• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Honeymoon in Sri Lanka

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

As some of you know, I recently went to Sri   Lanka for just over 2 weeks on my honeymoon. This is my third visit here; the first being back in 1969 as a wandering teenager exploring the world. It was Julie’s first time here – a change from me dragging her to different parts of Africa.

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

IMG_2289

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

We truly loved it from that first breathe of extremely warm air when we got off the plane in Colombo to our final night in colonial splendour in the Galle Face Hotel. With a recorded history longer than ours, ancient ruined cities only rediscovered 150 years ago, fantastic food, beautiful beaches, more wildlife and sea life than you expect and very friendly people, what is there not to like.

 

 

 

There is a huge variety of experiences, climates, scenery and culture to explore and the option of staying in varying levels of accommodation, many of which allow you to explore the locality right outside your room.

  

 

  

Would I recommend Sri Lanka as a holiday destination – Yes I would and it will not be too long before Julie and I return (still so much more to explore)

Look out for more detailed bespoke ideas about touring Sri Lanka on our website or just give me a call to talk about this fabulous destination on 01323 446550 or email peter@experienceholidays.co.uk

Peter

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Top Tips for Japan

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Posted by:

Amanda Skingle

 

Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

If you are planning a visit to the land of the rising sun, whether it is independent travel, private tour or as part of an escorted group, here are some top tips to note before you travel:

 

–          The best times to take a trip to Japan are either late March/April when the cherry                        blossoms are out or the end of September/October for the autumn colours.

–          A visit to Japan would not be complete without a trip on the bullet train, either as a one               off journey or multiple journeys using a Japan Rail Pass.

–          Stay in a traditional Ryokan (Japanese Inn) and enjoy a Japanese Spa

–          Visit the Snow Monkeys and see them bathing in the hot springs.

–          Japan is a great destination for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

–          Hiroshima – take a trip to see the AtomicBombMuseum and the MemorialGardens

–          There are two Imperial Palaces for you to visit, one in Tokyo and the other in Kyoto.

–          Japan is largely a cash based society, so most places do not accept credit cards.                             Change your money to Yen before you travel as not all ATMs accept international cards.

 

If you’d like us to help plan your bespoke, tailor made holiday to Japan then please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk and we would be happy to discuss your personalised itinerary.

Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

 

Picture Credit JNTO

Picture Credit JNTO

Gaya Island Resort

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

 

GIR Pool - cropped

Picture Courtesy Of YTL Hotels

Tucked amidst the protected mangroves and sheltered coral reefs of Borneo and curled around the stunning sandy coast of Malohom Bay you’ll find Gaya Island Resort.

This beachfront resort blends in perfectly with the natural environment and offers a collection of hillside villas with views that feature the mangrove forests and surrounding canopy to the breathtaking Mount Kinabalu.

For the nature lovers among us this is the perfect place to stay and here are just a few reasons why:

–          The Proboscis (Long nosed) monkey – you will have the chance of a lifetime to see these endangered and unique monkeys in the jungle of Gaya Island Resort.

–          Turtle Rescue – this programme was set up to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles. You can find more information about this at the Marine Centre on site.

–          Red Giant Flying Squirrels – take an evening stroll through the resort gardens and keep an eye out for these beautiful animals gliding from branch to branch or foraging for food.

–          Mangrove kayak – let the resident naturalist take you through the 100 year old mangrove jungle. Watch out for mangrove crabs, oriental pied hornbills, monitor lizards and many more fantastic creatures.

 

So if you’d like to know more about a bespoke, tailor made trip to this amazing resort and the island of Borneo please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk for more information.

Picture Courtesy Of YTL Hotels

 

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Picture Courtesy Of YTL Hotels

 

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Picture Courtesy Of YTL Hotels

Great Rail Journeys of the World

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

We are often asked what and where is the best rail journey in the world? So in answer to this we have detailed below some of our must do Great Rail Journeys of the World:

  • Consider the luxury rail experience offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express, operating between Singapore and Bangkok and taking two or three nights depending on the direction of travel. Enjoy vistas of tea plantations, rolling farmland, colonial cities and historic temples.
  • Take a rail journey in Vietnam, from the bustling city of Hanoi to the village of Sapa, located in the mountains overlooking spectacular views of the Ta Van valley’s terraced rice fields. The train operates overnight in both directions.
  • Think about the super-fast Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ in Japan. There are a number of routes on offer, but no trip to Japan is complete without at least one trip in the iconic Bullet Train.
Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

 There are three iconic rail journeys available in New Zealand, one on the North Island, and two on the South.

  • On the North Island, the Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington through diverse countryside comprising of rolling farmland, towering viaducts and beautiful hidden valleys.
  • On the South Island, the Tranz Alpine train runs from Christchurch in the east to Greymouth in the west through stunning scenery. A stop is made in the small mountain town of Arthur’s Pass, where a stay enables a closer inspection of this Alpine region.  The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton (tying in perfectly with the ferry from Wellington on the NorthIsland)  south to Christchurch. This rail journey stops in Kaikoura en route, where a stay gives the opportunity to take a whale watching cruise.

 

  • An impressive and popular rail journey on the Devil’s Nose section of railway in Ecuador could be a part of your holiday itinerary.  Named Devil’s Nose due to the many deaths amongst workers as well as difficulty of building it, the route connects the Alausi and Sibambe stations taking a stunning trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breath-taking scenery.
  • Board the tourist train in Peru taking you on a journey through the Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the marvellous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • One of the more popular rail routes is the Coast Starlight which takes you along the west coast between Seattle and Los Angeles stopping in Portland along the way. Why not take a day out of your itinerary to treat yourself by taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can relax on-board the exquisitely restored vintage rail cars and experience fine dining service, multiple course meals and the stunning Napa Valley scenery. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the skies but since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people right through the heart of this amazing place and you could be one of them, you’ll feel like you’re travelling back in time. For something a little different during your visit to Colorado why not travel along the 45 miles of 3 foot narrow gauge track on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway which has been running since 1881. However long your journey is travelling by rail is a definite must do during your USA holiday.
Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

  • The most famous rail journey in Canada has to be the Rocky Mountaineer. With a variety of routes available you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks on board. One of the more popular routes is the Journey through the Clouds which takes you between Vancouver and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops. With different grades of      service available this is a must no matter how big or small your budget is. If you want to travel the width of Canada in comfort and without missing the scenery as you concentrate on driving then take a ride on The Canadian. In the space of four nights and three days, you’ll get to see the lakes in Northern Ontario, the lush boreal forest, the western Prairies, and the magnificent Rocky Mountains as you travel between historical Quebec and modern Toronto.
  • Australia has some of the most iconic rail journeys in the world. There isn’t enough room here to talk about them all but here are some to whet your appetite. The Indian Pacific gets its name because it covers 4352km between Perth on the Indian Ocean and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. The whole journey takes three nights, although you can break it up with a stop in Adelaide. You’ll travel through a variety of landscapes from towns and cities to the desert like Nullarbour Plain, from the outback to the forest of the Blue Mountains. So we’ve taken you East and West, but what if you want to go North and South? Named after the Afghan Cameleers who travelled this route, the Ghan will take between Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South going straight through the centre of Australia. If it’s just a day on a train that you would prefer then a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is perfect. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and is made up of 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges taking you from Cairns into the Barron Gorge National Park on your way to Karunda, known as the village in the rainforest.

 

  • Africa has a wealth of train experiences that cover the whole spectrum from world leader to leaving a lot to desire.  Rovos Rail has exciting itineraries that stretch from Pretoria, in South Africa through all their southern neighbouring countries and even a trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where possible they travel during the day. The Blue Train is another South African luxury train that travels from Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town or vice versa.
Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

For further information, and for assistance planning your next bespoke, tailor made holiday which could incorporate one of these great rail journeys, please call us on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk 

 

 

 

Top tips for Thailand

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

  • Bangkok isn’t just the gateway to Thailand, there are so many things to see and do it is worth spending a few days here. The Grand Palace and Temple of the Dawn are just a couple of examples.
  • Eat food from the street stalls. It is cheap and tasty. In a lot of places you can find delicious options on the street 24 hours a day.
  • Temples – there are so many to see from the magnificent to miniature. Don’t try to cram them all in. Narrow it down, for example Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew.
  • Visiting an open market is a must and often where you will find the best prices and best goods. Some of the best markets are Chatuchak Weekend market, the floating market and the night market in Chiang Mai.
  • Beaches – Thailand has some stunning white sand beaches. Lamai beach in Koh Samui, Freedom beach in Patong and Railey beach are some of the best beaches in Thailand.
  • Avoid the rainy season, although it’s not constant rain there are usually heavy rain downpours most afternoons/nights. The best time to travel is November to February when humidity and temperatures aren’t so high.
  • Learn to cook authentic Thai food. If you are a fan of Thai food why not learn to cook it yourself and impress your friends and family when you get home.
  • If travelling with children, Phuket has loads to keep the whole family entertained. From stunning beaches to water parks and activities like paddle boating, horseback riding and mountain bikes.

If you are interested in finding out more or putting together your own bespoke, tailor made holiday to this fascinating country then please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

Green Turtles in Malaya

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Posted by:

Peter Ellis

 

Green Turtles in Malaya

Courtesy of YTL Hotels – Tanjong Jara Resort

Not far from one of our favourite resorts in Malaya, Tanjong Jara Resort, is a protected beach where the endangered beach green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

These beautiful turtles are coming on to the beach now and until mid September. Guests have the chance to have a guided tour of the beach to watch this amazing event. Because these turtles are so rare, the eggs are taken to a hatchery to protect them from predators – human or otherwise.

Later in the season lucky guests at Tanjong Jara Resort can help with the release of the newly hatched be returned to the sea.

Green turtles in Malaya

Courtesy of YTL Hotels – Tanjong Jara Resort

 

The Resort also takes diving and snorkelling excursions to Tenggol Island which could you the chance to see these majestic turtles in their natural habitat, along with the beautiful corals and fish.

If you would like more information on this fantastic resort and to make it part of your bespoke tailor made holiday please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

A Glimpse of Bhutan…

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Bhutan

Courtesy of Jackie Appleton

The tiny kingdom of Bhutan nestles in the foothills of the Himalayas, a short 1 hour 40 minute flight from Delhi in India. In a country roughly the size of Switzerland, some 700,000 people live in peace and tranquillity, measuring the success of their country not in Gross National Product as most of us do, but in Gross National Happiness.

The feeling of happiness is everywhere, showing in the contented faces of everyone you pass, the friendly welcome everywhere you go and the overall feeling that one is visiting and witnessing something really, really special.

The country has virtually no naturally flat spaces, but consists of high mountains and deep valleys. The well maintained road system clings to the valley sides and twists and turns as nature has dictated. In total contrast to India, no horns sound – there is no need! The capital city Thimphu is the only capital city in the world to have no traffic lights at all and the pretty traditionally built houses and buildings cover the valley floor – there is not a single skyscraper to be seen. Looking out over the city is a 50m tall Buddha keeping a weather eye on his subjects. He was built as a celebration and although not quite complete, still makes a compelling visit in this remarkable city.

Bhutan

Courtesy of Jackie Appleton

 

Bhutan welcomes it’s visitors, but has cleverly devised a visa scheme that ensures that just enough visitors arrive – this is not a destination for a backpacker, although many would love to come. It is a destination for a carefully planned visit highlighting the very best of this tiny mountain kingdom.

Experience Holidays would be honoured to show you, please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

YTL Hotels wins Tripadvisor 2014 Travellers’ Choice Awards..

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Tripadvisor

Credit YTL hotels

Three YTL Hotels properties have been recognised this year in the Top 25 Hotels in Malaysia category in TripAdvisor 2014 Travellers’ Choice. Now in its 12th year, the annual awards identify the world’s most outstanding hotels and are based on travellers’ reviews and opinions.

YTL Resorts

Credit YTL hotels


YTL Resorts

Credit YTL hotels


YTL Resorts

Credit YTL hotels

     

  • Tanjong Jara Resort – on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the Resort is steeped in traditions, embracing the region’s rich Malay history and culture. It emphasises the rejuvenation of both body and spirit through its “Sucimurni” philosophy.
  • Pangkor Laut Resort – nestled on a privately owned island along the Straits of Malacca,on the west coast of Malaysia, the Resort has a unique “One Island, One Resort” concept.
  • The Majestic Malacca – located in the historical city of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, this hotel provides travellers with a glimpse of colourful, vibrant, Malaccan history.

We at Experience Holidays highly recommend all three of these resorts as a great relaxing destination or to celebrate any big occasion.  To find out more about these fantastic resorts please contact us on 01323 446550 or emailinfo@experienceholidays.co.uk

Winter Sun ….. The Options

Posted on:
Posted by:

Peter Ellis

 

Winter holidays

Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon

 

Where to go if you want to have a burst of warmth in the middle of our winter? As always it all depends upon how long you have to spare and how much you want to spend.

Looking for the short break and not travelling too far then places like the Azores and Sharm el Sheihk, Egypt (still considered safe by the Foreign Office) will give you the best chance of sun and warmth. Other parts of the Mediterranean may be warm or even hot but there is a good chance of rain and cold snaps here as well.

For the mid distance travel you could be thinking of the Caribbean Islands – a perfect time to be going here. Do remember that some of the islands are very popular with the North American travellers who are also getting away from their winter. It is well worth looking at the options and perhaps considering one of the less popular destinations.

Winter holidays

Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon

 

In this category, and for something completely different, the Middle East should be considered. Many of the countries here, such as Oman, have expanded what they can offer tourists – giving you a chance to explore their history, wildlife and beautiful sea life.

While discussing middle distance destinations, we would also mention that Kenya is still a wonderful winter destination. There have been plenty of reasons to avoid Kenya this year, but the Government there has acted swiftly to ensure tourists are well protected and most of the country should be considered safe. A mixture of safari and beach is always a great get away. By travelling a bit further to Tanzania you avoid the security risk of Kenya but have the same experiences on offer.

For those lucky clients that have more time to travel even further afield then the countries in the Southern Hemisphere are very much on the agenda. Do remember that in parts of these countries their summer (our winter) can be the rainy season making travelling very difficult – well worth chatting to someone about these areas. Many of our clients choose this time of the year to head to New Zealand and Australia with a short break on the flight to and/or from their destination. Wonderful destinations with spectacular beaches, activities and experiences but worth spending time to make the most of the places you choose to visit. These countries are huge and travelling between points can take a lot of time.

Finally Southern Africa remains a terrific winter destination. Some of the best wildlife experiences are to be had now and the beaches are welcoming after the rigours of a safari. Add in the fact that the Pound has remained strong against the Rand and there is very little time difference to UK time (less jetlag) making it a good place to put on your list.

Start planning now.  Give us a call to discuss where you would like to go for your bespoke/tailor made winter sun break.

Tel: 01232 446550
Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Vietnam – A Fascinating Country

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Avatar

 

Vietnam

Credit Angie Watson

I have just returned from Vietnam – a country with a fascinating and complex history, happy and friendly people, and of course incredible scenery. From the crazy traffic in the cities of Ho Chi Minh (formerly known as Saigon) and Hanoi to the peaceful tranquillity of UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay the country has diverse attractions to offer, and reasonably priced too.

Ho Chi Minh is the gateway with most airlines, and a few nights here provides a chance to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels (where the Viet Cong fighters lived and fought during the war), as well as the Mekong Delta. Hue was next on our list, and home to the Tu Duc Mausoleum, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Imperial Citadel – all of which give an insight into the long-ago history and culture of Vietnam.

A few hours drive past pretty fishing villages and over the scenic Pass of the Ocean Clouds brought us to Hoi An – a lovely coastal town. This is a great place to combine relaxation by the sandy beaches with the history and culture of Vietnam. The ancient town centre has a 400 year old wooden covered Japanese Bridge, a colourful market famed for its lanterns and a lovely atmosphere.

Up in the north of the country, our next stop was Hanoi – another frantic city well known for its massive number of scooters – which often have four passengers, or perhaps some pigs on board! The ‘Hanoi Hilton’ is the nickname of the former prison in this city, which whilst having a long history in French Colonial days is better known for housing American pilots during the war – who were treated so well that the nickname came about!

The drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay is interesting, passing through farmland – and usually past scooters with enormous loads (water buffalo are even transported by scooter – albeit illegally). Halong Bay itself is out of this world, with thousands of limestone islands rising majestically out of the water. The best way to explore is to take an overnight junk ship cruise around the islands, stopping for swimming, kayaking and cave explorations along the way.

The above route simply touches on some of the highlights of Vietnam, but is by no means the only option – with a good amount of time to spend, one could also explore Sapa in the mountains, the former French hill station of Dalat, and the central highlands. Vietnam is also perfect to combine with Cambodia and Laos – but do ensure you plan to spend enough time in each place.

For more information, please call our office on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk or see our website www.experienceholidays.co.uk and we can put together a bespoke, tailor made itinerary to suit your requirements and preferences.

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