Travel

Best Places for Snorkeling Vacation

Vacations to tropical destinations are the things that most people dream about while they are slaving away at their desks. If you thinking of a tropical paradise, you might want to consider some destinations that are perfect for snorkeling. Crystal clear water and tropical fish can be found all over the globe, but there are some particular places that can be absolutely stunning.

One of the top destinations when it comes to snorkeling is Hawaii. It is difficult to discern which island is best for snorkeling, as each island is truly spectacular. Maui is one of the most visited islands, which has amazing spots for snorkeling. La Haina and Ka’anapali are some of the best places to snorkel on the island, although there are some amazing gems to be had off the coast. Molokini island is just off the coast of Maui and can be accessed by daily boat trips. This location is a partially exposed volcanic crater that is features an incredible underwater world – so don’t forget some surf booties or water shoes to protect your feet when out of the water. If you find yourself on the island of Maui, it pays great dividends to explore this tiny island. Kauai is another location in the Hawaii that is absolutely perfect for snorkeling. Kauai is known as being one of the most secluded and laid back islands. Many people consider Kauai to be the most visually appealing island, both inside and outside of the water.

The Maldives is an island chain that sits in the middle of the Indian ocean and while the waters are crystal clear and full of exotic fish, you won’t find a huge amount of tourists in this area. The thousands of tiny islands that make up the Maldives are incredibly small, yet have to offer some truly amazing snorkeling experiences. Another great island chain that is well worth checking out is Bora Bora. This is one corner of the globe that everyone should consider taking a vacation to at some point, as a trip to these islands really is a unique experience. One of the best things about staying in this area is the fact that you can literally stay in a villa that is projecting out of the water, as a great deal of their hotel accommodations feature these types of Bungalows. If you do book yourself a room in Bora Bora, you can literally wake up and jump into the water in seconds.

While there are many exotic destinations that feature top notch snorkeling, the Big Island of Hawaii is widely considered the cream of the crop. One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that there are a handful of springs that run into the water near Kailua-Kona, where sea turtles gather in large numbers. The turtles feed on the natural algae that accumulates in these areas, letting snorkelers get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Snorkeling is something that can be massively rewarding, so if you have not gotten your feet wet and had a snorkeling experience of your own, you may want to check out these excellent locations.

Top Festivals in Bangkok

bangkok festivalsOne of the first things that any traveler to Thailand will notice, is that the country has its own unique and rich culture. It’s one of the products of the fact that this nation was never truly colonized by some other power. Unlike some of its neighbors, which feature French architecture or Spanish churches, Thailand truly is a culture unto its own. And nowhere is this more clear, than in the many interesting festivals that occur here on a regular basis.

If you’re looking for a festival that’s somewhat on the rowdy side for a vagabond traveller like yourself, be sure to visit Bangkok in the middle of April. That’s when the Songkran festival takes place. The idea behind this festival is that it offers people a chance to have a fresh start, essentially ushering in a new year. This means that people will go through their homes, cleaning the rooms and doing other things to increase their good luck. One of the highlights of the festival is the huge water fight that takes place all around the country. For many people, the water is meant to symbolize washing away bad luck and leading to a sort of purification. But at the same time, many people simply enjoy the experience of getting drenched and drenching others in return.

So if you’re going to take part in this festival, make sure that you’re prepared. If you get annoyed or angry easily, then you might want to steer clear of this one. In a way, you just have to accept the fact that if you’re going to be out on the road at this time, you’re going to get doused with water repeatedly, no matter what you say or how loudly you protest. Make sure you don’t have electronic items or valuable documents on your person, or these are going to get wrecked. Wear clothes that can handle all that water. It’s a crazy, wild and exciting time to be in Bangkok, and if you’re up for it, it can be an unforgettable experience.

For something more relaxed and peaceful, you could observe the Loi Krathong festival. This event usually happens toward the end of the year, in November. People celebrate by launching beautifully crafted baskets into the river. The baskets can be made of leaves and parts from the banana tree, and they usually contain some sort of floral arrangement. There might also be candles, incense or coins. These baskets range from small hand-made ones, to much larger baskets created by offices or companies. Fireworks might also fill the night sky.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Bangkok

bangkok new year's eve
Bangkok is one of those cities where there’s a lot of energy and activity in the air. You can feel it in the evenings, as you ride the BTS, walk around one of the city’s shopping malls, or make your way around the Grand Palace complex. The pace is bustling and the people are full of life. All of this comes to a head at the end of the year, as Bangkok celebrates New Year’s Eve. If you’re a traveler who finds himself or herself in Bangkok as the year is brought to an end, you’ll be able to experience for yourself just how much energy and life this city has.

There are so many options for people looking to make their New Year’s in Bangkok special. If you’d like to be around hundreds of thousands of other people, as the new year is ushered in, then you can consider going to the Central World mall complex. On a regular weekend or evening, there’s already a ton of things to do at this mall. There are movie theaters for catching local and international films. There are shops and restaurants galore. And there are usually exhibits, live entertainment or other activities outside the mall proper.

But when New Year’s Eve arrives, this area becomes full of people looking to party and celebrate. And Central World doesn’t disappoint. You can expect beautiful fireworks to fill the night sky at the moment the new year arrives. Before that appointed time, there will be live bands and other entertainment available, to keep the crowd occupied. As far as food goes, there’ll be stalls in place to make sure that you won’t run the risk of going hungry, or running out of beer. Central World offers a crowded and rather noisy atmosphere, perfect for bringing a full year to a close.

If you’re looking for a New Year’s experience that offers uniquely Thai sights in the process, you can choose to go on a river cruise. There are cruises set up precisely to end the year, and they arrange their start and end times so that you can be on the water come midnight. It can be a truly beautiful experience, because your river vantage point will allow you to see the Grand Palace, other temples, bridges and more. You’ll also be able to appreciate the fireworks which will be lighting up the Bangkok skyline at midnight. And as far as food and drink go, you’ll have your fill since these cruises generally come with long dinners, glasses of wine or champagne, all while being entertained by live music.

Top Beaches Near Bangkok

pattaya beach near BangkokIf you’re going to visit Bangkok, and you’d like to spend part of your time at a beach, you’ll need to plan your trip well. Thailand has many beautiful beaches that can improve your summer vacation, but the question is going to be one of travel time and distance. For instance, Phuket is a great place in Thailand to hit the beaches and enjoy water activities. But it’s a long way from Bangkok. If you’re thinking of taking a road trip, you’re looking at about eleven hours on the road. Flights are available, and take a much shorter hour and a half, but you’ll need to work out the arrangements properly.

So if you intend to be based primarily in and around the Bangkok area, some of the Thai beaches won’t be very convenient for you. The good news though is that there are good beach options, which are relatively closer to the capital.

For instance, you could consider Ko Samet. This is an island which is located southeast of Bangkok. You can’t really say that it’s nearby, since you’ll still need to cross a distance of around two hundred kilometers. But at the same time, Ko Samet is one of those places where people who live in Bangkok go to have fun during the weekend. So that makes it clear that it’s accessible from the capital. As far as beaches go, you’ll find some lovely places here. There are beaches coated with white sand and coral formations.

To get to Ko Samet, you could consider a land trip. You can’t drive all the way there, because it’s an island. But you can take a vehicle to a spot where you can ride a ferry to Ko Samet. The drive part of the trip can take around 2.5 hours, while the ferry ride itself takes less than half an hour. If you’re taking a cab, tell the driver to bring you to the Ban Phe ferry area. Just make sure to take the necessary precautions so that you don’t run into problems with an unscrupulous cab driver.

Another beach that you can go for is the well-known travel destination of Pattaya. On the upside, the beaches here are closer, so travel time will be less. Also, there are a lot of establishments here which might be great if you’d like to have a more active travel experience, involving bars, malls and restaurants. The downside though is that you’re not quite going to get the peaceful beach experience that a place like Ko Samet can offer. So consider your personality and preferences closely, before you make a decision.

Reasons To Visit Khao Yai National Park in Bangkok

waterfall in Khao Yai National ParkThe Khao Yai National Park is one of the top destinations for travelers to Thailand, and it’s not hard to see why. The place is huge and there are a great many things to do while you’re visiting. That said, this particular destination might not appeal to everyone. This national park really will tend to satisfy those people who love seeing beautiful scenery or observing wildlife from a closer distance. For this kind of traveler, there are a whole host of reasons to check out Khao Yai.

You can visit Khao Yai to see some pretty amazing animals, and the diversity means that you’ll be having your fill of an assortment of wildlife. For example, there are hundreds of elephants in this national park. They tend to be drawn to some of the salt licks found in the area, so there are particular places you can check out if you’d like to increase your chances of seeing an elephant. At times, they can also be seen close to the road, so you might happen upon some elephants while you’re traveling from point to point. It’s not just elephants though. As far as mammals are concerned, you might see gibbons, deer, leopards, bears, pangolins and more.

If you’re into observing, studying and/or photographing fowl, then this park will also be a great place for you to visit. Hundreds of different varieties of birds have been spotted in Khao Yai. Hornbills and pheasants are just some of the birds which can be found in this park. If you’re more into scaly creatures, then Khao Yai is home to crocodiles. The park also has snakes, but it’s better to be wary of and avoid these particular critters.

Now, if you’re more into beautiful scenery, Khao Yai park also has you covered. One particular natural feature that can be found here are waterfalls. In order to see them in all their glory, it’s best to visit close to or during the rainy season. The Haew Suwat waterfall may be known to some because it was shown in the film, The Beach, with a younger Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen. Or you can check out the Haew Narok waterfall which has a total of three levels, which rise to a fairly commanding height.

The Khao Yai national park is also great for an active holiday of camping and hiking. There are many trails to consider for trekking around the park. And it’s also possible to rent tents and camping equipment from within the park, to allow you to spend an evening under the stars. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to keep any food or other items secure from any prying wildlife.

Bangkok Night Life Is All That

bangkok night life
When people talk about the nightlife in a particular tourist destination, the images that come to mind are usually of clubs, bars and so on. Now, Bangkok does have these in droves, and if you’re into those kinds of experiences, you’re sure to have your fill. And some say that Bangkok offers some of the best of this in the world. But it’s also important to keep in mind that different people enjoy different kinds of evening experiences. And Bangkok is diverse enough to cater to people with varying tastes, personalities and preferences.

If you’re looking for nightlife that’s a bit more rowdy, you’ll have many options. As far as clubs go, you’ll find that there’s a wide range of these available. From the Demo club in Thong Lor Street, to the Grease nightclub in the Piman 49 Complex, people who enjoy house, techno, dubstep and more will be able to find a club to their liking. If you’re into something a little bit more flamboyant, you can also have a look at the various ladyboy shows, with their large production numbers and costumes, and where not everything is as it first seems.

However, don’t think that that’s all Bangkok has to offer. If you’d like to experience nightlife that’s more relaxed and picturesque, you can try out one of the city’s well-known river cruises. You’ll find yourself entertained on board by live bands, and treated to a generous amount of local cuisine. And you’ll get to enjoy all these while making your way past some of Bangkok’s most iconic attractions and landmarks.

My personal favorite which falls somewhere between the two is simply visiting a place like Central World. You and your companions can spend time having a look at the various stores. This is especially great when it’s sale season. Then, you can have dinner at one of the restaurants there, before heading for the cinemas to catch a local film.

What I like about spending at least one night in Central World or some other Bangkok mall, is that it gives me a better idea of what it might be like to live in the city. I have a better idea of how much food, drink and entertainment generally cost. I get to see which particular clothing and other styles are popular, or at least well represented in the stores. Catching a local film is particularly helpful, since I gain a better understanding of what local people find funny, scary or exhilarating. And the local movie also exposes me to how things might look in a Thai home, office, or perhaps some far flung part of the country that I’m not going to be in a position to visit.

Bangkok Street Food – Over-rated or A Must Eat?

bangkok street foodWhether or not you enjoy eating street food while you travel, is going to depend a lot on your personality. Some travelers would rather dine in relative comfort, and in a place where the food is prepared in a more traditional kitchen. For that person, street food might be too much of an adventure, especially when paired with fears related to hygiene and/or stomach issues. On the other hand, other travelers don’t mind eating food in a more raw or simple setting. It’s this kind of traveler who tends to delight at the sight of many food stalls lining the streets.

If you’re the second kind of traveler, then Bangkok is going to be a great place for you to visit. There’s the perennial question of whether Bangkok street food is worth checking out, or is simply overrated. But really, if you’re a bit gastronomically adventurous, then there are truly many reasons to give Thai street food a try.

One main reason is simply that it can be delicious. The trick is to have a keen eye, and make it a point to watch out for street food stalls where a lot of local people are eating. If you see a particular stall or setup where there are a lot of people buying food, or eating at the nearby tables, then it’s a good bet that the food being served there will be excellent examples of local street cuisine.

There’s another advantage to eating at a street food place that gets many customers. It will help to ensure that the food and other ingredients see a lot of turnover. You’ll be less likely to be served food that’s been cooked in old oil, for example, if the vendor has been cooking at a brisk pace for most of the day.

From my own personal experience, I’m a big fan of the fresh fruit drinks that you can see vendors hawking along the sides of roads. You just basically approach the seller, and point out which fruit you’d like to have juiced. Oranges are fairly common. But a friend once tried juice from a red fruit that none of us were familiar with, and she liked it a lot. You can’t really find juice much fresher, since the vendor will manually squeeze the fruit juice into a plastic bottle while you wait. It’s a great way to taste different juices from various and even unfamiliar fruits. You may even find that you prefer it over your morning coffee while you are there!

Good Places To Learn Muay Thai In Bangkok

Muay Thai is a martial art which is continuing to rise in popularity. Part of this is due to the fact that this particular form of combat can be very effective, since it uses eight points of contact as opposed to the usual two or four points. This means that you’re not just going to be striking your opponent with punches and kicks. You also learn how to use your elbows and knees, to maximum effect. Muay Thai is also becoming more popular because of its use in mixed martial arts.

If you’re looking to learn more about Muay Thai, or improve on your current skill level, Bangkok is a great place to do so. Thailand is the home of this particular martial art, and Bangkok is the seat of the World Muay Thai Federation. Given this background, you can expect to find some of the finest Muay Thai training locations in this city.

Now, before you choose a particular Bangkok gym to train in, it’s best to decide ahead of time just how deep you want to go. Are you planning to commit a good amount of time, ranging from weeks to months, in order to seriously elevate your Muay Thai skills? Or are you looking at this as a much shorter term experience, where it’s more a matter of getting a taste of what this martial art has to offer? Are you willing to work out in simpler surroundings? Or would you rather engage in a more luxurious gym experience? The answers to these types of questions will help to narrow your search, and match you up with a gym that meets your needs.

If you’re looking for a more serious skill upgrade, you can consider going to a gym like the Fighting Spirit Gym. It might help that the FSG is run by an expat, if you’re looking for a place where language won’t be much of an issue. Said expat also just happens to be a retired professional fighter (can you say cool career?), so you can already tell from this that the caliber of training that you could receive is very high. You can choose to go for a group class, if you’re the type of person who likes to learn alongside other novices or students. Or you can look into the possibility of one-on-one lessons with a trainer, but this is the sort of thing that would really only work if you can demonstrate an already high skill level.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to learn Muay Thai in relative luxury, then Bangkok has you covered as well. One option is a visit to the Peninsula hotel in this city. The hotel offers a training package which allows people to have lessons with a member of the country’s Muay Thai national squad. So as far as training goes, you’ll be learning from some of the best. The level of training is much lighter here though, and it includes time in the spa and a massage. More serious practitioners might not be satisfied with this type of arrangement, but other travelers might find it more suitable for them.

Check out the video below to see one of these famous matches.

Best Temples To Visit In Bangkok

When it comes to temples in Thailand, there are very many of them. There are also quite a lot of temples in the city of Bangkok. This is understandable given the fact that many Thais are Buddhists. Temples range in size from fairly smaller ones, to the truly majestic examples. If you’re going to visit Bangkok, it’s a good idea to visit at least a few of these temples or wats. The structures themselves contain much interesting architectural and artistic detail. And these temples also allow you to take a peek into the cultural and religious practices of the people living there.

Depending on your time and travel constraints, you will at least want to be able to see some of the more prominent temples in Bangkok. A good place to start is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This particular temple is located in the Grand Palace complex. So if you do choose to visit it, there will also be other interesting sights for you to check out in its immediate vicinity. One of the highlights of this temple is the emerald Buddha statue. It gets its color from the fact that it is made of a large block of jade. This statue is so special and revered, that only the king is allowed to go near it. The temple was built in the late 1700’s, but the jade Buddha already existed several centuries before that.

Certain rules exist for people who visit this temple, and many of these rules apply to other temples as well. Keep these in mind because people who flout these rules usually find themselves very inconvenienced. There’s a dress code to watch out for, and it’s based on the fact that temples in general are sacred and religious places. People go there to practice their religion. Make sure to avoid wearing shorts or sandals. You’ll need to dress up a bit more formally than that. Clothing which reveals a lot of skin is also not allowed. If what you’re wearing doesn’t meet the requirements, there’s a good chance that you simply won’t be allowed in.

Another temple to visit in Bangkok is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This is a very prominent temple, which is well-known partly because of the huge statue of the Buddha on its premises. The statue is almost fifty meters long, and the surface of this statue has gold leaf covering it. It’s quite a sight to behold, which helps to explain why so many people visit this temple. This isn’t the only statue of note in the temple, however. You can also check out the rows and rows of smaller statues, which are also covered in gold leaf. There are hundreds of these, making them quite a lovely sight as well.

Finally, consider paying a visit to the Temple of the Dawn. This is a very picturesque temple found along the Chao Phraya river. In the evening, the temple is bathed with artificial light, making it quite beautiful. The surface of the temple itself is adorned and embellished with colored glass and porcelain.

Top Must-See Attractions in Bangkok

grand palace bangkok
Bangkok is an amazing city really. There are many things that a traveler can do, and there’s enough diversity there so that there’s something for everybody. Different people will gravitate toward varying tourist attractions and experiences, but for most people, there will be certain places that they will want to check out. After all, one of the most fascinating things about Thailand is its history. It is a country that was never truly colonized by other nations, which makes it very different from its neighbors. Its culture goes back a very long time, and this can be seen in the structures, buildings and places which continue to exist until today.

One must-see attraction is simply the Grand Palace. That’s not to say that the entire experience will be a pleasant one. The reality is that many travelers visit this place on a regular basis, so you’re going to have to brace yourself for the crowds of people making their way around the site. You’ll also have to get used to the idea of the heat in that place. The large number of people doesn’t help, and since much of your walking will be done outdoors, you’ll be dealing with the heat of the sun.

But don’t let all that put you off, because the Grand Palace truly is worth visiting. This is the official place of residence of the king of Thailand, and this has been the case for more than two hundred years. There are many structures here to check out and photograph. Also, be sure to take a closer look at the murals which adorn the walls. Both the exterior and interior surfaces of the buildings are richly appointed. There are fountains and statues, and certain interior areas are full of paintings, works of art and other items of interest.

Another must-see attraction is the Bangkok National Museum. This is the largest museum in the southeast Asian region, and it is full of items, pieces of art, relics and more, which help to document and bring to life the rich history of Thailand. As far as coverage goes, the things in the museum go all the way from the Stone Age to recent decades. There are also exhibits which cover neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. The pieces here help travelers to understand what it was like to be a member of the royal family centuries ago, what kinds of possessions they had, and more. Some of the items on display also include gold jewelry and other precious objects.

And you will definitely want to make some time to check out some of the great temples in Bangkok. There are plenty of these to choose from, so do try to put a few of them on your travel itinerary – you won’t regret it!