5 Luxury Hotels in Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the favorite haunts of backpackers and honeymooners alike. The country has got a plethora of heady attractions ranging from the natural canopies of rainforests to the sky-high towers & landmarks. The place is also home to some globally renowned hotels and resorts.

Here are the top 5 luxury hotels in Malaysia where you should stay:

  • Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Sabah: If you wish to go on a jungle trail, then this hotel will be your idyllic haven. Nestled amidst the rainforests of the country, this lodge gives you the kaleidoscopic view of the vibrant jungle life and the incessant sounds of the chirping cuckoos and the howling monkeys.
  • Shangri-La, KL: Malaysia tour packages give you an exclusive chance to stay in the topmost hotel of Kuala Lumpur at the famed Shangri-La. It is conveniently situated in the city’s busy area and has tantalizing food & hospitality to keep your taste buds interested.
  • Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu: This hotel gives you both luxury and isolation. Being situated in a secluded rainforest-crested area, the Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa is your license to unlimited natural thrill. The beaches, hills and the forests are its friendly neighbors, and the serenity radiating from the place has no other match in the country.
  • Sheraton Imperial Hotel, KL: Sheraton Imperial Hotel is the ultimate epitome of luxury with its excellent spa, pool and breezy terraces. Its interior furnishing spells of ritzy class and the ambience seems too rich to be true. Most Malaysia packages offer visitors a chance to stay in this imperial paradise.
  • Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor: If you happen to visit the gorgeous Pangkor, then make sure to check into the Pangkor Laut Resort. It is styled luxuriously and is noted for its top-class bars and food courts. One special attraction is the private dinner arrangement right on the beach! Can anything be more romantic?

Top Five Egyptian Festivals

Ancient history that is well preserved mingles with the contemporary to make Egypt one of the culturally most vibrant countries in the world. It is, then no surprise that its festivals mirror its glorious past while having modern elements. Here is our pick for the top five festivals in this North African country. If you are looking at Egypt packages, you can choose to visit during one of these.

Sun Festival at Abu Simbel – The temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel draws great crowds on the 22nd of February, and the 22nd of October every year. This is because on these two days, sunlight penetrates around 55 meters into the innermost chamber and illuminating the statues of Ramses, Ra and Amun. The statue of Ptah, the God of darkness, however remains in the shadows. After watching this incredible natural phenomenon, visitors indulge in some merrymaking with music, dance and great food. A lot of Egypt holiday packages have special tours running at these times of the year for the festival.

Wafaa Al-Nil – The Egyptians really do worship the Nile, and it shows. The Wafaa Al-Nil or ‘Fidelity of the Nile’, celebrated every September, reflects the respect and love that ancient Egyptians had for the Nile. Festivities include concerts, poetry readings, and events for children.

Sphinx Festival – This five day cultural extravaganza is held in December every year in the town of El Gouna along the Read Sea Coast. The festival showcases various cultural themes in Egyptian dance, and aims to inspire artists and travelers.

Leylet en Nuktah – The ancient Egyptians sacrificed young women to the River Nile to thank her for the bounties they received from her. Today, the Leylet en Nuktah is still a celebration dedicated to the Nile albeit without all that harshness of sacrifice. Egyptians camp out or picnic along the banks of the Nile with their families, or party on the streets through the night. At sunset, women put out balls of dough representing the members of the family, and in the morning the cracks on the balls are examined to predict the fortune and longevity of the members.

Moulid an-Nabi – One of the most important Islamic festivals, Moulid an-Nabi is a celebration of the birth of Prophet Mohammed. There are parades and processions on any street of any city in Egypt that you may be visiting or places to visit in Egypt. Musicians, dancers, drummers and acrobats fill the streets, and a wide range of culinary treats awaits you. Ensure you try the traditional halawet el-moulid (a sweet treat), candy dolls and hummus.

 

Australia’s Best Party Places

It seems India has finally woken up to Australia! In a couple of years the continent nation has become a must-visit destination with numerous Australia tour packages being offered, all of  which promise you the best experience of the outback as well as the ‘mod Oz’ (modern Australia).

While the traditional sight-seeing and new-age gastronomy (fuelled by our collective obsession with Masterchef Australia) options are many, a closer look reveals that Australia is quite the crazy party destination. Both the east and west coast are dotted with merrymaking zones, a few of which are listed below.

main-nightlife

1.       Sydney

It is only fair that a world-class city has world-class party options. Sydney is where all-things-bling meets all-gone-crazy! On any given day of the week (and weekend), throngs of people flock to Kings Cross which is Sydney’s late-night club street. For a sea-view lover, the many bars and pubs of Darling Harbour make for a better choice. The bottom line is, no matter what club or areas you visit, the Sydney vibe is sure to get you going.

 2.       Darwin

If you are a hardcore beer drinker and a passionate beer lover, then Darwin is where you must head. Mitchell Street is home to the maximum number of pubs and clubs all of which offer good music (live DJs even), great company and of course tons of beer! Darwinians blame the hot weather for their massive beer consumption patterns – 230litres/person/year. So now you have an excuse to breathe beer when in Darwin. Not that you needed any!

3.       Brisbane

Brisbane is the party destination of the posh and the stylish. If you like to party in-vogue and socialise with the sun-kissed set then make a dash for the pubs and chilled wine bars of the city. The West End and The Valley areas are you best party bet when in Brisbane.

 4.       Melbourne

For a more chilled-out party vibe head to Melbourne. This is the city where the cool kids with the cool drinks hang out. The shindig here isn’t as glitzy as Sydney but that in no way means the city is boring or drab. St. Kilda and Fitzroy are the Australian places to eat & head to chill, socialise and drink till your head spins with all that revelry.

It is important that your Australia holiday package does not only include a visit to any or all of the above mentioned cities, but that it in fact accommodates you in these cities for at least 4D/3N. If the nights are any fewer, how will you fully live the Australian party experience!?

Top 5 Festivals of Thailand

ImageThailand’s vibrant culture and fun is a Thai way of life. It isn’t a big surprise then, that some of the world’s most interesting festivals are celebrated in Thailand. With color, candles, masks, flowers, these festivals give you an insight into life of the Thais. We give you our top pick of five festivals, and when you’re checking out Thailand packages, you could try and time your visit accordingly. 

Songkran Festival – Now a huge tourist magnet, the Songkran is perhaps the grandest of all Thai festivals. Marking the end of the dry season, this is the traditional Thai New Year, and is celebrated between April 13th and 15th each year. When you leave your hotel to look around the place, don’t be surprised if a water balloon greets you. Songkran is the time when enthusiastic Thais have water fights with friends and family, and as a traveler, you will really get a flavor of Thai life. Chiang Mai is one of the best places to be in during Songkran, although you’ll have fun anywhere in Thailand at this time. 

Loy Krathong – Celebrated during the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, this ‘Festival of Lights’, Loy Krathong is when you will see hundreds of ‘krathong’ or little boats made of banana leaves or coconut shells set afloat in rivers. You will also see several candles being floated, making for one of the most beautiful festivals ever. Loy Krathong is about giving thanks, especially to the water-goddess, Phra Mae Khongkha. The celebrations in the west coast beaches of Phuket are grand, and if you’ve been browsing Phuket tour packages, be sure to visit during this time. 

Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival – With parades, music, dance and delicious food, the Bun Bang Fai is one of the most enjoyable festivals of Thailand. Celebrated in the month of May, this festival is when homemade bottle rockets are set off, in an effort to persuade the gods of rain to shower the land with their blessings. 

Phi Ta Khon – If you happen to visit the Dan Sai area sometime in the month of June, you may witness one of the most esoteric festivals ever – the Phi Ta Khon or exorcising the ghosts. Somewhat akin to Halloween, the men dress up wearing masks like ghosts and there’s a lot of music and dancing. A local shaman decides the exact date, and it is usually in the month of June. 

The King’s Birthday – In the month of December, the Thai’s celebrate the birthday of their king who is worshipped almost like a living God. The Grand Palace in Bangkok is the best place to celebrate this joyous occasion, with a lot of music, dance and great food.

Top 5 Places to Shop in Bangkok

If you’re the one who cherishes the excitement of shopping, then, Bangkok is just the place for you. Shopping is never boring for some of us, whether it’s morning, noon, evening or night! Here’s a look at the top five places for shopping when you’re at Bangkok.

bangkok shopping

bangkok shopping

MBK – MBK is an iconic mall for shopping and it is one of the oldest malls of Thailand. This is a building of eight floors providing an array of clothing, bags, shoes, phones, photo accessories and equipments and even kitchenware.  Added to this, is a whole lot of other stuff for your shopping bag. Shopping at this mall saves up some bucks. You can also relax watching a movie or munch some unique eateries at the mall.

CHATUCHAK – Shopaholics, quench your thirst at the weekend market! It’s recommended to go early to this weekend market. As the hour goes by, the rush gradually increases. You can find innumerable stuffs here. Don’t miss out on tasting some quick bites at the street vendors. The Chatuchak – weekend market should be a compulsory itinerary in your tour. Keep a check on your wallets because some petty thieves may be eyeing yours!

SIAM – Commonly known as the ‘Siam Paragon’, is the second largest mall of South-East Asia. Shopping experience is one of a kind here. Kinokuniya is destination for voracious readers. There is a theatre and an endless store of retailers. Siam Aquarium or Siam Ocean World is absolutely stunning.

ASIATIQUE – Visiting the Asiatique is a good choice. Spend an evening here and experience the exquisite dining at the Waterfront.  

NIGHT MARKET – After covering the various venues during the day, you can still go shopping! Night shopping is one of a kind at the Patpong market or the Sukhumvit night market.

 

Bangkok packages are worth it all. Get exclusive packages for Bangkok this year and shop, shop, shop!

A Guide to Snorkelling in the Maldives

When you are submerged in the clear blue waters of Maldives, the quiet nature surprises you with its majesty.

With about 70 different species of colourful coral reefs and more than 700 species of fish, Maldives packages bring you the best in its turquoise waters. You could see turtles, sharks, eels, octopuses and many other small and big fish. Snorkelling in Maldives is a whole new experience which is called for on all Maldives holidays.

Indian Ocean, Maldives, woman snorkeling off sand cay

Almost all Maldives tourism packages include a snorkelling spree. Maldives holidays are a piecemeal without snorkelling in its cool waters. Most resorts have access to coral reefs. Otherwise, there are snorkelling trips organised by the resorts with a drop off near a jetty or in the waters directly.

The dive bases on resorts have better knowledge of which location has the best reefs, so it is always a good idea to consult them. Also, it is important to insist on taking you to places with different marine flora and fauna, in case plan to snorkel more than once.

Sloping reefs are a splendid sight, with cliffs, terraces and caves underwater.  The reefs, which are usually not located more than five metres away from the water surface, makes it convenient for first timers to take a brave plunge.

Snorkelling is an easy task and doesn’t require much training. Almost all resorts have trainers and instructors, and also provide snorkelling equipment on rent. It is always a good idea to bring one’s own equipment though. Wearing a t-shirt and applying sun bloc lotions is advised while underwater, to avoid sunburns.

In that vast silence, when you plunge into the underwater paradise with just a snorkel and no other baggage, it is a different kind of bliss. Do make the best of your snorkelling experience in your Maldives tour package.

Top Five Things to See in Bali

Even before having been made popular by the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, Bali has always been one of Asia’s most visited tourist destination. This Indonesian island has something to offer to everyone, whether it’s the golden sand and blue waters you’re looking for, or it is exotic temples and ancient traditions. So the next time you’re browsing Bali packages, make sure you have these top picks on your itinerary.

Bali

Climb an active volcano – Bali is home to two famous active volcanoes – Mt. Batur and Mt. Agung. The Kintamani region where Batur is located is one of the most picturesque you will ever see. Leave some time in the pre-dawn hours so that you will reach the peak to watch a breathtaking sunrise.

Ubud – Bali’s cultural hub, Ubud is well known for Balinese arts and handicrafts. Cycling around the lush green paddy fields is one of the best ways to experience Ubud. If you want to buy some traditional Balinese souvenirs, this is the place for you. Bali tour packages usually include Ubud in their itinerary, so be sure to visit.

Uluwatu Temple and the Monkey Forest – The stunning temple at the edge of a cliff in Uluwatu is steeped in history. You can catch a performance of ‘Kecak’ and a fire dance at 5 pm, and then watch a beautiful sunset. The sacred Monkey Forest of Padengtagal is close by, and is a must visit in Bali when you’re in the area.

Tanah Lot – A beautiful temple located on a rocky islet, with the waves crashing against the rocks makes for a pretty picture. Tanah Lot is known for its picture-perfect sunsets, and when you’re watching one from the temple, it’s a surreal experience.

Amed Beach – One of the quieter beaches in Bali, this one is on the Eastern side of the island. A great place to dive or snorkel, the waters here also offer fantastic views of the marine life in the region.

Bali is one of those places where once you visit, there will be something to make you want to come back. So get packing!

Meet Author:

Nandini Muralidharan is an engineer-turned-writer, possessive bibliophile and a travel junkie. She loves love collecting random bits of information about any place she visits, and weaving a story out of it. An obsessive photographer, she records any memory of a place from the beautiful Helsingor castle to the “Delizia icecream – keeps you tongue tied” signboard on the highway. Currently, she writes for WeAreHolidays.

What Makes Bali A Great Honeymoon Destination?

While all holidays are special, there is something distinctively exciting and unique about a honeymoon holiday. The concept of going for a honeymoon started in the 1800s in India wherein the newly married couple, along with friends and family embarked on a ‘bridal tour’ to visit friends and relatives who were unable to attend the wedding. Over the years, the concept underwent a change and it was around the early 1900s that only the couple went for a romantic holiday – honeymoon as we know it – post their wedding.

While little is known about popular honeymoon destinations of the early 1900s, Bali is definitely one of the most popular honeymoon destinations of today. So what is it that makes this tiny Indonesian island a must-visit honeymoon destination? Let’s find out.

bali-honeymoon-2

The Beauty of Bali

Bali is blessed with abundant natural beauty and a near perfect climate. The average temperature during summer is a pleasant 30degrees in the day and 24degrees in the night. Add to this, clear beaches, greenery everywhere, the coral reefs that surround the island and you have a dream destination. All in all, if you are looking to get away from everyone and be only with each other, then Bali is just the place for you.

Activities

Though the island is tiny, there is little chance that you will run out of things to do or see. You can choose to be one with nature and spend your time cocooned in a picturesque resort or spend your days sunbathing on the sands of pristine beaches. Alternatively, you can include activities like snorkelling, sky-diving, hiking, biking, etcetera in your Bali tour package and explore the offerings of this island. Post evening, you can let your guard down and revel in the vibrant and worldly renowned nightlife. What more could you ask for on a honeymoon?

Accommodation

While a couple of decades ago the economy of Bali was primarily agrarian, it is now predominantly backed by the tourist industry. Given the influx of tourists (and honeymooners in particular), there are multiple accommodation options across budgets. You can roll in the lap of luxury at The Samaya (Seminyak Beach), The Four Seasons (Ubud) or go for more modest options or then again go the extra mile and rent your own private villa! No matter where you stay, you will be enchanted by the omnipresent natural grace and charm of the island.

It is the God given beauty and complementary well-structured and maintained infrastructure that makes Bali a great honeymoon destination. There is then, no reason for you to not sign up for a Bali packages right away!

About Author:

“Hilonee Furia”

“Sometimes I wish I was Shandler – quirky like Sheldon and sarcastic + funny like Chandler. But then, I am me. The girl who needs her life to be a collage of small joys, brain-tickling conversations and as impulsive as it is cautious.”

Street Food Guide to Singapore

They came from China, Malaysia and Southern India to work in a maniacally busy port city. And long before anyone had coined the term “fusion food”, these street vendors were borrowing delicious flavours, techniques and ingredients from each other, unwittingly forging south-east Asia’s most beguiling food culture. Singapore has established itself as one of the world’s great eating capitals; food is the national obsession and the hawkers’ centres are an iconic experience on Singapore holidays. You might not get to taste the authentic flavors on Singapore tour packages; you’ll have to step out onto the streets.

Chilly Crab and Satay dominate the face of the Singapore street food scene. The steamed crab in a chilly tomato sauce and the grilled meat skewers (most commonly chicken) with spicy peanut dip can be found in stalls across the city. Another close contender for national dish is chicken rice, oily rice made with chicken broth and boiled chicken served with sliced cucumber and chilli paste; its simplicity belies its deliciousness. The absolute must-try’s on you Singapore holidays are Katong laksa, Singapore’s take on the traditional curry laksa, south Indian inspired tissue-thin, crispy, flaky roti prate, a distinctly Singapore version of stir fried Hokkien Mee,  Chai tao kway (carrot cake), a mixture of shredded white radish (daikon) and rice flour stir-fried with egg, garlic and green onions.

Singapore’s national breakfast dish is kaya toast, thinly sliced, crisply toasted bread served with a spread made of eggs, sugar and coconut milk that has been flavored with pandan leaves. Enjoy it with soft-boiled eggs and a strong cup of tea or coffee. Beer and Milo are the most popular drinks available everywhere. Most Singapore holiday packages now include the government sponsored hawker food courts, an effort to save the real street food culture. Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, East Coast Lagoon Food Village, Food Republic, Old Airport Road Food Centre and Chinatown Food Center all serve fresh, hygienic tasty street food.

About Author:

As the newest member of the content team at WeAreHolidays, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

Top Festivals of Australia

Aussies know how to celebrate, and any festival down under is a riot of colors, music, entertainment and great food. Whether its performing arts, or racing camels, these folks redefine fun for you in ways you would never imagine. If you’re planning a trip to Australia anytime soon, you may want to squeeze in one or more of these fests into your must-do list.

Ten Days on the Island (Tasmania) – This biennial multi-art form festival is held in the island state of Tasmania, and the next one is scheduled between 15th and 24th March, 2013. This festival is a celebration of art, and showcases the work of a wide range of Tasmanian, national and international artists. Theater, music, dance – you name it and you have it here at the Ten Days on the Island festival. 2013’s highlights include The Select (The Sun Also Rises), a play based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s brilliant soprano as she performs some gems from her repertoire, and a funky performance by Sprag Session.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival – This huge carnival of laughs starts off on the 1st of April, and not surprisingly so. Loads of stand-up performances, improvs, cabarets, and sketch shows promise three and a half weeks of clutching your stomachs helplessly while you almost fall off your chairs laughing. There’s no wondering why Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, is there?

Woodford Folk Festival, Queensland – Held over six days and nights between the 27th of December and 1st of january in the surreal town of Woodford, this festival is a cultural extravaganza. It includes dances, street plays, comedy performances, art and crafts workshops, a kids’ festival and several other events that appeal to people from all age groups and cultures. What’s more, you can actually camp on site for the full six-day duration, and soak in the festive atmosphere.

The Great Matilda Camel Races and Festival, Charleville, Queensland – Want to see some camels, wild goats, donkeys and yabbies racing? Head to what is a unique and thoroughly enjoyable festival in Charleville, Queensland. In this bizarre Outback festival, you can also participate in a beer drinking or wood cutting competition. The Charleville Camel Races and Festival is a classic example of the quirkiness that you can be sure will characterize your Australia holidays packages.

Perth International Arts Festival – This is Australia’s oldest multi-arts festival, and has won international acclaim for its excellent events and performances. The three week long festival will showcase some of the best events in theatre, music, literature and films. If you’re browsing Australia tours, and want a superb cultural and literary treat, head to Perth this February.

About Author:

Nandini Muralidharan is an engineer-turned-writer, possessive bibliophile and a travel junkie. She loves love collecting random bits of information about any place she visits, and weaving a story out of it. An obsessive photographer, she records any memory of a place from the beautiful Helsingor castle to the “Delizia icecream – keeps you tongue tied” signboard on the highway. Currently, she writes for WeAreHolidays.