Surgical spirit at Siriraj Medical Museum
While trying to find free things to do on our first visit to Bangkok we came across this museum on the same site as the Siriraj hospital in Wang Leng. This museum is not for the faint-hearted. It tells a gruesome tale of Thailand’s medical history, with lots of specimens, some of which are weird and gross. There is an interesting section about the 2004 tsunami, with some accounts from doctors and nurses who flew out to help.
Stunning skyline views
For the best view of the city, take the lift to the Vertigo and Moon bar on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. You don’t need to be a resident, or even buy a drink, to enjoy this stunning overview of the city. There aren’t many places you can get such an experience for free, and it’s even better at night.
Books, tea and a toastie
After hours walking around in the heat, feeling hot and sticky, I stumbled across Passport bookshop on Phra Sumen road. It’s tiny, quiet and cool with a few small tables
Exmoor national park, Somerset and Devon
On the clearest nights on the north Devon moors the human eye can detect about 3,000 stars, with the best sites at Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. Events this year include a 12-hour night run; forest and full-moon walks; and summer family campouts. Exmoor national park became Europe’s first international dark sky reserve in November 2011.
Brecon Beacons national park, south Wales
In the Brecon Beacons, a dark sky reserve since February 2013, the best spots to set up a telescope are Usk Reservoir, the ruins of Llanthony Priory, Carreg Cennen castle and the national park visitor centre. The Stargazers Retreat is a converted stable sleeping two between Trecastle and Crai, and has its own observatory (from £50 a night).
Snowdonia national park, Gwynedd and Conwy
Five of the top spots in this dark sky reserve are the lakes Llyn y Dywarchen, Llyn Geirionydd and Llynnau Cregennen; Tŷ Cipar, a former gamekeeper’s house; and Bwlch y Groes,
The Best Time to Visit The Big Island
Tourism season dips between September and November as families are leaving from summer vacations, so this is great time to enjoy reasonable hotel prices and lots of sunshine.
Surfers will likely catch the best waves from December to March, but it’s also pricey time to visit in late winter as many people come to escape harsh winter conditions in other areas of the country. Visiting during April or May can lead to cheaper hotel prices as well, but temperatures won’t be as warm as in the fall.
You can expect to spend a large portion of your trip’s budget on your flight to Hawaii, so try to save money here any way you can. Travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for the lowest airfare prices; depending on where you fly out from, just being flexible on the day you fly out will save you on average between $100-$300.
It might be easier to just click the “round-trip” button when searching for flights,
Slowly and jerkily I approached Bodie, air conditioning blasting the hell out of my face. You can’t help but feel a bit intrepid on this track near the border of California and Nevada, but I knew mine was just one in a long list of vehicles that had pounded the road over the last 160 years.
These days, it’s tourists who make the journey – about 200,000 per year –
Lose yourself in the Quartiere Coppedè
There’s so much to grab tourists’ attention in central Rome that a magical spot like the Quartiere Coppedè can go unnoticed. Tucked away in the Trieste quarter (tram 3 or 19 to Piazza Buenos Aires), northeast of the centre, this flight of fancy was conceived by architect Gino Coppedè in 1919.
The predominantly Art Nouveau architecture is embellished with a riot of details – Florentine turrets, frescoed facades, medieval motifs and Gothic gargoyles – and sports such whimsical creations as a frog-embellished fountain, a “fairy cottage” and a “spider’s palace”.
Get lost in time at Cinecittà film studios
If you’ve visited the Roman Forum and struggled to summon up the epicentre of the ancient world from this large open space littered with rubble and broken columns, you could always cheat and head to Cinecittà.
Within easy reach of the centre by metro, these film studios house the set of the HBO/BBC blockbuster Rome, with its impressive reconstruction of the Forum, its buildings intact and brightly painted as they would have been in ancient times.
Littered with props from iconic films, Cinecittà has plenty of tributes to the
What is the Golden Triangle?
The Golden Triangle is the route between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and is named for the almost-equilateral triangle that the three cities make when plotted on a map. Starting in the capital, Delhi, and taking in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, it’s India’s most well-trodden tourist track. Why “Golden”? Well, for the extraordinary religious and historical sights that the three stops offer.
What are the highlights?
Most people start in Delhi, where the majority of international flights arrive. While you could spend weeks exploring the city’s sights, from the museums of the Mughal Red Fortto the towering Qutb Minar and the British Raj-era India Gate, the best way to get a feel for the capital’s dynamism is by walking through its streets and bazaars. Two of the most vibrant are Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi and New Delhi’s Paharganj.
The magnificent Taj Mahal is, unsurprisingly, Agra’s premier sight, and nothing can really prepare you for the sheer scale and regal splendour of the structure up close. Try to time your visit with sunrise or sunset, when the Taj is at its most majestic. Nearby Agra Fort is
9. Madikeri, Coorg, Karnataka
Our Delhi team voted for Madikeri as an excellent base from which to explore the lush national parks, natural beauty and gorgeous coffee plantations that abound in this scenic stretch of the Western Ghats.
8. Mawlynnong, Meghalaya
Described by one of our editors as magical, this village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya is simply stunning. The surrounding areas are just as unforgettable, with natural bridges made by twisting the roots of rubber trees crossing the rivulets and streams.
7. Kumarakom Backwaters, Kerala
At number seven in the list, Kerala’s scenic backwaters, edged with coconut palms, lush green rice paddies and picturesque villages, make for a beautiful escape from hectic city life.
6. Mandu, Madhya Pradesh
One of central India’s most atmospheric monuments, this medieval ghost town is set on a scenic plateau still prowled at night by leopards and panthers.
5. Hampi, Karnataka
This vast archeological site would have been one of the largest and richest cities of its time. The design, detailing and ornamentation of the best-preserved ruins are astonishing.
4. Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
This hot and desolate
1. The northern cays
The romance of Villa Clara’s northern cays starts with the drive: a 48km cruise along a causeway flanked by turquoise waters. The beaches here are of the white-sand #nofilter kind; in fact the late Fidel Castro himself is rumoured to have described them as being superior to Varadero‘s. Head to Cayo Las Brujas for a less expensive, non-package experience, or splash out at one of the glitzy hotels at Cayo Santa María.
Trinidad is one of Cuba’s most complete colonial towns, with its pastel-coloured buildings and cobbled pedestrianized centre. But, unsurprisingly, Cuba’s most photogenic streets lure in a healthy tourist crowd, and after a day or two you may want some respite. There are a few options for scenic horseriding trips out of Trinidad, including clip-clops into the foothills of the Sierra del Escambray or guided excursions to the hamlet of La Pastora.
3. Havana’s Malecón
This is the place to get romantic like the locals. Havana’s sociable seafront promenade follows the sea wall for four kilometres, and attracts as many smooching teenagers as it does guitar-strumming musicians and fast food vendors. In the evenings this is
1. Plan for the high season
With so many North Americans flying south for the winter – not to mention locals travelling home – it’s pivotal to book in advance for the Christmas and New Year period.
Both rooms and buses can sell out weeks ahead, but by being savvy and using several transport links (such as a private shuttle to one hub, paired with a public bus from there) it’s still possible to make things work, even at the height of peak season.
The week leading up to Easter is another pressure point to bear in mind, though the parades and processions that take place can prove well worth the extra effort.
2. Consider an organised tour
Veteran independent travellers might sniff at the idea of taking an escorted tour, especially in a country where hostels and hotels seemingly line every corner and English is so widely spoken. But with high demand, surprisingly high prices and few regular public bus services, a group tour means you can pack a lot of experiences into one 10-day trip without fretting about availability or logistics.
For those who can’t stand the thought of group travel,
1. Bannack, Montana
When you think about quintessential ghost towns in western movies, you think of a places like Bannack. Abandoned by its residents and forgotten by time, it’s a place full of tragic stories hidden inside the dilapidated, rotting walls of its buildings.
With the major discovery of gold in 1862, Bannack was established and the hope of a thriving city emerged. Soon, though, things went horribly wrong. The sheriff, Henry Plummer, was a well-known criminal and leader of a gang accused of over a hundred murders.
Cut off from the rest of the world, with the only way in or out of the town being the Montana Trail, residents of Bannack abandoned their homes by the 1970s. Today, travellers can visit this ghost town and explore the abandoned buildings as a reminder of a dark place in America’s history.
2. Estes Park, Colorado
Nestled deep in the mountains of northern Colorado, the town of Estes Park is best known as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Yet amid the alpine attractions is one structure that lures your eye with eerie fascination: the legendary Stanley Hotel.
Best known for its role
Best for luxury: San Marco
The sestiere of San Marco has been the nucleus of Venice for more than a millennium. Many of Venice’s visitors make a beeline for this spot, spend a few hours here, then head for home without staying for even one night. But if you’re looking for luxury, stay around here to make the most of the city’s plushest hotels, the most elegant cafés and the swankiest shops.
Best for architecture and art: Dorsoduro
Some of the finest minor domestic architecture in Venice is concentrated here and the area’s superb collection of galleries makes it the perfect base for art lovers. The Gallerie dell’Accademia is the highlight, but there’s also Scuola Grande dei Carmini and the Guggenheim Collection.
Best for daily Venetian life: San Polo and Santa Croce
The focal points of daily life in San Polo and Santa Croce are the sociable open space of Campo San Polo and the Rialto area, once the commercial heart of the Republic and still the home of a market that’s famous far beyond the city’s boundaries. The bustle of the stalls and the unspoilt bars are a
Wow. Is all you can say when you walk into the huge living room complete with grand piano and double-height, floor-to-ceiling windows. And through the windows you can spy the room’s private, infinity-edge pool against the 180-degree uninterrupted backdrop of Hong Kong’s famous city skyline.
This is the Presidential Suite at the InterContinental, and at 7,000 square foot, it’s the largest suite in Hong Kong.
The bathroom, too, is something else. Firstly, the bathtub complete with countless jets is so big that you could fit a whole Hong Kong Rugby Sevens team in it. It’s also perched right by floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering sweeping views of the city while you bathe. The super–high-tech showers also offer the same stunning view. And then there’s the private steam room and sauna. Oh, and Chanel toiletries.
But it’s the suite’s private pool that has really become an iconic image across the world. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s large for worldwide private villa standards, let alone space-starved Hong Kong standards. Nestled alongside the pool is a private sunbathing area. And to the right, a trellised hangout spot where many-a-celebrity has hosted
Atacama Desert, Chile
For an out-of-this-world adventure, look no further than the Atacama Desert in westernChile. With jagged ravines, billowing geysers and arid salt flats, there’s an extra-terrestrial quality to its landscapes that NASA once harnessed to field test Martian rovers. As one of the driest places on the planet, there’s very little in the way of human development surrounding its barren plains. That said, the resulting lack of light pollution makes the sky perfect for stargazing.
Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), Colombia
Deep in the jungle-swathed mountains of Sierra Nevada lies La Ciudad Perdida,Colombia’s fabled ruined city dubbed “the new Machu Picchu”. Built in 800AD by the indigenous Tayrona tribes, it was abandoned following a run-in with Spanish conquistadors and largely forgotten, until looters rediscovered it in the 1970s. You’ll need to make like Indiana Jones if you want to see it for yourself, as the high-altitude trek up involves a three-day trudge through humid cloudforest.
The Gobi Steppe, Mongolia
The Gobi Steppe was once home to some of the largest herds of horses the world has ever seen, and even today there’s barely a trace of human activity. Nomads live here in
7. Coyhaique, Chile
Coyhaique is in a bit of a no man’s land for visitors to Chile, as it’s just too north of tourist favorite Torres del Paine to make it a viable option for visitors with limited time. However, ditching those plans for a few days or a week in Coyhaique and the surrounding area is a gorgeous alternative. From the town center, bike ride to the nearby national park or rent a car to do away with the reliance on guided tours. Along the drive to Capillas de Marmol, stopping will be a frequent occurrence to photograph the stunning scenery, and it only gets better. Capillas de Marmol is a natural marble structure in a glacial lake, which has been smoothed out by the waves, and boats can navigate through the shallow caves. Get back on the road to see a dead forest rising out of a lake, typical southern Chile cemeteries and a receding glacier, all while enjoying the peace and quiet of an undiscovered place.
6. Montevideo, Uruguay
Carnival is synonymous with Brazil, but it’s actually Montevideo that has the world’s longest Carnival celebration. The 40-day
The State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne landmark and superb example of heritage architecture, the library is made up of 23 buildings and takes up an entire city block. Building construction started in 1854 and the facility features some of the most breathtaking heritage interiors in Melbourne. Considered by many to be one of the greatest libraries in the world, the State Library houses over two million books, hundreds of thousands of maps, manuscripts and newspapers and a variety of digital material. The works contained in the library reflect Victorian culture over the past 150 years and visitors to the institution can take a free guided tour to learn more about the establishment and its history. One of the highlights of the library is the La Trobe Reading Room, which features a stunning domed ceiling. Tourists can also browse two free permanent exhibitions, one of which features famous bushranger Ned Kelly’s armor and the other a history of books. Visitors can play chess, watch films and admire art — the library is home to three free art galleries.
The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark
The Royal Library in Copenhagen is a “must-see” destination
This house near Mission Soledad
This picture shows an abandoned house in Soledad in Monterey County. The house is located near Mission Soledad, which was founded by the Franciscan order in 1791 to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. Spanish missions were some of the first efforts by Europeans to colonize the Pacific Coast of America.
In the Port of San Francisco
What is simply known as Building #6, located in the Pier 70 area at the Port of San Francisco, was once used for ship building during WWII. It has been left abandoned since the 1989 earthquake, which also left some 3,000–12,000 San Franciscans homeless. Building #6 is now illegally used by graffiti artists.
Eagle Mountain High School in Desert Center
The class of 1983 was the last to graduate from Eagle Mountain High School in Desert Center, which was boarded up and closed for good with students moving to Palo Verde High School in Blythe. The population of Desert Center, a town that was founded in 1921 by ‘Desert Steve’ Ragsdale, is currently around 200.
6) Copenhagen, Denmark
The capital of the happiest country on Earth, Copenhagen is effortlessly romantic and very ‘lagom’ (pronounced ‘lar-gohm’) which means to say it’s ‘just the right amount of everything’. Pay a visit to Cupid at the Thorvaldsen Museum. Enjoy a quiet stroll along the waterfront. Experience the city’s sophisticated café culture with a cup of hot coffee and some mouth-watering pastries. Take it all in, one step at a time, and you will soon realise the perfect dosage of romance has already synchronised with your pace.
5) Isle of Skye, Scotland
A land of Norse legend, the Isle of Skye impresses all who visit her with otherworldly scenes that appear almost straight from a Tolkien epic. The jagged mountain ranges, vast lochs and dramatic waterfalls make this unspoilt terrain a romantic destination without any glamour or pretense. Put on your hiking shoes and head to the Old Man of Storr. Go for a wild swim at the Fairy Pools. After experiencing the magic of Skye, you will realise romance has a supernatural facet too.
4) Fussen, Germany
At the end of the 400km (249 miles) theme-route Romantic Road (Romantische Straße), you
That being said, on first impressions the city can appear overwhelming so make sure you consult our guide to Getting Around Kolkata before you even leave the airport. Don’t think about driving, and buses are also hopelessly overcrowded; instead, hop onto an auto-rickshaw, or one of the lumbering trams that circle the city. Taxis are also cheap and plentiful and work on a meter system.
Once you’re out and about, there are several not-to-be-missed sights. The Indian Museum, set in a building dating from 1875, offers an insight into the city during the colonial era as well as rare collections of historical importance that include art, archaeology, zoology and botany.
Another landmark you can’t help but notice is Victoria Memorial, a domed colonial-era marble building set on the edge of the Maidan, which happens to be one of the world’s largest urban parks.
The city also has a number of notable Hindu temples, a cathedral and a cemetery; for information and further inspiration see our guide on Things To See in Kolkata.
Boat tours of the Hoogly River, a distributary of the Ganges, are a great way to see the city, and usually include
1) Tackle a favourite trek…
Along with food and wine, the outdoors plays a huge role in Basque life. Misty peaks dotted with weathered farmsteads surround the city, and it’s a common sight to see locals packing up their cars to spend a weekend scaling a summit.
Those with a proclivity for plodding should amble to the top of Monte Urgull (123m/404ft), where a 12m-high (39ft) sculpture of Jesus Christ overlooks the city. Experienced ramblers should head to the iconic crucifix-strewn summit of Hernio (1,075m/3,527ft), a more challenging peak and a popular pilgrimage point in September.
2) Pinch a pintxos or three…
The perfect symbol of the sociable and indulgent nature of the Basque people, pintxos (a bite-sized snack consumed during drinking sessions) has become synonymous with easy-going San Sebastián.
As the sun begins to dip behind Monte Igueldo, the tiny taverns that line the snaking alleyways of the city’s old quarter fill their bars with miniature portions of fish and meats, often spread on small slabs of crusty bread. Jolly locals wander in for a beer and a bite then wobble off to find their next haunt. Fish lovers will adore the
For a long time, whenever I was spotted using Google Maps to navigate London’s public transport network a friend would look over and prod: “Oh, don’t you use Citymapper?” Eventually, I relented.
Comprehensive, easy to use and also playful, Citymapper offers more detailed journey planner information than Google, including real-time departures and disruption alerts, as well as Uber integration and cycle routes. It is available in around 30 cities worldwide, with all the obvious city-break destinations covered. It even tells you how long your journey will take by jetpack – useless information really, but hopefully something to cheer you up when your train is cancelled.
Over 70 million people have registered with Duolingo, a free and incredibly well-designed language learning app. Though not a replacement for proper language tuition, the app is a fun way to get the basics, or to keep yourself fresh on grammar and vocabulary, before a trip abroad. Just like a computer game, the app guides you through levels that you need to complete before advancing, and you gain experience points along the way.
XE is the go-to site for currency conversions on the