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10 Tips for Solo Travel in China

10 Tips for Solo Travel in China

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Solo travel is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be very daunting, especially in a country as culturally different to the UK as China. Stay safe on your travels with our ten top tips for solo travellers in China.

China Waterfalls

Detian Waterfall via http://www.admu.edu.ph/

Get a Visa

Not just applicable to solo travellers, all EU citizens will need to obtain a visa prior to visiting China, and you should be prepared to provide a lot of evidence such as your invitation from China and specifics about where you’ll be staying. Make sure you read the application instructions carefully and leave plenty of time to get everything sorted. More information about visas can be obtained from your nearest Chinese Embassy.

Pack Appropriately

You’ll want to pack light, but make sure you pack plenty of layers and waterproof clothes. Check out the average weather conditions for the time of year you’ll be visiting to help you pack smartly for your trip.

Learn the Language

Nobody is expecting you to be fluent, but be sure to learn a few words. These (very phonetically spelled) phrases will help you get by: Knee-how (hello); Shay Shay (thank you); Gum Bye (cheers); Dui Bootse (sorry); How (yes/okay); Boo (no).

China Wall The Great Wall of China via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Wall_of_China

Plan Your Itinerary

Travelling doesn’t always go to plan, but it will help to have a rough idea of the places you want to visit and routes you want to take before you leave, even if you decide to alter them later; this will help with budgeting. Naturally you’ll want to see and do as much as possible, but try and factor in a few rest days to recharge your batteries.

Budget

Work out how much you’ll likely be spending and be sure to break down the cost of everything before you go. While you’re away, make a note each day on how much you’ve spent and on what. The last thing you want is to run out of money mid-trip!

Sanitation

As with every new country, you should only drink bottled water and make sure the cap seal breaks as you open it. Be sure to carry toilet paper with you too (note that it goes in the basket, not the toilet).

Stay in a Hostel

Staying in a hostel is a great option for travellers exploring any destination. Most offer clean, basic and comfortable accommodation and are not only a much more budget-friendly way of travelling, but also offer the opportunity to meet other solo travellers to share your experiences with.

Hong Kong Hong Kong via http://andreas.com/

Safety

One of the most common questions asked by travellers is: is it safe to travel in China? The answer is that there are always risks associated with travelling, but as long as you use your common sense and keep your wits about you, China shouldn’t be any less safe than other destinations. It might help to read up on common scams to make sure you don’t fall into any tourist traps. Crossing the road can also be a dangerous experience in China, so follow the crowds to be on the safe side.

Get a Chinese SIM Card

Chinese SIM cards are very cheap and easy to buy and are a great way to get in touch with fellow travellers you might want to meet up with in different cities.

Be prepared for the fact that a good many websites are blocked in China. You may want to look at a VPN as a solution. It’s important the you use one of the best VPNS for China. Here  https://anonymster.com/best-vpn-china/ you can have a look at the best options on the market because not all VPNs work well for that purpose.

Come with an Open Mind

China is a beautiful and extraordinary country with so much to see and do, so come with the right attitude and an open mind and you certainly won’t be disappointed!

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Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal

Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal

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Portugal is a hive of culture, history, and architecture and is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you plan a holiday to Portugal to discover some of its glorious histories, look through our top five Portuguese historical landmarks.

Alcobaça Monastery

This beautiful monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça is a prime example of early Gothic architecture. The sanctuary is home to the ornate tombs of Ines de Castro and King Pedro I. There is a tragic love story associated with the burials. Ines de Castro was assassinated in 1355, and the king ordered his tomb to be placed next to hers so that he could face the woman he loved on the day of resurrection. They are considered to be the most beautiful medieval tombs in Portugal. There are also living quarters, including a refectory, dormitory, kitchen, and cloisters that have been inhabited by monks for 800 years.

Convent of Christ

The Convent of Christ is a beautiful roman catholic building located in Tomar. It was initially a stronghold for the Order of the Knights Templar. The building houses impressive art and examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance architecture. The walls inside are exquisitely decorated with paintings, carved stone sculptures, and a window depicting symbols and motifs. This site has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.

Évora

Évora is a Portuguese city home to several historical sights, some over two thousand years old. The Cathedral of Évora is considered one of Portugal’s most important gothic monuments. Moorish palaces and courtyards, a renaissance fountain built-in 1559, and a one-of-a-kind Roman temple have become the city’s most famous landmarks. It is not surprising that Évorahas is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Belém Tower

Belém Tower was built to be a fortress in 1515 to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. The tower is constructed from lioz limestone that is local to Lisbon. It is considered one of the prominent examples of the late gothic Manueline style. There is a drawbridge, spaces for cannons, turrets, and arches that have been decorated with images of animals, plants, and royal coats of arms. Inside there are statues, pillars, and gargoyle facets. UNESCO has listed the tower as a World Heritage monument. 



Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery is considered one of the most beautiful monasteries in Portugal and Europe. Located in Lisbon, the monastery has various entrances that have been decorated with carved figures, gables, and pinnacles. There is a 16th Century Portuguese sculpture of Our Lady of Belém in the central doorway, a figure of Prince Henry the Navigator in the center of the monastery, and a statue of King Manuel I. The monastery has been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

We hope this has inspired you to start planning your trip to Portugal today.

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Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Find out why Sand boarding, Diving and Safaris through the desert are included in the Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar.

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Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Qatar is a country of reinvention. Shimmering towerblocks rise against a desert horizon, and maze-like souks thrive next to 21st-century shopping palaces. It’s also one of the more accessible countries of the Arab Gulf, with a welcoming reputation towards visitors and plenty of attractions to keep them coming. Some of the best holiday activities you’ll find in Qatar are the adventurous kind. And these are the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Sunset in Qatar – Photo by wj2012

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Diving expeditions

The Gulf Sea is famed for its crystal waters and the exuberant marine life which lurks just beneath the surface. Messaid is a good jumping-off point where you’ll find angelfish and barracuda, while those intrigued by underwater wrecks will love the Hall Island dive site at Al-Sharqi, where bright clownfish circle the abandoned boat.

Sand Adventures

Many of the sports here have been adapted from colder climates, so instead of skiing down a mountain piste, try Khor Al Adaid beach to glide down the impressive dunes on a sand-board. Alternatively, race your blo-kart along the sands of Al Wakrah, south of capital Doha, to experience the thrill of wind-sailing on dry land.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Sand Boarding – Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar – Photo by ground zero

Al Jassasiya

The ancient carvings of Al Jassasiya lie to the north near Al Shamal, amid a truly remote landscape of village ruins and limestone. Hire a 4×4 of your own and make the journey to see the 900 petroglyphs which riddle the rocks here. The carvings denote flowers, animals, fleets of shows, or traditional Arab boats, and to this day, their origins remain a mystery.

Sunset Cruise

When the time comes for a more relaxed excursion, you can do no better than a sunset cruise onboard a wooden dhow as you drift past the super-modern Doha seafront of Al-Corniche and the old harbor at Al Khor. If you’re still hankering after some adventure, rent a smaller vessel and go for a fishing trip the following day.

Desert Safaris

Much of the inland desert in Qatar remains inaccessible on foot, but fortunately, that’s where a 4×4 comes in very handy for a safari trip you won’t easily forget. There are numerous options available from Doha, including day-long excursions, bumping, and rolling to the inland sea at Khor Al Adaid. Or make the trip at dusk for a spot of star-gazing before you settle in Bedouin-style tents for the night.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Desert Safari – Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar – Photo by robertpaulyoung

Most activities can be arranged via a tour company. Although cash has been the predominant payment method in Qatar, this is beginning to change, which is good news for tourists since  HSBC offers protection against loss or theft. If you’re planning on taking part in several activities, it can be handy to have some plastic on you to avoid expensive traveler’s cheques, plus credit cards from HSBC and other familiar providers also enable easy access to money at the ATMs. However, it’s wise to exercise caution, using only official bank machines here and sticking with local currency at the market and in smaller shops.

There’s no doubt that Qatar offers some world-class cultural attractions beyond the more energetic highlights, and while you’re in the country, set aside some time for the historic Al Zubarah fort or browse the recreated 19th-century Souk-Waqif, in Doha.

This country has been undervalued in the past but is now coming to the world’s attention. With its desert adventures, ancient sites, and thriving culture, this attention is thoroughly deserved.

This is a travel feature by world traveler, Jose Capelo. He loves exploring the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar and has spent many trips exploring the wild deserts of Qatar.

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8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

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Bondi is well known for sun, surf, and fun, but what can you do if you find yourself there in the colder months from June to August? Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Sydney’s most popular suburb when the temperature drops.

Adventure Travel Activities in Sydney

8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

1. Go on an art tour

If the weather doesn’t allow for the typical outdoorsy activities Bondi is known for, a tour of some of its first-rate art galleries can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss the Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, dedicated to promoting Indigenous art, and the Bondi Art Lounge, where you can view works from local artists or even take a beginner class and create a masterpiece of your own.

2. Take a hike

In crisp cool temperatures, a hike along the coastal cliffs with a view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean below can’t be beaten. One of the most popular hikes is the Bondi to Coogee Walk, which is 6 km and takes you through Sydney’s eastern suburbs and past plenty of cafes, restaurants, and kiosks where you can stop to rest and take in the sights.

Outdoor Activites in Sydney - Spit Bridge

 

3. Head to Bondi Icebergs for some winter swimming

Even during winter, swimming is not entirely out of the question in Bondi. The Oceanside pool at Bondi Icebergs Club is open year-round, and the winter swims every Sunday from May to September have become a time-honored tradition. Although club members must complete at least three winter swims a year to retain their lofty membership title, non-members who are up for the challenge can pay a one-time fee to use the pool and sauna.

4. Strap on your skates and visit the only beachside skating rink in Australia

If winter swimming is a step too far for you, why not skate instead? Bondi has Australia’s only beachside ice rink, and the ocean view in the background makes for a striking contrast. The ice rink is open from June 27 to July 13, and aside from hosting skating sessions that are open to the public, it also features spectacular ice shows from Stars On Ice.

5. Settle in for brunch at one of Bondi’s decadent cafes

Winter wouldn’t be the same without a few indulgences, and after all your skating and hiking, you’ve probably earned a hearty brunch anyway. Fortunately, Bondi is full of great brunch options, from Trio Café with delicacies like poached eggs with truffle oil and char-grilled halloumi; to the rustic Brown Sugar, where you can indulge in classic comfort food like buttermilk pancakes and English muffins with bacon.

Coffee and cake around the world

 

6. Join a cooking class, dodge ball game, or salsa lesson

During the winter, it may seem like most people have gone off to hibernate, but if you know where to look, you can still find plenty of social things to do. Start by checking out the Bondi community page on Gumtree. You can find like-minded individuals to explore the area with or even join a group for fun activities like hiking, biking, or cooking.

7. Score some vintage fashion at Bondi Markets

The Bondi Markets, held every Sunday on Bondi Beach, are known in Sydney for being the best place to shop for vintage clothing and accessories and hip new fashions from emerging designers. Aside from style, you can also shop for art, furniture, flowers, books, local produce, and delicious street eats. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great place to do some people-watching and see the Bondi locals in their element.

8. Stop by the Bondi Pavilion

The Bondi Pavilion is one of the suburb’s oldest landmarks dating back to 1928 when it first opened, featuring grand dining rooms, a lounge, a ballroom, and the Turkish and Hot Sea Water Baths. Today, it’s used as an art and cultural center and is home to a theatre group, recording studio, and art gallery. There’s always something going on here, from pottery classes to festivals to open-air cinemas, so check it out if you have a chance.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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