Thailand

thailandWhether you are a first time traveler or an experienced globetrotter, Thailand is a great destination to consider. In the last few decades, tourism has exploded in this nation as more and more people have discovered the beautiful scenery, luxurious offerings, and unique cultural opportunities found in this Southeast Asian paradise. Undoubtedly, the Kingdom of Thailand (as it is officially known) has a lot to offer, whether you are looking for an untamed jungle hiking excursion, a relaxing beach vacation, or something in between.

One of the best parts of Thailand is the moderate climate. The temperature rarely falls below 19 degrees Celsius (about 66 degrees Fahrenheit) or rises above 38 degrees Celsius (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) so you can visit anytime of the year and enjoy balmy temperatures. There are two major seasons-the wet season and dry season. The wet season generally begins with monsoon activity between May and July and lasts until October. Travel during this season is generally cheaper, but you will have to be more flexible with your plans, as intense downpours may disrupt your planned activities.

khao-sok-lakeIf you enjoy spending time outside and being one with nature, there will be plenty for you to do in Thailand.  Chiang Mai is an old city that has plenty of old temples to explore. It is surrounded by jungles, and is near a sanctuary where you can observe Asian elephants, which are the national symbol of Thailand. There is also a night market, known as one of the best places in the country to get handcrafted goods. Another option is Khao Yai National Park. Only three hours north of Bangkok, it is like a whole different world. You can hike. swim, and even spot wild elephants in their natural habitat. Khao Sok, located in the south, is considered one of the best parks in the world. Although it is a bit out of the way for typical tourists, it is an awesome place for those who love natural beauty and want to explore a jungle, cave, or a unique limestone karst.

If you are more interested in luxury holidays where you can unwind, Thailand has a lot to offer in that regard as well. For those seeking private relaxation, there are thousands of islands; although some are quite developed, there are some that are essentially uninhabited, giving you the luxury of enjoying your own private sanctuary for a few days or weeks. There are many resorts located on beautiful beaches where you can truly unwind. If you are seeking luxury in a more fast-paced environment, there are plenty of options in and around Bangkok as well. The city boasts many luxury spas and accommodations. You can also enjoy such special experiences as a private boat tour in the beautiful and mysterious canals of the city.  The best part is, Thailand is relatively cheap, so you can enjoy a luxurious stay for a fraction of the cost that you would incur in other tropical locations.

thailand2If you don’t have the budget for or interest in luxury vacations, and instead are seeking to experience the culture of a new place, Thailand is still a perfect place to go. By living like a local during your stay, you will be surprised at how inexpensive a trip to this exotic destination can be. Consider planning  your trip during the rainy season, which as mentioned previously, tends to be the cheapest time for flights. Travelers report  that staying in hostels often costs less than $10 USD per night in the Bangkok area, and even island bungalows may be as cheap as $15-$20 USD per night. Food is also incredibly cheap, especially if you are adventurous and willing to try local specialties.

Logistically, it is relatively easy to get to Thailand. At this time, citizens from the United States and most of Europe do not even need a visa to enter, as long as they have a valid passport, a return ticket to get home, and will visit for 30 days or less (of course, to avoid disappointment and hassle at the airport, you should always double check visa requirements before your trip to ensure nothing has changed).  In addition, it is relatively easy to get to Thailand. You can fly there from most major airports, and in some cases, may even be able to get a direct flight. Your best bet is likely to fly into Bangkok, the capital and most populous city in the country, although there are also international airports in other parts of the country, including in Phuket and Chiang Mai.

5 Dubai Attractions That You Must Experience

Dubai is the second largest emirate in the UAE and it is probably renown for its large shopping malls and its five-star hotels. However, what you may not know is that Dubai offers a host of other attractions. Here are five such attractions:

Bastakia Quarter

Bur-BastakiaThe Bastakia Quarter is one of the places you must visit, whether you live in or are travelling to Dubai. Although Persian traders built this picturesque heritage site towards the end of the 19th Century, the beautiful traditional courtyard houses and narrow streets still stand today, most of which are open to the public for viewing. One of the key features of this quaint area of Dubai is its wind towers. These towers were built as a way of cooling houses before air-conditioners were introduced to the area.

The Bastakia Quarter is home to a number of art cafes, restaurants, art galleries and the Dubai Museum. The art galleries are filled with exotic art from the Middle East, Iran and the Emirates. At the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding located in the Bastakia neighborhood, visitors can meet with local Emiratis and learn about their traditions and culture.

The Old City Wall is also a must-see. The Old City Wall that stands today is what remains of a defensive wall that was built around the old town of Dubai. The most outstanding feature of this wall is that it is made of gypsum and coral.

While in the Bastakia Quarter, make a point of visiting the Dubai Museum. The Dubai Museum is located in the Al Fahidi Fort. Built in 1799 and with walls consisting of coral and shell rubble, the Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building still standing in Dubai. The main aim of the museum is to showcase the traditional way of life of the Emiratis.

The Grand Mosque

grand-mosqueAnother attraction that you should visit during your Dubai holidays is the Grand Mosque. It is one of the most spacious mosques in the world. It was first constructed in 1900 A.D in traditional Persian architectural style. The building features wooden structures, domes and sand-colored facades that are characteristic of Persian architecture. In 1998, the mosque was rebuilt, and care was taken to maintain the original Persian style.

However, it is worth noting that non-Muslims cannot access the Grand Mosque, but they can still enjoy the aesthetics of the building. In fact, the decorated glass panels, the designs on the walls as well as the 54 domes of the mosque make it a remarkable sight. The Grand Mosque when lit up at night is also exceptional.

The Residence of Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum

Shiekh-Saeed-Al-Maktoum-HouseBuilt in the 19th Century in traditional Islamic design, the walls of this house are made of coral treated with lime. Additionally, it features four wind towers that were used to cool the house before the advent of air conditioning. In 1986, the house was restored to its former glory and is now an example of Arabian architecture. Today, it houses an exhibition of photographs as well as paintings and art that showcase the history of the Emiratis in Dubai. As such, art and history lovers should include this house on their Dubai holidays itinerary.

The Palm Islands

Sat_Map_Jan_07_OLThe Palm Islands are today synonymous with Dubai holidays. These islands refer to three artificial islands located along the coastal area of Dubai. They include the Palm Jumeirah and the Palm Jebel Ali. The third island is the Palm Deira, which is yet to be completed. However, former two islands attract tourists from all over the world. The Palm Jumeriah, which is the smallest of the three, boasts of villas, restaurants and cafes. The Palm Jebel Ali, on the other hand, is home to a number of tourist attractions. These include a water park, a Sea Village and six marinas.

Traditional Emirati Food

foodWhen in Dubai, you must try the local cuisine. However, it is worth noting the local food is typically very spicy and has a unique taste. Shawarma and hummus are very popular dishes in the country. One particular dish that you should try while in Dubai is stuffed camel, which is the largest meal in the world, according to The Guinness Book for World Records. Stuffed camel was a traditional dish only served at the wedding ceremonies of elite families. The stuffing usually consists of other meats such as lamb and chicken.

In conclusion, Dubai holidays are very popular with both tourists and the locals alike. In addition to large shopping malls and world-class hotels, Dubai also boasts of a rich cultural heritage, including amazing traditional architecture and incredible local cuisine.