From city breaks to romantic countryside escapes, options for short trips in the UK abound. Whether you’re looking to get active, overindulge or just chill out, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our pick of the best weekend breaks in the UK. Need more inspiration? We’ve also rounded up 20 of the most memorable places to stay.

Best for romance: Lake District, England

It’s easy to see why the Lake District National Park inspired William Wordsworth’s Romantic poetry. With its rolling green hills peering over clear expanses of water and quintessentially English towns and villages, the national park makes the perfect romantic getaway. Stay in a stone-­clad cottage, light a roaring fire and enjoy the peace and quiet of this stunning region after a day admiring awesome views from the top of the fells.

Lake District, England

Pixabay / CC0

Best for cycling: Scottish Highlands, Scotland

Scotland’s northwest Highlands boast some of the best cycling roads in Britain. Weekend breaks in the UK don’t come much better than this on two wheels. Wild swathes of largely deserted mountainous terrain give way to clear, well ­maintained roads perfect for a bike ride, with few cars joining you along the way. The scenery around is astoundingly beautiful, and you’ll find yourself cruising through deep valleys and past inky-blue lochs. Visit in summer, when the weather is most reliable.

Best for music: Liverpool, England

The home of The Beatles, Liverpool has been dubbed the World Capital of Pop. For your fix of the Fab Four, head to the Albert Dock for The Beatles Story, or check out a Beatles tribute band at the Cavern Club. More recently, the city’s award­-winning festivals: Sound City, Creamfields and Liverpool Music Week, have consolidated its status as a go-­to destination for music lovers. In the evening, there are open mic nights and live venues across the city.

Liverpool, England

Pixabay / CC

Best for booze: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Where better for a pint of shamrock-­topped Guinness than an Irish pub? Belfast won’t disappoint, with everything from a National Trust pub­ The Crown Liquor Saloon ­to chic modern bars. Join a pub crawl around the city’s traditional bars for cold Guinness and live music. You can even try pouring your own pint at Lavery’s. If the black stuff isn’t for you, northern Ireland’s recent craft beer revolution means there are plenty of beers to try too.

Best for entertainment: London, England

World­-class museums, West End theatres and leading art galleries; when it comes to short breaks in the UK, England’s capital has it all. With a packed calendar of exhibitions and events throughout the year, London draws the biggest names in music, sport and the arts. It doesn’t need to be expensive, either, as many of the capital’s museums are free, and cheap events are held year-­round. Rough Guides readers even recently voted it the world’s coolest city. You’ll never be struggling for something to do here.

London, England

Best for scenery: Llandudno, Wales

The sweeping curve of Llandudno’s bay draws in visitor after visitor every year, and it’s no wonder why; the seaside town offers stunning coastal scenery. Take the tramway to the top of Great Orme for wonderful panoramic views across the bay. Or, take in the scene from above on one of the town’s cable cars. Nearby Conwy Castle is a must-­see; climb the battlements to admire the snow-peaked mountains of Snowdonia and the placid Conwy estuary.

Best for relaxation: Bath, England

Bath has been a popular spa destination since the Roman era, and its natural hot springs still steam today, with boutique hotels offering luxury spa breaks. Of course, the town’s focal point is the wonderfully preserved Roman Baths. In July and August, the Baths stay open until 10pm, and torches light up the ruins, making an evening summer stroll through the Georgian streets even more enticing.

Bath, EnglandPixabay / CC0

Best for surfing: Cornwall, England

The Cornish coast attracts thousands of surfers every year, with some of the best waves in the UK. In the summer, Rip Curl Boardmasters festival brings together music and surfing, pulling in big names from both. Fistral Beach, where the festival’s surf competitions are held, is the most popular year­-round, but the many bays will leave you with plenty of choice. There’s no end of surf schools to try, and when you’re tired of the waves, treat yourself to a Cornish cream tea.

Best for architecture: Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle’s fairy­tale towers are a reminder of the city’s ancient roots, while sleek, urban design in the city centre gives the the city a decidedly cool edge. Take an architecture tour to explore the Old Town’s winding Reformation-­era streets and the elegant Neo­classical buildings of the New Town. Modern highlights include the controversial Scottish Parliament building and the swirling Edinburgh Landform. When you’ve had your fill of the city from the ground, head to the top of Calton Hill to take in the skyline from above.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Pixabay / CC0

Best for nature: New Forest, England

A trip to the New Forest is truly magical. Designated a royal hunting preserve 1000 years ago, the enchanting working forest is wonderfully unspoilt, with unenclosed pasture land allowing animals to roam free. The area is a wildlife haven, where you can find many indigenous species in their natural surroundings. The most iconic are the New Forest ponies, which rule the land; you’ll find yourself giving way to horses rather than people on a drive through the forest.

Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. Header image Pixabay / CC0. 

Few regions of the world have been as idealized and mythologized as California – and yet it seldom fails to live up to the hype. The glamour, surf beaches and near-endless sun of the Southern California coast are rightly celebrated, with Los Angeles, the second-most populous city in the US (after New York City), at their heart.

rough guide california coverThe city itself is a frenetic collection of highways, coastline, seedy suburbs, high-gloss neighbourhoods and extreme lifestyles – all hemmed in by sandy beaches and snowcapped mountains rising above 10,000ft.

The area you decide to stay can have a big impact on your trip, so here’s our guide on where to stay in LA from the latest Rough Guide to California.

Downtown

Downtown, the historic heart of LA, has experienced something of a renaissance. Graceful old banks and hotels have been turned into apartments. The $2.5-billion shopping and entertainment complex, LA Live, has brought cinemas, upper-end hotels, numerous restaurants and clubs.

It remains a diverse neighbourhood however, with, in the space of a few blocks, adobe buildings and Mexican market stalls, skid row (one of the highest concentrations of homeless people in the US), avant-garde art galleries and high-rise corporate towers.

Accommodation here ranges from basic beds to plush hotels. But bear in mind that while Downtown is the hub of the MTA networks and public transport, getting to the beaches isn’t simple.

For a bargain: Jerry’s Motel. This hip, remodelled motel offers neat, stylish rooms and free parking just outside Downtown.

For sporty types: Los Angeles Athletic Club. The top three floors of this exclusive club make up a hotel with 72 nicely furnished rooms; a real bonus is free use of the club’s gym, plus a whirlpool and sauna.

Downtown LA, Los Angeles, California, USAPixabay/CC0

Hollywood

Ever since movies and their stars became international symbols of the good life, Hollywood has been a magnet to millions of tourists and an equal number of hopefuls drawn by the prospect of riches and glory.

In reality, this was a densely populated, low-income residential neighbourhood, and movie stars actually spent little time here – leaving as soon as they could afford to for the privacy of the hills or coast.

Things have brightened up in the past few years, with the construction of new tourist plazas and shopping malls. The contrasting qualities of freshly polished nostalgia, corporate hype and deep-set seediness today make Hollywood one of LA’s most diverse areas – and one of its best spots for bar-hopping and clubbing.

For a quirky stay: Hollywood Bed & Breakfast. This B&B is set in a 1912 home that looks a little like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It’s close to all the action with four cosy rooms and a small pool.

For modern simplicity: Magic Castle Hotel. Justly popular hotel boasting rooms and suites in a neat, modern style – with heated pool and free soda, candy and cookies 24 hours a day.

Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA Pixabay/CC0

West LA

What is loosely called the Westside of Los Angeles begins immediately beyond Hollywood in West LA – which contains some of the city’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

Bordered by the Santa Monica Mountains to the north, the Santa Monica Freeway to the south, Hollywood to the east and the beach cities the west, this section of the city best embodies the stylish images that Los Angeles projects to the outside world.

Highlights include the restaurants and boutiques of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and the outstanding Getty Center, positioned high above the LA basin.

For Midwestern kitsch: Farmer’s Daughter. Conveniently located across from (naturally) the Farmers’ Market, this is a handsome boutique property with elements of “country styled” Midwestern kitsch.

For unbridled luxury: Bel-Air. The poshest hotel in LA bar none, built in 1946 and now owned by the Sultan of Brunei, in a lushly overgrown canyon and themed like an Arabian oasis.

Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles, California, USAPixabay/CC0

Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu

For many Angelenos, Santa Monica represents the impossible dream – a low-key, tolerant beachside town with a relaxed air and easy access to the rest of the city.

Set along a white-sand beach and home to some of LA’s finest stores, restaurants and galleries, this small community is friendly and liberal – a compact, accessible bastion of oceanside charm.

Immediately south lies quirky Venice, where you’ll find an eccentric mix of skaters, street acts, buskers and more. Gentrification has had an impact, but there’s still an edgy feel in some areas.

Malibu, to the north, has long been immortalised in surfing movies and is perfect for soaking up beach culture, with its ramshackle surf shops and fast-food stands along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

For a bed back from the beach: Ambrose. The best choice for inland Santa Monica, with Arts and Crafts-styled decor and boutique rooms.

For a romantic getaway: Channel Road Inn. The B&B rooms here are nestled in lower Santa Monica Canyon (northwest of the city of Santa Monica), with ocean views, a hot tub and free bike rentals.

Los Angeles, Beach

The south bay

Head south of LAX and you’ll come to an eight-mile strip of enticing beach towns – Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, part of the region known as the South Bay – which are quieter, smaller and more insular than the Westside beach communities.

Manhattan Beach is a likeable place with a healthy, well-to-do air. Hermosa Beach retains a lingering bohemian feel of the Sixties and Seventies in certain spots. Redondo Beach is less inviting than its relaxed neighbours with condos and hotels lining the beachfront, and the yacht-lined King’s Harbor off limits to curious visitors.

For the height of luxury: The Beach House. Two-room suites with fireplaces, wet bars, balconies, hot tubs, stereos and refrigerators. Many rooms overlook the ocean.

For ocean views: Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club. The best choices at this suite-hotel by the ocean have hot tubs and nice views over the elite playground of King Harbor.

Los Angeles, Beach, California, USAPixabay/CC0

Orange County

For most visitors Orange County means Disneyland (even though it only exists on roughly one square mile of land, it continues to dominate the area) and you should only look at staying here if you’re heading to the park or travelling along the coast.

For a surfer’s paradise: Huntington Surf Inn. Right on the beach and close to the pier, with nine simple but super cool rooms featuring a pop-art theme based on Southern California beach and surfing culture. Lots of pro surfers really do stay here.

For oceanside luxury: Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. A stunning Ritz-Carlton, this one is perhaps the best in town for its oceanside beauty (on the cliffs overlooking the sea around Dana Point). Rooms and suites are chock-full of luxury.

Dana Point Sunset, Los Angeles, California Pixabay/CC0

Explore more of Los Angeles with The Rough Guide to California or The Rough Guide to the USA.

This feature contains affiliate links; you can find out more about why we’ve partnered with booking.com here. All recommendations are editorially independent and taken from the Rough Guide to California. 

A dazzling oasis where forty million people a year let their hair down, Las Vegas has made a fine art of indulging its visitors’ every appetite. From its ever-changing architecture to cascading chocolate fountains, adrenaline-pumping zip lines and jaw-dropping stage shows, everything is built to thrill.

The Strip is where the real action is, a visual feast where each mega-casino vies to outdo the next with some outlandish theme, be it an Egyptian pyramid (Luxor), a Roman extravaganza (Caesars Palace), a fairytale castle (Excalibur) or a European city (Paris and the Venetian).

pocket rough guide las vegas coverFrom the new Pocket Rough Guide to Las Vegas by Greg Ward, we’ve picked 15 unmissable things to do on The Strip – get the full guide to start planning your trip.

1. Marvel at the Bellagio

This is Las Vegas at its most luxurious, an Italianate marble extravaganza with its own eight-acre lake. Head to Jean Philippe Patisserie to enjoy morning pastries while admiring the world’s largest chocolate fountain, check out the Conservatory (part greenhouse, part camp and colourful fantasyland), and be sure to watch the mesmerising jets of the fountains after sundown.

bellagio fountains, las vegas, USA.

2. Go all out on a Las Vegas buffet

The all-you-can-eat buffet is one tradition Las Vegas will never let go. For the ultimate in indulgence, head for Caesars Palace and buy a “Buffet of Buffets” pass, valid for 24 hours at all Caesars’ properties. Start with the Bacchanal Buffet, which epitomizes decadent Las Vegas excess.

3. See the Flamingo’s classic kitsch

Okay, so the Flamingo these days is more Donny Osmond than Bugsy Siegel, but the original Strip resort still holds plenty of kitsch. From its superb neon sign and the Strip-facing patio of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, to its trademark real-life flamingoes in the free Wildlife Habitat, there’s a lot to like about the Flamingo.

4. Hit the shops

Shopping now ranks among the principal reasons that people visit Las Vegas, and most people do almost all of their shopping on the Strip itself. Their prime destination is the amazing Forum at Caesars Palace, where a false sky cycles hourly between day and night, followed by the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, complete with operatic gondoliers plying the waters of the Grand Canal, and Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood.

venetian casino interior, grand canal shoppes, las vegas, USA.

5. Explore the Luxor pyramid

Inside the sloping, monolithic walls of the Luxor lie two interesting exhibits. Enter the Egyptian pyramid through the paws of the Sphinx to see Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, the world’s only permanent exhibition of items salvaged from the Titanic, and the gruesome but uplifting Bodies…the Exhibition.

6.  Solve a murder

At CSI The Experience at the MGM Grand you can put your razor-sharp forensic skills to the test investigating, and almost certainly solving, fictional murder mysteries. A hugely enjoyable interactive adventure, this is perhaps the most enjoyable family attraction in Las Vegas.

7. Ride the Big Apple Coaster

Shake things up with a loop around the Manhattan skyline on New York–New York’s Big Apple Coaster. The little yellow cabs that loop and race around its skyscraper towers speed at 67mph, plunge over 200ft and roll like a jet fighter – this is a serious thrill ride no theme-park fan should miss.

new york new york casino exterior, las vegas, USA.

8. Get the Eiffel Tower Experience

Ride into the skies atop Las Vegas’s own miniature version of Paris and look down on the rest of the Strip. The observation platform is perfectly poised to look north and south along the busiest stretch, as well as west, and down, to the fountains of Bellagio.

9. Catch a show

The old-style feathers-and-sequins revues have been supplanted by a never-ending stream of jaw-droppingly lavish shows by the Cirque du Soleil, plus the likes of the postmodern Blue Man Group and more.

10. Take a spin on the High Roller

At 550ft high the Las Vegas High Roller is the world’s largest observation wheel, and commands tremendous views over the city. The long-range panoramas are particularly spectacular, though intervening buildings mean it doesn’t offer ground-level views of the Strip.

USA, Nevada, Las Vegas

11. Dine out

You could eat a great meal in a different restaurant on The Strip every night. Two of our favourites include Thomas Keller’s French bistro Bouchon at the Venetian, where the menu at is every bit as special as the setting, and Scarpetta at the Cosmopolitan, where you watch the Bellagio fountains as you savour Scott Conant’s wonderful contemporary take on Italian cuisine.

12. Watch a volcano erupt

Once the sun’s gone down, take your place outside the Mirage. The artificial volcano at Steve Wynn’s first Strip venture erupts at hourly intervals, on the hour, after dark.

13. Cross the drawbridge into Excalibur

If things haven’t been kitsch enough yet, stroll through this bizarre Arthurian castle-casino. Built in 1990, it remains the most visible reminder of the era when Las Vegas briefly re-invented itself as a vast children’s playground – although with its jam-packed, multi-coloured turrets it doesn’t so much look like a castle, as like a child’s drawing of a castle.

excalibur casino exterior, las vegas, USA.

14. See Big Elvis

Head for the no-cover Piano Bar in Harrah’s, where the hunka-hunka love that is Pete Vallee, Las Vegas’s biggest and best-loved Elvis impersonator. His King-like voice, mastery of Elvis’s repertoire and easy audience rapport make this the best free show in town.

15. Spot crocodiles and sharks at Mandalay Bay

In keeping with Las Vegas’s emphasis on immediate thrills, the Shark Reef aquarium focuses almost exclusively on dangerous marine predators, prowling through tanks designed to resemble a decaying ancient Mayan temple that’s sinking into the sea.

Want to travel somewhere new this year? There’s plenty to discover in 2016. Take a look at these new attractions opening around the globe for inspiration for your next trip.

1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hollywood, USA

On April 7 2016, Universal Studios Hollywood will mark the much-anticipated opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. With its cobblestone streets and quaint alleyways, the attraction will transport visitors to the wondrous world of Harry Potter. Hogsmeade will be a hive of activity with pubs packed with eager customers and a train conductor welcoming “passengers”. On a thrilling three-dimensional, high definition ride guests will wear Quidditch-style 3D goggles as they are immersed in the life of Harry and his friends, swooshing along an elevated track.

2. British Airways i360, Brighton, UK

Created by the same architects of the London Eye, this new attraction (opening in summer 2016) will be the world’s first vertical cable car and the world’s tallest moving observation tower. The circular viewing pod cruises slowly up to a height of 162m, allowing visitors to soak in the views of the seaside town of Brighton, the South Downs and the Sussex coastline.

3. Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE

Set to open at the end of this year on Saadiyat Island, this state-of-the-art museum was born from an intergovernmental agreement between the UAE and France in 2007. It will comprise 9200 square metres of art galleries, housing a permanent art collection, themed temporary exhibitions and loan pieces from institutions all over the world, including Leonardo da Vinci’s La belle ferronnière, currently in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Brand new attraction for 2015, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Middle East

4. Independence Plaza, Space Centre, Houston, USA

In late January 2016 the first Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, NASA 905, and the shuttle replica Independence will go on display in Houston’s Space Centre. NASA 905 played a pivotal role in the orbiter’s development, carrying space shuttles 223 times and amassing a total of 11,017 flight hours. The fuselage of the plane and the inside of the shuttle will house interactive learning spaces with artefacts and exhibits that trace the shuttle programme and provide an insight into the history of the shuttle era. It will be the world’s only replica of its kind, mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft, with the public able to enter both.

5. Omaka Aviation Centre, New Zealand

Located five kilometres from the centre of Blenheim on New Zealand’s South Island, the Omaka Aviation Centre brings history to life with Sir Peter Jackson’s WWI aviation collection. Summer 2016 will see the opening of a new WWII hangar exhibition, with theatrical lighting to illuminate the exhibits. Visitors will go on a geographical and historical journey as they walk through the exhibition. The world’s only flyable Mk1 Avro Anson twin-engine bomber will be on display, while a Yakovlev Yak-3 will be parked on a snow-graded airstrip at the edge of a bombed out city.

6. Kynren: An Epic Tale of England, Durham, UK

This new live action night show launches in July 2016 at Auckland Castle in County Durham. With a cast and crew of 1000 volunteers on a 7.5 acre stage, this is open-air theatre on a gargantuan scale. The storytelling journey will span 2000 years, with each 90-minute show travelling through different time periods, including the Roman Times and the Industrial Revolution. Performances run from July through the summer, and organisers hope the site will later be turned into a permanent theme park.

Kynren new attraction, UK

7. Museo Nacional del Perú de Pachacámac, Peru

About 40km southeast of Lima is the site of Pachacamac, one of the most important archeological complexes of the Peruvian coast. Established around AD200, in Pre-Inca and Inca times it was an important pilgrimage site, with 17 pyramids, palaces, plazas and temples identified so far. The new museum will showcase locally discovered relics along with pieces currently on display at two museums in Lima.

8. Movie Animation Park Studios, Malaysia

Asia’s first and largest animation theme park is set to open in the state of Perak in northern Malaysia. Spanning an area of 52 acres, the park will feature all manner of fun, from rides to stunt shows. There will be 40 attractions across six thematic zones – with areas dedicated to Casper The Friendly Ghost and The Smurfs. Look out for The Magamind Megadrop, the country’s tallest drop tower over 20 storeys high.

9. Chaplin Museum: The Modern Times Museum, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin fans will delight at the opening of this new museum in the star’s former home, the Manoir de Ban in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life at the house, and died here in 1977. Visitors will be completely immersed in Chaplin’s world: “His soul, his spirit, is still here … so people will meet him, people will encounter him, people will hear his voice, will see his movies, will hear his music,” said Director Yves Durand when speaking of the new museum that is due to open in April 2016.

VALLE D'AOSTA-SkyWay Monte Bianco (foto Enrico Romanzi)-7758pPhoto © Enrico Romanzi

10. Mont Blanc Skyway, Courmayeur, Italy

Officially opened last summer, winter 2015/16 is the first ski season for the Mont Blanc Skyway, a rotating glass-fronted cable car offering spectacular 360° views of the Western Alps’ highest peaks. At a height of 3466m, the circular terrace at the top station is the closest point accessible by public transport to the summit of Mont Blanc. Free ride skiers can head on some of the Alps’ most exciting off-piste routes, while in summer visitors have access to the Saussurea alpine botanical garden.

Featured image © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s15) © 2015 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Get more holiday inspiration for 2016 with the Rough Guide to 2016Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Despite India’s vastness, foreign travellers tend to clump together in a relatively small number of well-known regions or cities, leaving plenty of destinations to the more intrepid few who are willing to take the challenge of escaping the tourist trail. Here’s a selection of our favourites:

1. Climb to spiritual highs in Palitana, Gujarat

Gujarat is one of most rewarding states to visit in India, yet sees far fewer foreign visitors than neighbouring Rajasthan or Maharashtra. A significant portion of the country’s Jain population, which accounts for a tiny fraction of the whole nation, live in Gujarat, and this small community has produced some of the most spectacular temples in the world.

Walk up the 3500 steps to Palitana, considered the holiest of all Jain sites, and you won’t be disappointed: a fairy-tale marble wonderland of hundreds of gleaming spiralling peach-and-white turrets, with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside.

Once you’ve walked all the way back down, you’ll easily have earned yourself a mouth-watering unlimited thali, another of Gujarat’s highlights.

Palitana, GujaratPhoto by Helen Abramson

2. Feel the beat of the ritual drum in Kannur, Kerala

Between November and May each year, evenings in the Kannur region, in northern Kerala, come alive with theyyem rituals. Increasing numbers of travellers are heading here to seek out these intense displays of spirit-possession, but it’s still well off the main Keralan tourist trail.

The several-thousand year old ritual involves locals wearing startling face paint and dressing in elaborate costumes with colossal red headdresses. Their bodies inhabited by deities, the participants dance with increasing passion for hours on end and perform phenomenal, godlike feats, such as rolling in hot ashes.

Theyyam ritual near Kunnur. Kerala.

3. Take a slice of the deep south in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Just 50km from Sri Lanka, the island of Rameshwaram is accessed from the Indian mainland by a 2km bridge affording epic views over the Gulf of Mannar.

The tiny island is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in southern India, yet barely visited by tourists. Turquoise waters lap at pristine beaches surrounding the island, and glorious temples dot the scenery inland.

The Ramanathaswamy Temple, dedicated Shiva, the god of destruction, is the main event, with mesmerizing pillared walkways and brightly coloured patterned ceilings. Pretty much year-round strong winds make this an excellent kitesurfing destination too.

RameshwaramPhoto by Helen Abramson

4. Chill out on Little Andaman, Andaman Islands

Seek out the most beautiful beaches on the Indian mainland, and you’re also probably going to find an awful lot of people. The Andaman Islands, over a thousand kilometres off the east coast, in the Bay of Bengal and not far from Myanmar, don’t escape the crowds either.

That is, except Little Andaman (actually one of the biggest), the least-visited island of the archipelago and the furthest south tourists can travel.

A tropical climate, crystal-clear waters, stunning reefs, thick jungle bursting with wildlife and the best surfing conditions on the Subcontinent make this remote haven worth the admittedly long and difficult journey.

Andaman Islands, IndiaBack from fishing trip by Jakub Michankow via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

5.  Hike the Himalayas in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

Way up in the Himalayas, tricky to get to and almost touching the border with Tibet, the Spiti valley is one of the world’s highest and most isolated populated areas.

Surrounded by peaks with an average on 4500m, the scenery is unfailingly dazzling: hanging glaciers, barley fields covered in layers of crisp snow, vast rocky plains and monasteries balanced precariously on rugged mounds.

Buddhist culture, similar to that of Tibet, permeates the peaceful, welcoming communities of the mud-brick hamlets clinging to the mountainsides, and trekking here allows a glimpse into a way of life that’s barely changed in centuries.

Pin valley, Spiti, HP, IndiaPin valley, Spiti by Vikash Prasad via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

6. Walk the wilderness in Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh

In the very northeastern tip of India – the least explored area of this immense country – lies Namdapha National Park, bordering Myanmar’s most northerly point.

Exceptionally rich in biodiversity, with an impressive collection of flora and fauna, the protected area spans a huge range of altitudes, from verdant river valleys at 200m to snow-capped peaks at 4500m.

Don’t forget your binoculars – remote and wild, the virgin forests here are ideal territory for elusive big wildlife such as tigers, snow leopards, red pandas and the endangered Hoolock Gibbons.

 Namdapha National Park, Arunachal PradeshNamdapha by Prashanth NS via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

7. Gaze at the ghats in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh

Varanasi is famous for the sacred rituals on the banks of the River Ganges and the religious intensity that saturates the city. If you want to find a similar atmosphere but without the hordes of tourists, head to Maheshwar, a thousand kilometres west, in Madhya Pradesh.

On the banks of the holy Narmada River, Maheshwar is an important pilgrimage point for Hindus, and was mentioned in the epic ancient stories of the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

The enthralling town is lined with temples and colourful houses overlooked by a grand eighteenth-century fort. A wander down to the ghats makes for a very absorbing stroll – you’ll find a hub of spiritual activity, with pilgrims bathing in the holy waters while orange-clad sadhus sit on the shore praying.

Maheshwar, Madhya PradeshMaheshwar, India by mauro gambini via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Explore India with the Rough Guide to IndiaCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

America’s fourth largest state, Montana is bigger than Germany or Japan. Despite the presence of some of the nation’s fastest highways, the drive from one side to the other takes around twelve hours.

Fortunately, many of the state’s most treasured destinations and experiences are clustered in the rugged western portion, making it less daunting for the first-time visitor trying to discover the best of “Big Sky Country.” Here, Eric Grossman tells us why Western Montana is the star of America’s West.

1. Glacier National Park is one of the country’s finest

Considered by some to be America’s most spectacular national park, Glacier National Park is chock full of picturesque scenery.

The huge park, which straddles the Canada–US border, encompasses over one million acres (4000 sq-km) and includes parts of two mountain ranges, more than a hundred lakes, and hundreds of species of animals, with grizzly bears and mountain goats the most notable residents.

The iconic Going-To-The-Sun Road crosses the park, offering spectacular panoramas and spine-tingling vertical drops. Nervous drivers, meanwhile, can opt for one of the signature “Red Jammers,” the restored 1930s coaches that offer tours throughout the park.

USA, Montana, Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald

2. You can discover your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) in style

Thanks to the stunning natural landscape and proximity to Glacier National Park, Western Montana is home to some of America’s most lauded ranch resorts. These properties enjoy acres of space and abundant natural resources, including some of the world’s highest-rated fly fishing locales. Staffers patiently guide visitors as they try their hand at popular Western-inspired activities such as horse riding and target shooting, and guests of all ages often jump at the chance to take part in a cattle drive on a working ranch.

Synonymous with rustic luxury, the Ranch at Rock Creek offers one-of-a-kind accommodations ranging from heated “glamping” (glamorous camping) tents to a five-bedroom log home. Guests enjoy extensive amenities, inventive cuisine and access to roughly twenty guided outdoor activities on 6600 acres of mountains, meadows, forests, trout ponds and a mountain-fed creek.

Ranch at Rock Creek, MontanaImage courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek

3. There are outdoor activities as far as the eye can see

What the region lacks in sophisticated, contemporary experiences it makes up for with its plethora of year-round outdoor activities. World-class camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, and whitewater rafting is available at all skill levels.

Sporty types can enjoy golf, archery, all-terrain vehicles, and more. Between Glacier, numerous state parks, and myriad private resort areas, there are literally thousands of outdoor options.

Upper Missouri Breaks, MontanaUpper Missouri Breaks NM by Bureau of Land Management via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

4. It’s home to one of America’s best university towns

Missoula – Western Montana’s largest city – is a convenient hub for those looking to explore the region. The city is best known for being home to the University of Montana, which keeps Missoula festive and youthful year after year.

For an unparalleled, and free, view of the city, simply hike up the small mountain next to the university’s campus to reach the iconic letter “M” that can be seen from across the region. Then follow the students to the Missoula Club, a century-old bar that’s beloved for its inexpensive, juicy burgers made from fresh Montana beef.

Tap into the exploding beer scene and sample fresh local beers at bars like The Dram Shop, and enjoy local ingredients prepared with aplomb at hip restaurants such as the Red Bird and Plonk.

On the rare hot day, cool off with a surfing session on the Clark Fork River, and then treat yourself to a scoop of huckleberry ice cream at Missoula’s beloved Big Dipper.

Montana, Big Dipper, MissoulaImage courtesy of Destination Missoula

5. The wildlife watching is among the best in the West

Montana is massive – 147,040 square miles (380,800 square kilometres) – yet the population is only around a million. This means there is loads of room for wildlife to flourish.

Visitors to Western Montana can explore the National Bison Range, established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison, in the town of Dixon. Residents think nothing of spotting moose, big horn sheep, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bald eagles and other birds of prey.

Fishers compete for more than seven species of trout, plus walleye and smallmouth bass.

Hunters search for dozens of game birds and animals, ranging from elk, antelope, and deer to pheasant and partridge.

Moose, MontanaBull moose swimming by Jeff P via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

6. There’s more for foodies than you might expect

To the uninitiated, the region offers a surprising number of dishes and ingredients that are unique to Montana. And a variety of small, family-run restaurants, along with local fairs and festivals, provide opportunities to try Montana staples like cowboy beans, buffalo chili, and Indian fry-bread.

Huckleberries – perhaps the state’s most famous, and abundant, ingredient – are served any which way, in pancakes, ice cream, and as a sweet accompaniment to the state’s ubiquitous beef. If you want to snack on some of the tart berries, ask a local where to go pick your own – just keep an eye out for berry-loving bears.

Explore more of the USA with the Rough Guide to the USACompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Nearly one in four couples now have a destination wedding abroad. But there are a whole host of practicalities to consider before simply jetting off somewhere exotic and saying ‘I do’.

From the legalities and visas to stowing your wedding dress on the plane, Lucy McGuire shares her ten essential tips for getting married overseas.

1. Check it’s legal

Marriage laws vary between countries, so find out if it’s legal to get married in the country of your choice and if it will be valid in your local and international law.

France for example, requires 40 days’ residency before you can legally marry there and your ceremony must take place 10 days after your marriage banns. Other countries have no residency requirements. Laws for same-sex marriages vary again, so check with foreign embassies first.

If you’re set on a destination but the laws won’t allow it, consider a quick registry office wedding in your hometown, then hold a blessing overseas.

Wedding

2. Decide on tailor-made or one-size-fits all

Once you’ve picked your wedding destination, decide whether you want a wedding package, or if you’d like to tailor-make your day independently or through a wedding planner.

Many travel companies offer a ‘menu’ of wedding packages held within a hotel resort. They’ll often have a wedding planner on speed-dial and they’ll manage every detail of the day – handy if you have lots of guests.

For a more personalised set-up, research local wedding planners to find out what they can offer and check out their reviews and photos of past weddings they’ve done before you commit.

3. Use your wedding planner

If you decide to use a wedding planner, make sure you get the most from them. They should be your local expert on the ground, suggesting beautiful locations to tie the knot, secure the marriage officer or registrar and sort all the logistics surrounding your big day.

Negotiate a fee that works for you and tap into their expertise on the best hotels, local vendors, photographers, musicians, and venues. Keep in regular contact and schedule at least one call or Skype chat before your big day.

Couple, car

4. Pick the right time of year

National holidays and festivals can affect the demand on flights and accommodation. So expect to pay more during busy times.

Try to plan your wedding just outside of peak periods. You’ll have more choice for your wedding date and you’ll stand a better chance of a flight upgrade. Hotels, restaurants and local attractions will be quieter too.

5. Consider the weather

While September may be a beautiful time to marry in Santoríni, it’s monsoon season in parts of the Caribbean and the Far East. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, choosing the right season could be the difference between a sun-kissed paradise and a hurricane disaster. Make sure to have a contingency plan in case of downpours.

Beach, couple

6. Check flight times

Check which days the key airlines fly to your wedding destination and leave at least 48 hours between the day you land and the date of your wedding day. Even if there’s no legal waiting period, this should give you enough time to get over any jet lag and discuss final details at your location.

7. Check your baggage fee with your airline

Most airlines allow you to take your wedding dress onboard a flight as hand luggage but it will most likely be at an extra cost. Contact your airline in advance to check this and buy a good quality dress bag that can be hung or folded. If you have to check your wedding dress in, pack it up securely in a box and mark it as fragile.

8. Keep a checklist of legal documents

Check all the legal documents you’re going to need for your wedding overseas. Some countries require a certificate of no impediment (CNI) from your local register office as proof of your single status and all will most likely need a copy of your birth certificate.

Check visa requirements well in advance, too, and don’t forget to make sure you have six months left on your passport.

Honeymoon

9. Buy wedding insurance

It’s important to take out extra wedding travel insurance that covers your wedding dress, rings or gifts in the unlikely event they are lost or stolen. Always check the small print for the value you are covered up to and the details on excess payments.

10. Tie in your honeymoon

Try and plan your wedding so that you have enough time to relax and enjoy your honeymoon. You could go island hopping, escape to a retreat or mix safari and city.

Either way, see your destination wedding as a stepping-stone to your honeymoon travels. You’ll get your money’s worth and it’s the chance to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. We’ve compiled a list of top honeymoon destinations and collected ten essential planning tips to get you started.

Compare Forex Brokers-long-logoIn this article sponsored by Compare Forex Brokers, Helen Ochyra runs down the best ways to carry cash while travelling. 

You may have become accustomed to depending on those little pieces of plastic when at home, but on the road paying for that bowl of noodles, train ticket or local beer is unlikely to mean simply whipping out the Visa or waving your Amex.

Carrying your money abroad often means literally carrying it – in cash – as you’re likely to be charged a fee each time you use your card. And it’s certainly going to mean more forward planning than your usual “just popping to the ATM” lifestyle back home requires.

The first question is: where are you headed? Our guide to carrying money abroad is divided into regions, depending on how easily available ATMs, banks and chip and PIN machines might be. Pick your travel destination below and we’ll help you start planning the practicalities behind that skydive you want to do, that market you want to visit, or that cross-continent train journey you’ve got up your sleeve.

Easy money: the UK, most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand

When travelling around much of Europe or in Australia and New Zealand you can apply the same rules as you would at home.

It’s always advisable to have some local currency on you – especially on arrival, you may need it for those first taxi or bus journeys, or that first coffee or meal before you get to an ATM. Throughout your trip you are sure to come across smaller businesses, markets or bars and restaurants that don’t accept debit or credit cards.

USA, Louisiana, New Orleans, sign for an ATM outside clothes shop

If you use American Express, be aware that it’s not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard. Carrying both a Visa and a Mastercard is always the best bet, though keep them separate to avoid losing both at once.

It’s also a good idea to keep one credit card in your hotel or hostel, tucked away somewhere hidden, for emergencies.

For security reasons, taking money out of an ATM every few days is a better idea than carrying large amounts of cash. Although using ATMs to withdraw cash is convenient, it can be costly as most banks will charge you a fee when using your card abroad.

Wherever you’re travelling don’t forget to tell your bank so they do not block your card.

Take a tip: the USA and Canada

Although the USA and Canada are also countries where debit and credit cards are widely accepted, you will certainly need cash here – you are expected to tip everyone from taxi drivers and hotel porters to waiting and bar staff.

Before your trip get some US or Canadian dollars and ask for small bills so that you’re ready to tip as soon as you arrive. Be sure to continue breaking larger bills into smaller denominations so you always have one dollar bills for those small tips. Bear in mind that roughly $1 per bag is expected by porters and $5 for valet parking.

Plan ahead: North Africa, South Africa, Japan and South Korea

City view from N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower, Seoul Tower), Namsan, Seoul, South Korea

Although ATMs are reasonably widespread in these areas, you may find that only some banks will accept foreign cards, and that in rural areas (or even smaller towns and cities) there may be no ATMs.

Credit and debit cards are also less widely accepted than you might be used to, especially in smaller restaurants and shops. Plan ahead for what you expect to spend and get cash organized in advance.

If you are travelling for a while, don’t carry all the cash for your trip from the beginning. Instead, plan to withdraw further, larger sums at an ATM in a large city or at an airport or train station, where ATMs are not only more common but also more likely to accept foreign cards.

Where cash is king: most of South America, Southeast Asia and Africa

In these areas cash remains king and you may find that even larger hotels do not accept credit and debit cards. If you are planning to cross any borders you should also expect to need cash for visas and should not assume that there will be an ATM nearby.

Many of these countries have currencies that are either unstable or unpopular, meaning that the US dollar is often accepted widely.

In Vietnam for example, you will even find hotel rates quoted in dollars. Check before you travel and if the US dollar is widely accepted take both dollars and the local currency.

Scrabble tiles spelling cashCash by GotCredit on Flickr (license)

Make sure also that all bills are clean and undamaged, as well as in small denominations such as $10 and $20. A hotel in these destinations may only set you back $20 and a meal $2, so you won’t have much use for $100 bills.

As you may need to pay for everything in cash, even more forward planning is required in these areas. Try to work out a budget for your entire trip, assuming that every cost will need to be paid for in cash, and order the currency you need in advance so that you will have it when you arrive and won’t need to hunt down an ATM. For longer trips, research where you will be able to find an ATM online (generally in larger cities and at airports) and plan to replenish your cash roughly once a week.

Some countries (including Vietnam and Cuba) have a closed currency – meaning it is not freely available outside the country of origin. For these, plan to visit an ATM on arrival (at the airport, if you’re flying in) and carry US dollars at all times.

Final advice…

Note that the countries and regions listed here are generalizations. Thailand differs from Vietnam, and France will be different to Germany. We recommend that you check the Rough Guide to your planned destination, as well as online advice, before travelling.

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Compare Forex Brokers-long-logoWhen you make your way into the world of forex trading, you will need an experienced guide who can help you make your first steps into this industry. At Compare Forex Brokers, we help Australian forex traders locate the best forex brokers based on their fees, leverage, reviews and other denominators that can have an impact on forex trading.

Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009.

With more tourists heading to Sri Lanka every year, now is the perfect time to visit. Here are ten tips and tricks to help first-time visitors.

1. Prepare to go slow

Although infrastructure is improving and transport options are plentiful, getting around this modestly-sized country, with its tightly winding roads and engine-testing inclines, might feel a little trying at times.

The Hill Country is particularly notorious for eating away time – whether traveling by bus, tuk tuk or train, expect to inch from one tea plantation to the next at speeds of around 12-15 miles per hour. For those with little time or deep pockets, taking a seaplane or hiring a car and driver are good alternatives.

Tuk tuk in Sri Lanka, Asia

2. Go to relax, not to rave

Outside of Colombo, and a few beach resorts, hostels with dorm rooms tend to be thin on the ground. Family-run guesthouses are much more common, which means it’s easy to meet locals but tricky for solo travellers hoping to make friends on the road.

As an emerging honeymoon hotspot, Sri Lanka also attracts a lot of couples. Those looking for nightlife to rival Bangkok’s Khao San Road will leave unfulfilled: beach bars pepper Arugam Bay on the east coast and Hikkaduwa on the west, but these are mellow affairs and many shut down out of season.

3. Treat yourself

If you’ve got Sri Lankan rupees to spare there are plenty of new luxury hotels and resorts where you can spend them. International names such as Aman have already set up shop on the island, and Shangri-La has two new hotels scheduled to open soon.

But it’s the home-grown, luxury hotel mini-chains that you ought to keep your eye on. Uga Escapes and Resplendent Ceylon are just two examples of burgeoning local brands that offer more than just copy-and-paste properties.

Buddha statue, northeastern Sri Lanka

4. Go north to get away from the crowds

Formerly off limits, the country’s Northern Province is prime territory for those who want to roam off the beaten path. A Tamil Tiger stronghold, it was one of the last areas on the island to reopen to tourists, and has yet to succumb to the same wave of hotels, resorts and other developments – or to receive the same flurry of foreign visitors.

If you’re after deserted golden beaches, remote temples and colonial port towns go north.

5. Focus on food

Sri Lankan food is delicious, so make the most of it while you’re there. However, knowing where and when to find the good stuff may prove a harder task than you anticipated. Bowl-shaped hoppers (savoury rice flour crêpes) are a highlight, though they are typically only served first thing in the morning or in late afternoon. Rice and curry is a lunchtime affair, while kottu rotty (chopped flatbread stir-fried with eggs and vegetables) is only available in the evening.

Those familiar with Asia will be surprised at the lack of street food stalls; instead, some of the best food can be found in the kitchens of small guesthouses.

Galle Fort, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Asia

6. Consider Colombo

With jazz clubs, rooftop bars, boutique stores and internationally-acclaimed restaurants, Colombo can no longer be considered a mere gateway city. And though there are a number of sights to see, the capital is also a great place to simply settle in and get a sense of what local life is like.

Watch families fly kites on Galle Face Green at sunset; cheer for the national cricket team at the R Premadasa Stadium, or observe grandmothers swathed in vivid saris bargain with stallholders at Pettah Market.

7. Plan around the seasons

While the monsoon rains might not dampen your enthusiasm for exploring bear in mind that experiences can vary wildly depending on the season. If you’re desperate to climb Adam’s Peak, for example, then visit during pilgrimage season (December–May).

Outside of these months it’s still possible to hike to the summit, but the myriad tea shops that line the path will be closed. You’ll also tackle the peak with a handful of tourists instead of hundreds of local devotees, meaning much of the atmosphere and camaraderie among climbers is lost.

Surfing in Sri Lanka, Asia

8. Get active

Sri Lanka might be known for its stupas, beaches and tea plantations, but it’s also crammed with adrenalin-packed activities. Why not try surfing in Arugam Bay, hiking the Knuckles Mountain Range or white-water rafting in Kelaniya Ganga, Kitulgala. Cycling holidays are also becoming increasingly popular with a number of international tour operators offering specialist tours.

9. Make the most of your money

By western standards Sri Lanka is still a cheap destination, but prices are rising quickly: the cost of a cultural show in Kandy has doubled in the last year alone.

For everyday items such as tea and toothpaste, head to the supermarkets in big cities where you can rest assured that you’re not paying over the odds. In the corner shops of smaller cities simply check the packaging, which has the price printed next to the letters “Rs.” (meaning rupees).

Monk meditating in Sri Lanka, Asia

10. Understand the culture

At its closest point, only 18 miles of aquamarine waters separate Sri Lanka and India – but there’s a world of difference between the two. The pace of life in Sri Lanka feels much less frantic than that of its neighbour, which makes it ideal for those intrigued, yet intimidated, by India.

Few locals bat an eyelid at western visitors and while covering up is always appreciated (and necessary at places of worship), wearing shorts and vests is unlikely to attract much attention.

Explore Sri Lanka with The Rough Guide to Sri LankaCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

From psychedelic milkshakes to overloaded tuk-tuks, there are some things everybody comes across when backpacking in Southeast Asia.

Whether you spent the brunt of your time beaching, boozing, motorcycling, meditating or trying to see it all, here are 15 things you likely learned.

1. Getting from A to B is surprisingly fun

All-night bus rides with bad action movies on loop, clutching the waist of a scooter driver as he weaves through Ho Chi Minh City traffic, or buying a vintage Minsk motorbike to tear up mountain roads – you know that the act of motion itself makes for some of the best backpacking memories.

2. Everything moves slowly

Thanks to any combination of traffic, vehicle break-downs, poor roads, bad weather or punishing hangovers you learned to accept the impossibility of arriving anywhere on time. Booking accommodation in advance was as rare as a concrete plan longer than two days.

Learning to chill rather than feel perpetually frustrated was one of the best lessons you took home with you.

5677147889_7c1cebf586_oMalingering/Flickr

3. Tourism is both a blessing and a curse

Disrespectful debauchery, fake orphanages, irresponsible development and a whole lot of other despicable stuff ­– spend long enough backpacking in Southeast Asia and you know that tourism’s destructive side starts to glare.

At first you felt like part of the problem. But you learned to search out homestays, socially responsible tours, eco-friendly projects and grassroot NGOs. Every little bit helps.

4. The nicer-looking the restaurant, the worse the food

You know it’s not the locally-popular roadside food stalls that are likely to give you food poisoning. No, it’s the type of joints that serve penne al pollo and special steak tartare.

5. A tuk-tuk can be the ultimate in luxury travel

A good tuk-tuk is like a chauffeured convertible crossed with a couch. Their people-carrying capacity seems to grow as each hour passes, capping somewhere around a dozen passengers after dark. For the price, it’s a luxury that can’t be beat.

8377322735_ed1661618a_kDidier Baertschiger/Flickr

6. Cheap deals are usually too good to be true

A smiling driver offered you a sweet deal. Then you agreed to help him “get gas”. And you quickly learned what that means: pretending to shop in soulless tourist trap boutiques while buddy gets “gas coupons” from the owners. Visions of adventure faded before your eyes – but you never made the same mistake again.

7. The smell of Durian will haunt you

Durian: the much-loved ball of spikes with an acquired taste and a rather pungent aroma that reeks of sweat, garlic and sweet-scented paint thinner – detectable from a block away. You learned to love it or hate it – there is no inbetween.

8. Not all monks are as serene as they look

Some monks look serene. Some monks drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes. You may have spotted one, red or saffron-robed and sneaking a smoke behind a crumbling temple wall or sipping a spot of Mekong Whiskey beneath a banyan tree.

Of course, this is prohibited by Buddhist precepts, and it definitely clashed with your original imaginings of monastic life. But nobody’s perfect, and old habits die hard.

11151117496_3ff550670a_kPeter Halling Hilborg/Flickr

9. “Happy Pizza” is not a cute name for pizza served by smiling staff

It is pizza that will get you high.

10. Mushroom milkshakes are not a new health food fad

These will also get you high.

11. Travel tattoos can be an awful idea

A Balinese Om symbol made much larger than asked, an ambiguous word scrawled across ribs in Khmer script, a little butterfly resembling a birthmark – perhaps you learned the hard way, or maybe you learned from others’ mistakes.

Southeast Asia backpackers know these markings well: yolo moments of such (regrettable) power that they actually outlive you.

3103332730_cf73a1dc87_oMissAgentCooper/Flickr

12. Thai Red Bull is way more intense than the energy drinks you’re used to

It’s actually called Krating Daeng, and it’s reportedly what inspired the creation of Red Bull. Whether you guzzled it with vodka from a bucket or sipped it to null post-night bus fatigue, it’s strength was a syrupy revelation.

13. Backpackers wear a uniform

Harem pants, beer-branded tank tops and a pointless bandanna to top it off. Did you examine the stinky, hungover travellers surrounding you and think: Yes, I’d like to look exactly like them? Probably not. But the uniform happened.

14. Don’t bring chewing gum to Singapore

If you went to Singapore, you’ll know it has some weird laws. The illegality of chewing gum is one of them. But that’s just the beginning. Walking around nude in your own home? Illegal. Taking a sip of water on the metro? Illegal. Failure to flush a public toilet after use? Illegal, obviously. Even publicly eating Singapore’s “national fruit”, the durian, falls on the wrong side of the law.

IMG_2478-2Clark & Kim Kays/Flickr

15. Southeast Asia has been through a lot, and continues to go through a lot

Be it the horrors of colonisation, absurd and devastating wars, or the corruption and poverty that followed, the peoples of Southeast Asia have gone through hell. Yet it was ultimately the incredible friendliness of locals that made backpacking Southeast Asia one of the best experiences of your life.

rough guide southeast asia on a budget coverHave your next backpacking adventure with The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a BudgetCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

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