Having visited Phuket, Thailand twice in a span of six months we can safely say that this island paradise is not just about beach lounging, turquoise waters, trips to Phi Phi islands, strolling past strip bars and shopping streets. Phuket is also home to some very interesting local cuisine—this mountainous island located in the Andaman Sea has its fair share of tourist traps as well as hidden spots for every kind of holidaymaker—so, forget about calories and think Pad Thai, delectable curries, stir fry everything, mango sticky rice and…drumroll….hand churned coconut ice-cream.
A medley of landscapes frequently lauded as some of the world’s most beautiful sights can be found in Western Canada. Using the below images we attempt to brainwash you in to planning your next holiday to this relatively unexplored destination found on earth promising nature in abundance, wild experiences and unparalleled beauty.
Your 20 photos to inspire you to visit Canada begins now:
Rafting in Clearwater River, Wells Grey Provincial Park
To road trip through the Canadian Rockies in 15 days:
Electric. Dynamic. Chaotic. The maker (and breaker) of dreams – Mumbai city, India is a pulsating metropolitan city that’s filled with the best of the best (restaurants, hotels, eateries, shops), and the worst of the worst (weather, garbage, crowds). It also just happens to be our home. With our ongoing Landmarks of Mumbai series, we’ll explore small areas of the city, piece by piece, lending our insider knowledge and expertise to each area – so you, traveller, tourist and fellow Mumbaikar – know exactly what landmark to visit, where to stay and where to eat.
Gateway of India
This arch-shaped monument has been standing tall, (and pretty-much graffiti free) since 1924, when it was built to welcome British officials into the city. While the English left us a while ago, we’re not complaining about what they left behind—architecturally gorgeous, built in the Indo-Saracenic style, this imposing gateway is pretty much synonymous with Mumbai, and Bombay before it. Unmissable.
Why you should see it: The best time to ‘see’ this spectacular English-constructed landmark is just as the sun rises—the crowds at the lowest and you’ll get views against a spectacular skyline. While you can see the Gateway from the promenade nearby, it’s officially open for business between 7am-5:30pm, all days of the week, when it gets crowded with everyone from click-happy tourists (Look Ma, I’m holding up the gateway) to frenzied professionals going about their daily commute. But if you get there around sunset, the area comes alive with hordes of people taking walks along the seafront and meandering the nearby streets for food and drink spots, popular in this area. Walking around here is the best way to get a feel of the city as a local.
Tourist haunts: Around the corner from the gateway sits Colaba Causeway—practically as popular as the former; the popular go-to food stops for out-of-towners tend to be The Leopold Café, Café Mondegar, Bade Miyan (a food truck-turned-restaurant), Theobroma, Cafe Churchill and Delhi Darbar (for biryani). This area is extremely famous for Mumbai’s street shopping that includes artificial jewellery, bags and clothing. (Make sure to bargain)
GYG picks: A whole in the wall old-school Indian-styled Chinese restaurant Ling’s Pavillion, Bagdadi,a little Irani-styled eatery best known for their range of pulaos, fried fish and caramel custard,Le 15 Café for its quaint English-café charm, Colaba Social for a fun-well-priced drink and Bombay Stock Exchange’s terrace-top bar, Cafe Churchill for old school continental cuisine and freshly bakes pastries.
Basic: Abode Bombay
Breaking the budget: Taj Vivanta, Taj Mahal Palace & Hotel
Taj Mahal Palace & Hotel
The resident ghost of Taj Mahal Hotel is an urban legend that dates back to 1903. While the building was commissioned to three Indian architects, the main architect passed away whilst it was still under construction and was replaced by English engineer WA Chambers. Rumour has it, when he discovered the building had been constructed facing the opposite direction to his intent, he committed suicide and haunts the halls, even today. A ghostly tale not enough to entice a visit to the gorgeous India-Saracencic styled building?
Why you should see it: Go for the incredible hospitality at any of its great restaurants (The Golden Dragon is a personal favourite) – or just to marvel at its incredible architecture (tourists are allowed to walk in and explore the lobby and stores). You can also get gorgeous images against the beautiful building.
Tourist haunts: The Sea Lounge coffee shop at the Taj, overlooks the Gateway of India and offers the most sublime tea time service. (think layers of coffee cake and finger sandwiches). Around the corner are little sugarcane juice vendors to get through the heat that a day in Mumbai is bound to impress upon you.
GYG picks: While we love all the restaurants at the Taj hotel, venture to causeway where Piccadilly has the best shawarma’s we’ve had in the city, Gables for unique Goan cuisine, Olympia Coffee House for their old-world charm, keema pav, caramel custard and Mumbai-staple chai. The Strand Hotel rooftop bar for gorgeous views along with your drinks.
Basic: Abode Bombay
Breaking the budget: Taj Vivanta, Taj Mahal Palace & Hotel
The Asiatic Society of Mumbai
Home to more than a hundred thousand books, of which 15,000 are classified as rare and valuable, this heritage structure influenced by Greek and Roman architecture with its pristine white exterior is better known as a venue for loved-up pre-wedding photo shoots and general photo ops. We kinda like it for both, as you can see. Hehe. Asiaticsociety.org.in for details of accessibility and opening hours.
Why you should see it: One of the prettiest buildings in Mumbai has gone through extensive refurbishments to stay perfect. The interiors with their winding staircases, long columns and antiquated-style are perfect to take you back to Bombay of the past.
Tourist haunts: Horniman Circle Garden down the road from the Asiatic is the perfect spot of greenery in the midst of the bustling city, and if you saunter around in the afternoon, you’re likely to find a bunch of snoozing men under the shade of the tress. It’s also home to popular Indian-style stores like The Bombay Store, Chumbak and FabIndia for touristy (and quality) memorabilia.
GYG picks: The Nutcracker veggie restaurant for its delectable pancakes, Kala Ghoda Café for those who love being healthy on holiday, Trishna (arguably the best seafood restaurant in the city) and Ayubs (a hole-in-the-wall roll guy) who went from operating out of a car to having his own little space in Kala Ghoda. He’s also open until 3-4 am for late-night cravings. Britannia & Co. Restaurant a is synonymous with serving the best Parsi food in the city with its berry pulav (his berries are imported all the way from Iran) and salli boti (mutton gravy) are definitely not to be missed. You also get live entertainment from the kind old owner who dishes out tales from the British era.
Basic: Ascot Hotel, Residency Hotel Fort, Grand Hotel
Breaking the budget: Trident Nariman Point, The Oberoi Mumbai
Hanging Gardens of Mumbai
For endless, unfettered views of Mumbai’s iconic marine drive promenade and gorgeous aerial views of the city, and sunset views over the Arabian Sea, head down to this terraced garden, settled comfortably in a residential area of South Mumbai. From morning walkers to busloads of tourists, they all descend upon the garden for a look at ‘The Old Woman’s Shoe”. Sitting in Kamala Nehru Park complex, the shoe structure is inspired by the nursery rhyme, ‘There was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe” and makes for a great whimsical photo-op.
Why you should see it: For the gorgeous sunset views of the city’s famed Queen’s necklace, for the quietude in the middle of this chaotic city and to take a quiet breath.
Tourist haunts: Banganga Tank an ancient water tank part of the Walkeshwar Temple Complex.
GYG picks: Dakshinayan, an authentic South Indian restaurant with high quality food and the best filter coffee; China Garden, an old-school, award winning Chinese restaurant, Narayan’s Dosa, grant road (a little hard to find, but Zomato should help you out).
Basic: The Regency Hotel, Nepensea Road
Breaking the budget: The Shalimar Hotel, Mumbai
To book accommodations we recommend: https://www.booking.com/
For more information on food: https://www.zomato.com/mumbai
Photographed by: Chail Shah Photography
Wondering why your friends and family look aghast each time you tell them your plans to visit Iceland in the coldest month of the year? Well, they have every right to raise concerns especially when you’re Indian, have no experience driving in snow and wear sweaters in the tropics. Therefore, in order to alleviate those concerns we’ve chalked out a winter in Iceland survivors guide so you (wherever you may come from) are well prepared for the ride of your life.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- It is possible to see sun, snow, rain, sleet and hail all within 1 hour of being in Iceland. Therefore, it is vital to check the weather updates before you begin your day and subsequently every two hours. This will give you 100% accurate information on whether the roads are accessible or if a detour is required. 2 weather websites we used along the way:
- Drive safe, slow and obey traffic rules.
- Rent a 4X4 (four wheel drive) only. If you happen to follow the above itinerary in winter a 4WD is necessary.
- Do not book a northern lights tour. Due to the entire country being sparsely populated you can often see the lights from your guesthouse window. We do not recommend a tour as they are expensive with no guarantee, take away the element of surprise and excitement and the phenomenon is purely based on luck.
- Stock up on food in case you get caught up in a storm and cannot reach your accommodation.
- Ensure you have all the emergency helpline numbers, register your itinerary on safetravel.is for instant support, keep a shovel in your car and always help passersby in case you see anyone stuck.
- Layer up because the only way to protect yourself from the cold is by wearing countless layers of clothing so pack smart. Always keep your head, hands and ears covered from the harsh winds.
- Carry multiple power chargers as your battery tends to train very quickly in such extreme temperatures.
- Iceland is EXPENSIVE (understatement) so budget your travels accordingly. Stock up on supermarket goodies, which can be used for lunch in case you plan to spend more on dinner.
- The water at Lake Myvatn smells horrible due to the high Sulphur content but it is absolutely safe to drink (no one buys water in Iceland, do not embarrass yourself by doing so).
- Limited daylight means you have to plan your itinerary for the day accordingly. It is not advisable to drive post sunset unless you step out a few kilometres for dinner or to chase the lights.
- Thermal pools ruin your hair (suplhur again) so always apply conditioner before entering the pools/baths.
- Go cashless – We have no idea what the Icelandic currencly looks like as we only used our travel cards and soon learned that purchases are very rarely made in cash.
- Fuel up every time you see a gas station as when you’re driving cross country in winter you don’t know when your next stop could be.
- Northern lights sightings are not as easy as they make it look as Iceland experiences a variety of changing weather therefore clear skies on a dreary winter’s day is not a guarantee.
- Blue Lagoon tickets need to be purchased well in advance on their official website(especially in summer).
- Everyone in Iceland speaks perfect English so you will never face any language trouble.
- Alcohol cannot be bought in super markets (except for beer) so BYOB.
- Have you ever wondered what takes place prior to entering the baths/pools? This time is spent running from your toasty changing rooms, stepping on to the icy ground, clutching the frosty handles of the pool until you have finally made it inside. So mentally prepare.
- Truly the best way to see the country is by renting your own vehicle however if you are apprehensive about driving, you can find countless (expensive) tours for sightseeing.
- Finally, brace yourselves for you may never want to leave this country.
If there ever was a country that had terrain that seemed like it is from another planet, it is Iceland and where better to celebrate your marriage turning one than in a freezing country surrounded by absolutely nothing! My husband and I landed in the capital city of Reykjavik and began a 10-day journey traversing volcanoes, lava fields, icy, and snow laden roads with air so pure and views so magical; we may have lost our hearts to another world.
When someone tells you that you “have to go to Amsterdam” in winter you don’t moan about how cold and windy it’s going to be, instead you pack all the warm clothes you possibly have and make the most of a winter vacation. I’ve always despised the cold, I mean who doesn’t love Margaritas on a beach but skiing on a mountain or sipping on mulled wine in a quaint little town in Switzerland is equally (or more) impressive. Each vacation, whatever the weather may be relies on what you do and how you experience it and a little tip, once you’re in the minuses example -1 and survived; all the minuses are endurable.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found in your suitcase yet? Well, half way in to our American holiday we realised it wasn’t wise to carry a photo album with photos of our dogs or jewellery pouches filled with bobbles nor was it necessary to carry biscuits from India! You’re faced with this life or death decision whether to carry the sun hat for the beach, the 3 swim suits you’ve just bought, the striped or plain dress and which shoes you have to be photographed in on this holiday. It’s unpleasant lugging around a 32 kg suitcase that’s half your size and holding up lines because you also have a backpack and sling purse to balance all for your 10 day holiday. Therefore, we’ve devised the perfect guide to assist you with packing that won’t require you to sit on your suitcase to have it closed.