One of Indonesia’s most popular island destinations, Bali is beloved by travellers seeking an affordable tropical getaway. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, majestic mountain scapes, spectacular rice fields and magical temples. Add into the mix gorgeous green landscapes, stunning waterfalls and a warm tropical year round climate and you’ve got an idyllic holiday location. Bali is also steeped in rich culture and religious traditions, so the island appeals to tourists seeking adventure, culture and natural beauty. [Read more…] about Travel Stories: 5 Fun and Fabulous Things to do in Bali
Health and leisure themed blog about The Imperial Hotel in Blackpool, for The Hotel Collection.
If you’re looking for inspiration to kick start your health and fitness regime, or simply need to burn off a few unwanted calories, The Imperial Hotel in Blackpool has everything you need to help you reach your 2017 health and fitness goals.
Situated on Blackpool’s North Promenade with spectacular ocean views, The Imperial Hotel’s Health & Leisure Club features a state-of-the-art gym, indoor swimming pool, solarium, sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room.
Read the rest of the blog here.
Welcome to wonderful Western Australia and the vibrant state capital city of Perth. Whether you’re visiting for a couple of days, a week or two or several months, in Perth and Western Australia you’ll enjoy adventures and experiences that are as extraordinary as they are unique.
Averaging over 300 days of sunshine every year, Perth is a playground for adventure lovers and just about everyone who enjoys the great outdoors. With beautiful white sandy beaches, stunning natural scenery, hot sunny weather and a laid back lifestyle, there’s so much to love about the beautiful west coast of Australia.
The largest of all Australian states (more than 2.5 million square kilometres!) if you love the ocean, the outdoor lifestyle and lots and lots of sunshine, Perth and Western Australia will exceed your expectations. With a huge 12,500 km coastline, Western Australia is home to an abundance of beautiful beaches – 19 of which are in the Perth area alone, including the iconic Cottesloe Beach.
Of course there’s so much more to Perth than just our amazing beaches! Hire a catamaran or go kayaking and paddle boarding on the Swan River; take a trip to the Avon Valley for hot air ballooning; and visit the Perth Hills and enjoy some bushwalking. Check out top attractions like Kings Park, Caversham Wildlife Park, Perth Zoo and Fremantle for the prison and markets. Alternatively, browse our museums and galleries, eclectic markets and stylish malls. We even have free Cat buses to help you explore our amazing city.
Experience and explore Perth and WA
Escape to Kings Park… Right in the heart of our vibrant and busy city is Kings Park. With around 4.06 square kilometres of botanical gardens, tranquil parkland and bushland, it’s one of the largest inner city parks in the world; bigger than New York’s Central Park, in fact. Kings Park is the perfect place to head to if you want a change of pace, with spectacular views of the city and the Swan River. If you’ve got a head for heights, try out the Lotterywest Federation Walkway and walk among the treetops!
Explore Margaret River and the great South West… Around 280 kilometres from Perth is the picturesque town of Margaret River. Known for its gourmet food and world-class wine, the area has over 200 vineyards producing award-winning wines. It’s also a renowned surfing location, attracting surfers from around the world. You can’t venture down south without visiting Busselton and its timber jetty, the longest in the southern hemisphere, or Bunbury where you can swim with wild dolphins. If you want more breathtakingly beautiful beaches and coastline, head to Albany.
Enjoy a day in paradise… Paradise awaits, a mere 19km off the coast of Perth. It’s called Rottnest Island. Take the short ferry ride from Perth or Fremantle and be entranced by over 60 pristine beaches and 20 beautiful bays. This paradise island is 11km long and home to some of the state’s best natural attractions. Spend a day exploring the island by foot or bike – no cars are allowed at Rottnest. Alternatively you can use the jump-on, jump-off bus. Visitors can swim, snorkel, fish or simply lie on the beach and soak up the sun. Rotto (as the locals call it) is also a popular location for surfing and diving, kayaking and paddle boarding. A protected nature reserve, keep an eye out for the island’s friendly resident marsupials called quokkas.
Get cultural at the cultural centre… Arts and exhibitions, food and drink, music, markets and shopping: Perth’s cultural centre has something for everyone. Major attractions include the West Australian Museum, Art Gallery of Western Australia, the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia and the Blue Room Theatre, the home of cutting-edge performance in Perth.
Hit the beach and learn how to surf… Water sports and activities are a big part of the Aussie way of life. And Perth alone has 19 stunning white sandy beaches. From City Beach and Cottesloe Beach, to Leighton Beach and Brighton Beach, whether you want to swim, surf or just work on your tan, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Scarborough Beach and neighbouring Brighton Beach are two of Perth’s best surfing spots, with numerous surf schools in the area offering lessons for beginners.
Swim with dolphins and whale sharks… Experience the thrill of swimming with wild dolphins and whale sharks in the beautiful Indian Ocean. Around 2 hours drive south of Perth the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury is one of the best places to enjoy this amazing experience. Closer to home, and just 45 minutes south of Perth, Rockingham Wild Encounters also organises similar activities. Between April and July, head north of Perth, to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef to swim with whale sharks. Swimming with these gentle ocean giants is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
Explore the North West… Apparently the northern region of Western Australia has fewer people per square kilometre than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Rivers, mountains, bushland and deep gorges are the natural features of WA’s extraordinary outback. Highlights include Broome, Cable Beach, Karijini National Park, Lake Argyle, the largest manmade lake in the southern hemisphere and the Kimberley, famed for its rugged red landscape.
And the Coral Coast… You can’t head north without checking out the amazing Pinnacles, located in the Namburg National Park. Best visited at sunrise or sunset, these limestone formations protruding from the sand are a unique sight to behold. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more adventurous, visit Lancelin for sand surfing and four-wheel driving down massive sand dunes.
This article was written for Haus Accommodation website.
Famed for its glorious beaches, hot sunny weather, laid back lifestyle and stunning scenery, Australia is overflowing with attributes. As a country it effortlessly manages to cast a magical spell over the many millions of tourists who flock to its far away shores every year. Millions of people who arrive as tourists but who depart with a shared sense of having found a home away from home.
Back in 2009 I was one of those tourists. Like a lot of English people I’d grown up watching Home and Away and Neighbours. To most Brits Australia enjoys enviable all year round sunshine and is home to some of the world’s best sports teams (cricket and rugby union), a big rock (Uluru), a vast remote patch of land (the Outback) and the world’s largest coral reef (the Great Barrier Reef). But it didn’t take me long to discover that there was far more to Australia than what I’d seen depicted in Aussie soaps!
At almost 32 times the size of the UK, and 2,989,000 square miles, there’s a lot of Australia to explore. While Sydney and Melbourne remain the top destinations of choice for first time visitors, there’s heaps of equally amazing places to check out. Which brings me to Perth and the start of my love affair with Australia.
Tucked away on the beautiful west coast of Australia, Perth sits majestically overlooking the stunning Indian Ocean. Like most Australian cities it’s pretty expensive. In fact pricey Perth is the most expensive state capital after Sydney. But don’t let its reputation for being one of the world’s most expensive cities put you off. Perth more than makes up for its expensive price tag.
A cosmopolitan city with an abundance of restaurants, bars and cultural activities, Perth might not be the bustling city that Sydney or even Melbourne is. But in truth that’s part of its charm. And if like me, you love the ocean, the outdoor lifestyle and plenty of sunshine, Perth will not disappoint.
It’s the sunniest capital city in the world and has on average 8 hours of sunshine per day 365 days per year, of which around 118 are clear days. That’s almost 3,000 hours of sunshine! And being the largest of all the Australian states (we’re talking an area of around 2 500 000 sq. km!) it has a huge 12, 500 km coastline with some of the most beautiful beaches and crystal clear blue waters you’re ever likely to feast your eyes upon.
With a climate that compliments its laid back lifestyle perfectly, as Australian cities go Perth is a rare blend indeed. Not perfection personified by any means. But in my opinion it comes pretty close.
5 things to see and do
Check out King’s Park
I absolutely adore King’s Park. It’s a beautiful place; 4.06 square kilometres of botanical gardens, tranquil parkland and unique bushland. It never ceases to amaze me that there’s this tranquil oasis right in the heart of such a vibrant busy city. And the views of the Perth CBD and the Swan River are stunning, particularly at night. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve taken in that view – it takes my breath away like it was the first time.
Take a trip down south to Margaret River
When the locals want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life they head down south to the picturesque town of Margaret River. About 280 kilometres from the city, it’s a delightful area famed for its food, wine, award-winning chocolate and surfing breaks. Let’s just say Margaret River charmed the socks off me from the moment I arrived in the region. I loved every minute of my time in the South West, from visiting wineries, beaches and caves to sampling the delights of the Berry Farm and the chocolate factory. And even though I’m quite scared of heights, the Valley of the Giants tree top walk in Walpole was an amazing experience.
Swim with wild dolphins
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to swim with dolphins. And that lifelong dream finally came true during my first trip to Australia. During the summer months you can sign up for the dolphin swim at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, around a 2-hour drive from Perth. It meant a very early morning start – you have to be there before 7.30am – and at $150 per person it’s certainly not cheap. But it was worth every cent. Being able to see and interact with these amazing creatures in their natural habitat was one of the best days of my life. I don’t think I stopped smiling for days afterwards. Rockingham Wild Encounters, just 45 minutes from Perth, also offers a similar experience.
Hit the beach and learn how to surf
I’m a bit of a beach bum at heart. Nothing makes me happier than a sandy white beach and a crystal clear blue ocean – and there are 19 beaches in the Perth area alone. Rockingham Beach is probably my favourite; it’s where I’ve spent many a happy day swimming and sunbathing. But in terms of aesthetics nothing beats the beaches and bays on Rottnest Island. At times, depending on when you visit, you feel like you’re on your own private island! I also love Brighton Beach, because it’s where I had my first surfing lesson. I can’t wait to go back and have a few more.
Visit the scenic Swan Valley
Around 25 minutes from Perth you’ll find the charming and scenic Swan Valley. Renowned for its mouth-watering food and award-winning wineries and restaurants, the Swan Valley is the go to place to sample a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds. I spent a day in the region, including visiting the Margaret River Chocolate Factory and Whiteman Park. The highlight of my day trip was Caversham Wildlife Park because I got to meet koalas and best of all feed kangaroos. For an Aussie loving Brit it doesn’t get more Australian than that!
Article published in Chung Wah Magazine, volume 19 July 2014
Whether you’re a seasoned global traveller or someone who hasn’t travelled much further than your own front door, every travelling opportunity can deliver a unique and life changing experience. Discovering exciting new cultures can be mind blowing and eye opening. You get to expose your tastebuds to different food, meet new people and just generally see the world from a new and different perspective.
But what’s the best way to travel: on a guided tour or independently? Both have their benefits. When the Internet wasn’t available, most people had to depend on travel agencies to provide information about a an unfamiliar continent or country and to make the necessary travel arrangements. But now, thank to the Internet, travelling is so much easier. The world isn’t such a big place anymore.
So let’s look at the two different travelling experiences. What they have to offer; their similarities and the differences that set them apart.
Unlike most guided tours, which can be pretty full on, travelling independently certainly allows you to explore at a much slower pace. You’ll have more time to soak up the atmosphere, mingle with the locals and explore an area in more depth. So if you like to spend a considerable amount of time in any one given place, independent travel is the much better option.
But guided tours are still popular and with good reason, offering itineraries to suit the majority of travellers. If you live in Asia, for example, most people are only entitled to 2-3 weeks of annual leave. So with a limited amount of time, taking a guided tour could well be the better option. Plus, with your trips planned and organised on your behalf, they offer an easy and convenient way to travel. Aside from the organisational aspect, one of the best things about guided tours is your travelling companions. You’ll have the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and different parts of the world, who all share a common bond – a love of travel.
Joining a guided tour is cheaper than independent travel as tour operators can negotiate bulk discounts with hotels, restaurants and places; and subsequently pass them down to you. If you’re travelling independently your travel costs will totally depend on your travel goals. Although sometimes guided tours are more expensive because you are paying for tour operators to do the planning, travelling in a small group might work out cheaper. Always compare the cost of travelling independently and guided tours and work out the best travel options.
If you’re visiting places rich in history like Prague or Budapest (of which quite a few of their architectures are UNESCO listed), paying for a guided tour is worth the money. A tour guide has all the local knowledge and can point out certain features and historical events that took place in the area. Guided tours are a great way to relax, learn about the culture and history, minus the hassle of trying to get to the place. But there is a limit to where you can go and how long you can stay in each tourist attraction if you sign up to a guided tour. Travelling independently means you can explore the area at your own leisure; experience a city’s hustle and bustle and feel its heartbeat at your own pace.
Ease of travel
Independent travelling takes a lot of time and research. And sometimes you need to change your plans if there are environmental or political changes in a place or country you’re planning to visit. Also, you need to decide how to get there, how to get around, where to stay, what to eat… and the list goes on. It can be a tedious and cumbersome effort. Although you’ll at least have complete freedom and be able to act on spontaneity. However, taking a guided tour means your eliminate all the hassle in the planning stage.
Many people feel intimidated when they are travelling to a new place, especially when language is a barrier. A guided tour can make you feel safe, because there is someone around to rely on when help is needed. And don’t forget, there are some areas of the world that are best visited as part of a guided tour. For example, going to Antarctica or Bhutan could be difficult and challenging without being on a tour.
Tips for choosing tour operators
- Research. Find an reputable company that runs guided tours to the destination you want to visit. For example Trafalgar or Globus are popular for Europe. Having said that, make sure you choose the best deal you can get for your travel budget.
- Be clear on your travel goals. Think about the places you want to visit and what type of experience you are looking for. Some people travel for culture and history, some for sightseeing and shopping.
- Age group. To ensure you’re travelling with like minded people, always check the age group of the tour. Certain tours appeal to 30-40 year old mature professionals, whereas others are targeted at 18-30 year olds who are likely to be out for a different experience altogether.
- Costs. Make sure you are aware of any extra costs incurred while on tour, for example transfers, optional excursions and meals. You wouldn’t want to turn up for a safari tour only to find out you need to pay extra!
In conclusion, both travel options have their benefits. Ultimately, deciding between travelling independently and joining a guided tour will be determined by cost, where you want to go and what you want to get out of the experience.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine