Languid beauty and the simple village life of Laos has put it within the radar of many Indian backpackers who are seeking a refreshing getaway. You can fly in directly from the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and make your way up to the North into Laos through Vientiane. All you need is a valid passport as Laos has a visa-on-arrival system. Tay Trang, the Laos border, is now open for travellers worldwide.
Those on the lookout for an adrenaline rush can enjoy exploring the underground river caves, jungle ziplines and white-water rapids. Walk around and explore Laos or just hire a bike or avail a tuk tuk that plies around the entire city; they have fixed fares. You can also tuck yourself in a ‘songthaew’, which is a kind of a small truck with benches on either side.
Nestled on the banks of River Mekong, the city of Vientiane seems to be in a time wrap. Fascinate yourself with colonial French edifices, Buddhist temples and the bustling street markets here. Visit its ancient places namely Pha That Luang, Wat That Luang Neua and Buddha Park. Unwind on the banks of River Mekong while you watch the vermillion hues spread over the water with the setting sun.
Savannakhet is yet another laid-back city of South-East Asia that offers you a unique sight of French-colonial buildings. Begin your mornings with a cup of coffee and a baguette from a local café and amble on the streets here. The city mostly has markets, restaurants and cafés to hop in and out.
The cuisine at Laos is similar to Vietnamese and Thai food. You must try some of the exquisite local dishes like Pho (noodle soup), Klao niaw (sticky rice), Laap (meat salad), Tam Mak Hoong (papaya salad) and the French-inspired Khao Jee sandwich (baguette sandwich). To add zest to your meals, compliment it with a bottle of Beerlao, the famous drink of Laos.
With easy visa-on-arrival facilities and affordable flight rates, Thailand is now a remarkable year-round travel destination with a hospitable environment and value-for-money products and services for most Indians. Though places like Bangkok and Pattaya top the list, you must explore some other destinations as well in this amazing country.
Peppered with the ruins of Khmer, Buriram is a treat for those of you who love relics of the bygone era. It houses Phanom Rung, one of the most well-preserved and largest Khmer monuments, that sits atop an extinct volcano. Buriram also allows you to peep into the rustic and unpretentious village life of the surrounding areas. The city boasts of having some of the best Muay Thai fighters and football/soccer teams of the country. On the other hand, the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, a motorsport race track, is another attraction for all motor race lovers. You will also find the Khao Kradong Forest Park an interesting place to be in. Once in town, try the exotic pad Thai, which comprises noodles along with tofu and fish sauce. Also do get a bowl of Gai Med Ma Moung, which is chicken cooked with cashews, and have some tom yam soup to tickle your taste buds.
A walk in the mangrove forests or by the springs while witnessing the beauty of nature is what Ranong is known for. Spend time, especially during sunset, at Hat Chan Damri, a beach near the Ranong river. Visit the Namtok Ngao National Park at Tambon Ngao, which is around 13 kms from Ranong. One of the primary attractions is the Bo Nam Ron Pon Rung, a soil hot spring. To get a feel of the Burmese life, take some time out for a trip to the Victoria Point or Ko Song, but make sure you have your visa ready before you reach this island.
As the first beach resort in Thailand, Hua Hin perennially attracts tourists from across the world. Keep a few days in hand for this seaside town. Start from the 91-year-old Mrigadayavan Palace near the Hua Hin beach. Ensure you rent a cycle at the palace gate since the distance till the palace from the gate is substantial. Also avoid being in your beach wear, since the palace has dress restrictions. Visit the Kaho Hin Lek Fai View Point to get a bird’s eye view of the entire city. Relax by the Hua Hin beach side or just hop on a pony and enjoy the ride. You may not find the water clean enough for water games or a swim, so try to resist your temptation to step into the sea. Shop to your heart’s content at the Hua Hin night market. Don’t forget to taste Ba Mee Moo Dang at the Sam Phan Nam floating market. It is a variety of pork delicacies, accompanied with some cucumber, coriander and a mouth-watering hot and sweet sauce.
With 11 time zones across the country, Russia is becoming an increasingly popular destination among tourists. Though it is a very safe place to visit, remember to avoid flaunting expensive stuff, or walking on the streets and parks alone at night. You will totally love ambling on the forest steppe sipping some koumiss, which is a milk beverage made out of mare milk, an all-time favourite among Russians.
For the lovers of rock climbing, plan a trip to Krasnoyarsk, situated by the Enisey river. The easiest way to reach would be by flight from Moscow, which takes approximately 4.5 hours. Visit the Stolby national park, a vast area with humongous natural cliffs. Take a stroll from the station along the Yenisey river. Don’t miss out on the rabbit mushroom pie and the foxberry apple cake at Shtolle Café.
Venice of the North, a city of bridges, located close to the Delta River, St Petersburg, is one of the prettiest cities. Flooded with architectural marvels including the Peter Paul Fortress, the Smolny Convent, and Hermitage, the city will leave you in complete awe. Get a glimpse of the Khrushchyovkas, or the Soviet style buildings. For the exploratory bunch, go to Park Sosnovka on the outskirts of the city; rent a cycle or a boat and enjoy the park. Gorge on Georgian food in places like Lagidze at Belinskogo Street or at Café Rustaveli near the Moika river. You ought to have a bite of the Khinkali, which consists of spicy meat dumplings and the Khatchapuri, a pastry baked and topped with oodles of cheese.
The Kremlin? St Basil’s Cathedral? Red Square? Are these names ringing a bell? Yes, Moscow it is! Go around the picturesque parks, some of which, namely Sokolniki and Kolomenskoe, get converted into ice skating rinks in the winter. Have fun at the Cat Theatre circus, and enjoy some authentic Russian cuisine at Mari Vanna. Join the youngsters at Gipsy or Rolling Stone and witness the nightlife at Moscow. Whatever your itinerary be, do not skip a trip on the Moscow Metro. You will be amazed to see the crystal chandeliers and attractive paintings inside the metro stations.
Apart from being the fourth largest city of Russia and a key financial hub, Yekaterinburg has become a popular tourist destination, expressly because of an easy access to the majestic Ural mountains. You just can’t miss out on visiting the numerous museums, displaying exceptional works of culture and history. Do step in to some known restaurants in Yekaterinburg, such as Fabrika-Kukhnya, Café-Museum Demidov and Khmeli-Suneli, to satiate your hunger for authentic Russian delicacies. Pick up accessories made of serpentine and malachite stones, such as bracelets, key rings, and earrings, from the local market near the Geologicheskaya metro station.
4. New Zealand
“100% Pure New Zealand”. That’s how the tourism department of this beautiful country advertises for it. And it’s true. Spend a pure adventure-filled fun vacation at New Zealand, meandering through rivers, or bungee jumping from bridges, or swinging on canyons at the Mokai Gravity Canyon. If you love nature, just engage yourself bird watching or go on an eco-tourism trip. For the laid back lot, you can just relax at a health spa or go to a winery to taste some of the best wines.
Don’t go home without spending some time in Queensland, a city with a bunch of surprises for you, right from the Boodjamulla National Park to the LARC tour of 1770 to the Undara Lava Tubes. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef consisting of 900 islands and 2,900 reefs. Wake up early to walk along the Burleigh Heads National Park and get a glimpse of a beautiful sunrise. Hop on to the Skyrail Rainforest cableway to reach Kuranda. Saunter by the Townsville beach, or just enjoy the sunset at Port Douglas. After a tired sightseeing day, step in to Barracks, a shopping centre that has a cinema, restaurants, book shop, café and a lot more options to refresh you for the rest of your trip!
With a history of 1,000 years and more, Poland is still substantially untouched by the turmoil of time. Plan a trip to this country full of good humour, gourmet food, unlimited fun and scenic landscape. A look at the Malbork Castle situated close to the Nogat river will not fail to surprise you. Window shop at the Galeria Dylag, a small art gallery, or bargain over some antiques at the Plac Nowy Flea Market on a weekend! Pack some marinated mushrooms or some peppery mustard from Krakowski Kredens to spice up your dishes at home.
What more would you want on a holiday when you reach a city with a rich history, exemplary architecture, loads of greenery and quality food at a reasonable price! Warsaw has a list of things for you to explore. If you have a Sunday noon in hand, just stroll by the Royal Route to the Łazienki park to watch pianists playing Chopin. Try and get a table at the U Szwejka and feel the bliss of Czech cuisine. You can also check Zapiecek for a royal variety of dumplings, or go to Prasowy for a fun meal. Party hard at Praga or just get high on a couple of vodka shots at Ulubiona! To feel one with the Polish, visit Hala Mirowska, the local market where you get your daily needs including fruits, flowers and vegetables. If you are wondering what to get your best friend back home, forget the “I LOVE WARSAW” memento, and walk in to Las Rak’s store to pick up some handmade toys or bags, or some inimitable recycled goodies.
Come and embrace a country full of artefacts and ancient landmarks, renowned for its Hanji paper and Hanok homes, surrounded by huge mountains such as the Seoraksan and Taebaeksan!
Enter Seoul and dig into some miso vanilla ice-cream at Fell + Cole in Hongdae. Visit Everland, Korea’s Disneyland, and enjoy the roller coaster rides. Spend a day at Jeju Island and hike along the majestic Halla mountain. Walk on the narrow lanes of Bukchon Hanok Village and admire the Korean hanoks. Climb on top of the N Seoul Tower and feel the magic of the entire city. Hang out at a Noraebang or a karaoke room and enjoy singing the latest pop songs while you sip some chilled beer. Get a bite of the doo doo bread at Insadong. Ddeokbokki, a spicy rice cake, from Cheong-Nyun Tteokbokki, and Gogigui, a Korean barbeque from Migal Maeki-sal, are also highly recommended.
Temples and pagodas, Mingala zei and Theingyi Zei, Mt. Kyaiktiyo and Ngapali beach, these are just some of the things that attract tourists to Myanmar. This charming Southeast Asian country is still an undiscovered destination with its snow-capped mountains, immaculate beaches and abundant parks and water bodies.
You must plan a trip to the small Burmese city of Mandalay and experience the land of the monks. The Mandalay hill is a central attraction while the Yankin is a smaller holy hill. You can always rent a bike and have an adventurous ride around the hill. Reach atop and apprize the glamorous shrines of Buddha. Do attempt to get to the world’s most ancient teakwood bridge called the U Bein bridge. An offbeat trip in Mandalay would be a visit to King Galon, one of the many gold pounders’ workshops, where you may witness the staff beating gold in a way so as to produce gold leaves for Buddhist worshippers. Also check the stone carvers’ district to see specialised craftsmen chipping marble to convert them into Buddha statues. When it comes to food, you have a lot of options of local dishes, but the best part is the cup of complimentary tea that most of the eateries offer you!
Plan your next escape to any of these exotic locales. Don’t forget to download the Skyscanner app to make your hotel, flight, car and bus bookings on the go. Did you know we list out the cheapest travel deals for you?