Every continent, country and city has something amazing and different to offer; which makes planning your next trip a bit of dilemma. As we begin to decide where to visit in our time off from work, we look to travellers and travel bloggers, asking them about their favourite destinations around the world.
If you’ve already discovered the beauty that is Bruges, let me introduce Ghent. Like Bruges, she has copious amounts of history, chocolate and beer, and in addition a long track record of rebelliousness that dates back to medieval times.
On the Graslei, once described as the most beautiful quayside in Europe, you’ll find the guild houses of the merchants, and from Sint-Michielsbrug, you can see the three towers that dominate the city, including the magnificent Belfort.
For more modern indulgences, Ghent has a vibrant music scene, plenty of street art installations, waffles and gastronomic treats galore, including a weekly veggie day, and opportunities to see the beauty of the city from the water. If you like your architecture medieval and gothic, your people warm and welcoming and your city bursting with attitude and history, then Ghent will charm you as she has charmed me over the decades.
This year my sister and I finally made the trip Cuba. It was a short, one hour flight from Tampa, FL and we wish would have visited this country sooner. We were missing out on so much! The moment we landed and walked into the terminal, we felt like we had stepped back in time. We were completely disconnected from our cell phones, couldn’t use our credit cards, and hopped into a classic America car. Off we were to Havana!
It was so exciting to be somewhere and have no idea what it was going to be like. You can’t get on your phone and read a review of a restaurant or pull up google maps to find your hotel. You just have to go with the flow! The amazing architecture and history blew us away, but the one thing we truly appreciated was the friendly and caring people. We’ve traveled quite a bit and Cubans are the most friendliest and welcoming people we have ever encountered on our travels.
Barcelona is one of my favorite places in the world!
The city has so much to offer, from delicious food and unique architecture, to sports and the beach; there’s something for everyone. But food and the arts are my jam, so I loved seeing the works of Antoni Gaudi in real life and tasting Catalonian delights. Aside from La Sagrada Familia, there are also beautiful cathedrals built in a more traditional style, such as Catedral de Barcelona and Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi.
Barri Gotic, also known as the Gothic Quarter, is one of the most historic places in the city, with narrow medieval streets and a museum (Museu d’Historia de Barcelona) with the remains of the ancient Roman city.
For Picasso lovers, the Picasso Museum has a plethora of works from his early days up to his last days and you’re able to see his style transition and evolve from childhood to the Picasso we know today. Las Ramblas, though touristy, is home one of the best food markets, La Boqueria, as well as Jamon Experience, where you can learn and taste 8 different types of jamon, ranging from jamon serrano to jamon iberico de bellota. I loved Barcelona and cannot wait to go back!
The moment my boyfriend and I stepped out of Virac airport to explore Catanduanes, I just had this good feeling that we were going to have a great time.
And I was right.
Catanduanes is an underrated province in the Bicol region in the Philippines. It’s a landlocked island with mountainous terrain, and most of its residents are living in seaside communities.
Picturesque rolling hills are a common feature; it has pristine beaches hidden in small islands, lagoons, several waterfalls and beaches good for surfing or a simple day out in the sun. There are also fair-priced resorts for long stays.
For the history or culture buffs, there are old churches and lighthouses to see. But really, what I love most about Catanduanes is it’s friendly, generous locals. We were greeted with such warmth, offered help whenever needed and meals or fruits before we headed out on the road. It’s a place that’s brimming with good vibes.
Our new home is fast becoming my all-time, favourite destination. We travelled around Asia a few years ago and walked away loving China and everywhere in China, so moving to China has confirmed our love for the country.
Head to the north and explore the capital of Beijing, with it’s Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of heaven and every unusual insect you can think of on a stick. Or pop on a train to Tianjin and visit our home, complete with an Italian themed quarter, Ferris Wheel, popular football team and a gorgeous river running through the centre.
Koh Samui, Thailand
It was my first holiday to Koh Samui so I really didn’t know what to expect.
All I knew was that this holiday was going to be pure relaxation on a lovely island paradise by the beach where (along with my husband) we would stay in beautiful accommodation and just enjoy the ambience.
It was all that I could dream of and more!
We stayed at the Hansar Samui Resort & Spa located at Bophut Beach. It is a boutique hotel that greets you with a warm Thai welcome from the staff and stunning beachfront views; where you can so easily dive into the cool waters of the resort pool or the refreshing waters of the Adaman Sea.
The waft of delicious food cooking on the breeze is enough to set your stomach rumbling in unison with your mouth watering, and you won’t be disappointed.
The food was amazingly flavoursome and to me it was made with love, so of course I was just wanted to eat more and more……………..
Things to Do
Fisherman’s Village begins only a mere few metres away from the Hansar Samui and is a popular and bustling area that presents a generous mix of restaurants, salons, tailors, clothing stalls, convenience stores and souvenir shops.
Don’t forget to bring along your best bartering skills too, especially for the Friday night markets.
Besides spending the day poolside or beachside (and always be sun smart) you are spoiled for choice with tour operators in Bophut offering a variety of day tours, hiring of Jet Ski’s, parasailing and even reps advertising to watch Muay Thai boxing matches take place at the main boxing stadium in Chaweng.
I absolutely fell in love with Koh Samui! It is an affordable island paradise for all travellers’. The views are stunning, the food amazing and the gentle Thai hospitality and infectious smiles make for an unforgettable holiday destination.
We are already planning our holiday back there in 2018………..
Khob Khun Ka Samui! (Thank you Samui) I can’t wait to see you again.
French Alps – Portes du Soleil
Why do I love Italy? I first fell in love with the weather. My first visit was in March (2012) and I flew from my home country (Romania) where the snow hadn’t melted yet. And landed in sunny Rome and 20C. I was hooked so badly that last winter (2016-2017) I decided to be a digital nomad in Italy.
Just as the weather was warming me up from outside, the food did the same job…from inside. The olives, the cheese, the pizza (cliché, I know), the sea food, the gelato, the cappuccino…I couldn’t even pick my favorite Italian food, cause I loved them all (minus pasta, I don’t like pasta).
Since I’m a bit of a geek, of course I am fascinated by architecture and historical sites. I spent hours checking out the Roman Forum, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and a lot of castles.
El Nido Palawan, Philippines
We’ve been traveling nonstop for over 4 years and one destination that we keep thinking about is the island of El Nido. Our trip to the Philippines wasn’t planned, we were in Malaysia and found a flight to the Phillippines for $27 and said why not!
Well, that was the best decision we made that year, the Philippines is amazing and we spent a week in El Nido Palawan which is full of the most amazing landscapes and beaches. During the day, head out on the island tours that’ll bring you to the most epic islands ever, some of the beaches are only accessible at low tide because you have to swim through caves to get to them. At night, head back into town to one of the beach bars/restaurants for happy hour with $1 beers or rum & cokes and watch the sunset. If there was one place in the world I could be at right now, it would be there.
My favorite travel destination is Costa Rica. When I visited eight years ago, it was my first experience traveling outside of the US and I was immediately bitten by the travel bug.
Looking back, it was truly the happiest I’ve ever been. I went with a group of students from my high school Spanish class and our teacher as chaperone. We played soccer at the beach with locals, zip lined through the rainforest, witnessed a volcano erupting, and went dancing at a club.
I have just returned from my 7th trip to The Island Of The Gods.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Bali that despite 7 visits, I have yet to sample them all. Luxury villas rub shoulders with homestays so visitors of all budgets will have no trouble finding a comfy bed for the night. The Club Villas in Seminyak are all sorts of fabulous.
Foodies are spoiled for choice with a host of fabulous restaurants. Try Warung Kultur for authentic Indonesian cuisine starting at IDR50k or Nostima Grill where amazing souvlaki platters are only IDR75k. Shoppers can indulge in fabulous boutiques or the less scrupulous can bag a designer knock off or two. I won’t tell! Everyone must experience a budget massage. I do. Daily!
Bali is ripe with natural beauty; seek out the fabulous beaches, verdant rice terraces and monkey forest sanctuaries. Hire a scooter from IDR50k a day and brave the chaotic traffic to make getting around fuss free. Sunset drinks are a must and Jimbaran’s Rock Bar is a favourite.
Bali is predominantly Hindu and has over 6,000 temples. The most famous, Tanah Lot, is very popular with visitors and is best seen at sunset. Kuta’s thumping nightlife is legendary and clubs along Jl Legian compete to get you through the door. Inland Ubud has a host of retreats and yoga dominates the scene. If that’s not enough, hop a ferry to nearby idyllic Nusa Lembongan or the Gili Islands. The snorkelling and diving is amazing! Bali truly has something for everyone!
I’ve been to so many countries, but the one I keep returning to is India.
There’s something in the chaos that just makes me feel at home; I love the colours, the openness and the lack of pretence. It feels like everyone is just themselves in India, quirks and all, and that gives you, as a traveller, the right to be yourself as well. India is also incredibly rich in culture, history and tradition.
One of my favourite places is the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. This Hindu temple is one of the holiest in the country, and is a dark, mysterious, swirling mass of people. The smell of the incense, the sound of the chanting and the colours of the saris are hard to forget.
The other reason why I love India so much is the food. Growing up in the UK, I learned to love Indian food; the real thing is very similar to what we have at home, but infinitely more varied and interesting. As a vegetarian, it is also incredibly easy for me to eat in India; in the south, vegetarians are in the majority so I’m spoiled for choice. My third trip to India is already booked for next year, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Bavaria region of Germany
One of my favorite places to visit is the Bavaria region of Germany. With the stunning Alps to the south, the start of the beautiful Romantic Road, and Munich in the midst, Bavaria has an array of offerings, that’s so rich you could easily spend your entire Germany vacation right here.
A visit to the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle just outside of FÃ¼ssen is a must, but make sure to visit the lesser known Hohenschwangau right next door. Head into the Alps for some incredible views from the Zugspitz before exploring some of the adorable towns at the base of the mountain chain (Ettal is small but beautiful).
Get a glimpse into the secluded life of King Ludwig at his favorite estate, Schloss Linderhof–he grew up at Hohenschwangau and started building Neuschwanstein, so you’ll learn a lot about him as you travel around the region. Finally, spend a few days in Munich, where you should grab a pint and a salted pretzel at one of the city’s many beer halls.
In July, I booked a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland because well, the flight was cheap and I had a couple of days off so I thought, “Why not”? Was Edinburgh a city that I was dying to visit? Not really. I just went because I had never been before and am always open to trying a place at least once.
But as soon as I set foot in this charmingly historic city, I fell in love and felt at home. Not only were the people incredibly helpful and friendly, but everywhere you turned there was something fun to see, do, or eat.
Whether you love the outdoors and want to trek up Arthur’s Seat and snag an incredible view of the city below or enjoy exhibits like the Royal Yacht Brittania which details the life of the royal family on their private yacht, there really is something for everyone here. Plus, if you are strapped for cash, there are a ton of free things to do too, like taking an awesome ghost tour along the Royal Mile.
Now because there is so much to see in Edinburgh, you may actually forget to relax. That’s okay. Just book afternoon tea at one of the many restaurants or hotels in the area and you’ll remember. I promise, the tea and scones with clotted cream will make your mouth water and your stomach dance in excitement. A totally amazing city that I cannot wait to get back to so that I can an explore more.