5 Things to do on holiday in the Maldives – the world’s best tropical beach destination

The sun-kissed islands of Maldives have long been held as a favourite destination for holidaymakers. This tourist hotspot comprise of 1 190 islands stretched across 35 000 miles in the Indian Ocean and is regarded to be the world’s best tropical beach destination. While the Maldives islands presents a haven for water sports lovers, there are a variety of other ways in which to enjoy a holiday here island-style.

1. Take in a spa treatment
The secluded setting of tropical islands and the soothing sound of the waves, soft sand beneath your feet and dazzling blue skies above will envelope you in a cocoon of relaxation and serenity. Indulge yourself in world class spa treatments every resort in the Maldives offers. Luxury treatments and packages vary depending on which resort you choose.

2. An aerial Seaplane Photo Flight tour for the perfect view of the islands
The spectacular panoramic views of the Maldives islands offered by Seaplane photo flight tours are magical and definitely worth an experience. Fly over crystal clear pristine waters, unspoilt islands, lagoons, and be mesmerised by sightings of schools of fish and dolphins, manta and sting rays from above. This experience is one of the most memorable highlights on a visitor’s itinerary list.

3. Night fishing reef adventures
Seeing that the Maldives are an island nation, it comes as no surprise that fishing is interlaced in Maldivian culture from daily activities to cuisine. On a night fishing experience (which many resorts offer) you get to experience authentic island life. The boat departs just before sundown to settle at a perfect fishing spot. You will be instructed on how to use lines, hooks and sinkers; and with bait provided even the inexperienced in fishing stand a great chance of catching a fish.

4. Sightseeing around the capital
The city of Male’ is not only the capital of the Maldives, but the smallest capital city of all capital cities. The diminutive size does not impact on the number of attractions offered to tourists. The foremost among which is the National Museum located in the former Sultan’s Palace. The museum boasts valuable relics, regal objects and artefacts dated from the pre-Islamic era.

5. Scuba dive at the Maldives Victory
The Maldives Victory vessel makes for an extraordinary scuba diving experience. The ship which sunk in 1981 is nestled below the waves on the Hulhule House Reef. What makes scuba diving here extra special and a favourite with enthusiasts of the sport is navigating through the tricky currents, the abundance in picturesque fresh coral and dazzlingly colourful schools of fish. For those novice scuba divers wanting the experience, expert guides are available.


Destination Thailand: 5 favourite must-see attractions in Southeast Asia’s tourist jewel

Budget-friendly Thailand is widely regarded as a premier holiday destination. In 2010 alone, this Southeast Asian country hosted more than 15 million visitors. This could be attributed to the tourism and hospitality industry meeting the needs and desires of its visitors in countless ways; from providing an inspiring cultural explosion to high adventure for the adrenaline addicted to marvelling at its many natural wonders and accommodating budget-conscious travellers.

The irresistible natural beauty, beautiful untouched beaches, mythical ancient ruins, an exotic colourful culture and tantalising cuisine; spectacular parks to lose yourself in and with bustling cities that bombard the senses all make for Thailand being the jewel in Southeast Asia’s crown.

A visitor to Thailand can be overwhelmed with so many things to do see that more than one visit may be required to fully appreciate all it has to offer. Our five favourite must-see attractions that we think every tourist to Thailand should experience:

1. The Grand Palace
In our number one spot is Bangkok’s most famous landmark; the exquisitely designed Grand Palace showcases the ingenious craftsmanship and creative architectural vision of the Thai. This historic attraction was built in 1782 and comprises of a number of incredible buildings, most notable of which is the Wat Phra Kaeo. This handsome temple is home to the famous 14th century magnificent Emerald Buddha statue.

2. The Floating Market
Another tourist friendly gem in Bangkok is the world famous Floating Market located near the Damnoensaduak canal. This unique facility promises plenty of sensory stimulation which is why it makes its mark on a visitor’s itinerary list. Fresh produce, decorative items and souvenirs can be purchased here.

3. Khao Yai National Park
The Khao Yai National Park has earned its spot among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world. It is also a favourite with tourists for its mountainous landscapes, cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation and the abundance of wildlife. The park is home to 65 species of mammals including the Clouded Leopard, and 320 species of birds which can be observed on any of the exciting hiking trails in the park.

4. Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi Island is an idyllic soulful tropical paradise and one of the world’s most beautiful islands, with characteristic unspoilt beaches and stunning rock formations. Another great reason to include Phi Phi Island into your visit to Thailand is to experience the pulsating and exciting nightlife here.

5. Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay, situated about 95 km for Phuket joins Thailand’s legion of picturesque locations. The exotic island location which includes Ko Ping Kan was featured and made famous in the James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun”. The area comprises of awe-inspiring sea caves, aquatic grottoes as well as limestone islands.

Luckily for South Africans wishing to take advantage of the incredible attractions of Thailand, no visa is required; South African passport holders can enter the country for 30 days as visitors.


Cruise Holidays

5 Reasons to go on a cruise

Put the wind in your sails and recharge body, mind and soul in a wide variety of ways on board the all-accommodating cruise liner. Cruise holidays are fast becoming the perfect choice for families and honeymooners.

The legion of family friendly activities, new and exciting locations and the value for money all-in-one pre-paid fare are favourite reasons for cruise holidays being an alternate choice when considering what to do on holiday. The flexibility feature of cruise holidays of short two to three day cruises or the longer seven to ten day cruises are the perfect fit for most holidaymakers wanting a holiday full of excitement and fun. There are distinct advantages to a cruise holiday.

Here are 5 reasons why going on a cruise makes for a great holiday:

1. Cruise holidays are easy to plan. No hassles and endless searching for affordable flights and accommodation needs; or what to do once you get to your destination. All is done for you by a professional travel agent. All you’re left with is to choose what suits you best.

2. The all-inclusive pre-paid price includes accommodation, food; twenty-four hour entertainment and an excellent choice of activities are value for money few holidaymakers would want to miss.

3. Stopping at a number of interesting places on a cruise while you relax and indulge in all your favourite activities make it a worthwhile holiday experience. Land based excursions are designed to focus on the highlights of each port visited. This relieves you of having to do research of the must-sees of unfamiliar destinations.

4. New innovations on board cruise liners, stimulating itineraries and exotic destinations make taking a cruise an exciting alternative when considering holidaying options. Finding a cruise package to your needs comfortably is easy with the ample choices of activities on board ship that are offered, catering to the needs of the young and old. Your cruise agent would be the go-to person to providing a comprehensive list of cruise options, and armed with their expertise, knowledge and skills they can provide useful advice of the best cruise companies, cabin choices and any ‘extras’ that are included in the fare.

5. A wide range of on board amenities is provided to make available as many entertainment activities as possible to accommodate all tastes, desires and lifestyles. It is not uncommon to find multiple swimming pools, gymnasiums, theatres, spas, on board casinos, discos, squash courts and a variety of restaurants on cruise liners.

Bonus Reason: A world in one at your convenience. Going on a cruise is the perfect time to learning something new while having fun. Take a language class, explore your creativity at a pottery class, stretch the muscles in yoga or join a dance class. With so many choices open to guests, being bored on a cruise liner defies the imagination.


A brief guide to shopping destinations around the globe

We take a brief look at 6 popular shopping destinations around the globe.

1. Dubai
Dubai has become synonymous with shopping heaven and a worthy premier shopping destination. It comes as no surprise with one of the largest shopping centres in the world – Dubai Mall housing a staggering 1 200 retail shops, 160 food outlets and the world’s largest candy store, Candylicious. More akin to a tiny kingdom, the Dubai Mall comes complete with an indoor ski resort, aquarium, theme parks, waterfall and fountains. The Dubai shopping Festival is held in January and February when discounts up to 70% are offered on electronics, clothing and other popular items.

2. Moscow
A surprising entry but a worthy one onto the list is Moscow. Russia’s answer to a fashion mecca, shopper’s can expect to find everything in between haute couture in exclusive boutiques and gaudy Russian vintage clothing.

3. Milan
The mere mention of Milan conjures up images of haute couture royalty – Versace, Armani and Missoni. The oldest shopping centre in the world – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – which opened its doors in Milan in 1877 features Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores. Not an ideal shopping destination for the budget conscious.

4. Hong Kong
Arguably Asia’s best shopping destination, Hong Kong offers world class shopping bargains. In a research study conducted by Global Shopper City Index in 2011, statistics revealed that out of the 87% of tourists to Hong Kong who shop, 76% found an above average satisfaction on receiving value for money. The trick to an enjoyable shopping experience in Hong Kong is not to be intimidated by shop clerk who can easily be mistaken for borderline stalkers.

5. Tokyo
Shinjuku neighbourhood does not fail to impress an avid shopper. Tokyo’s most famous shopping district has dazzling eye-popping skyscrapers, department stores, electronic megastores and shopping centres that can only be equaled to high-energy shopping. Good news for shopping lovers, the Globe Shopper City Index reported Tokyo to be an affordable shopping destination and Asia’ fourth cheapest city dedicated to providing a distinctive hopping experience.

6. London
London earn its spot as a leading shopping destination as confirmed by the Globe Shopper City Index which finds the city surpassing all other European cities in both the number of shops and how accessible international and local brands are to shoppers. Oxford Street retains its pride of place among the city’s shopping destinations with more than one and a half miles of world famous brands such as Selfridges and Top Shop. Camden Market in the north of London caters to the more eclectic singular taste where emerging designer wear to vintage fashion to antique furnishings are on offer.

Visit Malaysia

Visit Malaysia: 4 reasons to put Malaysia on your travel map this summer

Malaysia’s multiculturalism added to its unique natural wealth of unspoilt breathtaking landscapes, tropical climate and tourist attractions; including excellent shopping expeditions promote the country’s popularity with tourists from around the world. A visit to this Southeast Asian and you can easily see why Malaysia is the 11th most visited country in the world.

A contributing feature to Malaysia’s charm is the world of contrasts to be found here; where soaring skyscrapers offset the rustic charisma of stilted wooden houses and where glamorous luxurious five-star hotels sit mere metres away from ancient coral reefs.

Land of Festival fun

The numerous colourful celebrations hosted by this melting pot of cultures is a superb way to witness how the different cultures, religions and traditions have merged and co-exist harmoniously. The number of annual events and festivals do not cease to amaze first-time visitors to Malaysia. Many of these centre on the cultural traditions of Malaysia’s potpourri of races. The majority of Malaysians are Muslims so the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festival which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan is an event celebrated on an enormous scale. Other major festivals include the Chinese New Year, Deepavali (Hindu festival of Light), Wesak Day (Buddhist ceremony), Thaiponggo (a harvest festival out of the Hindu religion), Penang International Dragon Boat Festival and the National Water Festival (highlights the importance of this natural resource).

Shopping expeditions to set the heart aflutter

The capital city, Kuala Lampur, is Malaysia’s answer to a shopper’s paradise. With shopping a favourite leisure activity of the local inhabitants during the weekend and on public holidays, it is not surprising that the city houses huge shopping malls to offer an awesome shopping adventure. There are about 50 shopping centres here, ranging from the basic to the elegant gigantic megamall. Some of the more popular shopping malls for tourists include Pavilion KL, Suria KLCC (located directly beneath the Petronas Twin Towers), Fahrenheit88 and Berjaya Times Square. Visitors who love shopping as much as the locals do will find much to take delight in.

An array of adventure activities to thrill

Malaysia’s diverse landscapes offer an array of adventure activities destined to satisfy a thrill-seeking tourist’s desires. Verdant tropical rainforests, mountains and an extensive list of beaches and islands provide ultimate adventures in hiking, mountain biking, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, yachting, white water rafting and jet skiing.

A nature and bird lover’s paradise

Bird and nature enthusiasts can take pleasure in the many bird parks and sanctuaries around Malaysia. Tasek Perdana Lake Gardens with its dozens of exotic species and lush gardens, Penang Bird Park housing designed aviaries for over 400 species of birds, and ornamental gardens; and Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary were in addition to birds, a visitor can spot otters, long-tailed macaque and ridge-back dolphins form part of the long list of top tourist attractions.

Experience the magic of Malaysia and put this sought after destination on your travel map this summer.

Find cheap flights to Malaysia


The world’s top skiing holiday destinations

Think of skiing on picture perfect snowy white slopes and Switzerland and the Austrian Alps spring instantly to mind. But there are more places on the planet that offer the scintillating adrenaline rush of skiing. Some as unlikely as in Morocco.

A top ski resort should be a comfortable combination of many features. The resort’s available facilities, quality of the slopes, accommodation and restaurants are all essential considerations. Anyone and everyone should be accommodated for, from the beginner to the pro, individual guest to the whole family. The list of skiing destinations is a lengthy and varied one. Let’s take a look at some of the world’s top skiing holiday destinations.

Vail Mountain, Colorado
Vail is considered to be the largest single ski resort in the world. Located at an altitude of 8 150 feet, has an average of 350 inches of snow every year and experiences extreme winters, there is no shortage of skiers who flock to this highly popular skiing destination. Both beginner and expert skiers are catered for with plenty of trails to excite all levels of experience.

Aspen, Colorado
Aspen has long been the ski hotspot for celebrities and has the reputation for being one of the most glamorous ski resorts in the world. One of the mountains, Aspen Snowmass has three terrain parks on offer, serves both the inexperienced and the pro skier.

Zermatt, Switzerland
One of the more exclusive of ski resorts in Switzerland, Zermatt is couldn’t be more perfectly placed than at the foot of the Matterhorn mountain which initially was made famous in the 1860 for mountaineering. A charming feature of this resort is that all the vehicles here are electric. The ski zone is characterized by more than 300 kilometres of skiing mountain paths. The resort is also boasts the Paradise Glacier – the highest peak in the whole of Europe accessible by cable car – and boasts an unrivalled 360 degree panorama of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps.

Perisher Blue, Australia
The largest ski resort in Australia, Perisher Blue is an avid skier’s happy place. There are seven peaks, six terrain parks and one superpipe to provide many hours of super skiing adventures. All levels of skiers can practice their much loved sport to their hearts content.

Crans Montana, Switzerland
This ski resort is another inclusion in Switzerland’s bombardment of luxury and glamorous ski resorts. Skiing is offered throughout the year. There are 150 kilometres of ski loving slopes which range from 1 500 metres at the bottom of the station to the staggering 3 000 metres on the Plaine Morte glacier.

The sport of skiing is not only reserved for the rich and famous. There are many health benefits that should motivate you to reach for the skis and head off to the slopes. Skiing provides a great workout for the lungs and a fabulous way to burn stubborn calories.

With so many holiday destinations around the world devoted to ultimate skiing pleasure, there are plenty to consider for your next holiday adventure.

Camping tips

Camp like a pro: tips for happy and successful camping

Treasure a glorious sunset surrounded by nature and loved ones while relaxed around a camp fire or recharge the soul with the change in pace. At the centre of any great camping trip is the initial planning and preparation phase – the gel that holds the key to a successful and happy camping trip. Allow the magic of camping to bring the family together.

There are plenty of good reasons to go camping. At the top of the list are the wonderful family traditions and memories that can be made while camping that can last a lifetime and be brought alive at many times over at the dinner table. Camping definitely brings the family together; there are few ways to bond better than by tackling tasks with teamwork. On a camp your children can learn many valuable life and survival skills.

Before setting up camp, make sure your designated area is free from clutter and litter. Stones and sticks should be removed to prevent tripping over. Pay heed to any restrictions posed by the campsite especially with regard to campfires.

A must of on any camping trip and highly recommended by seasoned campers is the use of durable high quality camping equipment like sleeping bags and the tent. These do not necessarily need to be expensive as long as they are of high quality. Durable equipment is sure to protect you against all weather conditions.

Unless you have a wand or spell that can put up a tent in seconds like those in the Harry Potter movies, you may need to put in the time practising in your obliging back garden or living room. This will prevent any embarrassment when putting up the tent at the campsite, particularly with more experienced onlookers watching. The size of the tent should correspond to the number of campers it will house.
Decide on a meal menu beforehand so that you can stock up on items not easily available at the camp site. Have lots of snacks on hand to keep children happy. The fresh air and plenty of exercise outdoors result in hungry kids.

Gas tanks should be checked for any leaks and be filled up before you leave. Essential gear consists of a folding table, camping chairs, enough lighting equipment, toys for children and you cannot go amiss with enough wet wipes. Aluminium or enamel cutlery and crockery is ideal as they are unbreakable and are more eco friendly than paper cups and plates.

A first aid kit is an essential item to pack when going camping as well as any medication that is required. Check the expiry date on all the items. Replace any expired items. Sunscreen and insect repellent come in handy so be sure to pack them in.

Camping is definitely a more fun and a cheaper alternative than more conventional holidays. Children can explore their artistic and creative skills and be inspired by the ultimate of creators – Mother Nature herself.

Robben Island

4 must-see museums in South Africa

It is a sad state of affairs when museums – the unsung keepers of a country’s history and heritage – are relegated to only being good enough for a school outing. Museums contribute a more important function to society. They can be seen as centres of learning, documenting the humble beginnings of an area to celebrating proud human achievements; and often showcase natural and geological treasures as well as man-made accomplishments.

South Africa has such a rich history with such a joyous conglomeration of cultures that it has been rightfully dubbed ‘the Rainbow Nation’. The choice of museums in South Africa is wide and varied from museums heralding history to those celebrating cultures to themed museums such as the Apartheid museum South African Breweries museum and the James Hall Transport Museum. Some notable museums that should be visited at least once include:

The National Cultural History Museum
Located in the city of Pretoria, the National Cultural History museum showcases the multicultural diversity of South Africa; housing both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Visitors can expect to see displays of San rock paintings and engravings, Iron Age figurines dated a thousand years old from Schroda in Limpopo. The in house Art gallery offers an overview of the cosmopolitan culture of South Africa through the exhibiting cultural objects, sculpture and paintings.

Museum Africa
Housed in the cosmopolitan soul of the Johannesburg CBD, Museum Africa is a highly popular attraction for local and foreign visitors. The vast array of exciting exhibitions held in this museum grabs the immediate attention of the visitor. One can expect to engage with the history of civilization in the area traversing the Stone Age through to modern day. Extensive collections highlighting geology, anthropology and archaeology contribute to the main attractions.

Robben Island Museum
The value of the Robben Island Museum to South Africa’s and world history is such that it has earned the status of being a World Heritage Site. This museum represents a reminder of what price South Africa paid for democracy and freedom. Once used as a place of banishment and imprisonment, it serves as a reminder of justice and human rights. The island is also famed for its flora and fauna and conservation efforts.

The Cradle of humankind
Gauteng’s only proffering South Africa’s eight dedicated World Heritage Sites and key international tourist attraction is the world renowned Cradle of Humankind. Experience the birthplace of humankind at Maropeng, the exhibition centre focusing on the development of human civilization over the past few million years. The Sterkfontein Caves also earns its reputation for the many fossil treasures discovered here and for its contribution to the global academic world of paleoanthropology.

Museums are a great resource to learning and appreciating the people and events that shape the course of history of a society.

Child friendly

7 child friendly cities to visit on holiday

A genuine concern while planning a family holiday is what activities are available for the whole family to enjoy? Increasingly more and more cities around the world join the list of ‘children friendly’ holiday destinations as the hospitality tourism ‘powers that be’ have recognized the importance of providing family friendly fun-filled attractions.

1. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is regarded as the theme park capital of the world. This is not surprising with six theme parks at Disney World, Sea World’s Discovery Cove, Gatorland, zip lining at the Amway Center, a show at Cirque de Soleil, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Lego Imagination Center, Epcot and iFly Orlando, there won’t be a dull moment left in your itinerary.

2. London
The land of Harry Potter, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, a visit to London should excite any child at heart (this includes adults). The city is filled with family-friendly things to do. Interesting activities and places of interest include: river cruises on the Thames, the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds wax museum, London Zoo and the bird’s eye view of the city from the London Eye.

3. Chicago
Chicago boasts its own array of child friendly must-do attractions. The extraordinary Field Museum ranks high on the list. Kids will take delight in the interactive features of the exhibits. Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, North Park Village Nature Center with its waterfall and wildlife fit a kid definition of fun.

4. Nassau, Bahamas
A haven for water filled fun activities that children love. Kids will find Nassau’s water wonderland perfect for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. The Atlantis aquarium is also a major hit with both the young and old. Families would enjoy a leisurely stroll through the craft markets and duty free shops.

5. Chiang Ma, Thailand
This family friendly town seems to summarize the best of big city Bangkok. Families who love outdoor adventure will appreciate the elephant rides to water rafting to a visit to the local zoo to hiking in the hillsides. There also remains the opportunity to give your children the invaluable experience of experiencing a different culture.

6. Dublin, Ireland
Plenty of family friendly hotels and endless attractions to keep little tourists busy and entertained, Dublin is a city to delight all ages. A hop on/off city tour is a pretty good way to access the top visitor attractions with over 25 stops including the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and the national museums. The National Aquatic Centre, the Chocolate Warehouse and EcoAdventure Ireland also provide plenty of pure pleasure filled hours.

7. New York
New York may rank as the number one city to visit. With the abundance of attractions to delight children, it makes for a great family holiday destination too. The American Museum of National History, a Location tour (locations of TV and film), Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium at Coney Island and the overwhelming number of dazzling shopping destinations are all good reasons to make a visit to this vibrant city.



Brazil celebrates its 191th anniversary of independence with aplomb

The 7th of September 2013 marks the 191th auspicious Independence Day of Brazil from Portugal in 1822. And in keeping in true Brazilian style of passion, partying and patriotic pleasure, this public holiday is the perfect excuse for flavourful parades, excitement and joy.

Patriotic party parades
While the main parade is held in the capital city of Brasilia in the presence of the President, the city of Rio de Janeiro hosts a military-civic parade too, down Presidente Vargas avenue where thousands upon thousands of proud Brazilians gather in true festival fun. Men, women and children join in the procession’s proceedings.

The blending of armed forces, police, fire fighters, military schools and academies, civilian schools, and civil organizations demonstrate Brazilian pride in style. As part of the procession’s events, political leaders make use of the occasion to deliver speeches in which Brazilians are reminded of their nation’s proud history and heritage and projected future.

Such is the carnival atmosphere in the country that even the pavement is a good enough place to celebrate the historic day with aplomb. Thousands of Brazilians of all ages have a good time on the roadside dancing, singing and waving banners, streamers, balloons and flags.

This festive national holiday is celebrated with much fanfare; families, friends and neighbours all come together in the spirit of togetherness. And what would a party be without food? In homage to their Independence Day, Brazilians partake of traditional food and drinks. Piña coladas, empanadas, hangar steak, fried plantains, and fried pork are enjoyed.

Devoted flag flying fun
Independence Day seems to be the perfect occasion to wear the colours of the Brazilian flag. The national flag is also highly visibly displayed on homes and buildings. Dignified flag hoisting ceremonies and patriotic songs are fervently sung by both the young and old.

Festival fireworks displays
If the Independence Day morning is marked by exciting parades held across the width and breadth of Brazil then fireworks in the evening sees the close of celebrations. Hordes of people gather together in city squares and parks to see the fantastic fusion displays of colourful lights streak and explode across the night sky.

A mar on the celebrations this year was the loudly voiced and public demonstrations of anti-government sentiment from Brazilians unhappy with corruption, as protests erupted on the streets of three cities. Teargas, stun guns and pepper spray were used to contain protesters from disrupting the Independence Day military processions and a celebratory sporting event. Brazil hosted an international football game against Australia in Brasilia. Organizers do admit to the numbers of parade attendees being affected by the thought of violence and heavy police presence.