Wat Rong Khun: Chiang Rai’s White Temple

dscn4646After the hostel we’d booked in Chiang Rai closed without warning and a disastrous attempt to book a Green Bus months in advance, it seemed that our visit to the White Temple wasn’t going to happen. However, after we exhausted all of Chiang Mai’s sights with a day left to spare, we plucked up the courage to rent a car and simply drove there instead. Continue reading

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Q&A: Is Bhutan for me?

dscn4925Thinking about a trip to Bhutan but unsure if it will be worth it? Getting to the last Shangri-La is admittedly pricey and, owing to the manner in which you have to pay, it can be a chore to arrange. However, you are guaranteed to come away with lasting memories from one of the world’s most unique and untouched cultures. I have put this Q&A together to better help people decide if a visit to the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon is truly for them. Continue reading

Paro: In and About Town

dscn5074Paro, although not a must visit destination in Bhutan, still has a number of interesting places worth a look. There are a number of dzongs in the vicinity of the tourism-oriented town, including one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, and it also claims ownership of the country’s National Museum, International Airport and the valley that houses Bhutan’s most wondrous treasure, the Tiger’s Nest. Continue reading

Thimphu: A Jaunt Around Bhutan’s Capital

dscn4795Thimphu is Bhutan’s capital and most densely populated city with roughly 91,000 citizens residing there. It is the base for the country’s government and houses the palace of the current king and queen. When you arrive you will get your first chance to see the traditional design of Bhutanese homes, all of which must follow a certain theme as set by royal decree. Sights here include the impressive Tashichhoe Dzong and the Buddha Dordenma statue which offers some glorious bird’s-eye views of the capital nestled in the valleys below. Continue reading

Punakha: aka the Place with all the Penises

dscn4864Our second day in Bhutan involved a long and arduous drive to the district of Punakha. Although the distance between Thimphu and Punakha is only 70km or so, the drive took us well over three hours due to the terrible state of Bhutan’s mountainous road network. Punakha is famous for its picturesque dzong which is situated between the meeting point of two raging rivers and Chimi Lhakhang otherwise known as the Temple of the Divine Madman. There was, however, a far more juvenile reason for my excitement for this leg of the trip… Continue reading

Tiger’s Nest: The Jewel in Bhutan’s Crown

dscn5023Tiger’s Nest is likely to be the main factor in most visitors’ decisions to come to Bhutan. Despite being a country of almost unrivalled beauty, Taktsang is by far and away the jewel in the crown of this tiny Himalayan kingdom. Perched precariously at the very edge of a sheer mountain face, the location of the monastery almost defies belief and the views from the hike on the way up are unparalleled in their splendour. A visit to Bhutan would not be complete without stopping at this amazing landmark. Continue reading

Tokyo’s Best Hotspots

Sky-View-1Tokyo is vast. Like, really really vast. There are such a plethora of things to do and places to see that it can be hard to fit everything in when planning for a visit. There are districts in this glittering neon metropolis that cater for everybody from bustling shopping areas to beautiful parks, wild nightlife spots to serene religious sites. This guide should fill you in on some of the more interesting parts of Tokyo and help inform you of the must see local sights and activities. Continue reading

Things to do in Glorious Gunma

daikokuGunma is a prefecture some two hours train journey to the northwest of Tokyo. Gunma is far more relaxed and much quieter than the capital but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of amazing sights and things to do. If you have a craving for rugged areas of great natural beauty or want to hunt for Daruma related gifts, then Gunma is the place for you. Train stations are far less frequent when compared to Tokyo and these sights are widely spaced, so a hire car likely will be required if you wish to take in all of the landmarks listed below. Continue reading

The Outskirts of Tokyo and Beyond

Rainbow-Bridge-and-Booze-Cruise-BoatsSure, central Tokyo is great, but Japan isn’t all about seizure-inducing neon signs, karaoke in the early hours and drunken salarymen slumbering upside down on train station stairways. The outskirts of Tokyo and beyond offer a varied range of things to see and do from tourist-friendly temple complexes to cat-infested islands specialising in amazing seafood dishes. If you have your heart set on a stay in Japan, one thing I’d definitely recommend is getting off the beaten track and taking in a few of the more distant spots the capital and its surrounding prefectures have to offer. Six worth checking out are listed below. Continue reading

Beng Mealea

DSCN3227Beng Mealea is a little off the beaten track. It is roughly an hour’s tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap but it is definitely worth the travel to get there. I paid $50 to ensure Braus, my driver, stayed with me for the entirety of the day and this included taking me to the temple complex and back and then to Siem Reap so I could grab a bit to eat. I probably could have haggled this price down but in the end I didn’t think it was worth it to save an extra $10 or so. Doing the journey to Beng Mealea by tuk tuk can be an experience in itself as you head down myriad uneven dirt roads which, at times, can have you hanging on for dear life! Continue reading