The Great African Experience – Discover Tunisia!

Nothing beats a Mediterranean holiday, from the picturesque palm trees, to the warm sea waters and the amazing food selections, you’re guaranteed to be spoilt for choice! Why not visit Tunisia as a wonderful option to experience all of this? Tunisia has more than an abundance of beautiful towns and cities, and rich, cultural and historic sights to enjoy. With all of the magnificence that you’ll find from the beaches in Hammamet off the capital city of Tunis, the endless coastline of the south-east Djerba, and the delicious sweet fruit and olive oil-infused dishes, you’ll most probably want to stay forever!

Let Travelstart guide you around this fascinating country and show you why Tunisia is Africa’s best-kept Mediterranean hideaway. Book cheap flights to Tunisia with Travelstart today!

visit-tunisia-lounge

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Tunisia is a small coastal country in North West Africa, neighboured by Algeria and Libya. Its sparkling sea waters are due to the country sharing the Mediterranean Sea with many European countries, such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Tunisia is a mostly Arab country, but shares many wonderful European influences in its architecture, cuisine and tourism infrastructure. Not just a beach destination, Tunisian streets are crammed full of historical attractions, including a rich French influence, ancient amphitheaters, souks and 9th century mosques!

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Image courtesy of @fitnessbeere95 via Instagram.

Why you should visit Tunisia

A trip to the country guarantees holiday-makers a remarkable experience and more beauty and sunshine than you could imagine. Of the endless list of attractions that Tunisia has to offer, make sure to check off our list of everything that you need to see, do and experience to truly appreciate this African gem!

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Cuisine

Tunisia is one of the original homes of olive oil and is the fourth largest producer of this famous natural product in the world! With that in mind, can you imagine the tasty, fresh and authentic dishes that you can find here? Couscous and varieties of pasta are well known in these parts, paired up with the most tender cuts of lamb or beef. You can also expect to find the most delicious seafood that you can imagine! Prawns, octopus, fresh fish cuts – you name it, you’ll find it. Some of the country’s most famous dishes include brik (a thin breakfast pastry, filled with egg & an assortment of vegetables & herbs), great for brunch or after a long day of chilling on the beach, Tunisian shakshouka (a tomato-based meatball/vegetarian and egg dish), yoyos (cinnamon-spiced donuts) for your sweet tooth and of course, a refreshing glass of mint tea to wash it all down with.

visit-tunisia-cuisine

Image courtesy of @tunisianfoodies via Instagram.

Beaches

This is what you can expect, and so much more! Three of the country’s most beloved beaches are Mahida Beach, Hammamet Beach and Sentido Djerba Beach, all found in their respective towns or cities. What you’ll love best about these tranquil waters is not just the palm trees, warm (26-degrees Celsius) or even toasty sands, but the fact that for now, the beaches are uncrowded and you can swim and frolic to your heart’s delight, with plenty of space for you and your loved ones!

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Image courtesy of @svenja_herx via Instagram.

It’s no laughing matter when people say that some of the Mediterranean’s best beaches are found in Tunisia, because it is very true! Imagine just over 1000 kilometers of coastline, dotted with different shades of golden sand and picture-perfect beach spots with an endless expanse of turquoise water in front of you.

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Image courtesy of @tnretrogamer via Instagram.

Nightlife

The nightlife scene in Tunisia is a haven with plenty to do until the early hours of the morning, and to top it off, great local eateries to chow at after! After the sun goes down you can look forward to bustling streets that are filled with shisha and belly dancing cafés, Arabic and French cinemas and even casinos for the high rollers. If dancing through the night is more of your thing then the cities of Sousse, Hammamet and Tunis are great for nightclubs that pulsate through the night, bringing people together to do what they do best – have fun!

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Scenery

A great tourist pulling point about Tunisia is the vast array of scenic attractions that you will find, scattered across the country. There are so many to name that it would be difficult to name them all, but here are our top five:

  1. Sidi Bou Saidthe town that has the loveliest backdrop of sea with blue and white petite buildings, you’d be forgiven if you thought that you were on the European side of the Mediterranean with its laid-back atmosphere, curios shops and quaint restaurants.

    visit-tunisia-sidi-bou

    Image courtesy of @jenmor_15 via Instagram.

  2. Carthagebe amazed by the ruins of this once-feared Phoenician society as you marvel at the ruins and reimagine the power that was once found in this area. Carthage is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  3. Kairouan – Arab culture has left its sophisticated mark on this Tunisian city, with tall minarets, ancient tombs and mosques in all directions. If you manage to look past its magnificence, you’d also be intrigued by the crumbling walls of colorful houses, found in the city’s back alleyways.

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    Image courtesy of @assas_monde_arabe via Instagram.

  4. El Jem Amphitheatrewalk through the grounds of this 3rd century amphitheater, preserved in so much of its previous splendor and beauty, in the Roman city that was once known as Thysdrus.

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    Image courtesy of @mr__rayman via Instagram.

  5. The Sousse medinaan old town with cobbled streets, back alleys painted in shades of white and blue and souks selling original leather and metal work.

History

Tunisia has a rich history of conquest and ancient wonders, and was ruled by the Phoenicians, Rome, and even the Ottoman Turks! Later in history, this glorious country was ruled by Italy and then France, and finally gained independence in 1956. With such an array of countries having left their mark on the country, you can only imagine how the relics and tombs found dotted across Tunisia speak of tales far and wide, beckoning for wondrous stories of this North African destination!

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Image courtesy of @pearl_of_the_mediterranean via Instagram.

Intriguing Cities

Tunisian cities are as beautiful as they are intriguing, with vast historical and cultural heritage etched into the city streets. The sprawling capital city, Tunis, is as metropolitan as they come. Here you will find the daily grind and plenty of attractions that include the remnants of ancient city, Carthage, the National Bardo Museum which houses world-renowned mosaics and many other wonderful attractions. The Greek-looking seaside town of Sidi Bou Said is also found on the edge of the city, and there’s a 99.9% chance that you’ll fall in love with the winding streets, perfect sea views and white and blue buildings. The famous town of Sfax was built upon Roman ruins, and it is here that you will find the tastiest olives, dates, pomegranates, melons, navel oranges and so much more! And of course, once in Tunisia, you also have to visit the touristy city of Hammamet, known for its endless sparkling beaches, luxury resorts and elegant, whitewashed buildings with their very French flair.

visit-tunisia-sfax-city

Image courtesy of @tunisianhotels via Instagram.

People and Safety

One of the wonderful things about Tunisia would most definitely be its people. Tunisia has more than 11 million residents, who somehow, make the time to greet visitors as though they’re old friends or family. Everyone has time to talk and no favour is too much to ask. As for the safety of the country, the two-year tourist warning was lifted in August 2017, allowing for visitors to enjoy the country, worry free! You may want to skip the outskirts of the country and borders of Libya and Algeria, but other than that you’ll be comfortable and safe, enjoying your time in the sun.

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Image courtesy of @toumanaa via Instagram.

Last, but not least – the climate!

Tunisia has a Mediterranean climate that is sure to guarantee you a wonderful time during your vacation! Tunis, the capital city has warm, balmy summers and you can enjoy temperatures of between 24 – 32 °C in summer and cool winters with temperatures ranging from 18 – 22 °C in the winter time. The sea waters average out at around 22 °C throughout the year, making it a nice, refreshing swim after working on your all-year tan. If you’re travelling in March, please note that sea temperatures can sometimes decrease to around 14 °C, on the coldest of days.

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Image courtesy of @camilles_niche via Instagram.

Tunisia is also a wonderful alternative to the current, more popular North African travel destinations, Morocco and Egypt. While these two countries are absolutely perfect in their own right, what you’d gain from visiting Tunisia instead would be less crowds, more relaxation and of course, that Mediterranean atmosphere which is unique to this country.

visit-tunisia-olive-cuisine

Image courtesy of @tunisianfoodies via Instagram.

The best news of all is that South Africans do NOT need a visa to visit Tunisia for up to 90 days! Can you imagine that? Three months of absolute perfection and enjoying the Mediterranean sun, visa-free and absolutely loving it!

So, what do you think about this destination for your next holiday? Sign up for the Travelstart newsletter and receive the best flight specials and deals for your next trip, abroad or locally!

 

The post The Great African Experience – Discover Tunisia! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

6 Best Amusement Parks in Asia

Who says amusement parks are just for kids? This summer, save a day for the thrilling rides and exciting attractions. Whether you’re hitting up the famous theme parks of Japan and Korea or exploring the ones in Southeast Asia, check out our list of the best amusement parks in Asia.

The post 6 Best Amusement Parks in Asia appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Places to Leave Your Pet While You Travel

Heading out of town for the weekend or going even further? Unfortunately not all places (or planes) will let you bring your pet with you. So, whatever you’ve got planned, chances are, you’ll have to make a plan for your pooch too.

Whether it’s for just the night or a fortnight; there’s somewhere near-by to leave your beloved best-friend while you’re away.

So start planning your next holiday while you check out this list of comfortable and secure places to leave your dog/s when you travel.

Cape Town

Jetting off on your dream holiday and need a safe place to leave your fur-kid? The Mother City has got dogs and dog-lovers alike covered with several options of amazing pet-accommodation.

Star Paws

Star Paws in Woodstock creates a ‘free-range’ environment for your fur-family to run around freely and enjoy their ‘pawcation’ to perfection. Not only will they be supervised 24/7, but there’s the promise of three walks each day and the security of knowing that all staff are trained in canine first-aid. They’ll even arrange to fetch and drop-off your fur-baby if need be. Paw-fect. Call them on 081-235-8288 for more info.

pet travel star paws pet travel star paws

Bowhaus

Bowhaus has an awesome sleep-over facility in Woodstock where you can send your fur-kids while you travel. They ensure that your pup gets a full-day of play and activity (maybe even a play in De Waal park) before settling down in complete comfort while the 24-hour security watches over them. Give them a howl on 021 447 4504 to book a spot for your best-friend.

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@Fritz Dog Hotel

@Fritz is located in the centre of Cape Town so it’s the perfect place for city-dwellers to leave their furry friends. Dogs are treated like royalty with group playdates and regular potty-breaks. Phone them on 021 200 4244 for more info and remember you can always check on your pup through their awesome webcam service.

Zimzala K9 Hotel

pet travel Dog hotel Zimzala

Set in the Stellenbosch countryside, Zimzala K9 Hotel is the perfect place to give your hound the holiday of their life – ensuring they are ‘dog-tired’ at the end of each day. Zimzala is set alongside a pine forest, offering dogs of all sizes the freedom to run and explore. And afterwards, the hounds are pampered with personal care and attention.

This is a great option for those with bigger best-friends (larger breeds). Call them on 021 880 1420 for further questions.

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Waggy Tail

Waggy Tail in Vredehoek understands that sometimes us humans have events and obligations that our furry-friends can’t attend. By keeping it small and personal, Waggy Tail will ensure your pup gets the best treatment while you’re away. For more info and to check availability, email info@waggytail.co.za

 

Johannesburg

Be it a weekend-wedding in the Cape that you can’t miss or a last-minute business trip, don’t worry residents of Jozi, there’s a plan and place for you and your four-legged friends.

Farm Girls

pet travel farm hotel

Farm Girls, just north of Fourways, have a hands-on approach with their accredited dog behaviourists and loving staff. With lots of space for chasing and ball games, this self-sustainable farm is wonderful and homey. This could be because this is the Farm Girls’ actual home, so someone’s always around and the dogs are treated as their own.

Visit their website to download the necessary documents or email info@farmgirls.co.za for more information.

Must Love Dogs Hotel

pet travel dog hotel

Does your pup want his or her own unique cottage to enjoy while you’re away? Must Love Dogs in Chartwell provides unique and stylish accommodation for dogs. Limited to small dogs, from Petite to Penthouse Suites, each cottage is themed and filled with everything your pup could ever need.This dog-loving owner’s personal-project could be the perfect place to leave your pet while you travel. Request a booking for your pooch online.

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Club Street Kennels

Located in Linksfield and available to a variety of pets, Club Street Kennels is filled with pet-minding professionals who’ll lovingly look after your dog while you’re away. With a cooked meal, loads of comfort and daily cuddles, Club Street Kennels will truly take care of your dog. Contact them at clubkennels@gmail.com or download the booking form here.

Paws Resort

Paws Resort is a pampered paradise for pets. Owned by two qualified vets and located in Midrand, Paws Resort will arrange supervised luxury kennelling for your furry-friend while making sure they get all the peace and play time they need. They might even get treated to a five-star grooming while you’re away.

Contact them on 087 803 5820 for more info.

 

Durban

Everything planned for your travels except a place for your pet? Don’t worry, Durban has a variety of pet-accomodtion so you can travel stress-free and enjoy your flight knowing your dog is happy and safe.

The Durban Dog Hotel

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This is a classic and (surprisingly) calm hound hotel. The Durban Dog Hotel dotes on all their guests, making sure they get out when they need to, as well as all the attention they deserve. With lots of fenced-off land to run around and daily spoils, your dog might not want to go home after this retreat. Visit their site to make book in your pet or call them on 083 650 2594.

SuperDogs

Focussed on fixing any problems that may exist between dogs and their owners, SuperDogs in Hillcrest is dedicated to your dog from the moment they arrive to the second they leave. Each day that you’re away, your dog will be supervised and cared for by people that have trained by the owner herself. They’ll even groom your pet just before pick-up so you can arrive to your bestie smelling fresh. Call Debbie on 073 507 6071 with any questions.

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Ballito Kennels

Ballito Kennels offers a large space filled with indigenous trees for your dog to run free. With a variety of accommodation options, including options for pampered pets or large spaces for bigger dogs, find exactly what you and your pet needs for while you’re away. Call them on 032 947 1493 with any questions.

Ralun Kennels (KZN & Gauteng)

Established in 1990 in KZN, Ralun Kennels provides a loving, safe and professional environment for you to leave your beloved pets. They’ll not only monitor your dog’s behaviour but make sure that they get plenty of exercise and quality one-on-one time. Ralun have kennels in both Pinetown, KZN and Kempton Park, Gauteng, so check them out in either province if you need a place to leave your pet. Call the kennels closest to you for more info.

KZN Kennels: 031 701 4874  |  Gauteng Kennels: 0861 738 247

Pet Sitters

If your dog gets overly-anxious when you go away or if you’d feel more comfortable leaving them at home – it can be an option. Ask one of your fur-baby’s godparents to house-sit or get a professional pet-sitter that’ll give you peace-of-mind.

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Now that you know there’s a plan for your pet. Book your next holiday with these amazing flight specials.

Any doggy hotels or pet sitters in your area that we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Photo Credit: Michele Fry

Photo Credit: Star Paws

Photo Credit: Bowhaus

Photo Credit: Zimzala K9 Hotel

Photo Credit: Farm Girls

Photo Credit: Must Love Dogs

Photo Credit: The Durban Dog Hotel

Photo Credit: SuperDogs KZN

 

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

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12 Best Day Trips from Osaka: Sightseeing Highlights

Osaka is also surrounded by some of Japan’s top sightseeing hotspots, making it the ideal base for enthralling day trips. The gateway city gives you a true insider’s perspective of Japan’s historic, natural and contemporary attractions.

The post 12 Best Day Trips from Osaka: Sightseeing Highlights appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Ten Tips to Make Your Trips More Eco-Friendly

From cutting down the towel usage in your hotel to choosing boats over taxis; here are ten eco-friendly tips to make your trips greener.

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1. Reduce Your Fumes

Opt for a bicycle or boat instead of a taxi when you can. For example, Amsterdam is famous for its bicycles, so join in on the two-wheeled chaos while you’re there. Places like Venice and Stockholm are made up of beautiful canals, which is just one reason to hop on to a boat instead of into a car. Walk everywhere – literally stop to smell the flowers. You’ll find forgotten places and locally celebrated spaces. In cities like New York or London, this is a great way to see more and save money. Also, don’t forget book direct flights to reduce emissions and keep your trips efficient.

2. Use the Sun

If you’re heading anywhere with sun, such as Namibia, Sri Lanka or Goa – pack a solar-powered charger. Lie on the beach or next to the pool and let your devices charge. You could even take it on tour when you go up the Namib Dunes or through the tea plantations in Ahangama – when you know you’ll be in the sun all day. Not only will you save the hotel electricity but you’ll be helping the planet and charging your things while out and about. Win win for you and the environment.

3. Always Choose Local

Eat and drink local whenever you can. Imported goods are usually more expensive and you can probably get them at home. Markets are a great way to do this; visit Mercat Boqueria down the renowned La Rambla and taste all the flavours that Barcelona has to offer. Or, be part of the chaos in Japan at the Tsukiji Market, the largest and most exciting fish market in the world. Support the locals of the country you’re in while getting the chance to really experience the place through its residential-flavours.
food, travel, local

eco friendly travel Barcelona

4. Keep the kg’s Down and Pack Light

If you’re not sure if you’ll need it – you probably won’t. Take less with you to help reduce the weight on the flight (if everyone did this it would really add up!) and make getting around easier for you. Also, use durable bags for your bits and bobs so you don’t have to dispose of plastic in every destination.

5. No Ubering for One

When you land in a new country, take the public transport. There’s also the option to share an Uber in certain cities but don’t automatically open the app as you arrive. Add adventure to your trip by taking a train through the magnificent Sri Lankan mountains. Or tram up the streets of Lisbon. If you’re in Cape Town, the red, hop-on-hop-off bus is a great place to start. Also, try to get an idea of how the city’s metro or bus system works and use it! You’ll see how the locals get around while saving yourself some money (and the environment).

6. Reuse Your Bottle

Don’t buy water at every corner shop. Instead, take a really nice, durable bottle with you and fill it up at drinking taps or ask restaurants. All eco-friendly travellers should remember this one as this way you won’t be constantly throwing away bottles and money while helping to reduce litter.

7. Make Your Room Your Responsibility

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Treat your hotel room as you would your home. You know your partner would be furious if you only used a towel once and let the electricity run the entire day while you went island hopping. So be gracious and use the towel a couple of times, turn the air-con off when you’re out all day and cut back on showers and baths (especially if you’re in a drought-stricken area).

8. Dispose Correctly

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No matter where you are always try to recycle and dispose of your waste accordingly. Don’t just throw away batteries or food into any old bin. Treat where you are as your own home and be aware of any regulations the city may have regarding waste. This could vary from different plumbing systems to island waste management control.

9. Say No to Wildlife and Wildlife Products

Unfortunately, animal items or even wild animals themselves are rather desired around the world. On your travels, don’t support the people selling such things – it will only give it reason for the cruel industry to carry on. Say no to elephant rides and monkey feeding. And don’t buy ivory, quills and feathers when you see them. Do support ethical local industries when you can.They’re great initiatives out there that will make the perfect souvenir. For example, if you’re in Kenya, visit Kazuri. It’s an amazing program that empowers women through a beautiful bead and jewellery business. Just look around wherever you are, there will be a good alternative from people who care. eco, travel, animal, wild

10. Before You Leave

Don’t leave your house without turning off plugs and switching off the geyser. Unless someone’s looking after your beloved pet, empty your fridge and turn everything off. You’ll save electricity and can fly in peace knowing that if there’s a fire, it’s not because of your faulty GHD.

Here are some more tips on how to be an eco-friendly traveller.

Are you an expert eco-traveller? We’d love to hear your earth-loving and eco-friendly tricks and tips for travelling. Share them in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Michael-Ray Erasmus

The post Ten Tips to Make Your Trips More Eco-Friendly appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

12 things that will make you fall in love with the food of Zanzibar

Spices are a thing of legends and lore.

The scent of cinnamon once wafted through the tombs of ancient Egypt. Cardamom lured explorers onto perilous voyages across the seven seas. Coriander was prized as an aphrodisiac during Arabian nights. Daring spice pirates risked life and limb to steal cloves. And pepper was more precious than gold.

Over the centuries trade winds have blown traders and merchants onto the dreamy shores of Zanzibar and brought with them these precious spices and the exotic flavours of faraway worlds.

Also read: Where are the best beaches in Zanzibar

zanzibar cuisine

Image courtesy of @bmlabrosse via Instagram

Zanzibari culture is deeply intertwined with spices and nowhere is it more noticeable than in the dishes that make up the food of Zanzibar.

From the moment you step off the plane and that mingling of nutmeg and vanilla hits your nose, you will know this is a place of culinary magic.

This list explores some of the most delicious things that can be found on Zanzibar.

coconuts zanzibar

Image courtesy of @tastezanzibar via Instagram

1. Zanzibar pizza

This is perhaps one of the most bizarre dishes to come out of Zanzibar.

A parcel of meat or fish (optional), chopped onion, peppers, cheese, mayonnaise, and an egg are pan-fried in a thin layer of dough and served with a tangy drizzle of tomato or chilli sauce.

The origins of this melt-in-your-mouth creation may be blurred, but the fact that it is delicious is undeniable. It is a local specialty that is indulgence at its best.

Note: If savoury isn’t your thing, they are also available in dessert options such as Nutella and sweet mango and banana and chocolate.

Where to go: Forodhani Night Food Market in Stone Town

zanzibar pizza

Image courtesy of @danielnosweat via Instagram

2. Biryani

This is a dish that really lets the exotic spices of Zanzibar shine through and is close to the hearts of many locals.

Rice is cooked with a mélange of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, chilli, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves, and then mixed together with a meat or fish curry. Popular meats include fish, goat, and beef.

Biryani is one of the most popular dishes in Zanzibar and can be found everywhere.

zanzibar biryani

Image courtesy of @ivomarg via Instagram

3. Sorpotel

The flavours of India and Portugal come together in this exotic curry.

Pieces of boiled tongue and liver are stewed in a mix of vinegar and spices such as masala and tamarind to create this tasty meaty dish.

sorpotel

Image courtesy of @sense_p via Instagram

4. Urojo

This is what can only be described as a fantastic hodgepodge of all the flavours of the island.

Ramen-like in its composition, it is a curried coconut broth that is poured into a bowl and topped with an array of ingredients. Toppings include falafel, boiled egg, slices of onion, spicy bhajias, crispy cassava chips, kachori, bread, meat skewers, coconut and chilli chutney, and hot peppers.

You cannot truly experience Zanzibari food without trying this unique creation.

Where to go: Dewa & Sons on Royal Road

zanzibar mix

Image courtesy of @adildhanani via Instagram

5. Seafood extravaganza

The seafood in Zanzibar is known to be so fresh it was probably still swimming that morning.

Much like spices, you will be able to find an incredible variety of seafood. Tuna, marlin, prawns, calamari, octopus, kingfish, lobster, tuna, snapper, and barracuda are just some of the seafood delicacies that abound on the islands of Zanzibar.

seafood zanzibar

Image courtesy of @themsfoodlover via Instagram

6. Pweza wa nazi (octopus curry)

Speaking of seafood, octopus curry is out-of-this-world delicious and one of the famous dishes of Zanzibar.

Succulent octopus is simmered in a creamy blend of coconut cream, turmeric, curry, cinnamon, garlic, lime and cardamom, and served with red chilli and rice.

octopus curry

Image courtesy of @dom_sabino via Instagram

7. Octopus and fried cassava

This is the East African equivalent of fish and chips.

Bite-sized cubes of tender octopus and chunks of cassava are fried and served in a shard of newspaper to create the perfect snack or meal.

Sprinkle it with salt or drench it in chilli tomato sauce for some extra zing.

fried cassava

Image courtesy of @anindyari via Instagram

8. Swahili curries

Plantains and tender mutton simmered in coconut milk. Heavenly fish curry with potatoes or spinach. Mouth-watering curries served with crunchy cassava chips. Or rich meaty curries smothered in chilli sauce or coconut chutney.

Swahili curries are a culinary art and obligatory indulgence for any food lover.

swahili curry

Image courtesy of @tastezanzibar via Instagram

9. Chipsi mayai

This is the ultimate comfort food in Zanzibar.

Chunks of fried potato chips are tossed onto a skillet with some eggs to create an omelette that screams decadence.

Douse it with tomato sauce and kachumbari and sprinkle with fresh chillis for added flavour.

chipsi mayai

Image courtesy of @jespershideaway via Instagram

10. Mishkaki

If charred to perfection and delicious smoky notes are your thing then mishkaki is for you.

Hunks of marinated meat or chicken are skewered and grilled slowly on open coals to create a kebab of charred goodness.

Find vendors grilling them up in the late afternoon and pair it with chipsi mayai for sheer indulgence.

mishkaki zanzibar

Image courtesy of @a_onederphotos via Instagram

11. Pilau

This iconic dish of Arabic origins is a tantalising jumble of fried onions, meat, vegetables, broth, and spices such as garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Sometimes coconut and nuts are added.

The secret is to cook everything together so the flavours infuse.

pilau

Image courtesy of @butterflycook18 via Instagram

12. Tropical fruits

A trip to Zanzibar will reveal a colourful world of tropical fruits. The pineapples are said to be the sweetest in the world and the avocados are enormous! It is also home to durians, the controversial king of fruits that are known for smelling like hell but tasting like heaven.

Other sweet fruits include oranges, mandarins, mangoes, passion fruit, grapes, bananas, watermelon, pawpaw, jackfruit, custard apples, and papaya.

tropical fruit

Image courtesy of @bushbibi via Instagram

Something sweet

Although Zanzibar is not known for its gourmet selection of desserts, there are a number of treats that will satisfy the fiercest hankering for something sweet after a day of lazing on the beach or scuba diving.

Mandazi

A Swahili doughnut that is made with coconut milk and cardamom and sometimes sweetened with honey. Finish it off with a slice of fresh jackfruit or pair it with a mug of chai tea.

Ndizi na kastad

Bananas drenched in sweet custard and topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pineapple pieces and orange slices are sometimes added in place of or along with the soft banana.

Spicy ice-cream

Homemade ice-cream is one of the best things you will eat in Zanzibar. Luscious flavours such as Nutella, Amarena cherry, mint, and cocoa are available, as well as exotic flavours such as ginger, baobab, avocado, peanut, hibiscus, and masala.

Where to go: Tamu Italian Ice Cream on Kenyatta Road in Stone Town

Also read: A complete guide to the islands and best diving in Zanzibar

exotic ice cream

Image courtesy of @tamu7935 via Instagram

Snacks

  • Kachumbari. A delicious salad of tomato, onion, and chilli peppers. Slather it on a Zanzibari pizza, stir it in a curry, or simply eat it as is. It is a great accompaniment to any meal.
  • Chapati. A buttery wrap similar to naan that is served hot off the griddle and wrapped around one of the many tasty street food snacks or stuffed with curry.
  • Vitumbua. Coconut rice pancakes that are golden and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. They are best enjoyed with a mug of chai tea.
  • Kachori. A spicy ball of mashed potato, chilli, lime, and ginger. Wrap a few of them in a chapati and top with some kachumbari for a cheap and tasty lunch.
kachumber

Image courtesy of @babyinacorner via Instagram

snacks

Image courtesy of @kareemashaik via Instagram

Zanzibar markets

A visit to Forodhani Night Market is a great way to the spend the night in Stone Town and explore the street food of Zanzibar. Munch on kachori and skewers of tandoori lobster or treat yourself to a bowl of urojo and the famous Zanzibar pizza while absorbing the buzz of this popular market.

Address: Mizingani Street, Stone Town

When to go: Every night of the week

Also read: Zanzibar nightlife: where to go and what to do

forodhani market

Image courtesy of @jb__huang via Instagram

Spice farms

Zanzibar is laced with blossoming vines and fragrant plantations bursting at the seams with just about every herb and spice under the sun. From the prima donna vanilla and no-fuss cinnamon to zesty lemongrass and powerful turmeric, a tour of a shamba (spice farm) offers an intense aromatic introduction to the ‘Spice Islands’.

You will get to walk amongst the thickets of bush and vines, smell and taste different spices, sample exotic fruits, and learn about their uses and unique medicinal properties.

Notable spice farms include:

  • Kizimbani Spice Farm
  • Hakuna Matata Farm
  • Tangawizi Spice Farm
  • Kidichi Spice Farm
spice tour zanzibar

Image courtesy of @kareemashaik via Instagram

Beverages

What better way to chase a lovely lunch or delicious dinner than with a local brew? These are some of the most popular Zanzibari beverages:

  • Coffee. Drinking coffee is serious business in Zanzibar. Indulge in the spicy notes of Tanzanian coffee at Coffee House Café on Mkunazini Street or Puzzle Coffee Shop on Suicide Alley. But for a truly local experience go to Jaws Corner. It is a small courtyard in the heart of Stone Town where locals meet and mingle over coffee and board games.
  • Tea. The tea in Zanzibar is all shades of flavourful. Find the nearest Babu Chai (tea vendor) for a delicious mug of ginger tea or spiced tea infused with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and red chilli. Sit on the steps of the shops like a true local or seek out Chai Kahawa, Stone Town Café, or Beyt Al Chai Restaurant.
  • Sugar cane juice. Hand-cranked in front of you and spiced with lime and ginger, sugar cane juice is the ultimate refreshment on a sunny day in paradise.
  • Madafu. Drink the fresh juice straight from the shell of a coconut. Keep a small shard of the shell and you can use it to eat the soft fruit inside!

Tips and advice

Some things to remember while exploring the food scene in Zanzibar:

    • Be adventurous and try new things. Exploring food that is unfamiliar is all part of the joy of travelling, so try that slice of durian and give that bowl of urojo a go.
    • Always ensure street food is hot and freshly prepared. A trick to avoiding any nasty illnesses is to stick to food stalls that have queues. Locals know what is good and safe.
    • Be considerate of the local culture, especially during Ramadan when locals are fasting.
    • Cut your waiter some slack if they aren’t particularly dexterous with a wine bottle. Islam is the most prominent religion in Zanzibar so there is a chance he or she does not drink.

Also read: Your guide to the best time to visit Zanzibar

cocktails zanzibar

Image courtesy of @mylifeinzanziba via Instagram

Find cheap flights to Zanzibar and get ready for a journey of gastronomic proportions!

The food culture of Zanzibar is all about indulging your senses. It is a culinary journey that will leave your taste buds begging for more. Let your palate lead as you discover the aromatic magic of Zanzibari food!

Sign up for our newsletter and you will be first in line for cheap flights and the latest travel deals!

What are some of your favourite food discoveries from around the world? Share your experiences and foodie finds in the comments below!

zanzibar vegetarian

Image courtesy of @tastezanzibar via Instagram

Image credits: 

Featured image courtesy of @matclems via Instagram

The post 12 things that will make you fall in love with the food of Zanzibar appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Tech to Take on Your Travels

tech travel phone

In today’s fast-paced and entertainment-heavy world, it’s impossible to disconnect and really let go of our all important tech when we travel. So why not embrace it?

Here’s a list of the absolutely necessary tech to travel with in order to make the most of your vacation and have the trip of a lifetime.

Feeling inspired to book your next trip? Check out amazing prices on flights here.

The Tech to Power Your Tech 

It would be the worst feeling to arrive at the Great Wall in China, Eiffel Tower in Paris or even the Taj Mahal as your phone or camera dies. Take a battery pack or portable charger with you on your travels, and keep that tech charged! Although you can find these useful instruments everywhere, they’re never to be seen when you really need one. So buy one while your still at home and make sure it’s fully-charged – ready to recharge. Plus, they’re so many cute and different types, so grab one that doesn’t attract any sticky-fingers.

The Tech You Won’t Regret

tech travel headphones

There’s bound to be airport stopovers and tons of time spent waiting for trains and taxis, so make sure you’ve got a great playlist and an even better pair of headphones. If you can get your hands on a noise-cancelling set – do it. From Beats to Bose, a lot of brands offer great quality noise-cancelling headphones. Invest and you may manage to get some sleep on the plane. These are also an essential to avoid unwanted small-talk with strangers and for adding a background soundtrack to each part of your journey.

Tech to Make Everything Look Better

travel tech Olloclip lens

Don’t spend your holiday on your phone, but if you’re going to – you better take some amazing photos. It’s also hard to lug around a massive camera unless you’re a professional and used to the extra weight. Do yourself a favour and get a small phone-camera lens that you can put on quickly to make your photos and selfies look great! And if you really want to splurge and own an iPhone 7 – get the entire olloclip filmer’s kit. While you’re at it, pick up one of those collapsible mini tripods – it’s a nifty way to capture more and make holiday-memories look as amazing as they are.

Tech That Keeps Giving

tech, travel, kindle

Although this may seem obvious, your luggage will be lighter with a kindle. It’s the perfect way to take along all your favourite books and make the layovers go by a bit quicker. You can also load guide books about your destination and download PDF maps to have on hand.

Tech That Tracks

travel tech Fitbit watch

Obsessed with seeing how far your feet have gone? It does add an element of excitement to know how much you’re walking and how much exercise you get to do away from home. So if you’re planning to walk museums and galleries, take your Fitbit or Apple Watch along. But if it’s a beach getaway, book one here, leave it at home and work on making that watch strap tan-line disappear.

The Absolute Essential Tech

If you want to keep all your devices alive, make sure you pack a multi-plug that’s guaranteed to get you power. Check your destination’s plug type before you leave and you could save yourself a lot of time and money. There’s no fun in having to use your spending-money on a piece of tech that’ll only be used for a ten-day trip.

travel tech multi-plug map

The Tech You Should’ve Left at Home

Yes, when on holiday your phone should be the first thing turned off and put away but when it holds Google Maps, various translators, calculator and access to all your social accounts – how does one let go?

Why not keep it on airplane mode? Download the maps, get lost in the country’s language and set aside some time each day to share your favourite photos. That way you give yourself a break while keeping your most useful tech on you.

Tech to Start a Party

Start a party wherever you are with a mini Bluetooth speaker. They’re super easy to pack and rather durable. It’s also the perfect way to create a ‘vibe’ wherever you are and show-off some local beats in a new place.

speaker travel tech

What’s some of the tech you can’t travel without? We’d love to hear about your must-have tech essentials you take everywhere you go.

Also, if you’re travelling with your precious and pricey tech, you should take a look at some of our insurance offers.

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

The post Tech to Take on Your Travels appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Don’t Miss These Incredible Islands While Visiting Hawaii

Oahu is one of many coastal oases in Hawaii, and local culture, luxury and natural beauty can be found all around this archipelago. Intrepid travellers looking for the complete Hawaii holiday experience should also focus on Kaua’i, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the Island of Hawai’i

The post Don’t Miss These Incredible Islands While Visiting Hawaii appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Local Insights To The Best Time To Visit Phuket!

The best time to visit Phuket is during its dry season, between the months of November and March. Though it can get a bit crowded during this time and it is the most popular season, the weather is fantastic as you’ll experience warm, rain-free days.

Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular island destinations as it offers white beaches with perfectly-picturesque turquoise waters, great spa services, endless shopping, affordable accommodation and that unique Thai cultural experience! It is in close proximity to other well-known Thai islands such as Phi Phi Islands, Similan Islands, Koh Kai Islands and more. With all of this in mind, you might want to start planning your trip to Phuket way in advance to take advantage of all that this destination has to offer.

Image courtesy of @seliincheeeen via Instagram

Luckily, one of the nice things about Phuket is that the temperatures are pretty fantastic all year long – throughout its wet and dry seasons! Choosing the best time to visit Phuket in Thailand will play a large part in getting the most out of your vacation so let Travelstart help you out on this one.

Book cheap flights to Phuket online with Travelstart and save on the best deals and promotions for your ideal vacation!

Weather and seasons

Phuket, like the rest of Thailand, experiences a wet and dry season. The island experiences a tropical monsoon climate so there are periods of lots of sunshine and beach time, and other times of plenty of rain and enticing indoor activities. The wet season falls between the months of mid-May through to the end of October, and the dry season fills up the rest of the calendar, with cool to hot temperatures from November all the way through to May.

 Average Temperatures for Phuket

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 23°C 23°C 23°C 24°C 24°C 24°C 24°C 24°C 24°C 24°C 23°C 23°C
High °C 31°C 33°C 33°C 33°C 33°C 31°C 31°C 31°C 30°C 30°C 30°C 31°C
Rainfall (mm) 40 28 62 142 323 291 292 272 381 335 186 65
visit-phuket-pineapple-girl

Images courtesy of @sugarhanaposhtel via Instagram

The Dry Season

The popular season to visit Thailand’s largest island falls between the months of November through to the end of May. During this season, you will find Phuket quite busy as visitors from all over the world flock here to enjoy its good weather and perfect swimming conditions. This island destination has an extravagant nightlife scene and if you’re keen on experiencing this unique scene then visiting during the dry season would be the best time to visit Phuket. From beach parties to nightclubs (called discotheques!) in Bangla Road and Patong Beach Boulevard, you’ll be guaranteed a couple of crazy nights filled with a lot of entertainment.

During the dry season, you will also find the peak of tourist activity, which falls between early December to February. This is the busiest time on the island, and you will find that flights and accommodation are at their most expensive during this time. Humidity levels are at an ideal low during these months, adding to the perfection that the island has to offer!

Essentials to pack:

  • Swimsuit
  • Shorts & T-shirts
  • Flip-flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towel
visit-phuket-freedom-beach

Images courtesy of @helga_shik via Instagram

The Wet Season

For those who are less keen on crowded streets, sitting in traffic as you move from one spot to the next and enjoying a more quiet island experience, then the wet season of Phuket is for you! This season falls over a period of five months, with a shoulder period that will almost guarantee you more sun and less rain. The great thing about the wet season is that this is the time when you will save, save and save, making it an ideal time to visit Phuket! Often, hotels and flights have great discounts and an island hotel resort that may have cost you an arm and leg during the dry season will suddenly be available with a 50% discount!

Average rainfall during this entire season is at about 250 mm, but don’t let that put you off as it is known to rain for a while and then take a nice long break before it restarts again. If you’d like to miss the heavier of the rainy days, then you may want to avoid visiting between May, September, and October.

During the wet season, it is not always a good idea to go swimming off the beaches as there are some strong undercurrents at play. Activities may still include snorkelling and boat rides, but make sure to go with a registered guide who will advise you on what would be considered safe or not and to check and take heed of the warning flags across the beaches.

Make sure to check out Travelstart’s flight specials as you could be jetting off to your next holiday destination for a fraction of the usual cost!

Essentials to pack:

  • Swimsuit
  • Flip-flops
  • Light layered clothing
  • Comfortable trainers
visit-phuket-phi-phi-island

Images courtesy of @lgappert Instagram

Daylight hours

Because of its location, Phuket is lucky enough to receive more or less the same amount of daylight hours throughout the year. From around March to the end of October though, you’ll be lucky enough to get an extra 30 minutes or so of sunlight as the sun rises just before 6.00am and sets at after 6.30pm equalling a full 12h30 hours of daytime bliss!

Sea temperatures

Everyone knows that the main reason to visit this beautiful location is to spend time in its gorgeous waters! If you’re looking for the best time to visit Phuket regarding how warm the sea water is then you won’t have much to worry about as temperatures range throughout the year but have an annual average of around 27 °C. Time to dive in!

best-time-to-visit-phuket-diving

Images courtesy of @tristan9659 via Instagram

How much are flights to Phuket?

Peak season: December to February

Phuket is a very popular holiday destination with visitors from all over the world. With that in mind, it is not uncommon to pay 50% more for flights during the peak season as opposed to the low season. Of course, you could definitely save on flights by booking in advance!

Shoulder season: March to May

The shoulder season may be the best time to visit Phuket for a number of reasons, including enjoying all of the peak season delights with flights up to 20% cheaper than during peak season.

Low season: May to November

Don’t let a few rain showers put you off the amazing flight prices that you could save on during a trip to Phuket during the low season. Low season flight prices are often between 50 – 60% cheaper than peak season, and 40% cheaper than the shoulder season.

visit-phuket-find-nemo

Image courtesy of @freebs14 via Instagram

Top activities in Phuket

There are probably more than 100 amazing things to do in Phuket that will keep you entertained and happy for a long, long time. If, however, you’ve only got a few days or weeks to spend on this magical island, make sure to try some of Travelstart’s list of top activities in Phuket.

Relax at The Beaches

The island is known for its beautiful beaches, so it only makes sense that you’d spend many of your hours in this dreamy location, soaking up the sun and enjoying the warm water that the island offers. Popular choices include Patong, Lakuna and Kata Noi beaches.

Visit Big Buddha

Behold his great big belly! The Phuket Big Buddha stands 45m tall and is one of the most famous landmarks to visit, found on top of the Nakkerd Hills.

Enjoy Island Hopping

Phuket is perfectly situated to enjoy some fantastic island hopping! Enjoy a full day (or more!) as you move from one island to another that usually include the picture-perfect Phi Phi, Koh Khai, Similan and James Bond Island (Pang Nga Bay), and many, many more.

Go Diving

Discover the sublime underwater world of this destination as you experience swimming with turtles, ray and various other marine beauties. There are numerous types of trips, from newbie courses to certified divers only activities for you to enjoy.

Lose Yourself After Dark

There are so many things to do once the sun goes down in Phuket that you’ll be spoilt for choice for sure! You can visit the night markets and taste some of the most divine treats or go crazy as you make your way down Bangla Road and the Patong Beach strip.

Indulge in Phuket’s Dishes

Whether you like learning to create new dishes or simply enjoy eating Thai food, do yourself a favour and join a cooking class while in Phuket. Fresh local ingredients and aromatic herbs and spices will have you returning to your home country and cooking up a storm!

Visit Monkey Hill

The tallest hill in all of Phuket, you’ll be able to make some furry friends while enjoying the astounding views from the hilltop. There are about 400 macaques that live in the area and you’ll be spoilt for choice for photo opportunities.

best-time-to-visit-phuket

Images courtesy of @ajinkyakulkarni4 via Instagram

Phuket Annual Festivals

If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Phuket is in terms of enjoyable and fun activities, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s always something happening on this wonderful island.

Chinese New Year – February

Phuket has a strong Chinese community and if you’re lucky to be on the island over this New Year period, you’ll be in for a great time as buildings and houses are ordained in red decorations, there’s plenty of tasty bites to sample and of course, many parades to join in on.

Songkran Festival – April

If you enjoy being splattered with water on a hot summer’s day then you’ll really enjoy the Songkran Festival which celebrates the Thai New Year. Songkran is a fun and active time to be on the streets of Phuket, and you can join the locals with water-guns, buckets of water and other fun activities.

Phuket Gay Festival – April

This LGBT festival is one of the most fun and flamboyant on the island. People from all across Thailand come to join in the celebrations and you can expect lots of colourful costumes and shows. Make sure to bring your camera for this one!

Kathu Street Festival – July

Enjoyed on the streets of the Kathu area, this festival brings about all of the good things you love about markets in Phuket. Traditional Thai dishes, exhibitions, stage shows and many more things can be found in this usually quiet village area.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival – October/November

During the 9th lunar month each year, one of the most auspicious festivals takes place in Phuket to celebrate this event. Held over the period of a week, you can indulge some of the most delicious vegetarian dishes and see devotees dressed in white, yellow and orange as they praise the many deities.

New Year’s Eve – December

Phuket is world famous as one of the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve. There are numerous ways to partake in this event from high-end hotel parties to street parades, to the well-known beach parties that many tourists come especially to visit!

visit-phuket-patong

Images courtesy of @us_aroundtheworld Instagram

If Phuket sounds as though it’s calling to you, then make sure to sign up to Travelstart’s newsletter as there are many, many great flight specials to get you to this dreamy destination, and so many more!

Been to this awesome destination? Please, tell us all about it in the comment section below!

Featured image courtesy of  @helga_shik via Instagram.

The post Local Insights To The Best Time To Visit Phuket! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Your complete guide on the best time to visit Vietnam

Vietnam is an exciting country bristling with new and curious experiences at every turn. Any visitor to this bewildering country will see and experience things you won’t soon forget. The best time to visit Vietnam can be any time of the year, depending on which activities interest you. Vietnam is similar to but also vastly different from its neighbours, so if you’re planning on a Southeast Asian trip, you’ll find the “same same, but different” slogan doesn’t always apply. Some of the best things about Vietnam are its landscapes, people and history. Once you get stuck in, you’ll find out how beautiful and resilient this country is. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the best time to visit Vietnam based on its weather, attractions, festivals and flight prices.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @a_world_of_backpacking via Instagram

Weather

Vietnam’s weather patterns differ greatly between the north and south. Depending on where you’re planning to spend most of your time, make sure you’re prepared for the weather.

North

The best time to visit Vietnam’s northern region is between March and May, and from September to November when you’ll be spared the full brunt of the summer heat and the cold winter downpours. The period between March and May is Vietnam’s spring season and the countryside around Hanoi is in full bloom. If you’re planning a trip up to Sapa, this is the perfect time as the entire valley is tapestried with emerald rice fields and is any photographer’s dream! Ha Long Bay is especially popular during these months, where you can laze on the deck of your junk boat, surrounded by warm water and clear skies.

If you’re planning to visit Hanoi between June and August, keep in mind that summer temperatures can reach a searing 33 degrees Celsius. Best to plant yourself near a pool with lots of sunblock for those hot, humid days. Summertime in Vietnam is also peak travel season for the locals during school holidays, so best to book regional flights and accommodation in advance. Summer is also monsoon season, so always carry an umbrella and poncho with you for unexpected showers.

The winter months, between November and February, offer cold, wet days where you can spend hours browsing museums, souvenir shops and sipping on traditional cà phê sữa nóng (hot coffee) in cosy corner cafés.

Average temperature & rainfall levels per month in Hanoi:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 15 15 18 21 24 25 26 26 25 22 19 15
High °C 19 19 23 26 31 32 32 32 31 28 24 21
Rainfall (mm) 16 30 37 87 196 240 312 338 252 116 40 20

What to pack:

  • Light cotton clothes (summer)
  • Warm duffel jacket and boots (winter)
  • Rain jacket
  • Good walking shoes
  • Sunblock
  • Backpack

best time to visit vietnam

Central

Vietnam’s central region experiences more of a coastal climate. If you plan on biking through the central highlands down to Da Nang, make sure you plan your trip for between January and August. The area experiences heavy rains in October/ November, while May and August are particularly hot months. Hoi An hardly encounters heavy showers, and is especially beautiful between February and July when the old town and beaches are humming with activity.

Average temperature & rainfall per month in Da Nang:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 19 19 21 23 24 25 25 24 24 23 21 20
High °C 24 26 27 30 32 34 34 33 31 29 27 25
Rainfall (mm) 107 41 30 31 58 81 73 113 360 553 401 227

What to pack:

  • Light cotton clothing
  • Good walking shoes
  • Beach gear
  • Sunblock
  • Backpack
  • Enough money to have a piece of tailor-made clothing made (Dong/ US Dollars)

image courtesy of @luckypaul via Instagram

South

The best time to visit Vietnam’s southern region is between December and April. Unlike its northern counterpart, the south experiences consistently warm temperatures throughout the year, peaking at around 34 degrees Celsius between February and May. The balmy summer days are ideal for gazing across the skyscrapers from one of the dozens of swanky rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City. The dry season runs from January to April; June to November sees the most rain showers occurring in the afternoon. Don’t worry about the rain affecting your travel plans – the lush green countryside is well worth exploring in full bloom.

Average temperature & rainfall per month in Ho Chi Minh City:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 22 23 24 26 26 25 24 25 25 24 23 22
High °C 32 33 34 34 34 32 32 32 31 31 31 31
Rainfall (mm) 10 10 10 40 140 140 180 190 170 190 160 120

What to pack:

  • Light cotton clothing
  • Good walking shoes
  • Backpack
  • Sunblock

best time to visit vietnam

No matter where you’re travelling in Vietnam, make sure to always pack in a small first-aid kit, mosquito spray, wet wipes and a universal adaptor.

How much are flights to Vietnam?

Peak season (June-July)

High season for South Africans travelling to Vietnam is typically in June and July. While this is peak travelling season for South Africans due to school holidays, the Vietnamese school holidays also overlap at this time. Prepare for busy airports and full flights, especially if you’re planning on exploring more of Southeast Asia while you’re there. If you’re looking to travel on the cheap, this period, as well as during Tet (early February), may not be the best time to visit Vietnam. You’ll find many hotels and flights booked up if you leave it to the last minute. With lots of people on the move, your best bet is to plan ahead to score some good deals on flights and accommodation.

Shoulder season (February-April)

Save around 17% on flights by travelling between February and April. This is the perfect time to take advantage of great savings and having Vietnam’s attractions all to yourself before the summer crowds set in.

Low season (September-October)

The best time to visit Vietnam is during the low season, between September and October. This is the cheapest time to fly to Vietnam, and you can save up to 25% on airline tickets. Not only can you save big on flights, but you’ll be competing with fewer crowds throughout your holiday too! Make sure you check out our flight specials page for our latest flight deals to Vietnam.

best time to visit vietnam

Top things to do in Vietnam

Whether you’re exploring the north or south, there are plenty of wonderful things to do in Vietnam. While you may not get around to seeing everything, here a few iconic things that you simply have to add to your itinerary:

Museums & History

Still recovering from a war-torn past, Vietnam is brimming with history, art and culture that is hard to miss. Hanoi offers you many museums, some of which include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoa Lo Prison and the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Be sure to check out the War Remnants Museum, Saigon Central Post Office and Cu Chi Tunnels around Ho Chi Minh City.

Hoi An

You’ll fall in love with Hoi An’s charm the moment you get there. From its ancient city to its long beaches and fishing villages, exploring this lantern-filled town is one of the best things to do in Vietnam. You can easily spend a good couple of days sipping coconuts along An Bang beach after a fun day of walking around the old town shopping up a storm and indulging your taste buds. Don’t leave without getting something tailor-made!

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @appetite_for_travel_ via Instagram

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a network of caves, waterfalls and underground rivers. Zipline and kayak through fascinating stalactite and stalagmite formations, or trek through the lush jungles, adding in a farm stay at the ethnic minority villages.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @chrisdanlarsson via Instagram

Ha Long Bay

Spend one or two nights on the junk boats to experience the awe of waking up in the middle of the ocean surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. Ditch the tourist traps on Cat Ba Island and hire a scooter to tour the island at your own pace. If Ha Long Bay is on your itinerary, the best time to visit Vietnam is during April/ May and September/ October.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @antoniogabric1 via Instagram

Sapa

Spend a good few days exploring the rice fields and minority villages of Sapa. Climb up the famous Fansipan for incredible views of the valley. Alternatively, hire a bike and drive the scenic loop further north to Ha Giang where the breathtaking landscapes remain unrivalled. This is one epic bike journey!

best time to visit vietnam

Ban Gioc-Detian Falls

Straddling the border of China and Vietnam, lie these idyllic waterfalls. Like a scene straight out of a movie, the falls are surrounded by green canopies of lush rainforest where you can swim between the rock pools. This off-the-beaten-track adventure is definitely one of the unique things to do in Vietnam.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @vietnaminspiration.be via Instagram

Explore the Architecture

Vietnam’s architecture is enough to keep you distracted as you walk the city streets – you’ll find yourself curiously engrossed in the buildings and alleyways along the way. Ancient French, Chinese and Indochina designs are juxtaposed with modern skyscrapers. Some notable places include the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica and Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City, the Imperial City in Hue and Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Mai Chau

If you’re skipping Sapa and have a few extra days to spare, a trip down to Mai Chau is a must! Spend a few nights between homestays and meet the local villagers as you cycle your way through the beautiful rice fields. A relaxing time-out from the city bustle!

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @wandererreturns via Instagram

Mekong Delta

Wade through a labyrinth of rivers and rice fields as you canoe past floating markets, water buffalo, sugar-cane groves, fruit orchards and locals scurrying about their daily lives. Known as Vietnam’s “rice bowl”, a tour of the Mekong is one of the things you simply have to do in Vietnam. The best time to visit Vietnam’s Mekong region is between December and April.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @ceoltravels via Instagram

Eat the Street Food

Don’t knock it ‘til you try it – as the saying goes. While some of the street food may look questionable, this is your ticket to get a real taste of the country. Avoid typical Western food and touristy restaurants; instead, pull up a chair at your nearest bia hoi for some local treats.

Check out this handy guide on Vietnamese street food.

best time to visit vietnam

Annual festivals

If you’re considering the best time to visit Vietnam, think about planning your trip around some of these festivals to experience the vibrancy and culture of the local people.

Tet Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year) – January/ February

Hanoi is the best city to enjoy this festival, where the locals ring in the New Year over 15 days. Temples are bursting with visitors at this time of year, and the streets are filled with incense, and red and gold decorations. Watch the vibrant fireworks from a rooftop bar or join in the street parties down below.

Danang International Fireworks Festival (DIFF) – April

A dazzling performance of fireworks displays from local and international participants, this festival sees the city light up in spectacular colours and creativity. Each year has a different theme, so pull up a chair along the eastern side of the Han River for the best seat in the house.

Hue Festival – April-May (every two years)

A fanfare of art exhibitions, film screenings, boat races, kite flying, street performances, fashion shows and poetry showcases is what you can enjoy if you find yourself in Hue between April and May. The next Hue Festival takes place in 2018.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @queenielele via Instagram

Mid-Autumn Festival – September

In honour of the full moon, this colourful festival lights up the streets with lion dances, street performances, food markets and paper lanterns. The best place to witness the extravaganza is in the Ancient Town in Hoi An, where art exhibitions and lanterns fill the cobbled streets.

Quest Music Festival – November

Vietnam’s ultimate music festival, Quest is an outdoor festival spanning three days of music, costume parades, crafts and an all-around good time. With this festival drawing a large expat crowd, you can expect varied genres and styles to keep you dancing all weekend long.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @didi_vixen via Instagram

Hoi An Lantern Festival (14th day of each lunar month)

If you find yourself in Hoi An during this time, what a treat! The Ancient Town is lit up with hundreds of colourful lanterns and candles, while the streets are filled with traditional music, poetry readings and lantern-making classes. You can’t help but be swept up its picturesque romance.

best time to visit vietnam

image courtesy of @feedobem_oficial via Instagram

With South Africans able to get a Vietnamese visa on arrival or apply online, there is no excuse why Vietnam should not be next on your travel bucket list! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest flight specials to Vietnam. The best time to visit Vietnam is now, so book your tickets and discover a world of untouched splendour!

Have you travelled to Vietnam? We’d love to hear about your trip highlights in the comments below.

Feature image courtesy of @_don__pablo via Instagram

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