Catching the Blues

The warm and shallow waters surrounding the teardrop island are also a favourite destination to witness one of the most amazing displays that Mother Nature has to offer. Pasikudah, the tiny hamlet situated on the eastern shores of Sri Lanka, has grown to become a tourist magnet for whale watching and especially sightings of the largest mammal known to ever have existed on Earth, the Blue Whale.

Plan your trip during peak months 

Whale watching is in season between May and September. This is because whales engage in their relocation process around the isle during this period. Many Pasikudah beach hotels use this activity to lure travellers to their destination. So if you have not settled on your preparations yet, shoot for this time of year.

The best way to engage in the activity 

Private or shared boat trips can be arranged at properties like Amethyst Resort which work with trusted operators to provide their visitors with a wholesome whale-watching experience.

Be prepared 

Generally, it is better to set out as early as possible if you are planning to go by boat. Tours commence as early as 6 am. During the time you are out on the water, you will probably catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Binoculars will come in handy to catch a close-up of these giants.

Respect their space 

Whale Watching
Whale Watching – Image via Flickr

Whale watching is a passionate activity in this area.  Similar to most outdoor activities, you need to abide by the rules. Practice the “100-yard minimum rule” for safety. It is best to travel with an expert since they know how to coax these regal sea giants to come closer.

A Guide to Luxury Family Safari Retreats in Tanzania’s Wild Heart

Visiting Tanzania and going on a safari is something that is on many bucket lists. Therefore, if visiting with family, make sure to plan out everything in order to have a fabulous time.

When to Go

If one wishes to go on a variety of tours in Tanzania, the best time to visit for a variety of wildlife tours is during the dry season, which stretches from June to October. During this period, animals congregate around waterholes as water sources dwindle, making them easier to spot. The peak season for crowds falls between August and October, with September being the busiest month.

Luxury Safaris

When it comes to experiencing Tanzania’s wildlife with your family, luxury safaris offer unparalleled comfort and personalized experiences.  Imagine private game drives led by expert guides, catered meals enjoyed amidst breathtaking scenery and luxurious accommodations designed with families in mind. The likes of SkySafari can help curate an unforgettable Tanzanian adventure for you and your loved ones, ensuring a blend of wildlife encounters, relaxation, and memories that will last a lifetime.

How Much to Budget

Hot Air Balloon Rides
Hot Air Balloon Rides – Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

Luxury family safaris in Tanzania can vary greatly in cost depending on the specific experiences you choose. While the ultimate luxury safari with private chefs, hot air balloon rides, and helicopter tours could have an unlimited budget, a more realistic starting point for high-end accommodations and experiences is around USD 1,500 per person, per night.

Where to Stay

Luxury safari retreats are scattered across Tanzania’s national parks. Consider opulent lodges with private balconies or intimate tented camps for a truly immersive experience.

All You Need to Know About Onsens in Japan

Offering a unique traditional experience that will benefit you as well, onsens in Japan are not just popular with locals but tourists as well. If you have not had the chance to enjoy an onsen before, these insights will help you to prepare for what will be a truly relaxing time!

What Exactly is an Onsen?

Onsens are hot springs, revered for their therapeutic properties and natural allure. With temperatures typically exceeding 25°C and water containing a variety of mineral elements, they offer a blissful retreat for body and soul. A natural onsen is called a ‘tennen onsen’ since the waters are sourced from geothermal springs. One example of this is the Tenzan-no-yu Onsen which can be accessed by those staying at a Kyoto, Japan hotel in the city centre such as Park Hotel Kyoto. On the other hand, a jinko-onsen is artificially created to offer such conditions.

Day-use Onsens

Tamatsukuri Onsen
Image via Wikimedia Commons – 663highland, 140427 Chorakuen Tamatsukuri Onsen Matsue Shimane pref Japan15s3, CC BY-SA 3.0

For a taste of onsen bliss without the commitment of an overnight stay, day-use onsens are ideal. Simply make a reservation or arrive spontaneously to indulge in the therapeutic waters. Open to the public, they provide a range of amenities, while admission fees can vary depending on what’s on offer. For those who may feel too shy for a full body soak, there is an option referred to as ‘Ashiyu’; you will get to dip your feet in a pool with hot spring water, often found in charming towns known for their onsens.

Etiquette at an Onsen

It’s important to know some onsen etiquette. Begin your onsen journey by cleansing yourself thoroughly with a shower utilising the provided soap and shampoo, before entering the bath. Keep to a moderate time in the hot springs to avoid dehydration and while you may chat with others, observe a low noise level to preserve the tranquil ambiance. Additionally, refrain from diving, splashing, or photography, and remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after your onsen soak.

Some Key Benefits

The ancient practice of onsen bathing also offers diverse health and wellness benefits which has made it popular in Japan for centuries. From improved blood circulation to stress relief and muscle relaxation, the mineral-rich waters of these hot springs provide a holistic approach to healing and rejuvenation. You can experience the therapeutic properties of onsens to ease aches and pains, enhance skin radiance, enjoy better sleep, and restore balance to body and mind as well.

Discovering Wildlife Wonderland

The gorgeous Minneriya National Park beckons nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers with its breathtaking landscapes and diverse fauna. From majestic elephants to exotic birdlife, here’s everything you need to know about exploring this hidden gem.

Elephant Gathering

Experience the awe-inspiring sight of the famous Elephant Gathering, where hundreds of Asian elephants congregate around the lush Minneriya Tank during the dry season. Witness these gentle giants from above with Cinnamon Air as they bathe, graze, and interact in their natural habitat.

Jeep Safaris

An exhilarating jeep safari adventure through the verdant terrain of the Minneriya National Park is your chance to become one with nature. Traverse rugged trails and dense forests as you search for elusive leopards, sloth bears, and other elusive wildlife species.

Birdwatching Bliss

Birdwatching
Image via Wikimedia Commons – Harshadewa Ariyasinghe, Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park, CC BY-SA 2.0

Minneriya is a paradise for birdwatchers, boasting over 170 species of avian inhabitants. Keep your binoculars handy to spot colourful kingfishers, stately herons, and majestic eagles soaring overhead.

Nature Walks

Immerse yourself in the park’s serene ambience with guided nature walks led by experienced naturalists. Explore hidden trails, learn about the park’s flora and fauna, and enjoy close encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat.

Cultural Excursions

Combine your wildlife adventure with a visit to nearby cultural attractions such as the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Discover the rich history and cultural heritage of the region while exploring ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Hokkaido – Scenic Sites of Floral Wonder

Embark on a floral journey of discovery in Hokkaido, where the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms transforms the landscape into a pastel paradise. Explore the enchanting allure of springtime in Japan, from idyllic parks to hidden gems showcasing the charm of these flowers.

img via flickr

Otaru Park

Dating to the Meiji era, Otaru Park emerges as a panoramic haven for cherry blossom enthusiasts. With around 900 cherry trees gracing its slopes, this park which is within easy reach of the property of Park Hotel Group transforms into a captivating spectacle from early to mid-May. The Hokkaido cherry tree varieties here set amidst views of the city and harbour, create an idyllic setting for a leisurely stroll.

Temiya Park

Located on a mountain, Temiya Park offers more breathtaking panoramas along with spellbinding views of its 700 Ezoyama Sakura and Yoshino Cherry trees in full bloom from mid to late May. Amongst the best things to do in Otaru during Spring is to

enjoy the tranquillity as you wander along rows of cherry blossom trees. While here, you can also visit the Temiyaryokuka Botanical Gardens adding more allure to this scenic site.

Tenjoji Temple

A 15-minute stroll from Minami Otaru Station will bring you to Tenjoji Temple, a hidden gem home to around 30 cherry blossom trees. Though fewer in number than other spots, the grandeur of these trees, in full bloom by early May, creates a spectacle of awe. On your exploration, you will also come across statues of Gokoushi and Kanon which lends to the distinctive atmosphere created by the vibrant hues of cherry blossoms.

Hokkaido Shrine

Embark on an excursion to Hokkaido Shrine within Sapporo’s Maruyama Park. Late April to early May heralds the blooming of over a thousand cherry blossoms around the shrine, casting a spell of enchantment. Amidst this floral symphony, the park also unveils the delicate elegance of white and red plum blossoms, creating a magical setting reminiscent of a springtime fairytale.

 

Climb Monkey Mountain in Gal Oya 

Explore the hidden wonders of Gal Oya as you ascend Monkey Mountain at sunrise. For outdoor enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable adventure, Monkey Mountain offers a unique blend of physical challenge and natural beauty.

Discover the Enigmatic Veddas Tribe

Explore the Gal Oya area, an off-the-beaten-track destination that remained off-limits during the war, preserving its natural beauty. Encounter the Veddas, Sri Lanka’s indigenous community, hidden within the deep forests surrounding the national park. Learn about their mystical beliefs regarding the unusually high density of medicinal plants in the area, believed to cure various diseases.

Diverse Wildlife Encounters

Gal Oya
Gal Oya – Image via Flickr

Embark on a thrilling two-hour hike up Monkey Mountain with a naturalist guide, navigating through dense forests and climbing over giant boulders. Encounter a rich variety of wildlife, including 32 recorded mammal species, interesting birds, butterflies, and reptiles. The Gal Oya area provides a unique opportunity to witness a wide range of flora and fauna, making the climb an exciting adventure for nature enthusiasts.

Panoramic Views from Monkey Mountain

Rise with the sun and start your climb at the crack of dawn to beat the midday heat. The twenty-minute walk to the base of Monkey Mountain is just the beginning of a challenging ascent. Navigate the uphill climb, sometimes hand-over-foot, to reach the mountain peak. Once there, be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding forest, creating a serene and breathtaking backdrop. The tough hike becomes worthwhile as you take in the phenomenal scenery. Conclude your adventurous climb with a well-deserved breakfast back at one of the Gal Oya Sri Lanka hotels the likes of Wild Glamping Gal Oya.

Pack Smart

Equip yourself with light and cool clothing, wear a cap, apply sunscreen, and bring along a camera to capture not just the stunning views from the summit but also the unique flora and fauna encountered during the climb.

Unveiling Bangkok’s Past: A Journey Through Historical Gems

Beyond the neon lights and bustling crowds lie whispers of ancient kingdoms, powerful monarchs, and fascinating traditions. Take a journey through time and explore some of Bangkok’s most remarkable heritage sites and historical monuments.

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

No historical exploration of Bangkok is complete without visiting the Grand Palace, the former royal residence and a symbol of Thailand’s cultural heritage. Within its golden walls lies Wat Phra Kaew, home to the Emerald Buddha, a revered jade statue representing the Buddha.

Wolfgang Holzem / https://ehalal.io/, Wat Phra Kaew Bangkok31, CC BY-SA 4.0

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

Step into Wat Pho, one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, and prepare to be awestruck by the majestic Reclining Buddha. Stretching an impressive 46 meters, this gold-plated statue depicts the Buddha entering Nirvana. The surrounding complex houses traditional medicine schools and massage treatments, offering a glimpse into Thailand’s unique healing practices.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Take a day trip from Gardina Asoke to Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Siamese Kingdom. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an open-air museum showcasing the ruins of temples, palaces, and monasteries, whispering tales of past grandeur and fierce battles.

The National Museum

Delve deeper into Thailand’s historic achievements at the National Museum, one of the biggest attractions in Bangkok. Its vast collection spans centuries, showcasing archaeological artefacts, royal treasures, and intricate artworks that shed light on the nation’s diverse history and artistic expressions.

Adventure Seeker’s Haven: Trekking, Diving, and Outdoor Activities in Malaysia

Malaysia, with its rich tapestry of cultures, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant cities, offers travellers a diverse array of experiences waiting to be explored. From bustling metropolises to pristine islands, Malaysia captivates visitors with its blend of tradition and modernity. Embark on a journey through this enchanting country and discover the best things to do that promise unforgettable memories and adventures.

Explore Kuala Lumpur’s Iconic Landmarks

Begin your Malaysian adventure in the vibrant capital of Kuala Lumpur, where iconic landmarks and cultural treasures await. Marvel at the gleaming Petronas Twin Towers, explore the bustling streets of Chinatown and visit the historic Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Don’t miss the chance to wander through the vibrant markets of Central Market and sample delicious street food in Jalan Alor.

Immerse Yourself in Cultural Heritage

Delve into Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage with visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as George Town in Penang and Melaka’s historic quarter. Explore colonial-era architecture, vibrant street art, and centuries-old temples, mosques, and churches that reflect Malaysia’s diverse cultural influences. Take a stroll along Penang’s Clan Jetties or Melaka’s Jonker Street to experience the unique blend of traditions and flavours.

Discover Pristine Islands and Beaches

Escape to Malaysia’s tropical paradise with visits to stunning islands and beaches along the country’s coastline. Explore the crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches of Desaru, snorkel amidst vibrant coral reefs in the Perhentian Islands, or unwind on the secluded shores of Tioman Island. Whether it’s diving, snorkelling, or simply relaxing by the sea, Malaysia’s islands offer endless opportunities for beachside bliss.

Image via Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas

Unwind on the beaches

Among Malaysia’s stunning beaches, a few of the most stunning happens to be along the coast of Desaru. You can find quiet stretches of soft sands that spread as far as your eyes can see, secluded and serene as well as delightful resorts that offer amazing experiences such as Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, You can meet new people, dance, and try out all the Desaru attractions that make this place so attractive to tourists.

Indulge in Culinary Delights

Treat your taste buds to Malaysia’s diverse culinary delights, influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous flavours. Sample iconic dishes such as nasi lemak, laksa, roti canai, and satay at bustling street stalls and vibrant food markets. Experience the culinary melting pot of Penang with its famous hawker fare or embark on a food tour through Kuala Lumpur’s diverse neighbourhoods.

The Truth About Otaru – Japan’s Hidden Gem

Nestled on Hokkaido’s coast, Otaru is a delightful surprise. It’s a sweet treat for those who venture beyond Japan’s well-trodden tourist paths. Known for its beautifully preserved canal area and rich history, Otaru offers a blend of cultural charm and scenic beauty.

Img via flickr

What Is Otaru Known For?

Otaru is famous for its beautifully preserved canal district that harks back to its prosperous port days. With warehouses now converted into charming boutiques and cafes, Otaru takes you on a journey to a bygone era. The city is also renowned for its glassworks and music boxes.

Places to Stay

Accommodation in Otaru caters to various budgets. From cosy ryokans to hotels like Grand Park Otaru, there’s something for every traveller. Want to stay at the best hotel in Hokkaido but don’t have the budget for it? Keep an eye out for offers and packages; you will find a place that fits your needs and budget.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Otaru is from June to August, when the weather is warm, and the city is vibrant with festivals and outdoor activities. Winter, February in particular, is also a great time to visit, especially if you’re interested in the famous Otaru Snow Light Path Festival.

Things to Do

There’s no shortage of activities in Otaru. Take a stroll along the canal, explore the city’s rich history in museums like the Otaru Music Box Museum, or enjoy a scenic cruise from the port. Nature lovers can head to nearby Tenguyama for hiking in summer or skiing in winter.

Cuisine

Otaru’s culinary scene is as diverse as its culture. Being a port city, it’s a paradise for seafood lovers, with fresh sushi and sashimi being local specialities. Don’t miss out on grilled seafood and sweet corn – the city’s famous street food.  For a unique experience, visit one of the local sake breweries to sample the city’s rice wine.

Kyoto’s Most Stunning Seasonal Flowers – Discover the Breathtaking Natural Beauty of Japan

Kyoto, a city steeped in history and culture, is also a paradise for nature lovers, especially those who can’t resist the charm of blooming flowers. In Kyoto, every season brings a different floral show, filling the city with delightful scents. The city offers a never-ending spectacle of natural beauty all year round.

 

Img via flickr

Spring: Cherry Blossoms

When spring arrives in Kyoto, you can’t miss the gorgeous cherry blossoms painting the town pink. Head over to Maruyama Park, where a magnificent cherry tree takes centre stage, offering you a truly breathtaking sight. And don’t forget the nighttime charm – during Sakura season, the park lights up, turning into a magical wonderland.

Summer: Lotus Flowers

Summer in Kyoto brings the serene beauty of lotus flowers. You can see them at the Kamigamo Shrine, just 15 minutes from Park Hotel Kyoto. The place has a calm pond filled with these pink and white blooms. It’s a simple yet peaceful sight that you can enjoy during the summer. You can easily get here from any Kyoto Japan hotel.

Autumn: Maple Leaves

Autumn in Kyoto is all about enjoying the vibrant colours of the maple leaves, a tradition known as Momiji-gari or maple leaf hunting. Head to Tofukuji Temple, which is famous for its extensive maple tree groves that paint the landscape in stunning shades of red, orange, and yellow. You can take in these breathtaking autumn scenes from various viewing platforms throughout the temple grounds.

Winter: Plum Blossoms

While cherry blossoms steal the spotlight, don’t overlook winter’s hidden gems – plum blossoms. At Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, you’ll find these delicate plum blossoms blooming in various shades of white, pink, and red. Don’t miss the annual plum blossom festival held here; it’s a delightful event that’s worth experiencing.