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Bustling cities, dusty ruins, sunny beaches, dimly-lit bars, austere shrines, sensual belly dancers… Turkey has it all. Kiran Mehta visits the destination that’s perfect for every type of traveller and lists places to visit in Turkey that suits every kind of traveller.

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Visit Turkey for a taste of history, culture and art

Whether you’re a guide-book geek who needs to tick monuments off a list, or a vagabond who hopes to chance upon a treasure; a city slicker, or a recluse in search a secluded island; a raki addict or a kahve connoisseur; a pilgrim or a party animal, Turkey was made for you.

Having travelled a fair bit, I can assure you that few places are as intriguingly layered and perfectly contradictory as Turkey. On a recent Turkey tour, I tried to capture her many moods. Read on, to pick your favourite side and explore these places to visit in Turkey…

#1 Places To Visit In Istanbul If You Are A History Lover

places to visit in istanbul, turkey tours Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Sultan Ahmed Mosque or the Blue Mosque

I arrived in the famed and fabled land of Constantinople, and all I saw was modern-day Istanbul! Concrete high-ways packed with cars, swanky sky-scrapers, and chic shopping centres. But somewhere in the midst of the metropolis, Constantinople took shape. Imposing minarets and impressive domes appeared just minutes from the city-centre, but transported me centuries away.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque or the Blue Mosque

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Interiors of the Blue Mosque

This is where my historical tour of the city began. It stood majestic against a clear sky with its perfectly voluptuous dome, grand courtyard and as many as six minarets. Legend has it that when Sultan Ahmed I commissioned the mosque, he ordered Alti or gold minarets, which was misheard by the architect as Altin or six in Turkish. And this little error makes this mosque unique to the Turkish skyline. But the visual appeal doesn’t end there.

I entered to be mesmerised by the play of light against the 20,000 blue tiles that embellish the interiors, and give the Blue Mosque its colloquial name. With the sun setting against the dome, the rays cut through the many windows, reflecting off the blue mosaic to create a breath-taking sight. And in that instance, I knew that this architectural marvel lies unrivalled even today.

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Hagia Sophia or Aya Sophya

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Interiors of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Lying not too far from the Blue Mosque, on first glimpse, I saw the similarities in architecture. But the Hagia Sophia comes with an interesting twist of ‘faith’. It was built by Roman Emperor Justinian in 537 AD as a church. But in 1453 it was taken over by Mehmet and converted it to a mosque. Finally in 1935, Ataturk pronounced it a museum.

The dome, even larger than the Blue Mosque, seems to reach for the heavens itself. Within one of the areas of the former church, stands a beautiful mosaic of Christ that recaptures the grandeur of Byzantine Empire. Further inside the former mosque lie gigantic medallions bearing the name of Allah and the caliphs, in artistic Islamic calligraphy.

I admired the art around me, and stopped to make a wish at the ‘Weeping Column’. The column originally stood tall at the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus but was transported here centuries ago. A non-descript structure, except that it bears a tiny hole. Legend has it that ‘miracle waters’ intermittently seep through this hole and pilgrims travel from long distances in the hope that their fingers emerge moist, a signal from the Gods that their prayers have been heard.

While I may not have been among those lucky few, I came away knowing that paganism, Christianity and Islam, live harmoniously within this house of the God(s).

Topkapi Palace

places to visit in istanbul, turkey tours -The Topkapi Palace interiors

The Topkapi Palace interiors

Once again this showcased the confluence of religions. Built in 1465, this opulent palace was home to the Ottoman Sultans for about four centuries. But in 1924, it was declared a museum.

As I entered the palace, I knew I could spend days walking the many courtyards, entering the many rooms, admiring the many artefacts and still not take it all in. Pressed for time, I headed straight for the Third Courtyard. Once the Privy Chamber of the Sultan, today it houses the rarest of relics: the staff of Moses, David’s Sword, Moses’ Turban, the keys to the Kaaba, hair from the beard of Prophet Mohammed, a piece of Prophet Mohammed’s tooth etc.

Apart from housing these precious relics, Topkapi Palace also showcases the garish garments of the Sultans, their sparkling jewellery, and dazzling, gem-studded thrones. But it’s the colourful legends that instantly attract my attention: Topkapi was home to Sultan Salim who is believed to have drowned in the palace pool, after drinking too much champagne; it was also home to Sultan Ibrahim who lost his mind, and in a fit of rage ordered his harem of women to be tied into a sack and thrown into the Bosphorus. And these are just a few of the tall tales held within these high walls. Let your imagination run riot, and you could piece together a few fantastic fables too!

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#2 Places To Visit In Istanbul For Shopping

Walking into the Grand Bazaar was like stepping into a tale from the Arabian Nights. I walked through snaking lanes, and lost all sense of time and place.

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Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Beautiful hand-woven carpet-adorned stores magically transported me to a distant era; dusty lanes with the smell of spices and herbs lacing the air, took me back to simpler times as genial shop-keepers shared the age-old wisdom of herbal medicine; lantern shops selling colourful lamps and shiny brass lanterns, almost made genies appear real; furniture modelled after antiques, that seemed fit for a king…the list of wares was endless at the world’s largest covered market.

#3 Places To Visit In Istanbul If You Want To Break Records

If like me, you have a few impossible things on your bucket list, for instance, being in two places at once, then Istanbul makes it possible. I hopped aboard a ferry in the Asian part of Turkey; an hour later, I was in Europe!

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The Bosphorus divides Istanbul’s Asian side from the European side

A feat that’s possible only in Turkey. Because, it is the only country in the world, that’s spread across two continents. What’s more, the ride comes with a view, palaces, little villages and of course calm, blue waters.

Intrigued yet?

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#4 Places To Visit In Istanbul If You Are A Hedonist

To take in the hedonistic side, with a hint of the cultural, I headed off to the Kervan Saray Restuarant in Istanbul. With live music playing in the background, flowing raki and traditional treats filled up our table. But the main attraction was the graceful dancers. From Anatolian folk to provocative belly dancers, Kervan Saray entertains with a slew of performances.

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A Turkish Belly dancer

The pace picked up when the belly dancers hit the floor, clad in shimmering garments and see-through veils; their moves were raw, yet gentle; untamed, yet rhythmic. And shouts of a Turkish song, cheering them on, occasionally rent the air. I caught only a few lyrics, ‘Shima, shima, shima nai; yavrum shima nai, nai’, (which roughly translates to ‘Beautiful Women’). The entertaining evening culminated with us, the patrons, hitting the floor to Turkish tunes.

#5 Places To Visit In Turkey – Princes’ Islands If You Are A Recluse

For a change of pace, I headed to the Princes’ Islands, a cluster of nine islands, a short ferry ride from Istanbul.

places to visit in istanbul, turkey tours - Buyukada Princes Islands

Buyukada Princes Islands

The islands are aptly named, for this was where the Byzantine Princes were exiled. The heir to the throne often felt threatened by the next in line – his younger brother. So, the younger ones were banished here, but not before they were maimed in some way – some had their ears cut off; others had their nose disfigured. Apart from this gory piece of the past, Princes’ Islands are truly unmarred.

I docked off the largest of the nine gems, Büyükada, which seemed like something out of a period film. A no-vehicles policy had us traversing the Island in an ornate horse-carriage. The tree-lined streets were dotted with Ottoman styled mansions. Autumn leaves carpeted the roads, and the water glistened under the sun. The entire scene seemed sepia-toned, and I realised that being banished from the world to such a place must definitely have had its perks!

Princes Island will take your breath away!

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#6 Other Cities In Turkey – Ephesus If You Love Ruins

The splendour of the Greco-Roman times still lives on in the dusty ruins at Ephesus. A city that gave the ancient world one of its seven wonders, The Temple of Artemis, built in 550 C. This temple was once the biggest the world had ever seen, dedicated to the Roman Goddess of Fertility.

places to visit in turkey tours - Ephesus

Ancient ruins at Ephesus

This singular marvel of architecture made Ephesus famous across the seven seas, such that the city also finds mention in the New Testament of the Bible. The Act of the Apostles speaks of a riot in Ephesus when the Apostle Paul came to preach in the city. The riot was started by the silversmiths who made idols of the Goddess Artemis and feared for their livelihood due to the influence of the Apostle.

Today, ironically, only a single barren column stands where the temple of the fertility goddess once stood. But the legends, coupled with the many other ruins on the site, such as the Library of Celsus, make a trip here, worthwhile.

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Fly Mumbai/Delhi to Istanbul, direct, on Turkish Airlines

For Ephesus: Take a short domestic flight from Istanbul to Izmir. Ephesus is about one hour by road from Izmir.
Best time to go: April to September

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Cocooned with splendid vistas, lush forests and unspoiled fauna, Andaman Islands boast of its flabbergasting beauty in the lap of nature.

Overflowing with pristine white-sand beaches, lush green rainforests, abundant marine life and ancient tribes, Andaman is always a perfect destination for any kind of traveller. Dive in the mesmerising clear waters or snorkel to celebrate the beauty of untouched marine life. Meet the hospitable locals and enjoy scrumptious delicacies, explore Andamans, it’s truly enchanting!

Here’s a glimpse of this amazing destination:

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When one says Japan, you immediately think of judo, karate, beautiful riverside shrines, and, of course, the weird game shows that you may have caught a glimpse of on YouTube. But there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to the land of the rising sun. Japanese culture is intense and vast, and there are a multitude of things to do in Japan. It will probably take many Japan tours to get to know it. Kaustubh lists 4 places in Japan you need to visit to truly know what Japan is all about.

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Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions blend with modern life

Best Things To Do In These Cities In Japan

#1 Morioka

things to do in Japan tours - cities in japan- a famous hanami cherry blossom

Admire the famous hanami cherry blossom in Morioka

Morioka is the capital of the Iwate region in Northern Japan. And Iwate is full of surprises. It has historical sites, nature, hot springs, and action – all things one needs for a fulfilling vacation.

For the adventure enthusiasts, Mount Iwate offers a skiing experience like no other. Ski down slopes enveloped with the glorious white sheet of snow. For those who are not into the cold adventure, a dip in the hot springs, which overlook the lush green forest, is a great way of enjoying the non-snow offerings of nature that Morioka is blessed with.

things to do in Japan tours - cities in japan- Chagu festival

Soak in the vibrancy of this festival       Image credit – goldenjipangu.com

After taking in nature’s gifts to Morioka, it is time to take in the culture. The Chagu Umako Horse Festival started 200 years ago when the farmers decided to celebrate the completion of rice planting. It continues to this day and is one of the most vibrant sights you will come across. The parade of the festival starts at the Sozen-jinja Shrine, also known as the golden shrine, where the families decide their horses and costumes.

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#2 Aomori

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Aomori City’s skyline at dusk

Aomori, the northernmost region on Honshu island of Japan, is home to the world’s largest virgin forest of beech trees. It is one of the most magnificent places in the world, with an aura of the ancient times surrounding it.

The Oirase stream calmly flows through that virgin forest, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site. A walk along the stream will give you the much-needed peace and tranquillity on your Japan trip. Surrounded by lush greenery throughout, the walk is surely going to be the one you remember. Especially in Autumn, the yellows and oranges intertwined with the greens look like a painting and make it even better. The Cherry Blossom in the region is so magnificent that most Japanese have a visit to it on their bucket list.

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This clear blue lake offers a unique experience of stunning scenery and fresh air.

Lake Towada is not too far from the Oirase Stream and is a part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Take in the beauty and calm surrounded by a diverse flora and fauna in the region. There are many boat excursions that take you through the lake and show you around. For most tourists, this is one of the unmissable things to do in Japan.

If your visit is in August, you can do a quick visit to the Aomori Nebuta Festival, where a parade of massive lantern floats is organised through the streets. The colours will take your breath away.

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#3 Kyoto

things to do in Japan tours - cities in japan- kyoto

With its rich colours, history and culture, Kyoto allows its visitors a glimpse into the past.

Kyoto is one of the most zen cities in the world. With over 400 shrines and temples, Kyoto is where you take your journey on a spiritual path. The largest number of shrines and temples in Japan, Kyoto will surely give you the vibe you need. Especially with ladies dressed in the Kimono attire passing by every now and then, you will be transported back in time. A visit to a shrine is one of the must-dos in the list of Japan activities.

The Fushimi Inari shrine is one of the best among the hundreds in the city. Inari is the Shinto god of rice. The shrine is popular for the thousands of torii gates in red which envelope a network of trails around the main building of the shrine.

Along with the shrines and temples, one of the most incredible things in Kyoto is the Togetsukyo Bridge, also known as the ‘bridge to the moon’. The beauty of this place is unmissable and standing on the bridge, especially around sundown, is when you get the best out of this historic structure.

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#4 Tokyo

things to do in Japan tours - cities in japan- tokyo

Tokyo’s irresistible charm comes from the clash between its cutting-edge style and traditional culture

Tokyo is an unmissable city irrespective of how many Japan tours you do. There are hundreds of things to do in Tokyo. It is difficult to pick out the best few if you are there for only a short while. It is so vast and spectacular that most get confused about what to do in Tokyo. So, we picked the three things, a treble, that you absolutely should not miss when in Tokyo.

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View from the Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is a must-visit. Tokyo Skytree is a 634 metres tall broadcast tower, but it is also an all-in-one tourist destination. With an observation deck which gives you a view of the entire cityscape of Tokyo and the vast expanse of the city. Especially in the night, the network of multi-coloured lights across the city will surely take your breath away. Tokyo Skytree also has a shopping centre, an aquarium, and a planetarium! Talk about having it all.

After drinking in that view, it is time to drink. Well, to experience the bustling and happening nightlife of Shinjuku. With a truly never-asleep attitude, Shinjuku has become one of the nightlife hotspots in the city and it is an experience you must have. It is the perfect mixture of Japanese life, globalisation, and the core human experience of letting your hair down.

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Tokyo’s largest and oldest Buddhist Temple, and is one of the must-sees

The final spot in the treble is Senso-ji, Tokyo’s most visited Buddhist temple of the Goddess of mercy, Kannon. The temple is located on the serene banks of the Sumida river. Though the present structure dates to 1958, the image of goddess Kannon was miraculously pulled out of the Sumida river by fisherman in 628 AD and has remained there ever since, as per legend.

Japan is a beautiful country and it only gets better as you experience and explore it. So, get your tickets booked and bags packed for an incredible Japan trip.

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Russia, the world’s largest nation has it all- from fascinating historic cities and heavenly countryside to artistic creative treasures, classic train journeys and vodka stimulated nightlife. Russia travel is so unique and captivating, can you expect anything less than crazy? Well, get set to know everything about this enigmatic country.

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Soak yourself in the golden aura of Russia.

Best Time To Visit Russia

Best Time To Visit Russia

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The summers are beautiful in Russia

Summer is one of the best times to visit Russia. Here, summers start in June and end in August. The months of July and August being the peak tourist season. In summers, the days are longer and almost all the tourist attractions have extensive schedules. At some places in the extreme north, such as St.Petersburg, the sun does not set at the time of the ‘white nights’, from late May to mid July making it an idyllic time to visit Russia. But, summers in Russia have a downside too. The temperatures can go really high, July being the hottest month.
The autumns are short in Russia with an impulsive weather. Even though, it starts getting cold in September, sometimes it can be hot too. In the months of October and November, the temperature gets cold and it may even start snowing. But, the hue of autumn is stunning with yellow, red and orange trees all over.
Winters begin in December and last till February. It is freezing cold and most of the country is covered with crisp white snow. In winters, the days are very short in cities like St.Petersburg and most of the tourist attractions are either closed or have shorter schedules. But, the scenery is delightful with snow covered landscapes and frozen lakes. Tourists are less in winters and hence you will find discounted hotels, inexpensive airline and train tickets. Please make a note that from January 1st till January 8th, there are holidays in Russia to celebrate New Year and Orthodox Christmas. These days are marked with a number of special events and in Moscow some museums are absolutely free of charge during this period.
Spring season hits the country in the months of March and May. You will not find too many tourists in this season as the streets are messed up with melting snow.
So, to cut the long story short, May and June are indisputably the best months to explore Russia as the days are longer and it starts getting warm. May 1st and May 9th are celebrated as Labour Day and Victory Day respectively with loads of celebration and fireworks on the streets.

Travel tip:

  • From May until September is a good time with July and august being the busiest months.
  • If you are looking for serenity, less tourists and still good weather, end of spring and beginning of autumn is also a preferred time.
  • If you wish to see snow and do not want to spend much on your tickets and hotels, explore Russia in winters.

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Travel Documents For Russia

Travel Documents For Russia

Travellers require the following documents to visit Russia.

  • Passport – Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months after the expiry date of your visa with at least two blank pages.
  • Visa – You must have a valid visa for your specific purpose of travel. Russian tourist visas have a validity of 30 days. You must list all the areas in Russia you wish to visit on your visa application. You can be arrested if you enter a restricted area.
  • Travel Insurance – It is advisable to carry travel insurance for safe travel.
  • Migration Card – A migration card is a white paper document given by the border police on first entry to Russia. You must carry it with you all the time while you are in Russia.
  • Transit visa – All passengers transiting through Russia must obtain a transit visa.

Where To Stay In Russia

Where To Stay In Russia

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Russia has all kinds of housing and lodging options depending on your mood, taste and budget.

Hotels

Russia is a high-priced destination including hotel accommodations. Hotels range from plush luxurious 5 star accommodations to basic rough and tough rooms in cheaper hotels. Self-sufficient boutique hotels are not very common though large resorts and corporate hotel chains are making their way really quick.

Travel tip: The distances within most cities are immense, so it is sensible to choose a hotel with a good location.

Tourist Apartments

Tourist apartments have multiplied in Russia off late. If you are with family or holidaying in a large group, this kind of an accommodation is the best option. Most of these tourist apartments are well equipped and offer a pleasant stay.

Bed and Breakfast

There is bed and breakfast kind of accommodation available with English speaking families in cities like Moscow and St.Petersburg. It is a different experience and a great way to learn more about the Russian culture and traditions.

Hostels

Hostels prove to be a good option if you are a student or travelling alone. There are many hostels located in cities such as Moscow and St.Petersburg. Most of them come with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. . Hostels are excellent for comfortable lodging at affordable rates.

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Travelling Within Russia

Travelling Within Russia

russia travel-russia trip-tour-The Moscow metro stations

The Moscow metro stations never fail to enchant their visitors

Russia is a huge country with innumerable transportation options from airplanes and trains to ferries and rental cars. So, select according to your budget and convenience.

Airplane

Travelling by airplanes is quick and convenient but it sure makes a big hole in the pocket. Many Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, UTAir and Rossiya offer discounts in advance purchases.

Train

Train travel is affordable, comfortable and offers stunning, breath-taking view to reach limitless destinations. The train is the most used means of transport with high-speed trains, night trains and short journey trains. Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok is a beautiful romantic journey where you can see a large part of the country, various cultures, and different climatic zones while sitting in a relaxed comfy wagon. Another interesting train journey is through Sapsan, Russia’s high speed train between Moscow and St.Perterburg. It travels up to 250 miles an hour and is already a hit amongst tourists as it is more convenient than flying. Tourists can buy tickets at the station or online.

Travel tip: You can buy tickets from: RussianTrains.com. It is easy as you can choose your seats at the best price.

Metro

Travelling by Metro is hassle free, cost-effective and certainly the best way to explore the country. The metro system is excellent in cities like Moscow and St.Petersburg though there are smaller ones in Kazan, Nizhny, Novosibirsk, Novgorod, Samara and Yekaterinburg. The metro station in Moscow is almost a tourist attraction in itself- giving you a feel of beautiful, hidden underground palaces. The stations are awe-inspiring with marble walls and floors, chandeliers and stained glass windows. The most impressive stations are Komsomolskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Kievskaya and Ploshchad’ Revolyutsii. In Moscow and St.Petersburg, the metro offers a variety of ticket options- from a single ride to a 90 minute public transportation to a daily pass.

Travel tip: Make sure you get a print out of the station map as you will not be able to get one in English at the station.

Ferry

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Enjoy the ferry rides that offers enchanting view

One of the pleasant ways to see Russia is by a ferry. If you want to see Moscow, St.Petersburg and the Golden Ring cities in a completely different angle, be sure to take a ferry tour or a river cruise. If you are travelling to Russia in an international cruise ship, you are allowed to stay in the country for 72 hours without a visa only if you have booked tours through companies officially licensed by the Russian government.

Bus

If you have a lot of time to spare then travelling by bus is also an efficient way to travel around the country. In addition to the long –distance buses, there are also Marshrutka, a kind of shared mini bus or taxi that makes short trips along a fixed route and are much faster and cheaper than standard buses. Bus tickets can be purchased the same day of the trip at the ticket office of the station or in advance through the Internet. Buses are a great way to travel to small towns that have no railway stations.

Taxi

Yellow taxis can be seen everywhere in the country. But most of them are not metered and might charge too much. Getting taxis with phone applications such as Yandex Taxi and Gett are much reasonably priced and easy to use.

Car

Driving through Russia can be difficult, especially if you don’t know Cyrillic alphabets. Road conditions can be poor in some places and roadside checkpoints are very common. In case you are looking at this option, make sure you learn Cyrillic alphabets. You can hire a car from an international car rental agency and please invest in a map in English as you might end up in areas without internet or English speakers.

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Things To Do In Russia

Things To Do In Russia

Russia, a country with matchless and mystifying history, has a wealth of museums, parks, churches, monuments that attract visitors from all over the world. The number of things that can be done and the experiences one can have in Russia are uncountable. While listing all the things that can be done in Russia tours is impossible, we have listed the top three that are a must visit to get the real feel of the country.

#1 Visit The St.Basil’s Cathedral

russia travel-russia trip-tour-St. Basil's Cathedral

Inspiring masterpieces of Orthodox art create a magical Russia (seen here: St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow)

One of the most famous tourist attractions, St.Basil’s Cathedral will transport you to a different world with its colourful domes and a mysterious charisma. Built in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, it has an eccentric and vibrant contrast with traditional churches found all over the country. It is said that the architects of the cathedral were blind folded just to make sure anything similar is never created.

#2 Marvel At The Beauty Of Moscow Kremlin

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The Kremlin is a fortified complex in the heart of the city

Kremlin, the most exemplary and world famous building in Russia lies on the banks of Moscow River. The complex is huge with a lot of enlivening things to see- from its palace buildings to places of worship which are open to the public. Around the centrally located Cathedral Square are the three outstanding cathedrals, the living examples of the great Russian architecture. The Armoury Museum, The Grand Kremlin Palace, Diamond Fund, Ivan the Great Bell Tower and the Patriarch Palace are some of the best places to see.

#3 Sit By Lake Baikal

russia travel-russia trip-tour-The dreamy Lake Baikal

The dreamy Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake

Are you a nature lover? Well, if your answer is yes, then this place is for you. Lake Baikal, located in the southern part of the eastern Siberia is the oldest and the deepest fresh water lake in the world. This place is mesmerising as it lies in a deep structural hollow enclosed by mountains. It is one of the most favourite Russian tourist places and is called the ‘Pearl of Siberia’. In winters, the lake freezes forming a crystal clear ice sheet, giving an opportunity to sneak a look at the underwater world. The lake has 27 islands, the most famous being the Olkhon Island. After spending the day at the lake, the tourists can relish fresh food from local hawkers.

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Places To Visit In Russia – Russian Cities

Places To Visit In Russia – Russian Cities

Moscow

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Photographs don’t do justice to the Red Square, Moscow

Moscow, the expansive capital of Russia is home to the grand Kremlin, the most celebrated Red Square and the iconic St.Basil’s Cathedral. The city is a good mix of political and cultural sites. The Red Square is one of the most renowned Moscow tourist attractions and boasts to have some of the city’s most remarkable landmarks. It is entrancing to see all that is old, blending so well with the new. Within Red Square, the tourists can observe the St.Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mousoleum and the Gum Shopping Mall. The Gorkiy Park is one of the trendiest places in the city with cafes, open air cinema theatres, places to stroll and free Wifi. Do take out time to see Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, the oldest circus in Moscow. Take a walk at the Old Arbat Street and enjoy the feel of the old Moscow spirit. The street is full of souvenir vendors, cool cafes and restaurants. If you want to dine with the Moscow’s rich and the famous, head to the New Arbat Street, as it is has some of the most expensive restaurants and nightclubs. The street is brightly lit up at night and is always sparkling and energetic. Your Moscow tour is incomplete without visiting the Tverskaya Street. It is the most up-to-the-minute street in Moscow, with many chic boutiques, coffee houses, theatres and a number of hotels. Moscow tourism has something for every taste- go shopping, engage in cultural activities or simply be obsessed with the city’s beautiful surroundings.

Travel tip: If you want to buy souvenirs at an affordable price, go to Ismailovsky market.

Saint Petersburg

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Has to be the prettiest fountain ever- Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg

St.Petersburg is a charming city with an interesting history and is rightly called the Jewel in Russia’s Imperial Crown. The city is full of canals, elegant bridges and marvellous palaces. Visit the magnificent Winter Palace which was once home to the Tsars and now has an excellent Hermitage collection. Explore the Peter and Paul Fortress, the oldest building in the city with notable architecture. Take a look at the St.Isaac’s Cathedral, a traditional Russian church that is built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Check out the fantastic Summer Gardens at Peterhof. St.Petersburg tours are imperfect without watching an Opera or a Ballet performance at the Mariinsky. If you are at the city during the ‘White Nights’, do not miss the White Night Festival. It is a public celebration of cultural events organised by the Saint Petersburg City Administration. The festival showcases ballet, opera, classical music and art with world class performances. The festival has huge firework displays, open air performances and amazing water and light shows.

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Places To Eat In Russia

Places To Eat In Russia

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A gastronomic treat in Russia – Pelmeni

Foodies will have a gala time in Russia as the country cooks up some amazing food. You will be absolutely thrilled with the array of dining options the country offers- from old fashioned restaurants and urban cafes to restaurants serving exotic creative cuisines. Russian cuisine is known for its bizarre soups, rustic dishes like Pelmeni, which is a meat dumpling and pancakes with different fillings. But, there is much more. If you want to have Pizzas and Burgers with a twist go to Delicatessen, an experimental cafe in Moscow that will make you say, wow!

If you are a vegetarian and vegan, go straight to Fresh and enjoy the ‘raw’ world. If you are keen to have Lebanese food Shawarma Republic is the place for you. Check out Lavka-Lavka if you are an organic food lover. St.Petersburg is no less when it comes to food. Stroganoff Steak House claims to be the only steakhouse in the country that offers hand butchering of imported cuts from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. The Literary cafe at the city serves some excellent mix of European and Russian dishes. And if you are craving for Indian food, St.Petersburg will just not disappoint you. Tandoor, an Indian restaurant serves delicious chicken and vegetable curries along with some mouth watering Indian desserts. Cafe Idiot is another remarkable restaurant known to serve vegetarian versions of Russian food. So, get ready to binge!

Nightlife In Russia

Nightlife In Russia

russia travel-tour-trip - travel

Russian cities dazzle with colourful lights and fountains at night

Russians love to party and Moscow and St.Petersburg are the most electrifying cities when it comes to partying. Both the Russian cities take on a different vibe altogether at night. In fact, all the public buildings and monuments, which look so royal and classic during the day suddenly seem to be rocking at night. The cities dazzle with colourful lights and fountains. The nightlife options are unbelievable and have something for each and everyone- whether you are a diehard fan of the Russian rock band or keen to get lost in the smoky world of jazz club, just want to go clubbing till early morning or lounge around tasting the local array of vodkas. The City Space Bar in Moscow is worth going for its breath taking view and a great atmosphere. Rodnya and Strelka Bar are good for partying till the wee hours. For those of you who are looking for lavish menus, exotic cocktails and glamorous dancers, places like Premier Lounge, Pacha, Solyanka and Icon Club are the best. St.Petersburg is no less and has an inviting and superb nightlife. The Dumskaya street in the city is a delight for all those who like small bars and live music. Other places include Underground, Morrison, Groboedov, Dom Beat and Chroniki. So, don’t think, just party hard!

Communications And Connectivity In Russia

Communications And Connectivity In Russia

Russian holidays are always exciting. But, at the same time we want to be in touch with our family and friends. So, if you are keen to carry your own mobile phone, you will have to check with your service provider and ensure that you have an international roaming. The best and the most economical way is to use local SIM cards. They are easily available and are easy to use. You will just have to make sure that you are carrying an unlocked GSM phone.

Travel tip:

Electricity throughout Russia is 220 volt/50hz. The plug is two-pin thin European standard. Be sure to carry your own converter.

Money In Russia

Money In Russia

Rouble is the currency of Russia. Notes are in the denomination of 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000. All major international credit and debit cards including Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in hotels, shopping hubs, restaurants and cafes. If you are planning to bring cash to be exchanged to Roubles, US dollars and Euros are preffered. ATMs are available throughout the country and offer English as well as Cryllic translations. Banks are also available to exchange currency at a reasonable exchange rate.

Tips For Your Russia Tour

Tips For Your Russia Tour

russia travel-tour-trip - travel

Russia is as alluringly beautiful as its European counterparts

  • Make sure you carry your passport and the migration card with you at all times. Russian police have the right to stop people and ask for identity and travel documents at any time.
  • All foreigners entering Russia will be fingerprinted, so don’t worry, it is a custom.
  • Do not try to enter Russia, before the date shown on your visa. If you are staying in Russia for more than a week, you must register your visa and migration card with the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
  • Download Google Translator as it is excellent with Russian-English translations.
  • If you are carrying prescription medication, make sure you bring enough to last your entire Russia trip. To get the same medication in Russia, you will need a recommendation from a Russian doctor.
  • Be alert, as pick pocketing is quite common in big cities.
  • Be careful about photographing. Do not click pictures of official buildings.
  • Tap water in Russia is not considered safe for drinking. Make use of bottled mineral water which is available almost everywhere.
  • While visiting churches and monasteries, women need to cover their heads and bare shoulders with scarves often provided at entry. At some places women are required to wear long wrap-around skirts which are also provided at entry. Men cannot enter the churches wearing shorts and hats.
  • Dial 112 or 101 in case of any emergency.

From artistic countryside to historic cities, Russia offers it all. Hope this Russia travel guide helps you explore this country conveniently.

Explore Russia With Us!

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‘The land of high passes’, Ladakh, takes your mood to unbelievable heights through bright prayer flags, great Himalayan ranges, Stupas, Gurudwara and exotic wildlife.

Sunny gardens, snowy cliffs, shimmering sunlight through the mist, Ladakh’s majestic vibes are more alluring than its Magnetic Hill. The iconic sight of Pangong Lake displaying vivid colours can’t be missed. The panoramic city view  from the Royal Leh Palace will take your breath away. And the sight of fluffy and exotic two humped Bactrian camels in Nubra Valley will make you feel delighted. Come, let the subtle and serene beauty of Ladakh make you experience one of God’s best artworks!

Here’s a glimpse of Ladakh’s natural treasure!

Visit Ladakh NOW!

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Located less than an hour away from Melbourne, Australia, the gorgeous Yarra Valley is an absolute stunner!  Wander off in the quaint villages, discover hidden artist studios, craft stores and renowned gardens! Come, let’s explore Yarra Valley.

The first wine growing district in Victoria, Yarra Valley brims with splendid vistas, mouthwatering local delicacies and wine, adventurous activities and berry picking in fresh farms. Discover the hidden gems of Dandenong Ranges as you stroll in its scenic winding roads, meet a platypus on your visit to Healesville Sanctuary, sip authentic wines with passionate food and wine producers or simply go on a early morning balloon flight. Yarra Valley is a celebration of nature’s best artwork!

Here’s a glimpse of Yarra Valley’s ultimate experience –

Interested in touring Australia?

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The pursuit of spirituality often takes people great distances, even within. Do you sense a calling too? Where would you begin your spiritual journey? Amisha’s list of 5 mystical places of worship in India could be the answer.

5 Important Places Of Worship In India

#1 Char Dham Yatra – The Uttarakhand Circuit

places of worship in India-Char dham yatra

The colourful Kedarnath Temple with Himalayas as a backdrop

One of the most sacred pilgrimages (yatras), the Char Dham yatra includes a tour of the temples of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. ‘Char Dham’ in Hindi means ‘four abodes’ (of the Gods), the yatra involves visiting all four in Uttarakhand. Yamunotri and Gangotri are temples at the sources of sacred rivers Yamuna and Ganga whereas, Badrinath and Kedarnath are temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva respectively.

The Char Dham Yatra is covered from east to west (clockwise, as per the concept of ‘Parikrama’ in Hinduism) and hence, starts with Yamunotri, followed by Gangotri, both in Uttarkashi. It continues in Kedarnath in the Rudraprayag district and concludes at Badrinath in Chamoli district. The routes of all four abodes cover some beautiful locales, but with treacherous paths and testing climates. And yet, people of all ages set out for it in the hope of redemption.

Char Dham Yatra 2018 dates: April to October/November
Travel Tip: Char Dham Yatra by helicopters are ideal for senior citizens.

Discover divinity with Char Dham Yatra

See Char Dham Packages

#2 The Amaranath Yatra

places of worship in India-Char dham yatra - Amarnath Yatra marg

Pilgrims heading for the Amarnath Yatra

The holy Amarnath temple is a mystical ice-stalagmite ‘Shiv Lingam’ that forms naturally inside a cave, during summer and also, waxes and wanes as per the lunar cycle (yes, believe it or not)! It is therefore, not surprising that believers of all ages, trek a section of the Himalayan range in South Kashmir, especially to seek His blessings.

Also Read – Everything You Should Know About Amarnath Yatra

Located in a gorge in the Lidder valley, with Pahalgam and Sonmarg as base points, the Amarnath Mandir is quite difficult to access and the Amarnath yatra route, quite challenging. But not to worry, it is because of its precarious nature that Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) takes extra care and measures to ensure a peaceful and safe yatra.

Amarnath Yatra 2018 dates: From 28th June 2018
Registration: 1st March 2018 onwards. Group registrations can also be done.
Travel Tip: Check the health advisory here before planning your Yatra.

Feel blessed in the holy Amarnath temple.

Amarnath Yatra Packages

#3 Kailash Mansarovar

places of worship in India-Char dham yatra - Mt. Kailash

When in Mt. Kailash, don’t miss visiting the Buddhistic stupas (chorten)

Mount Kailash (Kailash Parbat), believed to be the home of Lord Shiva, and the Mansarovar Lake near Kailash are two spots of religious importance for various religions, including the Hindus. The Hindus believe that circumambulation (doing Parikrama) of the Kailash on foot can help them earn Lord Shiva’s blessings and a dip in the holy Lake can wash their sins away.

Must Read – All You Need To Know About Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

The Yatra starts at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, continuing to Mt. Kailash, and then Mansarovar. The Parikrama involves trekking through and camping at some mesmerising locations situated at high altitudes in the Himalayas and also a helicopter ride between picturesque Simikot and Hilsa.

Best time for the Yatra: April to June and September to mid-October
Good to know: Dolma Pass, the highest point covered during the Parikrama is situated at a height of 5650m. The Pashupatinath Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Seek divine blessings in the temples of Mt. Kailash.

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Packages

#4 The Golden Temple

places of worship in India-Char dham yatra - Golden Temple

Soak in the beautiful sunrise and seek blessings at the Golden Temple

The city of Amritsar was founded by the fourth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Ram Das. Today, the city is home to many spots important to the Sikhs, including the much popular – Golden Temple.

The Temple is actually known as Shri Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, and is a complex with a pure and a welcoming vibe. Located amidst a pool, representing the pool of nectar, the Golden Temple is open to people of all faiths. The customary, free meals served here, known as ‘Guru ka Langar’ are as popular and blissful as the Temple itself.

Also Read – 5 Popular & Unusual Temples In India

Best time to visit the Temple: Early morning and late night, if you want to beat the queues.
Keep in mind: Remove your shoes at the entrance, wash your feet, cover your head with a scarf or a covering provided by the temple, and then proceed inside.
Things to do in Amritsar: Pay respects at the Jallianwala Bagh, watch the Flag Retreat ceremony at the Wagah Border, and eat and shop at the Lawrence Road market or the Old City Bazaar.
Travel Tip: Do not miss Amritsari Kulchas at All India Famous, near the Temple, and the Fruit Cream and Kulfa (same as Kulfi) at Hall Bazaar. Avoid visiting the temple on weekends and festivals.

Feel the spiritual satisfaction in Amritsar.

Visit The Golden Temple

#5 Dharamshala

places of worship in India-Char dham yatra - Dharamshala

Seek your blessings in Dharamshala

The peaceful hilly town of Dharamshala is synonymous with Buddhism, hence, monks in red robes and colourful Buddhist monasteries are a common sight here. In fact, Upper Dharamshala or McLeodganj, also known as Little Lhasa, is where the Dalai Lama resides.

Must Read – A Quick Travel Guide Of Himachal Pradesh

Here you can visit the monasteries, meditate at special centres, and attend a talk by the Dalai Lama (check his schedule here). You can also pursue courses on Reiki, Vedanta, and Vipassana at centres spread across this town. You will love the town’s ancient churches and temples, nestled amidst its cedar forests and snowy hills.

Best time to visit Dharamshala: March to mid-June
Things to do at Dharamshala: Shop for Tibetan artefacts and attend the Dharamshala International Film Festival in November
Must-visit Monasteries: Namgyal, Kirti, Mani Lhakhang Stupa in Uprali Barol, and His Holiness Dalai Lama Main Temple.

Discover divinity in Dharamshala.

See Dharamshala Packages

No matter which path of the divine you choose, we hope you find a spot that resonates with you and your spiritual quest.

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After telling you the must-knows about cruise holidays, Ashutosh Mehere is back! This time he’ll share why an international self-drive holiday need not end with you paying huge fines.

Get rid of your beginner anxieties, and make the most of your time on unfamiliar roads with these handy tips from the expert of adventure road trips!

road trip adventure-Exploration & fun go hand-in-hand on a self-drive holiday. Are you ready for it?

Exploration & fun go hand-in-hand on a self-drive holiday. Are you ready for it?

The modern community of travellers perceive themselves as ‘explorers of the planet’ for which they used to hop on to flights to get from one city to another. But eventually they turned to trains and other local modes of transport for a more in-depth experience on the destination. Today, there is a gradual inclination towards a self-drive option where they truly believe that this offers the flexibility to pace your experiences.

Know More About Self Drive

Why It Makes Sense To Opt For A Self-Drive Holiday

Here are some great advantages of a self-drive holiday and adventure road trips:

  • Firstly, you can decide your preferred route with pace & halts along the way.
  • Secondly, they offer the comfort of lugging your bags from door to door, from your earlier stop to the next one.
  • Lastly, they are easier on the pocket in terms of value offered, especially if you have four to six people travelling in one car.
road trip adventure-Halt at a spot that catches your fancy or enjoy a picnic at near a mountain pass. It's all about experiencing the freedom of a self-drive holiday!

Halt at a spot that catches your fancy or enjoy a picnic near a mountain pass. It’s all about experiencing the freedom of a self-drive holiday!

What’s Stopping You?

Considering all the factors involved in a self-drive holiday abroad, it is almost seen as a soft adventure of sorts. Most travellers are unaware of how to deal with this monster, by head or by the tail and hence shy away from it.

But it’s really not a tough nut to crack once you get the basics right. So read on to know exactly how you can kick out the anxiety and ensure an exciting getaway!

#1 It’s All About The Side

road trip adventure-In case you do choose a left hand drive (LHD) option, automatic gears will be of great help!

In case you do choose a left hand drive (LHD) option, automatic gears will be of great help!

If you’re a beginner, simply choose a destination that has right hand drive (RHD) cars driven on the left hand side of the road, like in India. Just this one decision is enough to take away 50% of your anxieties about self-drive holidays.

In case you choose a left hand drive (LHD) option, best to hire a car with automatic gears instead of manual stick option. If you are not used to LHD cars, by choosing automatic transmission, there is one less thing to worry about while you are driving.

Close your eyes… imagine you are steering with your left hand, changing gears with your right AND remember the sequence of gears as you do so… you will see what I mean…!!

#2 Weather Forecasts

road trip adventure -Research on the weather of your destination to avoid a situation like this

Research on the weather of your destination to avoid a situation like this

Eliminate confrontation with the weather, and you have covered even more ground towards the goal! You would rather drive in mild temperate sunny weather than on slippery freshly snowed roads.

PS: Depending on the time of the year, it’s compulsory to use snow chains on your tires by law in some countries, whether it snows or not! So make sure to do your homework on the climate of the destination to avoid some unpleasant surprises.

Looking for amazing road trip experiences?

Yes Please!

#3 Crowded Cities? Pass

road trip adventure-Singapore's maddening traffic is a nightmare you must avoid on your first international self-drive holiday

Singapore’s maddening traffic is a nightmare you must avoid on your first international self-drive holiday

Avoid driving in a crowded modern metropolis like London, New York, Hong Kong or Singapore, and you have taken care of the last challenge on the block…traffic..! There are internationally recognised routes that are promoted as self-drive itineraries that should work out best for a beginner. Simply because it will take care of all the challenges mentioned above.

Note: Some of the more popular ones are Route 66, (USA), Inland Scenic Route 72, (New Zealand), Great Ocean Road (Australia).

#4 Islands, The Ultimate Solution To All Problems

road trip adventure-The Great Ocean Road in Australia is also a popular choice for a self-drive holiday. And the mind-boggling view doesn't hurt either, right?

The Great Ocean Road in Australia is a popular choice for a self-drive holiday. And the mind-boggling view doesn’t hurt either, right?

Here’s a suggestion that should work great for self-drive beginners, and solve most of their problems. Choose to start your first self-drive holiday on an island in summer with cars driven on RHS. This will take care of the weather, RHS driving, traffic, parking issues, and pace of itinerary. Some of the examples that come to mind are Mauritius, Seychelles, Langkawi, Ibiza and South Island, New Zealand. After all you can’t really get lost or drive-off an island, can you?

What Next?

In the second article, I will guide you on the various elements involved in managing a car rental for a self-drive holiday, including:

  • The choice of car
  • Driving licenses
  • Insurance

In the third and final article, I’ll address the actual experience of driving in an international location, and cover essentials like toll, parking, speed limits & fuel. At the end of the series, hopefully, nothing will hold you back from enjoying your first, self-drive holiday!

Inspired to have a road trip adventure?

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About The Author

Ashutosh Mehere

Ashutosh Mehere

Unusual, frequently outspoken and absolutely fun! That’s Ashutosh Mehere, Sr. Vice President – Alliances & Special Projects at Nissi tours and Travels Group, India.
A globe-trotter in its truest sense, he has over 21 years of experience in the travel & tourism industry. Ashutosh is always equipped with valuable (and quirky) advice for every travel query! You can get in touch with him at ashutosh.mehere@coxandkings.com

 

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When we asked Cox & Kings’ in-house travel guru, Ashutosh Mehere, what’s the ‘in-thing’ in International travel this year, his answer was – “of course, self drive holidays and adventure road trips”

But this was quickly followed with How, When, What, Where?

adventure road trips - Exploration & fun go hand-in-hand on a self-drive holiday

Exploration & fun go hand-in-hand on a self-drive holiday

We then realised, an informative series on self-drive holidays is an absolute must! Especially, for travel enthusiasts who’ve never done it before. 

So here it is! Part 2 of this series will tell you about all the elements involved in the booking phase of your International self-drive holiday; explained as concisely as possible by Ashutosh himself.

So belt up, and read on about The Absolute Essentials Of This Trip!

#1 International Driving Permit (IDP)

adventure road trips - IDP

An IDP will be of great help if you run into a cop who may not know English

An IDP or International Driving license is a booklet of 18 pages with the details of your current driving license mentioned in it, along with your photo. It is a United Nations sanctioned document valid for one year, and it translates details of your driving license into 9 languages with acceptance in over 150 countries. You will have to carry the driving license issued by your country, along with the IDP to rent a car.

How do you get one? Apply for an IDP at your Automobile Association or at the local RTO.

NOTE: Most car rental companies accept the Indian driving license as long it’s in English. However, best to carry an IDP in case you are stopped by traffic police who may not follow English.

Want to have a hassle-free road trip adventure?

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#2 Choice Of Car

adventure road trips-Avoid this situation. Pick a bigger car!

Avoid this situation; choose a bigger car!

A lot of abbreviations as well as terms are used on car rental websites to identify categories or groups of the vehicles offered, such as IDAR, IFAR or ‘E’,‘A’, ‘W’ or Compact, Midsize, Intermediate, Sedan, etc. It’s best to ignore these and focus on the actual images of cars available for hire to avoid surprises later. Also, be careful when the option of ‘or similar’ in any category is offered. It is best to understand what other vehicles that you could end up with.

A Word Of Caution Here: On a week-long vacation, do opt for a larger car. Just because the car has four seats for four travellers does not mean it will have space for their bags! The problem gets bigger if all four travellers are not from the same family, which equals to even more pieces of baggage….

On every website, the maximum number of pieces of baggage (big and small) that can be fitted in the trunk is clearly mentioned against each car. The other important classification for you to choose at this point is manual or automatic gears.

#3 Pickup/Drop Off Location Of The Car

adventure road trips-International airports have several car rental brands to choose from

International airports have several car rental brands to choose from

As self-explanatory as the term may sound, there are some nuances that one has to consider.

In most cases, cars are collected upon arrival from airports. Almost all International airports have booths/counters of car rental agencies to complete the paperwork and handover the keys. The cars are normally parked in large parking lots, and can be reached by walking or a shuttle bus from the terminal.

Depending on your program, the drop off location may or may not be the same as the pick-up location and this has to be communicated during booking.

NOTE: Almost inevitably, there is a ‘one way’ drop off charge levied by the agencies to cover their cost and effort to return the vehicle to the original depot. I would say, if the charge is reasonable and helps your itinerary, pay it. It would cost you more in fuel, road tax and overnight stay at a hotel to return the car back.

Here are some of the most popular car-rental brands that offer their services across the globe:

adventure road trips-Popular car rental options you'll find at most Int’l airports

Popular car rental options you’ll find at most Int’l airports

Leave the stress to us and go on an adventure road trip NOW.

Know More

#4 GPS Navigator

adventure road trips-GP navigator; making life simple all across the globe

GP navigator; making life simple all across the globe

The days of unfolding a large unmanageable map on your trip are long gone. While large maps sprawled on a car bonnet make great photo-ops, the need of the trip is really to get information at a street level. Depending on the model chosen, this will either be in-built into the dashboard or an additional unit will be handed over along with the car.

#5 Insurance

adventure road trips-The tricky part, but also the most important one

The tricky part, but also the most important one

This is the trickiest part, and an item on which the car companies make the highest profit. The rental cost per day provides basic coverage in case of an accident.

  • Apart from the above, there is an amount ranging from USD 3000-7000 depending on the category of car rented that you will still be liable for. At this point the car rental companies will offer an option at an additional price that will bring this risk down to zero. This means in the event of any accident or even if the car is stolen, you owe them nothing.
  • For drivers below 24 years, there is an additional ‘young driver’ premium charged by all rental companies. And finally there is a personal accident insurance option offered by collecting more premiums to cover risk to life and limb.

Phew…that is a lot to comprehend and manage, isn’t it?

So Here Are Some Tips That Will Definitely Help:

  • Most car agencies offer rentals with basic cover included. I would recommend buying one more level of protection by paying additional premium bringing down your risk down to USD 3000.
  • If you have bought overseas travel insurance from a decent vendor, a self-drive car cover is included in the same policy for the duration of your holiday or by paying a couple of hundred rupees more! Risk to life and limb is covered in the travel policy anyway. The savings through this route, if managed intelligently, can be up to 25% of the rental cost.

Some Parting Advice

Finally, how do you unravel the complex combinations in renting a self-drive car abroad?

Use this handy trick: Browse a few websites of car rental agencies, and try to select a car with all the options that suit your need. You will not be asked to pay until you have reached the last page, at which point you can quit and try another one.

It’s also one of the best way to educate yourself on all angles of your self-drive tour.

Happy Exploring  🙂

Are you a road trip junkie? Travel with us!

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About The Author

Ashutosh Mehere

Ashutosh Mehere

Unusual, frequently outspoken and absolutely fun! That’s Ashutosh Mehere, Sr. Vice President – Alliances & Special Projects at Nissi tours and Travels Group, India.
A globe-trotter in its truest sense, he has over 21 years of experience in the travel & tourism industry. Ashutosh is always equipped with valuable (and quirky) advice for every travel query! You can get in touch with him at ashutosh.mehere@coxandkings.com

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Cool sunnies, breezy clothes, flipflops, and sunscreen: how many times have you packed your imaginary bags to escape the maddening life. Let me, Samiksha, guide your wanderlust to your next summer holiday destinations:

Best International Summer Holiday Destinations

#1 GoT-Inspired Vacay: Dubrovnik, Croatia

summer holiday destinations -Croatia.

What’s better than the beaches in Croatia? The stunning architecture!

A Game of Thrones addict or not, Dubrovnik in Croatia is one of the hippest holiday destinations in Europe. Must visit the impervious City walls and the little alleys of the old town. Also check out the Cathedral and Lovrijenac Fort for some architectural wonder. After your share of Croatian history and architecture, enjoy the Adriatic beaches at the Lokrum island by sailing or kayaking! Do not forget to get high on the local wine with some Manistra na pome!

Get enchanted this summer!

Explore Croatia Now

#2 Experience The Italian Hotspot: Florence

summer holiday destinations- Florence

The beautiful city of Florence

If you are a sucker for old-world charm, head to Florence, Italy, for an eyeful of exquisite architecture at the Piazza della Signoria and Loggia de’ Lanzi and a stomach-ful of lip-smacking Italian food and heavenly gelatos at the trattorias in San Lorenza! Wear those walking shoes and explore one of the beautiful & best vacation destinations in Europe!

Don’t miss the chance to explore the best of Europe!

Book Now

#3 Discover Cobalt-Skied Koh Samui, Thailand

summer holiday destinations- Thailand

Close your eyes and let the Thailand breeze take your breath away

If you are a class A beach bum & sand between your toes is the best definition of a summer holiday destination, book your tickets to Koh Samui! Pristine azure beaches laced with palm trees is what Koh Samui is made of. You can go fishing or snorkeling at Ko Taen, party all night at Chwaeng beach, or indulge in some luxurious spas in Bangrak. It is a perfect summer retreat and one of Thailand’s best travel destinations!

Thailand will definitely sweep you off your feet!

Visit Thailand

#4 Enjoy Mind-Blowing Maldives

summer holiday destinations- Maldives

Discover Maldives, a sweet escape!

Palm-fringed beaches of the Indian ocean welcome you to this heaven on earth: Maldives! Powdery white sands kissing the blue lagoon, endless summer cobalt-hued skies: the perfect setting for tranquility, peace, and romance. Be it the water villas of Como cocoa islands, the luxurious resort spas at Baros, or the Dive club in Male: Maldives has everything to offer to the soul searching for the perfect summer holiday destinations!

Ditch the regular, be awe-struck by Maldives instead!

Book Now

#5 Spend Chilly Summers In Whistler, Canada

summer holiday destinations-canada - lake

For those hailing from sunny locales, head to Whistler, Canada, for a cool summer vacay! Strap your skis & escape the summer heat while cruising down the Blackcomb’s peak. If not a skier, get your adrenaline rush by mountain biking down the Cheakamus Lake Trail or the more edgier Howler trail. There are so many more options like golfing, kayaking, ziplining, among others. Its beauty and climate make Whistler one of the best places to visit in summer!

Enjoy chilly summers in Canada!

Book Now

#6 Get Bowled Over By Bali

bali tour-trip-attractions-pura tanah temple

Go temple-hopping when in Bali to ignite your spirituality!

For those whom midlife crises has sucked the life out of, go the Bali way! Imagine eat, pray, love & realize it in Bali. Pray for your fulfillment of dreams at mesmerizing temples of Taman Ayun, Ulun Danu, and others. Eat the best of Balinese cuisine including amazingly fresh vegetable salads and sushi as well as some Java coffee at the local pubs and cafes of Ubud. Indulge in some self-love by experiencing a yoga retreat to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. If not that, a Balinese spa experience at the Taksu Spa is a must have. Thank me later for suggesting one of the finest summer holiday destinations!

Lose yourself in the magnificence of nature!

Explore Bali

#7 Explore Astounding Andaman

summer holiday destinations- Andaman Islands

Laze around on the beaches of Havelock, Andaman Islands

Welcome to the Thailand of India: the amazing archipelago of 527 Andaman and Nicobar islands. This place has everything for beach lovers: the pristine stretch of Radhanagar, the historically rich musuems in Port blair, snorkeling at North bay, scuba diving or elephant tours in Havelock! It is pocket friendly and make up for the best summer holiday destinations!

Interested in escaping the summer heat in Andamans?

Book Now

Best Summer Holiday Destinations In India

#8 ‘Leh’ Me Take You There: Ladakh

summer holiday destinations- Ladakh

Find the famous ‘double-humped’ camels, also known as ‘Ships of the Desert’ in Ladakh

If you are saving up some moolah & want some summer joys in India minus the heat, head straight to Leh! Away from the maddening cities of India, Ladakh is a surprisingly quaint beautiful arid desert where you may get a sunstroke from standing in the sun and a frostbite from standing under the tree! Leh has many facets to display to its visitors: try white-water rafting at the Zanskar valley; unravel your patriotism at Kargil by visiting the war memorial; soak your eyes up with the beautiful sights of the Nubra valley; or simply be a badass and ride your wheels on the Khardung La pass: the highest motorable road in the world. No matter what you seek, you will find it here. Truly one of the best vacation spots in India!

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#9 Visit The Paradise On Earth: Kashmir

summer holiday destinations--kashmir-tour-

If you are looking for heaven on Earth, it is here

No words can better define Kashmir than the famous poet Firdaus’s “if there is heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” Kashmir, one of the many good holiday destinations, has a postcard-esque view no matter which side of the vehicle you sit. A shikara ride in the amazing Dal lake will sink you in the beautiful sound of water ripples. For thrill seekers, try paragliding at Sonmarg or Gulmarg  or enjoy the vaadi with a pony ride in Pahalgam. Don’t miss the royal gardens of Srinagar to truly soak in the Kashmiri beauty. Also, retail therapy is the most advised & indulged in Kashmir: from shawls to expensive saffron, shop away!

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#10 Meet The Seven Sisters

summer holiday destinations- Sikkim

Samiti Lake in Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim

Looking for some untraveled good vacation spots? Try the seven beautiful states in the quaint Northeast India. Still unharmed by tourist commercialism, visit the North east for a great summer escapade. How can one not mention the Tawang monastery here! This gorgeous gompa in Arunachal Pradesh is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in the world. Don’t miss the Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim for its riveting beauty and amazing view. If you are a trekker, avid or shy, Phawngpui Peak in Mizoram is a must climb for its sheer magnificence. For more scenic wonders, try the Loktak Lake in Manipur to capture the phumdi (a floating vegetation). There are so many varied places to visit in this untouched part of India. Do visit them for they make the best holiday destinations!

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Now that you have the dope, pack your bags and cruise away to one of these summer holiday destinations!

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