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People broke into my hotel room at 3.30am, and no one cared

Let me tell you about an unscheduled 3.30 am wake-up call I experienced the other day. I'm hoping my story also serves as a wake-up call to the travel and security industries as well as for the police (though I doubt it).

Source: - Australia | 22 Jun 2017 | 2:30 pm

Day trips from Manhattan: 7 destinations close to NYC

One of the special things about Northeast USA is just how much you can find close by. From Long Island vineyards to Niagara Falls, and from Boston Harbor to the Library of Congress, you’ve got a stack of places to visit, sights to see, and things to do in New York and beyond. So if you’re done with the Statue of Liberty and want to make the most of your time in the US, head on a day trip from Manhattan – don’t forget your camera!

Take me to New York!

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Niagara Falls

One thing you can’t find in the Big Apple? Those vast curtains of misty waters that make up the most powerful falls in North America. A quick trip upstate can solve that problem. There’s a reason why the trio of Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls have been drawing sightseers, filmmakers, and barrel-riding maniacs for centuries, and they haven’t lost any of their allure. A ride with JTB Inbound Express lets you get up close to the spray on the boardwalk, cruise out on the Maid of the Mist, and experience one of America’s most famous places for yourself.

The Finger Lakes

So maybe three spectacular waterfalls aren’t quite enough for you. Don’t worry—the lands around Ithaca have more than 150, with the kind of peaceful woodland surroundings that the Niagara crowds won’t give you. Guides from Attractions4US can pick out a prime selection of cascading waterways, sheer cliffs, and rocky placid streams that run through Central New York at the perfect depth for wading. Check out the college-town vibe of the city while you’re at it—Ithaca’s home to Cornell University and its scale model of the Solar System, inspired by Carl Sagan.

Finger lakes - Day Trips from Manhattan

Long Island

Long Island, the biggest island on America’s East Coast, has plenty of countryside not to mention a signature combination of upscale class and small-town charm. Tours from Empire Vacations or Sourced Adventures let you check out the Hamptons to see all the homes of celebrities who drop in for the summer, try the wines that come out of the North Fork’s vineyards, and see how New York does the suburbs.

Long Island vineyard - Day Trips from Manhattan

Shop ’til you drop

There’s something about an outlet mall that even the storefronts of New York City don’t match, and the malls around New York have some seriously high-class outlets. Hop a bus with See USA Tours to visit Jersey Gardens, the home of America’s largest Tommy Hilfiger—plus more than 200 other stores—and get a taste of life without the sales tax. Or, if you’re in the mood for the outdoors, the 220-plus outlets at Woodbury Common in New York are a great place to go hunting for discounts, armed with a VIP discount booklet from City Sightseeing New York.

New Jersey shopping - Day Trips from Manhattan


The East Coast’s other great metropolis is waiting at the top end of the Northeast Corridor, offering you a look at the birthplace of the American Revolution. You can join a guide from Empire Vacations for a look at sights like the USS Constitution, Harvard University, Quincy Market, and the Freedom Trail, and pack 400 years’ worth of history into your day. Or just pick up a train ticket with Attractions4US and set your own schedule to see New England for yourself.

Boston - Day Trips from Manhattan


When the Continental Congress met in 1776 to turn the Thirteen Colonies into states, it was just one of a whole array of historic moments unique to the City of Brotherly Love. Empire Vacations runs a tour that shows off just how much there is to see in Philly, and there sure is a lot. Where else can take a run up the Rocky Steps, see where John Hancock put his, well, John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence, and ride a horse-drawn carriage through Amish Country in the same day?

Washington, D.C.

For all the things to do in New York, sometimes there’s no substitute for the collection of monuments, museums, and landmarks you can find in the nation’s capital. Along with introducing you to a movie montage’s worth of monuments and memorials, operators like Tour America Services pack in famous sights from the West Wing at the White House to the world’s first airplane at the Smithsonian. If you’re looking for a memorable outing that’s a little different from the lights of Times Square, not much fits the bill better than a day in the District.

The post Day trips from Manhattan: 7 destinations close to NYC appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 22 Jun 2017 | 10:52 am

Tasmania's Freycinet Experience Walk: 'Truly one of the greatest experience of your life'

The acclaimed British novelist Nicholas Shakespeare describes it as "the only trek".

Source: - Australia | 21 Jun 2017 | 3:47 pm

Just one day in LA?

Here’s the deal: You’ve got one day to unlock the sprawling urban charms of La La Land. With so many things to do in Los Angeles and so few hours, you simply don’t have time to sing-and-dance your way through the city. That’s where we come in. Read on to learn how to make the most of your time in LA in a single day, with suggestions to match your travel personality.

If you’re a Big Fan…

Is your internet history littered with celebrity blogs and Insta-handles? Did you predict Beyoncé was pregnant months before her Grammy Awards performance? If so, a star-studded sightseeing tour piloted by Orbic Air Helicopter Tours is calling your name. Climb inside a luxury chopper and swing into the skies above Beverly Hills. Glimpse celebrity mansions flanked by twinkling swimming pools and opulent emerald gardens. See the dome of the Griffith Observatory and the star-speckled Hollywood Walk of Fame before your aerial adventure is through.

Back on solid ground, head into Hollywood for an iconic meal at the Hard Rock Cafe with priority seating. Sink your teeth into a Hard Rock Burger with seasoned fries or a refreshing chicken Caesar salad before admiring the celebrity memorabilia on display, including Eddie Van Halen’s guitar and the 1966 Fender owned by the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson.

If you’re an Athlete…

Are you the girl with the dual-suspension bike who heads for the hills every weekend? Or maybe you’re the avid commuter who’s always beating cars off the lineup at the traffic light. Either way, you’re going to love the 24-hour bike rental from Bikes and Hikes LA. Choose from a high-end quiver of hybrid, mountain, and road bikes and make your way through the city at your own pace. Or, lace up your hiking boots and climb into the Hollywood Hills during a heart-pumping hike to the illustrious Hollywood sign.

After all that adventure, roll into Downtown and quench your thirst at Mikkeller beer bar. With innovative brews and sumptuous snacks like house-smoked sausages, melt-in-your-mouth flatbreads, and the ever-popular “garden of vegan,” you’re sure to depart the City of Angels feeling satisfied. Not into beer? Chase down the beloved NoMad Truck—LA’s only Michelin-starred food truck featuring chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, fried fish sandwiches, and falafel.

If you’re an Adventurer…

Do you find yourself humming the tune to the Game of Thrones theme song? Does your favourite film character happen to be Hermione Granger or Jason Bourne? If so, you’ll love the Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure, which takes all of things to do in Los Angeles and distills them down to a single epic journey, fueled by mind-bending riddles. Download the Urban Adventure Quest software on your smartphone or tablet, and then take off on a tour through Downtown LA, solving engaging challenges along the way.

During the course of the tour, check out the iconic Original Pantry Cafe—a cash-only diner, which claims to have never been without a customer since its opening in 1924. If you’d like, take a well-deserved break from the quest and settle up the bar to indulge in their sourdough French toast or spaghetti-and-meatballs before returning to the bustling city streets.

If you’re a Sightseer…

When navigating scenic byways, is it nearly impossible for you to resist the urge to stop at historic landmarks? Is your Facebook filled with proud poses in front of the Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon, and Sydney Harbour Bridge? If you’re nodding your head, you’re going to want to climb aboard the Hop-On Hop-Off bus run by Starline Tours of Hollywood. Multiple routes allow you to customize your sightseeing experience, making stops at the LA Farmer’s Market and the Grove, the Hollywood Bowl, the Santa Monica Pier, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chinatown Central Plaza, Fisherman’s Village, and Venice Beach—to name a few.

When you find yourself on Hollywood Boulevard, poke into the world-famous Roosevelt Hotel and treat yourself to a meal at 25 Degrees Restaurant. Refuel with their scrumptious sweet-potato fries and a frosty Guinness shake. Then, sit back and soak up the sights at the base of LA’s oldest continually running hotel.


Take me to LA!

Stopping over? Check out hotels near LAX

The post Just one day in LA? appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 20 Jun 2017 | 10:54 am

Cuisine editor: Should a NZ eatery be among the World's 50 Best Restaurants?

OPINION: Melbourne was home to the World's 50 Best Restaurant awards this year. The only other cities to have hosted this prestigious event are London (for the first 14 years) and New York (last year). Landing an event of this magnitude was game-changing for Australia. And so back in April, I set off to experience a series of events designed by Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Tourism Australia and Visit Victoria to spread the message that Australia is a must-visit culinary destination.

Source: - Australia | 19 Jun 2017 | 10:38 am

My Sydney, with Vivid's Kiwi Director Ash Bolland

As Vivid Sydney wraps up for another year, we chat to Kiwi director Ash Bolland who designed the festival's most prominent show, Audio Creatures.

Source: - Australia | 17 Jun 2017 | 11:28 am

How to spend 3 days in Rome

No matter where you go on your European excursion, you can always squeeze a few days in Rome. Thanks to 2 airports and a world-class train hub—not to mention the countless roads that lead here—you can easily get to the city. With so many things to do in Rome, it may seem impossible to fit everything in, but there are plenty of great ways to see—and taste—what the Eternal City has to offer over the course of a weekend.

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Day 1

Once you arrive in Rome, whether by high-speed train or airplane, you will probably be pretty hungry. While it may be tempting to stop at a place close to the train station, these locations are usually expensive and offer bland fare. Instead, take the train or subway further into town to the Roma Trastevere railway station, where you can join a food tour offered by Eating Europe Tours. Indulge in a cannoli, snack on some supplì (fried risotto balls), and devour delectable gelato.

By now, it’s time to check into your hotel. The front desk attendant may be able to tell you about interesting things to do around your accommodation, but the city is too vast and interesting to limit yourself. Luckily, the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card offers discounted admission to more than 40 top attractions across the city, and you can use it anytime you want during your 3 days in Rome.

Before heading out to dinner, check out a historic site like the Capitoline Museums, which features a plaza designed by Michelangelo, a bronze sculpture of Rome’s twin founders Romulus and Remus, and marble busts of Augustus, Cleopatra, and Constantine.

From here, it’s a 10-minute walk to meet up with the folks of City Wonders for a delightful wine and food tasting with an expert sommelier. If you’re still hungry—or thirsty—afterward, wander back to Trastevere to feel like a local as you hop from bar to bar.

Coffee in Rome - How to spend 3 days in Rome

Day 2

If the Vatican is on your itinerary, be sure to get there early to beat the crowds and heat. Try out an EcoArt tour of the Vatican that includes breakfast and early access before the doors are open to the public. After examining the Vatican’s multitude of treasures, grab a bite to eat and fuel up for an afternoon of adventure. Explore the city on 2 wheels with a Rome for You bike tour that traverses the city and provides a chance to see the Spanish Steps, Colosseum, and Roman Forum. This is a great way to see a lot of Rome in a little time.

For an authentic evening experience, dine on a meal in a medieval tower organized by Curioseety. Maria, a Roman chef, welcomes you into her tower-home for a relaxing night. More than just a world-class cook, she was also the architect who redesigned the building to feature spectacular views of the Piazza Navona.

After indulging in a sumptuous dinner, stroll down the romantic streets to hear the city as it goes to bed—or stays awake for another glass of wine.

Visit the Vatican - How to spend 3 days in Rome

Day 3

You may decide to sleep in after all of the excitement of the last couple days, which is just fine. You earned it. If you do get up early, grab an espresso and cornetto before making your way over to the Theater of Marcellus. Here, you can meet a guide from Walks of Italy and go for a journey off the beaten path to some of the most interesting and least crowded places in Rome. Begin with a fascinating trek through the Jewish Ghetto, and then stop at the Circus Maximus, an aqueduct, and the Appian Way.

At this point, it may seem like you’ve run out of things to do in Rome, but if your flight doesn’t leave until late, there’s still plenty to see. Before you move onto the next city, escape the busy streets and make your way to the countryside for an afternoon tour of the villages of Castelli Romani. An expert from Carrani Tours leads you out of Rome to the base of the Alban Hills, where you can venture through the town of Ariccia and take part in a wine and gourmet food tasting at a typical osteria-style eatery.

End your Roman holiday with a leisurely ride back into town, taking in all of the wonders of the Eternal City one last time.

The post How to spend 3 days in Rome appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 15 Jun 2017 | 11:42 am

7 great outdoor adventures around Phuket

The lands around Thailand’s largest island are filled with all kinds of incredible experiences. Jagged mountains, tropical jungle, rubber tree plantations, and rushing rivers are waiting in the wilderness, giving you the chance to find whatever kind of adventure you’re after. You can meet an elephant or charge through the jungles on an ATV, visit an ancient Buddhist monastery or take to the rapids in an inflatable raft. If you’re looking for some things to do in Phuket that take you beyond the city streets, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from.

Go off-roading with an ATV

With double the wheels and—no offense—a lot more horsepower than you can get out of the bicycle, there’s a level of excitement that you can only find on a 4-by-4. Tour East has you covered there, with a tour that takes you way off the roads as you motor through swamps and jungles all the way to the sea. Don’t let the rough ground on the most out-of-the-way trails hold you back as you try one of the most remarkable things to do in Phuket’s wilderness.

Get some air in the jungle

If speed is what you’re after, even an ATV can’t beat the rush you get from riding a zipline through the tangle of rubber trees in the middle of the island. The tree top courses offer up plenty of ways to plot your own adventure through the jungle, complete with sky bridges and hundreds of platforms built among the woods. Take some time to admire the views when you aren’t abseiling down from the treetops or zipping through the air.

It’s bicycle time

Phuket Island is more or less the perfect size to explore by bicycle—big enough to have all the terrain you’d want, from grassy plains to jungle and mountains, and small enough that you’ll have time to get there. You can hit up the sights of Phuket City with an electric bike courtesy of EXO Travel, or you can apply some real pedal power out on the country roads. The team at Diethelm Travel can lead you out on the dirt roads and grassy trails for a sightseeing adventure that runs right through the island’s natural beauty. Waterfalls, beaches, and plantations of rubber and pineapple trees are just waiting for you to cycle through.

Take on the wildlands in Phang Nga

Just across the Sarasin Bridge on the mainland, the Malay Peninsula has all kinds of adventure waiting for you. The rivers that drain out of the mountains might as well have been made for whitewater rafting, and are not to be missed if you like charging through rapids between rocky, tree-lined shores. Tour East Thailand has put together a full day of excitement that lets you try out your options for adventure, from rafting to wildlife.

Get to know the Big Buddha

If you’re after some of the island’s best views, you’d do well to hike out to the monuments, temples and monasteries that fill the country. The giant white Buddha on top of Nakkard Hill looks down over the whole southern end of the island, and the brilliant gold-trimmed temples show off some real Southeast Asian grandeur. Diethelm Travel has picked out some of the grandest attractions for a day trip.

Go exploring

In between the sandy beaches, tree-covered mountains, thick jungles, and lush plantations, Phuket packs a whole lot of adventure. If you want a hand getting around to the sights, the guides have put together plenty of options. You can join Tour East for an outing that takes you the beautiful Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park and the moving Tsunami Memorial Park. Or hop on a bike to visit a sea turtle sanctuary, swim in a waterfall and enjoy lunch in the secluded coastal village of Thai Muang.


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The post 7 great outdoor adventures around Phuket appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 13 Jun 2017 | 5:37 pm

Google sings songs of Uluru with new Street View vistas

With ever-growing troves of valuable data on its shelves, Google has expanded its Street View range further to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Northern Territory, Australia.

Source: - Australia | 12 Jun 2017 | 10:55 am

Hotspot of the week: Tasmania

Perhaps fewer Kiwis are aware that it's also home to some quirky winter events.

Source: - Australia | 10 Jun 2017 | 5:00 am

The red-earth island that's been dubbed 'the Uluru of the Pacific'

Flying in, I see it. Not the hulking green mass of Norfolk Island, which looks like a dairy farm plonked in the middle of the ocean, but its smaller sibling six kilometres to the south, a rugged, uninhabited (except by thousands of seabirds) red-earth island that's been called "the Uluru of the Pacific".

Source: - Australia | 9 Jun 2017 | 12:59 pm

How to spend a weekend in Brooklyn

It’s the New York borough that was cool before it was cool, but Brooklyn’s more than just a hipster haven. More than 3 times the size of Manhattan, this sprawling quilt of vibrant neighbourhoods is diverse and packed with treasures, from the DUMBO waterfront to the green spaces of Prospect Park. Head over the bridge for a weekend in Brooklyn spent roaming among the brownstones of Brooklyn Heights, seeking out pizza and street art in Bushwick, and browsing local boutiques from Williamsburg to Park Slope.

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See the best Brooklyn hotels

Drink beer

With its plethora of industrial neighbourhoods, Brooklyn is a prime spot for breweries to set up shop, and the beer industry has thrived here—barring a certain slowdown during Prohibition—since the 19th century. Head down Brewer’s Row in Bushwick to uncover locally brewed libations on a small group tour with Urban Adventures, or sip pints of high-quality, small-batch ales in Williamsburg to pair each pour with a tasty bite to eat. To indulge your intellectual side along the way, opt for a literary and historical twist on the beer tour with Literary Pub Crawl, drinking in the footsteps of notable Brooklyn writers like Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, and Walt Whitman.


When the sun comes out, there’s no better place to grab a bite than Smorgasburg, a buzzing outdoor market packed with vendors selling Brooklyn’s best artisanal eats. It’s a real foodie flea market, set right on the water in Williamsburg’s East River State Park or in the heart of sprawling Prospect Park, depending on the day. At America’s largest weekly open-air food market, you can try top-notch burgers, ice cream sandwiches, and street food, plus inventive delicacies like spaghetti donuts and raindrop cake — a watery, agar-based confection that’s as pretty as it is unusual.

Eat pizza

New York’s first pizzeria might have fired up its oven in Little Italy, but today, Brooklyn is home to some of the city’s best pie-slinging hotspots. From classic, longstanding joints like Di Fara to line-around-the-block eateries like Bushwick’s trendy Roberta’s, there’s no shortage of places to seek out a perfect slice. To try an array with an expert leading the way, sign up for a pizza tour with A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours.  Bonus: transportation from Manhattan is part of the price, so you don’t need to worry about a pricey cab ride over the bridge or navigating the subway.

Eating pizza during a weekend in Brooklyn

Get some hip hop history

Historical walking tours don’t need to be boring! With Hush Hip Hop Tours, you can roam the streets where rap legends like Lil’ Kim, Biggie, Busta Rhymes, and Jay-Z got their start. With an insider leading the way (guides include Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash, Reggie Reg of Crash Crew, Red Alert, and DJ Kool Herc), seek out spots where freestylers convened for improvised rap battles and cyphers and learn how the neighbourhood of housing projects and tough streets has changed in recent decades.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Have a real movie movement as you cross over the Brooklyn Bridge, whose iconic span stretches over the East River from Lower Manhattan to DUMBO. On a bike tour with Bike and Roll, you can ride over the bridge, taking in views of the Statue of Liberty and looking back at the city skyline across the water. Or, cross the bridge on foot with Inside Out Tours, hearing about the fascinating history and engineering behind the construction of the bridge as you traverse the pedestrian walkway.

Shop the Brooklyn Flea

Called “one of the great urban experiences in New York” by The New York Times, the Brooklyn Flea sets up shop every weekend in Williamsburg and Dumbo, bringing hundreds of vendors together to sell vintage clothing, antiques, and arts and crafts. Peruse the eclectic goods on offer to find a souvenir that’s a little more unique than that I ♥ NY t-shirt . Head into Williamsburg for a Sunday Funday tour with Like a Local Tours to get an insider’s perspective on the area, eating and drinking your way through cool kid central and dropping by the flea between bites.

Hit the town

Between craft breweries and industrial-cool cocktail bars, there are plenty of watering holes to get your drink on during a weekend in Brooklyn. To experience the borough like a local after the sun goes down, head out with a guide from New York Nightlife Tours to check out the 21-and-over scene on a Brooklyn pub night experience. Discover open-air patios for sipping microbrews in the summer, try a fashioned-just-for-you cocktail from one of the city’s best bartenders, and get plenty of tips on other great places to eat and drink from your in-the-know-guide.

Nightlife in Brooklyn

How to get there
How to get there

What’s the best airport to fly into if you’re going to Brooklyn? 

Depending on your origin and final destination in Brooklyn, the choice is all yours. John F. Kennedy Airport (servicing both international and domestic flights) is a solid New York airport option – JFK is approximately 16km away from the Barclay Center (40 minutes by car) with many public transport options.

Alternatively, if you’re flying domestically in the US, one of the surrounding area airports in Queens, Long Island or New Jersey should suit. Consider cab and car services if a train or bus service isn’t available for the neighbourhood you’re heading to.

Check out flights to New York

The post How to spend a weekend in Brooklyn appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 8 Jun 2017 | 12:53 pm

Qantas to fly to Kangaroo Island, Australia's answer to the Galapagos

Australia's Kangaroo Island is about to get a boost in tourist numbers with the announcement of direct flights from Adelaide and Melbourne by Qantas.

Source: - Australia | 8 Jun 2017 | 12:34 pm

Cheap alternative to Sydney stay: Australia's first Japanese-inspired capsule hotel opens

Crouch and crawl into the future. Australia's first capsule hotel has opened in Sydney CBD and is offering space travel-inspired accommodation at a price point between a hostel and an Airbnb.

Source: - Australia | 7 Jun 2017 | 1:22 pm

Kiwis shine bright at Vivid Sydney light festival

Sydney's most famous icon is lighting up and attracting the gaze of millions every night, under the directorship of Kiwi Ash Bolland.

Source: - Australia | 7 Jun 2017 | 12:06 pm

5 family-friendly adventures in Phuket

Phuket’s acacia tree-dotted hills and white-sand beaches fringing the Andaman Sea make it a traveller’s paradise. And with its warm culture and family-oriented lifestyle, bringing the kids along on your next Phuket vacation is a no-brainer. With so many things to do in Phuket, read on to discover five must-do activities when travelling with the little ones in tow.

If you’re a family of early risers…

A before-sunrise Phi Phi Islands departure time allows you to beat the crowds who begin making their way to the island oases by midday. By that time, you’ll have soaked up plenty of sunshine at Maya Bay on Phi Phi Le, and will be moving on to Phi Phi Don, where you and the family can doggy paddle through Viking Cave on the island’s eastern edge.

Following your adventures, watch a colony of monkeys play on the beach while feasting on a tasty Thai lunch. In the afternoon, more snorkelling awaits before your guide shuttles you back to Phuket via speedboat and air-conditioned minivan. The best part of this expedition? The kids are delightfully tuckered by the end of the day.

If relaxation is what you’re after…

With so many things to do in Phuket, it can be easy to lose sight of what you came here for—a getaway. Set aside an entire day for relaxation with a day trip to Coral Island. Unlike other far-flung island outings, Coral Island is a doable 15-minute trip from the mainland.

Once there, sink into the sand and feel your troubles melt away. While you sunbathe, the kids can snorkel or embark on a nature walk along trails flanked by beach rose and smooth rocks, where lizards stretch out in the sun. When you feel your stomach start to rumble, head to a Thai restaurant and tuck into lunch—with plenty of options to appeal to even the pickiest eaters—before returning to Phuket in time for dusk.

If you want to teach your kids about the local culture…

Consider a private introduction to Buddhism with EXO Travel, a provider that specialises in family-friendly tours. A knowledgeable local introduces your kids to Thai-Buddhism, the religion practiced by a majority of the island’s inhabitants. After chatting with your guide, settle on an itinerary, visiting temples like Wat Luangpoo Supha and Wat Chalong. Individualised attention from your guide means inquisitive kids can pose as many questions they like.

Next, head to Supernatural Restaurant at Friendship Beach. Against a soundtrack of gently crashing waves, encourage kids to taste Thai specialties like tempura prawns with sweet-lemon sauce. Not biting? Kid-tested dishes abound, with familiar favourites like grilled cheese and the classic burger and fries.

If you’re looking to take older kids on an adventure…

An educational excursion to Phang Nga Bay might be just the thing. After departing Phuket, arrive on beautiful Lawa Island and you’re met by a white-sand beach and crystal-clear water that is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Enjoy lunch in a local fishing village built on stilts above the water.

With your appetite satisfied, climb on board a kayak and follow a guide through the Phang Nga BayPaddle into limestone caves and hidden lagoons that remained undiscovered until the late 1980s, keeping your eyes peeled for kingfishers and sea eagles.


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The post 5 family-friendly adventures in Phuket appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 6 Jun 2017 | 11:59 am

Singapore’s best historic hotels

Are you a history buff? Is sashaying around a grand old property, drink in hand, your idea of a good time? Look no further than these iconic Singapore hotels for your next adventure abroad.

Settlement on Singapore, once known as Singapura, dates back to the third century, with the colonial era only kicking off in 1819 when the British first established a port there. As trade into the area built up, so did the tourist trade as visitors from Europe stopped over en route to other parts of South East Asia. In 1887, famous Armenian duo the Sarkies Brothers established the Raffles Hotel, thereby setting a precedent for the other hotels that would appear soon after.

If you want to journey back in time to a period when the trade winds blew in some of history’s greatest raconteurs and adventurers, look no further than these heritage gems.

Raffles Hotel

Widely considered one of the most historically significant properties in the world, Raffles Hotel on Beach Road has hosted the who’s who of guests including authors Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham, fashion designers Karl Lagerfield and Christian Louboutin, and even members of the royal family including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  

Starting life as a privately owned beach house in the 1830s, it first became a hotel when a local doctor leased the building in 1878. Upon his death, the Sarkies Brothers (the team also responsible for the construction of the Eastern and Oriental hotel across the Strait of Malacca in Penang) stepped in and turned it into a ten-room property called Raffles Hotel.

Today, the hotel is home to 103 suites, as well as Long Bar, the watering hole where the famous Singapore Sling was invented by a Hainanese bartender named Ngiam Tong Boon around 1915. Downstairs you will also find old school Indian Malay restaurant, The Tiffin Room, which is also a must-see stop on any history-lovers’ tour of the island.

Goodwood Park Hotel

The history of the Goodwood Park Hotel is like something from a BBC period piece, complete with wartime heroism, hedonism and upper crust intrigue. This elite establishment first flung open its doors at the beginning of the 20th century as Singapore’s first German club, catering to the wealthy expatriate community.

18 years later, the three Manasseh brothers bought the property and renamed it Goodwood Hall after Goodwood Racecourse in England. The plot thickens when you discover that one of the brothers – Ezekiel Saleh Manasseh – made his fortune selling rice and opium, straight out of Baghdad.

Goodwood Hall operated as an entertainment venue for 11 years, famously hosting a performance by renowned ballerina Anna Pavlova. In 1928, the Manasseh brothers converted the Goodwood into a hotel, only to have it overthrown by the Japanese military during Singapore’s occupation in WWII.

After the war, the hotel fell into the hands of a distant relative of the Manasseh’s named Vivian Bath whose claim to fame was that he was responsible for installing Singapore’s first hotel pool.

The Fullerton

Built in 1928 and originally conceived as the general post office and government offices for the Governor of Singapore and the High Commissioner for the Federation of Malay States, The Fullerton building was converted into a 400-room luxury hotel in 1997.

Located in the heart of the heritage precinct of the CBD, The Fullerton offers guests a complimentary heritage tour around the waterfront precinct that was once the administrative hub for Singapore’s bustling shipping trade.

Villa Samadhi

If you want to get out of the city and stay close to the tropical attractions of Sentosa Island, Villa Samadhi is an ultra-stylish place to do so. Housed in a former British army garrison, this 1920s bungalow is the kind of joint where it’s perfectly acceptable to wander around on the lawn, G&T in hand.

The boutique nature of Villa Samadhi stands in stark contrast to the mega hotels of the CBD. Architecture nerds will love the fact that the hotel has been renovated with up-cycled shutters and floorboards from abandoned kampong houses, and nature lovers will appreciate the fact that the hotel is located within the Labrador Nature Reserve.

With an upscale Thai restaurant named Tamarind Hill nearby, as well as casual dining venue and a bar with a swanky cocktail list, why would you ever want to leave?

Amoy Hotel Singapore

You want to stay in the CBD but don’t want to book a stock-standard hotel? This unusual little gem is for you. With only 37 rooms, Amoy Hotel is a clever renovation that joins old Chinese shop houses, with one street level entrance taking you through an old temple.

This is an ideal place to crash if the attractions of Club Street, home of Singapore’s coolest bars, are calling your name. Club Street was home to the city’s first expat clubs for Chinese residents and is the best place to grab a fancy drink, albeit an expensive one.

Take me to Singapore!

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The post Singapore’s best historic hotels appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 2 Jun 2017 | 1:38 pm

Guide to getting married in Las Vegas (for real)

So you want to put a ring on it in Sin City? Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know to make it legal, as well as all the best Las Vegas hotels to wake up in after you’ve walked (or danced) down the the aisle.

The law

If you want to get married in Las Vegas, first you and your partner need to front up to the Clark County Marriage License Bureau with current photo ID and pay the lucky amount of USD$77. Don’t want to wait in line? No problem. You can pre-apply online up to 60 days beforehand and join the express queue at the office.  And yes, marriages performed in the state of Nevada are recognised in Australia.

Once you have your marriage license, the minister or celebrant who performed the ceremony will need to register your union within 10 days of the ceremony for it to be legal. For more information, check out

If you would like to have your vows renewed, all you need to do is take your existing Australian marriage certificate with you to the chapel you would like the ceremony performed.

Your wedding day

While many Vegas hotels have chapels on site, there are some famous venues that are worth checking out if you’re going to rock the Vegas wedding, old school.

The Elvis Chapel is possibly the greatest of them all. Couples can choose their favourite Elvis – from Aloha Elvis, right through to Hound Dog Elvis and Viva Las Vegas Elvis, complete with era-appropriate costumes – to marry them in a range of themed packages starting at the bargain price of USD$195.

Take your wedding to new heights at The Chapel in the Clouds where you can get hitched on an observation deck 350 metres above the ground. There are also sky high private balcony weddings and thrill ride weddings if making a lifelong commitment to one person isn’t daunting enough.

Little Chapel, otherwise known as Chapel of the Flowers, is one of the original Vegas wedding venues. It consistently wins awards for being the best wedding venue in Vegas and it’s surprisingly classy with a range of themed venues that are completely neon-free.

Your wedding night

The Bellagio

This is the big mama of hotels in Vegas. The Bellagio is luxury with a capital L. While many of the properties in Vegas trade on their kitsch charm, the Bellagio is straight up glamorous.

With marble floors, antique-studded hallways, rotating exhibitions featuring artists like Picasso, and that fountain, the Bellagio’s theatres are home to a resident Cirque du Soleil show and high profile performers like Cher and Ricky Martin.

The Flamingo

This retro property, opened in 1946, features real flamingos strutting around in the internal garden courtyard. If exotic birds aren’t enough to convince you to spend your wedding night there, perhaps the hotel’s film and literary history will get you across the line. The Flamingo stars in Bugsy, Viva Las Vegas and Ocean’s Eleven, as well as getting a dishonourable mention in Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The Venetian

Arguably the most ‘Vegas’ hotel of them all, The $1.5 billion construction of The Venetian includes full scale reproductions of real Italian landmarks such as Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.

There is a wedding chapel on site so you can tie the knot, have your photos taken against a convincing backdrop of Venice, Italy, check out a BAZ – Star Crossed Love show, and spend your wedding night in $10,000 suite, all in one perfect day.

Plaza Hotel and Casino

If you want to go for a more traditional Vegas wedding vibe, The Plaza Hotel and Casino is the original Vegas wedding hotel. When it opened its doors in 1971, The Plaza was the largest hotel and casino in the world with over 500 rooms. On the spookier side of things, there’s a rumour the showroom is haunted by a former stagehand. This ghost allegedly misplaces guest’s items so you’d better make sure he doesn’t hide the rings!

Treasure Island Hotel and Casino

With a range of elegant wedding options available at its two on-site wedding chapels, Treasure Island Hotel and Casino also offers something pretty unusual for a desert location – weddings on a ship. The hotel has a replica Galleon that is part of a set for one of its shows. This is available to wedding parties as a venue and also as a set for photo shoots so, friends, dust off your frilly pirate shirts and get your bridal party on.  

Take me to Vegas!

See all Las Vegas hotels

The post Guide to getting married in Las Vegas (for real) appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 2 Jun 2017 | 1:15 pm

Family-Friendly Fun in Fiji

Finding something everyone can do on your family holiday is often about compromise. Choosing activities that are as exciting for little ones as they are for parents is no easy task, but luckily, when it comes to things to do in Fiji, compromise is a bit more exciting than usual.

Hop into a 4WD to cruise around island’s dusty back roads and traditional villages, kayak through glassy waters looking for sea turtles, and leap into high-flying zipline excursions sure to challenge even the most apathetic teenager. Explore lush river valleys and mountaintop ridgelines, discover underwater worlds and deserted beaches, and dive into interactive cultural experiences that bring Fiji’s heritage to life for kids and adults alike, through dance, song, and—of course—relaxing cups of kava.  

For Kids of All Ages

Semi-Submersible Cruise It’s hard to see the orange and white stripes of a colourful clown fish and not think of Nemo and his friends. Spend a day helping your kids scope out the Fijian version of this classic animated character as you hop on a boat with South Sea Cruises and head below deck to catch views of the island’s underwater world. Feet below the surface, settle in front of watertight windows to watch vibrant coral reefs filled with tropical fish pass by.

Off-Road Adventure Kids can unleash their inner explorer on this off-road adventure paired with an afternoon of spelunking. Blast around the Sigatoka Valley in a rugged 4WD until you reach the house of a bete priest. With their blessing, lace up your hiking shoes and head underground to see the caves where people once sought refuge during times of unrest. Learn about their subterranean struggle as you creep past stalactites, listen for echoes in distant chambers, and check out freshwater springs that burble up from the depths.

Muddy Good Times – What kid could resist an activity where the point is to get as dirty as possible? Find out just how messy your young ones can get as you take a dip in the mineral-rich and soothingly warm Sabeto Mud Baths. Luckily, the down-and-dirty part of this tour is at the end of the day. Use it as a prize to keep them interested in visits to the island’s stunning botanical gardens and cultural sites leading up your time in the mud, and with convenient drop-off at Fiji hotels, you don’t have to worry about the cleaning fees for your rental car.

Glass-Bottomed Boat & Activities – Island hop by day and night on this family-friendly adventure to Tivua Island and beyond. Head out to explore the island’s crystal clear waters by kayak, don snorkel gear to get a better look at vibrant coral just below the surface, or hang out on deck with your littlest sailors and enjoy a drink while live music drifts across the deck. When you need a little more room to play, head to shore to play some volleyball, practice your hand at making traditional Fijian handicrafts, or simply explore the island to work up an appetite for the evening’s hearty barbeque dinner.

For Older Kids

High-Flying Fun – While playing on the beach and searching for shells may occupy the imaginations of younger kids, older adventurers are likely to seek out a few thrills on their holiday—something exciting, something new, something that requires safety equipment. Luckily, Uniquely Fiji has just the thing. Slip on a harness, strap on a helmet, and climb up into treetop platforms to kick off a zipline adventure that sends you flying through the forest on 10 different lines at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour (40km/h). With your courage thoroughly tested, trade your harness for a swimsuit and take a dip in freshwater pools fed by misty waterfalls, the perfect way to relax before a tasty lunch served up in a serene forest setting.

Surfing in Paradise – Summers in Fiji (November through March) are an ideal time for younger boarders to take advantage of the island’s mild weather and smaller sets to hone their skills away from home. In winter, that all changes, as heavier weather systems send huge swells toward Fiji’s shores. Either way, the island’s coral-covered shores are best introduced by a local familiar with the conditions, which makes Fiji Surf Co an ideal place to start. With private surfing lessons for up to four people, everyone can get feedback on the best ways to tackle Fiji’s waves.

Where to stay Australia to Fiji Practical Info
Where to stay

We know that booking the right hotel can sometimes make or break your annual family holiday. Whether you want to take the gang to the swimming pool, order room service, or stay near local attractions perfect for kids, you can find Fiji family-friendly hotels with the right amenities through Expedia.

Find family-friendly hotels in Fiji

Australia to Fiji

Fiji International Airport: Nadi International Airport (NAN)

Average flight time: Flying time from Sydney is approximately 4 hours, direct

Find flight deals to Fiji

Practical Info

Currency: Fiji Dollars.

Cash or Credit: Most shops and hotels accept credit cards but it’s advisable to carry some cash with you for souvenirs from markets and makeshift stalls. Only some resorts have an ATM on-site.

Power: Australian electrical sockets

Getting Around: You can take the Bula Bus to get around Denarau. Beyond that, it’s advisable to book transfers with the tour desk.

The post Family-Friendly Fun in Fiji appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 29 May 2017 | 3:53 pm

Most Adventurous Holiday Spots in the World

Australian Outback

The world is a wild place, filled with both natural marvels and human-made attractions. We’ve scouted the planet for the most adventurous holiday spots, and you’ve simply got to visit them, whether you raft, fly, or skydive to get there. And the best part? Some of these daring destinations are surprisingly close to home, and some are even your favourite big cities. From overnights in the Outback to surfing in New York City, check out these awesome—and unexpected—adventures.

Exmouth, Western Australia

The post Most Adventurous Holiday Spots in the World appeared first on Out There Starts Here.

Source: Out There Starts Here | 29 May 2017 | 8:24 am

General tips for visiting Uluru

Read all you can before you go as I am not going to tell a granny how to suck eggs. Make sure you ingest the advice and be wise to the risks, it gets mighty

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 26 Feb 2017 | 11:54 pm

Finding unskilled mining jobs in WA

This page is a bit unusual in that it isn't for travellers. Or rather I should say not for tourists, because for long term travellers it may well be very interesting! In the section on this website about financing your travels by working in Australia I wrote about the possibility to get temporary jobs in the mining industry, which is VERY lucrative. And that page became very popular also with Australians and New Zealanders looking for permanent mining jobs. I also have two reader pages on the site where people looked for advice on finding mining jobs. No other pages on my site have received anywhere near the same amount of comments! All comments are from people looking for help with getting a mining job. Hence the new page. I hope it helps!

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 23 Nov 2012 | 2:07 am

Travelling with Camels

HOW FAR CAN YOU GO IN A DAY? When Bob Sargeant and his partner Dawn Wiles became fed up with the craziness of modern day living away back in 1987, they

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 5 May 2012 | 5:25 pm

Cameron Corner store - unwelcomed

A couple of years ago I posted a story on here about my trip up the Oodnadatta on an XR400. Since then I moved up and got a bigger bike and done a few

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 5 May 2012 | 5:16 pm

The passing tribute

(Has appeared in Top Tourist Caravan Parks Newsletter -Feb 2012) It was the first evening on our first ever visit to the town of Broken Hill while on

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 18 Feb 2012 | 6:22 am

Travelling from Melbourne to Darwin in January

My husband is being posted to Darwin for work and we have decided to drive there. We are going in January and I know this is the wet season. My question

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 22 Dec 2011 | 9:59 pm

Tribute to Tragedy on the Cooper Lake Eyre

We are seven tourists who were at Cooper Creek the day the ABC helicopter went down and have written a blog about our travels through the outback and have

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 22 Dec 2011 | 8:42 pm

Climb the rock!

I climbed the rock back in 1987 and it was a soulful experience. All Australians have the right to climb and they should. I felt more in tune with our

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 29 Nov 2011 | 10:28 pm

Kakadu..unplanned highlight of Oz

We went on an organized Kakadu tour, camping for 3 nights, that we accidently signed up for, thinking it was a different tour. We aren't campers! My wifes

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 31 Jul 2011 | 12:49 am

My country

I was first drawn to the rock as a 20 year old man. I some how knew that I would always go there. That I would go to the highest point of it. That I

Source: Outback Australia Travel Blog | 25 Jun 2011 | 7:07 pm

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