18 Cheap Family Villas in Koh Samui with a Private Pool

The resort island of Koh Samui is all about the beach life! With its white sandy beaches and palm trees swaying by the clear sea shores, it’s the perfect spot for your next beach holiday. Dotted with luxury hotels and resorts, Koh Samui is a hotspot for an indulgent care-free family holiday.

The post 18 Cheap Family Villas in Koh Samui with a Private Pool appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

50 Fun Things To Do In Johannesburg For Under R200, Your 2018/2019 Guide

[Updated on 31 July 2018]

Jozi’s got it all – the energy, the friendliest people, the freshest ideas and the high-octane lifestyle and unique character which attracts people from all over the world. We want to help you make 2018 your year to explore Joburg with 50 fun ideas that are surprisingly easy on the pocket.

The costs you see below are subject to change at the organisations’ discretion. Contact the organisation directly for the latest prices and information.

Here is a list of fun things to do in Johannesburg in no particular order:

1. Visit the Locrate Market in Soweto

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Image courtesy of @goodtogoeatery via Instagram

Cost: Entrance is free!

The self-described lifestyle market “to break all markets”, the Locrate Market has “mother trucker” food trucks, live music, poetry readings, bike tours, craft beer and singular designer apparel. Held the first Sunday of every month from 11:00 to 18:00. Its founders’ vision is to empower entrepreneurs and create indelible experiences.

Contact: 071 996 0080 | Address: 10823A Pooe Street, Cnr Ramushu Street, Orlando West, Soweto

2. Hop on a Red Bus Tour

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Image courtesy of @randomarivate via Instagram

Cost: A one-day open bus tour costs R200 per adult or R180 if you buy online. Pay R100 (online) for children, while children under 5 travel for free (max 2 per adult).

The most cheerful way to discover Joburg is on the roof of a shiny red city sightseeing bus.  Hop on, hop off the red bus and choose how you spend your time. The City Sightseeing tour comes with audio commentary available in 15 languages. This tour is a great way to get the best views and vibes of the City of Gold. You should definitely add it to your list of fun things to do in Johannesburg itinerary.

3. Reflect at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Free. Donations are welcome.

The Centre of Memory can be found at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a non-profit organisation started by Madiba in 1999. Visit the current exhibition which focuses on photography during the State of Emergency. Submit a booking request via the website to visit the centre. You can visit the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 09:30 and 15:30.

Contact: 011 542 5600 | Address: 107 Central Street, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, 2198

4. Three-wheel through Jozi on an e-tuk-tuk

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: R50 for a ride. Tuk-tuks must be booked in advance via phone.

No longer reserved for Bangkok’s congested streets, e-tuk-tuks are a refreshing, environmentally-friendly and fun way to cover short distances in Melville cheaply. It also means you get to take in the sights without stressing about parking or traffic. Look for the large “e” on the side of the tuk-tuk.

Contact 072 316 8099 | Address: 66 4th Avenue, Melville, Johannesburg, 2092

5. Grab a drink at the coolest rooftop spot in JHB, the Living Room

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Entrance is free. You’ll need to purchase tickets for events held at The Living Room (prices vary).

The Living Room is a rooftop oasis made up of ever-changing vertical gardens. The delicious meze and smoothies are highly recommended. Swing in a hammock or sip a smoothie surrounded by greenery and a spectacular view. Open to the public on most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 15:00 to 21:00 and Sundays from 12:00 until 20:00.

Contact: 084 529 9006 | Address: 5th Floor Main Change Building, 20 Kruger Street, Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg, 2094

6. Slam dunk with Bounce

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @oskarangleber via Instagram

Cost: R140 for one bounce session (the price includes a pair of Bounce Grip socks (R30). Student and family discounts are available.

Bounce your heart out on 50 interconnected trampolines, do epic slam dunks, flips and serious kicks or enjoy a game of trampoline dodgeball with your mates. There are junior jumping designated areas for kids under 6 and grip socks to keep everyone safe.

Contact: 011 517 2500 | Address: Waterfall Lifestyle Centre, Woodmead Drive & Maxwell Drive, Jukskei, Midrand, 1682

7. Rediscover your city with Mainstreet Walks

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @werner.dercksen via Instagram

Cost: East City Cycle Tour  – R200, Picnic in the Sky – R250, Urban Hiking Tour – R400.

Feel the pulse of the city, explore its arteries. Try their “east city cycle tour” or their “picnic in the sky” at full moon. They also have an Inner City Urban Hiking Tour (a little bit pricier) which is a combination of walking and making use of the city’s public transport. With many of Johannesburg’s heritage sites and the city’s cultural melting pot on these tours, you’re in for some amazing fun. Book your tour online.

You might also like: Interactive Bike Tours around Johannesburg 

8. Visit the James Hall Museum of Transport for free

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Free. Donations to keep the museum running are appreciated.

Steam locomotives, penny farthings and ox-wagons will keep kids intrigued for hours. These exciting vehicles can be seen at the James Hall Museum of Transport in Johannesburg. This incredible establishment is the largest and most comprehensive museum of land and transport in South Africa. The James Hall Museum of Transport is a stop on the red city bus tour. Open Tuesdays to Fridays (09:00-17:00), Saturdays and Sundays (09:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00). Closed on Mondays, every third weekend of the month and 25 to 26 December.

Contact: 011 435 9718 | Address: Pioneer Park, Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle

9. Check out Uncle Merv’s in Maboneng

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Image courtesy of @backpackingforfood via Instagram

Cost: Smoothies are R40

For an awesome vibe, classic shakes and expertly brewed coffee Uncle Merv’s in Maboneng is a fun thing to do in Johannesburg. Open Monday to Sunday, 07:00 to 16:00. You can also rent a bike from Uncle Merv’s and explore the inner city.

Contact: 083 659 4233 | Address: Maboneng East City side of Inner City, Kruger Street, Johannesburg

10. Shop at the Oriental Plaza

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @3fhalaal via Instagram

Cost: Entrance is free.

Founded in the mid-1970s, Oriental Plaza is a great thing to do in Johannesburg, to embrace the city’s diverse cultures. The best bargains can be found at this indoor bazaar. 360 shops offer everything from clothes to rugs, spices, linen, jewellery and appliances. Don’t be shy to try out your bargaining skills. Oriental Plaza is open from 09:00 to 17:00 (Mon – Fri), 09:00 to 15:00 (Sat), closed on Sunday.

Contact: 011 838 6752 | Address:  38 Lilian Ngoyi Street, Fordsburg, Johannesburg, 2092

11. SAB World of Beer

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: R125 for adults, R45 for children under the age of 18, pensioners and students pay R115.

Two-time winner of the number one tourist attraction in SA, an SAB World of beer tour is a must for anyone fond of a cold one or just interested in the fascinating political and economic history behind our beloved brewery. Sample raw barley and hops, ask questions and fill up on interesting facts about the origins of beer drinking in SA. After the tour, you can do a beer tasting included in the ticket price or simply enjoy the views of Newtown from the tap room while sipping on two complimentary SABMiller Beers. Bookings are essential. The SAB World of Beer is open seven days a week from 10:00 until 18:00. The last tour is at 17:00, except for Sundays and Mondays, when the last tour is at 16:00. This is a stop on the red bus route.

Contact: 011 836 4900 | Address: 15 Helen Joseph Street (formerly President Street), Newtown, Johannesburg, 2042

12. Feed the ducks and take a boat out on Zoo Lake

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: A minimum charge of R15 per boat, adults R10 per hour, children (under R14) R7.50 per hour.

Take some seeds along and have a lovely afternoon out at Zoo Lake feeding the ducks and geese. You can also rent out a rowboat which fits up to six people. You’ll have a great time paddling about. The boat club is open from 09:30 to 17:00 from Tuesday to Sunday (it’s closed on Mondays). You can also go bowling at the bowling green or have a picnic.

Address: Parkview, Randburg, 2122

13. Brunch at Milk Bar in Kramerville

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: R20 for a double espresso.

Afro-inspired hip hang-out Milk Bar has healthy breakfasts, strapping coffee and zesty gin cocktail nights on Wednesdays. They open bright and early at 07:00 in the week.

Contact: 072 641 8977 | Address: 21 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196

14. Kitchener’s Comedy Night

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: R30!

Kitchener’s at the Milner Hotel in downtown Jozi is an institution. It’s over 100 years old and Joburg’s second oldest pub. Enjoy up and coming comedians strutting their stuff at Kitchener’s comedy night, held every Thursday. Check their Facebook page before-hand for upcoming events.

Contact: 079 106 3697 | Address: Cnr Juta and  De Beer Street, Braamfontein, 2000

15. Head to Pata Pata for a burger, stay for the jazz

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @tonakadiane via Instagram

Cost: R75 for the Pata Pata Burger!

Popular 60’s themed jazz restaurant filled with good people, good food and good music. Pata Pata serves traditional African inspired cuisine. Delicious meals on the menu include lamb shank, chicken breasts, crocodile wors and oxtail stew.

Contact: 073 036 9031 | Address: 286 Fox Street, Jeppestown, Johannesburg, 2094

16. Catch a thought-provoking flick at the Bioscope Independent Cinema

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @thebioscope via Instagram

Cost: Get a Bioscope ticket, pizza (1 x Margarita pizza) and craft beer combo for R102 – The drink option will change over time and cannot be exchanged on arrival.

Located in Downtown Johannesburg, this innovative and independent cinema takes you back to when the word “bioscope” was the norm. This important cultural space aims to provide a platform for diverse content on screen. The Bioscope is a fun and educative space to get your movie fix. Don’t miss out on their fabulous pizza deal combo. Look out for their amazing rooftop cinema events.

Contact: 011 039 7306 | 286 Fox Street, City and Suburban, Johannesburg, 2094

17. Eureka at Science Bono Discovery CentreTravelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Adults R48, Children aged 3-16 pay R32, free for children under the age of 3, pensioners and students pay R32.

Winner of numerous travel and education awards, the Science Bono Discovery Centre will capture your kids’ imagination and ignite a life-long love for science. Housed in a repurposed power station, find it on the corner of Miriam Makeba and President streets, Newtown, Johannesburg. It is close to other Newtown attractions such as the Market Theatre and World of Beer. Open 7 days a week.

Contact: 011 639 8400 | Address: Cnr Miriam Makeba Street & President Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2107

18. For a helluva night out look no further than Hell’s Kitchen

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: R160 for the Bad Ass Baby Back Ribs.

Food, drink, music, mayhem is the motto. There’s a secret room behind the bookcase, live music on the weekend and an unpretentious vibe.

Contact: 079 980 9591 | Address: Shop 4. 7th Street Melville, Johannesburg, 2109

19. Contemporary cool at Gallery MOMO

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Free!

Get your fix of the best contemporary South African and international art at Gallery MOMO, set in an airy Parktown house. It was established by Monna and Lee Mokoena in 2003. Open Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 18:00, and 09:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays.

Contact: 011 327 3247 | Address: 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg, 2193

20. Take in the view from the tallest skyscraper in Africa!

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Admission to the Top of Africa is R15 for adults and R10 for children under 12.

Ride the elevator 50 floors up to see the awe-inspiring view from the top of the Carlton Centre Good to know: this is a stop on the red bus tour. Open every day but closes at 14:00 on Sundays.

Contact: 011 308 1331 | Address: 150 Commissioner Street, CBD, Johannesburg, 2001

21. Dine at The Troyeville Hotel

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @p_i_n_k_l_e via Instagram

Cost: The prawn dinner with other options is R249 p/p. Non-dining tables available at R70 p/p (guests can order a starter or a prego etc.). 

Drop in at The Troyeville Hotel for a taste of the delicious Portuguese and Mozambican flavours. This beautiful space with flamingos on the dining room walls has a great ambience where you can dine with friends and family. Their Sunday lunches are a favourite amongst Joburg locals and you’ll find good value meals, including prawns and fish. If you’re looking for things to do in Johannesburg, head to The Troyeville Hotel for a delicious meal at this family-friendly establishment. Find out about their menu on The Troyeville Hotel’s Facebook page.

Contact: 011 402 7709 | Address: 25 Bezuidenhout Street, Johannesburg, 2139

22. Neighbourgoods Market

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @neighbourgoodsmarket_jhb via Instagram

Cost: Approximately R50 for something delicious for brunch, R28 for a standard latte.

This legendary Saturday market has the goods to keep you coming back for more. The Neighbourgoods Market is famous for its array of locally-sourced food, live music such as Majozi and fun atmosphere. It is the place to be, on Saturdays, for brunch and mimosas or perhaps flourless chocolate fudge cake from Made With Love enjoyed with an iced coffee.

Contact: 011 403 0413 | Address: 73 Juta Street, Johannesburg, 2000

23. Amazing birds at Montecasino

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @akhil7j via Instagram

 

Cost: Adults pay R75, children 2-10 years old pay R50, children under 2 are free, while pensioners 60 and older pay R50.

Go for the fantastic flight show and meet Oliver the Southern White Pelican among many other lively characters. You’ll also encounter sloths, chameleons and red-ruffed, ring-tailed and brown lemurs in the park. Open from 08:30 to 17:00 every day. The Flight of Fantasy Shows take place weekdays at 11:00 and 15:00, and on the weekends at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00.

Contact: 011 511 1864 | Address: Cnr William Nicol Drive & Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways, Johannesburg

24. Find nature within the city at Melville Koppies Reserve

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: R60 per adult and R40 per child.

This nature reserve and heritage site are found in the heart of Joburg. It provides a great vantage point to see how the 3-million-year-old ridges that made up the Johannesburg landscape, before the advent of the gold rush. The central area is the safest for hikes as it has controlled access. You can join a hike or guided tour every Sunday at Melville Koppies Central. No booking required. Find out more on the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve website for details of starting times and dates.

Contact: 0111 482 4797 | Address: 4 Judith Road, Emmarentia, Randburg, 2195

25. Rosebank Rooftop Market

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @rosebanksundaymarket via Instagram

Cost: Entry is free!

Joburg is a flourishing city of rooftops and trees (an estimated 10 million). This Sunday market is a fun, family-affair on the roof of Rosebank mall. 09:00 to 16:00.

Contact: 011 028 7818 | Address: 50 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196

26. Chase down the Minotaur of the mind at Amazing Mazes

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @christelstrachan via Instagram

Cost: R150 per adult, R100 per child. Families consisting of 2 adults and 2 children will pay R420.

Kids and parents alike will have the best time exploring the different mazes, secret gardens and completing mind-bending quizzes. From February to May there’s a mielie maze and an elemental reed maze open from June to December.

Contact us: 073 795 2174 | Address: 82 Boland Road, Zandspruit 191-lq, Johannesburg, 2040

27. To a tee at World of Golf

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: The daily rate for non-members is R159!

If you’re looking for a relaxing day in the city, things to do in Johannesburg are in abundance. Consider a game of golf at The Momentum World of Golf. It is a peaceful place to practice every shot imaginable. Non-members can gain access to all facilities except the fitness centre and grass tees for only R159.

Contact: 011 545 8600 | Address: Cnr Woodmead Drive and Maxwell Drive, Johannesburg, 2148

28. Coffee tasting at Bean There Coffee Company

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @http.flxwergirlabby via Instagram

Cost: Latte R26, tasting menu R55 (includes two alternative brew methods).

Located in the trendy 44 Stanley area, Bean There Coffee Company is a great space to grab a coffee on the go or for a casual get-together with a friend. It is the first roaster of Certified Fairtrade in South Africa. The coffee company also hosts fun coffee tasting evenings, with a coffee-related quiz. Bean There Coffee Company is open from Monday to Friday 07:30 – 16:00, Saturday 09:00 – 15:00, and Sunday 09:00 – 12:00

Contact: 087 310 3100 | Address: 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, Johannesburg, 2092

29. Action Cricket

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Action Cricket prices are available on request. Approximately R600 for league games (R600 divided among team members).

Fun for all ages, action cricket is a lively way to involve the whole family. 70 minutes per game with all equipment provided.

Contact: 0861 ACTION (228466) | Action Cricket has multiple arena locations in Joburg

30. Take the original inner-city walking tour with Past Experiences

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @pastexperiences via Instagram

Cost: Lookout for their Budget Tours which start from R170 per person.

Experience Jozi on the ground. The original inner-city walking tour company, Past Experiences, has a Braamfontein Art tour, architecture tours, graffiti and historical tours and many other authentic Jozi experiences on offer.

Contact: 083 701 3046

31. Get your adrenaline fix at the Orlando Towers

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: From R60 per person.

This is the site of the world’s first bungee jump between two cooling towers. A variety of adrenaline junkie activities are available with the most affordable being the 25-metre rock climbing course (R60 per person) and the group paintball at R200 per person (100 balls each) available at the bottom of the western cooling tower. If you’re keen to spend a bit more and you’re feeling up to the challenge the Bungee Jump is R550.

Contact: 071 674 4343 | Address: Cnr Chris Hani & Sheffield Road, Orlando East, Soweto, 1808

32. High tea at Lindfield Victorian House Museum

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @phoenixparanormarlsa via Instagram

Cost: R150 for a tour and high tea served afterwards.

Step back in time to the Victorian era at Lindfield House and indulge in a traditional high tea with cream and scones. The historic spaces at Lindfield House make for the perfect space for a High Tea. You’ll need to book at least one week in advance.

Contact: 011 726 2932 | Address: 72 Richmond Avenue, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, 2006

33. Catch a jazz show at the Orbit

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @saskiavsa via Instagram

Cost: Varies per show, from R120.

The Orbit is a warm bistro with serious jazz performances. Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 17:30 to 01:30.  Booking in advance highly recommended. See the programme calendar for more information.

Contact: 011 339 66 45 | Address: 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2001

34. Grab a meal at The Potato Shed

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @lemongerassboulevard via Instagram

Cost: Average price of a main course meal R150.

The Potato Shed is a must visit with its incredibly delicious menu. Everything comes in huge portions and will satisfy your palate. Located in the historic Newtown Cultural Precinct, The Potato Shed is a steam-punk inspired restaurant. You’ll get to enjoy unique dishes, including their signature biltong and wasabi crisps.

Contact: 010 590 6133 | Address: Newtown Junction Cnr Carr and, Miriam Makeba Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001

35. Ubuntu Kraal Brewery, Soweto

Image courtesy of @taryn_springhall via Instagram

Cost: From R65 for a gourmet boerie roll.

This atmospheric brewery serves up excellent food (gourmet boerie and apple ale pork ribs) and that liquid elixir- Soweto Gold beer. You may get to meet the “Mad master brewer” Ndumiso M. Madlala himself. The beer garden is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 until late. Closed Mondays. You can also book the old train carriage for private events.

Contact: Call 074 738 0355 to book at the restaurant/beer garden and 072 867 29 53 to book a brewery tour.| Address: 11846 Senokoanyana Street, Dube, Johannesburg, 1801

36. Channel your silly side and Zorb around in a giant inflatable ball at Jozi X

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: ZORBS are R150 per person for one roll. Mountain Board Park is R180 per person for lessons, hire of equipment and riding thereafter.

Jozi X has the longest zorb ride in South Africa. Climb into the 3-metre diameter inflatable ball and roll down the 200-metre long slope. Jozi X also has slacklining to practise your balancing skills and develop core strength, the crazy sport of Bubble Soccer and the Big Air Krush Kushion Jump. This will get you practising serious tricks, flips and rolls on skateboards, BMX bikes and snowboards. Call ahead during the week to book a session. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00.

Contact: 082 456 2358 | Address: Cnr Maine & Sloane Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg, 2191

37. Cheer on the Kaizer Chiefs on their home ground in the biggest stadium in Africa

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: The price of events at FNB stadiums vary. Catch a soccer match from as little as R70.

The biggest stadium in Africa, the FNB stadium, goes by many names including Soccer City. It’s built in the shape of a Zulu clay pot traditionally used for serving umqombothi. Vuvuzelas and ‘gees’ are welcome.

38. A treat for the senses at the largest flower market in the southern hemisphere

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Free

The 50,000 square metre specialised flower warehouse, the Multiflora flower market, sees 1 million flower stems pass through its doors in just three to four hours! Private shoppers are welcome to browse through the largest flower market in the southern hemisphere.

Contact: 011 613 4011 | Address: 1 Marjorie Street, City Deep, Johannesburg, 2000

39. The Market Theatre

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @hymiesokupha via Instagram

Cost: Tickets average around R150 per person.

The Market Theatre was an integral part of the struggle and continues to produce strong, forward-thinking performances. Award-winning pieces in the past include Woza Albert, Asinamali, Bopha, Sophiatown, You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock, Born in the RSA, Black Dog.  The superb standard of theatre continues with cutting-edge performances on offer.  Monday hours are 09:00 to 16:00, Tuesday to Saturday hours are 09:00 to 20:30 and Sunday hours are midday to 17:00.

Contact: 011 832 1641 | Address: 56 Margaret Mcingana Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001

40. Drive over the Nelson Mandela Bridge

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @medupe via Instagram

Cost: Free!

The bridge is symbolic of Nelson Mandela’s role in uniting South Africa by bridging the racial divide of apartheid. This awesome bridge has incredible views of the city, especially when it’s lit up at night! Note the red city tour does drive this route.

41. Think quick in the Escape Room

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @supplierswop via Instagram

Cost: R1410 for a group of 6 people (R235 per person).

The antidote to rainy-day boredom, this is the ultimate puzzle game for adults and kids. Each puzzle requires 2 to 6 players. You will have 60 minutes to work as a team to puzzle your way out of the room.

Contact: 061 586 6285 | Address: 1st Floor, Dunkeld West Centre, Cnr Jan Smuts Avenue and Bompas Road, Dunkled West

42. See rare eagles at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens waterfall

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Adults R50, free for children under the age of 6, scholars R15, students (with valid student card) R30, pensioners gain free entrance on Tuesdays.

Take a break from Jozi’s bustling city and venture into the peaceful cover of the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, a 30-minute drive from the CBD. If luck is on your side you may spot the nesting pair of Verreaux’s (black) eagles in the cliffs by the Witpoortjie Waterfall. Don’t miss out on stargazing in early September and October. The adjacent Emmarentia Dam is a great spot for a picnic.

Contact: 086 100 1278 | Address: Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg, 2194

43. Keeping it cool at Northgate Ice Rink

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @skywave_lincoln via Instagram

Cost: Entrance fee – R80, skate hire – R35.

The Northgate Shopping Centre ice rink is a great place to cool off while getting in some fun exercise. Keep an eye on their Facebook page as they often hold fun events like foam parties and celebrity bands/DJs.

Contact: 011 794 8706 | Address: Northgate Shopping Centre, Northumberland Avenue, North Riding, Johannesburg, 2162

44. Wits Origins Centre

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Adults R81, Children under 12 pay R40, Seniors & Wits Staff R66, University students with student card R40.

This unique museum is dedicated to celebrating the origins of humankind, including fascinating rock art. You’ll find this mindblowing museum on the University of Witwatersrand campus. Go on a journey dating back over 80,000 years with profound information about ancient art and culture. There are audio tours available at the Wits Origins Centre. On occasion, there are public lectures in the evenings. Open every day from 10:00 to 17:00.

Good to know: If you are willing to spend more there is a “test your own DNA” tour on offer.

Contact: 011 717 4713 | Address: Origins Centre, Cnr Yale & Enoch Sontonga, Wits University, Braamfontein, 2050

45. Bryanston Organic Market

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Free!

Live music, handmade goods, a tea garden and craft activities for the kids. This is a great option especially if you are looking for a weekday market. The market is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 09:00 to 15:00.

Contact:  011 706 3671 | Address: 40 Culross Road, Bryanston, Sandton, 2191

46. Wednesday nights at Sir James van der Merwe’s

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @katysplacebar via Instagram

Cost: Dawa Cocktail R45!

Climb the steep staircase up to the distinguished bar, open to the public on Wednesday nights. The view of Sandton and the decor is exceptional. Sir James van der Merwe forms part of Katy’s Palace, the magical event venue which is a sister venue to the famous Emily Moon restaurant in Plettenberg Bay. This fantastic bar has gained world recognition, as it is listed on Bloomberg’s “35 cocktails to try around the world”.

Contact: 072 607 4235 | Address: 6 Desmond Street, Kramerville, Sandton, 2090

47. 27 Boxes

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost: Free!

This avant-garde shopping centre is constructed entirely out of shipping containers. 27 Boxes is dedicated to uplifting the lives of the community and supporting their entrepreneurs. This is the perfect place to source a unique gift and sip on a freshly-pressed juice or a homemade ice cream.

Contact: 011 482 1090 | 75 4th Avenue, Melville, Johannesburg, 2109

48. The Military History Museum for fascinating military planes and other relics

Travelstart Johannesburg

Entrance: Adults R40 p/p, learners and students R30 p/p, and South African senior citizens R20 p/p.

The South African War Museum is regarded as the symbolic home for all soldiers and veterans in South Africa. See awe-inspiring artefacts from Umkhonto-we-Sizwe, the Anglo-Boer war, the Anglo-Zulu war and various other historical battles on display. There are programmes and activities designed for all age groups. Open daily from 09:00 to 16:30.

Contact: 087 086 7019 |  22 Erlswold Way, Randburg, 2132

49. Gold Reef City

Travelstart Johannesburg

Image courtesy of @fmorales16 via Instagram

Cost: R215 for persons above 1.3m, R180 for pensioners above R60, R135 for persons under 1.3m, R180 students (with a valid student card), and free of charge for children under 3 years.

History and adventure collide at this unique gold rush theme park. There are activities to suit all budgets so everyone can enjoy this fantastic amusement park. Located in the south of Johannesburg, Gold Reef City is a must visit once you’re in the City of Gold. There is an array of things to do, including an animal farm, slow train rides and a 4D movie theatre.

Contact: 011 248 5000 | Address: Corner of Northern Parkway & Data Crescent, Ormonde, Johannesburg, 2159

50. Beerhouse for a cold one

Travelstart Johannesburg

Cost:  Beer prices vary! Choose from a range of mouthwatering beers.

And last but not least, head to Beerhouse in Fourways. They stock at least 99 craft beers both local and imported, host fun quiz nights, silent discos and serve excellent pub fare.

Contact: 011 462 2402 | 1 Sunset Avenue & Witkoppen Road, Fourways, Sandton, 2191

You might also like: Beer and Burger Spots in Johannesburg

Now that you’re familiar with some cheap, fun things to do in Johannesburg, it’s time to book your ticket and head to this hip-and-happening city. Sign up to Travelstart’s newsletter and be the first to know about cheap flights to Johannesburg and flight specials to other local destinations.

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The post 50 Fun Things To Do In Johannesburg For Under R200, Your 2018/2019 Guide appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Durban Escape: discover food, bars, coffee & top must-do’s

A Durban Escape

Winter blues! At some point between May and August South Africans country wide need a break from winter. Yes, our winters are far warmer than many other countries in the world nevertheless a sunny escape from the chilly winds, gloomy skies and rainfall can make a big difference when you’ve hit that mid-year slump.

With Durban being a city known to be hot year round, there’s no wonder its beautiful resort town of Umhlanga is such a popular holiday destination in winter. It may come as a surprise, but you don’t have to be a beach bum to enjoy this coastal city. If you’re after some sunshine and a fun holiday vibe to escape the winter chills, then a Durban escape is just the thing for you.

Pictured above: Whalebone Pier

What to Know Before You Go

At this time of year Umhlanga, has crisp mornings and evenings but everything in between is T-shirt and flip flop weather. It’s makes packing a tad confusing so I recommend packing for summer with a side of winter. Simply put – layer up or down.

If you book quite a long Durban escape, maybe along the beachfront, then ninety percent of what you do will be in walking distance from your accommodation because everything is relatively close. This is great from a budgeting perspective – flights and ground transport to and from the airport will be the most you’ll spend on getting around, everything else in Umhlanga itself you can get to on foot. Find great deals on flights to Durban.

Top Things to do on Your Durban Escape

Morning Walks/Runs along the Umhlanga Beach Strip

The beachfront is definitely where it’s all at, so be sure to bring trainers because morning walks along this strip are unavoidable, as are selfies on the iconic Whalebone Pier and flat whites at Rox Coffee Company both of which you’ll pass from whichever direction you’re walking. If you really want to reward yourself for a jog well done, save your calories for a bite of heaven aka Dinky Donuts, also along the strip.

 

 

If you’re in search of an extended workout, you can hop on to the lush Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Trail which starts at then end of the strip and continues for approximately 2kms.

Let Out The Foodie in You…Right This Way

For a Modern Italian Experience: Old Town Italy

Old Town Italy is similar to New York or Dubai’s EATALY. Having been to both its safe to say without any hesitation that Old Town Italy is right on par. From gourmet breakfasts and delicious lunches that include an assortment of fresh salads from the salad bar or menu, pasta and pizza, to excellent coffee, exceptional pastries and freshly baked breads – we tried it all – each one is just as good as it looks. This is one Italian eatery you’ll want to experience at least once during your stay. Find it at 39 Meridian Drive Umhlanga Rocks.

For Authentic Greek Your Go To is Mythos

The  Village, a quaint collection of buzzing streets lined with a great selection of restaurants is where you’ll find  Mythos. This is one of those restaurants where the decor is as eye-catching as the food is tasty. It’s the perfect spot for lunch or dinner with something for everyone including great vegetarian mezes (I would recommend the humus and falafel), healthy salads (try the The Village or The Greek) and excellent hot dishes too.

Mexican Meets Street Art at Four 15 Burrito District

This quirky Mexican joint is definitely worth the wait to get there. Based north of Durban about 15 minutes from Umhlanga, Four 15 Burrito District is a flavour fiesta.  The photos speak for themselves. Try the Naked Nachos topped with incredible guacamole, the Angry Onions and Tacos – all were simply delicious. But make sure to save space for an out-of-this world dessert – a decadent Bubble Waffle at Plan B Dessertery next door.

Coffee Shop Hunting

In search of brilliant coffee you’re bound to stumble across parts of a city you may not have otherwise seen. This is true to any destination you’re travelling to. In this case it was Florida Road. Traditionally known for its nightlife, Florida Road is situated in Morningside (close to the CBD) and has a wonderful laid back suburban feel by day.

Coffee lovers will be in their element at Love Coffee, hidden away in the cutest little side road (281 Florida Road) you really could be anywhere in the world. Love Coffee serves the perfect Malawian Tanzanian blend. From there head south and make a left  at Gordon Road where you’ll find Skyline Coffee Roasters (155 Gordon Rd). Break all the rules with an indulgent slice of Banana Nutella bread to go with a your coffee. If you’re in the mood for something savoury, right next door you’ll find Bunny Bar which serves a mean traditional curry.

Have an Adventure

Adventure is a key experience to have on any holiday even if it’s in bite sizes. Not only does it make for the best storytelling back home but it’s usually the most memorable part the trip too.

One thing you’re unlikely to do elsewhere in South Africa other than Durbs is see the city from above a sports stadium, let alone ride to the very top. Take a ride in the Sky Car to the top of Moses Mabhida Stadium.

From the ground you don’t quite realise how high you’re ascending, but about half way up the height hits you. When you get out at the top and see the hard-to-beat 360 degree views of Durban’s city and coastline, the ride up will have been worth it.

Tip: The Sky Car won’t operate in windy or even breezy weather, so it’s best to call before you get there unless it’s a perfectly calm day. Some hotels offer a complimentary shuttle to the stadium so check this too before you go.

Have you been on a Durban escape recently? From Durbs? Tell us some of your favourites spots in the comments section below!

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

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Your Flight Check-In has Never Been So Easy

“To travel is to live” – Hans Christian Andersen

Experiencing a new destination, whether locally or internationally, is probably one of the most exciting things you will ever do. From the dream phase when you’re still deciding which exotic destinations suit your budget (while still ticking all the boxes), to nabbing the most reasonable Travelstart flights hot off the shelves before they’re sold out. With all the excitement, we often overlook the slightly more arduous tasks like arranging your visa (yawn) or making sure you make it to the airport in ample time for your flight check-in. A frequently asked question is “How do you check in to a flight?” You’ll be surprised at how quickly time creeps up on you. Even frequent travellers often get this one wrong, causing them to miss their flights completely. There are a few tricks when it comes to the flight check-in process. We want to share these with you in order to make your holiday hassle-free from start to finish. 

Flight check-in made easy

1.  What does it mean to check in online for your flight

Flight check-in made easy

Being able to check-in online is changing the way people travel. While not all airlines offer this service yet, it’s certainly a game changer. You can now do your flight check-in from the comfort of your home or on the go while you are getting about your day. Here are a few reasons why we think you’ll benefit from an online flight check-in:

  • Depending on the carrier, some airlines open online check-in as early as 48 hours or 24 hours before the flight and close up to 90minutes before departure.
  • Beat the mad rush to the airport. You can never predict unforeseen traffic.
  • Book the seat you want before anyone else nabs it.
  • On some carriers, you can even select your meal options and baggage quantities.
  • Once your flight check-in is complete, remember to print out your boarding pass or get it from a self-service kiosk at the airport; depending on the airline.

See Travelstart’s online check-in guides to help you easily check-in for your upcoming trip.

2. How early do I have to be at the airport?

Flight check-in made easy

It is generally advised that travellers should be at the airport an hour before a domestic flight and two to three hours for an international flight. As a rule of thumb, we always say, the earlier the better. You can never be too early for a flight. For example, we would advise when travelling to the USA that you arrive at least three hours earlier for your flight as increased security checks are conducted. The standard opening times for flight check-in desks, however, are two hours before departure.

Always leave a bit of extra time for delays, especially if you are travelling during peak travel times like Friday evenings or Sunday mornings and over holiday periods.

If you are travelling with large quantities of luggage, you should try to get to the airport earlier than later, especially if you would like to wrap your luggage. Luggage weight problems can always cause a delay which can have a knock-on effect on everybody waiting to check in.

Checking in online may save you a bit of time but if you have luggage to put through, adhering to the advised time frames would be best. The good news is, the gates generally close 25 – 40min before departure so if you have already checked in online, this might be your saving grace.

Perhaps it’s a good time to think about travel insurance or taking out cancellation protection. If any unforeseen circumstances happen while making your way to the airport, you would rather be safe than sorry.

3. Locate the correct terminal for your flight check-in

Flight check-in made easy

First things first, you will need to locate the departure terminal. Whether you are being dropped off at the airport or leaving your car at the airport, make sure you arrive at the correct terminal. Many of the larger international airports are quite expansive which can sometimes mean that terminals can be in different buildings. The last thing you want is to find out you are at the wrong terminal for your flight check-in and you now have to make your way to a totally different building. This can all be avoided by checking directly with the airline either online or by calling them before making your way to the airport.

4. Locate your airline check-in counter

Flight check-in made easy

Make sure you know which airline you are flying with. Unfortunately, you cannot just check-in at any airline check-in counter. Check your e-ticket or booking the night before your flight to avoid any confusion. You don’t want this to be the reason you miss your flight check-in. If you are unsure or struggling to find your airline check-in counter, ask an airport official – they would be happy to help you.

5. Check in your luggage

Flight check-in made easy

Whether it’s a domestic flight or an international flight, it’s important to know that all airlines have their own restrictions and rules around baggage allowance at the flight check-in counter.

  • Most airlines will allow for 1 piece of hand luggage or carry-on luggage in addition to a laptop or handbag, and 1 or 2 pieces of luggage for the hold, but again this all depends on the airline.
  • Some airlines use a piece concept, while others use a weight concept, meaning you can check in as many bags as you like, provided the total weight is within your limit. Make sure you know what your luggage restrictions are on Travelstart’s airline’s guide.
  • For shorter commutes, try to avoid carrying anything more than hand luggage and proceed to the shorter check-in counter where possible.

You might also be interested in lost baggage protection when booking your next flight.

6. Can I travel without a print out of an e-ticket?

Flight check-in made easy

Traditionally, travellers would go to a travel agent and the travel agent would book the flight and then print out your travel itinerary for you or have it delivered to you at a later stage. Nowadays, with the rise of e-commerce, travellers can book their own tickets online. As an example, once you have booked and paid for your trip on the Travelstart website, your e-ticket will be immediately sent to you via email. Your e-ticket will contain your flight booking reference, flight number and your ID/passport number. Some may print this e-ticket while others may simply just download it to their smartphones so they can just open it up on their phones and present it at the flight check-in counter. Since the entire booking process is now electronic, the agent at the check-in desk will be able to verify your booking as everything is already saved in a database. You will, however, need to carry your ID/passport and other required documents (if necessary) at all times in order for them to verify and print your boarding pass. As mentioned before, you cannot travel without a boarding pass.

7. You’ll need a boarding pass

Flight check-in made easy

Photo Credit: @marligeldenhuys via Instagram

Your boarding pass is your ticket through to the departure lounge and onto the aeroplane. No boarding pass, no entry. There are a number of ways you can go about doing this actually and in fact, with the use of technology, it can be a lot easier and quicker than you think, especially if you don’t have any luggage to check in

  • Option 1:  The traditional method of printing out your e-ticket and arriving at the check-in counter with your ID/passport and the credit card with which you purchased your ticket.
  • Option 2: Check in at a self-check-in counter where all you need is the credit card with which you purchased the ticket, print your boarding pass and you are good to go.
  • Option 3: Check in online and print the boarding pass before you arrive at the airport, or, save the boarding pass on your smartphone and use your smartphone as your boarding pass

You see, your flight check-in process can be really easy and very little hassle when executed properly. Ideally, you want to be able to check in with a bit of time to relax and unwind before your flight. Don’t forget to check what travel-documents you might need if necessary for your international trip.

Let us know if you have any handy tips when it comes to a flight check-in. We’d love to get your feedback in the comments below.

 

Disclaimer:

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

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China visa application requirements for South Africans

China is rapidly becoming one of the top business and tourist destinations for South Africans. There are so many landmarks, such as the incredible Great Wall of China and the amazing Forbidden City in Beijing. Discover more in this ancient, yet modern, destination. One of the frustrations is knowing what to do when applying for a China visa as a South African. So, here’s a bit of help on the how, what, where and when to apply for your tourist visa.

china visa great wall of china

Visa requirements

If you’re applying for a tourist visa to China, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Completed China Visa Application Form
  • A recently taken 48mm x 33mm passport photo (full face, front view, bare head, and against a light background, make sure to tell the photographer the size you need)
  • Valid passport with at least two fully-blank pages, valid for at least six months from the date of application
  • Photocopy of the information page and extension page (if applicable) of the passport
  • 3 Months bank statements showing sufficient and continuous flow of funds
  • Hotel reservations for the entire duration of Chinese trip
  • Confirmed, return flight tickets (or cruise booking if entering by sea)

Additional documents for business travellers:

Qualified invitation letter from business partner or company sponsoring visit in China. This must be stamped and signed (the business should know the documents they need to provide). The letter should state:

  1. Your information (full name, gender, date of birth, passport number)
  2. Details of planned visit (purpose of visit, arrival and departure dates, place(s) to be visited, relationship between applicant and host, details of any financial support to be provided during your stay in China)
  3. Information about the host (name, telephone number, address, official stamp, signature of legal representative)
  4. The person issuing the invitation letter is also to submit a photocopy of his/her Chinese ID (both sides of ID card)
  5. If purchasing goods, the letter should also include planned items of purchase, with the quantity and value of the items as well.

When to apply

china visa when to apply

The China visa takes four days to be processed at the visa application service centres. It would be wise, though, to allow for up to seven days. If you need a visa within seven days, the application centres do allow express and rush applications. Take note, though, this service is at the discretion of the centres and comes at an increased cost.

Visa costs

china visa costs new

Visa type Regular Express Rush
Single entry (3 months) R800 R1,300 R1,600
Double entry (3 months) R900 R1,400 R1,700
Multiple entry (6 months) R1,100 R1,600 R1,900
Multiple entry (1 year) R1,300 R1,800 R2,100

Take note that these prices exclude tax.

As a tourist, you’d most likely opt for the single-entry China visa. This visa will entitle you to stay in the country for up to three months.

When applying at an application service centre, finish off your application by paying the visa fee (by card only). After paying you will receive a pick-up form (a receipt). You should bring this form when collecting your visa and passport.

Make sure to confirm that your information on the pick-up form is correct before you leave the centre.

*Note that prices are subject to change

Where to apply

china visa where to apply

You can apply for your China visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres (CVASC). They are in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Johannesburg

Address: 14th Floor, Sandton City Office Tower, Corner Rivonia Rd & 5th St, Sandton
Phone: 011 505 9300
Email: johannesburgcenter@visaforchina.org
Hours: Mon-Fri, 09:00 – 16:00
Submission of applications: Mon-Fri, 09:00 – 15:00
Payment and collection: Mon-Fri, 09:00 – 16:00

Parking is available at the Sandton City Hall.

Cape Town

Address: 20th Floor, 1 Thibault Square, Long St, Cape Town
Phone: 087 808 5507
Email: capetown@visaforchina.org
Hours: Mon-Fri, 09:00 – 12:30

Parking is available at Thibault Square.

Durban

Address: 45 Zenith Drv, Umhlanga, Durban
Phone: 011 505 9300 / 087 802 0460
Email: durban@visaforchina.org
Hours: Mon-Fri, 09:00 – 12:30

Parking is available at the CVASC.

Please note that the Chinese Visa Application Centres are closed on public holidays.

 

Travelstart can also assist you in your China visa application. Get a free quote and assessment!

Where to print photos and forms

china visa beautiful sights

Johannesburg

PostNET

Address: Shop L38B Ground Floor, Entrance 7 Cnr 5th & Rivonia Rd Sandton City, Sandhurst, Sandton
Phone: 011 783 6810
Hours: Mon-Fri, 07:00 – 20:00

Sat, Sun & public holidays, 09:00 – 18:00

Cape Town

PostNET

Address: Shop 8 No, 2 Long St, Cape Town City Centre
Phone: 021 418 1630
Hours: Mon-Tues & Thurs-Fri, 08:00 – 16:30

Wed, 08:30 – 16:30

Sat, 08:30 – 12:00

Durban

Copy Katz

Address: Shop G058, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Palm Blvd, Umhlanga Ridge, Umhlanga
Phone: 031 566 1743
Hours: Mon-Sat, 09:00 – 19:00

Sun, 09:00 – 18:00

To sum it all up

  1. Get all your required documents together.
  2. Have them printed.
  3. Have your passport photo taken.
  4. Make an appointment with your nearest CVASC.
  5. Submit your photo and documents.
  6. Pay the visa fee.
  7. Collect your pick-up form.
  8. When notified, return to collect your visa and passport.

Booking flights for your trip

china visa explore

Now that you know how to get a China visa, start planning your next holiday! We offer a flight comparison and online booking service to help you find cheap flights to China. You can book your trip from the comfort of your home or office. Your booking confirmation will be emailed to you within 48 hours.

Subscribe to our newsletter and take a look at our latest flight specials to China and other exotic places!

Have you previously applied for a China visa? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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10 Of the Best Must-See Bali Temples

To list all the reasons why one should visit Bali would require you to clear your diary for an entire day. More than ever, South Africans are visiting Bali and falling in love with its sun-kissed beaches, tasty food, affordable island living, and the laid-back environment that allows you to forget all your life hacks momentarily. There is more to Bali than what meets the eye. Popularly known as the ‘Island of the Gods’, Bali, in fact, has a very strong spiritual pull which has kept people the world over coming back for years. Also known as the ‘Island of a Thousand Temples’,  Bali Temples Should certainly be high up on your list of Bali attractions.

Life, religion and art all converge in Bali. They have no word in their language for ‘artist’ or ‘art’. Everyone is an artist. – Anais Nin

The 10 best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @massshedition via Instagram

While there might be thousands of Bali temples, there are a few iconic temples which we would strongly advise you make the effort to see if ever you find yourself in Bali. Below is our top 10 which we know you’ll love. They’re filled with mystical stories and offer a totally unique experience. An important fact to bear in mind is that the Balinese culture observes a different calendar. They observe a Gregorian calendar which consists of 210 days. This calendar means that the temples share anniversaries and events over these periods which occur twice a Gregorian year. This may sway your decision on the time of year you wish to travel. So, grab a coffee, a pen and a piece of paper because we’re about to create your list of Bali temples you should be visiting on your next trip.

  1. Tanah Lot

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @habibie0105 via Instagram

Entry Fee:  R27.00 (IDR 30,000) for adults / R14.00 (IDR 15,000) for children
Opening Times: 07:00 to 19:00
Location: Jalan Raya Tanah Lot, Beraban Village, Kediri, Tabanan, Bali

Only a 45-minute drive from Kuta, on the west coast of Bali, sits one of the most picturesque and frequented of Bali’s temples. Its offshore positioning is due to a priest from the East of Java who travelled to the west coast village of Beraban to share his teachings of Hinduism. The village chief opposed this. The priest resisted and promptly pushed a rock out to sea and proceeded to meditate on the rock while transforming his sashes into sea snakes to guard at its base. The village chief quickly became aware of the priest’s powers and eventually succumbed to his teachings, and so the temple was born. While you cannot enter the temple grounds, Tanah Lot is still home to spectacular sunsets and many cultural festivities throughout the year. A cultural event not to be missed is the heirloom pilgrimage parade that takes place five days prior to the temple’s anniversary, Kuningan. This is certainly a Bali attraction worth witnessing.

Dates for future temple anniversaries:

  • 9 January 2019
  • 7 August 2019
  • 4 March 2020
  • 30 September 2020

  2. Uluwatu Temple

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @riebertelsen via Instagram

Entry Fee: R27.00 (IDR 30,000) for adults / R18.00 (IDR 20,000) for children
Opening Times: 09:00 to 18:00
Location: Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia

If you haven’t yet had the luxury of visiting Uluwatu Temple, you would probably recognise it anyway. Perched on a 70m high cliff amidst the crashing waves makes for a picture-perfect or postcard-perfect setting. The temple is made up of an eclectic mix of archaeological remains, a number of beautiful shrines, and forest-like gardens which give you the distinct feeling of a peaceful sanctuary, all of this on the backdrop of the warm Indian Ocean.

Monkeys at Uluwatu temple are at large and known to steal cameras, sunglasses, hats, or anything that can easily be accessed when not paying attention. The monkeys might, however, be willing to trade your camera for a banana or some nuts.

The Kecek dance is a traditional Hindu Balinese dance which dates as far back as the 1930s. The Uluwatu Temple hosts a performance daily from 18:00 to 19:00 and is said to be one of the best of the Kecek performances, so get there early and watch this music drama as they dance into the sunset. This is definitely one you should add to the list of Bali temples to visit.

Dates for future temple anniversaries:

Dates to be confirmed. Alternatively, speak to a local.

   3. The Underwater Temple

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @axasmarttraveller via Instagram

Entry Fee: The cost would be the same as that of your snorkelling or diving tour, which you’d take to visit this temple.
Opening Times: The timings would vary and depend on the snorkelling company you’d choose for your visit.
Location: Pemuteran, Bali

What better way to visit a temple in Bali while submerged in the ocean and out of the sweltering heat?! If nothing else, it certainly makes for a unique experience. Just 90 feet beneath the ocean’s surface near Pemuteran Beach in North West Bali is the Devata Vishnu Temple. While we’d like to say this temple is hundreds of years old and holds a fascinating history, this would be a lie. Although it is one of Bali’s most famed attractions, it’s the second of two man-made Bali temples built as part of an artificial reef project. These statues and structures were built purely to create marine habitat. It’s not the worst idea in the world, and they certainly make for beautiful photo opportunities, so don’t forget your underwater camera.

   4. Goa Gajah

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @chasingclaudia via Instagram

Entry Fee: R18.00 (IDR 20,000) per person
Opening Times: 08:00 to 16:00
Location: Bedulu Village, Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Blahbatuh, Gianyar

Goa Gajah should definitely be on your list of Bali temples to visit during your trip. This century-old cave built on a hillside for spiritual meditation is one of the most popular of Bali attractions in Ubud for learning about its significant history and experiencing unique sights. Goa Gajah translates into ‘Elephant Cave’, which may lead one to believe you are about to walk into an elephant sanctuary, or at the very least that there might be signs of an elephant. However, there are various theories as to how this name could’ve come about as there are no sightings of any elephant-related carvings or statues.

Once upon a time, a spiritual place for meditation, the now relic-filled courtyard, rock-wall carvings, central meditation cave, and the bathing pools around, tell a story of both Buddism on the north side of the complex and Shivaite (Hinduism) on the south side.

Dates for future temple anniversaries:

Dates to be confirmed. Alternatively, speak to a local.

   5. Tirta Empul

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @beprosaic_life via instagram   

Entry Fee: R14.00 (IDR 15,000) per person
Opening Times: 09:00 to 17:00
Location: Jalan Tirta, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali

Thousands of people every year flock to one of the largest water temples in Bali. Tirta Empul is famed for its holy water which is believed to be used for purification rituals. While wrapping yourself up in sarongs and lining up to receive your blessing from the water fountains might be the focal point in your visit, you will notice that the temple is also comprised of pristinely kept rolling lawns and colourful tropical plants. The scenery is in fact quite something.

On your exit, you will be met with a maze of local souvenir stands filled with local arts and crafts and clothing items. Once you’ve seen enough of the temple, you can keep yourself occupied for quite some time with a bit of retail therapy. This is definitely a must-see attraction on your list of Bali temples to visit.

Dates for future temple anniversaries:

Dates to be confirmed. Alternatively, speak to a local.

Also read: Your Guide to the Best Time to visit Bali

   6. Besakih Temple

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @yve2406 via Instagram

Entry Fee: R32.00 (IDR 35,000) per person
Opening Times: 08:00 to 17:00
Location: Desa Besakih, Rendang, Besakih, Rendang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali

If it’s a spiritual journey you are after, then there is no better place to start than the Besakih Temple. Often referred to as Bali’s ‘mother temple’, Besakih is the biggest and the holiest temple complex on the island. With its entrance that feels like a ladder taking you directly to a paradise on the slopes of Mount Agung, it would be difficult to not be completely taken by your surroundings.

An entire day would be needed to visit all 86 temples which make up this sacred complex but, once you climb the many stairs you will be left speechless with the breathtaking mountain views, rolling rice paddies, streams and so much more. With at least 70 ceremonies taking place a year, it’s no surprise that it was made a World Heritage site in 1995. Who knew Bali’s temples were so interesting?!

    7. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @malcoconut via Instagram

Entry Fee: R7.00 (IDR 7,500) for domestic tourists / R9.00 (IDR 10,000) for foreigners
Opening Times: 08:00 to 18:00
Location: Jl. Bedugul – Singaraja, Candikuning, Baturiti, Candikuning, Baturiti, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali

Known as the most iconic of sanctuaries, Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is the perfect setting for a holiday retreat. With the glassy reflection of the lake surrounding most of the temple’s base, accompanied by the backdrop of the mountain range of the Bedugul region, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more peaceful setting to rejuvenate the mind, body & soul. It certainly makes for one of the more beautiful Bali temples.

The history of this temple dates as far back as the 17th century. Although it is one of the biggest Bali attractions, Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is used for offerings ceremonies to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as the main source of irrigation in central Bali.

Dates for future temple anniversaries:

Dates to be confirmed. Alternatively, speak to a local.

   8. Pura Taman Saraswati

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @tonchiee via Instagram

Entry Fee: Free
Opening Times: 08:00 to 18:00
Location: Jalan Kajeng, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

Pura Taman Saraswati is a sight for sore eyes. This beautiful water temple in central Ubud features classical Balinese decor and architecture including ponds filled with pink lotuses. You’ll simply stumble across it while taking a leisurely walk around Ubud town and then spend the next couple of minutes soaking up the picturesque surroundings. Take a stroll around the temple and, for a minimum charge of R182.00 (IDR 200,000), stay for dinner at the Lotus Cafe for some traditional cuisine, and get the best seats in the house for the open stage where you will witness the evening’s local dance performance. Yes, there are some Bali temples which offer a far more relaxing experience.

   9. Gunung Kawi Temple

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit @indrabali_tours via Instagram

Entry Fee: R14.00 (IDR 15,000) for adults / R7.00 (IDR 7,500) for children
Opening Times: 08:00 to 18:00
Location: Jalan Kajeng, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

In close proximity to the Tirta Empul Temple, Gunung Kawi is known as not only one of the oldest and also one of the best temples in Bali. It’s the leisurely 370-step decent to the temple that makes this experience so memorable. With every step, you will be taken on a historical journey accompanied by art shops, food kiosks and lush rice paddies. On arrival, you will pass under an archway of small pillars. These pillars each hold a vase filled with holy water which visitors can sprinkle on themselves. Once you are inside you will be met with ten seven-metre tall shrines. The story goes, that the shrines are the memorials of a defied Balinese king, his concubines and his family. Gunung Kawi is often referred to as the tomb site of the Warmadewa Dynasty. Are you sure you don’t want to add this to your list of Bali temples to visit soon?

Dates for future temple anniversaries:

Dates to be confirmed. Alternatively, speak to a local.

   10. Lempuyang Temple

The 10 Best Bali Temples

Photo Credit: @acaiqueenbar via Instagram

Entry Fee: This Temple requests a donation. We would advise that you pay anything between R7.00 (IDR 7,500) and R27.00 (IDR 30,000) which is what you can expect to pay at any other temple.
Opening Times: 08:00 to 18:00
Location: Jalan Kajeng, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

Don’t let the 1700 steps to reach the top of this temple scare you. For those who prefer not to sweat it out, you can still enjoy sites along the way including more Bali temples. A temple which has become extremely popular as a photo opportunity is grand Pura Penataran Agung temple at the foot of the mountain. While this is a great starting pointing, there are better views as you tackle more of the stairs. For a negotiated fee, you could arrange a motorcycle taxi which would take you to Penataran Agung, which is as far as the road will allow, giving you less time on your feet and a bit of a head start on the hike. To reach the top of Lempuyang Temple you would still need to take another 1500 steps. Yeah, it’s not for the fainthearted. Locals believe that the pilgrims who are able to push through to the top, are the ones with a heavier heart, so there’s the silver lining. It’s not so bad after all!

A large number of people believe that once you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all. The abovementioned temples are certainly not your everyday temples. The Bali temples should definitely be on your list of ‘things to do in Bali’. If you’re sure that temples are not our thing then try Island Adventure In Affordable Bali: Cycle Through Rice Terraces, Hike Volcanoes, Surf Your Heart Out. You might find this type of trip is more up your alley.

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What are some of your favourite Bali temples? Let us know in the comments. We would love to know about some more secret gems.

Tips when visiting Bali Temples:

  • Always carry money for the temple entrance fee. A lot of the larger temples may ask for additional donations while walking around the temple, so a few extra pennies will always come in handy.
  • Always carry a sarong as a large number of the temples, out of respect, will require you to cover up certain areas of the body.
  • Carry water with you everywhere you go. Some of the Bali temples have a lot of stairs and are spread over a large stretch of land with sometimes very little coverage from the sun.
  • Try to get to the temple as early as possible, especially if you are travelling during peak season. These Bali temples fill up quite quickly and you may even have to queue from time to time.
  • Bear in mind that pilgrims and devotees will always get preference over visitors to the Bali temples.

You might also be interested in: The Best Beaches of Bali or Bali’s Best Diving Spots.

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 10 Of the Best Must-See Bali Temples appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Why Russia should be the next destination on your travel bucket list

Now that the hype of the games is over, the once overflowing stadiums stand empty, and the players have ‘fallen’ in many, many more dramatic ways than we ever thought imaginable, fans that travelled for the Soccer World Cup have stayed on to explore just a little bit more of the incredible cities and landscapes of Russia.

Russia is not typically a destination that South Africans look at exploring, but we’ve rounded up the reasons why you should definitely consider a trip to the world’s largest nation. Now you can’t cover it all, but here’s where you could start…

Russia Travel Tips

Photo credit: @Kate_Els

A European summer in St. Petersburg

Love the idea of Europe in the warmer months, but terrified of the price tag? St. Petersburg offers centuries of history, world-class museums and galleries, effective public transportation, and incredible dining experiences that rival those in Europe, but at a better price!

Summer in St. Petersburg is delightfully special, with sundowner river cruises and ambling walks through the green spaces of the city, the perfect interlude between museums visits and exploring the hallways of golden palaces. Wandering down the wide avenues of the city, with the brightly-coloured onion domes of cathedrals and churches is both a free activity and an incredibly satisfying one!

St. Petersburg is well suited to walking with its wide, stone avenues and open parks. The entire city feels like a museum and it’s well worth looking up for the balconies of rooftop bars and restaurants to watch sundowners from.

Russia Travel Tips

Photo credit: @Kate_Els

Discover one of the world’s most incredible art collections

As the second largest museum in the world, the State Hermitage Museum, has earned a reputation as one of the premier destinations for art lovers the world over. Opened to the public in 1852, the museum houses collections ranging from Egyptian artefacts to Italian Renaissance paintings.

Spread across five adjacent buildings including the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, and Hermitage Theatre, this museum really deserves more than a day to discover its riches. Entrance to the museum costs R150, a far cry cheaper than some of its European counterparts that hover at around the R400 mark, and the entrance fee is even waived on the first Thursday of every month!

Russia Travel Tips

Photo credit: @Kate_Els

The garish golden statues of Peterhof

About an hour’s drive from the centre of St. Petersburg lies Peterhof, the sprawling grounds that were once the summer palace of Peter the Great. Often referred to as the Russian Versailles, Peterhof is particularly impressive on a sunny day, with its gold statues reflecting the sun’s rays onto the rushing waters of the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain. This series of 64 fountains that flow down multiple levels to the lush gardens below are symbolic of Russia’s intense history and you won’t be able to help gasp at how impressive they are.

But while the cultural and historical significance can seem all-consuming, day visitors to Peterhof who frolic in the gardens, children dancing mischievously in the fountains, carve a balance between riches, war and the frivolities of life that simply can’t be found anywhere else. It’s frequented by both travellers and nearby residents, so a good way to feel like a local, ice lolly in hand!

Joining the vodka appreciation society

If Russia was a drink, it would be embodied in the viscosity of ice cold vodka. It seems so cliche to visit the vodka museums dotted everywhere, but great quality vodka and lessons on how to drink it without causing yourself a severe hangover, are one of the greatest stories you will be able to tell after your visit to Russia.

Be prepared though, the tricks involved in not getting too carried away when drinking vodka involves consuming lots of fatty snacks. These sound great in theory, but when presented with a sliver of pork fat on a cracker, it’s rude not to accept.

Did you know? South Africans no longer require a visa to visit Russia!

Russia Travel Tips

Photo credit: @Kate_Els

Delve into powerful Moscow

As the capital of Russia, it would be remiss not to spend a few days in the country’s most populated city. From contemporary art galleries to wandering the streets around the brightly-lit Kremlin at night, Moscow is a veritable photographic dream.

Any journey to Moscow should start at Red Square, arguably the most visited attraction in all of Russia. From here, you can spiral out to see attractions including the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, and Lenin’s Mausoleum among others.

Stop in at GUM, Russia’s biggest department that has existed for over a century, just off Red Square. Here you’ll find over 200 boutique stores housed inside this beautiful glass-roofed building – a sure place to find a unique souvenir that will remind you of Russia.

Feasting in Russia

Strangely enough, it’s quite difficult to find authentic Russian restaurants serving traditional meals when you’re in Russia. It’s believed this is really because Russians typically want to experience something they wouldn’t eat at home when they’re out and about. What you will find though is a host of international cuisines that have been adjusted slightly to better suit the palate of Russian diners. Think Russian-style pasta, chicken schnitzel and curries that are usually way less spicy than they were originally intended to be, and for some reason, dill is usually dusted in huge swathes over plates before serving.

Russia Travel Tips

Photo credit: @Kate_Els

If you are looking for an authentic Russian meal, however, don’t despair, the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg is dedicated to celebrating the finest fare Russia offers at its restaurant, L’Europe. Dishes are not only focused on traditional Russian recipes but also divulge the rich and complicated history of this country on each exquisite plate. Dinners are accompanied by elegant ballet performances, a rather unique pairing.

Ready to start planning for a trip north? Browse through Travelstart’s flight options for St. Petersburg and Moscow now!

The post Why Russia should be the next destination on your travel bucket list appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Top 10 Luxury Beach Hotels with Spas in Koh Samui

For a posh, luxury spa retreat, Koh Samui is a destination with few equals. The second largest of Thailand’s islands, it’s located roughly halfway down the peninsula in the Gulf of Thailand and is best reached by catching ferry from Don Sak Sakon Port or by flying from Samui Airport.

The post Top 10 Luxury Beach Hotels with Spas in Koh Samui appeared first on HotelsCombined Blog.

The Best Bali Diving Spots You Have to See

Bali is a breathtaking destination in Indonesia, beckoning to be traversed by those who wish for an island escape. This award-winning destination is home to magnificent landscapes and beautiful beaches. Many make their way to this island destination for its white sand beaches, rice terraces, volcanoes and lakes. The Balinese culture and traditional arts also offer a great experience. In addition, a Bali diving experience conjures up spectacular images of turquoise seas, colourful coral and an array of fish, to name but a few of Bali’s underwater attractions. Take a look at our comprehensive Bali diving guide. Learn about the best time for diving in Bali, great diving spots and practical safety tips.

Bali’s Diving Season

Bali has a year-round diving season. However, conditions vary at each diving location. Bali’s rainy season is from December to March, so visibility around the north and west coasts can sometimes be reduced during this period. Generally, the best time to dive in Bali’s beautiful diving spots is from April to November.

During the colder months, the water temperatures average around 29°C, incredible! Take note that the coldest water can be felt around Nusa Penida where temperatures are around 24°C.

  • The best time to see manta rays is from April to May.
  • The best time to see Mola Mola (oceanic sunfish) is from July to September.
Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @misheng_gz via Instagram

Where to Dive in Bali?

There are 3 diving zones around Bali namely:

  • South Bali – Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Sanur
  • North-East coast of Bali – Padang Bai, Candidasa, Tulamben and Amed
  • North-West coast of Bali – Menjangan Island, Permutaran, Lovina and Gilmanuk

Here is a closer look at some of the more popular diving sites:

Nusa Penida

The south-eastern coast has exquisite clear and sparkling blue waters which makes it ideal for diving and snorkelling. Currents are strong and the waters are much colder which is why it is best suited for advanced divers to explore. You’ll spot incredible marine wildlife off the coast of this region of Bali, including Mola Mola and the amazing manta rays. The water temperature ranges between 24°C and 29°C year-round. Currents can cause the temperature to drop as low as 18°C in some diving locations.

Travelstart Bali

Manta Point

Manta Point is a legendary Bali diving site amongst divers and snorkellers. It gets its name from the many manta rays circling the waters. This epic dive site can be accessed on a 60-minute speedboat ride from the Nusa Penida shores. The dive starts at the manta rays cleaning and feeding stations. It is exposed to large swells, and diving is only possible with good conditions. The Indian Ocean waves create the strong current and excellent buoyancy skills are key.

Explore the 7-20-metre depth of this exhilarating dive site and take in the breathtaking underwater world. You can see flora and fauna such as manta rays, porcelain crabs, nurse sharks, hard and soft coral. Manta Point’s visibility reaches between 10 and 30 metres where you can see manta rays occupying the area in search of plankton and nutrients in the water.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @ocean_allison via Instagram

Crystal Bay

If you’re in search of spotting a Mola Mola, then Crystal Bay is the number one Bali diving spot to explore. July-October is the season for spotting these peculiar-looking fish. The diving site’s name is derived from the crystal-clear visibility of the incredible waters. Crystal Bay can be explored year-round. It is a recommended diving site for advanced divers as the currents can become quite strong. You will be treated to amazing underwater sites as this diving spot tends to surprise even the most experienced divers with its beauty. Upon your dive, you’ll see a cave with an underwater entrance where bats hang from the ceiling.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @jordi_dive via Instagram

Blue Corner

Blue Corner aka Jurassic Point can be found at the north-west of Nusa Penida. The dive starts at 10 metres with colourful soft corals. The currents at this dive site will take you to the “The Corner”, which is home to a deep vertical wall. Sometimes, the currents can get quite strong and affect your chances of reaching the corner. This Bali diving site is a great drift dive, where you’ll see marine life such as Eagle rays, pufferfish, barracuda and Mola Mola (in season). Visibility is 15-30 metres.

You’ll need to be an advanced diver or have experience with drift diving to access this spot. This steep slope can be accessed from the shore and diving conditions are great year-round.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @bluecornerpenida via Instagram

Tulamben

Tulamben is a tiny fishing village located on the north-east coast of Bali. Tulamben’s beach is covered in black sand with little rocks. The sea is generally calm and it is very popular amongst divers worldwide. Divers can expect water temperatures of around 26°C to 30°C.

 

USAT Liberty Wreck

This diving site in Tulamben is home to the USAT Liberty shipwreck, which can be found 40 metres offshore. This 120-metre ship lies under a mere 20 metres of water where there is hardly any current. This magnificent dive spot frequently features in top Bali dive sites owing to its incredible finds, including its diverse marine life and black sands surrounding the shipwreck. With vast depths ranging from 25 to 29 metres, descending into these incredible waters should definitely be on your Bali diving itinerary!

Divers of all levels are able to access this site, including first-time divers and beginner divers. For a more exciting experience, consider a night dive and be exposed to a mind-enhancing world of marine life, including parrotfish, potato cod, turtles and blacktip reef sharks. Aim to dive this incredible site early in the morning or late afternoon as it gets quite crowded with flocks of divers due to its popularity.

Travelstart Bali

Drop-Off

Considered one of the most stunning sites to dive in Bali, the Tulamben Drop-Off can be found on the opposite side of the bay from the USAT Liberty Shipwreck. This rugged wall reef stretches out seaward and descends over 70 metres. The Tulamben Drop-Off can be accessed from the beach and is suitable for both beginner and experienced divers. There is an abundance of hard and soft coral plastered on the walls, and an amazing variety of sea life, including flashlight fish, octopuses, pygmy seahorses and nudibranchs. Formed by the lava river of Mount Agung, its depth descends from 3 to 80 metres.

For optimal visibility, go for a dive in the morning as it will afford you visibility from 15 to 20 metres, depending on the presence of plankton in the water.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @ruslikasih via Instagram

Coral Garden

The Coral Garden is a shallow water site located in Tulamben. It starts at a depth of 2 metres, reaching down to 15 metres and makes for a great snorkelling spot too. For scenic Bali diving, head to the Tulamben Coral Garden, which is accessible from the beach. Expect visibility ranging from 15-30 metres with a mild to moderate current. This Bali diving site is a great spot for beginners to practice their diving skills as well as for experienced divers to test the site’s depths. If you wish, go for a night dive and see Spanish dancer nudibranchs and other nocturnal marine hunters and feeders.

Below 12 metres, you’ll find barrel sponges along the sand slopes with interesting inhabitants such as juvenile emperor angelfish, juvenile catfish and the two-spot lionfish. The Coral Garden is rich with flora and fauna and makes it an ideal diving site for photography enthusiasts. You’ll be treated to viewings of peacock mantis shrimp, leaf scorpion fish, blue spotted and Kuhl’s stingrays.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @seagypsychloe via Instagram

Menjangan

Menjangan Island is a small island located north-west of Bali island, and it forms part of the Indonesian archipelago. Menjangan Island is recognised as Bali’s first internationally-known diving location. It has extremely beautiful diving locations rich with an array of marine life. The marine fauna at Menjangan is one of the best-preserved coral reefs in Bali. The current is very light which makes Menjangan a great area for beginner divers. The water temperature ranges from 28°C to 30°C year-round.

Travelstart Bali

Menjangan Pos I

Pos I refers to the ranger station located at the southwest tip of Menjangan Island. It is quite a big dive site with a partial drop off, slope and flat area. Visibility is generally around 20 metres. This dive site reaches a depth of 28 metres. Pos I starts from the jetty with a short swim to the east or you can hop on a traditional boat which will drop you at the channel between the main island and Menjangan. Divers of all levels can enjoy this dive site. With currents in this channel rising, this is the perfect time to spot tuna and sharks. Other marine life you are bound to see include batfish,  bannerfish, yellow anemones and porcelain crabs.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @sammkaunang via Instagram

Menjangan Budak Wreck

Expect a depth beginning at 35 metres and going all the way down to 50 metres. The visibility at the Budak Wreck dive site is from 15 to 25 metres. The dive starts around a reef wall adorned with beautiful soft and hard coral, gorgonian fans and sponges. You’ll need to take precaution with the amount of time spent on the wall as this is quite a deep dive. However, the beautiful waters will reward your dive with spectacular sightings of shrimp, triggerfish, clown fish, lion fish and Mola Mola. The Menjangan Budack Wreck is also famous for green turtles, one of the only dive sites in the world where it is possible to see these rare species. Divers of all levels can explore this site, but you’ll need to be experienced to descend further down to see the remains of the wreck.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @baliscubacourse via Instagram

Pulau Menjangan

Many people who wish to do wall diving, venture to Pulau Menjangan (“Deer Island”). This Bali diving spot affords the chance to deep dive 20 to 60 metres. Chartered boats depart daily from the beach at Labuan Lalang located at the northern edge of Teluk Terima Bay. The reef drop-off and beach are about 15 to 180 metres apart. Expect clear water and calm seas when you set off to Pulau Menjangan’s waters. You’ll be treated to spectacular underwater scenery with exquisite shoals of green chromis moving around coral beds. Be greeted by the gorgeously coloured parrotfish and butterflyfish. Throughout your dive, there are different kinds of fish, including several species of angelfish. Pulau Menjangan is a favourite diving spot in Bali and is worthwhile checking out.

Travelstart Bali

Image courtesy of @xxcaz_0706xx via Instagram

Practical Diving Safety Tips

  • Dive within your skills limit.
  • Do not dive if you are feeling ill or unprepared on the day of your dive.
  • Have an accurate assessment of the sea conditions such as water temperature, visibility and sea current.
  • Do not make physical contact with the marine life.
  • In manta ray dive spots, do not approach the manta rays, allow them to keep their distance and let them control the interaction.
  • Support the local businesses in Bali by using local companies for your diving trips and PADI courses. Only dive with a certified diving company.

Has all this mention of incredible Bali diving sites whetted your appetite for an exotic island vacation to the Indonesian Islands? Sign up to Travelstart’s newsletter for the latest flight specials and score cheap flights to Bali and other beautiful destinations.

Do you know any cool Bali diving spots that are worth a mention? We’d love to know in the comments below.

Book cheap flights to Bali on Travelstart and set sail for your diving adventure!

Featured image courtesy of @aris_19 via Instagram

 

 

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The Best Time to Visit Hong Kong – a Travel Guide

The neighbourhoods and islands of Hong Kong offer you a feast. Not just for your taste buds, but for all your senses! With all that this destination has to offer, you may be wondering when you should visit. The best time to visit Hong Kong is during the more moderate months of mid-December to February when the crowds disperse and dry conditions ensure you can comfortably explore all that Hong Kong has to offer.

This fantastic destination in southern China is home to a wealth of incredible attractions. Hong Kong is one of the world’s top culinary capitals, thanks to a wide range of influences. Beyond the streets, there are spectacular landscapes, including scenic mountains and large country parks. See the city’s skyline from the elevated Victoria Peak. Visit the Bank of China, one of the tallest buildings in the world. And don’t miss Hong Kong’s shopping scene at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Are you thinking about when’s the best time to visit Hong Kong? Are you obsessing what you’ll do once you set foot in this destination in East Asia? Well, get your travel plans rolling and book cheap flights to Hong Kong with Travelstart and start packing for this exotic city and its neighbouring islands!

aerial-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong

Image courtesy of @smartbuz via Instagram

Weather in Hong Kong

Subtropical Hong Kong has a warm and temperate climate. There are four distinct seasons – warm and humid spring, hot and wet summer, sunny and pleasant autumn, and dry and cold winter. Figuring out the best time to visit Hong Kong depends on your travel plans. The heavy rainfall of summer and spring will have you running for cover. On the other hand, they provide the perfect time to experience Hong Kong’s shopping scenes and her fascinating temples. The dry conditions and moderately cold temperatures of winter are ideal for spending time outdoors and exploring the destination’s islands. Autumn offers the best conditions for the outdoors, with exciting festivals (more about that under Events).

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 13 13 16 19 23 25 26 26 25 22 18 15
High °C 18 18 20 24 28 30 31 31 30 28 24 20
Rainfall (mm) 25 43 74 150 300 359 361 378 279 123 33 27

Spring in Hong Kong

The summer’s heat, humidity and rainfall start developing in the spring (March to May), with temperatures at around 19°C in the morning and 24°C during the day. You will get clear days, but this season is notorious for its unpredictable weather. Keep your eye out for approaching storms and pay attention to the weather. Take note of black rainstorm warnings, as these generally bring most outdoor activities to a standstill. While the weather may not be ideal, it doesn’t mean everything in Hong Kong comes to a stop. There are plenty of art exhibitions, shows and more. Read more about them under Events.

Summer in Hong Kong

Visiting Hong Kong during summer (June to August) will have you experiencing warm evenings (around 25°C) and hot days (approximately 30°C). Added to that is the high level of humidity and the frequent threat of showers, thunderstorms and typhoons. Make sure to pack in light clothing and a high-factor sunblock, if you’d still like to visit the destination during these months. Wearing a raincoat will make you extremely uncomfortable in the heat, so rather pack in an umbrella. Since most of your time will be indoors, summer is the best time to visit Hong Kong to experience her shopping and dining scene. Try out famous dishes such as dim sumlo mai gai and char siu.

streets-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong-new

Image courtesy of @eden.hongkong via Instagram

Autumn in Hong Kong

The best time to visit Hong Kong for great weather is autumn (September to mid-December). You’ll have the pleasure of getting the best weather conditions. Humidity is at its lowest during these months. Temperatures are still warm from the summer, around 21°C in the evening and 27°C during the day. Rainfall is low during these months and lighter. Autumn is a great time to visit Hong Kong and enjoy its outdoor activities. Explore the destination’s scenic hiking trails, such as those in the New Territories. There are also Hong Kong’s beautiful islands, including Lamma Island, Peng Chau and Grass Island.

Winter in Hong Kong

Winter (mid-December to February) is another best time to visit Hong Kong. It is the most comfortable time of year, with mild temperatures. Minimums sit at around 13°C and maximums at 19°C. Winter is also the time when Hong Kong gets the least rain! Rather keep light clothing for this trip, even though locals may wrap themselves up. Spending your time exploring this destination in winter will be worth it, with festivals, carnivals and lots more taking place (more of that under Events).

local-cuisine-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong

Image courtesy of @samuelfwk via Instagram

How much are flights to Hong Kong?

Peak Seasons (March to May; September to mid-December)

Spring, summer and autumn are busy times in Hong Kong. It’s the peak vacation period for mainland Chinese during spring and autumn. Many festivals take place during these months. Be prepared to pay around 50% more for travelling to the city and islands around this time. Make sure to book your flights and accommodation well in advance to get the best deals.

Low Seasons (mid-December to February; June to August)

Thanks to colder temperatures, there are fewer tourists, making winter the best time to visit Hong Kong and skip the crowds. In summer, travellers tend to avoid the city and concentrate on the beach. Plenty of hotels offer lower prices and packages during these months. You can expect to save up to 40% on flights to Hong Kong. While you can look forward to better deals, make sure to secure flights and accommodation well in advance to make sure you get the package you prefer.

harbour-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong

Image courtesy of @khtony1002 via Instagram

Daylight Hours

The sunlight in Hong Kong is dependent on the season. During spring and autumn, you can get from 11-12 hours of daylight. Summertime offers more than 13 hours of sunlight. Should you be in Hong Kong during the winter, you can expect 10-11 hours of daytime.

Sea Temperatures

The water off the coast of Hong Kong is at its coolest from December to February (around 20°C). Not bad conditions for a swim and the best time to visit Hong Kong if that activity is on your list of things to do. From March, the temperature steadily increases over the months until it reaches 28°C in July and August.

longke-beach-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong

Image courtesy of @ryanhui1 via Instagram

Annual Events in Hong Kong

No matter the weather, the best time to visit Hong Kong can be any time in the year, with these awesome annual events!

Hong Kong Dragon and Lion Dance Festival (January)

If you visit Hong Kong to take part in the lunar New Year celebrations and watch the fireworks, you’ll be in for more treats. The Dragon and Lion Dance Festival takes place on the first day of January. Expect to see hundreds of colourful dragons, lions, happy Buddhas, celestial guardians and acrobats dancing and parading through the streets of Hong Kong. It’s one of the most significant events for the destination, even making its way into the Guinness World Records (in 2011, there were more than 1,000 dragons and lions!).

festival-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong

Image courtesy of @albarksa via Instagram

Hong Kong Arts Festival (February-March)

If you’re a lover of the arts, make sure you’re around to experience this major international event. The Hong Kong Arts Festival will let you discover the best of Hong Kong’s talent and treat you to appearances from theatre troupes from around the world. Enjoy performances from a range of artistic genres, including Western and Chinese opera, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre and more. The Hong Kong Arts Festival starts from mid- to late-February and continues until mid- to late-March.

Hong Kong International Film Festival (March)

This festival is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent cultural events. Anyone involved in the film industry tends to promote their new films at this festival. Not only will you get to see locally produced movies, but those from other nations too, including Taiwan, Japan, India and Georgia. For any movie connoisseur, don’t miss this festival! The Hong Kong International Film Festival usually takes place in March or April each year.

Hong Kong Electronics Fair (April)

If you’re interested in electronic gaming, home appliances, personal electronics, or solar technology, then you should get yourself to this fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. You’ll get to see the launch of new products from major brands, and you’ll even get to sample some of them. The festival has two editions: the spring edition takes place in mid-April, while an autumn edition occurs in mid-October.

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (June)

One of Hong Kong’s oldest festivals (as far back as the third century), the Dragon Boat Festival is another one of the destination’s colourful events. Watch brightly-coloured dragon boats as they race to decide who is the fastest! Teams come in from all over the world to take part in this festival. The origin of the festival has its roots in legend: the old man Qu Yan, an official who became disillusioned with his country’s government, drowned himself in protest. Locals then rushed to where he was, in their boats, banging drums and gongs to scare away anything that might harm Qu Yan.

Lan Kwai Fong Beer & Music Festival (July)

July might be the best time to visit Hong Kong since you can cool yourself off with this beer and music festival! You’ll get to indulge in more than 100 world-famous beer brands from participating bars, restaurants and street booths. Enjoy the live music from more than 20 bands, take part in many interactive games and browse through the fun arts and crafts stalls. The Lan Kwai Fong Beer & Music Festival is for the entire family. This event takes place on the streets of Lan Kwai Fong in July (the organisers finalise the dates closer to the time).

festival-at-night-best-time-to-visit-hong-kong

Image courtesy of @sheep_in_brisbane via Instagram

Hong Kong Food Expo (August)

If you’ve visited Hong Kong before to enjoy the destination’s culinary delights, then make sure you arrive in time to enjoy this food expo in late August. For five days, sample gourmet treats from around the world and watch demonstrations from international experts, including chefs of Michelin fame. Discover gastronomic creations from the west to the far east!

The Great November Feast (November)

If you want to experience the culinary wonders of this destination for more than five days, then November is the best time to visit Hong Kong. Make sure you can stick around for the entire month because that’s how long the Great November Feast will last! This massive gourmet marathon will take over the city. You’ll have plenty of choices with a multitude of food and drink events to enjoy. Indulge in signature tasting menus at leading restaurants around town, specially priced wining and dining offers, and more!

Hong Kong WinterFest (December)

The best time to visit Hong Kong to get into the Christmas spirit is from the beginning of December. Expect to see the streets of Hong Kong light up with colour, with signature decorations all around, especially in Central at the Statue Square Christmas. Prepare to be further amazed, with the Symphony of Lights and the Hong Kong Pulse 3D laser graphics displays. The festivities will continue to increase in intensity, especially with the countdown until the New Year arrives. Make sure to catch the beautiful fireworks displays!

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Image courtesy of @_mr.hk via Instagram

Since Hong Kong is a multi-cultural destination with the locals exploring various beliefs, you will find a welcoming ambience here. Take note though to respect the different cultures of the various religions in Hong Kong, especially with regards to how you dress when visiting temples and sacred structures. Consider the significant religious holidays when deciding on the best time to visit Hong Kong.

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Featured image courtesy of @icnro via Instagram

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