Thursday, August 31, 2006

Travel to Tibet

Two reasons why I like to travel: culture and to discover more of nature. Culture could be seen anywhere in the world. However, you would need to choose which part of the world to travel if you want to discover more of nature. This also means more adventure than shopping or staying at your hotel and trying out the jacuzzi.

I've always been interested to travel to Tibet. I've always felt that there are so many things to discover about the place and it's rich with culture. An outsider could have a real adventure at this place with the mountains, lakes, glaciers, grassland and more. It could make anyone's travel experience worthwhile.

Places to explore in Tibet:

Himalayas:

This is where Mount Everest, which is the world's highest peak could be seen. Other mountaineers also go here for Lhotse, world's fourth highest peak, Makalu, fifth highest, Cho Yu, sixth highest and Shisha Pangma, the 14th highest peak. Whew! Those are too much to climb.

There is also Kailas that could give any bird lover a view of a bird's life as well as beautiful lakes.

Lhasa

The land of the gods. This is the capital of Tibet and where scenic spots and historical temples could be seen. This includes Potala Palace, Norbulingka, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ramoche Temple, Jorkhang Temple and Barkhor Street Market.

Shigatse - The Estate that Fulfills One's Wishes

The center of transportation and agriculture for the people. There are monasteries like Tashilhunpo and Shalu, which are also considered as the major attractions.

Terrestrial Heat
You can see underground steams shooting up a hundred meters into the air and can be seen from ten kilometers away.

The Karo Ruins

A four to five thousand year old ruins include house architecture, stone paved roads, stone built walls, cave dwellings, and many different kings of chipped stone implements.

Tumuli of Ancient Kings

The tombs are massive knolls of earth with flat top-like platforms. There are eight or nine tombs among which some have been identified with Kings Songtsen Gampo, Tride Tsukten and Trisong Detsen.

When traveling to Tibet, it would be very much appreciated by the locals if you try to talk with them using their language and not Chinese. They appreciate the fact that you made an effort of learning their language.

The best time to travel to Tibet is around May to July and September to October although Lhasa and Shigatse is suitable for sightseeing tours all year round. Avoid the Everest Base Camp area during October to April due to harsh climate.

So what can you bring when you go to Tibet? Just make sure you pack lightly. It is important to bring warm clothings such as sweaters and windbreakers. Other things you shouldn't forget are socks, long sleeve cotton shirts and T-shirts. For your foot wear, sneakers or hiking boots are recommended. Don't forget to bring a hat and gloves as well.

It is advisable to have a map of the area you would like to visit. ATM"s are few in the place so it would be best to travel with more than enough cash at hand. Sunblock, sunglasses and lip balm are also essential to avoid sunburn. You should also have a snack and water should you decide to travel in remote areas since it is quite difficult to find food and drinkable water in these areas. The most important is to never forget to bring a first aid kit with aspirin and antibiotics.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

World's Best Beaches Part 2

This is the continuation of my post regarding the best beaches in the world. Well, at least for me, these are the best beaches worth seeing.

Let's now go to Fiji Island

Vatulele Island


This is pronounced 'Vah-too-lay-lay' and is located in the south of the Coral Coast and south of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu.

Vatulele Resort lies in the island where guests could stay in their villas that are spread along the white sand beach. How's that for a dream vacation? At least I would be able to stay near the beach.


Diving sites are also recommended near the island. I haven't taken diving lessons yet but this would be a good site to try once I've learned.

Australia

Whitehaven Beach, Whitesundays Island



The beach is 6km long and has powder-size white sand. I got interested in this island since it looks so peaceful and privacy would not be an issue.

Asia

Malapascua, CebuPhilippines


I've traveled in Cebu and did not miss that chance to go here. The island did not disappoint me. Since the place is remote, I enjoyed the privacy plus the food. I would definitely come back here again.

Amanpulo, Palawan Philippines

This is an exclusive island, situated in Pamalican with white sand and clear seawater and well preserved coral reefs. Reviews are great and this is still considered as one of best getaway island in Asia.

Well, this concludes my list. If I find more beaches to travel to, I certainly would include it on my list. I guess it doesn't matter whether or not it is included in the list of world's best beaches. As long as I had a great time and enjoyed, then it's definitely an experience worth remembering.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

World's Best Beaches Part 1

Summer has ended and I'm still reminiscing that feeling of how good it was to sunbathe and just feel the warmth of the sun on my face and body. The sound of the waves that was so relaxing and the feeling of the sand on my toes, which makes me want to stay on the beach forever. I love the beach so much (you may call it obsession) that I researched on the best beaches in the world and hopefully, I would be able to go to these places soon.

First stop, USA:

D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Although, I am not a big fan of beaches with big waves, I figured this beach would not be named as America's best beach for the eleventh time if there's nothing special about it. Maybe I wont' travel there during winter to avoid big waves. Or maybe I'll just stay in the shore and enjoy the sun.




Ka'anapali beach Maui

I read great reviews about this beach. Though it was not inlcuded in this year's list of best beaches, this is still considered as one of the most popular on the island of Maui. People boast about
this beach as having the best snorkeling site ever. That should make my trip worthwhile coz I love snorkeling.

Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida


Whoaa! Talk about WHITE SAND! My favorite citeria of a beautiful beach. Plus, the water is ideal for swimming and other activities. Definitely included on my list! I just hope it looks good in real life as it is in that photo.

Next stop, Seychelles

I read this place from a book and decided to check it out online. I was amazed by what I found out about this place. The beaches are simply breathtaking. There were two beaches that really made me wish I was there.

Anse Lazio, Praslin - Seychelles
Looks like paradise. That explains why this is often listed among the world's top ten beaches. The calm water looks perfect for swimming and snorkeling.






Anse Source D'Argent, La Digue

Did I read about pink sand? I love it! This beach has been considered as the most photographed beach in the world. Well, it's certainly photogenic. The shallow water are perfect for swimming especially for kids.

I have not time to discuss every beach in Seychelles. But you could check it out here.
Let's go to French Polynesia.

Matira Point Beach Bora Bora


Great beach with white sand and clear, calm water. This is the only public beach worth seeking in Bora Bora. At least that's what I've read.

Temae Beach Moorea Tahiti


Now, I heard that there are geckos and scorpions in the island. Is this true? I guess I'll never know until I've been there.

Well, these are the beaches where I want to spend my future summers, for now. I'll post the second part soon or maybe later.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Going on a Roadtrip

I've always wondered before why some people like to go on a roadtrip until I got to experience it last year and loved it. The fact that you have to travel and sit in the car for hours with friends that you've known since childhood made it really memorable for me. I won't say that the entire trip was wonderful since there were also moments of boredom, nausea, irritation and stress. However, the sense of adventure and knowing that I've learned something new made it worthwhile.

We practically planned the trip for only a week and by the end of the week, we just decided the heck with it. Let's just see and wait what will happen. Obviously, arguments arised during the trip on which place to go next and I admit that we ran short of time because we decided to stay in one place longer. The outcome: we weren't able to go to other places.

Some things I've learned before going on a roadtrip:

1. The most important is to plan everything before you go on a roadtrip. Isn't this obvious? I guess we are what you call the carefree people where we rely on chance and hope it would turn out well. Unfortunately, we all know that this is not the case as there are things that are out of your control and you should be ready for these. Research the internet for the best route to your destionation/s, bring a map, ask for advice from other people and you take note of everything.

2. Travel light. Even if you're in a car, you should still consider this as you'll never know when your group would have a flat tire or a dead battery in the middle of nowhere. You'll never know when you have to walk to find a gas station or a hotel.

3. In relation to number 3, you should prepare for these kind of events. Prepare spare tires or whatever it is you guys do to keep your vehicle in excellent shape and suitable for travel. This would help you during emergency cases. Don't forget to bring a first aide kit as well. I don't need to remind you to bring your cellphones for emergency calls as I'm sure that you never leave without it.

4. Always respect your companions even if his suggestions and ideas contradicts yours. This is the same if you can't seem to agree on what hotel to stay in or where to eat. This would avoid tension on the group. At the end of the day, you would be able to agree on one place. Also, do stop if your companion needs to go.

5. Bring books, MP3, Ipod, or the latest CD's you could find at home to avoid boredom. You could also bring chips and snacks. If you don't know your companion that well yet, just make sure to ask permission before you eat all their snacks.

6. Lastly, I would advice that you keep a jopurnal for every trip you've made. This would help you in the future when you plan to go back and also help you in providing advices to other people who are planning to go there.

So what else are you waiting for? Pack those bags and enjoy the roadtrip!

Friday, August 25, 2006

How To Choose Your Hotel

It's your first time in a foreign country and you already have everything planned out for your vacation. The only thing left is finding the place to stay. What if you don't have a travel agent to ask for suggestions of a good hotel? At the same time, you can't decide which hotel to book as you were given many choices in the internet after browsing for hours. How are you going to choose your hotel?

The first thing you can do is list down your standards for a hotel. Where would you like the hotel to be located? Would you prefer to be in the city centre, near the shopping areas and restaurants or would you prefer to be downtown? If safety is an issue since this is your first time in the country, would you feel safe in the area where the hotel is located? Would the location provide easy access to transportation? You could research these in the internet or better yet check in a map for the area. You could also join forums and request for information regarding the location and you could easily request a feedback about the hotel you are eyeing for.

Are you particular with the hotel's facilities and you prefer to have a swimming pool, spa or gym? Or is it more of the room that you are concerned about and prefers a specific bed type, connecting rooms, private bathroom and a bath tub, a room with a view, smoking/non-smoking rooms? If you go online and want any of these room features, it would be best to contact the hotel directly to make sure that all your requests are guaranteed. Booking online usually does not guarantee special requests and you would only know if any of these are available upon arrival at the hotel. Thus, if you see that your request is not available, it might ruin your vacation.

The price might be higher if you book with the hotel directly but at least you'll have the room that you want. However, you could still get a discount for your reservation if you could use your frequent flyer points to redeem hotel discounts. There are also hotels which offer discounts if they are part of an alliance with flights or car rental companies. Your credit card company might also offer exclusive rates to special hotels. You could check it out with them before browsing the net.

There is still that question if the hotel you picked is a good hotel or not. You haven't been there and you don't know anyone who stayed there before. One way to find out is to check reviews about that hotel in your destination. You could also join forums as suggested earlier to ask for feedbacks. The result doesn't have to be all positive since not all people have the same standards. But 8 out of 10 good reviews should be enough.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Travel Insurance

Do we really need a travel insurance? This is the most common question I hear from travelers who are on a budget. People just don't like the idea of paying extra for a short trip. What they are not aware of is that they could actually save money or be protected from substantial losses should they experience a mishap during or before their trip.

So how can a travel insurance help me when I travel to foreign countries?

Travel insurance provides converage for unforseen trip cancellation or delay. You would never know when your flight could be canceled or delayed because of a bad weather or just because of a sudden change in plans. It's good to know that non-refundable payment and deposits are covered by your insurance should you experience any of these.

Your travel insurance could also cover expenses incurred because of an injury or illness during the trip. I know someone who accidentally stumbled and damaged her skull upon arrival to her destination. Seriously, unforseen circumstances like this happens. Another incident is when my friend's father had a heart attack during their trip to Australia and had to be taken to the hospital. Guess who saved a lot and actually paid for nothing for hospitalization? My friend's father who had a travel insurance. Transportation costs are also included during medical emergency cases.

Lost, damaged or delayed baggages are also covered. This includes important items purchased.

Travel insurance could be expensive and at the same time affordable depending on the company you are getting it from and the policy that you think is right for you and your family. But what is an extra expenses compared to the expenses you have to shell out should you face the problems mentioned above during your trip.

Most people don't know what a travel insurance is for.

I had a customer before who asked me:

Pax: " I'm going to Hong Kong. Where can I get that thing when you have an accident and I would be covered for it?"

Me: "Do you mean a travel insurance?".

Pax: "No. I forgot what it's called but it's when you get hit by a car and you don't have to pay for anything in the hospital".

Duh! what else do you call that? But in case most of you are wondering, your travel agents should be able to provide you with travel insurance. However, it would be best to go directly to the insurance company as they would be able to explain and provide more information on their policies.

For a list of sites for travel insurance, this might be helpful to you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Travel Agents Vs. Online Travel Agency

People have different reasons for traveling. Most people would like to get away from stress caused by work or relationship. Others would travel for business reasons and are hoping to have enough time to explore more of their destination, at the same time, be able to relax before returning to work. The most wonderful reason of all is those people who have enough money to splurge and travel out of boredom. Wouldn't this be what we all want?

Planning comes in when any of these reasons are realized. People who have enough money to spend don't have problems in planning since they could easily contact someone to arrange everything for them. But what if you are one of those people who are stressed by work or is running away from their routinary lives and is looking for excitement and adventure? Traveling would be the only answer and you wouldn't have time to plan and research for a good travel spot or the best hotel. There wouldn't be enough time to find the most affordable rates and packages. This is why most people resort to online travel agencies rather than finding a travel agent who could plan the trip for them. But there are those who would still prefer to go to a travel agent as they feel more secure to transact with a live person than on the internet. So which is better when it comes to booking for a trip?

Let's compare both.

1. Online travel agencies usually offer a very low rate. Since the business is booming right now, agencies also compete with each other when it comes to providing the lowest rate for travelers. This would be in favor with the travelers since they have many to choose from and all they need to do is to find the cheapest rate there is. However, the service is limited as some online travel agencies would only offer service for hotel or flight reservations or car rentals. They do not offer a tour package, something that a travel agent could do.

Travel agents usually have higher rates than online travel agencies. However, they would be able to provide a tour package for travelers and advise you on where to go as travel agents are trained for this. You could also provide them your budget and let them work basing on your this.

2. Online travel agencies could save you time. So if you are making last minute reservations, better to go through them. These travel agencies offer 24/7 access for you to book and plan for your trip.

Though travel agents would take time to arrange your flight, hotel, tours and other things you would like them to take care for your trip, they would be able to accomplish these things systematically and would be able to present to you an organized itinerary. Also, you would be able to contact them should you encounter problems in the middle of your trip.

3. Online agencies might have a 24/7 access but most of them don't have a 24/7 customer service wherein you could contact should something goes wrong with your reservations. On the other hand, reliable travel agents would be able to assist and guide you even if you are thousand miles away. Travel agents could also provide the proper information you need about your desitination without the hassle of you you searching via the internet.

4. It is easy for more travelers to trust a travel agent than the internet especially when providing credit card details for payment..


These are the few differences of an online travel agency and a travel agent. It depends on which service you would like to use. If you want an easier way of booking and plan your itinerary by yourself, then the best way is to use an online travel agency. Just make sure that you pick the right one. Be sure that you would have the necessary contact information you could use should you encounter problems with your reservations. It would aso be better to check the company's profile, terms and conditions before making a booking. If possible, try to see if you would be able to contact someone from the company. Not all online travel agencies limit their service via internet alone. Some do have contact information and a live person to talk to. If you prefer to have your itinerary planned out for you, then a travel agent would be the best choice.

With these in mind, remember to make the right decisions and enjoy your vacation.