Mozambique For Under R400 Per Night

Palm trees, sugar-white sand and tropical waves are calling your name this December! Travelstart and SafariNow bring you a great choice of wallet-friendly accommodation in Mozambique to make sure you get the most for your money this summer.

Manico Camp, Inhaca island

Price from R350 per person sharing a self-catering bush cabin.

‘Manico Camp is one of the best places that I have been. The staff and the atmosphere is amazing. A good place to relax and enjoy the nature.’ – Jaqueline Aragoni Da Silva, Brazil 16 January 2017

Check out more reviews here.

With its clear water and coral reefs picturesque Inhaca Island, just off the coast of Maputo, is popular as a diving, snorkelling and fishing destination. Manica Camp offers log cabins, bush cabins, a tented camp, and campsites with power points and ablutions facilities with hot and cold water all at very reasonable prices.
The camp is equipped with a well-appointed kitchen replete with ample freezing facilities. Relax on the beach or take advantage of the many activities available from deep-sea fishing to whale watching, hiking trails, fly-fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and daily trips to Portuguese Island.

Book accommodation at Manica Camp here.

Getting to Inhaca Island

Maputo is an easy 1 hour and 5 minute flight from Joburg to Maputo, Manico Camp will help you arrange an airport shuttle from Maputo International Airport and a boat crossing (50 minutes).

There is also the option of the government ferry Nyaleti leaves Maputo’s Catembe pier at 7.30am on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (Mtc400). Then departs from Inhaca at 3pm. The crossing takes 3 hours.

Getting there

Find cheap flights to Mozambique here.

Maputo is an easy drive from KZN and Johannesburg, just be sure to have the following documents with you if you are taking your vehicle across the border:

  • The original vehicle registration papers, or a SAPS certified copy, not older than 3 months.
  • If the vehicle is still under a lease or installment agreement with a financial institution you will require a letter from the financial institution giving you permission to take the vehicle into Mozambique.
  • Compulsory third party liability insurance certificate.

International and South African driver’s licenses are recognised in Mozambique.

Visas

South Africans may visit Mozambique visa-free for 30 days. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your date of return.

Remember minors need to travel with their unabridged birth certificates.

Malaria

It’s advisable to take anti-malaria tablets before/ during your visit to Mozambique. Easily obtained through your doctor, they are a must during the summer months.

Useful preventative measures

  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside
  • Use mosquito repellents
  • Stay in a room that has air conditioning, mesh screens on windows and doorways, and a mosquito net to protect you while you’re sleeping

Baobab Beach, Vilankulos

Vilankulos is a startlingly beautiful coastal town which stands as the gateway to the magnificent Bazaruto Archipelago islands. It’s affordable, right next to a modern airport with direct SA Airlink flights five days a week and LAM flights via Maputo.

Book at Baobab Beach here.

Book fantastic flights to Vilankulos here.

Prices from R265 per person sharing the 4-person beach front chalet. From just R140 for a camp site.

Baobab Beach is situated directly on the beach and just a short walk from the Vilankulos market. The lodge boasts a restaurant with a well-stocked bar, communal ablutions, a communal kitchen. Wi-fi and internet cafe available on site.

Soak up the sun, go for a sunset cruise on a dhow or spend the day snorkelling, diving, island-hopping, horse riding and fishing!

‘…Baobab lodge will definitely be on our list on our next vacation in 2018, and I will recommend this lodge to anybody that would like to take in the sites and sounds of Vilanculos, in a friendly atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable and right at home. Thank you Baobab Beach!’ – Natasha Erasmus, December 2016 South Africa

 Paradise Beach Lodge, Pomene

 

Pomene has a strikingly beautiful bay ideal for sunset strolls on the beach. Pomene’s Paradise Lodge offers quality, affordable accommodation perfect for families and couples. There’s great surfing, fishing and diving on offer. The variety of marine life is amazing with 12 regular dive sites to be explored. These diving areas are considered among the best in the world.

The beach house sleeps 8 at just R250 per person per night. There are a variety of units from which to choose; the 8-sleeper unit comprises 4 en-suite bedrooms; the 6-sleeper unit consists of 3 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms and a lounge, dining and kitchen area and lovely under cover patio.

‘Very nice, friendly, warm people. The Stay was great will definitely go back again. Fantastic view. Great hospitality. Great food. Best bread loafs baked daily. Thank you.’ – Bennedette Boshoff, South Africa 16 May 2016

Book a spot at Paradise Beach Lodge, Pomene here.

Getting to Pomene

It’s an easy 3 hour drive from Inhambane to Pomene.

Find amazing flights to Inhambane here.

Lagoon Sunset, Praia do Tofo, Southeastern Mozambique

 

Tofo is known around the world as a coastal oasis for backpackers and for the array of marine wildlife spotted from its postcard-worthy beaches. Dolphins, whale sharks, migratory humpback whales and huge Manta Rays skim the sea. At Lagoon Sunset each well-equipped suite offers a kitchenette, a fan, braai facilities, and a private veranda overlooking tropical palm trees.

Tofo boasts scuba diving, boat trips, quad bike rides, horse riding and swimming, but it’s also the sort of place where you can lie in a hammock for a week.

Price from just R185 per person sharing per night. Their studio Bougainvillea sleeps 3 people at just R185 per night, and there are also 6, 4 and 5-sleepers.

Book at Lagoon Sunset, Praia de Tofo here.

Getting to Tofo

Find amazing flights to Inhambane here.

Let us know your favourite place to stay in Mozambique in the comments below!

The post Mozambique For Under R400 Per Night appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Adventures In Greece: Trekking The Grecian Island Of Andros

The white-washed seaside village of Batsi, which stretches along a crescent-shaped beach on the western coast of Andros, is one of the Grecian island’s most lively towns. Or so we’ve been told by the locals when we arrive after a two-hour ferry from Athens. But when we’re dropped off by the local bus, the streets stand silent, the restaurants are open but empty and only the sun basks on the beach. Though it’s early November and low season, we don’t expect it to be this quiet. As we walk along the narrow promenade, the only visible sign of life comes from the flapping Grecian flags that are tied between lamp posts and the yachts that rock and roll over the gentle swells in the harbour.

Words and photographs by Iga Motylska @eagerjourneys


We walk towards the church’s ringing bells. And here we find the residents spilling out into the sunlight. As they step out, they are each handed a small loaf of bread that was blessed with holy water during mass. It’s the festival of Saint Philippos and we’re warmly invited to join the celebrations. The marching band leads the procession down the steps to the beachfront and through the town, with an adorned painting of the saint shrouded with flowers at the head, followed by Greek Orthodox priests, churchgoers and school children in their Sunday best walking in time with the beat.

Soon enough the restaurants are filled with animated patrons who wave down waiters to order bread, fava (a green pea paste) and Volaki cheese – the island’s culinary trademark. As it’s autumn and the time of the harvest, pork sausages are now on the menu too. They symbolise abundance, a time for celebration and feasting, ahead of the winter.

For the next five days, we walk Andros from coast to coast, climb valleys, traverse farmlands, cross stone bridges and walk through hamlets along its stone-paved mule paths (kalderimi) that have been transformed into a network of maintained hiking routes over 300km in length. The 12 most prominent hiking routes are clearly signposted and marked at regular intervals and make their way past some of the island’s most interesting features – rural chapels and monasteries, windmills, olive orchards, freshwater springs and waterfalls, and through designated wildlife sanctuaries. The routes offer time for quiet contemplation and an opportunity to appreciate the undulating landscape and unspoilt natural beauty.

Though Andros is the second largest island in the Cyclades archipelago of more than 200 islands, it’s not overrun by foreign tourists like its sister islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Instead many Greeks have their holiday homes here, which makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere and authentic experience. Andros is an island for cultural tourists who appreciate the history of its ancient ruins that date back to the fourth millennium B.C.

And the knowledgeable On Foot Holidays guide, Ariana Masselou, will narrate Andros’ history as she joins you on some of the walking routes. She’ll tell you of the mighty Grecian shipping families that were borne of the island and how they brought with them great wealth, merchant fleets and transformed Andros into a maritime commercial centre that lasted until the early 20th century.

By nightfall we feel a sense of accomplishment as we’ve made our way along the 21km-long walking route to Chora, the capital city and our base. The main road, Embirikou Street, is bordered by Neoclassical buildings, churches, shop fronts, restaurants and cafes, as well as souvenir shops that sell evil eye jewellery and age-old artefacts. It makes its way through the centre of town and through an arched marble gateway, past homes to the 13th century Venetian fort (Kastro) found on a nearby rocky outcrop. It’s connected to the mainland by a steeply-arched stone bridge. From the fort ruins, as you look towards Andros, a larger-than-life, hollow-cast bronze statue of the Unknown Sailor, longingly stares towards the waters of the Aegean Sea.

Hike Andros

On Foot Holidays specialise in the art of slow travel for independent travellers. They will help you create a personalised itinerary based on your budget, interests, fitness level and available time. On Foot Holidays will provide you with a Walker’s Pack, which contains a detailed map of the island and day maps, thorough route notes for each hike, two books (one of which is solely about hiking Andros), as well as information of how to get there and around. They partner with trusted local taxi drivers and a guide, who can meet you along the way on certain days and can join you at dinner to tell you more about the island’s history, culture and way of life.

Book amazing flights to Greece here.

How to get to Andros

From Athens, take a local bus (₤6) or taxi (₤35) to Rafina Port, south of the city. There are two to three daily ferries to and from Andros Island. The two-hour ferry trip costs ₤20.

How much to budget

₤555 for five nights (on a bed and breakfast basis), plus four packed lunches, taxi transfers to and from Gavrio Port on Andros (when booking for 2018). Budget for dinner, alcoholic drinks, souvenirs and other small, miscellaneous expenses.

Where to stay on Andros

You will be based in the old Venetian capital of Chora in the south-eastern part of the island. Though small, the town has a number of museums, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, souvenir shops, as well as a bus and taxi stop. Depending on your budget, you can choose to stay in a hotel (Hotel Egli) or self-catering apartments (Anemomiloi Apartments). We loved the latter, especially as it looks out over Chora, has a lovely swimming pool and welcoming hosts.

Best time to visit Andros

April-June and September-October. April and May are best for the flowers, while October is perfect for the warm seas and autumnal colours. It is very hot from mid-June to mid-September.

Level of fitness

 A medium level of fitness is required. Expect to walk between 11km and 21km each day with average cumulative uphill stretches of around 500 metres, though you can tailormake your trip. You can adjust the difficulty, intensity and distance of the walks and hikes depending on your fitness level and in conversation with On Foot Holidays and the local guide.

The food on Andros

Grecian food on Andros is sublime from vegan pumpkin quiches to hearty salads (the kind we know as Greek, just sans the lettuce), pork stews and famous gyros ‘wraps’. Try fava, a kind of hummus made from green peas, topped with sundried tomatoes and olives. Mussels are also popular. Order a number of dishes for the table and share. Cafes and bakeries sell strong coffee, cakes, cookies and of course baklava.

The post Adventures In Greece: Trekking The Grecian Island Of Andros appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Amazing Family Reunion Accommodation Around SA

T’is the season for family, friends and fun. Travelstart brings you amazing family reunion accommodation around SA. Kick back and relax along the coast or in the mountains with loads of outdoor fun on the river, the sound of laughter, campfire stories and much-needed catching up. The following accommodation options cater for parties of 8, all the way up to 62 pax, with a range of prices to suit every budget, starting from R70 per person per night!

Images courtesy of SafariNow and the proprietors of the accommodation.

Zwakala River Retreat, Haenertsburg, Limpopo

Our top choice for a relaxing family reunion is on the banks of the beautiful Zwakala River. Just under 5 hours drive from Joburg, this magical spot set in the Magoebaskloof mountains of Limpopo will remind you that it’s the simple things in life which matter; chatting around a fire under the stars, river swims and long river walks that draw one in to a slower pace of life. Visit the farm’s newly established craft brewery and take in the amazing views from Zwakala’s tasting room! The area has cycle routes, hikes and a 2.5 km river stretch perfect for fly-fishing.
Sleeps: 32 (a range of accommodation options are available, including comfy chalets with crisp linen sheets and beautiful camping spots by the river.)
From R200 per person per night.

Book accommodation at Zwakala River Retreat here!

Retreat on Hove, Camps Bay, Cape Town


Celebrating an important anniversary? Splash out by booking out the uber luxurious Retreat on Hove in Camps Bay.

This spacious mansion includes a private cinema, an iconic L-shaped pool and a newly appointed spa!

Sleeps: 8
From R9450 per room per night.

Book accommodation at Retreat on Hove here!

Family Fun in the Elgin Valley at MacDaddy

Photo courtesy Old Mac Daddy via Facebook

The Old Mac Daddy Lodge set in the serene apple-growing valley of Elgin has its own private beach and loads of wonderful water and land-based activities. Choose from a selection of originally-designed airstream trailer suites (each with a viewing deck and an en-suite bathroom, plus space for the kids in the lounge) or Daddy’s Villa, a three-bedroom forest cabin. Kids and parents can relax in over-sized hammocks, enjoy the healthy restaurant food and the welcoming pool in the well-appointed communal area.

This is a fantastic choice for a family reunion as kids have an indoor-outdoor play area with daily activities and there is a full kids menu for children under eight years to choose meals from. Another great bonus; these meals are free!

Sleeps: 62 people
From R598 per person sharing per night.

Book accommodation at Old Mac Daddy here!

Photo courtesy Old Mac Daddy via Facebook
 Photo courtesy Old Mac Daddy via Facebook

Enjo Nature Farm, Clanwilliam


Escape to serene Enjo Nature Farm, where you’ll find relaxing accommodation next to the river and enjoy complete privacy and great views of the Paardeberg mountains. Each self-catering chalet offers fantastic views, an indoor fireplace, a barbecue area and some include their very own jacuzzi.

Sleeps: 34 (there are a range of chalets including some with jacuzzis, and camping options)
From just R70 per person per night!

Book accommodation at Enjo Nature Farm here!


Luxury self-catering by the sea, Witsand


This luxe spot comes equipped with celebrity credentials plus it offers direct beach access. Escape to this idyllic spot on the West Coast, perfect for a smaller family reunion.

Sleeps: 10
From R2333 per room per night (look out for SafariNow’s 2 for 3 night specials).

Book accommodation at Beach House Witsand here!

Family time in wine country, Durbanville


Laidback family-friendly accommodation in lovely Durbanville. The thatched Rhino and Leopard cottages offer two double bedrooms, a full bathroom with a shower and a bath, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining area and a cosy lounge which opens onto a patio overlooking the Slanghoek and Wemmershoek mountains.

Sleeps: 17
From R880 per two guests per night.

Book accommodation at the Lapa Log Cabins here!

Quaint country retreat at Barry House on Riverton, Robertson


The Robertson wine region is home to this delightful 4-star country house. It has six bedrooms and four bathrooms that can accommodate up to 10 adults and four children making it ideal for a relaxing family reunion.

Sleeps: 14
From R1900 per room per night.

Book accommodation at Barry House on Riverton here!

3 minutes from the sea, Perfect 10 self-catering holiday home, Langebaan


Set in a green belt just a 3 minute walk from the beauty of Langebaan’s Calypso Beach the Perfect 10 beach house is perfect for a luxurious family or friend getaway

Plus there’s a golf course, West Coast National Park, West Coast Fossil Park, and loads of beach activities on offer.

Sleeps: 8
From R2800 a night.

Book accommodation at Perfect 10, Langebaan here!

 De Ware Jacob, Jacob’s Bay West Coast


Set between Langebaan and Paternoster, this delightful coastal hamlet offers quality accommodation perfect for a family reunion. De Ware Jacob offers 4 private separate luxury cottages that can accommodate up to 10 and you can arrange extra camp beds for kids. There’s a braai room with a large indoor fireplace, a jacuzzi and swimming pool and just a short 5 minute walk to the ocean.

Top tip:

Book this spot in the Spring and see the West Coast flowers in all their splendor.

Sleeps: 10
From R680 per room per night (look out for SafariNow’s fabulous 2 for 3 nights specials)

Book accommodation at De Ware Jacob here!

Home-on-the-beach, Port Shepstone Self-catering, KZN

Walk through the garden straight onto the beach! This pet-friendly holiday home on the beach in Port Shepstone has three bedrooms each with there own bathroom. Plus there’s an additional cottage which sleeps four in two bunk beds and has its own bathroom.

Sleeps: 10
From R1325 per night (minimum stay is 4 days).

Book accommodation at Home-on-the-beach Port Shepstone self-catering here!

Phefumula Country Retreat, Magaliesburg


Tucked in the mountains, these luxurious cottages offer beautiful views of the crags, perfect for reconnecting with nature and the important people in your life. Each cottage has an open-plan lounge and dining area with a fireplace, a separate bedroom with a king-size bed, a well-appointed kitchen, a double bath, a double inside shower, a double outside shower and a secluded spa bath.

Sleeps: 10
From R1900 per room per night.

Book accommodation at the Phefumula Country Retreat here!

Though every effort has been made to ensure total accuracy the accommodation prices are subject to fluctuations depending on the season.

The post Amazing Family Reunion Accommodation Around SA appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

How to apply for a Sri Lankan Visa

Sri Lanka is a lively country known for its tea plantations and beautiful beaches. Flying to this diverse country is as simple as booking a ticket and jetting off. All you need to do is apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation. But, you’ll be happy to know that the visa application to Sri Lanka is stress-free! Being able to get your Sri Lankan visa on arrival provides the necessary calm for your travelling preparation.

sri-lanka-visa

What does the ETA process involve?

Applications are done online, known as an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). It is an official authorisation for short visits to Sri Lanka, issued electronically by the Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka ETA system is an efficient, reliable and simplified service to those visiting the country. Find out what you will need to obtain a Sri Lankan visa.

There are various ways of submitting your ETA application, namely:

  • By the applicant
  • Third parties
  • Registered Agents
  • Embassy
  • Department of Immigration and Emigration (Head Office)

Three types of ETA:

  • ETA for Tourist purpose with double entry for 30 days.
  • ETA for Business purpose with multiple entry for 30 days – must be submitted through the Embassy of Sri Lanka.
  • ETA for Transit up to 2 days – documentary proof needed.

Travellers will be happy to know that no passport copies, documents or photographs are required for an ETA application.

Steps to follow when submitting your ETA application online:

  • Fill in the ETA application.
  • Pay the relevant visa processing fee.
  • If your ETA application is submitted without any complications, you should promptly receive a referral notice, you may contact the Department of Immigration and Emigration for the necessary ETA.

Applying through the Embassy of Sri Lanka:

  • Fill in the ETA form at the Embassy and hand it over to the visa officer with the relevant fee.
  • The Embassy, with the agreement of Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration, will issue an ETA/short stay Sri Lankan visa within 3 business days.
  • An acknowledgement with the reference number will be sent to the Embassy and to the principal applicant.
  • You can check your ETA application status on the ETA website or contact the 24/7 ETA call centre on 0094 71 99 67 888.

Third Party Submissions:

  • Travel agents, airlines, friends or relatives can apply for an ETA on your behalf.
  • The third party may pay the ETA processing fee and submit your application.
  • An acknowledgement of your Sri Lankan visa application will be sent if the application is submitted successfully.
  • If a referral notice is served you may contact the Department of Immigration and Emigration for assistance.

Cost of ETA

Method of submission Tourist visa – with Double Entry for 30 days Business visa – with Multiple Entry for 30 days Transit – Single entry 2 for 2 days) Children under 12 years of age
Online – By Applicant US$ 35 (R 475) US$ 40 (R 542) Free Free
Embassy of Sri Lanka US$ 35 (R 475) US$ 40 (R 542) Free Free
By Third Party US$ 35 (R 475) US$ 40 (R542) Free Free
On Arrival in Sri Lanka US$ 40 (R 542) US$ 50 (R678) Free Free

High Commission of Sri Lanka Bank Details:

Account Name: High Commission of Sri Lanka
Bank: First National Bank
Branch: Brooklyn
Branch No: 251345
Account No: 51421166038
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ

The Sri Lankan Embassy in Pretoria accepts payments for a Sri Lankan visa via EFT (Electronic Money Transfers). Take along proof of payment when applying in person. 

American Express, Visa, Master and Visa cards only are accepted for online applications done by the applicant.

Validity of ETA

If your ETA is granted, you are eligible to enter Sri Lanka within three months from the date of issue.

ETA holders will be granted a 30-day short visit visa upon arrival at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. The ETA is valid for six months and a new ETA cannot be obtained using the same passport until that ETA expires. It may be extended up to 90 days from the date of arrival. For a Sri Lankan visa extension, you can apply at the visa section of the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

At the port of entry:

All that is needed at the port of entry of Sri Lanka is the following:

  • Original passport (valid for at least six months from the date of arrival)
  • A confirmed return ticket
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover your expenses in Sri Lanka (bank statements)
  • Copy of visa approval
  • It is advisable to bring a copy of the ETA approval notice

Business Visa – to be submitted upon application at the High Commission

  • Original Visa – valid for more than 6 months from the date of arrival and must have 2 blank pages
  • 2 colour photographs
  • Letter of invitation from company in Sri Lanka
  • Hotel booking
  • Confirmed return ticket
  • Employment letter

sri-lanka-visa-on-arrival

Embassy of Sri Lanka (Pretoria)

The Embassy of Sri Lanka is a 7-minute walk from the city centre of Pretoria. There are several ways to get around the city as well as to and from the Embassy, including the Gautrain, buses, metered taxis and car hire options.

For more details on public transport consult the following websites:

Gautrain

City of Tshwane Bus Service

Parking at the Embassy of Sri Lanka:

If you’re travelling with your own vehicle, you can find suitable parking at Brooklyn Mall. It is a 15-minute walk from the Embassy of Sri Lanka.

Office Hours

Mon – Fri

08h30 – 01h00 and 14h00 – 16h30

Address:

410 Alexander Street
Brooklyn
Pretoria
0181

Phone: 012 460 7679

Email: srilanka@global.co.za

Embassy of Sri Lanka (Cape Town)

If you’re situated in Cape Town, you can visit the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Lansdowne. It is a 30-minute drive from the Cape Town city centre. There are plenty of travel options available for you to commute to the Embassy, including Uber, metered taxis and buses.

Parking at the Embassy of Sri Lanka:

There is an allocated parking area in front of the Embassy for you to park your vehicle.

Note from High Commission: All applicants who have previously visited one of the Ebola-virus affected countries applying for a visa must submit an “Ebola-virus-free Medical Certificate” along with other documents.

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated to immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

 

 

The post How to apply for a Sri Lankan Visa appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Local tips on enjoying 10 of Cape Town and Durban’s most-loved beaches

One of the great things about us South African’s is that we don’t let the weather keep us away from doing amazing things. A great example of this is our love for the abundance of picture-perfect beaches along our coasts that, come sunshine, wind or clouds – you’re bound to find locals enjoying the sights and sounds that are on offer at the South African beaches!

Of the marvellous beaches that are on offer, some of the most spectacular are found in the coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban. Along with some local tips to further enhance your beach adventures, here are our favourites:

Cape Town beaches:

Llandudno Beach

If you’re not looking out for the sign on the road from Camps Bay to Hout Bay, you may just miss the turn-off to one of the city’s most laid-back and beautiful beaches. Llandudno is especially loved by locals because of its location alone, meaning that you’re bound to run into many easy-going Capetonians. Not just a beach for sunbathing, Llandudno is also a great spot for surfers and bodyboarders alike.

Local tip: If you’re driving, make sure to arrive very early during peak season as parking fills up easily. Alternatively, take the MyCiti bus and walk down the winding driveway, but be warned the walk back up is bound to be quite a work out!

Llandudno-beach-cape-town

Camps Bay Beach

Probably the most famous beach in all of Cape Town, Camps Bay Beach is a top tourist attraction. It has everything that you could hope for, including sparkly (though somewhat icy!) water, glistering white sand, space for all, nearby convenience stores, top-notch restaurants and also public transport.

Local tip: During the summer period, it may be difficult to escape the crowds but there’s always a loophole. Unless you don’t mind the crowds, try to visit during the week days. Summer days in Cape Town are long and hot, and even if you’re only getting to the beach at 4.30pm after work, you’re still guaranteed at least two hours of beach time.

camps-bay-cape-town

Clifton Beaches

A staple for the rich, famous and all of us in between, the four Clifton beaches have long since been seen as the beaches of Cape Town. Top of the list is Clifton 4th beach, cornered off by million-dollar beach houses, perfectly-placed natural boulders to keep the wind at bay and of course, the most beautiful shimmering waves and white sand. What’s not to admire? Clifton is also home to 1st, 2nd and 3rd beach – each known for their somewhat different crowds but each a masterpiece of its own. Do yourself a favour and walk along the coast from 1st to 4th beach to take in its full grandeur!

Local tip: The beaches of Clifton can get pretty packed as well, but for a slightly thinner crowd head over to 2nd and 1st beach.

clifton-beach-cape-town

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is the perfect beach-meets-picnic spot. The water is warmer (thankfully!) due to its location on the Indian Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula and the large boulders in the water make for a pretty safe and tranquil spot to float on your back and just unwind. Of course, one cannot mention Boulders Beach without talking about the African penguins that you’re bound to see! Picture yourself not just admiring them from a distance, but instead sharing a sandy spot with them just two metres away, or swimming right next to these feathery cuties in the ocean – there’s nothing quite like it for sure!

Local tip: Go early and pack in plenty of food and drinks to last you many, many hours as you’ll find it hard to want to leave this ideal location!

boulders-beach-cape-town

Long Beach/Noordhoek Beach

One of Cape Town’s most underrated, but spectacular beaches would have to be Long Beach in Noordhoek. Long Beach runs along the Atlantic coast for eight kilometres so you never have to truly worry about the beach overcrowding. Instead, you can catch up on some surfing, enjoy a fresh swim or even do some horse riding.

Local tip: Enjoy this beach at any time you please, and make sure to pack in your own wetsuit and board if you plan on doing some surfing or bodyboarding, as there are no rental shops in the nearby vicinity.

Muizenberg Beach

A firm favourite with families and surfers alike, Muizenberg Beach has been a staple go-to throughout the years. The coast is lined with surf shops and an array of food options from gourmet pizza joints to classic fish and chips. You’ll find young and old in the waters here and surfers from beginner level to pro – on the days that the wave swells are playing along!

Local tip: Leave your car at home if you’re travelling from the Southern Suburbs and hop onto the local Metro train. It will save you on petrol and parking costs, and the beach is literally a two-minute walk from the train station doors.

muizenberg-beach-cape-town

 

Durban beaches:

Umhlanga Rocks Beach

The golden sand of this glorious stretch is guaranteed to get you swimming! Unlike the colder waters of the Cape Peninsula beaches, the beaches of KwaZulu Natal invite you in as the temperatures have been known to hit 25 degrees Celsius during summer! Umhlanga Rocks Beach is one of Durban’s finest, with an enigmatic ebb and flow of the waves. The paved walkway alongside the ocean allows visitors to take in its sights before heading in and enjoying its warm waters.

Local tip: bring your wellies if you’re a bit of an explorer as there are some great rock pools to explore along the beach.

umhlanga-rocks-beach

North Beach

North Beach in Durban is possibly the most well-known and popular beach in all of Durban. There’s so much variety of activities to do here that you could plan to stay in the area for a week and still not get bored. The warm waters offer the ideal swimming location, but be warned that it does get extremely crowded and you may need to get there at 6am to find a good spot during the summer holidays!

Local tip: Not just a beach to be enjoyed during the daytime hours, North Beach is known to be a thriving and energetic evening location too. Pack some cash in your back pocket as you enjoy some of Durban’s finest treats along the boardwalk.

north-beach-durban

Cape Vidal Beach

Located within the Cape Vidal Nature Reserve, the bay has some of the most stunning beach areas in all of South Africa. Crystal clear waters hit the golden sand of the shoreline and it’s as if you’ve been transported to another world! Perhaps not renowned as a swimming sight, Cape Vidal beach is perfect for fishing and glorious walks as you admire the contrast of ocean to sand dunes right alongside.

Local tip: Make sure to pack in your camera as you may just be in luck and spot some sea turtles nesting in the summertime. You can also catch sight of Humpback Whales doing their annual winter migration.

cape-vidal-durban

Willard Beach, Ballito

Calling all surfers, bodyboarders and everyone else who enjoys some good waves with the sun on their skin! Willard Beach is the main beach of the town of Ballito, just outside Durban, and you can rest assured that you’ll have a great time on this Blue Flag beach. Another firm favourite just around the corner from Willard Beach is Thompson Beach.

Local tip: the beach gets really crowded during peak season and summer weekends. If you’re not too keen on this, there are plenty of other, more secluded beaches in the Ballito area for you to enjoy.

ballito-bay-durban

Make sure to take advantage of the long summer days that are almost on our shores and book your cheap flights to Cape Town and Durban!

 

*Photo credits:

Llandudno beach: _iseethesea via Instagram

Camps Bay beach: tahnialcf via Instagram

Clifton beach: hollywoodmansion_campsbay via Instagram

Boulders beach: lnb23 via Instagram

Long Beach: stjamesguesthouses via Instagram

Muizenberg beach: garfunkelhoyer via Instagram

Umhlanga Rocks beach: cat_ann_alb via Instagram

North Beach: ursullag4 via Instagram

Cape Vidal beach: asher_de_jager via Instagram

Ballito beach: concettasweat1000 via Instagram

The post Local tips on enjoying 10 of Cape Town and Durban’s most-loved beaches appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

15 Most Popular Boutique Hotels in Sydney

Bigger is not always better, which is certainly the case with Sydney’s top boutique hotels. Nestled in Heritage-listed buildings and former millionaire’s mansions, these small properties offer the comforts of home with kitchenettes, open-plan living areas and plush furnishings.

The post 15 Most Popular Boutique Hotels in Sydney appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

The Ultimate Australian Adventure Guide

Australia’s everchanging scenery provides the perfect setting for the traveller in search of a truly adventurous escape. This extraordinary playground is teeming with a dizzying array of activities to suit the varying adrenaline levels of its visitors. Fly Qantas Airlines, the spirit of Australia, who offer the quickest connections to Australia to experience these quintessential adventures for the traveller in search of ultimate thrills and excitement.

Book Flights with Qantas Airlines

Adrenaline Level 1 – 5

Do you find yourself being the jacket or bag carrier of your squad as your friends head off on spine-chilling adventures? Fear not, find little pockets of adventure to suit your preference.

Keep Climbing, The View is Worthwhile

What better way to soak in the iconic Sydney skyline than with a climb up The Sydney Harbour Bridge? Safe for children as young as 8, the climb is an easy and safe walk with lots of stairs that offer unrivalled views of the harbour and cityscape and is a thrill like no other. You can opt to watch the morning’s first light on a sunrise walk, the city come alive on a night climb, the sky light up in warm hues on a sunset climb or enjoy the bustling city life on a day climb.

Let’s Get Wild

Explore the pristine wilderness of Kangaroo Island and experience nature in all its wonder. The lush bushlands and towering sand dunes form the perfect back drop to the white sand beaches where you will find sea-lions basking in the sun as pelicans soar over the shimmering lagoon. Enjoy unique encounters with the indigenous wildlife, catching glimpses of the humble koala dozing in the eucalyptus or the kangaroo grazing in the nearby cliffside.

Balling!

Ever spend hours on end watching cat or even hamster videos and wondered what it’s like for a hamster inside a hamster ball. It’s your lucky day? Head on over to the Wet ‘n’ Wild Adventure Park in Vanatu and dabble in the large array of activities on offer. Apart from the human slingshots, water slides and go carts, the park boasts one of the longest zorbing rides worldwide. Jump into these inflatables and enjoy a thrill ride down the hill. For something a little different, form a team and play zorb soccer. Players wear a mini-zorb and try to score in the opponent’s goal providing endless hours of laughter.

A Little Dirt Never Hurt Nobody


As much as a ride in a South African mini bus taxi may sound like an adventure in its own right, nothing beats an exhilarating joy ride along the seemingly endless stretch of pristine coastline. Fraser Island offers unique 4X4 adventures passing red-streaked sand dunes, whales breach off-shore and stopping at iconic shipwrecks. Head inlands and venture through subtropical rainforests splashing through the clear streams and lakes that pepper the lush terrain. End your 4X4 adventures around the campfire and sleep under the stars with the soft sand as your cushion.

Hike Off

Strap on your hiking boots and summit Mount Kosciuszko to be rewarded by panoramic views of glacier carved landscapes and the rolling hills of nearby green pastures. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest peak in Australia and the unpredictable weather renders a truly once in a lifetime adventure. There are hiking trails suited to the varying fitness levels of hikers from the 13km walk to the peak, to the child-friendly 4km walk to the Lookout Point.

Adrenaline Level 6 – 10

Looking for epic stories to tell your kids and grandchildren, like the ones your parents retell of their heroic efforts battling storms all barefoot to get to school? Let the adventure story telling begin…

Sea Spray Thrills


Start your adrenaline-soaked adventure by soaring over the charming scenery of the Buccaneer Archipelago featuring 800 islands dotted among turquoise waters. Upon landing, the pulsating energy never dies as you hop onto a jet board and zoom at high speeds past untouched nature across the simmering waters, through the powerful rapids squeezing through narrow gaps of Horizontal Falls.

Caution! Wet and Slippery

Immerse yourself in the underwater paradise and “be part of that world” exploring the rich diversity and technicolour coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy close encounters with Australia’s endangered and protected sea life while exploring signature wreckages like the SS Yongala. For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, go on a hair raising, spine chilling cage dive with the mighty Great White Shark.

Let’s Go Rafting

The intricate network of breath-taking scenery, primeval natural beauty and sheer power of the Franklin River is the perfect setting for a great rafting adventure. Declared a World Heritage Area and one of the last wild rivers on Earth, the mighty Franklin River plays host to unforgettable rafting adventures, providing a truly unparalleled experience which challenges travellers and leaves them with a profound appreciation for the grandeur of the river. No prior experience in rafting necessary.

Warning. Adventure Ahead

The limestone cliffs, iconic Three Sisters rock pinnacles, roaring waterfalls and lush forests of the Blue Mountains National Park is the perfect canvas on which to paint an activity-packed day trip. Experience the serenity of the wilderness by abseiling down the sheer face of the limestone cliffs soaking in the unrivalled views of the forest as you descend into the misty blue haze of the wilderness. The Blue Mountains National Park also offers other exciting ways to explore the area like canyoning, rock climbing and mountain bike rides.

Get High

Do you have the flair for the dramatic and want to live out your lifelong dream of touching down after a skydive to kiss and caress the ground thanking the gods for sparing your life? Then Australia offers picturesque dropzones to help you embrace the thrill, from the beach panaromas of Byron beach, the rugged coastlines of the Great Ocean Road to the turquoise waters surrounding Rottnest Island. For adrenaline junkies looking for the ultimate plunge while hitting terminal velocity, Australia is the place to be.

Pump up the Adrenaline with Qantas

Qantas Airlines want to help you live out your thrilling adventure by connecting you to the major cities of Australia and New Zealand. Qantas operates direct flights six times a week from Johannesburg to Sydney, making it that much easier and faster to travel. Furthermore, Qantas has an unrivalled domestic network with flights to over 60 Australian towns and cities and quick connections to New Zealand as well. With dedication to providing authentic Australian hospitality, Qantas Airline has also been named the world’s safest airline by AirlineRatings.com for 4 years running. See for yourself.

Share your adventure stories and pictures with us, about your travel to Australia. Feeling a little inspired to begin your adventure story? Do not hestitate, book cheap Qantas flights on Travelstart today. Be sure to also share what’s on your adventure bucket list?

The post The Ultimate Australian Adventure Guide appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

5 Days in Singapore

Singapore is a cosmopolitan blend of historical culture and new age glamour. You’ll be astounded at how seamlessly everything flows, from its public transport to its artwork. You can easily find yourself getting swooped up by the art galleries and architecture before you’ve even made your way across town. And the locals are super friendly, too.

Arriving at Changi Airport

changi airport singapore

Changi Airport is in a class of its own. As soon as you hit the tarmac, you’ll be awestruck by airport’s interior. The hub of Singapore Airlines, this airport includes a 24-hour movie theatre, Butterfly Garden and Entertainment Deck; while those looking for some peace and quiet can wander through the Orchid Garden, Cactus Garden, Koi Pond or take a dip in the rooftop swimming pool. Not too shabby for an airport!

Just 20km east of the city centre, a taxi ride (S$25) will get you to the CBD in around 40 minutes, while the MRT line (S$2.20) takes half the time.

But, first thing’s first. Find your bearings. Get your hands on a map of the city to see the general layout of the island. Singapore may look small, but there is so much more to the city than meets the eye, and you don’t want to miss out!

Day 1:  A Splash of Culture

Central District/ Clarke Quay

Start your day off with a touch of culture. Wander through Fort Canning Park, admiring the eclectic art installations along the way. This historic landmark represents the British surrender to the Japanese during WWII, and houses the Maritime Corner, Spice Garden, Sculpture Garden and former underground military complex.  When you’re done, the National Museum just behind it is worth exploring. Hop on a bus and make your way across the highway to the National Gallery, housing the largest public display of contemporary Southeast Asian art.  Around the corner, the Victoria Theatre is a fine example of Neoclassical architecture. If a typical art gallery isn’t your thing, make your way up to Queen Street, famous for its bold splashes of street art. Grab some lunch and wander around, marveling at the city’s impressive architecture.

raffles hotel singapore

Pop in at the historic Raffles Hotel for a signature Singapore Sling before a night on the town in Clarke Quay. Go on a river cruise and capture the city showing off its beauty as it lights up across the water. Depending on your taste and budget, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from.

clarke quay singapore

Popular Hotels: Nostalgia Hotel (4 Star), Furama RiverFront  (4 Star)

Day 2: Shop ’til You Drop!

Botanical Gardens/ Orchard Road/ Kampong Glam

Get an early start and make your way to one of Singapore’s top tourist attractions – the Botanical Gardens. The only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO World Heritage List, you can set aside a good few hours to wander through the gardens, lakes and Heritage Museum. When you’ve had your fill of flowery fun, it’s time to hit the shops along Orchard Road! From high-end fashion boutiques to games and electronics, this is several kilometres of pure shopping bliss. A walk down to the end of Orchard Road will lead you to Chijmes, a former convent-cum-heritage centre buzzing with restaurants and cafés.

orchard street singapore

Stop for some lunch before exploring the Arab quarter of Kampong Glam, where the historical buildings are bursting with colour and culture. See the gold-tipped Sultan Mosque, while aromatic Middle-Eastern cafés dot every street corner. If you’re needing a break from all the walking, or suddenly fall victim to a sporadic rain shower, duck into The Projector, Singapore’s famous indie cinema, where you can catch a local film or something more intriguing.

Do not leave Kampong Glam before exploring the wonderous shophouses and bakeries along Haji Lane. An eclectic mix of Mediterranean eateries, artisanal coffee and avante-garde boutiques, this area is sure to indulge your curiosity. Arab Street is a mecca of rugs, jewellery, clothes and shisha bars.

haji lane singapore

To end off your day, weave through the alfresco cafés, tasting the local delicacies as the vibrant streets come alive with music.

Popular HotelsFairmont Singapore (5 Star), Somerset Bencoolen Singapore (4 Star), Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen (3 Star)

Day 3: A Colourful Affair

Chinatown/ Tiong Bahru/ Little India

Begin your day by going down to Chinatown. Filled with museums, temples, teahouses and street markets galore, this historic Chinese settlement will leave you fascinated. Free walking tours are available daily and the guides take you around all the major sites, including the iconic Thian Hock Keng Temple. Pack in a water bottle and a healthy appetite – you’ll definitely be tasting your way through the streets as you walk along. Try the dimsum and get a relaxing massage after your walking tour.

chinatown singapore

See the marvelous depictions of Chinese folklore at the Haw Par Villa, open daily. Best of all – entry is free!

Just next door, the district of Tiong Bahru is the island’s hipster central. When you’re not marveling at the art-deco architecture lacing the streets, pop into the vintage book stores, souvenir shops and trendy boutiques while you savour a delectable pastry.

Little India is Singapore’s vibrant claim to fame. Amongst the ornate temples, you can find poky little cafés, sweetly-spiced bakeries and colourful shops brimming with heavy perfumes, rich fabrics and henna tattoos.

little india singapore

Shop up a storm at Mustafa Centre, Little India’s iconic indoor market, open 24/7. You’ll be drawn into the fragrant flavours around every corner. Raj is a great place for vegetarian options, while the signature tandoori dishes and roti prata at any given restaurant are a must! Walk down Serangoon Road and its side streets, admiring the ornate Hindu temples and brightly-coloured houses.

As the evening draws in, set the mood for a little mystery at The Library Bar, tucked away on the outskirts of Little India. A secret password gets you in, or you could just crack a joke with the doorman.

Popular Hotels: Oasia Hotel (5 Star), The Scarlet Singapore (4 Star), Hotel YAN (3 Star), Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel (2 Star)

Day 4: Adventure Time!

Sentosa Island

As they say, the early bird gets the worm, so beat the queues and buy your tickets early. Spend the entire day on this island resort as you live out your childhood fantasies. The magic happens at Universal Studios Singapore, boasting 7 themed zones and mind-blowing rides where you’ll face mummies in Ancient Egypt and battle evil forces in the heart-stopping Transformers 3D Ride. Step into 50s glamour along Hollywood Boulevard and be a part of the fairytale action in Shrek 4-D Adventure in Far Far Away.

universal studios singapore

If theme park action is not your thing, you can work on your golden tan at Tanjong Beach Club, or laze along the palm-lined Palawan Beach. Siloso Beach is ideal for picnics, water sports and beach volleyball.

For a family day out, the S.E.A Aquarium is home to over 100,000 marine animals. Feel like you’re one with the sea creatures as you explore glass tunnels, crawl into caves and have lunch among the starfish at the Ocean Restaurant.

Your day pass to Sentosa will get you back to the mainland, where you’ll be exhausted after a full day of adventure!

Day 5: Add a Little Pizazz

Marina Bay

marina bay singapore

Save the best for last and treat yourself to the amazing sights and sounds of Singapore. If you have the budget for a little glitz and glamour, Marina Bay is the crème-de-la-crème of Singapore’s luxury living.

Start your day at Gardens by the Bay, where the shimmering Supertrees tower 50 metres above you. Walk along the aerial walkway for stunning views of the city skyline. Entrance to the Gardens is free and, once inside, you can explore the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, housing the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

gardens by the bay singapore

For more incredible views of the city, head on over to the Singapore Flyer, boasting unrivalled, panoramic viewing. Walk along the Marina promenade and cool off with a side street ice-cream for S$1. Peruse world-class exhibits at the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum, with its unique innovation and design concepts. Even if you don’t plan on spending a cent, walk through The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and get a look at its spectacular architecture and central water feature, taking extravagant shopping to the next level!

Watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand at KuDeTa rooftop bar on the SkyPark Observation Deck. Night time is when Marina Bay pulls out all the stops, so make sure you’ve crossed the bridge to the Esplanade to watch the dazzling light shows from other side of the bay. Take a photo with Merlion, Singapore’s iconic emblem. The street food market around the corner from the Esplanade is a great dinner option. End off your evening with a walk along the waterfront promenade where you may just be lucky enough to catch an open-air concert.

merlion singapore

Popular Hotels:  Mandarin Oriental (5 Star), Pan Pacific Singapore (5 Star)

Getting Around Singapore

Singapore’s public transport system is world class. Get from one end of town to another in no time at all with the city’s extensive MRT (mass rapid transport) system. Trains and stations are accessible to wheel chair users and families with strollers.

If you’ve just got five days in Singapore, a great way to get around and see the sights is through the Singapore Tourist Pass. This ticket gives you access to bus and boat tours, plus unlimited access to the city’s public transport. A 3-day pass will cost you S$20. Tickets can be purchased at the airport and throughout the city. Don’t confuse the Singapore Tourist Pass with the Singapore Pass, which is a type of ‘smart card’ giving you access to over 30 top attractions for S$97.

The Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to see the major city sights within a day. There are various ticket combos to choose from.

Singapore gives you the opportunity to live it up and also experience the history that shaped the city-state to what it is today. After spending just five days in Singapore, you’ll fall in love with its charismatic neighbourhoods and profound beauty. Book your ticket to Singapore today!

The post 5 Days in Singapore appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Why Vietnam Is The New Bali

Let Vietnam captivate you with its outrageously beautiful vistas, plunging limestone cliffs and captivating cities. Vietnam boasts the world’s largest cave, vibrant food markets and unforgettable beaches. Like Bali, Vietnam has tropical rainforests, diverse wildlife, balmy weather, fantastic shopping and even more-amazing beaches. Fall in love with the sights, sounds and experiences of Vietnam.

Header image courtesy @tynguyen0405 

Best time to visit

Image courtesy of @howfarfromhome via Instagram

If you’re planning on experiencing the whole country from south to north then autumn (September to December) and spring (March to April) are best.

In south Vietnam the dry season lasts from December to late April or early May, followed by the seasonal rains from May to November.

And in the north, the sunny months of October to December are definitely the best time to visit.

Flight time to Hanoi

The flight time from Johannesburg to Hanoi is just 16 hours and 20 minutes.

Find amazing flights to Vietnam here.

Reasons to visit

It’s really inexpensive!

Your wallet can breathe a sigh of relief, Vietnam’s Dong is super easy on the South Africa rand. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant ranges from R11 – R24 while a domestic beer costs just R12! A one-way ticket on local transport costs just R4,20!

An easy Visa-application process

The average processing time is just 5 days, but they also have a “Rush option”, where you can fast-forward the application so its ready in just 2 working days.

Read our step-by-step guide here:

The food

Long billed as THE foodie destination you won’t be disappointed. Steaming bowls of fragrant Phð, delicious Vietnamese sandwiches and the fluffy-light Bánh xèo which translates literally as ‘sizzling cake’. These turmeric infused savory pancakes are named for the delicious sizzling sound they makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet. Street food reigns supreme here and the average meal ranges from R11 to R22. Even a fancy meal for two with three courses each only comes to R210.

Also read:

The pristine beaches

If you’re after a super-relaxing beach holiday, Vietnam is for you. Palm trees, sugar-white sands and tropical fruit drinks are waiting for you on Vietnam’s blissful beaches. Lesser known and beautiful beaches include Long Beach and Star Beach on Phu Quoc, while popular, busier spots include Nha Trang (avoid November and December here as the water is choppy), Hon Chong beach nearby is a good bet for its seafood restaurants and amazing night time views of the nearby city.

Vietnam’s landscape is diverse enough that you can easily combine a rain-forest adventure with a beach retreat. Switch off, power down and recharge on Vietnam’s secret beaches.

Hotels like Topas Ecolodge!

Image courtesy of @suehoang8 via Instagram

Find great hotel deals here.

The shopping

Visit the Mekong markets for a more traditional approach to shopping or head to the amazing, cavernous markets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi for shop-til-you drop deals on clothing, jewellery, ceramics and anything you can think of (Đồng Xuân Market is a great market in Hanoi offering household goods and tasty street food).

Vietnamese iced coffee

The sweet treat that is condensed-milk-infused Vietnamese coffee (cà phê sữa đá) is not to be missed. Grab a plastic stool on a street corner and join in the fun!  Cà phê đá is the classic coarse dark roast drip coffee.

An incredible range of outdoor adventures

Image courtesy of @thisismaxwell via Instagram

Hikes, myriad waterfalls, caves, jungle-treks, you name it you can do it in Vietnam!

Glittering, fast-paced cities

Ancient pagodas meet the energy of one of the world’s greatest, fastest growing cities in Hanoi. Unemployment recently decreased to 2.09 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Set on the banks of the red river this ancient city has loads to offer city lovers. Incredible restaurants, museums and markets await. Just look three times before crossing the street or join in the fun and rent a motorbike.

Much-hyped attractions like Hạ Long Bay

You’ve almost certainly heard about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Steep limestone karsts plunge into dreamy water.  Ever popular this attraction is worth the hype and the 4 hour bus ride from Hanoi. Highly recommended are the sea kayak tours around the bay.

Good to know before you go:

  • The local time zone: GMT + 7.
  • The power supply in Vietnam is 220V/50Hz. Standard sockets are two-pin round plug. Most of hotels have both 220V and 110V power supply.

 

We’d love to hear about your favourite Vietnam adventures in the comments below!

 

The post Why Vietnam Is The New Bali appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

How to Apply for your Vietnam Visa

Vietnam Visa

Dreaming about exploring the beautiful and exciting attractions of Vietnam? There are breath-taking landscapes, such as Mekong Delta’s scenic setting. In Huế, there’s the Imperial City’s amazing wealth of history. Your dream can become a reality with this guide to understanding all the Vietnam visa requirements in South Africa. Once you get this easy process out of the way, book your tickets and pack your bags and get ready for a fantastic holiday experience!

Please note this Vietnam visa process is applicable to South African passport holders.

What Documents Do I Need:

 

  • Completed visa application form (see below for link)
  • Original passport (valid for six months from date of return)
  • Your passport must have 1 blank page for the visa stamp
  • 2 passport-size photos (30mm width x 40mm height, in colour, taken within the past six months)
  • Flight booking
  • Proof of payment for visa fee (if applying directly at the Embassy)
  • Proof of accommodation for full stay

 

Visa Costs:

Visa fees differ according to your intended period of travel. See below for more information:

  • 1-Month Single Entry – R900.00
  • 1-Month Multiple Entry – R1,200.00
  • 3-Months Multiple Entry – R1,400.00

If you live outside of Pretoria, you may use a third party such as a courier with a letter of authorisation. Take note that using a courier service will lead to additional costs, depending on the company you use.

Below are the payment details for making EFT payments to the Vietnam Embassy.

Account name: Embassy of Vietnam
Account number: 62243859909
Bank: FNB
Branch name: Brooklyn
Branch code: 251345
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ
Reference Your Name or Group’s Name

 

Be sure to double check your Vietnam visa requirements with regards to cost to avoid any potential surprises.

Visa Process:

 

The Vietnam visa application process differs according to what application process you choose.

At the Embassy

Follow these steps:

  • Visit the Embassy website, download and fill in the form.
  • Bring all required documents as outlined above.
  • After 5 working days, return to the Embassy to collect your visa.

Courier Service

If you’re outside of Pretoria, use a courier service to send off the same documents as above. Be sure to factor in additional time for the courier service to return your passport to you.

*If using a courier, call the Embassy to confirm when your visa is ready for collection.

Validity:

A 1-month Vietnam visa is valid for 1 month. This starts from the proposed date of arrival as stated on your application form.

Your passport must be valid for six months from the date of your return.

Embassy:

There is only one Vietnam Embassy in South Africa.

Embassy of Vietnam, Pretoria

Address: 87 Brooks St, Brooklyn, Pretoria, 0011
Telephone: + 27 (0) 12 362 8119 (Extensions 113/109/100)
Email: embassy@vietnam.co.za
Hours: Mondays – Fridays: 09:00 – 11:30
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and South African and Vietnamese holidays

 

Where to print documents and photos:

 

Should you need to have any documents printed, these shops are located close to the Embassy:

Jetline Hatfield

Address: Shop 108, Duncan Walk, 526 Jan Shoba Street, Hatfield, 0083
Email: hatfield@jetline.co.za

 

Minit Print

Address: 275 Lynnwood Rd, Menlo Park, Pretoria, 0081
Email: sales@minitprint.co.za

 

You can get passport-size photos taken and printed at the following places:

AtPhoto Professional Imaging

Address: 1066 Burnett St, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0083
Email: info@atphoto.co.za

 

Kodak Express

Address: Fehrsen St & Fehrsen Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria, 0181

 

The information on this page is correct as of date of publishing. While every effort is made to keep information as fresh as possible, Travelstart takes no responsibility for any of the information being out of date or incorrectly noted.

The post How to Apply for your Vietnam Visa appeared first on Travelstart Blog.