Category Archives for Asia

Top Tips for First-time Travellers in Thailand

Top Tips for First-time Travellers in Thailand

With lush jungles, pristine islands, stunning beaches, colorful culture, amazing cuisine and cheap cost of living, it’s not a surprise why Thailand remains one of the most visited destinations in Asia Pacific. The country is a favorite for many honeymooners, backpackers, and tourists from all over the globe.

If you’re planning to visit, here are a few tips to ensure you’ll have an enjoyable and smooth-sailing trip to Thailand.

Top Thailand Travel Tips

Top Tips for First-time Travellers in Thailand

Visas

Before booking your flight, research and learn more about the Kingdom’s entry requirements on their Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months and proof that you have sufficient funds for your trip. Foreigners entering Thailand also need an onward or return ticket is it via air, sea or land travel. This serves as a guarantee that you will not be staying in the country later than the approved visa duration, which is usually 30 days. The country allows citizens from specific countries to enter without acquiring a visa as long as you’re staying for tourism purpose and not longer than 30 days.

Customs

Travellers who are arriving in Thailand must fill out Form No. 211 or Passenger Declaration Form and submit it to the Customs officer. Among the items that are prohibited are counterfeit goods, obscene publications, narcotics and protected wildlife. For a full list, visit the Thai customs website.

Money Matters

Baht is the official Thai currency. Take note that it is better to exchange your foreign currency in banks and authorized money changers. If you’re staying in major tourist spots, major credit cards are widely accepted.

Money Saving Tips

Live like a local – One of the easiest ways to save money while travelling in a new place is to go local. Opting for the local transport and taking buses, train and songthaews (shared taxis) can save you a lot. Eating out in Western restaurants and buying foreign food comes at a great expense because of the import fees. The Thais love to eat and you will find awesome places to eat even late at night.

Buy alcohol in supermarket – A night out drinking can get expensive really quick. Your wallet will thank you if you choose to buy your beer at the local supermarket or convenience stores. It will cost you a third of what you pay in bars. If you want to have a nice time drinking outside, take advantage of the happy hour where you can enjoy discounts and 2 for 1 specials.

Learn how to haggle – Bargaining is part of the shopping experience in Thailand. Feel free to ask sellers for a reasonable discount especially in popular shopping areas such as Silom, Chatuchak Market, and Khao San Road. Take your time looking around to compare prices so you can get a good bargain. Buying more can also help get you a better deal.

Laundry – Your weekly laundry expenses can add up. All you need is a place to wash your clothes and a pack of detergent.

Accommodation – There is a long list of affordable accommodation in Thailand since it’s a popular destination for young travellers and backpackers. You can stay in guesthouses, hostels or book through Airbnb.

Avoid scams – Tourists are easy prey for scammers. Before travelling, read up on other people’s experience of getting robbed or scammed in the area you’re planning to travel. When taking a taxi, make sure that the driver runs the meter. Before saying yes to a service, agree on a price first.

Travel Insurance

Whether you’re staying in a new country for a week or a month, having insurance gives you that sense of security. Thailand is an amazing place for new adventures and it’s hard to enjoy those if you are not covered by an insurance that matches your requirements.

Dining

Only drink bottled or sterilized water. If you’re buying bottled water, you’ll save more by getting the bigger bottles. If you have a sensitive stomach or if you have allergies, you may want to avoid sidewalk eateries. Although the food is affordable, tasty and tempting, there is no assurance of the hygienic standard of food preparation. A service charge is usually already reflected in the bill. Tipping servers is not required but always appreciated.

Friendly Reminders

Knowing a thing or two about the customs of the country you’re visiting always helps.

• Take note that the kingdom is a largely Buddhist country and images of Buddha are held sacred. Any sacrilegious act is punishable by law and it does not exempt foreign tourists.
• The Thais revere the Royal Family. Any display of disrespect such as hurling insults or threats towards the monarchy is an offence.
• When entering the temple or a local’s home, you are expected to remove your shoes.
• As we’re sure, you pack clothes based on your itinerary and activities while travelling. If you plan on visiting the many exquisite temples in Thailand, make sure to have modest clothing. You cannot enter the premises if you are wearing shorts, mini skirts or any other revealing garb.
• Treat monks with utmost respect wherever and whenever you encounter them.

Looking for All-Inclusive Trip to Thailand?

We hope these tips will help you have a better experience in Thailand. If you are keen on visiting, working with a travel consultant can be helpful especially in getting good deals from suppliers. Get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling +44 (0) 7484 703 647 for booking and enquiries.

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Top Tips for First-time Travellers in Thailand

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Istanbul, Turkey

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul has been an energetic, busy metropolitan for centuries. Strategically situated at the meeting point of two continents, Istanbul continues to evolve as one of the most diverse cities in the world.

With a population of 15 million, Istanbul is culturally diverse. In this multiethnic city, people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions are able to live together in harmony. We rounded up the top reasons why you should visit this sprawling metropolis.

A Rich History

Istanbul has a rich history. It is nearly impossible not to be drawn by its fascinating past. Standing in between Europe and Asia, the strategic location of Istanbul has enticed many pillaging armies and empires in the past centuries. In fact, the city has served as the capital of some of the biggest and most powerful empires—the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Today, the remnants of these empires still stand and are open to the public. You can take a walk around the Dolmabahçe Palaces in the Beşiktaş district, once the Ottoman Empire administrative centre, and be taken back to the time when sultans rule the city. There are guided tours in different languages so be sure to include the palace, among many other sites, in your itinerary.

A City of Contrasts

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Istanbul, Turkey

You’ve probably heard it before—Istanbul is a city of contrasts. When you visit, it will soon be apparent that this city has many sides to it. As the megalopolis links the West to the East via the Bosphorus Strait, the influences from both continents can be seen all around the city. Here, the remnants of the city’s past coexist with the more modern present featuring skyscrapers and busy streets.

One moment you are marvelling at palaces and mosques, another minute you may be gazing at impressive high-rise buildings. It is easy to develop an appreciation for Istanbul’s ancient architectural wonders. But modernization has allowed these places to have amenities for those that choose the city as their holiday destination.

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Istanbul, Turkey

A Gastronomic Experience

The unique mixture of cultures in Istanbul can be seen in its bustling food scene. If you are a tourist, expect to have a wealth of options when it comes to dishes. Of course, the typical Turkish tasty dishes should be a must on your list. From the classic shish kebab to the savoury flatbread Gözleme, flavorful apple tea, and sweet baklava, you will not run out of mouthwatering local dishes to try. Meanwhile, as a testament to its global city status, you can conveniently find restaurants serving Japanese, Indian, American, Thai or fusion cuisines. If you have the time, you can even take short-term cooking classes and learn how to prepare traditional home cooked Turkish dishes.

A Lively Nightlife Scene

If a well-spent day on a holiday for you involves fun partying at night, then you’ll feel at home in Istanbul. With a population of 15 million people and a constant influx of tourists from all over the world, the city is well equipped when it comes to entertainment. There is something for almost any taste—nightclubs, bars, pubs, restaurant lounges, private venues and more. There are also different hot spots for every season. If you are going to the city during summer, don’t miss out on rooftop bars overlooking the city. On the other hand, lively underground, intimate clubs replaces the open-air venues come wintertime. Either way, you can expect an excitable crowd, lively music and amazing atmosphere.

A Haven for Art Lovers

As you know, we at CLB Global Travel love to include museums and galleries on the list of places one must visit while travelling. Why? Because visiting these structures allows one to have a glimpse of a city or country’s history and culture. Istanbul serves as home to Turkey’s most important ancient artworks and artefacts. The city has once been deemed as the European Capital of Culture back in 2010.

Here is a list of the museums you should include in your itinerary if you’re an art enthusiast:

  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts located at Meydanı No. 46, Sultanahmet.
  • Istanbul Modern located at Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi Antrepo No. 4, Karaköy.
  • Pera Museum located at Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 141, Beyoğlu.
  • Sakıp Sabancı Museum located at Sakıp Sabancı Caddesi No. 42, Emirgan.
  • Istanbul Archeology Museum located at Alemdar Caddesi Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sokak, Sultanahmet.

A Shopper’s Dream Destination

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul has plenty to offer shoppers with different budgets. Want to splurge? Visit the Nişantaşı neighbourhood and purchase goods from luxury brands and well-established local designers. Are you looking to add a unique piece for your antique collection? Explore the streets of Çukurcuma Caddesi for a trip down memory lane and a possible score. Whatever your shopping desire is, your visit to Istanbul is not complete without visiting the streets of the famous Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s biggest covered markets.

Ready For Your Next Adventure?

One of the main perks of working with a dedicated travel consultant is that we can create a holiday specifically tailored for you. Be it a quick city break, a long vacation, a romantic getaway or a family trip, we have your back! Get in touch if you want a quick quote. Simply email [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7484 703 647.

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Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Istanbul, Turkey

Cleanest Village: Mawlynnong

An undiscovered paradise: Meghalaya, India

Meghalaya is a picturesque hill state in the northeastern Himalayas. Spread over an area of 22,429 square kilometres, the pine-covered mountainous state features a wide expanse of valleys, highland plateaus, and rock formations. Mostly covered in forests that make up seventy percent the state, Meghalaya is overflowing with natural scenic beauty.

Meghalaya became a full-fledged state in 1972. The name directly translates to ‘Abode of Clouds’ in Sanskrit. It is considered as the wettest region of the Seven Sister States of northeast India, the state has an average annual rainfall of up to four hundred seventy inches.

The capital city, Shillong, is 1,496 metres above sea level. Going around is fairly easy with well-connected roads accessible to most vehicles. The city has a bounty of striking natural wonders from pine groves and manicured gardens to beautiful brooks, crystal clear lakes and breathtaking waterfalls. The flora and fauna are diverse which makes it an ideal spot for nature lovers.

Adding to the character of the city is its friendly, good-humored, and hospitable people. For travellers, few things beat the feeling of being warmly welcomed in a foreign place. The locals are among the many reasons why Shillong is an ideal travel destination.

The city is a largely Christian city. There are many cathedrals and small churches. Get an insightful experience of the church culture of the city and the Khasi lifestyle by paying these structures a visit.

While it is largely westernized, the city is considered the music capital of India where numerous prominent musicians hail from. Living up to its title, there are many musical events held here, which makes it a lively destination any time of the year.

The city also serves as an amazing entry point to the entire state of Meghalaya.

Where to Go and What To Do in Shillong, Meghalaya

An undiscovered paradise: Meghalaya, India An undiscovered paradise: Meghalaya, India

If you ever find yourself in Shillong, you cannot miss visiting the famed Elephant Falls situated right next to the city. An ultimate tourist paradise, it features three layers of waterfalls tucked in between dense greenery. Travellers can get up and close with nature and enjoy the cascading water in its entire splendour. While the Elephant Falls can be accessed any time of the year, the best time to visit is after the monsoon season when the clear water flows through in full might and magnificence.

Umiam Lake

Then find your way to another well-liked tourist spot in Shillong: Umiam Lake. The tranquil manmade lake spans an impressive 221 square meter—a size bigger than some countries. Not only does it provide water for locals but also serves as a key food source. Apart from appreciating the views, you can also get a sneak peak of the local way of life as people come and go about their daily chores. There are a number of activities to keep you engaged too. Go for a boat ride or plan a picnic. Try water skiing or kayaking. Or simply enjoy a hearty meal with a fantastic view.

Cleanest Village: Mawlynnong

Visit the village of Mawlynnong located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. The village is renowned for its women-centric society. Among their well-preserved traditions is the passage of wealth and property from mother to the youngest daughter who also has the privilege of carrying the mother’s surname. The village takes cleanliness seriously so much so that in 2003, it was named as one of the cleanest city in Asia. It was also declared as the cleanest city in India in 2005.

Shillong Peak

There are a number of walking and trekking trails around. But the best would be Shillong Peak, Meghalaya’s highest peak in the Himalayas. At over 1,965 meters above sea level, it is the finest spot for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. Shillong Peak offers panoramic vistas of the city and the Himalayas. Make sure to bring your identification cards though, since the area is within an air force base.

Preserving Northeast Indian Culture

Of course, we could not miss including a museum. For art lovers who need their fix even while travelling, visit Don Bosco Museum, a seven-storey theme museum with seventeen fascinating galleries focused on local indigenous people and culture. The galleries display a comprehensive collection of regional clothing, accoutrements, handicrafts, photographs, tools, and various artifacts.

Planning A Trip To India?

CLB Global Travel will create a holiday that is tailored fit for you with every destination, sights and experiences you are looking forward to. Email [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7484 703 647 to get your trip off to a perfect start.

Top Travel Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

Top Travel Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

The city of Kathmandu is full of life, buzzing, and busy. The streets are filled with rickshaws, mopeds, taxis, bicycles, and foot traffic bringing about a cacophony of sounds. The vistas are visually striking. Rich in historic sites, ancient shrines, longstanding temples, charming villages, and contemporary structures, Kathmandu represents a blend of ancient and modern times.

Chaotic is a term you may use to describe a metropolitan area that serves as home to two and a half million people. But fret not, because there is beauty in this pandemonium and sensory overload.

In Kathmandu, first impressions can be unreliable. Get past the dusty roads, traffic, incessant transport noise, assertive street peddlers, and you may just find yourself in the middle of an otherworldly cultural experience.

Kathmandu City Highlights

Top Travel Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

The sights to see in and around Kathmandu are plentiful. Take note, however, that Kathmandu had a massive earthquake in 2015. The infrastructure and tourists services are running normally and restoration efforts are ongoing. However, the effects of the natural calamity can still be seen in some structures.

The following are some of the sights and experiences you must not miss out on:

  • Find your way around Thamel, a bustling tourist district jam-packed with souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation. This commercial neighbourhood is crowded, lively, and exceedingly hectic. You can find almost everything that you need here from trekking gear, gadgets, clothing and mementos to fruits and vegetables. Exercise your bartering skills to avoid paying a hefty sum for your purchases. Moreover, explore the quaint streets, which offer a genuine, raw glimpse into the local life.
  • Visit the fifth-century Boudnarath, one of the world’s largest stupas. A pilgrimage destination to many practicing Buddhist, you will see monks and individuals walking ritually around the stupa. There is a Rs 250 entrance fee for foreigners.
  • Explore the monasteries located all over the city.
  • Get some exercise and climb 365 steps to the top of Swayambhunath Stupa for a rewarding panoramic view of the city. The ancient religious architecture is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. Also referred to as the Monkey Temple, hundreds of the monkeys scampering around the area. Be mindful of these monkeys as you climb the stairs to avoid any mishaps.
  • Discover Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, a designated Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. The square, built between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, remains the focal point of the city heritage, culture, religion and pride. Durbar Square, originally created from the palaces ancient Malla and Shah kings, means ‘Place of Palaces’ when translated literally. Foreigners must pay a hefty sum of 1,000 rupees.
  • Have a taste of local cuisine in numerous restaurants around the city. Order dal bhat (rice, lentils with vegetables or meat), momo (Nepali version of dumplings), and thukpa (hot noodle soup) that are popular local dishes.
  • Have a glimpse of the last monarchy in Nepal at the Narayanhiti Palace or Narayanhiti Durbar. The former royal palace, which served as a residence for Nepalese monarchs, is now a public museum.
  • Shop in Durbar Margh where you can find high-end, branded shops and fine dining options.

Key Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

  • The traffic can be insane. As much as possible, walk with great caution or take a taxi to go around the city. Want to remain environmentally friendly while exploring? Rickshaws are a great option too.
  • Pollution is high in Kathmandu. The city suffers from terrible transport infrastructure. Many of the streets are unsealed and dusty. Protect yourself by wearing a mask that completely covers your face and mouth. Avoid surgical masks, as they don’t offer as much shield from smog.
  • Electricity blackouts, also known as load shedding, happen frequently. Book an accommodation with a generator as much as possible. There is usually a weekly timetable for this so be sure to ask your hotel for a copy too so you can remain prepared. Keep devices charged and bring spare batteries to minimise the effect of these electric shortages.
  • The Internet speed in Kathmandu can be painfully slow. Many accommodations promise 24/7 Wi-Fi but it is not that reliable. If you wish to stay connected, purchase a local sim card with data packages of up to 10 GB.
  • Kathmandu is a safe city for solo female travellers. However, it is a conservative society. Dressing moderately is a sign of respect to the culture. Feminine hygiene products are easily available but tampons can be difficult to find.
  • The taxis rarely use the meter. It is a legal requirement that a vast majority of taxi drivers do not adhere to. The process is usually flagging down a taxi and asking them the price. Inquire at your hotel about an approximate price range so you have an idea so you can bargain. Avoid taxis that are arranged by your hotel because, more often than not, the rate will be inflated.
  • Going shopping? Kathmandu has a barter system that dates back to thousands of years ago. The prices are marked up considerably. Visit a few shops to get an overview of the price before negotiating. Hopefully, after visiting a few shops, you will arrive at one that will give you a better price. This will be a little difficult in Thamel since the demand is high. Try other markets in the city. Getting a great bargain can feel good. But of course, do not take things too far. Some tourists harass an old seller into selling at a price that is far below the actual cost. At times, a seller agrees to such prices because they have to feed their families. Barter to get a fair deal for both parties.
  • Be an eco-friendly traveller. Carry your trash with you until you find a proper area for disposal.
  • Most Nepalese do not mind being photographed. But as with anywhere in the world, some may find this disrespectful. Ask permission first especially if you are taking photos of ceremonies or of older people.
  • Try not to point with a single finger. Instead, use a flat extended hand to indicate a place.

Have you visited Kathmandu recently? Share your experience with us as well as any additional tips in the comment section!

Planning A Trip To Nepal?

What’s on your wish list? We, at CLB Global Travel, will create a holiday that is tailored fit for you while keeping in mind every destination, sights and experiences you are looking forward to. Send an email at [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7484 703 647 for more information or a quick quote.