Monthly Archives: May 2016

US Vacation Guide Tips

Only a few of us can take a vacation that includes a private jet and a 15-course chef’s tasting menu at a top restaurant. For the rest of us, we have to make the most of our budget when we travel. But that’s no reason to skimp. Here are 8 ideas for cheap vacations in the US – and how to make your dollar go a long way in each one.

MUSEUM MADNESS: WASHINGTON, DC

Price-wise you can’t do any better than free, and in Washington, DC, some of the best museums don’t cost a dime. Along the National Mall you’ll find ten Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol Building. Free admission to these museums means you can save your money for the Newseum or International Spy Museum. Stretch your dollar by staying at The Embassy Row Hotel, where off-season rates can be a steal.

AN ART ESCAPE: SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Creative types make note: Santa Fe is it. Artists draw inspiration from the nearby mountains and 1.6-million acre National Forest, filling the town’s 250 galleries with works. Don’t neglect the culinary creativity of Santa Fe either; hit the Santa Fe Margarita Trail (with 31 stops) and sample some of the earthy, chile-laden cuisine of Northern New Mexico at Tia Sophia’s and El Parasol, where you can feast for under $10. And if you want to save on your room, try a Route 66 classic like the El Rey Inn.

ISLAND ISOLATION: PUT-IN-BAY, OHIO

An island getaway in Ohio? Indeed. Put-in-Bay sits in Lake Erie just a few miles from the Canadian border and it may just be Ohio’s best-kept secret. Midwesterners are notorious for frugality, and they love Put-in-Bay for its views, the killer fishing, and all the hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming. Accessible only by boat – bring your own or take the Miller Ferry – it’s the kind of place where you can book a B&B for as little as $100 a night in summer.

BACK TO NATURE: THE APPALACHIAN MOUNTAINS, PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains are a wild and beautiful part of the state. As well as holding 230 miles of the Appalachian Trail, they’re also home to several state parks and forests – including Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the trail’s mid-way point. Outdoor activities abound here, and one of the best places to make the most of them is Buck Valley Ranch. Surrounded by 2,000 acres of state game land laced with hiking and biking trails, the property is also close to the C&O Canal Trail and Potomac River if you want a long ride or a day on the water.

BIG-CITY COOL: SAN FRANCISCO

To see San Francisco on a budget, visit in the fall or late spring and you’ll find that both the weather is good and the hotels are cheaper. This city was made to be explored on foot, and there are numerous fascinating neighborhoods to discover, from hectic Chinatown to quirky Haight Ashbury– check out our two-day itinerary for starters. And don’t forget the best free activity in San Francisco: people watching.

FOODIE DELIGHTS: DENVER, COLORADO

After a day in Denver, you’ll be ready to move here. Now that you’ve been warned, know that dining in the Mile High City can cost you a pretty penny, but it doesn’t have to. Visiting a spot like Avanti Food & Beverage, a European-style food hall, will give you some big bargains. The fried chicken sandwich at The Regional, Brava! Pizzeria’s margherita pizza and the overstuffed arepa from Quiero Arepas will all fill you up without setting you back. At dinner, splurge and head to Rioja, an outstanding restaurant where your money will be well spent.

When the wonter is come in UK

The UK gets pretty grim during the winter, with its dark, early nights and splutteringly cold weather. But if you can’t wait until spring to start having fun again, there’s still hope. Rough Guides editor Greg Dickinson has compiled eight ideas for alternative UK breaks during the winter months, from a singing retreat in Northumberland to husky-sledding in Gloucestershire.

1. VISIT THE UK’S ONLY FREE-RANGING REINDEER HERD, THE CAIRNGORMS

Do you need living proof that reindeer are not just for Christmas? Around 150 reindeer roam the Cairngorms in Scotland; throughout both summer and winter an experienced reindeer herder from the Glenmore centre leads visitors on a walk up the mountains to find them.

They’re a tame bunch, so you’ll be able to give them a stroke and take selfies as you please, providing your fingers don’t drop off in the cold. On that note, wrap up warmer than you think is possibly appropriate; Scotland doesn’t do winter in half measures.

2. SING AWAY THE WINTER BLUES, NORTHUMBERLAND

Now, this isn’t the sort of winter break you’d want to invite your tone-deaf mate on. The Unthanks Singing Weekends are run by Mercury Prize-nominated musician sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, who host visitors in the Northumberland countryside for a weekend of walking, singalongs and pub grub.

Their mantra is simple: “a down to earth, inclusive experience, designed to bring people together for the joy of group singing and good company”. Better start practising in the shower, people.

3. PRETEND YOU’RE IN GAME OF THRONES AT THE DARK HEDGES, NORTHERN IRELAND

This otherworldly avenue of inward-leaning, gnarled trees is one of the most stunning and photogenic spots in the whole of Northern Ireland. So photogenic, in fact, that it is used in Game of Thrones as the filming location for the Kingsroad.

You can visit the Dark Hedges all year, but there’s something quite magical about coming here during the winter, when the leafless branches are covered in a layer of snow.

4. TAKE A MEDITERRANEAN ESCAPE… IN WALES

The technicoloured village of Portmeirion, in northwest Wales, is unlike anywhere else in the UK. In the 1920s, eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis dreamt of building an ideal village, and this fantastical Italianate settlement is the result.

On top of its peculiar hotch-potch of Mediterranean architecture and subtropical gardens, Portmeirion has been known to get unusually balmy weather during the winter – possibly due to the warm winds that blow down from nearby Snowdonia. The place is chocker with visitors in the summer but pleasantly quieter in the winter, when you’ll have its piazzas and pastel-painted buildings near enough all to yourself.

5. LEARN HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE WOODS, EAST MIDLANDS

If your idea of a perfect winter break involves sitting by a fireplace, mug of mulled wine in right hand, mince pie in left, you should probably scroll past this one.

This winter break is all about getting back to nature. Dave Watson at Woodland Survival Crafts runs “bushcraft” weekend trips throughout the year, where you get to make fires using natural materials, forage for food and – in the Winter Bushcraft Course – learn how to survive overnight without a sleeping bag.

What are you really not to need for pack

With hold luggage becoming ever more expensive, it’s increasingly advantageous to be ruthless about what to take away with you. In any case, travelling with a small, light bag is much easier and more liberating than lugging around a big, over-stuffed heavy suitcase.

And it’s always nice to be able to close your bag without having to ask strangers to come and sit on it with you. Reduce your packing stress by chopping this lot straight off the list.

1. TRAVELLER’S CHEQUES

Good luck trying to exchange traveller’s cheques in *insert name of anywhere on earth*. Come and join us in the twenty-first century – leave those obsolete bits of paper where they belong: in the past.

2. CHEAP CLOTHES

Take a few high-quality items rather than lots of cheaper ones – this especially applies for longer trips. That budget yellow poncho might seem like a wonderful idea as you prance around in it at home the night before you go. But when you’re in the middle of the jungle, sweating like hell and with rain seeping through, you’ll wish you’d forked out for a proper rain jacket.

3. TOO MANY GADGETS

Let’s be clear: there are some extremely useful travel gadgets on the market; you just don’t need to take them all on every trip. Prioritise, and think carefully about the value each one will contribute, compared to the hassle of taking it with.

Do you really need a phone, laptop and a tablet? How about those over-ear and inner-ear headphones? If you’re travelling to several countries, take a world adaptor with dual USB chargers – one item, multiple functions.

4. EXTRA TOILETRIES

Despite what you might be used to in our consumer-hungry world, most of the items stuffed into your bathroom cupboard probably don’t count as essential toiletries. Leave the face serum, eye cream, day cream, night cream, exfoliating scrub, Dead Sea bath salts and green tea face mask at home.

You can buy shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and other basics in most towns the world over. Unless you’re planning on being in remote rural areas for most of your trip, consider taking the bare essentials to get you started and buying more once you’re there – or just use hotel mini bottles.

5. YOUR ENTIRE BOOKSHELF

Books can be heavy and take up lots of space. If you think you’ll read more than one novel while you’re away, take an e-reader. This applies to multiple guidebooks, too – we sell digital version of all our guides, so you can get all the advice you need, without weighing yourself down.

6. HAIR STRAIGHTENERS

Remember a time before hair straighteners? If not, you’ll have to take our word for it – humanity managed to survive. There’s no denying that straighteners have transformed many a frizzy mop into a sleek mane; but while you’re on holiday, you can ditch the extra baggage weight, embrace the freedom of being away from home and go for a more natural, beachy look. You might even end up preferring wavy and wild to straight and manicured.

7. HOME COMFORTS

Everyone misses the odd food while away. Whether it’s English breakfast tea, Marmite on toast, Cadbury’s chocolate, Oreo cookies or Reese’s Pieces, you’ll still be able to have them when you get back, and you’ll enjoy them all the more if you’ve had a break. Embrace the culture and cuisine of your destination, and leave the tea bags (and teapot) at home.

Where are you stay in tokyo when you are visit it

As the biggest city in the world, it’s unsurprising that Tokyo is crammed full of different places to stay – and with each district boasting its own character, it’s important to consider which part of the city to use as your base.

Are you after the full Tokyo experience, with a view from a glittering skyscraper? Or a calm, traditional retreat from the neon-drenched madness? How about a kip in an only-in-Japan capsule hotel? Whatever side of this ever-changing city you’re interested in, you’re bound to find somewhere which hits the spot.

BEST FOR HISTORY AND LOCATION: AROUND THE IMPERIAL PALACE

The enigmatic Imperial Palace lies at Tokyo’s geographical and spiritual heart. Home to the emperor and his family since 1868, the palace itself is closed to the public, but the surrounding parks are a natural place to start any exploration of Tokyo.

Japanese-style luxury: Hoshinoya. Tokyo has been crying out for a place like this, and finally it’s here – a top-end hotel with ryokan-like elements to its décor and service.

Classic style and convenience: Tokyo Station. A grand old dame of a hotel, recently renovated – designers have plumped for dainty Euro-chic in the rooms, and chandeliers all over the place.

BEST FOR BIG SPENDERS: GINZA AND AROUND

Look east from the Imperial Palace and you’ll see row upon row of high-rise buildings. Many of the city’s swankiest places to eat, drink and sleep can be found within these mushrooming towers, in between which stretch crowded streets that are transformed come dusk into neon-lit canyons. Most hotels here are, unsurprisingly, rather expensive.

Sweeping views: Conrad Tokyo. It’s the views that really steal the show at this luxury hotel – from the lobby and bayside rooms feast your eyes on what are arguably the best vistas in Tokyo, taking in Hama Rikyū Gardens, Odaiba and the Rainbow Bridge.

Cosy and comfortable: Ginza Bay Hotel. More expensive than most capsule hotels, but designed with far more care too. It’s also the cheapest place to stay in the Ginza area.

BEST FOR TRADITIONAL STYLE: ASAKUSA AND UENO

Ueno is way up north and not terribly convenient (though it has a major station), but there are lots of sights in and around the area – notably Ueno Kōen, which contains several excellent museums. South of this large park are a few good spots, such as the bustling, rough-and-ready Ameyokochō market. Further south again is a cluster of love hotels.

Just to Ueno’s east, Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most characterful areas, and the de facto choice for backpackers thanks to its large concentration of hostels. There are also some great ryokan choices here, as well as the city’s most venerable Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji.

Best traditional ryokan: Sukeroku-no-yado Sadachiyo. Step back into Edo-era Asakusa in this delightful old inn marked by a willow tree and stone lanterns, northwest of Sensō-ji temple. Dinner and breakfast are included, and they can arrange performances of traditional arts, including geisha dances.

Best hostel: Khaosan Tokyo Origami. An appealing option – rooms have been given Japanese stylings, and you’ll see a fair few paper cranes around the place. There are grand views of Asakusa from the lounge, and the location can’t be sniffed at.

Sailing in croatia guide

unduhan-4Coastlines don’t come much more idyllic than Croatia’s 2000km of ruggedly beautiful Adriatic shore. Along this magnificent stretch are ancient Roman remains standing guard over sheltered harbours; olive groves rising above the winding backstreets of tumble-down villages; and sleek resorts backing palm-fringed bays.

In the turquoise waters offshore are scattered more than 1000 islands and islets, home to everything from remote pebble beaches to hedonistic party towns. It is these stunning archipelagos – coupled with the country’s balmy summer climate – that make Croatia one of the most popular sailing destinations in Europe. Here’s our guide to sailing in Croatia to help you plan your first trip.

WHERE SHOULD I GO – AND HOW LONG FOR?

The southern Dalmatian islands are by far Croatia’s most popular sailing destination, and the ideal choice for your first visit. Most itineraries comprise round-trips from Split or Dubrovnik, or one-way voyages connecting the two. You’ll need around week, although the majority of companies allow eight days or so for the Split–Dubrovnik route (or vice versa).

Popular stops include chic bars and restaurants of Hvar Town, historic Stari Grad and its UNESCO-listed plain (also on the island of Hvar), and small towns such as Milna on Brač, known for its laidback charm.

You can still find plenty of seclusion, too. The village of Stomorska on sleepy Šolta has moorings for just fifteen visiting boats, while a night in Palmižana harbour allows you to explore car-free Sveti Klement, one of the forested Pakleni Islands.

The farthest flung island from shore is unspoiled Vis, cut off from tourists due to military activity until the early 1990s, and home to the magnificent Blue Cave. Closer to the coast further south are Korčula’s sandy bays and verdant Mljet, with its beautiful National Park.

Want to get further off the beaten track? There are hundreds more islands to explore; check out our top 10 for inspiration.

WHEN SHOULD I GO?

High summer in Croatia might be busy, but the weather is simply glorious. Expect gentle averages of 26–27°C in July and August – and, even better, sea temperatures of around the same. Snorkelling, paddle-boarding and swimming, or just simply splashing around in the shallows, are chief among the joys of exploring the Adriatic.

The sailing season runs from May to the end of September, and you should heed these dates. End or start of season deals might sound appealing, but with temperatures averaging around 15°C in October and many business shutting up shop for the year, you may not get the trip you envisaged.

HOW DO I FIND A YACHT?

The easiest way to tackle sailing in Croatia is to book a skippered yacht. You might learn a few sailing skills along the way, but generally you’ll be free to sit back and drink in the views (or the local wines).

Your skipper will be an invaluable part of your trip, able to recommend and adjust routes depending on the weather, and guide you to the best swimming spots, attractions and restaurants. You might also want to consider booking a host or hostess, who will take care of the cooking and cleaning.

Experienced sailors can opt for a “bareboat” charter. Requirements may vary between operators, but you will need full certification, such as the ICC (International Certificate of Competence).

We’ve selected some excellent sailing holiday and charter companies from The Rough Guide to Croatia to get you started. If you’re travelling solo, adventure specialists such as Gadventures and Contiki offer single and shared berths on group trips; you can browse these through our partner, TourRadar.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT ON BOARD?

Not all yachts are made the same, varying wildly from cosy, close-quarter set-ups to floating paradigms of unbridled luxury. Most companies offer several levels of comfort; explore the different boats available through your chosen operator and be realistic about your expectations for space and facilities.

At the lower end are smaller, older boats with cramped cabins and shared bathrooms. Modern, high-end catamarans tend to offer a very different experience, often kitted out with plush furnishings, en-suites and extensive deck space.

Bear in mind that if you’re a solo traveller, booking on a group trip with budget and youth operators may mean sharing a cabin, or even a “double” bed.