18 Best Hotels near Suvarnabhumi Airport

Suvarnabhumi Airport, also known as “Bangkok Airport”, is a major international terminal that hosts millions of travellers each year. Whether you’re flying to Bangkok for a holiday or passing through on your way to another country, you’ll likely fly in or out of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The post 18 Best Hotels near Suvarnabhumi Airport appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Unmistakably Gippsland: Incredible Experiences for Your next Weekend Getaway

Renowned for its natural beauty, Gippsland is a unique destination that awaits your discovery. Cool temperate rainforest gives way to pristine beaches while intimate seaside villages attract the city’s renowned chefs, who serve up produce fresh from the ocean.

The post Unmistakably Gippsland: Incredible Experiences for Your next Weekend Getaway appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Where to Stay & Play in Singapore on a Family Trip

Singapore’s diverse neighbourhoods, such as Marina Bay, Riverside and Chinatown, offer their own enticing family attractions. From the theme parks and coastal entertainment on Sentosa to the world’s first nocturnal zoo and futuristic waterfront arts venues, Singapore dishes out family-friendly entertainment from all angles.

The post Where to Stay & Play in Singapore on a Family Trip appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Standby Flights – A Guide on All You Need to Know

Have you ever tried to show up at the airport (such as Heathrow Airport) without a booking with the hope of buying a flight ticket at the counter? Or did you miss your flight, and wondered if you could get the next one at a cheaper rate or for free? Actually, that’s what standby flights used to be. So, now you’re probably confused about what a standby flight is, what it means and wondering how you might be able to get one. Relax, and let us answer all your questions about standby flights with this guide explaining everything you need to know.

standby flights 1

Image credit: courtesy of @mackie_photo_airplane via Instagram

What is a standby flight?

The nature of standby tickets has changed drastically in South Africa over the last few years.

Standby Tickets Then

A standby flight was a term that was used to describe the ticket you would need to get after you missed a flight. An example would be: you missed your connecting flight, then your airline would accommodate you by issuing you with a standby ticket for the next available flight.

Perhaps you arrived at an airport (Dubai International Airport) without a booking. You have a sunny destination in mind, but you’re on a budget, and you’re looking for a last-minute flight (such as those you can still get today in Europe).

Alternatively, you may have arrived too early for your scheduled flight, and you’re requesting to take a flight that leaves earlier. You could then get a standby ticket for a much cheaper price (or even for free!).

Standby Tickets Now

Airline companies have become more efficient with the booking process. It no longer works to simply show up at the airport without a ticket and expect to get a cheap, last-minute flight (in South Africa).

Today, flying on standby has a different meaning. Let’s say, you need to catch a plane that’s departing from Cape Town International Airport. It may happen that there are too many passengers on the plane. The airline can offer you an alternative flight, that can be classified as a standby ticket.

standby flights 2

Image credit: courtesy of @capital.aviation via Instagram

How can you get a standby flight?

Nowadays, only airline staff, their family members and selected travel agents are eligible for standby flights. Although they are required to pay a discounted fare, at the discretion of the specific airline.

Before you start getting jealous, think about this scenario. Let’s say, a flight’s about to depart in a few minutes, and then staff members need a seat, but the plane is full. Standby ticket holders have a higher chance of getting off-loaded. Catching a standby flight might sound like a good idea, it’s not always a pleasurable experience. When it was possible to get an earlier flight at a reduced cost, you still wouldn’t get the best seats on the plane.

standby flights

Image credit: courtesy of @leecher1 via Instagram

Are standby flights cheaper?

In the past, flying on standby was a budget adventure when you could show up at the airport and get an amazingly cheap standby ticket for the next immediate flight.

But today, missing your flight, or changing to an earlier flight, will ensure you pay the full price of the date change penalty. This is subject to availability on the new flight date or time (there may be cheap tickets among the last bunch, but they usually sell out first). Find out what you can do if you miss your flight.

If it’s a cheap airline ticket you’re after, rather book cheap flights with us!

standby flights 4

Image credit: courtesy of @lhyv.92 via Instagram

Are there alternatives?

If you used to be someone who enjoyed the flexibility of standby tickets, then the closest option to standby flights is our flexi tickets. They allow you one FREE date change after you book your ticket. Take note that the new departure time must be at least 24 hours after your request. You will have to pay in the difference if there are no seats left in the same fare and cabin class of your original booking or there has been an increase in taxes.

Get other ways to find cheap flights by scoring discounts on airline tickets.

standby flights 6

Image credit: courtesy of @guanchecelta via Instagram

Standby flights were a big deal in the past and are now much harder to come by. But there are still ways to fly to your dream destination when you want. Stick to your confirmed flight ticket for peace of mind and a relaxing travel experience. Find out the best time to buy an airline ticket to ensure you score the cheapest tickets for your trip. So, where do you plan to go next? Do you long to discover the classical culture of Europe? Or do you wish to immerse yourself in the exotic scenes of South America? Wherever it is, simply book a flight to your next dream destination with Travelstart and let us ensure you have a wonderful holiday experience.

Stay updated with our latest flight specials by subscribing to our newsletter for great deals and travel tips!

All information on this 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 information from this website.

The post Standby Flights – A Guide on All You Need to Know appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Amsterdam on a Dime

If you’re heading anywhere near the Netherlands soon, you should definitely take a trip to Amsterdam. This tulip-filled town has so much to explore with art, bicycles and cheese!

But, things can add up so if you’re looking for some ways to enjoy Amsterdam on a dime (for less), here are some suggestions:

Time is Money – Book in Advance

Amsterdam is home to some of the world’s most priceless art and exhibitions. It’s also the home of Heineken and where Anne Frank once lived. However, these are galleries and sites are extremely popular and you could find yourself wasting precious travelling-time waiting in line. So, try book online for the places that you know you want to visit and you could even save some money. For example, if you book Heineken Tour in advance, you could save up to €6 (Approx R87).

Tip: You can purchase the I amsterdam Card online. There’s a range of prices for different amounts of time and it includes many sites and tours. So, if you love art or history it might be wise to invest. The card also includes some public transport routes, so you could save even more.

Picnic in the Park

Amsterdam, Park

The grocery stores in Holland are like the delis of your dreams. From fresh produce to more cheeses than you can name, you’ll be able to find something delicious to suit your palette. Fill up a basket with delicious snacks (even grab a beer as they’re sold in supermarkets) and have a picnic in one of Amsterdam’s famous parks.

Tip: If you’re in the Museum Quarter, visit the Supermarket with the grass roof to grab some lunch and sit on the lawns by the famous ‘I amsterdam’ letters.

Travel Cards that Save

Amsterdam_Transport

Another great money-saving tip is to pre-purchase a travel card for the city’s metros, trams and busses. Depending on how long you’ll be in the city and how much you plan on walking/cycling, a travel card may be worth your while. There are two popular options, the disposable time-based card which start at €7.50 (Approx R110) for 24hours or the ‘anonymous’ reloadable card which also costs €7.50 (Approx R110) for the card which you then load with credit.

Tip: Unless you’re planning to visit Amsterdam again soon, get a disposable time-based card. For 48hours, it’s €12.50 (Approx R182). And just remember that neither of these cards get you to/from the airport.

Ask a Local Where to Eat

The Dutch are a pretty friendly crowd and they’re definitely proud of where they live and what they eat. So, if you’re looking for somewhere to eat that’s a bit off the beaten track, ask a local. And if you ask them to be kind to your wallet, they’re sure to send you in the right direction.

Amsterdam_Bakery

Tip: Amsterdam is a bit of a cultural cuisine mix. So, if you don’t get a local recommendation, head to China Town for some reasonable and exciting meals.

Save Money and See a Show – Also, Student Cards!

The people of Amsterdam value culture and a lot of the arts put on free performances and displays for the public to enjoy. Look up the days that you’ll be there and you could have the chance to watch a live performance without breaking the bank. For example, every Tuesday during Summer, the National Opera and Ballet perform a free lunch-time concert in a park near-by.

Tip: If you’re a student, don’t leave your student card behind. Most tourist experiences throughout the city offer a student discount – meaning you could save some serious buck.

Cycle Everywhere – It’s the best way to explore the city

Amsterdam_Old_Town

When in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do. And that means cycle! For around €7 (Approx R101) a day, you can hire your very own bicycle. It’s possibly the best way to explore the city but do be careful on the roads if you’re not used to cycling.

Tip: Your ID and a deposit will be required at most bicycle rental shops. Make sure to take them with and once you’re there, a rentable bicycle should be very, very easy to find.

Trip to the Market

Don’t get your gifts from expensive tourist shops or high-end stores. Instead, visit one of Amsterdam’s many street markets where you’ll find all sorts of things ranging from painted clogs in bags to bicycle bells and accessories. While you’re at one of the markets, make the most of the street food around you. It’ll be amazing for your tastebuds and pocket.

Amsterdam_Market

Tip: Check out the Albert Cuyp Market in De Pijp. Close to the Heineken Experience and 10 mins from the Museum Quarter, this is the largest day-market in Europe, filled with tons treasures waiting to be found.

Amsterdam_Market_2

So there we are, a few money-saving tips for while you’re in Amsterdam. Now check out some of our specials, book your flights  and start planning your next trip.

Do you have any other budget-friendly tips for Amsterdam? Let us know in the comments below.

Amsterdam_Ferry

*Photo Credits: Michael-Ray Erasmus, Michele Fry

*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 Amsterdam on a Dime appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Uncover the Best Time to Visit Croatia

Croatia is a very seasonal destination. Deciding when the best time to visit Croatia is, largely depends on what you’d like to experience. If you’re after a bustling Mediterranean coastline humming with tourists, summer cafés and a vibrant party scene, June to September is when the coast comes alive with summer festivities. If, on the other hand, you’d like to escape the swarming crowds, visit Croatia during its shoulder season (April-June, September-October).

best time to visit croatia

Weather

If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Croatia’s beautiful attractions is, keep in mind that the weather inland is very different from the weather on the coast. Croatia essentially experiences two climates – Mediterranean along the coast, and continental inland.

Northern Croatia

May (spring) and September (autumn) are fantastic months for hiking and exploring Croatia’s outdoors. Risnjak National Park and Medvednica Nature Park are spectacular hiking spots, showing off Croatia’s picturesque interior in the way of waterfalls, forests, caves and canyons. Look out for scenic bicycle trails – cycle tours are popular during the cooler months of spring and autumn.

best time to visit croatia

image courtesy of @iva07idassa via Instagram

Zagreb is a haven of art, culture, food, music and architecture – the perfect mix to spend your days enjoying this vibrant city. Summertime is fairly quiet as locals head down to the sea, and you can enjoy walking the streets at your own pace. Between May and August, Jarun Lake is the place to be, where swimming, sailing and lakeside discos set the tone. Summer days reach a balmy 27°C, while nights dip to a cool 15°C. Unlike down south, summers in Zagreb attract higher rainfall, so be sure to pack in a raincoat.

For a more active and adventurous holiday, the best time to visit Croatia’s northern parts is between May and September.

If you’re into skiing and huddling in cosy cafés, then February is the perfect time to hit the slopes. Winters are generally dry and icy, so pack in your gloves and beanie. Experience the festive ring in the air during December and January, particularly in Zagreb, Rijeka and Istria.

Average Temperatures in Zagreb:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C -3 -2 1 6 10 14 16 15 12 7 3 -1
High °C 3 6 11 17 21 25 27 27 23 16 9 5
Rainfall (mm) 55 48 55 68 88 101 90 91 86 84 91 73

Summer Daylight Hours: 05:00 – 21:00

Winter Daylight Hours: 08:30 – 17:30

Southern Croatia and the Islands

Croatia’s coast is home to 1,200 islands. Croatia’s southern towns and islands heave with the magic of summer. Popular islands like Hvar, Korčula, Mljet, Vis and Pag, hum with tourists all summer long where historic towns and holiday resorts dominate the landscapes. Even just the trip to these islands is a treat in itself, where white cliffs and olive green hills jut out above the sparkling Adriatic.

best time to visit croatia

Dubrovnik is a hub of activity all year long, especially during peak season. To experience its thrill and al fresco atmosphere, the ideal time to visit is between June and August. Daytime temperatures can reach a high of 29°C, while evenings cool down to around 18°C.

Follow the road less travelled and make your way up along the northern coastline. Northern Dalmatia offers a wonderland of activity and history in the way of tumbling waterfalls, dense alpine forests, Roman ruins, and curious islands dotted with salt pans, 7th century ruins, fishing taverns and waterfront cafés. Temperatures in summer average 20-23°C and drop to around 6°C in the heart of winter.

Windsurfers can enjoy optimal conditions in early June and early August.

The months between October and May see many hotels and tourist attractions along the coast shutting down for the winter, with very few ferries operating between the islands. However, you can score great deals on accommodation in Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, with hotels often being up to 50% cheaper than during peak summer.

If long, sunny days spent exploring shimmering beaches and islands, with romantic sunsets heading into a heaving nightlife are right up your street, the best time to visit Croatia’s sparkling coast is in summer.

Average Temperatures in Dubrovnik:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 6 6 8 11 14 18 21 21 18 14 10 8
High °C 12 13 14 17 21 25 29 28 25 21 17 14
Rainfall (mm) 139 125 104 104 75 48 26 38 101 162 198 178

Summer Daylight Hours: 05:00 – 21:00

Winter Daylight Hours: 07:00 – 17:00

best time to visit croatia

image courtesy of @_the.ana_ via Instagram

Essentials to Pack

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Swimming costume
  • Windbreaker/ light raincoat
  • Light clothing
  • Water shoes (for rocky beaches)
  • Good walking shoes (for hiking/ visiting national parks)
  • Day pack/ backpack

Sea Temperatures

If you’re planning a beach holiday along Croatia’s stunning coastline, swimming is ideal between mid-May and October. With July being the hottest month, sea temperatures reach a toasty 25°C. Just remember, beaches will be packed to capacity during July and August with both locals and international tourists. Sailing trips, cruises and snorkelling around the islands are key attractions during this time of year, when the water is crystal clear and teeming with marine life and fascinating shipwrecks. Between December and March, the sea temperature in Split and Dubrovnik drops to around 12°C.

best time to visit croatia

image courtesy of @barbara_diving_center via Instagram

How Much are Flights to Croatia?

Compared to the majority of Europe, Croatia is a very affordable destination. You get to experience European architecture, history, food, music, beaches and scenery at a fraction of the price of some of Croatia’s western neighbours.

Peak Season: July-August

Summer is peak season for pricey flights, accommodation and cruises, and you’d be wise to book at least three months in advance. If you’re planning a cruise around Croatia, expect to pay high prices in July and August, while the shoulder months offer much cheaper cruise packages.

Shoulder Season: April-June/ September-October

Take advantage of fewer crowds and lower prices during the shoulder season when flights with Travelstart can work out to be 12% cheaper than in summer. For cheaper flights, accommodation and tourist attractions, while still getting the full experience, we vote this the best time to visit Croatia.

Low Season: November-March

To score great travel deals and save around 15% on flights and even more on accommodation, winter is your best time to visit Croatia.

best time to visit croatia

image courtesy of @olivia_hudson2 via Instagram

Popular Festivals

Night of the Museums: January (last Friday)

This annual event is held across the country, where for one night only, entrance to museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions is absolutely free. A perfect way to escape the winter chill and get your culture fix!

Rijeka Carnival: mid-January to early-March

Claimed to be the biggest carnival in all of Croatia, this 3-month long festivity includes everything from street parades, ethnic dancing, pageants and masked balls, to vibrant exhibitions and concerts.

Zagreb Festival of Lights: mid-March

Watch Zagreb’s historic centre light up with spectacular lighting displays and illusions. The streets become a symphony of dazzling light shows and audio-visual installations. It’s truly a sight to behold!

Cest is d’Best, Zagreb: late-May – June

Each year Zagreb is lined with six stages, featuring over 200 international performers dazzling audiences with show-stopping dance, music, theatre, art and sport.

INmusic Festival, Zagreb: June

Croatia’s biggest international open-air music festival takes place over 2-3 days on Youth Island, in the middle of Lake Jarun. Expect a line-up of some of the biggest rock artists, like Queens of the Stone Age and Interpol.

Motovun Film Festival, Istria: July

Film buffs will love Croatia’s annual premier cinematic event. European art-house movies, among others, are featured on an open-air screen in the Old Town square. Mingle with local and international celebrities as you party into the weekend.

Croatian Summer Salsa Festival, Rovinj: end-June to early-July

A week-long festival filled with wild pool parties and heady nights of dancing ‘til the sun comes up. Let your hair down and swing to the Latino rhythms as the whole city becomes a dance floor!

Ultra-Europe, Split: July

Europe’s biggest music festival draws the biggest names in electro music and DJs as they bring the house down for three days. If you’re a party animal, this is one music festival you don’t want to miss.

Dubrovnik Summer Festival: mid-July to end-August

A cultural display of art, music and theatre, this festival originated in 1950 and is still a huge drawcard for locals and tourists visiting Dubrovnik. This is the best time to visit Croatia’s culture capital, where artists take to the streets with open-air performances over six weeks.

Full Moon Festival, Zadar: July-August

A delicious treat for foodies and those in search of a slice of local culture, the night of the full moon sees the island of Riva light up with candles and torches. Boats become floating markets where you can sample the freshest seafood, figs, cheeses and traditional delicacies.

best time to visit croatia

Croatia is an eastern European gem, and still harbours its history and nostalgic charm in its towns and villages. Its gorgeous coastline brings throngs of visitors every year, and it is little wonder that it’s fast becoming a tourist hotspot. If summer fun is what you’re after, the best time to visit Croatia is in July and August, while the shoulder season months of April-June and September-October will bring relief to your pocket and see thinner crowds.

If Croatia isn’t yet on your travel list, it should be! Sign up for our newsletter and be the first in line to hear about our amazing flight specials and travel tips.

Let us know when you’re planning your trip to Croatia and what you’re most looking forward to!

Book your cheap flights to Croatia with Travelstart.co.za.

The post Uncover the Best Time to Visit Croatia appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

UNIQUE AND CHEAP EXPERIENCES WHICH HADN’T CROSSED YOUR MIND

As South Africans, we often have the misconception that travelling is heavy on the pocket which requires months if not years to save up for a short holiday.  We’re here to inform you that that’s not entirely true. There are an array of destinations which are totally within your reach. Better than that a lot of them offer activities which are unique, and cheap and easy on the pocket and which might never have crossed your mind.

HUNGARY

A View Never To Be Forgotten

Sitting on one of the many rocky outcroppings of Budapest’s Gellért Hill is a rare chance to enjoy a spectacular view of one of Europe’s great cities while enjoying a few beverages purchased at a local shop. Sitting along the Danube, this hill provides stunning views of the city and river at night, along with many places to sit and relax. Just be sure to get there early enough to find a good place!

Cost: Free

Budapest Metro, The World’s Second-Oldest Metro Is Under Your Feet

Budapest proudly boasts the second-oldest metro in the world, an UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s been running continuously since 1896! Of course, in those days, it hardly seemed necessary or feasible to buy a metro line deep underground, so you’ll find the tracks hiding just below the street.

Lay in the grass under the line somewhere in the City Park and you’ll feel the trains rumbling just below you.

Cost: Free

ROMANIA

As we already established in a previous blog, if you are travelling on a budget, Romania is your best bet and by far one of the most reasonable destinations in Europe. Whether you’re chasing the slopes in winter or putting those hiking skills to good use over the summer, it won’t leave you bankrupt on your return home.

Calea Victoriei

Take a leisurely stroll on one of the most famous streets in the world. Dating back to 1692, shops, cafes, hotels, and restaurants hug this street making for a wonderful day out.

Cost: Free

Jewish History Museum

Before they were driven out due to World War two, this beautiful building was home to 800, 000 Jewish citizens. Visitors are able to get a better understanding of how the Jewish contributions have moulded the Romania we know today. All you need to gain access to this museum is your trusted passport.

While this may not be free, it also includes a walking tour of the city and allows you the flexibility to customise your itinerary to your own preferences.

Bucharest Jewish Heritage Tour

Cost: € 25 (includes 1 (summer) cold or (winter) hot refreshment)

Relax At Herastrau

Who doesn’t enjoy sitting in the park and watching the world go by? Not only is it the largest park in Bucharest but it also surrounds Herastrau Lake where many a romantic boat trip have been taken.

Cost: Free

Lipscani or Old Town

Looking for a night out on the town? With great food, easy drinks and the electric vibe, this old town makes for a fun adventure where one can get totally engrossed in the history of the town known for being the only part of Bucharest left from pre-WWII.
Cost: Free

BORNEO

Malaysia has always held a special little place in our hearts. Between Kuala Lumpur’s buzzing nightlife, to hiking the spectacular hiking trails just on the edge of the city where you can witness an explosion of fauna and flora like no other. Borneo is a different kind of beauty, with experiences you may never have thought of doing.

If you haven’t heard of ecotourism, you’re just about to get introduced to a new world.

Sepilok’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Forget about your traditional artificial surroundings which animals are so often kept. Visit the Sepilok’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where orangutans run free in their natural habitat. These animals will provide hours of entertainment while you and your family marvel at the beauty of this natural jungle. Night treks are also an option providing a totally different experience while you spot nocturnal animals in their relaxed environment.
Cost: R 94 (RM 30)

Bus Trip: R 13 (RM 4)

Experience Indigenous Sarawak

Visiting an Iban (pronounced ee-barn) longhouse is guaranteed to be one of the most unique experiences on offer in Malaysian Borneo.

Visiting the Iban community has become one of the most inspiring experiences one could ask for. This indigenous group still living in Borneo will give you insights into their ancient tribal traditions. While they are in complete harmony with their surroundings, they welcome tourists with open arms and hearts. You are never alone in the jungle when you are in the company of the Iban community.

Although you may feel as if you have been whisked off to the middle of nowhere, you can still enjoy basic amenities like shelter and electricity as you learn about this culture.

Cost: From R 2, 700 (RM 860)

The cost will vary depending on the type of excursion/tour you decide to take.

The TAR Marine Park

If you’re into aquatics and all things water, The TAR Marine Park may just be the place for you. Although diving is always quite heavy on the pocket, can easily satisfy your appetite with snorkelling, kayaking, sunset cruises and so much more. Be sure get in early because the Sipadan Island is in such high demand the government has limited the visitor’s permits to around 120.

Once your day of water activities is complete, unwind your weary body on the Poring Hot Springs. The sulphuric minerals are said to be made up of healing agents dissolved in the water.

Cost: R 780 (250 RM)

Includes:

  • Full-day tour of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
  • Snorkel in a protected marine park
  • Soar over the water on the Coral Flyer zip line

TURKEY

Most would make their way to Turkey to visit Istanbul, and for very good reason. Turkey, however, has a number of other gems which visitors may not have considered making the effort to visit.

Go hot air ballooning in Turkey

You may not have known where it was but we’ve all seen the iconic images of the hot air balloons drifting on backdrop of a mesmerising sunrise. This heavenly experience takes place in Cappadocia, Turkey, in the main city Goreme. Many have travelled far and wide for this experience. It may not be the most reasonably priced of experiences but never a complaint has been uttered.

Cost: from R2, 000 (€ 140)

Be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment. This is an experience which flies off the shelf in no time.

Quad Bike through the valleys of Cappadocia

If projecting yourself into the sky under a bellowing balloon is not your cup of tea, then take a quad bike tour around the valleys Goreme, a beautiful located between the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations that make up this landscape. Visiting Goreme is quite unique and an experience that will be difficult to be rivalled.

Cost: from R 520

Includes:

  • Choice of several departures throughout the day
  • Pickup from a centrally located meeting point
  • Free hotel pickup and drop-off included

SRI LANKA

The most beautiful train ride in the world in Sri Lanka

Travelling by train is probably the most scenic way to travel through a destination, especially one as beautiful as Sri Lanka.

The stretch from Ella – Kandy has become so popular it’s virtually an attraction in itself. It’s really no surprise.

Leaving 3 times a day the train ride is both a beautiful and affordable way to see the country and see the locals carrying out their day to day tasks.

The journey is 7 hours long, however you will find local vendors hopping on and off the cabins at each train station selling local snacks and refreshments. If local street food isn’t your style, then be sure to pack some water and enough sustenance to tide over the 7-hour journey.

One can expect to pay +/- 1700 Sri Lankan Rupee for your train ride which is the equivalent of about +/- R140. Quite a steal for a 7-hour train ride.

Contact the Sri Lanka Government Railway Information website for more information about the train, timetables, and ticket prices.

Cost: from R 140

The Untouched Islands

If eating freshly caught fish day in and day out, renting a room from a local (as there are no hotels on the islands) and simply relaxing and enjoying the local company, then head over to the islands just off Sri Lanka’s northernmost tip. It’s definitely an adventure off the beaten track.

 

Home to just 3,819 people and herds of wild horses, is sleepy Neduntivu (named Delft by the Dutch), the biggest of these islands

PORTUGAL

While known for its cobblestone streets, medieval castles and golden beaches, Portugal can be many things, but let’s have a look at the lesser-known activities which are easy on the pocket and can provide hours of fun

Sleep Under The Stars On The Cliffs Of Sintra Cascais

Get out of Lisbon for a micro adventure and escape to the picturesque Sintra Cascais. Take your tent and warm clothes and select your woodland spot of choice above the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Best time of year for camping is May, and remember a woolly hat, head torch, raingear, sleeping bag and a mat.

Cost: Free in designated camping areas.

 Admire The Eclectic Trinkets at the “Thief Fair”

Literally translated as “thief fair”, this is the oldest flea market in Lisbon and dates back to the Middle Ages. Locals only have to ask for a license at City Hall to sell whatever they please so expect a very eclectic mix, from second-hand furniture to books, magazines, clothing, vinyl records, old black and white pictures, vintage cameras, tiles and antiques. Hagglers welcome.

Cost: € 0 (Window shopping is for free)

 DUBLIN

The Cliffs of Moher

 Looking for that “Climb Every Mountain” feeling? That’s exactly what you’ll get at the Cliffs of Moher. You’ll feel as if you stepped onto the edge of the world – see the rugged cliffs facing the mighty ocean, taste the salt air, hear the birds cry, feel the ancient rocks beneath your feet, smell the wind. You’ll be experiencing nature in a totally different way.

Cost: 

Full Day Tour from Dublin: from R 580 (A 12-hour tour from Dublin)

 

Jump into Dublin’s Biggest Swimming Pool

The most famous bathing spot is on the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove, County Dublin, called the Forty Foot.

Not so long ago this was exclusively a gentlemen’s bathing place and the gentlemen’s swimming club was established to help conserve the area. In the 1970s, a group of female equal-rights activists plunged into the waters and now it is also open to women and children. It might be extremely cold water but it will make for a great conversation piece later.

Cost: € 0

Drink Inside a Restored Cathedral at The Church

When reading about The Church, don’t be deceived. Originally known as the St Mary’s Church which was closed in 1964 and then restored and converted into one of the most unique and beautiful bars and nightclubs in the city in 2007. Be entertained almost daily with traditional Irish music, and then with a resident DJ playing all the latest pop on a Saturday night. Clubbing may not be your thing but it’ll definitely be something you haven’t seen, and quite beautiful we would imagine

If you can dream it, you can do it. Don’t let your finances get in the way of your travels. Subscribe to the Travelstart newsletter and be the first to know about the latest cheap flight deals. No more excuses!

 

The post UNIQUE AND CHEAP EXPERIENCES WHICH HADN’T CROSSED YOUR MIND appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

10 Perfect Summer Getaways in the Philippines

With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is a tropical paradise filled with pristine beaches, exotic ocean life and island wonders, along with delicious food, heritage towns and friendly locals.

The post 10 Perfect Summer Getaways in the Philippines appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Traveller’s Guide: The Best Time to Visit Dubai

The Persian Gulf city of Dubai is renowned for its sizzling sun, loads of action-packed things to do and breath-taking sightseeing, leaving visitors in awe of its urban progressiveness. The best time to visit Dubai is during the cooler months from November to March when you can delight in its tropical desert climate.

Dubai has fast become the most popular city in the Middle East. It is on many people’s travel bucket list. This is no surprise, as it boasts incredible futuristic architecture contrasted with buttermilk desert sands. This coastal destination is a dazzling city in the United Arab Emirates with an abundance of shopping and cultural experiences to enjoy. In addition to the awe-inspiring buildings, including the tallest building in the world the – Burj Khalifa – Dubai’s coastline consists of impressive man-made islands.

Have you been obsessing about visiting this Middle Eastern destination with all its splendour? Well, book cheap flights to Dubai with Travelstart and get packing for this global city!

Travelstart Dubai

Image courtesy of @aysh.j via Instagram

Weather in Dubai

This desert city doesn’t experience much seasonal variation throughout the year. Seasons are distinguished by hot and sizzling. Temperatures can soar up to 40°C during the peak summer, making it extremely harsh for daily sightseeing and venturing through Dubai.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 13°C 14°C 17°C 19°C 23°C 26°C 29°C 29°C 26°C 22°C 18°C 15°C
High °C 24°C 25°C 28°C 32°C 36°C 38°C 40°C 40°C 38°C 35°C 31°C 27°C
Rainfall (mm) 17 28 13 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 16

Winter in Dubai

Dubai does not experience a typical winter as it has sunshine all year-round. November to March is considered the winter season and the best time to visit Dubai. The winter months bring some relief from the scorching sun with cooler temperatures averaging 25°C. Whether you’re jetting off to the Persian Gulf city for its cool beaches, to embrace the exhilarating entertainment or to shop to your heart’s content, the best time to visit Dubai is definitely during the ‘cooler’  winter.

With beautiful weather comes peak crowds of tourists, so prepare for a sea of tourists from around the world. The glorious Jumeirah Beach sees crowds of tourists relaxing on its buttermilk sand and enjoying the warm water. Be prepared for crowds in January and February, a particularly popular time as people make their way to the annual Dubai Shopping Festival. Tourists can expect discounts of up to 75% on some incredible merchandise, including jewellery, electronics and the best fashion.

If you’re after few crowds, mid-November to early-December and early March is the best time to visit Dubai’s attractions, without fighting your way through the masses.

Keep in mind that the winter months are considered high season resulting in high accommodation rates and flights, so be prepared to spend a few more dirhams. If you’re visiting Dubai during peak season you should book well in advance!

Travelstart Dubai

Image courtesy of @jielu44 via Instagram

Summer in Dubai

The summer months (April to October) are characterised by extremely hot temperatures and high humidity. The summer period is the best time to visit Dubai if you wish to avoid crowds. As temperatures reach 40°C and higher, tourists exit the city as outdoor activities become impossible to do and enjoy. If these high temperatures and humidity do not bother you head to Dubai during the summer months. Accommodation rates and flights are cheaper during the off-peak season when temperatures are sizzling. Many hotels will reduce their room rates and even offer free meals to guests at their onsite restaurants.

During peak summer, it’s best to avoid the sizzling sand along the beach. Rather visit the indoor ski resort (Ski Dubai) or the air-conditioned shopping malls where you’ll have endless fun while remaining cool.

How much are flights to Dubai?

Peak season (November to March)

Since the peak season is considered the best time to visit Dubai, flight prices are at their highest. You can expect to pay up to 50% more for flights to Dubai during the months of December and January. Remember to book your flights and accommodation 3 months in advance!

Off-Peak Season (April to October)

The off-peak season includes extremely high temperatures but this is the best time to visit Dubai if you’re looking for cheap flights and accommodation. Book flights and save up to 40% when you fly during the summer months.

Travelstart Dubai

Image Courtesy of @annadosenes via Instagram

Daylight hours

Dubai does not experience much variation in daylight hours throughout the year. From June to July, the sun rises at approximately 05:30 am and sets just after 19:30 pm giving you 19 hours of beautiful sunlight.

Sea temperatures

Sea temperatures can reach up to 33°C during the summer months which is a little on the toasty side when you’re looking to cool off from the sizzling sun. The best time to visit Dubai for swimming is in the winter months when sea temperatures range between 21°C and 27°C.

Annual Events in Dubai

Various events and festivals are celebrated throughout the year making it an enjoyable visit for tourists. Have a look at the fun-filled events that occur throughout the year.

Dubai Shopping Festival (January)  – Over two million visitors make their way to the month-long festival where you’ll get the best bargains in Dubai. Nearly every shop in the city partakes in the Dubai Shopping Festival with concerts, firework shows and more to keep shoppers entertained.

Dubai International Jazz Festival (February) – Held at Dubai Media City this annual music event attracts many tourists. This 3-day event is the longest running music festival in the United Arab Emirates with a stellar international line-up.

Art Dubai (March) – Artists from around the region get to display their work on the preeminent platform. Visitors can interact with art from the Middle East and North Africa. This highly regarded international art fair creates a conversation beyond traditional art and galleries.

Festival of Taste (April) – Dedicated to treating your taste buds, the Festival of Taste incorporates food, drink and music. The 3-day food event hosts some of the world’s most renowned chefs and reputable restaurants. Visitors to the Festival of Taste can watch live cooking shows and even cook with one of the famous chefs in attendance. Do not miss out on the fun!

Motexha Textile Show (November) – Shoppers and exhibitors from across the region make their way to Dubai for the annual trade fair. It’s the largest textile show in the Middle East.

Dubai Rugby Sevens (December) – Dubai plays host to the first round of the exhilarating IRB Sevens Series. Over three days, 16 international teams compete for the trophy. There are various shows and events to keep fans entertained throughout the three days.

Travelstart Instagram

Image courtesy of @dubailifestyle via Instagram

Keep in mind that Dubai is a city that practices Islam. Tourists are encouraged to respect the customs of the people and to always adhere to the laws of the city. Muslims fast between dusk until dawn during Ramadan. You should keep in mind when the month of Ramadan (determined by the sighting of the new moon) will be practised when considering the best time to visit Dubai.

Does Dubai sound like the perfect place for your next adventure? Have you figured out the best time to visit Dubai to get the most out of the city? Then now is the perfect time to subscribe to Travelstart’s newsletter and find out about flight specials to this incredible destination!

If you’ve been to Dubai and would love to share your experience, comment in the section below.

Featured Image courtesy of @burjkhalifa via Instagram

The post Traveller’s Guide: The Best Time to Visit Dubai appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

5 Lesser-Known Greek Islands You Should Visit

Dreaming of spending endless summer days on long stretches of sand, surrounded by azure waters while gorging on authentic meze?

Then book your flights to Greece, apply for your visa and start planning that perfect island-hopping vacay. There’s nothing quite like the legendary yet low-key Mediterranean. And, if you’d like to avoid the crowds and discover somewhere new, take a look at these lesser-known Greek islands that are waiting for you.

Beach, Greece, Islands

Island 1: Folegandros, Cyclades

If you’re looking for somewhere with a landscape like Santorini but without the hoards of cruise ship crowds, visit Folegandros. This island characterises contrast with its dramatic and defensive cliffs that hold up the quaint and picturesque town of Hora. This main town is where friendly locals reside, welcoming tourists and offering up home-made dishes. Although most of the beaches require a form of hiking (or a quick boat trip) they are definitely worth the effort. Get to Folegandros via ferry straight from Athens. Otherwise, fly to Santorini or Milos and ferry from there. Filled with traditional Cycladic architecture and wild landscapes, Folegandros is one place where you’ll get the true Greek experience.

Greece, Islands, Ferry

Island 2: Kefalonia, Ionian Islands

Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands and never feels busy given its size. Once home to the Hollywood set of “Captain Corelli’s Madolin”, the island is picture perfect with its exotic beaches and quaint seaside villages. With a calm and laid-back atmosphere, Kefalonia offers something for everyone; from ancient monasteries and impressive beaches to unique biodiversity and lively nightlife. Kefalonia has an airport, making it easy to reach and there’s always the option of sea travel with a variety of ferry connections. Enjoy this island with family or as a romantic break. Whatever the reason, this diverse place could be perfect as your next island getaway.

Island 3: Kos, Dodecanese

Kos, Greece, Islands, Hippocrates

Located close to the Turkish coast, Kos makes a great day trip if you’re in Bodrum and the perfect stop if your island-hopping through Greece. Kos prides itself in being the place where Hippocrates taught the art of medicine, leaving behind his tree and herbal garden for people to visit to this day. As mentioned, Kos can be reached via ferry from Bodrum as well as from nearby islands. However, you could always catch a flight to the local airport. With an abundance of beaches and a bicycle path that circumnavigates the island, this classic and cultural bliss is a great place to wind down and relax.

Island 4: Naxos, Cyclades

Naxos, Greece, Islands

Naxos is one beach heaven that knows how to take full advantage of sunsets and cocktail hour. The endless stretches of sand and lapping turquoise ocean make this place an unparalleled paradise. Said to be where Zeus was raised and home to the iconic Apollo’s Temple Portara, Naxos is rich is ancient history as well as breathtaking views – perfect for sunset drinks. Food and drink is widely appreciated on this Cycladic island. It’s fast becoming a flourishing farming community, known for producing the island’s acclaimed lemony-tasting, Kitron Liqueur. There is an airport which accommodates short flights from Athens and surrounding islands. Or, hop on a ferry as most main routes go via Naxos. So, if you’re wanting an enchanting island escape, put Naxos on your list.

Naxos, Greece, Islands

Island 5: Halki, Dodecanese

Halki is the smallest of the Dodecanese archipelago but holds as much beauty as its surrounding larger islands. This ancient paradise welcomes visitors into its scenic harbour which gives way to fields of fig trees and landscapes dotted with white chapels. The mysterious island captivates with its artistic flare and colourful homes. It’s no wonder that artists throughout Europe flock here for peace and inspiration. An hour’s ferry trip from Rhodes gets you to Halki. Even if it’s for the day, the art and colours are worth the trip.

Halki, Islands, Greece

So, whichever island you choose to discover, be sure to relax and make the most of the calm climate, exquisite cuisine and rich ancient history.

Any other Greek Islands you think we should add to the list? We’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.

*Photo Credits:

Michele Fry, Amy Uzzell, Graham Paterson, Perla361

*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 5 Lesser-Known Greek Islands You Should Visit appeared first on Travelstart Blog.