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Monday, May 23, 2022

First-timers' guide to a perfect vacation in Bali

First timers guide to a perfect vacation in Bali

Stunning beaches, beautiful temples, cultural landmarks, and shopping trips make Bali a true paradise for travellers. Located in the Indian Ocean, this is one of the most famous islands among the 1700 islands of Indonesia.

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However, individuals planning to visit Bali for the first time might not be aware of certain particulars like which places to visit, where to stay, etc. They should also consider securing their vacation by opting for travel insurance online. This policy covers expenses resulting from unfortunate events like baggage loss, personal belongings theft, etc.

Thus, first-time travellers must consider following the guide below for a perfect Bali trip.

Your ultimate beginner's guide to the perfect vacation in Bali

A travel enthusiast experiences many challenges while planning a complete vacation in Bali, especially when it comes to deciding the places to visit and travel routes to take.

Here is a complete guide for beginners planning a vacation in Bali.

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1. Choose the places you want to visit

First-time travellers will be interested to know that Southern Bali is the most touristy area on the island. It comprises the capital city Denpasar along with Ngurah Rai International Airport. Additionally, individuals looking to spend time in posh cafes, serene beaches, and fancy restaurants will find this area to be an ideal destination. Here are some of the best places to visit in South Bali:

● Uluwatu Temple
● Nusa Dua Beach
● Tanah Lot
● Nyangnyang Beach
● Cabina Bali
● Kuta Beach

2. Know the best time to visit Bali

Located to the South of the equator, Bali has a tropical climate throughout the year. So, there are predominantly two seasons here- the dry and the rainy season. From November to March, this area experiences rain making it less convenient for a vacation. Around July and August, Bali remains crowded due to the national school holidays in Indonesia. However, an ideal time to visit Bali is May, June, or September. The climate is pleasant during this period, and the beaches will be less crowded.

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4. Check reviews

Before planning a trip to Bali and deciding the places to visit, one should refer to the online reviews. First-hand experiences will give an idea of how to make a Bali vacation perfect. Furthermore, individuals might choose to do an activity that does not have good reviews and waste time and money. To avoid this, one should check out the reviews of these places and save expenses.

5. Plan a budget and itinerary

It is vital to fix a budget before planning a trip to Bali to avoid future hassles. Setting a budget will also help a traveller plan an itinerary. Besides including mandatory expenses while calculating a budget, keeping some additional cash available for any emergency is crucial.

6. Know the travel routes

As there are several places to visit in Bali, one should know the travel routes for a seamless vacation. An initial idea of travel routes will allow individuals to consider the conveyance fees in their budget checklist. One can opt for public as well as private transportation in Bali. However, public transportation is not very convenient as individuals would not be able to travel as per their timing and availability.

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7. Get travel insurance

First-time travellers must obtain a well-rounded insurance plan from a reputed provider to secure their Bali trip. There can be some mishaps during a vacation resulting in substantial cash outflow. Additionally, loss of baggage, visa, passport, etc., can also change a planned itinerary as travellers will need to spare time waiting for their belongings to arrive. To avoid inconvenience and reduce financial liability, one should purchase a travel insurance plan.

8. Plan your Visa

Tourists traveling to Bali for less than 30 days will not require a visa. It is applicable to only 170 countries, including India. However, if the travel duration is beyond 30 days, one needs to obtain a Bali visa for Indians on arrival at the airport. To apply for a Visa on Arrival (VoA), travellers must visit the immigration offices at least a week before the first 30 days are over and request an extension.

So, before planning a vacation in this postcard-perfect place for the first time, one should be aware of the points above. It will help them in making the trip successful and convenient.

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Simtokha Dzong: Bhutan’s Stunning Castle Monastery

Monk studies inside Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan

Bhutan as a destination is a travel perk for the Indian citizen. Not only is it one of the top easy visa international destinations for Indians, it is also very light on your wallet. A great attraction on a fabulous day trip route covering Thimphu –> Dochula pass –> Punakha valley is Simtokha Dzong, a 17th century castle monastery. Simtokha Dzong is the first of its kind monastery in Bhutan. It is an important historical monument, a former Buddhist monastery and it houses one of the premium Dzongkha language learning institutes.

One of the first things you will notice as you enter this castle monastery is young monks hovering over books or discussing subjects with other students. And that is what makes the Simtokha Dzong special.

Simtokha Dzong - one of the oldest Dzongs of Bhutan

Located on the approach road to the panoramic Dochula pass, the lush Punakha valley and the rest of central and Eastern Bhutan, Simtokha Dzong is strategically built on a projecting ridge that overlooks the entire Thimphu valley. This strategic location also adds to its beauty quotient as it towers in the middle of lush greenery and mountains. As you enter the dzong, you will be awed at its size, just like most of Bhutan’s other dzongs. But, the thing that will catch your attention here are the student monks and if you speak some Hindi or English, you can strike a conversation with any friendly monk student and get to learn more about the monastery, their life in general and their education.

Apart from the size of the dzong and the monk students, the highlight of the Simtokha Dzong has to be unique Himalayan mural paintings painted in the assembly hall and the lhakhangs. The murals of the four guardian kings protecting the four cardinal directions – Vaishravana (North), Dhritarashtra (East), Virudhaka (South) and Virupaksha (West) greet you as you enter the dzong. The dark murals inside the lhakhangs and the walls that are adorned with embroidered thangkas are the other highlights of this place that one should not miss.

Monk prays at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan

Simtokha Dzong is a great location for a day trip from either Thimphu or Paro or as a pit stop on a trip to Dochula pass, Punakha and the rest of East Bhutan. The experience becomes much richer when you start chatting with the student monks. I recommend this stunning castle monastery of Bhutan with multiple thumbs up!

Buddhist monks in deep study at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan

How to reach there:

Simtokha Dzong is about 6 kilometers from Thimphu’s city center. It should take you about 15 to 20 minutes from Thimphu depending on traffic. Getting around Bhutan is fairly simple. You can hire a cab from Thimphu if you wish to be comfortable. If you are traveling on a budget, you can either opt for a shared cab or take a bus headed towards Punakha.

Simtokha Dzong - Thimphu's oldest Dzong

Best season to visit:

Simtokha Dzong is accessible and open all year round. Each season adds its beauty to the landscape around the Simtokha Dzong. However, if you want the absolutely best months to visit Simtokha, I would recommend the months between November and February as this is when the weather will be very pleasant and the days will be bathed in bright sunshine.

Where to stay:

The closest place to stay would be Thimphu. But, Paro isn’t too far away from Simtokha Dzong. And both cities have a decent array of accommodation. Hence, you can stay at either Thimphu or Paro depending on your trip itinerary.

However, in terms of sheer proximity and access to more parts of Bhutan, Thimphu would be a better option. Hotel Tandin in the center of the city is a great budget hotel that serves lip smacking Indian food.

Buddhist Monk studies at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan

Where to eat:

The best place to eat would be the capital city of Bhutan as it offers close proximity and a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and bakeries. If someone is very hungry, then they should find small dhabas on the highway that serve basic food items like rice, chapati, bread omelette, tea, coffee, etc.

Buddhist Monk sits at the entrance of Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Kyichu Lakhang: Bhutan’s prettiest temple

2) Taktsang monastery: Icon of Bhutan

3) Trongsa: The heart of Bhutan

4) Valley walk from Punakha to Wangdi Phodrang: Rustic Bhutan at its very best

5) Punakha: Bhutan’s gorgeous valley town

6) The rich valley of Paro: A surreal Himalayan experience

7) Thimphu: Bhutan’s bustling capital

8) Bumthang: Switzerland of the East

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Saturday, May 07, 2022

4 Unusual Activities to Try on Your Next Trip to Europe

Cliff jumping in the UK

Do you prefer to term yourself a traveler rather than a tourist? Do you crave new adventures and activities you won’t find in any guidebook? Is your idea the perfect holiday one in which you experience different cultures, try novel things and make unforgettable memories?

If you answered yes to those questions, it’s quite likely you’re continually on the hunt for engaging and innovative destinations, complete with unusual pursuits to fill your schedule. Thankfully, you’re in luck – we’ve compiled a list of some of the lesser spotted and lesser practiced activities from across Europe to keep you busy on your next trip.

Go coasteering in the UK

This is one for the adrenaline junkies out there. Coasteering is a new and increasingly popular pastime which combines elements of climbing, swimming, abseiling and, most notably of all, cliff jumping. Face your fears and leap into coastal waters to access hard-to-reach caves and remote nooks and crannies. Although born in the UK, coasteering can be practiced anywhere really – just make sure the water is of sufficient depth and the tides aren’t too strong before taking the plunge.

Stay in a former military prison in Slovenia

Lovely view of Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Slovenian capital of Ljubljana is simply bursting with color, culture and exquisite cuisine… but one of the most eye-catching attractions here is a former military prison-turned-hostel. Celica Art Hostel boasts a variety of different cells, each of which has been decorated in its own unique style. For those who don’t fancy the claustrophobia of a barred room for the night, there are several “regular” dormitories to choose from too, while the bar is a hub of activity even among those not staying behind bars.

Take in a cricket game in Eastern Europe

While you might not normally associate cricket with Eastern Europe, the sport is fast growing in popularity across the continent. Once confined to places such as the British Isles, Australia and India, it’s now not uncommon to see big crowds flock to see breakthrough names such as Ramesh Satheesan hit his opponents for six and keep up to date with the ECS T10 live scores in person. Having already visited Bulgaria and Romania this year, the European Cricket Series will no doubt land on other Eastern European shores soon.

Go ice fishing in Finland

Ice Fishing in Finland

While winter might not strike you as the ideal time to plan a trip to Europe (let alone the northern part of the continent), there are plenty of attractions at this time of year. Skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing are among the most popular, while indulging in a sauna or taking a husky ride are also widespread. But there are few activities more traditional and typical than finding a good spot on a frozen lake, drilling a hole in the ice and waiting for a bite on the end of your line. You can even cook your catch over an open fire (though not on the lake itself, of course!).

The next time you’re gearing up for a trip to Europe, why not set aside time in partake in one of these unusual pastimes? We’re sure you’ll be glad you did.

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