singapore is a pristine nation, which welcomes visitors from all corners of the globe in their droves. Don’t miss Singapore Zoo and stay all day to take advantage of the after-dark safari. Ride the Singapore Flyer for the best views in town and take a trip to Sentosa for beautiful beaches. Wander through the Botanic Gardens and pay a visit to the serene Sri Mariamman Temple.

There’s no better way to finish the day than with a cool Singapore Sling at the world-famous bar of the Raffles Hotel.

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Image from https://pixabay.com/en/singapore-ferris-wheel-big-wheel-431421/

Getting around and about

The best way to travel in Malaysia is via public transport. Coaches and trains run between major towns and cities, and they are inexpensive. Flying may be an option if you’re planning to head out to the islands. Alternatively, you can catch a bus or train followed by a boat. You can travel directly from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by bus or plane. The bus is a much cheaper option. If you’re traveling from Johor Bahru, you can take the train, bus or hire a taxi or private transfer. In most cases, you can buy tickets on the day, but you may want to book in advance for lower rates and peace of mind.

If you’re visiting Singapore or Malaysia in the coming months, why not extend your trip and enjoy both countries? It’s easy to get from one to the other, and you can experience a whole host of different sights, attractions, and adventures.

5 Cultural Gems To Discover This Summer

If you’re looking for a summer holiday with a difference, why not unleash your inner culture vulture? Make this the year you visit some of the world’s most treasured gems. If you’re a history enthusiast or you’re eager to get some of those bucket-list sites ticked off, here are some ideas.

  1. Chichen Itza, Mexico

A stunning example of Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s star attractions. The highlight of this ancient city is a domineering stone pyramid, which forms the backdrop for many a holiday snap. The city dates back to 600AD, and it has been beautifully preserved. Take a tour to learn all about the Mayan civilization and the significance of the El Castillo pyramid. Stick around for sun down and appreciate an entirely different aesthetic. By night, the pyramid is illuminated. You can appreciate its intricate decoration and striking geometry in a different light.

  1. Petra, Jordan

All the pictures and postcards in the world could never prepare you for seeing Petra with your own eyes. This rose colored ancient city is a worthy wonder of the world, and it has to be seen to be appreciated. Enter through an ornate doorway carved into the rock face and prepare to be amazed. Book one of the many education tours on offer to gain an insight into the architecture and design. Take in the incredible sights and sounds and marvel at the attention to detail. Make sure you have sturdy, comfortable walking boots with you and keep your camera handy.

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Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/2216880341

  1. Great Wall of China

An engineering feat and a breathtaking landmark, no trip to China is complete without a tour of the Great Wall. Stretching more than 21,000 kilometers, you probably won’t manage it in its entirety, but it’s fascinating to see it and learn more about it. Local guides are happy to impart their knowledge and wisdom, and there are tours available throughout the country. If you’re visiting Beijing, you can easily arrange a day tour.

  1. Machu Picchu

An iconic symbol of Inca culture, the lost city is a magical and mysterious place. Established in the 15th century and located almost 8,000 feet above sea level, it takes a little effort to reach the site. But it’s well worth it. The ruins have been tended to meticulously and they remain in excellent condition. You can also enjoy staggeringly beautiful views over Peru. Fly to Lima and spend a couple of days exploring this vibrant and hectic city before heading to Cusco. It’s worth doing a little training before you trek up to Machu Picchu, as the altitude can be draining.

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Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidstanleytravel/7914096100

  1. Taj Mahal, India

India is famed for its mesmerizing scenery and nothing lures intrepid travelers in like the Taj Mahal. Built in the 17th century as a memorial to Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife, this giant mausoleum is made from pristine white marble. It glistens in the sun and the dome penetrates the Agra skyline. Wander around the manicured gardens and soak up the tranquility. Visit at sunrise or dusk to avoid throngs of tourists.

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Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/2215341546

If you’re after something different, why not inject some history into your holiday? There are so many awesome sights out there to discover.

Wadi Rum, Jordan – Journey to the moon

WADI RUM, JORDAN: Journey to Wadi Rum was like journey to another world or another planet. Wadi Rum, meaning Valley of the Moon, is the largest and most magnificent of Jordan’s desert landscapes. Vast scenery of Wadi Rum is endless and is at everywhere you look. This silent and timeless place is still untouched by humans although it has been inhabited by many cultures since prehistoric time. This is a vast wilderness that holds spectacular treasures from as early as 4000 years ago. Wadi Rum was added to UNESCO World Heritage site for its natural and cultural significance in 2011.

Vast and empty land of Wadi Rum, Jordan
Vast and empty land of Wadi Rum, Jordan
     

This makes a great day trip from Petra or Aqaba. Many people come to Wadi Rum for overnight or weekly camping. There are some designated areas where they can stay like the Bedouins, roam around in camels, horses, or donkeys, and eat meals prepared by the Bedouins in traditional style. Trekkers, hikers, and rock climbers come here to enjoy the tranquility of the boundless empty spaces. This place can also interest professionals like geologists, scientists, and historians. To the west, this became very well-known after the epic movie “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962. It was also used as the surface of mars in the movie “Red Planet”.

Amazing landscape of Wadi Rum, Jordan - it does look like the surface of the moon
Amazing landscape of Wadi Rum, Jordan – it does look like the surface of the moon
     

It took us about hour and half from Petra to reach Wadi Rum. We paid 150 JD (50 JD per person & my 3-yr was free) for all four of us for about 5 hours of stay in Wadi Rum. The price included the tour and Bedouin-style lunch. Our guide met with the Bedouin in a spot near Wadi Rum, not near the Visitors’ Center. So, we avoided paying the entry fee there. But usually tourists have to pay about 50 JD to enter the valley and pay separately to the Bedouins for tour and everything else. There are many options to choose from to explore the desert and they can be arranged by the Visitors’ Center or your hotel beforehand.

Beautiful Wadi Rum, Jordan
Beautiful Wadi Rum, Jordan
     

TIME of TRAVEL: We flew to Jordan in mid-February in 2013. Wadi Rum was our last trip there after Petra. It was slightly chilly in the city, but once we were in the desert…it was really pleasant. Try avoiding going there during summer…it can get crazy hot. Even most of the Bedouins move off the desert to elevated mountains in hot summer months.

A nice afternoon in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan
A nice afternoon in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan
    

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Movenpick Resort in Petra, right outside the Visitors’ Center. I don’t think I need to say much about Movenpick, it’s a 5-star hotel…very luxurious rooms with excellent customer service. Wi-Fi wasn’t free but breakfast buffet, with variety of different items to choose from, was free for its customers. We checked out of the hotel in the morning and headed straight towards Wadi Rum on the last day of our trip and checked in Arab Tower Hotel in Amman at night.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: Wadi Rum is a classic picture of sandy desert. Whole area is 280 sq. miles (780 sq. m.) of natural scenic site. Visitors can spend days or weeks exploring its mountains, hills, vast landscapes, sand dunes, many natural rock bridges, sandstone and granite rocks, Bedouin inhabitants, natural and hand-cut caves, inscriptions and petroglyphs, and many other wonders of nature and pre-historic time. Our Bedouin guide brought an old white 4×4 SUV to take us around the desert. Adventure is having your SUV stuck in the sand or taking a ride thru the empty path of desert without following any signs or paved road, and sliding down small sand-dunes with the vehicle.

Our 4x4 transportation in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan
Our 4×4 transportation in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan

1) Mushroom Rock: This was our first stop in the desert. Our Bedouin guide has a small shop of his own and a place for tea and coffee (only open after dark) inside a tent. There is a natural rock formation close to the tent, looks much like a mushroom in a way.

Mushroom rock in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Mushroom rock in Wadi Rum, Jordan
   

2) Seven Pillars of Wisdom: We saw this bold rock formation almost right after we entered the valley. The name came from T. E. Lawrence’s book although name has nothing to do with the valley.

This amazing columns of rock is known as Seven Pillars of Wisdom in Wadi Rum, Jordan
This amazing columns of rock is known as Seven Pillars of Wisdom in Wadi Rum, Jordan
   

3) Caves and Lifestyle: Many natural and hand-cut caves can be found in Wadi Rum. Some of them are from the time of Nabataeans. We stopped at two of these caves (one from Nabataean period) where no one lives anymore.

One of many natural caves of Wadi Rum, Jordan
One of many natural caves of Wadi Rum, Jordan
    

Another interesting thing he showed us was how Bedouins used to wash their hands or body in the old times before soaps were available. I don’t know the name of the plant, but he took some branches, tore them in small pieces, smashed with rock, added some water, and started to rub in his hands then bubble started to form…a natural anti-bacterial soap.

Our Bedouin friend is showing how they used to use plants to clean their hands in the old time - Wadi Rum, Jordan
Our Bedouin friend is showing how they used to use plants to clean their hands in the old time – Wadi Rum, Jordan
     

4) Castle from “Lawrence of Arabia”: There was a castle built in Wadi Rum during the shooting of the movie “Lawrence of Arabia”. The sandstone castle is still standing in one part of the valley. We just drove by the castle without stopping.

Castle that was built for the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1962 in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Castle that was built for the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962 in Wadi Rum, Jordan
    

5) Inscriptions on rocks: There are many sites in Wadi Rum where you can find etched inscriptions, paintings, graffiti, and petroglyphs. They are usually from Nabataean or Thamudic periods. We stopped at 2 places and climbed up small hills to see them.

Etched inscription on mountain walls in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Etched inscription on mountain walls in Wadi Rum, Jordan
     

6) Natural rock bridges: Natural rock bridges are also very common in this Wadi. We saw total of 4 of these bridges in the middle of the valleys. These arches are absolutely sexy and can be climbed to the top to get a view from high above.

A natural rock bridge in Wadi Rum, Jordan
A natural rock bridge in Wadi Rum, Jordan
   
    
Another natural bridge of Wadi Rum
Another natural bridge of Wadi Rum
     
A stone arch in Wadi Rum
A stone arch in Wadi Rum
      

7) Our Lunch: After about 2 hours ride in the SUV with our guide and the Bedouin driver, we stopped at a nice picnic spot with awesome “backyard” view for lunch. The Bedouin had our lunch marinated and foiled beforehand.

Our Bedouin guide is trying to lit the fire up to cook our lunch
Our Bedouin guide is trying to light the fire up to cook our lunch
     

Both of them collected some dry branches to cook the food on. Then lit up fire and placed foiled meal on it. It took about an hour to cook that chicken. In the mean time he put some Bedouin music in his radio-looking machine, placed small mattresses on the sand for us to sit or lay down, and put a pot of water on fire to have some tea after lunch.

Lunch is cooking on hot sand and ashes
Lunch is cooking on hot sand and ashes
     

It was about 4 pm when the food was ready. He had everything very well planned …brought some breads, yogurt, even a bottle of coke, and some disposable utensils for lunch. The smell and look of our lunch looked oh-so-good. The dish is called Madfouna…a chicken dish with potatoes, carrots, peppers, lots of lemon with salt and pepper. We sat on the mattress with our food in our hands and some sand on our food (couldn’t help it, there were some whirling sand around us, they kept flying on our plate). But either way, that food was delicious. After lunch, it was time for some hot tea. I never had sage tea before. Usually people here drink lots of mint tea. But he made some sage tea for us…tasted very refreshing in the hot desert.

Our lunch in Wadi Rum, called Madfouna
Our lunch in Wadi Rum, called Madfouna
     

By the time we were done with our lunch it was about 5 pm and very close to sunset. On the SUV again and to the unknown…

8) Panoramic Site: This was the best part of the tour for me. The color of desert started to change its shades near the sunset time. Nature looked more mystical and astounding. Our Bedouin friend took us to a panoramic spot where we were amazed by the beautiful atmosphere. We were on top of a small hill surrounded by some sand dunes, a lower valley view, and uniquely cut rocks and hills. It was immense and boundless.

Sunset in a panoramic spot in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Sunset in a panoramic spot in Wadi Rum, Jordan
       

After all the traveling I did in my little life, Wadi Rum is the only place where I truly left my heart. I kept going back to its enormous and ageless place of beauty in my thoughts every now and then…thinking about miles after miles of its gratifying look. It truly felt like I was on the moon for the first time in my life.

Best sunset I have ever seen in my life was in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Best sunset I have ever seen in my life was in Wadi Rum, Jordan
   

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