Mauritius Vs. Zanzibar: Which is Better?

This is a regular question on the minds of South African travellers seeking a beach escape on one of the Indian Ocean islands. The choice often comes down to these 2 popular options, but Zanzibar holidays are not the same as Mauritius holidays, so the short answer to the question is “it depends”.

It’s all down to your preferences, so we’ve broken it down to help make the decision a little easier.

zanzibar holiday package

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Getting there

Mauritius: If you’re in Johannesburg, there are daily direct flights to Mauritius on Air Mauritius and SAA, and every Saturday on BA Comair. Direct flights are also available from Durban and connecting flights to Mauritius depart daily from Cape Town. Direct flights are about 4 hours and connecting flights are about 7 hours.

Zanzibar: If you’re travelling from Johannesburg, there are direct flights to Zanzibar on Mango several times a week (usually Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). Connecting flights to Zanzibar depart *daily from Cape Town and Durban. Direct flights to Zanzibar are about 4 hours and connecting flights are about 10 hours.

*Note: flight schedules can vary throughout the year due to seasonality.

The winner: Mauritius for convenience all round, but Zanzibar for the price if you live in Johannesburg.

mauritius travel

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The visa situation

Mauritius: The island has been visa-free for South Africans since before the Dodo disappeared.

Zanzibar: The islands and the Tanzanian motherland are visa-free for South Africans.

The winner: It’s a draw. Both are visa-free for 90 days.

mauritius beach huts

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The vaccination situation

Mauritius: Apart from the usual routine and recommended vaccinations, you will not need any jabs to go to Mauritius.

Zanzibar: A yellow fever certificate is required and the islands are at risk for mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria.

The winner: Mauritius.

Read this: Yellow Fever Requirements for South African Passport Holders

mauritius vacation

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The accommodation

Mauritius accommodation has been in the tourism game for a long time and abounds with boutique spa hotels and exclusive luxury resorts all offering a very western standard experience. And although most of the accommodation in Mauritius leans toward the higher end, it also has a great collection of self-catering villas and bungalows that cater toward smaller budgets and the more easygoing island experience.

Zanzibar accommodation is a mix of olde world Arabic decadence and stylish island luxury. You will be able to find beach lodges, wellness retreats, 5-star resorts, humble chalets, independent hotels, and even a floating houseboat bed and breakfast. And although the service isn’t always on par with westernised destinations, the places and staff offer history and the kind of charm you won’t find anywhere else.

The winner: Mauritius if you want luxury, Zanzibar if you want personality.

jafferji beach retreat

Image courtesy of @jafferji_beach_retreat via Instagram

The beaches

Mauritius beaches have that cheery holiday beach vibe where yachts bask in the water, families hang out under palm trees, paddle boarders glide through the ripples, and people stroll along enjoying the warmth of paradise. The backdrop of mountains also creates a gorgeous landscape that makes it even more exotic and surreal. You will probably also encounter honeymooners trying out parasailing and horse riding.

Zanzibar beaches are just as jolly, but you are more likely to find white-sailed dhows perched on the shores and local fishermen bringing in their catch. Of course, there also many beaches where the sand is disturbed only by the gentle lap of the ocean and fringe of tropical trees. And because Zanzibar is more than one island, you will be able to find secret spots where you can live out your castaway dream.

The winner: It’s a draw. Mauritius is known around for its beaches, but many travellers have also gushed about how Zanzibar’s beaches are the best they have ever seen. You will have to decide for yourself.

See: The Amazing Beaches of Mauritius
And then: Where Are the Best Beaches in Zanzibar

zanzibar beach

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The food and drink

Mauritius is a multicultural island that has been influenced by the flavours of Asia, Europe, and Africa. You will be able to try unique dishes such as palm tree hearts and chilli salt fruit, but also familiar dishes such as curry and dim sum. It is also famous for its Creole cuisine and street food scene, so the dining options are plentiful. Who doesn’t want to be able to taste the world in one holiday?

Zanzibar prides itself on its fresh seafood and exotic spices. Although Zanzibar is definitely a paradise for seafood lovers, the distinct Indian and African influences will satisfy spice lovers. But there are also local dishes such as Zanzibar pizza and urojo which are unlike anything you have ever tried before and a great experience if you are feeling a little adventurous with your dinner plans.

The winner: Mauritius because of the diversity, but seafood lovers will enjoy Zanzibar more.

Also read: 9 unique things to try in Dodoland
And this: 12 tantalising things to try in Zanzibar 

zanzibar food

Image courtesy of @therendezfood via Instagram

The activities

Mauritius is super organised and definitely the place to be if you love water sports or are interested in trying them out for the first time. You will find the usual windsurfing, scuba diving, paddle boating, kayaking, and snorkelling, but also unusual additions such as glass-bottom boat rides, undersea walks, aquagym, and water polo. You will also be able to fill your days with golf, biking trips, yoga classes, and shopping. Mauritius also has several bars and clubs if you enjoy drinks and dancing after dinner.

Zanzibar is definitely more focused on rustic relaxation than Mauritius, though you will find a few amazing activities. You can take tours of the spice orchards, something very unique to this part of the world. Equally so is a trip to Stone Town, the ancient heart of Zanzibar which stands frozen in time. Zanzibar also has some unique wildlife like the Red Colobus Monkey which trumps Mauritius’ extinct dodo IMHO. Aside from these, there’s the usual kite surfing, scuba diving, and snorkelling.

Tip. If you have time and want to make the most out of your trip to East Africa, pair a vacation to Zanzibar with a trip to the mainland. The Serengeti and Kilimanjaro are well worth the extra effort.

See: The Great African Experience: Tanzania Calling

The winner: In sheer volume of activities, Mauritius wins hands down; in terms of rare experiences, Zanzibar takes first place.

mauritius shopping

Image courtesy of @chriscorbetphoto via Instagram

For kids

Mauritius is a great holiday destination if you are travelling with kids. Apart from them not needing a yellow fever injection or malaria pills, the flight time is a lot shorter and there are no overnight stopovers or connecting flights. Many hotels in Mauritius also have great kids’ facilities and offer nanny services. Hotels with facilities for children have kids’ clubs, pools, and activities to keep them entertained.

Zanzibar is more suitable if you are travelling alone, with friends, or just with your partner. Along with vaccinations, the flights are longer and some have connecting flights, which could be quite a distressing experience with unhappy kids in tow. There are also a few family-friendly resorts, but many of them are not equipped to look after kids. It does, however, have great wildlife encounters that kids would love.

The winner: Mauritius.

Also read: Tips for Flying With Children

mauritius with kids

Image courtesy of @natalie99james via Instagram

The cost

Mauritius attracts a large number of international tourists, so often the prices reflect the demand. But with tons of amazing half-board and all-inclusive Mauritius holiday packages available and flights leaving regularly from most cities in South Africa, it is easier than ever to experience the ultimate island getaway for a whole lot less. Travelling to Mauritius can be expensive, but it is definitely possible to experience a dreamy honeymoon or tropical escape if you plan it right.  

Zanzibar is considerably less developed so finding cheap flights, accommodation, and all-inclusive Zanzibar holiday packages is much easier. Flights can often be found for about R4,999 and packages for two people for about R25,000. The general cost of living is also considerably cheaper. Zanzibar is by no means a rundown island destination – it also has a number of exclusive beach resorts and hotels that will offer an exclusive private island experience and charge you accordingly.

The winner: Zanzibar.

zanzibar island

Image courtesy of @alnoorhasham2 via Instagram

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Alternatively, get in touch with one of our TS Live agents and let them find the best prices and create the perfect holiday package for you:

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Call: 021 020 0559

zanzibar fishermen

Image courtesy of @jafferji_beach_retreat via Instagram

The verdict

The verdict: Again, it really depends on what you want.

Mauritius is sugar and spice and everything nice. It has a more touristy feel and there are fewer opportunities for exploring beyond the island, but Mauritius is the place that conjures up dreams of searching for waterfalls, drinking cocktails, and golden afternoons frolicking on the beach. And it does for a reason. It is a heavenly place with an abundance of activities and world-class resorts that make it a popular destination amongst people wanting an effortless holiday of relaxation and luxury.

Zanzibar may be less developed and a bit rough around the edges, but it is loved for its culture, interesting experiences, and ornate architecture. It is widely popular with people wanting a more rugged and authentic experience. Zanzibar also gives you the option of exploring the other two main islands that make up the archipelago and the mainland. Zanzibar has a magic about it that is hard to explain but becomes unforgettable throwback stories and inspires tales of romance and adventure.

Both are awesome, but for different reasons. So if you can do both in your lifetime, do it!

mauritius holiday

Image courtesy of @chriscorbetphoto via Instagram

Related articles:

The best time to visit Mauritius
The best time to visit Zanzibar

Featured image courtesy of @benedetta.lecci via Instagram

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5 Croatian islands waiting to be discovered by adventure seekers

Winter is on us in South Africa. And even as we hunker down, Europeans make their merry way to the Mediterranean to swim in the sun. If you’re thinking about catching some rays this winter, look no further than the Croatian islands.

More and more South Africans are starting to explore Croatia as an affordable destination. Even though the Croatian Kuna is twice as strong as our Rand, you will find many things are quite well priced. Expect to pay not more than R25 for your morning coffee and croissant. And depending on where you decide to eat, dining can be very affordable. Buses and many activities can also be inexpensive, which makes travelling around the country and sightseeing very easy.

With over 1000 islands and more than 4000kms of coastline, Croatia really is all about the islands. Here are 5 lesser-known Croatian islands to explore.

Susak

Susak is a gem. As one of the lesser-known Croatian islands, it’s perfect for exploration and adventures. Firstly, the island is small enough to walk a loop in a few hours. Discover the myriad coves and secret swimming spots by scooter or mountain bike. Best of all, it’s easy to imagine that you could be swimming in a spot where no other human has been for a long time.

Croatian islands bay boat

Piskera

Of these islands, wrote George Bernard Shaw: “On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath.”

Piskera is one of 140 uninhabited and protected islands that make up the Kornati National Park. As a result, it’s often used as a favourite overnight stop over point for yachts travelling up and down the coast. Of all the Croatian islands, Piskera is definitely among the most unique; it feels like being on another planet. On the adjacent island is a family run Konoba (restaurant). The owner will pick you up for dinner in his dinghy, where you will probably enjoy your quietest dining experience ever.

Croatian islands Piskera

Solta

Solta is situated alongside one of the most popular Croatian islands, Brac, and is very accessible from Split. However, the proximity to other more well known island hot-spots means that Solta doesn’t draw the same epic crowds as does Korcula and Hvar. The entirely pebbled beaches and translucent water are something unique to us South Africans. We could get used to this.

Croatia island beach

Palagruza

Those adventurous souls amongst us will find the call of nature is strong here. This Croatian island, situated right in the middle of the adriatic, looks like the spine of sea creature coming up for air. Get underwater amongst some of the best diving to be found in Croatia. Although scuba is only allowed with organised groups, snorkel to your heart’s content. On the top of the peak stands a lonely lighthouse. It houses two apartments that sleep four. You can arrange transport to the island from Korcula. So this is the minimalist side of the Croatian islands.

Croatian islands Palagruža beach

Lopud

Sandy beaches are a rare commodity amongst the Croatian islands. Lopud has one, it’s called Sunj. It’s known as being the best beach in the Dubrovnik region, but most people only visit the beach for a few hours and then head back to the mainland. Therefore, Lopud has more to offer the discerning island hopper. Go and light a candle in any of the two monasteries, 30 churches and several noble palaces, all in various stages of quaint ruin.

Terrified of booking flights online? Booking a complicated trip? Travelling in a large group? Want a holiday package and a little lazy to plan? Never fear, Travelstart live is here.They’re just a call away

Where to stay

Virtually all the Croatian islands have at least small populations still living near the ports. As a result, there are usually apartments to rent. So check online ahead of time, especially in the peak summer months of July and August as this is a popular time to go.

Croatian islands tile roof

Getting around

There are ferries and catamarans that operate from the four major mainland hubs of Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. Ferry companies like Jadrolinija are very convenient and well priced. For example: it will cost R440 to go from Dubrovnik to Split and that is considered a long ferry.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure around the Croatian islands now! Sign up for our newsletter and be the first in line to hear about our amazing flight specials and travel tips.

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Romantic Bangkok Holiday: Top Bangkok Hotels with a Private Jacuzzi

Bangkok lures couples in with its memorable cultural experiences, from cooking classes and open-air markets to glittering temples. Offering the perfect setting for a romantic holiday, Bangkok is perfect for sipping Champagne at a rooftop bar, getting the royalty treatment at a luxurious spa or admiring the city from a scenic river cruise.

The post Romantic Bangkok Holiday: Top Bangkok Hotels with a Private Jacuzzi appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

Why you should add Palawan, Philippines to your bucket list

Palawan in the Philippines has become a leading destination for solo travellers, couples and families looking for an island escape. With its friendly locals, unmatched beauty and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder people are flocking to its shores.

Here are 9 reasons why you should visit this slice of heaven in the Philippines. And why you should visit now!

Beaches in Palawan

1. Massive amounts of tourism? Nope!

Palawan has recently appeared on many travellers’ radars because of its remote and untouched appeal. Its natural beauty is on full display with very few property developments and hotel chains stealing the limelight.

However, Palawan is in the early stages of exploiting its natural beauty. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, now’s the best time to visit before mass tourism hits.

el_nido_palawan

2. It’s affordable

The South African Rand goes a long way in the Philippines! The locals aren’t money-hungry and so you get a lot of bang for your buck. Tourists aren’t exploited, and scams are few and far between.

Scattered along the beaches are small locally owned resorts where accommodation is basic, yet affordable. Where else can you pay R500 for a double room, with an ocean view and a delicious breakfast? A full body massage costs as little as R100 and a day of island hopping, including lunch, will only set you back R280!

Book your accommodation now!

Philippines vacation

Photo credit: @janellejose via Instagram

3. The people

Filipinos are extremely friendly, laid back and humble people. They’ll go out of their way to help you and there’s a strong sense of community in the area.

This happy-go-lucky attitude is infectious and has a ripple effect on the tourists who vacation here. People are more relaxed and calm and you’re bound to meet like-minded tourists.

4. The beaches

Comprised of over 1 700 islands and islets, Palawan boasts some of the best beaches in the world. Head over to the fishing village of Port Barton to enjoy its coastline and the untouched beaches. Hop on a scooter and take a ride off the beaten track to discover the unspoilt Nacpan and Duli beaches. Rent a kayak and explore remote islands lined with palm trees.

You can’t visit Palawan and not be fascinated by the sheer beauty of its unique coastline.

Port Barton beach in Palawan

Photo credit: @lettherebelet via Instagram

5. Diving

Palawan is a diving mecca offering some of the best dive sites in the world. The pristine waters are home to a diverse tropical marine life with vibrant coral attracting many adventure enthusiasts.

If you’re not a certified diver, you can opt for a day of snorkelling instead. With crystal clear waters, you don’t need to venture too far from the shore to set your sights on turtles and other tropical fish.

6. El Nido

El Nido is the prize of Palawan. It’s a small, coastal village surrounded by limestone mountains with palm trees dotted all over the coastline. However, the beauty of El Nido extends far beyond its white sandy shores. Bacuit Bay is home to many hidden lagoons, enchanting caves and remote islands.

It’s no wonder the recent season of Survivor South Africa was filmed here. If you join one of the island hopping tours, you’ll have a chance to visit each location. Looking for your own Survivor experience? Why not camp on one of these isolated beaches instead!

El Nido, Philippines

7. Coron

Coron is the epitome of island life. It’s a quieter version of El Nido but with a diverse marine life that will top anything you’ve seen before! The small town of Coron is built around limestone cliffs and the nearby islands are lined with white sandy beaches.

Coron is also home to Kayangan Lake which is said to be the cleanest and clearest lake in Asia.

Kayangan Lake, Coron

Photo credit: @mjmorete92 via Instagram

8. It’s the perfect place to disconnect

Palawan is the perfect place to rest and relax. As with the internet speed, everything operates a bit slower on the island. Whether you spend the day laying on a hammock with a book in hand or venturing through dirt roads with no clear destination in sight, the island vibe will get you.

There’s no rush, no commotion and no sense of urgency. Contentment will consume you, leaving you with a pure sense of happiness.

9. It’s home to one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

A short drive away from Puerto Princesa and nestled under a mountain range lies an 8.2 km underground river.

This subterranean river has recently been named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and is said to be the longest underground river in the world. Join a guided tour and explore this unique waterway with its natural rock formations that make it so extraordinary.

Underground River in Palawan

Photo credit: @geeniee via Instagram

10. No visa required for South African passport holders

The Philippines is one country South Africans can visit without the hassle of arranging a visa. 30-day visa-free is most certainly a big attraction resulting in less time worrying about visas and more time for planning activities!

Check out these other visa-free countries!

How to get to Palawan?

Palawan lies to the west of the Philippines and is often overlooked by tourists choosing to visit the more popular destinations such as Bohol or Boracay.

Incoming flights make a stopover in Manila or Cebu before reaching the capital city of Palawan, Puerto Princesa. From here, you need to hop on a local bus where you’ll spend the next 5 hours driving along windy roads before reaching El Nido.

Book your flight here!

Alternatively, there are direct flights from Manila to El Nido or Coron, but these aren’t as regular and come with a higher price tag.

Transport in Palawan

Best time to visit Palawan

The Philippines has a tropical climate with an abundance of sunshine all year round. However, it’s prone to typhoons and monsoon season is notorious for bringing strong winds and thunderstorms.

The best time to visit Palawan is during the dry months which run from December – May.

The wet season begins in June and brings along frequent rainstorms in July and August. There have also been numerous typhoon warnings from August to October and flight cancellations are common during this time.

Palawan has not yet reached a point where it’s overcome with tourism. Its natural beauty is undeniable with the pristine waters attracting more and more people every year.

Have you visited the Philippines recently? Share your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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

The post Why you should add Palawan, Philippines to your bucket list appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

The weird & wonderful world of soccer

Right in the rush of the games of one of the most anticipated tournaments, the 2018 FIFA Soccer World Cup currently being held in Russia, thousands of football fanatics are cheering, screaming and, of course, crying for their chosen teams. These passionate displays extend beyond just the pitch though, filling up pubs, restaurants, living rooms and fan zones across the planet!

Every four years, 32 national teams come together in one country to compete for who is the king of the pitch. The mammoth task of arranging 64 matches is a seemingly swift and painless exercise for FIFA, but there’s much more than meets the eye when pulling off this grand feat.

Beers are drunk, hands slam down on bar counters in excitement, and best friends and enemies will come together during matches, and as much as the action happens in the stadiums, there’s plenty going in alongside them too! Join us as we look at the weird and wonderful happening of past soccer world cup tournaments…

Soccer World Cup fans

Almost 50% of the world watches the Soccer World Cup

That’s right! Of the world’s approximate population of 7,6 billion people, a crazy 3,2 billion are glued to their screens during the tournament. With about 46% of the global population watching the games, this makes the Soccer World Cup regarded as the most widely viewed sporting event.

South Africa 2010 drunk over 3 million beers!

When we hosted the Soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010, FIFA reported that across the ten stadiums that hosted matches, over 750,000 litres of beer was sold. That is a huge amount if you consider this was just inside the stadiums and fan zones! Don’t you wish we knew how many drinks were consumed in total?

And in case you were wondering, fans that attended matches also managed to devour almost 400,000 hot dogs.

Soccer World Cup South Africa

Photo credit: FIFA

Soccer = Babies

With all the merrymaking and enjoyment going on, there are bound to be side effects. Throw in a few beers, happy crowds and feel good hormones and BOOM! You have a lot of happy couples.

Germany reported an increase of more than 10% of its birth rate after hosting the Soccer World Cup in 2006. That may seem pretty small, but consider that until then, the country’s birth rate had remained completely stable and the entire European Union’s birth rate has only increased by 0,7% since 2006.

When your goal is actually a vehicle

Motivating your national team, particularly when they’re not one of the front-runners, is an important aspect of getting your team to the Soccer World Cup and making sure they perform at their utmost best.

In 1990, the United Arab Emirates took motivation to a whole new level when they promised that every one of their players that scored a goal would be gifted a shiny, new Rolls Royce. The team was inexperienced and nervous but did manage to score two goals before being knocked out of the tournament.

Mysteriously though, it’s not actually clear whether the two players who scored the goals, Ismail Mubarak and Thani Jumaa, ever received their ultra, luxury vehicles.

Soccer World Cup Rolls Royce

In an even more bizarre twist of events, Team Zaire (Millenials, Google ‘Zaire’ at this point) were cheeky enough to try and commandeer, and drive home, a complimentary BMW team bus back in 1974. The team did not, however, get too far, and were stopped in West German territory before their terrible plan could be actioned in totality.

READ: Cape Town’s best sports bars for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Qatar will host the most expensive Soccer World Cup ever

Hosting the world’s biggest tournament means something completely different to Qatar, who is set to host the games in 2022. The host nation plans on spending hundreds of billions of dollars in building infrastructure and tourism facilities in the lead-up to the Soccer World Cup.

So why exactly will it cost so much to host the Soccer World Cup in Qatar? Well, the country has practically zero sport infrastructure and are starting from scratch. But as the richest nation on earth, you need to show off a little right? Qatar’s version of this includes ensuring fans and players are kept cool in their scorching temperatures by air conditioning all of its outdoor stadiums – just one of the major costs for the country!



The original Soccer World Cup trophy was stolen

In a rather confusing state of affairs, the original Soccer World Cup trophy, a gold statue modelled on Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, was lost and never recovered.

Old rules of the Soccer World Cup allowed Brazil to keep the trophy in 1970, after their third tournament win. While the trophy was protected in a case with bullet-proof glass, thieves managed to pry open the back of the case in 1983 and made off with the spoils. It’s believed the trophy was sold off for its gold value and likely melted down.

Who needs boots?

The reveal of every nation’s Soccer World Cup kit is always on the lips of fans in the run-up to the event. Big brands and sponsors spend millions of dollars to have their logos glaring off shirts, shorts and boots.

And while this may be big business, sometimes it isn’t a priority for teams. In 1950, India withdrew from the Soccer World cup before it even began, and while it was never confirmed as fact, the rumours were the withdrawal was because the team wouldn’t be allowed to play barefoot!

Soccer World Cup boots

Kim Kardashian vs Soccer World Cup

Yes, really, it’s a thing. Using Google Trends, TIME magazine has consistently tracked the Kim’s popularity against that of the world’s largest sports tournament through the years. And while of course there are major spikes in search for the Soccer World Cup every three years, Kim K still reigns supreme when it comes to consistent searches since 2004.

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget(“TIMESERIES”, {“comparisonItem”:[{“keyword”:”/m/0261x8t”,”geo”:””,”time”:”2008-01-01 2018-06-13″},{“keyword”:”/m/030q7″,”geo”:””,”time”:”2008-01-01 2018-06-13″}],”category”:0,”property”:”news”}, {“exploreQuery”:”date=all_2008&gprop=news&q=%2Fm%2F0261x8t,%2Fm%2F030q7″,”guestPath”:”https://trends.google.com:443/trends/embed/”});

Imagine being more popular than the Soccer World Cup? Now that’s mind bending…

Have you got any fun facts or stories to tell about the Soccer World Cup? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Beautiful Beaches of Bali – Which Ones Do You Plan to Visit?

The island of Bali is easily one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world! Do you know why? Just look at the incredible amount of Bali beaches! You may not know where to start, with 131 spots along this Indonesian island’s spectacular coastline. But you can relax because we’ve made sure to offer you a list of the best and most beautiful beaches in Bali!

What makes these the best beaches in Bali? Some are ideal for just letting go. Others are perfect for a day out with the family. Then there are those spots that are great for simply relaxing and people watching. Some beaches even offer you exclusivity and quiet waters. Let’s not forget about surfing! A number of Bali beaches have great waves and conditions that will test skilled and aspiring adventurers. Get ready to discover the most alluring beaches of Bali!

main-image-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @balimountainview via Instagram

Western Bali Beaches

Only a small number of Bali’s best beaches are in the west, but they offer the best sunsets!

Medewi Beach

medewi-beach-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @surfwithaldo via Instagram

Sitting along the southern coastline of Bali, Medewi offers, at first glance, a gorgeous and deserted stretch of beach. While most head to this spot to relax, the strong waves it offers are perfect for surfers.

You can look forward to riding long waves at Medewi. The river mouth at the village is also great for launching out to the ocean! Medewi Beach can get crowded with other surfers. The locals are renowned for their friendliness, and you’ll easily be able to get info about the beach breaks around the area. To catch the best winds, time your visit to the beach in the early morning.

How to get there

Medewi sits 75 km to the northwest of Denpasar (a 2-hour drive, but a longer travel period if using a bus), on the main south coast road (Jl. Raya Denpasar – Gilimanuk).

Balian Beach

balian-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @sivern4 via Instagram

Another great venue for surfing, Balian also offers one of the most beautiful Bali beaches in the west!

Balian provides a breath-taking setting, situated at the estuary of the Balian River. It’s the longest river in Bali and one of the best surf spots in the island. The beach offers two other surfing spots, one with powerful waves and the other with long swells. The best time to surf at Balian is during middle and low tide (mid- to late-morning and mid- to late-evening, but this shifts according to every month).

Balian Beach is close to Soka Beach, which is a popular tourist destination if you want to mingle with bigger crowds.

How to get there

Balian Beach is a 1-hour, 30-minute drive northwest from Denpasar. You can take the main south road, Jl. Raya Denpasar – Gilimanuk.

 

You can use this map to find the Bali beaches in the west.

bali-beaches-west-map

Central Bali Beaches

The centre of Bali boasts the most of the island’s beaches. These are the beaches where many travellers flock to. Why? Plenty of beaches offer their own highlights that will cater to your holiday plans.

Seminyak Beach

seminyak-beach-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @marine_mdrng via Instagram

The beach of Seminyak is easily one of the most sophisticated coastal attractions in central Bali.

Over the years, Seminyak Beach has drawn resident expats, which helped the area develop into a fashionable scene. You’ll be close to some of Bali’s best restaurants, entertainment spots and an exciting nightlife scene! During the day, take a stroll along the coast, or rent a sun lounger and just sit back and enjoy the view. When night falls, watch Seminyak transform into a thriving party scene.

How to get there

Seminyak is a 25-minute drive southwest from the city centre of Denpasar.

Nusa Dua Beach

nusa-dua-beach-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @stanley493 via Instagram

At first glance, you might think that Nusa Dua is manmade! That’s because the coastline borders Nusa Dusa’s resort area, with manicured lawns and the sheltering of palm trees.

You’ll find the beach to be amazingly clean and offering plenty of family-friendly restaurants, watersport activities and even a shopping complex! Nusa Dua Beach is the ideal area to bring the entire family. Your little ones will have so much fun and there are many places to cool off.

How to get there

You can access the beach by driving south from Denpasar for approximately 40 minutes, along the Mandara Toll Road.

Padang Padang Beach

padang-padang-beach-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @juliedhalluin via Instagram

There’s a chance you might recognise this Bali beach, especially if you’ve watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love, which starred Julia Roberts!

While the movie’s main character Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love with a fellow traveller, what’s to say you can’t either? You’ll also find yourself getting drawn into the surfer crowds and falling in love with the bright white bay, which is framed by impressive rock formations and world-class waves. There are calmer periods at Padang Padang Beach, guaranteeing you an enchanting scene.

How to get  there

You can reach Padang Padang Beach by driving southwest from Denpasar for just over an hour.

Suluban Beach

suluban-beach-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @kokohjalan via Instagram

This is one of the secret treasures of Bali’s beaches! Suluban Beach remains undiscovered during high tide, but during low tide, it’s the best place for a secret swim.

Set against impressive cliffs, with turquoise waters, you may think you’re in paradise! To get down to this area, walk down the steps at Uluwatu, then through the caves and onto the sand. Low tide tends to shift every month and lasts for about five to six hours. Be sure to check for tide times online around the time you visit.

How to get there

Suluban Beach is a 1-hour, 15-minute drive southwest from Denpasar.

 

Use this map of central Bali beaches to help with directions.

bali-beaches-map-central

Other beaches of central Bali you can check out are:

  • Echo Beach (ideal for relaxing)
  • Jimbaran Bay (ideal for seafood and sunsets)
  • Balangan Beach (ideal for surfing and sunbathing)
  • Sanur Beach (ideal for sunrises and cycling)
  • Karma Beach (for those seeking privacy in a chic setting)
  • Bingin Beach (ideal for a bohemian atmosphere and surfing)
  • Gunung Payung (ideal for photos)
  • Thomas Beach (ideal for secluded beach walks and sunbathing)
  • Legian Beach (ideal for beach parties)
  • Kuta Beach (ideal for swimming and sunbathing)

Eastern Bali Beaches

The beaches of eastern Bali are the best for adventures! Some are even off the coast of Bali. You can feel as if you’re truly stepping away from the world.

Keramas Beach

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Image courtesy of @pantelicaleksandra via Instagram

Words alone will not prepare you for what you will find at Keramas Beach. You’ll have pumping waves in front of you, and the mighty Mount Agung behind you. Thanks to the mountain (actually a volcano), you’ll have a beach with black sands! Won’t that be a sight that will stay with you forever?

With big and fast waves to challenge surfers, you can either test your skill or just watch as the pros ride the swells. With the unique sights of the Bali Sea, black sands and Mount Agung, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities!

How to get there

Kermas Beach is a 40-minute drive northeast of Denpasar.

Amed Beach

amed-beach-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @mic80_ via Instagram

This stretch of coastline is another one of the Bali beaches offering black sands!

Situated on the northeastern coast, Amed Beach isn’t your typical beachfront. But with awe-inspiring landscapes, you’ll have incredible holiday pictures. The beach also offers one of the best diving and snorkelling spots in Bali! You will find the island’s most colourful coral reefs to explore (make sure to avoid touching or standing on the corals, as this rubs off their protective coating and they can die).

How to get there

You can reach Amed Beach on scenic 2-hour, 20-minute drive to the northeast from Denpasar.

Nusa Lembongan

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Image courtesy of @haira_kurnia via Instagram

This island, southeast of mainland Bali, is where you can have all the adventure you like!

Nusa Lembongan is home to the aptly named Dream Beach. Small during high tide, it’s a great spot for simply relaxing on the beach and taking photos. While it can get crowded, you can avoid dealing with more travellers by arriving early. Secure yourself a great spot before 10:00, when the beach is much quieter. If you follow the coastline for a few minutes, you’ll find rocky outcrops where you can take photos. There are even some spots further down the coast with deep water below (great for cliff jumping!).

How to get there

To get to Nusa Lembongan, travel to Sanur (a 20-minute drive southeast from Denpasar). From Sanur, book a trip with a scoot boat. The trip takes roughly 30 minutes and the boat is completely enclosed.

Nusa Penida

nusa-penida-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @travelbali.indonesia via Instagram

Less than 2 km from the coast of Nusa Lembongan is the larger and more popular island of the Nusa Penida district.

Nusa Penida is home to Crystal Bay, a beach framed by palm trees. At this beach, you can rent umbrellas, chairs, snorkel gear and light refreshments. Many travellers and locals consider snorkelling in Crystal Bay to be the best on Nusa Penida, thanks to the clarity of the water. You’ll be able to swim with eels, turtles, brilliant coral, Napoleon fish and parrot fish. During summer (May to September), you may even be able to spot the large Mola Mola sunfish!

As with Nusa Lembongan, travel to Sanur, and book a trip with a scoot boat to get to Nusa Penida.

 

You can use this map to locate the beaches along eastern Bali.

bali-beaches-map-east

A number of hotels are near to these beaches, but should your accommodation be further away, there are bus services, taxis, bemos (minivans) as well as car and motorbike rentals in Bali.

Now that you know about the many exquisite Bali beaches, don’t you have even more reasons to make this island your next holiday destination? Start by finding out the best time to visit Bali, then book your flight and start packing your bags!

For great deals on flights to Bali, subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated with our latest flight specials.

final-bali-beaches

Image courtesy of @joblacked via Instagram

The post The Beautiful Beaches of Bali – Which Ones Do You Plan to Visit? appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

The Best Time to Visit Magical India

India is a charming country abundant with beautiful natural attractions, epic views, historic and spiritual sights, including majestic temples. The best time to visit India’s central and southern regions is between November and March, while the north experiences optimal conditions between March-June and September-November. Each region is very different from each other, so take this into account when planning your trip. We’ve curated an informative guide on the best time to visit India, including its weather, daylight hours, flight prices and festivals.

Travelstart India

Image courtesy of @independentt_traveller via Instagram

Weather

India has three distinct seasons, namely summer (March to May), winter (November to February) and the monsoon season (June to October). Make sure you’re thoroughly informed of the Indian region you’re visiting to get the best experience.

North

The Indian Himalayan region’s high altitude experiences a wide range of climates. It is possible to travel to the Himalayan foothills, including Darjeeling and Shimla, all year round. You’ll experience the coldest weather from December to January, with day temperatures reaching a mere 10°C. It is best to avoid altitudes higher than 1500m between December and February as temperatures can drop to below -5°C during these winter months and the roads are covered in snow. The best time to visit India’s Himalayan regions and foothills is from March to June and September to November.

Darjeeling and Shimla experience monsoon seasons. Expect heavy rain from June to September in Darjeeling, while Shimla’s monsoon season is much shorter, from July to August. If you’re willing to endure the rain, these hill stations can be a blissful encounter during the monsoon season as you’ll skip the touristic crowds and the emerald forests will reward your monsoon-trekking efforts with once in a lifetime views.

Average temperature & rainfall in The Himalayas:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low°C -7 -7 -3 -1 7 11 13 12 7 4 -1 -5
High°C 1 2 6 9 16 20 22 20 16 10 4 -1
Rainfall (mm) 50 40 60 40 50 80 80 90 70 90 70 50
Travelstart India

Image courtesy of @denny_simon via Instagram

Central

Central India has a subtropical climate with notably dry, hot summers and sizzling temperatures, followed by the monsoon rains, and a cool and mostly dry winter. The best time to visit India’s central region is between November and March (winter) when the cooler winter months provide relief from the scorching summer temperatures. However, temperatures in the desert regions can drop tremendously at night in winter. Pack in warm clothing!

During the day, visit popular destinations in Madhya Pradesh when the sun is milder and pleasant weather is the norm. Winter is the best time to visit cities like Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior. Visit the region’s popular palaces, temples and forts. Breath-taking temples in Central India include Chintaman Ganesh Temple, Adinath Temple and Chaturbuj Temple.

The summer months between April and June bring unbearable maximum temperatures averaging 45°C and minimum rainfall. However, if you’re heading to Central India to spot beautiful tigers, March to June is the best time to go to the national parks, including Bandhavgarh National Park.

July welcomes the much-needed rain as the monsoon season begins. Greenery returns as the torrential rains replenish the arid plains in Central India. Most areas should be avoided during the monsoon season (June to September) as roads become difficult to drive on. However, this time allows you the opportunity to see gushing waterfalls in places like Chhattisgarh.

Average temperature & rainfall levels per month in Indore:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low°C 10 11 16 21 24 24 23 22 21 18 12 19
High°C 27 29 34 39 40 36 30 28 31 33 30 27
Rainfall (mm) 4 3 1 3 11 136 279 360 185 52 21 7
Travelstart India

Image courtesy of @sureshkulur via Instagram

South

Southern India has a tropical climate. The region depends on the monsoon season for rainfall. Temperatures are hot year round and seldom drop below 22°C with peak temperatures between 28°C and 31°C. Temperatures can reach 34°C in the region’s hottest months of May and June. The best time to visit India’s southern region is in the winter months (November to February). Take note that peak season is between December and February. Winter offers tourists the chance to experience the cities with mild temperatures ranging between 20°C and 30°C. Breath-taking hill stations (elevated towns), including Munnar and Idukki, are much cooler than the rest of the region, you’ll need an extra layer of clothing for the night time and early mornings.

If you’re exploring the cities in southern India, avoid the hot summer months, as the temperatures can get uncomfortable for walking around.

The summer months, from March to May, are the best time to visit Kerala or Bandipur National Park in Karnataka for viewing elephants as they spend a lot of time at the watering holes.

Consider going to Goa during the monsoon season (if you dare) as the local people celebrate the bountiful downpour of rain. Attend Sao Joa Festival which takes place during June and features locals jumping into wells and colourful floats on the rivers.

Average temperature & rainfall in Goa:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low°C 20 20 23 26 28 27 26 26 27 25 23 21
High°C 31 31 33 33 33 32 30 30 31 33 34 32
Rainfall (mm) 68 68 73 79 82 81 79 79 81 77 73 70
Travelstart India

Image courtesy of @surat_divine_city via Instagram

Daylight Hours

India generally experiences an average of 12 hours of daylight throughout the year in all the regions. In summer, sunrise usually occurs around 6:30 am and the sun sets around 18:30 pm, while in winter the sun rises at approximately 6:30 am and will set around 17:30 pm.

How Much are Flights to India?

Peak Season (December-February)

During the peak season, flights increase by 13% specifically in January and February. It is best to book your flights and accommodation at least 3 months in advance!

Shoulder Season (July-November & March-early April)

If you wish to save on flights and still experience cool weather without the monsoon humidity, consider travelling to India during the shoulder season. You’ll get to see India’s beautiful attractions without the flocking crowds and save on your holiday expenses. Save up to 12% on flights during the shoulder season.

Low Season (April-June)

You can expect fewer crowds and enjoy excellent discounts on accommodation prices. Save up to 14% on flights during the low season.

Find cheap flights to India with Travelstart!

Travelstart India

Image courtesy of @via Instagram

Festivals in India

India celebrates epic festivals that encompass the spirit of the locals. When considering the best time to visit India, keep in mind which festivals you’d love to experience!

Bikaner Camel Festival (January)

The annual camel festival is held in the city of Bikaner. The festival celebrates the locals’ devotion to the camel. The Bikaner Camel Festival affords the perfect chance to experience Rajasthan state in all its wonderful desert glory.

Holi Festival of Colour (March)

The Holi Festival celebrates the arrival of spring and new beginnings. This 2-day festival includes rituals by a bonfire, and a free-for-all festival of colours, where people drench each other in vibrant powder paint. The festival brings the locals and tourists together, elated with smiles and joy.

Krishna Janmashtami (August – September)

This annual Hindu festival celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Locals create dance-drama enactments of the life of Lord Krishna where singing, fasting, a night-vigil and a festival on the following day is observed.

Ganesh Festival (August – September)

Celebrating the Hindu elephant-headed god, Ganesh, this festival sees humongous crafted statues of Ganesha. The statues are paraded through the streets where you can experience joyful dancing and singing.

Diwali (October – November)

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. It is one of the most important festivals in India and it symbolises the victory of light over darkness or good over evil. Diwali takes place over five days with each day symbolising a different meaning. India is an enigmatic destination with so many pleasures to reap on your journey to this wonderfully and spiritually bold country.

Travelstart India

Image courtesy of @vigoronwheels via Instagram

India is an enigmatic destination with so many pleasures to reap on your journey to this wonderfully and spiritually bold country.

Now that you’re equipped with the best time to visit India, sign up to Travelsart’s newsletter and be the first to find out about incredible flight specials to India and other countries.

Have you travelled to India? We’d love to know how amazing your experience was in the comments below.

Featured image courtesy of @travelrealindia via Instagram

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Bangkok’s Best Wats: Guide to Seeing the Temples

You’ve heard all about Bangkok’s exquisite temples, but which ones should be on your itinerary? Here are our top picks for the top Buddhist temples to visit, along with a few other tips as you make the most of your Thailand holiday.

The post Bangkok’s Best Wats: Guide to Seeing the Temples appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

5 countries to get your Football Fix this FIFA World Cup

The world’s most popular sport (Football) is taking place in Russia for the 21st FIFA World Cup, and there will be no escaping the cacophony for pretty much anyone on the planet. Taking place from 14 June to 15 July 2018, this is the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. With 65 matches and 12 stadiums spread across cities including Volgograd, St. Petersburg and Sochi. While Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow is the largest venue with a seating capacity of 81,000. The newly opened Kaliningrad Stadium is the smallest and can only accommodate 35,212 people.

With 32 countries and some of the world’s greatest players competing, there is excitement all around the globe. Whether fans are getting together with friends at home to cheer on their favourite nations or, following their home country in Russia. There are many festivities surrounding the festival of football. Fans who are travelling can supplement their soccer fix in some of these countries:

Brazil

Football Brazil

The five-time FIFA World Cup winners and the only team to play in every tournament since its inception are hoping to avenge the heartbreak suffered on home soil in 2014 where they placed fourth. Home to legendary players like Pelé, Ronaldinho and Zico, futebol (pronounced FOO-chee-ball) in Portuguese is the nations most popular sport. Apart from watching a pelada, an informal soccer match played in the city beaches and streets. Fans in Sao Paulo can visit the museum of Football with 15 rooms that provide a historical perspective through interactive exhibits. In Rio de Janeiro, explore Brazil’s most famous soccer stadium Maracanã, which hosted two FIFA World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Games. In 1950 an astonishing 199,854 fans attended the World Cup finals, but only 74,738 in 2014 as most opted to watch on TV.

England

The world’s first club, Sheffield F.C. was founded in 1871 and since then, there are over 40,000 registered clubs in the country. Furthermore, the country has the oldest international football club in the world, but have only had one victorious World Cup in 1966. The country has a mix of iconic sights and hidden gems, a wealth of activities for anyone of any age and wallet size.Stay at the Hotel Football in Manchester with bedrooms that have 40-inch smart TV (including all Sky Sports and BT Sports channels) and a complimentary snack bar. Dine at Cafe Football and enjoy views of Old Trafford from the hotel.

Football Bourton on the water 

Photo Credit: jackoscarsargent via Instagram

While in London, absorb the history of the Wembley with a stadium tour, where one can enjoy views from the managers benches, experience the tension of the players tunnel and touch the replica of The Emirates FA Cup. Head to Cotswolds where the annual Bourton-on-the-water is held every August Bank Holiday. Locals play a match in a river and it’s free for spectators.

Ireland

Football Irel

The beautiful Emerald Isle is the place to visit to immerse yourself in the completely unique story of Gaelic games. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) focuses on promoting indigenous games. Gaelic football is the most watched sports in Ireland and world’s last remaining amateur sports where players don’t get paid. The game has 15 player teams who aim to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team’s goals. Hurling dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. The game resembles hockey, but played with a shorter stick with a broader oval blade. The GAA museum located at  the fourth largest stadium in Western Europe, Croke Park in Dublin, is the best place to learn about these indigenous games.

Turkey

World Cup 800x600

Photo Credit: @olga.serchenia via Instagram

The country where Asia and Europe has exceptional landscapes, people and food. With four bordering seas; the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea, you’d expect their national sport to involve water. Rather, Turks love football as a result of it’s popularity during Ottoman Empire. With millions of supporters, their popular teams are Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş who offer tours of their stadiums in Istanbul. Turkey was the host of the 2017 amputee football championship where 12 countries competed. For the most noteworthy experience, head to Edirne in the northwest to watch the annual Kirkpinar tournament. This ancient sport of wrestling in olive oil hosted every June.

Spain

Football Spain

Host of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Spain is known for their iconic teams Barcelona and Real Madrid. Picturesque villages and historic monuments make the capital city of Madrid a dream destination. A visit would be incomplete without a stadium tour or live match at the Santiago Bernabeu. Named after the Real Madrid club’s president who was in charge between 1943 and 1978. In addition, head to Barcelona to visit Nou Camp. The second largest stadium in the world and home to F.C. Barcelona since its completion in 1947. The cheapest and fastest way from Madrid to Barcelona is by a 3 hour train journey.

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Let us know where you are planning on watching the World Cup this year.

***Disclaimer!

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 5 countries to get your Football Fix this FIFA World Cup appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Gardens by the Bay: Sightseeing Highlights & Tips

One of Singapore’s most popular attractions, Gardens by the Bay is a nature park blessed with a variety of spoils. The gardens cover 101 hectares within the centre of the city.

The post Gardens by the Bay: Sightseeing Highlights & Tips appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.