Travel Bloggers’ Top Things To-Do: Middle East, Asia, Pacific
As you might remember, a few weeks ago we started this series talking about Travel Bloggers top things to do in some European cities. Today we have a round of cities that include Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.
The cities some travel bloggers decided to write about include: Eilat, Hong Kong, Wellington, Shiraz, Inle Lake, Cairns, Amman and Niseko.
Hope you can find an amazing range of activities to do on such a diverse list of cities.
Eilat, Israel – Maria from Tigrest.com
1. Snorkelling with dolphins at the Dolphin Reef
2. Visiting Timna park
3. Coral World underwater Observatory
Thanks to its location, Eilat is a magnet for snorkelling and diving lovers. If getting wet is not on your list, Coral World underwater observatory may be the best choice. Thanks to its location – 11 meters below the water surface – you will get a chance to have a good look at the underwater world of the coral reef and its inhabitants. To make your day even better, consider visiting Sharks World during feeding times and Oceanarium for 5D movie experience!
Want to read more about Eilat? Check Maria’s post!
TripAdvisor tips on Eilat
Hong Kong – Jess from ExpatGetaways.com
1. The Hong Kong Skyline
You can’t come to Hong Kong and not check out the incredible, iconic skyline. There are loads of vantage points and most visitors will head straight for classic view from Victoria Peak or the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui. To avoid the crowds at Victoria Peak skip the observation deck and walk down Lugard Road. After a leisurely 15-minute stroll the view will open up completely. The best bit, it’s completely free!
2. Cantonese Food
Eating should be considered a national sport in Hong Kong. There’s dim sum, wonton noodles and succulent roast meats. Do some research in advance to find the latest hot spots for har gow (shrimp dumplings), char sui bao (BBQ pork buns) and everything in between. You can go super budget at the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan, or live it up in style at Lung King Heen the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars.
3. Get back to Nature
You probably don’t picture green when you think of Hong Kong. It is the world’s most vertical city after all! But, only 25% of the land is developed and 40% is designated country parks and reserves. There are hiking trails and beautiful beaches all within a short drive of Central.
Want to read more about Hong Kong? Check Jess’s posts!
TripAdvisor tips on Hong Kong
Wellington, New Zealand – Nicole from NicoleLaBarge.com
As a serial expat, Wellington is the fifth city I’ve lived in abroad and there’s a reason why it was named the ‘coolest little capitol’ by Lonely Planet. In Wellington, if we’re not talking about the weather or politics we’re talking about food or coffee. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Wellington (including eating!):
1. Go up to Mt Victoria Lookout
The hills around Wellington are distinctive to the area. Mount Victoria or Mt Vic as its known here, offers a great view of the city. In 1839 the Company Secretary instructed the surveyor to encircle the new town of Wellington with a Town Belt. Traditionally, parks in English cities were owned by wealthy individuals not the public. The motives were two fold. Colonists were coming from industrial cities and they were hoping that the well being would be improved by having access to parks. The town belt is known as the “lungs of the city”. You will see be able to see the airport to the South, the Stadium to the north and the hills of Wellington around you.
2. My favourite restaurant in Wellington is Ortega Fish Shack
It is a great place to try the local catch of the day. One thing you will notice in Wellington is that the restaurants here have small menus. There are a few choice things they do and they do them well. I also have to mention the amazing coffee on offer in Wellington. I know Australia is trying to take credit for the flat white but it is said to have been created in New Zealand. Havana coffee is one of my favorites and they have a cool little cafe on Tory Street too.
3. Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand.
The museum is free and you will find a lot on the history of New Zealand and Maori culture. One of my favorite exhibits is the Colossal Squid which was found in Antarctic waters and donated to Te Papa. It is preserved and on display.
Shiraz, Iran – Ellis from BackpackAdventures.org
Iran is full of beautiful cities and Shiraz might well be my favorite. It’s the city where great poets are born and there is so much beauty to be found. These are my 3 favorite things to do in Shiraz.
1. Exploring the bazaar and eating local food at Saray-e Mehr
The bazaar in Shiraz is a lively affair full of surprises. Shops selling spices, herbs, colorful dresses and carpets. In the middle of the bazaar you can also find a beautiful Quran school. Inside the building is beautifully decorated with mosaics. The bazaar is also home to one of Shiraz’s best restaurants. Saray-e Mehr serves delicious Iranian food at affordable prices.
2. Visiting religious shrines
There is no shortage of religious buildings of astounding beauty in Shiraz. The Nasir Al Molk mosque is a must visit when you are in Shiraz. Try to go early in the morning when the sun shines through the colorful windows creating a spectacular light show. Another must visit is the Shah-e Cheragh shrine. A free guide will show you around and explain the significance of this place. The glittery mirrors inside will leave you speechless.
3. Visiting the tomb of the poet Hafez
The tomb of Hafez is where the famous poet Hafez is buried. Hafez is still very popular in Iran and Iranians come here to pay their respect to him. Iranians treat Hafez’s poems as a source of guidance and fortune telling. Outside the tomb there are men with boxes full of cards with lines from Hafez’s poetry. Little birds will pick out a card for you and Iranians believe this will tell you something of your future.
Want to read more about Shiraz? Check Ellis’s post!
TripAdvisor tips on Shiraz
Inle Lake, Myanmar – Dariel from WheresDariel.com
1. Boat Tour
If there’s only enough time to do one thing in Inle Lake, definitely take a boat tour. It is touristy but a must-do. The huge beautiful lake against the mountainous backdrop, with the Intha fishermen rowing their boats with one leg is as picturesque as one can imagine. The boat tour will include visiting one of the rotating markets which take turn to operate depending on which day it is (hence the term “rotating”). The rotating markets are meant for the local hill tribe people to meet and buy their weekly groceries so it will be interesting to see how they live.
Other than the rotating market, the boat tour will usually include temples and villages. If you join the normal tour operators, be prepared to visit the “workshops” and “shops”. We found our boatman near the pier and managed to avoid all the shopping by telling him “NO SHOPS”.
To explore the inland of Inle Lake, i.e. Nyaungshwe, rent a bicycle and go around the villages at your own pace. It is an inexpensive way (about US$1 to US$2) to visit the rice padi fields, temples and even a hot spring. There are 2 routes, both will take you to Maing Thauk where you will see a mini version of the U Bein Bridge. There are eateries here where cyclists can take a break and lunch is served in a very “homely” environment. I loved it because I get to be in touch with the nature and the locals along the way.
3. Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery
Who would have guessed that there is a winery in Myanmar! Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery was founded in 2002 and started to produce their wines with locally grown grapes since 2006. They have an outdoor terrace where one can spend some time with friends or family savoring the inexpensive wine while watching the sun set across the vineyard and down the valley. The easiest way to get to the Winery is by a tuk-tuk. Otherwise, you can also make it one of the pit stops while you are cycling around Nyaungshwe. But for your own safety, I would recommend that if you drink, don’t
Cairns, Australia – Jess from ExpatGetaways.com
1. Great Barrier Reef
Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and it definitely should be on your bucket list! You can snorkel, scuba dive, kayak or even take a helicopter ride to really appreciate the sheer enormity of this natural wonder.
2. Daintree Rainforest
An easy drive north of Cairns you will find the Daintree National Park, where the rainforest meets the reef. Two UNESCO World Heritage sites and hot spots of biodiversity side by side. If you have time spend a night in the world’s oldest living rainforest and keep your eye out for native wildlife like cassowaries and tree kangaroos. Truly spectacular!
3. Indigenous Culture
The Wet Tropics surrounding Cairns are home to 18 different Indigenous groups that have been living in the area for at least 40,000 years. Their culture is ancient and ingrained in the natural landscape. There are some fantastic ways to learn more from the local people, my top local businesses that support the Indigenous community are the Mossman Gorge Dreamtime walk, the Kuku-Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tour and Ingan Tours.
Want to read more about Cairns? Check Jess’s posts!
TripAdvisor tips on Cairns
Amman, Jordan – Manon from TheDutchCountrySide.com
1. Amman citadel
Amman citadel is one of the highlights of Jordan’s capital, and it is easy to understand why. The earliest settlements date back to 1650-1550 BC, even though plenty of those settlements aren’t in their upper best condition, the most spectacular sites as the Umayyad Palace were build around 800AD. It is truly astonishing to walk through a site that is breathing the history of thousands of years ago.
When you’re at the citadel, don’t forget to take good, long views of the city, as the views are incredible. I would suggest you to stay until sunset if you are able to, the atmosphere turns into magic as the sun slowly goes down behind the hills that Amman was built onto.
The markets in Amman are endless. Street after street. It feels like you’re walking through a fairytale. New flavors and spices on every corner, different vegetables, fresh nuts and an endless stream of people that are doing their daily or weekly grocery shopping. You get a real taste of the Jordanian life when you indulge yourself into their daily or weekly habits. You will see the many curious faces, as when I walked around there I didn’t see one other foreigner at all. The market I adored is the one next to the Husseini mosque, the mosque is beautiful by the way, however, you cannot enter it as an outsider.
3. Odeum of Amman
The odeum is quite easy to miss to be fair. It is a small Roman theater located next to one of the best preserved and biggest Roman theaters of the world. If you climb the Roman theater, that is an absolute must, you can easily see it. The theater only has room for a few hundred people and is still, just like the big Roman theater, used nowadays. Sometimes the odeum will be closed, however you can always give it a shot since you’re nearby anyway’
Niseko, Japan – Allison from UrbaniteDiary.com
1. Ski Lessons and Night Skiing
Niseko is the best place to learn or improve your skiing/snowboarding skills with the qualified instructors. English speaking ski lessons are easily available from many ski schools such as Niseko Base Snowsports or GoSnow (Hirafu area), and Niseko Village Snow School (Niseko Village area). Despite the top lift only about 4,000 feet high, Niseko has over 47km of groomed slopes and 38 lifts (including 3 express gondolas and more new ones coming). Moreover, Niseko is one of the world’s largest ski resorts that offer up to 4 hours of night ski with last lifts go up at 8:30pm each night. Enormous stadium-style lights brighten the mid to lower half of the Mount Niseko Annupuri, with lesser crowd on the slopes making it perfect to practice your skiing/snowboarding skills.
2. Hot Springs (known as Onsen in Japan)
After a great day on the slopes, there is nothing better than relaxing in a Japanese Hot Springs/Onsen. Hot Springs water is believed to have natural healing powers derived from the mineral content. So long you could get over the part of being totally naked in front of same gender strangers, the Japanese onsen is a must try in Niseko. Best hot spring in Niseko is the outdoor onsen at The Green Leaf Niseko Village, offering the surreal experience of outdoor hot spring surrounded by snow.
3. Dinner at A-Bu-Cha 2 ( 阿武茶弐 )
One of the best izakaya styled (a type of informal Japanese gastropub) restaurants in Hirafu, Niseko. Japanese Izakayas are famous for being the casual after-work drinking and dining places. They are often compared to Irish pubs or American taverns. Top picks of A-Bu-Cha 2 are their signature hot pot, Hokkaido Seafood Sukiyaki, and other side dishes including grilled squid, sashimi, corn and edamame. Their Seafood Hot Pot is absolutely delicious with fresh Hokkaido crab, prawns and mussels cooked with local vegetables, making it the perfect dish for a snowy winter night. Early table reservation is highly recommended as this place is always fully booked during the peak winter season.
Stay tuned for our upcoming tips on other cities around the World!
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