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It’s the New Year – The sun is shining, winter is becoming spring and the patriarchy is still waking up to a hot cup of chai, breakfast and a layered lunchbox filled with a meal that they did not make. A lady  gets to do the work that she loves at an Ad agency but she is still on guard in the late-night cab to home; it’s the weekend and the uncles are laughing together in the living room and the women are making another batch of pakodas; the baby was a mutual decision but now somehow it’s always her doing the dishes, bathing the baby and considering leaving her job. If you are a woman and you’re about to lose it the next time an uncle sipping a cup of chai that his wife (who BTW, is still in the kitchen while her tea gets cold) made, says to you “Women should be respected” – YOU NEED A BREAK!

Write that leave application, handover your to-do list, finish that cup of chai, slam it on the table and make your way to the airport for a much needed vacay! Make any little achievement your reason to getaway. Here are our top 9 bahanas to celebrate travel;

Effortlessly Parallel Parked In The First Go – Time For A Europe Trip!

Lose yourself in a real life European painting

Lose yourself in a real life European painting

You absolutely deserve a long, carefree stay in artistic Europe. Spend a day or two in Paris taking in all the colours, vibe and culture dressed in poetry. You could take a few hours to have yourself a magical time at the Euro Disney Park, treat yourself to a jaw-dropping show at the Garnier’s Opera, stroll along the dazzling Champs-Elysees and lose yourself in toasty, buttery goodness at an authentic Parisian restaurant. Then head to serene, snowy Switzerland for an adventure-packed time, followed by a relaxing time at a Jazz café with a mug of hot chocolate.

Want to tour Europe with your girls?

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Ate Healthy For A Whole Month – Cheat-meal In Greece Makes Sense!

Live life in a reality made of serene blues and whites at Greece

Live life in a reality made of serene blues and whites at Greece

Plan a trip to Athens to explore its history, architecture and mystic. Wander around in the old town on the Mykonos Island or the volcanic island of Santorini and take Instagram-worthy photographs at the beaches, picturesque pathways and churches. Take a sunset-cruise and indulge in scrumptious barbeque!

How about taking multiple groufies with gorgeous backdrops?

Tour Greece

Made My First Round Roti – Chalo Dubai!

Walk around on the sparkly streets under starry skyscrapers in surreal Dubai

Walk around on the sparkly streets under starry skyscrapers in surreal Dubai

Have your very own Sex and the City-moment in enchanting Dubai! Walk about the streets with the silhouettes of skyscrapers in the background, watch the sunset from the top of Burj Khalifa and participate in a thrilling Dessert Safari. Don’t hold back, let go and have the time of your life here!

Always admired the massive skyscrapers of Dubai?
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Bought My First Bikini – Bali With Girlfriends Toh Banta Hai!

Forget about your computer and spend time in that desktop background come to life

Forget about your computer and spend time in that desktop background come to life

The temples, people and good energy in Bali are sure to rejuvenate your soul. Wander around Ubud Art Market under a starry evening, treat yourself to exhilaration at the Bali Safari and Marine Park and dig into the fragrant, exotic local cuisine. Forget the realities of daily-life and spend a day just lazing around clear waters with your closest friends bonding over tropical drinks!

Want to flaunt your bikini in Bali?

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Finally Broke Up With My Toxic Boyfriend – Party In Thailand!

Close your eyes and let the Thailand breeze take you away to la-la land

Close your eyes and let the Thailand breeze take you away to la-la land

After you’ve cut off from the toxic people in your life and are in search for a new beginning, let yourself go in Pattaya, the scenic beach town of your dreams! The people in Pattaya know how to have a good time and make sure there isn’t a minute of boredom during your stay. You could spend an evening at the Alcazar show which is one of the most popular Cabaret shows all over Asia. Take part in water-sports, visit the jaw-dropping Golden Buddha Temple and relax with a traditional Thai massage. Don’t forget to experience the Chaophraya Dinner cruise in Bangkok!

Explore Thailand, everyone’s go-to beach town!

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Cleaned Out My Closet After Years – Chal Sri Lanka Chalte Hai!

The wildlife, sunshine and fragrance of Sri Lanka will fill your heart with peace and joy

The wildlife, sunshine and fragrance of Sri Lanka will fill your heart with peace and joy

Get a cozy room, drop your luggage, get fresh and explore the beautiful capital of the country – Colombo! Go see the 100-year-old clock tower in the city, shop and experience the cultural food and clothing at the Pettah Bazaar and embrace your spiritual side at the Gangaramaya temple. Spend an afternoon at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage for a blissful time with adorable Elephants! If you truly want to experience the diversity that the world has to offer, come explore Sri Lanka.

Discover the wonders of Sri Lanka with your girls

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Bahu Ne Mujhe Pehli Baar Ma Bulaya – Ab Kashmir Nahi Jayenge Toh Kab!

Get dressed in your warmest clothes and explore the enchanting roads and galis of Kashmir

Get dressed in your warmest clothes and explore the enchanting roads and galis of Kashmir

Pick a few days in the summer and make your way to the pleasant breezes of Kashmir. Make home in a houseboat in Srinagar and look out to the lake as you sip your traditional Kahwa tea. Buy a couple local goodies at the floating markets on the lake and take the opportunity to be one with nature in the wonder that is Pahalgam. There are quite a few temples with marvelous architecture that you can checkout and valleys and mountains to thoroughly explore.

Witness pure magnificence in Kashmir with your girlfriends

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Successfully Survived A Coworker’s Sexist Jokes – Bye, Main Chali Andaman!

 The cold sand, warm people and blinking string lights at the Andaman Islands promise you the time of your life

The cold sand, warm people and blinking string lights at the Andaman Islands promise you the time of your life

Bask in the Island-sun under swaying palm trees at Corbyn’s Cove beach; take long nature walks or take on the adventure on a fast Jet Ski ride! Dress in beachy-clothes, seashell anklets and ocean-hair and snorkel around the coral reefs and calm waters at the Radhanagar beach. Most of all make sure to dance like no one’s watching at an evening bash around town as you sip on coolers and devour the fresh seafood!

Do you and your girls dream of azure waters?

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My Cat Likes My Dog Now – I’m Celebrating In Kerala!

 The deep-green palm trees, dark blue waters and serenity of Kerala is a never ending serenade

The deep-green palm trees, dark blue waters and serenity of Kerala is a never ending serenade

The sun shines brighter; flowers smell a little sweeter in God’s own country – Kerala. Enjoy the greenery laced in dewdrops and make the most of the ancient buildings that still contain its old, shimmering nostalgia. Mattancherry palace is a great example of beautiful old, Karalite architecture. If you’re a tea-person don’t miss the tour of the Tata tea museum. There are ample beautiful places to visit in Kerala like the wildlife sanctuary in Thekkady and the backwaters of Alleppey. Make the most of your time here!

Discover the age old secrets of Kerala with your gang of girls

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If you are a woman who is just tired of the noise of the world, I encourage you to take that much-needed break. Go make the world yours!

What’s your bahana for a getaway? Write to us in the comments section your favourite excuse for a holiday.

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Kavita Sarmah

Kavita Sarmah

Kavita Sarmah is an artist, optimism and a tea person. Life to her is writing in empty cafés, mindlessly strumming the ukulele and starry, cinematic skies. Follow her on Instagram: @kavitasarmah

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Copenhagenize Design Co, a bicycle culture inclined urban design company based in Denmark, released the new edition of their bike-friendly cities guide. They ranked 150 cities from around the world, according to various criteria such as perception of safety, bicycle culture, bicycle facilities, cycling tours and routes, infrastructures, social acceptance and more. Here’s a look at three of their top-rated cities.

cycling tours-cycle routes-bike routes in Europe

A row of colourful bikes on a street in Europe

Cycling Tour In Copenhagen, Denmark

About a third of the population of Copenhagen, Denmark, use a bike to commute to work, in their social life, to do errands, etc. The bike culture is deeply rooted in Copenhagen’s mentality and cycling is much facilitated by infrastructure and great urban design. One of the many initiatives taken by the Danish government to encourage cycling is that you can rent a bike for free! To use a public bike, you just need to pay a security deposit, which will be reimbursed the minute you return the bicycle.

Worth mentioning as well is that Copenhagen is home to the community of Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood, completely independent from the Danish government, where cars are banned.

Interested in touring Copenhagen?

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Cycling Tour In Montreal, Canada

cycling tours-cycle-routes-bike-routes-montreal

Enjoy stress-free cycling in the lanes of Montreal

No city in the US or in Canada made it in Copenhagenize’s top 20 bike friendly cities…except for Montreal. Quebec’s largest and most vibrant city has the honour of North America’s most bike friendly city–and with bike paths winding across all of town since as early as the ‘80s, Quebec’s metropolis has been so for a while.

There are over 2000 miles of bike lanes in Montreal, and the city is planning to expand the cycling network some more. Bicycles are widely used by Montrealers, to commute to work as well as for everyday activities. Visit Montreal during the summer and you’ll be convinced of cycling’s popularity with amazing cycle routes or bike routes!

The Montreal Bixi (a cross between ‘bicycle’ and ‘taxi’) concept, a public bicycle sharing system, has been sold to dozens of cities in the world, including Boston, Melbourne, Chicago and London.

Planning to visit Montreal?

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Cycling Tour In Amsterdam, Netherlands

cycling tours-cycle-routes-bike-routes-amsterdam

Riding a bike is a great Amsterdam experience

According to Copenhagenize, “Amsterdam does almost everything right”. The amount of bicycle traffic is quite impressive in the capital of the Netherlands. And, when compared to cities like Montreal for instance, where riding a bike can be a bit of a stressful experience, in Amsterdam, cycling tours is done in a safe atmosphere, it is relaxed and very mainstream. Thanks to a remarkably flat landscape and a wide network of in-city bike lanes that forms as a perfect cycle routes or bike routes, over 40% of Amsterdam’s population uses a bicycle as the main means of transportation.

Planning a trip to Amsterdam?

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About the Author

Caroline Simpson is a writer, a translator and a travel addict who’s always looking for ways to make life easier. She works as a freelance blogger for Le Yeti, a Montreal-based bike dealer.

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The city that promises endless excitement, entertainment, fortune and fame, Las Vegas will steal your heart away! Join Mamata Krishnamurthy as she reminisces about her trip to the mighty Grand Canyon and Sin City – Las Vegas, best things to do in Las Vegas and much more!

Best things to do in Las Vegas The ever- enchanting Bellagio Fountain

The ever- enchanting Bellagio Fountain; Jerryway, Dreamstime.com

How many occasions do you have to remember every year as a couple? Wedding anniversary, first date anniversary, birthdays, first kiss anniversary, “first time we held hands” anniversary, “first time you said I love you” anniversary to name just a few. If you are the kind of couple that my husband and I are, then you would have celebrated numerous such events! While we were dating we found something new to celebrate each year. And we decided to gift each other travel experiences for these special occasions instead of gift pieces. And boy! Was that the best idea ever?!

So for my birthday we planned a small, 3-day getaway to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. We were curious to find out what the big deal about Las Vegas was that attracted people to visit again and again. And Grand Canyon was on our wish list for the longest time. The wait was finally over!

While growing up I read about mountains and valleys, deserts and drylands, canyons and gorges. But never had I witnessed any of these. Part of me was like an excited school girl while we boarded our plane to Nevada. It was a 6 hour flight from New York to Las Vegas with a layover at Texas. Our trip was mid-July and it was the peak of summer season. We stepped out the cool, air-conditioned airport into the blazing heat of Nevada. We had nothing but backpacks on our backs and broad smiles on our faces. This was a perfect start!

We rented a car from the airport’s car rentals. To get to the car rental place (which is some distance away) there are airport buses shuttling back and forth every few minutes. We hopped on one and 7 minutes later, hopped off at the car rentals. We rented a small car and in less than 20 minutes were zooming off (or at least as fast as the car could take us within reasonable speed limit!) into the Nevada sun. The highways were so different from what we were used to. There was no greenery around. Just vast dry lands, a few different types of cacti, a few tall palm trees, and mountains at a distance seemingly touching both the land and the sky. With our windows rolled down, sunglasses to protect our eyes from the piercing sunlight, camera in hand, we were ready for one of the best excursions of our lives! So, here is a list of some of the best things to do in Las Vegas which we personally experiences and enjoyed.

Things To Do In Las Vegas

Scenic Drive In Red Rock Canyon

Our first stop was the Red Rock Canyon. It is located about 17 miles west of Las Vegas strip and offers some of the most spectacular geologic formations. We were extremely eager to lay our eyes on these majestic rock formations, mostly red in color. A board welcomed us to the Red Rock Conservation Area. We got off the car, snapped a few pictures, and got back in to experience the 13-mile scenic drive.

best things to do in Las Vegas - red rock canyon

And the journey begins…

The Red Rock Canyon we found out offered more than just the 13-mile drive – numerous hiking trails, rock climbing spots, picnic areas, biking strips, and even horseback riding. Along the winding roads we saw gorgeous rock formations, mountains, and desert lands. The day was bright and cloudless. The light reflected off the rocks so beautifully that each rock looked a different color. We were mesmerized by what we saw. Being so used to skyscrapers, this was such a contrast and truly spectacular. Trust us, this is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas.

best things to do in Las Vegas - desert

We left the skyscrapers behind and welcomed the spectacular desert landscape

We spent a good two hours in the desert landscape. The bright, sunny afternoon suddenly gave way to grey clouds and some much-needed respite! On our way back we caught sight of numerous caravans parked in the desert. We wondered what it would be to live off land like a nomad. With our 13-mile drive coming to end, we were ready to tackle Sin City – Las Vegas!

best things to do in Las Vegas- MGM Grand

Visiting Vegas and not entering MGM Grand is an absolute crime

Visit Bellagio

Our hotel was located at one end of the famous Las Vegas strip. It was early evening when we checked in. The weather was cool enough to warrant a nice walk on the strip. We wanted to bring in my birthday at midnight in front of the very popular musical fountain by Bellagio. The fountain is beautiful to watch – the water dancing to the music. Don’t be surprised if you sway with the dancing waters too! We walked up the strip enjoying the colors, bright lights, blaring music, palm trees, and a variety of people. There are numerous restaurants you can eat at. Las Vegas caters to the taste buds of the world. It is also “the place to be” if you love your alcohol. We spent a day and a half visiting casinos at some of the biggest hotels in the world. You can still enjoy the architecture and the splendidness of these marvelous hotels without gambling at their casinos. That’s exactly what we did.

best things to do in Las Vegas-The famous Las Vegas strip!

The famous Las Vegas strip. Enough said!

The Venetian gave us a very “Venice” feel with boats sliding through calm waters inside the hotel, the Bellagio was what you could call a “royal” hotel with beautiful ceilings and interior, the Caesar’s Palace boasted of making its guests feel like they were outdoor when indoor, MGM Grand stood up to its name – it was indeed grand with rich interior décor, complete with a small tropical themed restaurant, New York New York managed to take us back to New York and its familiar sights, the Luxor transported us to Egypt with its sphinx and pyramid theme, and so on. Each hotel had a common theme while still exhibiting its uniqueness – casinos. Known as one of the best things to do in Las Vegas, we were not surprised to see the crowd in casinos. Young and old alike hoping to turn their luck at the slot machines, roulette table, and playing black jack. Las Vegas can make or break you!

best things to do in Las Vegas -  Las Vegas magic

Soak in the bright lights and the Las Vegas magic

The ‘Grand’ Experience

We were more excited about our impending trip to the Grand Canyon. Las Vegas did treat us well but my husband and I could only like it so much. We left early on the third day of our trip to the mighty Grand Canyon. It lies in the state of Arizona, Nevada’s next door neighbor and a 4-hour drive from Las Vegas. There are two sides or “rims” to the Grand Canyon that are popular – the South rim and the West rim. Each rim has its own beauty. We decided to visit the South rim.

The drive was anything but boring! Our first pit stop was Hoover Dam on the border of Nevada and Arizona. It was a sight to behold. A massive structure built on the Colorado River that helps supply electricity to Nevada, Arizona, and California. It also is an enclosure to Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. The sky was bright, the water looked green, and a cool wind soothed our bodies from the heat that was relentless so early in the day. Snapping a few pictures – selfies, couple shots, shots of each other, and the dam itself, we headed to the South rim.

best things to do in Las Vegas- the magnificent Hoover Dam

Lo and behold, the magnificent Hoover Dam

The drive was long with the Mojave Desert on either side of the highway. The landscape looked so dry that we wondered why anybody would inhabit such a place. But we did see a few caravans parked along the highway, just like we did by Red Rock Canyon. We found out that Mojave Desert also is known to be the hottest place in the United States and is called the Death Valley. Temperatures can reach up to 50 degree C during peak summers. There have been a few deaths especially hikers that take up the adventure without adequate preparation. Sends chills down our spines thinking of it, right?!

best things to do in Las Vegas- Grand Cayon

The wait was finally over, we were at Grand Canyon!

We reached the visitor information area in the Grand Canyon reserve. Even though we were not at a great height yet the first glimpse of the mountains was spectacular. My husband and I shared a few words between us while watching the view – wow, wow, and maybe a couple more wows! From the visitor center we started walking around the South rim to popular vantage points. The hike was not too tedious but in the hot afternoon we were panting and sweating in no time. We had slathered on generously copious amounts of sunblock, shielded our eyes with good old Ray Bans, a nice wide-brimmed hat for the head, loose clothing, water bottles, and a few protein bars to protect us against Mother Nature. But no heat could stop us from gazing open-mouthed at the mountains in the distance and the canyon right beneath our feet. We could also see the Colorado River snaking her way into Nevada. We gathered from information booths that there was only one known hiking trail in the entire South rim that the rangers had access to and was known on a map. All else was at your own risk. We also found out that winters could be as brutal as the summers.

best things to do in Las Vegas- South rimm of the Grand Canyon

We opted to visit the South rim of Grand Canyon

As we made our way around the South rim, continually choosing to walk rather than take shuttle buses that pick up and drop off people from one point to another, we met many tourists like us – a couple from the UK, another from Canada, and a third from China. Everybody was mesmerized with what they could see. Sometimes nature has a way of uniting different people. We finally sat down on a large rock under the shade of a big tree for lunch. While happily chewing on sandwiches and fruit, we started talking about the West rim and why the South rim was more popular. The South rim gives more access to the canyon than the West. It’s easier to walk and hike and gifts us with spectacular sunsets. The West rim on the other hand has a Skywalk – a glass walk way that would make you feel like you were standing in the middle of nowhere – one of the best things to do in Las Vegas.

best things to do in Las Vegas- Grand Canyon experience

It’s difficult to describe this amazing experience…

After lunch we hiked up further along the rim, jumping on to ledges to get good pictures and feasting our eyes. We also monkeyed around a bit – trying the popular “Kamehameha” jump and acting as though we were falling off the cliff! It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately we could not wait for sunset at the Canyon. Sunsets during summers can be late in the day – after 9:00 PM! We decided to head back in good time and rest our tired bodies. The drive back felt rather different – maybe dusk played magic with light and colors. Beautiful pink and purple hues, orange and yellow horizons, some blue and finally indigo. We reached our hotel in Las Vegas by dinner time. Though our bodies sang a different tune, begging us to sleep, our minds wouldn’t stop whirring! After a quick meal we headed out again to the Strip for a final evening and perfect adieu.

Interested in touring Las Vegas?

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About The Author

Mamata Krishnamurthy

Mamata Krishnamurthy

When I am not managing software, I am likely to be found buried in a book. I aspire to travel far and wide, finding freedom in the unknown. Among the things I love are writing, chocolate, and of course my better half!

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Travel Bhutan, and lose yourself in the rich culture and picturesque settings! Witness the mesmerising landscapes, snow-clad mountains and experience the happy culture through Bhutan festivals and age-old customs.

Nestled between the Himalayas, and known as the Kingdom of Happiness, Bhutan attracts tourists with its picturesque setting, enchanting monasteries and intriguing culture. It is the only country in the world to follow the policy of Gross Domestic Happiness, which measures its development in terms of happiness rather than money. Though Bhutan has several monasteries, gorgeous countryside and opportunities for trekking and hiking, the real joy of travelling Bhutan lies in getting to know the locals, listening to their tales and discovering their culture.

Bhutan travel-Bhutan festival- picturesque monastery of Bhutan

One of the many picturesque monasteries in Bhutan

At first glance, Bhutan’s culture seems like that of Tibet, as they both follow Buddhism. However, Bhutan’s culture has its own grace and simplicity. It strikes a perfect balance between modern technology and age-old customs and traditions. And the best way to get to know its culture is through Bhutan festivals. Here are two festivals in Bhutan which should not be missed!

Tshechu, The Traditional Bhutan Festival Of Masks

Bhutan travel-Bhutan festival-The traditional mask dance performed by the locals

The traditional mask dance performed by the locals

One of the most important festivals in Bhutan, it is celebrated on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However, the month of the festival varies according to the place and monastery. Tshechu is an event where various communities come together and witness the religious mask dance, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to this, there are a lot of traditional dances and entertainment. It is said, everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. This colourful Bhutan festival manages to attract not only the locals but also tourists from the entire world. Paro and Thimphu Tshechus are the most popular ones in the country.

Losar, The Bhutan Festival For Celebrating The New Year

Bhutan travel-Bhutan festival-Monks celebrating Tshechu

New Year celebration

Losar is the Tibetan New Year, it’s a fifteen day festival, out of which the first three days are important. This festival mixes secular and sacred practices – prayers, ceremonies, hanging prayer flags, sacred and folk dancing, partying. Losar holds great significance in the entire nation. Preparations start from a month in advance and eight auspicious symbols and signs are drawn on walls of households. On the last day, monasteries and households are decorated. The first three days are called Lama Losar, Gyalpo Losar and Choe-Kyong Losar.

Bhutan travel-Bhutan festival-A monastery decorated by prayer flags

A monastery decorated by prayer flags

Apart from these, a variety of Bhutan festivals are celebrate. Some of them are Kurjey Festival, Black Necked Crane Festival, Nimalung Bhutan Festival, Chorten Kora Festival , Nomad Festival, Wangdue Phodrang Festival, Gomphu Kora Festival, Punakha Festival, Trashigang Bhutan Festival , Pema Gatshel Festival, Jampa Lhakhang festival, Mongar Festival, Lhuentse Festival, Takin Festival, Trongsa Festival, and Ura yakchoe. So, travel Bhutan and be part of one of the world’s least disturbed cultures in the world.

 

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Look beyond Hong Kong’s sophisticated skyscrapers, neon-lit markets and crowded paths and you will discover a destination of wonderful experiences and some incredible sights. Amisha introduces us to some must-not-miss experiences and the best places to visit in Hong Kong.

Buddhist temples, Cantonese operas, amusement parks, street markets and nightlife keep this commercial hub’s soul alive. If you are planning a Hong Kong trip, picking places to visit can get confusing. Well. don’t worry! We give you a list of 7 places to visit in Hong Kong, which offer quintessential HK experiences.

7 Best Places To Visit In Hong Kong

#1 Victoria Peak

places to visit in hong kong - tram

Looking down at the city from Victoria peak, you’ll see one of the finest harbors on Earth

Victoria Peak is a mountain where the popular ‘Peak Tower’ – the highest point of Hong Kong – is located. You can take ‘the Peak Tram’ to get here, which is a great way to experience the city’s rich heritage.

The Sky Terrace 428 at the Tower is the best spot to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding islands. The complex also houses Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, where you can rub shoulders with the stars.

Travel Tip: Tsk, tsk, the right side of the tram offers the best view.

#2 The Big Buddha And Po Lin Monastery

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The majestic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from quite a distance

Experience serenity visiting the Tian Tan statue or the Big Buddha at Lantau Island. The 112-feet tall Buddha statue is a prominent Hong Kong landmark, which is visible from as far as Macau. A flight of 268 stairs leads to the base of the statue, however, there is also a small pathway for vehicles to carry the handicapped.

The Po Lin Monastery, which forms Tian Tan’s backdrop, has one of the most magnificent Buddhist temples of Hong Kong. The monastery canteen is known for divine vegetarian food that is served by monks.

#3 Ocean Park

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Ocean Park Hong Kong is a marine-life theme park featuring animals, thrill rides and shows.

If Hong Kong’s Disney Land is already on your itinerary, we suggest you add Ocean Park too. Awarded World’s Seventh Most Popular Amusement Park, Ocean Park houses an oceanarium, an animal theme park, and an amusement park, all spread over 226 acres of land, around a large mountain. The Park is known for having the world’s largest aquarium dome and its programs on endangered marine life and animals.

If you are travelling as a couple or solo and wondering what to do in Hong Kong, the places listed further below are your answers.

#4 Lan Kwai Fong (LKF)

places-to-visit-in-hong-kong-lkf

Buzzing with fashionable locals and trendy tourists, LFK is all about fun

Heard a lot about Hong Kong’s nightlife? Lan Kwai Fong is where you can experience it! Here you will find some of Asia’s hottest clubs and close to a 100 bars and restaurants. The bars and speakeasies here are known for their wine pairings and signature cocktails and the restaurants for their traditional and international gourmet fare.

Tip: If you like beer, LKF’s annual Beer and Music Festival, held sometime mid-year, is something you do not want to miss.

#5 The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

places-to-visit-in-hong-kong-landscape

A lovely place to walk around during the day, but it really comes into its own in the evening

The Tsim Sha Tsui (or TST) Promenade is a beautiful stretch along the Victoria harbour waterfront. Along the promenade is a showcase similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, called ‘the Avenue of Stars’. Here you can see select film memorabilia and handprints, plaques and statues of celebrities from the Hong Kong film industry.

The TST Promenade is also one of the best places to visit in Hong Kong to witness HK’s popular ‘Symphony of Lights’ show – a spectacular light and sound show over the city’s skyline. The show is held at around 8pm on almost all nights with good weather conditions. Make sure your Hong Kong tour package itinerary includes the show.

#6 Dragon’s Back Hike

places-to-visit-in-hong-kong-shek-o-park

The Dragon’s Back Hong Kong is the best introduction to Hong Kong hiking and paragliding

Dragon’s Back Hike is a ridge in the South-eastern part of the island city, amidst the Shek O Country Park. With a view of the sea and the sounds of birds and waterfalls, this urban trail is a wonderful contrast to the busy city.

Activities like paragliding and kite flying in the Shek O Park make the visit more exciting.

#7 Street Markets at Kowloon

places-to-visit-in-hong-kong-shopping

It is quite the place for shoppers with numerous high-end name brand stores

Hong Kong is like heaven for shoppers. We recommend the Temple Street Night Market (also known as Men’s Market) and the Ladies Market, located barely 15 minutes apart, in Kowloon.

While the Temple Street Market is a go-to-place for artifacts, gadgets, and clothes, the Ladies Market is famous for clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, souvenirs and more. The Temple Street Night Market is also popular for street food and performances by Cantonese opera artists.

Travel Tip: Bargain well and check the product before making a deal and after buying.

Every tourist plans Hong Kong sightseeing, we suggest you plan your trip around these Hong Kong experiences. Take in the sights, make memories and change your perception of the word ‘city’. With these places to visit in Hong Kong, we are sure you will fall in love with it!

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Amisha Motiwala

Amisha Motiwala

Amisha likes to explore lesser-known places and this she does by studying maps. Once at her destination, she digs out eateries serving local food and soaks in the culture through the region’s cuisine. Being a sea person, most of her trips are to beach destinations and she intends to cover destinations along India’s coastline.

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When it comes to picking the best places to visit in Europe, you’re hopelessly spoilt for choice. Diana Kotwal narrows down the list to give you the top European destinations and what to do once you’re there.

There are a few milestones you hope to achieve in life – Graduation. Marriage. Promotion. Kids. A European Holiday.

The last one is your life’s reward for achieving the first four… or maybe one or two. Oh, actually, who cares? Why wait? Pack your suitcase, it’s time to celebrate. Europe, here we come. But before you set out to conquer the continent, you need to choose the best European destinations for a memorable holiday. Which is where we come in. Here are the finest places to travel in Europe.

Top 8 European Destinations You Must Visit

#1 Athens, Greece

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Athens, the city of beautiful ruins, a heady blend of history and edginess

A goddess in geographical proportions, Greece merges quiet beauty with stunning imagery. This beautiful dichotomy makes this country one of the best destinations in Europe. Athens, the capital of Greece is one of the best cities to visit in Europe for historical monuments. Stop by the House of Parliament, pay your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and take in the divine ruins of Hadrian’s Arch, Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus, Athens will surprise you in every turn.

#2 Madrid, Spain

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With spanish marble, stucco, mahogany doors and windows, Spain’s Royal Palace is spectacular

With it’s fierce, bold beauty and inimitable zest for life, Spain is one of the best places to travel in Europe. The capital city, Madrid was built on passion. This is where art comes to life, and there’s a masterpiece on every corner. The perfect Spanish weather allows you to wander the streets and take in the fantastic sights. A stroll through the Puerta del Sol, Gran Via and Retiro Park offers a slice of the local lifestyle. A visit to the Museo Reina Sofia, a museum that hosts the works of famous artists like Picasso and Dali, is every art lover’s dream and one of the most amazing places to visit in Europe. The Royal palace with 2,500 rooms is a sight to behold. Visit Madrid to discover ethereal beauty.

#3 Zurich, Switzerland

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With a magnificent view of the snowcapped Alps on the horizon, Zurich offers a unique mixture of attractions

Switzerland is as famous for cheese and chocolate as it is for Bollywood actors dancing on the Alps, thus making it one of the best European destinations. You can spend the day walking down Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s finest shopping district. Or, unwind at the Dolder Grand Spa, one of the many fabulous wellness centres in the city. Why not enjoy a steaming hot bowl of delicious cheesy goodness at the Fondue tram as you travel through all the scenic sights of Zurich? If you happen to find yourself across the Limmat River, take in the impressive view of the Grossmunster, Zurich’s most famous cathedral. Explore Zurich, it will definitely steal your heart away.

#4 Kyiv, Ukraine

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Saint Sophia Cathedral is an outstanding architectural monument and one of the city’s best known landmarks in Kiev

This new country, despite it’s revolutionary beginnings, has evolved from being Europe’s hidden gem to one of the top places to travel in Europe. There’s just so much to do in Kyiv. There are theatres, art cafes, vintage museums, religious monuments, architectural marvels… and these are all just the tip of the iceberg. There are even two world heritage sites, The Monastery of the Caves and St Sophia’s Cathedral, which offer a glimpse into the country’s rich past. Kyiv offers a quaint charm mixed with an eclectic urban vibe making it one of the perfect European destinations.

#5 Berlin, Germany

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Mind blowing, surprising, longlasting and freaky, Berlin is probably the best clubbing city in Europe

While Berlin has a checkered-coloured history, this city has crumbled, only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. There is beauty in destruction, and Berlin wears her scars like a badge. From the leftover remains of the infamous wall to the Topography of Terror, it is a museum dedicated to the horrors of World War II. But this city also has a softer, fun side with a string of theaters, operas, restaurants and pubs that showcases Berlin as one of the best cities to visit in Europe.

#6 Vienna, Austria

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Schönbrunn palace has a unique atmosphere of the former imperial summer residence

Austria’s stellar beauty has been immortalised in the award-winning film, The Sound of Music, thus making it one of the best places to travel in Europe. But Vienna is even more memorable when explored. A walk through 2018 Vienna is like a walk through 1918 Vienna, if you could ignore the occasional Starbucks or high street brand store. Vienna has aged gracefully among other European destinations, and preserved its old-world charm. There are beautiful green parks, shimmering ponds, tucked away cafes and cobblestone streets to lose yourself  in. Vienna has a few jaw dropping moments too. The opulent Schonbrunn Palace offers a glimpse into the Hapsburg dynasty, with 1,441 rooms and magnificent gardens. If you have the time, the Belvedere and Hofburg palaces are worth the visit.

#7 Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Explore Amsterdam, known for windmills and tulips

Filled with whirling windmills, bright tulip fields and historic canals, Netherlands is one of the most exciting European destinations. The capital, Amsterdam, is lined with hidden jewels. Turn a corner, and you’ll find one – maybe a vintage jewellery shop, or a craft brewery, maybe the famous Van Gogh museum, or the Anne Frank Huis. You can also take a canal cruise and ride past the windmill-lined countryside. If you prefer traveling on land, the city loves its two wheelers, and you could hire one for a scenic drive. Either ways, you’re sure to love it.

#8 Prague, Czech Republic

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Charles Bridge, built of sandstone blocks, flanked at each end by fortified towers is one of the most visited sites in Prague

Czech Republic is fast emerging as one of the best destinations in Europe, with millions of tourists flocking to its capital, Prague, every year. Prague is a great city to walk around in. Strap on your sneakers and step onto the streets. The sights along the way include the majestic Prague Castle and the gothic St Vitus Cathedral. Step onto the famous Charles Bridge, one of Europe’s most visited tourist attractions, and take in a concert or show at the Old Town Square. Don’t forget to pick up a beautiful Bohemian crystal souvenir to take back as a memory that reminds of of these beautiful European destinations.

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As one of Europe’s most famous cities, Amsterdam has a reputation to uphold. And it doesn’t disappoint. Diana Kotwal finds out the top things to do in Amsterdam to help you create memories that last a lifetime.

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Beautiful sunrise over Amsterdam, with flowers and bicycles on the bridge in spring

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear an orchestra playing around you in Amsterdam – the gentle buzzing of the vintage windmills, the rhythmic tapping of authentic wooden clogs on pebbled streets, the soft splashing of open air boats as they glide through the iconic canals and the sweet, whispering fragrance of the bright-hued tulips in the cool breeze. When it all comes together, it plays like an intoxicating symphony. There’s magic in the way this city moves. And if you want to really enjoy the incredible sights and sounds, here is a list of the top things to do in Amsterdam.

7 Best Things To Do In Amsterdam

#1 Cruising On The Canals

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Discover Amsterdam’s historic canals as you sit back and enjoy the beautiful sights

The canals run intricately through Amsterdam, linking the city intimately. Hop on to a glass-roofed or an open-air boat, and sail through the watery streets as you take in the sightseeing in Amsterdam. Armed with an enlightening guide, you get a front-row seat to the glorious, centuries-old architecture as well as the trademark, water-front homes. So take in a glass of wine, or even dinner while you roam the amazing waterways that define this gorgeous city. This is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam, so be sure to book your pass.

#2 The Heineken Experience

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Enjoy interactive tour through beer giant’s history in former brewery, with a tasting room finale

When a defunct brewery is reborn as one of the best Amsterdam attractions, things get little interesting. Here, they have a museum that chronicles Heineken, from it’s humble origins in Amsterdam to becoming one of the world’s most popular beer brands. The tour includes vintage architecture and photographs, awards won by the brand, an amusement park for die-hard fans and of course, all the beer you’re able to drink. It’s a fun Amsterdam sightseeing experience you shouldn’t miss.

#3 Twilight Walking Tour Of Amsterdam

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Surrounded by the neon-lit red-light, narrow alleys and old-school bars, it’s perfect for delightful walk

The Wallen, also known as Amsterdam’s red light district, is a huge part of Amsterdam’s history. Here, visiting and local sailors would come looking for entertainment in the seedy bars that peppered this district. Today, it’s one of the most popular Amsterdam attractions, and you can take a walking tour past the old streets and buildings, as a guide narrates the fascinating story of the city’s formerly dangerous district. Soak in the vibrancy and marvel at the architecture of the street to get the feel of Amsterdam sightseeing.

#4 The Van Gogh Museum

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Discover how the art of Vincent van Gogh has inspired him to create new works of art

Got a free day? Wondering what to do in Amsterdam today? Here’s a tip. You don’t have to be an art connoisseur to recognise the brilliance of Vincent Van Gogh. The Van Gogh museum pays tribute to the genius who is considered the most influential artist of his age. This 19-century, post-impressionist painter lead a troubled yet eventful short life, in which he produced vivid, stunning masterpieces that were only acknowledged only after his death. View some of his most famous works like the Sunflowers and his self portraits to his lesser known, but equally great paintings.

#5 The Floating Flower Market

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Enjoy the visual treat of vibrant colours and bring home Amsterdam’s finest flowers

One of the top things to do in Amsterdam is to visit Bloemenmarkt. Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market, will take your breath away. And give your vision quite a treat too. Here you’ll be surrounded by vibrant colours, sweet fragrances and the fresh, natural beauty of some of the world’s best flora. Located on the Singel canal, this market sells a variety of beautiful flowers, the most prominent ones being, of course, the tulip. The best part? You can buy seeds or bulbs as souvenirs to bring home. In a way, you’re bringing back a piece of Amsterdam forever.

#6 The Dutch Countryside

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Marvel at the fabulous dutch landscape with blossoming tulips and age-old windmills

Still wondering what to do in Amsterdam? Try leaving the city for a day. There are lovely fishing villages, fields of bright, planted flowers and the charming countryside to explore just a little out of Amsterdam. The village of Zaanse Schans is perfect for a half day tour from the main city. Here time stands still with 18th century windmills dotting the skyline and traditional wooden clogs being produced and sold in old fashioned workshops. Mesmerising, right?

#7 Artis Royal Zoo

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Witness colourful tropical fish and underwater corals in the aquarium in the zoo

Right in the city centre, is the famous Artis Royal Zoo. This is Netherland’s, and possibly even Europe’s, oldest zoo. The large, sprawling complex has vast habitats for a wide range of animals like elephants, jaguars, lions, reptiles and several primates. There is also marine life preservation with coral reefs and shark tanks, along with an interesting take of a canal as seen from the point of view of a fish. If you’re not too squeamish, they even have a micropia, a whole universe of germs and microbes, can be seen up close.

From art galleries, tiny hidden gardens, treasure-packed museums to craft breweries, Amsterdam has lots to offer. Among all the best things to do in Amsterdam, these are our favourite ones! Do you want to add few more?

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China showcases a beautiful contrast of the ancient and the modern, from geographical wonders to man-made futuristic buildings. But where can you go to discover this aspect of China? Amisha lists 5 best cities to visit in China. Have a look!

China attracts tourists from around the world for its natural beauty, rich culture and ancient landmarks. China also has many ‘largests’, including the world’s largest cities. We give you 5 of best places to visit in China with some of the most-loved China attractions.

5 Best Cities To Visit In China

#1 Beijing

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The Great Wall of Badaling, being the best preserved and most representative section of China Great Wall

China’s capital, Beijing is a fine example of modern-meets-olden. The Forbidden City here is the former palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. With 980 buildings reflecting traditional Chinese architecture, this China attraction has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Temple of Heaven, a majestic imperial complex of Taoist temples. It is said that the architecture of this Temple has influenced the Oriental design of structures in this part of the world.

The National Museum of China – one of the largest museums in the world – is also in Beijing. The Great Wall of China is in close proximity to Beijing, with its most popular section Badaling being accessible from here.

#2 Guilin

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Cruise on the Li River, amidst Karst hills to enjoy the serene ethereal view

Guilin is downright an Insta-worthy location, making it one of the best cities to visit in China!

Start with the Elephant Trunk Hill, a unique hill formation on Li River, with the ancient Puxian Pagoda on top and the Water Moon Cave in between. Another place, Ludi Yan (Reed Flute Cave) here, is called the ‘Art Palace of Nature’. The Reed growing at its entrance and stalagmites and stalactites inside the Cave make for interesting sights.

The Seven Stars Park here, has seven peaks in a pattern of the Big Dipper constellation, hence the name. Attractions such as the Camel Hill, Stone Exhibit, and the Flower Bridge, inside the Park are quite scenic.

The Two-Rivers-and-Four-Lakes area is a sight to behold with its lakes and rivers merging and marble bridges above the waterway. Cruises here, especially at night, as it can be memorable. Visiting the nearby resort town, Yangshuo County, gives opportunities to enjoy the best view of the Karst hills and the Li River.

#3 Shanghai

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Serenely situated in the bustling Shanghai, it is famous for the two pieces of Jade Buddha – Sitting and Reclining Jade Buddha

China’s biggest city with incredible architecture, award-winning eateries, and a vibrant art scene, Shanghai is a must visit.

The Bund promenade here is a vantage point to admire the city’s 52 unique structures, each with a different architectural style. A cruise on the Huangpujiang River, along the Bund, is a must-do.

The stunning Jade Buddha Temple attracts visitors for its white Jade statue, idols of Shakyamuni and Buddha of the Three Ages, and 18 Luohan figures.

Soak in the views of the city from the Oriental Pearl Tower – Shanghai’s most popular landmark. The Tower has various levels with things-to-do, with the Sightseeing Floor and Space City being the best ones.

The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is the largest in its category in China; do not miss its exhibits on robotics and space travel.

Also go shopping at Nanjing Road and do try Shanghai’s native delicacies.

#4 Xi’an

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Beautiful Life-size statues of the Qin army depicts the rich history of China very strongly

Xi’an’s historical sites offer a glimpse into China’s past and to go back in time, Xi’an is one of the best cities to visit in China.

The famous Army of Terracotta Warriors, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in China, is in Xi’an. Expect to see numerous life-size terra cotta soldiers in battle position, as they once stood for Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Get awe-inspired seeing beautiful Buddha idols engraved on the walls of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. The Great Mosque of Xi’an is the country’s largest mosque and a unique example of coming together of Chinese architecture and Islamic practices. Spread over 12,000 square meters, the Mosque has five grand courtyards, which are open to tourists.

The Muslim Quarter here is known for interesting street food, influenced by the culinary practices of the Tang dynasty. Don’t leave Xi’an without shopping souvenirs at the Beiyuanmen Muslim Market.

#5 Hangzhou

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Marvel at the impeccably lit scenic view and almost poetic in its beauty at the West Lake

As per a Chinese saying, “Above there is heaven, below there are Hangzhou and Suzhou.”

Hangzhou’s most admired – the West Lake looks charming with its picture-postcard pretty causeways and islets. Visit the Lake’s ‘Ten Scenes’ to see its best spots. The prosperous Buddhist temple – Lingyin is appreciated for its grandness, architecture and peaceful ambiance.

Fancy sitting at a café alongside a waterway? Head straight to the Gongchen Bridge, which is a stone walkway over the Grand Canal – longest in the world – and enjoy a cuppa coffee and the view.

Also visit the Dragon Well Tea Village, eat at Grandma’s Home restaurant, and enjoy shopping and watching pop-up puppet shows at the Qīnghéfāng Old Street.

These 5 are the best cities to visit in China that can satisfy all your touristy expectations and delight you with much more. And, no matter where you go in China, it doesn’t fail to surprise.

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Travellers thirsting for adventure and a taste of nature at its best, are certain to be mesmerised by a Ladakh tour. Here, the mountains meet the sky, colours are more vibrant, tranquility reigns supreme and time stands still. If you’re planning a trip to Ladakh, here’s all you need to know about this magical paradise.

Ladakh tour

Words cannot do justice to the surreal serenity of Ladakh, which has to be experienced to be believed

Strategically located along ancient trade routes, Ladakh is bound by the Kunlun Mountains to the north and the Himalayas to the south. Ladakh gets its name from the numerous mountain passes that criss-cross its landscape. ‘La’ refers to the passes and ‘Dhak’ means many; it is also called the ‘Land of High Passes’.

Best Time To Visit Ladakh

Best Time To Visit Ladakh

Traditionally, the best time to visit Ladakh is from mid-May to early-October.

Ladakh Weather

In the month of May: This marks the beginning of summer in Ladakh, when temperatures can jump up to a warm 32 degrees Celsius during the day but often drops sharply as the sun sets, at times even reaching zero degrees.

In the month of October: October marks the start of winters in Ladakh, with temperatures below freezing point. Thick snow carpets the landscape, rivers and lakes freeze over, and motorable routes are difficult to access. In fact, both Rohtang Pass (Manali-Leh) and Zoji La Pass (Srinagar-Leh) that connect Leh-Ladakh with other parts of India are closed during this time.

However, there’s good news for adventure junkies who want to experience winter in Ladakh. The Indian government has approved a strategic road transport project aimed at boosting all-weather connectivity between the key sectors of Jammu and Kashmir – especially Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.

How To Reach Ladakh

How To Reach Ladakh

By Air

The quickest way to get to Ladakh would be to take a flight from either Delhi or Srinagar to Leh (Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport – the main airport). Air India, Go Air and Jet Airways are the three operators that currently offer direct flights to Leh. Schedules, however, are subject to change depending on weather conditions. Photography is strictly prohibited at the airport and on the flight to Leh for security reasons.

By Road

Those with a more adventurous bent of mind, would love biking or driving here. There are two possible routes to Ladakh – NH-1D and Manali-Leh Highway, but time your visit between May and October when the highways are not blocked by snow.

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The Srinagar-Leh road reveals enchanting vistas that change as one gains altitude

NH-1D – Through Srinagar

This route is through Srinagar via the amazingly scenic Zoji-La pass. Also called NH-1D, it is often preferred to the Manali-Leh Highway because its gradual ascent gives travellers a better chance to acclimatise to higher altitudes.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation regularly operates luxury and standard bus services between Srinagar and Leh, with an overnight stop at Kargil. Alternatively, you can choose to hire private cars, jeeps or taxis in Srinagar.

Manali-Leh Highway

The challenging Manali-Leh Highway is a two-day journey, which is an adventure in itself. This route takes you along deeply curving mountains in uncountable shades of brown, passes through several mountain passes and moves along Taglang-La – the second-highest motorable road in the world at 17,469 feet (5,235m) above sea level.

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The hairpin bends along the Manali-Leh highway to Ladakh are not for the faint-hearted

Both Himachal Pradesh Tourism (HRTC) and Jammu and Kashmir State Tourism Corporation run daily deluxe and ordinary buses between Manali and Leh. The buses halt at camps at Sarchu or Pang overnight before proceeding to Ladakh. The Ladakh Tourism Office or local guides can be contacted for exact schedules and detailed information about local and intra-region transportation.

Tips For Ladakh Tour

  • If you do plan to ride or drive to Ladakh, it is imperative that you identify petrol pumps along the way. Remember to carry extra fuel just in case you run out on the highway.
  • This is important especially if you choose to take the Leh-Manali Highway as the last petrol pump on this route is at Tandi and the next one is around 400 kms away at Karu.
  • While some local shops and homes near the roadside do stock petrol for travellers caught in an emergency, the quality of petrol cannot be guaranteed and you will need to shell out a luxury surcharge too.

Once in Leh-Ladakh, buses are the cheapest mode of transport, however hiring private taxis and the services of a registered travel agency is the best way to explore this region.

Important Travel Documentation For Ladakh Trip

Important Travel Documentation For Ladakh Trip

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The grand entrance to the town on Leh-Ladakh is a welcoming sight for visitors

A Ladakh tour takes careful preparation and time. Make sure you carry the following documents on your Ladakh tour:

Inner Line Permit – As per a recent government mandate, travellers planning a Ladakh trip will need to compulsorily obtain an Inner Line Permit for visiting the protected areas of Ladakh and a separate Protected Area Permit (PAP) from requisite authorities, before commencing their journey. To make the process simpler and more convenient the Government of India has introduced an online application portal (http://lahdclehpermit.in/) to help procure these permits.

Things To Keep In Mind For Ladakh Tour

  • Protected Area Permits are issued for a maximum of seven days and Inner Line Permits are valid for up to three weeks.
  • It is mandatory for all visitors to carry valid photo ID and proof of nationality at all times.
  • Keep multiple copies of these documents as they will be required at various checkpoints manned by military personnel who track entry and exit of travellers.

>Where To Stay In Ladakh

Where To Stay In Ladakh

Tough terrain, rough weather and a difficult environment makes Ladakh tourism seem daunting, but the warm hospitality of the local people makes it less forbidding. Ladakh offers different kinds of accommodation, from budget friendly hostels and home-stays to camp-sites, guest houses and luxury hotels. Most hotels in Ladakh offer modern amenities and amazing views, while the many guesthouses are usually family run affairs that offer a less formal setting.

Things To Do In Ladakh

There are plenty of activities and things to do in Ladakh. Soak in the cultural depth of Leh with visits to its numerous monasteries, palaces and museums or just explore its unparalleled natural beauty.

Stroll Through Mesmerising Leh Palace

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The Leh Palace still majestically stands guard over the city and its inhabitants

Leh Palace stands guard majestically over the city’s winding lanes and bustling markets. Build in traditional Tibetan architectural style, the nine-storey palace was once home to the royal family (who still own it). A part of the palace has been converted to a museum and has on display thangkas, paintings and medieval weapons.

Explore The Picturesque Monasteries

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Masked dancers are an integral part of the festivities at the famous Hemis Monastery

Leh-Ladakh has a number of monasteries, each unique in their own way. Definitely include Thiksey and Hemis monasteries in your Ladakh tour. Thiksey is one of the best-preserved and most colourful among the monasteries, while Hemis is the oldest and most revered. Hemis has also become popular because of its annual festivals and colourful dance dramas (cham dances) that coincide with the summer tourist season.

Another unique monastery is the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa. Constructed in 1430, this Gompa has an unmatched collection of Buddhist art, hand-painted scrolls and frescoes and valuable ancient manuscripts. But what captures the attention of visitors is the giant gold-gilded statue of the Buddha, which exudes a spiritual calm on all those in its presence.

Have The ‘Yak’ Experience

Retrace ancient trade routes with a Yak safari or ride the double-humped Bactrian camels through the white sand dunes of Hunder and along the incredibly beautiful Shyok and Nubra River Valley. Adrenaline junkies can indulge in adventure sports, trekking, white-water rafting, biking and mountain climbing.

Discover The Mystery Of Magnetic Hill

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The Magnetic Hill, a natural wonder at Leh, is a favourite among tourists

And if all this isn’t magical enough, drive up the mysterious Magnetic Hill, located 30 kilometres from Leh on the way to Alchi and Kargil. A sign invites you to stop your car over a white square marked on the road, switch it off and leave it in neutral. The strong magnetic pull that emanates from the hill mysteriously makes the car move uphill, a phenomenon that leaves visitors spell-bound.

Places To Visit In Ladakh

Places To Visit In Ladakh

While, the beauty of Leh makes it easy to fall in love with, what truly enchants travellers is the region surrounding Leh and Ladakh.

Nubra Valley

The glistening waters of the Shyok and Nubra rivers give the Nubra Valley a distinctly ethereal charm. Located around 140 kilometres from Leh, the Nubra Valley gets carpeted with glistening green Alfalfa, an array of wild flowers and lavender. A trip to Nubra Valley also takes you across the world’s highest motorable road, Khardung La. And since Nubra Valley is at a lower altitude than Leh, it is an ideal place to stop for a bit and get acclimatized for your onward Ladakh tour.

Hunder

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Ride the double-humped Bactrian Camels in Nubra for an exhilarating experience

Nubra Valley is home to Hunder, one of the highest deserts in the world. The region is famous for its pristine white sand dunes and the rare two-humped Bactrian camel. Choose to retrace ancient trade routes with a camel safari or indulge in adventure sports, trekking, white-water rafting, biking and mountain climbing. Almonds, apricots and hand-knitted woolen socks are great options for gifts.

Pangong Tso Lake

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Marvel at the beautiful scenic view of reflection of mountains on Pangong tso Lake.

One of the best places to visit in Ladakh is the breathtaking Pangong Tso Lake, popular world-over as the ‘Lake of 1001 Colours’. Nestled amid stark, rugged mountains at a height of 4,350 meters, it is the world’s highest saltwater lake. Spend a night camping on the white sands of lake – and watch as the water changes colour from distinct shades of blue, green, purple and turquoise to a deep violet depending on the angle of your view. The lake attracts flocks of migratory birds, including some endangered species like the Black Necked Cranes.

The drive to the Pangong Tso takes you through Chang La, a mountain pass and the third-highest motorable road in the world, which is filled with enchanting vistas.

Zanskar Valley

A Ladakh tour would be incomplete without a visit to Zanskar Valley. The journey to Zanskar takes you through an almost alien moonscape, past Kargil and on to the gushing wild Zanskar River. Known for white-water rafting, the river banks reveal ancient rock carvings for those who care to explore its banks.

Alchi Village

Perched on the banks of the mighty Indus is the picturesque village of Alchi, located around 70km west of Leh. Take a pleasant walk along curving streets, past village homes set amid apricot trees. Let the musical gurgling of the Indus be your companion as you explore Alchi’s gompas and temples.

Visit the 11th century Alchi monastery, which can only be accessed only between June to October as the route to it remains closed during the colder winter months. The Sumstek Temple, dating back to around 900 years, is another attraction; its ancient wall frescoes, carvings and paintings make for a great visit.

What To Eat In Ladakh

What To Eat In Ladakh

Ladakhi food is lightly spiced and largely non-vegetarian. The use of dry fruits and local spices make the traditional cuisine more aromatic. While momos and thukpa are popular, do try the Chu-Tagir, Gyathuk, Phating and Ti-Mok. The range of local breads like the Tingmo dunked in hot broth make an interesting accompaniment to meals, along with steamed and sautéed vegetables. The Ladakhi Pulao, unlike its ubiquitous namesake, is delicately flavoured and is a must try.

Tsampa, a roasted flour made of barley, has been the staple food of Ladakh for centuries. It is often mixed with tea or used to make flavourful broths and dumpling wraps. Barley is also fermented to brew a local, craft beer called Chang, which is an important part of festivities in the region. Sip on some Leh berry juice, gur gur cha or some hot yak-butter tea as you take in the magnificent vistas and contemplate the mysteries of life.

Useful Words To Use On Your Ladakh Trip

Useful Words To Use On Your Ladakh Trip

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The local people of Ladakh are warm, welcoming and ever friendly.

The local languages, Ladakhi (a Tibetan dialect) and Pahari, aren’t easy to learn but picking up a few key phrases will help you make friends quicker. Hindi and English are also understood.

  • JULLEY  [dschu-leh] – Has multiple meaning and can be used to say Hello, Bye, Thank You, Please.
  • KHAMSANG-IN-A-LEY? – How are you?
  • KHAMSANG-LEY! – I am fine
  • NYERANGI-MING CHI IN-LEY? – What is your name?
  • NGE-MING … IN-LEY. – My name is …
  • MAN-LEY. No, thanks!
  • O-LEY. Yes, please.
  • LAM (place)-A KANE INOK-LEY? – Where is the way to (place)?

Communication And Connectivity In Ladakh

Communication And Connectivity In Ladakh

When planning your Ladakh trip, do keep in mind that connectivity is sporadic and poor, with limited or no access to WiFi and cellphone signals, which means you are virtually isolated from the world outside. Add to that the fact that Ladakh is located in Jammu and Kashmir right along India’s border with China – leading to stricter norms when trying to procure new phone connections or SIM cards.

Use Post-Paid Connections

It is therefore recommended that you carry a post-paid mobile connection. This is important as pre-paid connections from outside the state will be of little use once you start your ascent towards Jammu and Kashmir. Only pre-paid connections bought within the state will work in Ladakh and parts of Kashmir, all other pre-paid connections remain non-functional.

If you are a foreign national, you may apply for a pre-paid phone connection in Jammu and Kashmir by submitting photocopies of your passport and two passport-sized photographs. Some international post-paid mobile phone connections do pick up signals in Leh-Ladakh, but it is prohibitively expensive.

Mobile-Phone Connections

Of all the mobile phone operators, only BSNL and MTNL offer some sort of coverage and reach in Leh-Ladakh; BSNL is a better option as it has a slightly wider reach. However, do keep in mind that connectivity might be limited to certain specific regions.

Satellite Phones And Postal Services

Many villages and even some of the inaccessible places in Leh-Ladakh may have satellite phones available for use during emergencies at a prescribed cost. Postal facilities are available in Leh, Padum, Kargil and Nubra Valley in case you want to send a post-card back home.

Using Money In Ladakh

Using Money In Ladakh

Currency

The Indian Rupee is the only currency accepted in Ladakh.  Credit cards are not accepted by most local businesses, the exception being some of the larger establishments and luxury hotels. But before you start using your credit or debit card, make sure your bank knows you’re going to be using it in Ladakh. You don’t want your card being declined for unusual transactions.

Travellers Cheques

A mix of cash and traveller’s cheques provides the best security and flexibility. US Dollars and Pound Sterling are the easiest currencies to exchange with American Express, Thomas Cook and Visa being the most accepted traveller’s cheques.

Money Exchange And ATMs

The central market in Leh has ATMs of several banks like State Bank of India, AXIS Bank, J&K Bank, Punjab National Bank and also a few money-changers in case you want to convert currencies into Indian Rupees. Do keep in mind though, that there are no money exchange facilities outside the main towns of Leh and Ladakh. It is common practice to tip tour guides, waiters, porters, and drivers so carry smaller denominations.

Shopping In Ladakh

Tibet market - Ladakh tour

You can enjoy shopping for souvenirs in the bazaars and drool on Pashmina shawls and Tibetan handicrafts

Adding to the charm of Ladakh are the numerous quaint roadside shops and stalls selling curios, jewellery, pashmina wool, art and handicrafts. Don’t miss the Main Bazaar, which offers small statuettes, images of the Buddha and fine paintings, replicas of spinning prayer wheels, and other local art and craft. The Tibetan Market on Fort Road is also famous for its traditional Ladakhi silver and turquoise jewellery, Ladakhi clothing and much more.

Tips for Ladakh Tour

  • Plastic bags are banned in Ladakh to preserve the fragile ecosystem.
  • Carry extra batteries as the cold environment drains them out quicker.
  • Bargain. And beware of fakes sold as antiques for a huge price!

Managing Your Health In Ladakh – Acclimatisation

Managing Your Health In Ladakh – Acclimatisation

A Ladakh trip will take you to altitudes above 11,000 feet where oxygen levels are much lower. The low levels of oxygen affect most visitors to the region and lead to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), resulting in headaches, dizziness and nausea. Take the first couple of days to rest and allow the body to acclimatise and adjust to the low atmospheric pressure.

If you are travelling to Ladakh by bike or car, take a day’s break at every 2,000 feet (600 meters) of climb above the 7,000-feet altitude mark. This will give your body time to adjust to the lower levels of oxygen in the atmosphere.

Why Book A Ladakh Tour?

Ladakh is extremely beautiful. Its rugged mountains create sharp contrasts with startlingly blue skies, which are reflected in the still, clear waters of the many lakes that dot the countryside. A Ladakh tour offers adventure, a deep spiritual experience, and touches your soul like no other place on Earth can. It is definitely a place to visit at least once in your lifetime, so make sure to add it to your travel bucket-list.

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